Poem - Oliphant - Two Texas Poets Roundezvous at the Bowie Library


Two Texas Poets Rendezvous at the Bowie Public Library



Summer: the climate dry

the county too

no relief not even a


beer ad’s mountain springs

on coming in from Cowtown

“Out Where the West Begins”


out where the wetness ends

where it all begins

the love & hate all over again


the meeting Hoggard heading here

to this Hudson Bay midway between

Fort & Falls / Worth & Wichita:


cities that saw our tongues

born like the Colonel’s knife

in a bayou gaming fight


so cutting to

the unsuspecting couples gave them birth

their babes turned vegetarians


& worse: versifiers in a land of steak & leather

parents so pained by the fun we’d make

of all their sacred cows


our sandals still a sacrilege

ours the hides they’d tan to within

an inch of our godless lives


our beards turning them in narrow graves

& as we drive slowly across the state

our herds of matinee memories raise


clouds of half-regret

then enter this genesis town

a Gary Cooper showdown


but in place of six-guns

slung at hips

our latest manuscripts


publications drawn out friendly-like

from brief case & manila folder

on the table poems spread like poker hands


leaning back two trappers fully clothed

floating on this air-conditioned carpet

a green lake in early spring


would-be mountain men who fountain up

spray one another with

metaphor & myth


trading titles of little mags:

Coyote’s Journal

Granite Noose Prairie Schooner


long winter tales

of the big one missed

(a sonnet nearly taken)


the librarian’s frozens looks

thawing some

at the sound of Frost & Yeats: bubbling brooks

that had they come


to these sizzling western streets

the posse would have found

their desperado words as hard to handle

as flashfloods in mid-July


at the café where we lunch

all around is talk of rain

sighted east of Saginaw

though the only darkening to reach this far


a pair of strangers

dares to eat here hairy & all

like Blacks still out

after the sun has set


& yet because love breaks the strictest laws

we leave a generous tip

despite what reason recommends

& the tide of hatred this quiet town’s recalled


                      by Dave Oliphant

As heard on Texas Poets Podcast - April, 2016

NOTE: This biographical poem remembers two poets meeting in protest of the close-mindedness of mid-century Texas "sundown towns" with unofficial curfews for African American residents.