I haven’t shared poems of mine yet here on GoodTasteBook.
These poems were published in Cold Mountain Review in Fall 2008. They are from a series of poems from a manuscript I call “Best Western.” I also refer to them as the “Bridwell Poems.” Several years ago in Bozeman, Montana, I saw Band of Horses perform in a little bar called the Filling Station, where I had found myself in a bottle of beer once or twice before. Ben Bridwell is the ragamuffin lead singer, who doesn’t really know how to play an instrument, yet he does. He sings in falsetto sometimes; he has bad teeth. But he is a indie rock darling, neck tattoos and all. He has the edge that all women want to soften. I thought of him filling up his gas tank in Rocker at the Flying J next to my mom. Honestly, I think she would get back in the car and lock the doors. He has this unattainable, bad boy appeal that, for me, became unexpected inspiration, a muse that appeared suddenly in the middle of nowhere.
I grew up thinking pain between people
made them more interesting.
I’d find love and invent misery.
I’d sew seams, then go back
looking for a way to rip them out.
Now, my body goes strange—
it loves Bridwell’s body.
In the motel he’s got me down,
and the border between us darkens,
a suture the length of both our bodies,
a crude black cicatrice
that never heals,
like barb wire kneading in. In my dreams
the director is telling us what to do.
I’m not faking.
Love the bad boy. And I do.
I touch his face
and lose my hands in his beard.
The sun won’t come out and Bridwell forgot the gun
in the prop room so someone is running back to get it.
He looks at me and I love him, his skinny ass
in his skinny jeans that look goofy with his cowboy boots.
He says after this we’re going to the South.
I’ll never have to work again. We’re going to shoot
pistols and eat a ton of crawfish with a baseball game
on the radio in the background. But we’re still in the desert
filming the scene right before Bridwell dies. He dies,
but he dies in his favorite black boots, his favorite plaid shirt,
ruined in the end. I’ve been crying, getting ready
for the moment I hold his head in my lap and there’s blood
everywhere and enough dust so I can’t see who spares my life.
Bridwell gets shot from behind through the sparrow tattoo
on his back that flutters for a moment like something blue,
like something dead, his blood blooming a rare cactus in the sand.
I wanted to be more than his little accomplice, his little witness.
It’s quiet on the set. Everyone is ready. Some are ready to die.
We are in the future. Even if the script doesn’t say we are.
After school, my junior year, I worked
at a cosmetic counter spraying perfume on women’s pulse points,
where they were most hot. Bridwell was buying Poison—
it was always poison—for his wife, a real looker, a blonde.
He was an accident, like a rococo around my diet coke.
At home my father believed we should pray, O Mary,
and we prayed together like a nice little family. Sometimes
I prayed dirty,
prayed for his married hands to callous my hands. I prayed
to fill up the back seat of his Caprice Classic on some dead-end dirt road.
I wanted to get caught. I wanted his wife to see us
on America’s Most Wanted. To find
the residue of my sweet pubescent inner thigh, like a rotten peach
in the pocket of his trousers, the wale of my Catholic uniform
like track marks embedded in his knees.
O Mary, I am ready to worship the worst. I’m in a motel
waiting for him to come back with a new gun.
I’m prepping for the chase scene, the spin out, ready to hit the highwa
They are on our tail and getting closer.
I’m putting on pink lipstick,
I’m taking off my white bikini panties.
I’m waiting for him to come back to me.