Nebraska Center for Writers

AT THE GRAVES OF WILD BILL HICKOK AND CALAMITY JANE CANNARY
by Clif Mason

Their bodies were made of time, like ours. And time
Will neither be fooled by fame nor bullied by
Tough bluff or bellicosity: No dime
Novel tale will slow time's velocity.
A bankrupt legend, recently married,
But living alone, he was a gunman, worn
Down, eyesight lost to syphilis. Buried,
He lived: Into myth's afterlife he was born.
A hooker and a drunk, she was a youth
When they met and she fell in (unrequited)
Love. Though rough-mannered as a mine, miner uncouth
As a pimp, she nursed the smallpox-infected.
In sunny August, their death month, we read
Their markers — all that's left of the famous dead.

Reprinted with permission
from Briar Cliff Review
Copyright ©
by Clif Mason


KWIK SHOP EPIPHANY
by Clif Mason


Night came, a wounded bat into the oil-
Stained parking lot of the Kwik Shop, fell among
The styrofoam drink-cups, and for all its toil
Could not rise once more on its hairy wings.
As I pumped gas into my car's ever-
Famished tank, kids sat on the hoods of half
A dozen cars, smoking, laughing, never
Once doubting this muggy moment was lie.
Their radios black-jacked the air with bass
And rapping rhymes fell, bleeding, to their knees.
One kid said he'd kick another kid's ass
If he saw him. His girlfriend smiled, said, "Please."
I washed my buggy windows, headlights, paid.
Was it of such small deaths our days were made?

Reprinted with permission
from Wind Magazine
Copyright © 19
by Clif Mason

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