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Spaghetti Western

By John James

In Georgetown, IN, the steel projector reels.
The desert stretches blankly before us, a red
plain constellated with rows of dry mesquite.

Stone wall, still screen, a single emptiness,
I suppose, throwing gray light over the tops
of parked cars. John Wayne surveying the valley

in a pair of seared chaps. Behind us, low hills
roll off. The highway, congested, winds
between them, an inflamed artery subjected

to cloud-cover. Nothing avoids the firm
gaze of commerce, not the taut sky, the lakewater
rippling beneath it. Fields of wild fennel,

their tiny yellow flowers scattering spore dust.
Sycamores doing the same. Tree sex, we say,
then nothing, cowboys rehearsing their pose.

Added: Tuesday, February 13, 2018  /  Originally published by "Palimpsest: Yale Graduate Literary & Arts Magazine." Used with permission.
John James

John James is the author of Chthonic, winner of the 2014 CutBank Chapbook Prize. His poems appear in Boston Review, Kenyon Review, Gulf Coast, Poetry Northwest, Best American Poetry 2017, and elsewhere. He splits his time between Washington, DC, and the San Francisco Bay Area, where he is pursuing a Ph.D. in English at the University of California, Berkeley.

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