Scenes From a Gap Year Under the Scabbed and Cracked Skin of the American Pastoral

By Henry Tegethoff 

  1. (Veracruz, MX)

Your blond god has fallen to untouchable vileness 

What does he care for the atom bomb, the bed bugs, 

the friendly financier waiting to repossess my delinquent flesh?

The dull beauty of my filed-down teeth,

straw soaked in animal piss,

Mouth full of blood and disinfectant,

I wash my hands in an old enamel bowl.

All of us, blown from east 

Fallen leaves gather west:

the front wheel reflectoricepack and cigar smoke

the worn leather couch,

thrown down the walls.

Sleeping in a cattle car

a wheel sparking under us

running an iron rail gauntlet 

Lights from home pulse hollow in the distance,

Like neglected coal, a pile of dampened embers


II.  (Orlando, FL)

Yr blue love shining

Everywhere, sun-star, wailer

Hissing summer lawns 

Brilliant, beautiful 

The golden rosary beads 

O ever weeping

Yellow river mist

Nothing distinguishable 

Primordial, empty.


III. (Atlanta, GA)

Linoleum tile hallways, stiff and starched in white light 

The boys kick the ball 

Far across the field-

Lonely, the goalie waits.

Charming little bedraggled prince

Pleiades, spiders scrambling outta sinks

Flowers aiming crookedly

Geese cutting straight 

Clouds bouncing empty 

A telephone pole a hundred miles high

With buzzing wires of transcendence 

The cheap-movie sticky-floor echoing bliss

The Spanish moss anthill orange juice bliss

The rubber-scuff orange-glowing asphalt-champion bliss 

The midsummer of our lives

Folding beneath a molten moon

The bliss is heavy on my lids and I sleep 


IV. (Franklin, NC)

Dead in heaven

Earth a swirling meat wheel

And the mothers the only ones

To smile at me;

They know I’m someone’s son 

O old man, whom doth my garden keep

The things that you have seen would leave most men to weep

Tirelessly you work, and nothing do you reap,

Apart from all my dreams, which you harvest from my sleep

You’ve taken all I had now, and made it all your own

And saturated, now, is the garden you have grown

All the other fields lay barren, apart from Meter’s throne

My dreams, noble fruitions, that humbly you’ve sewn

Now both we lay, at our humble garden’s edge

And the smallest stars began to perforate the sun’s setting edge,

While lassitude, in its brilliant softness,

Begins to settle in Six feet beneath the daisies, in rest of mortal sin


V. (Cannon Beach, OR)

I’m running towards a winter sun

Hurdling down a cold red road for the sea 

Tonight I’ll stretch full by the fire

And drink from a black and starry stream.

Tomorrow I’ll make brute music from the pounding of my heels on packed earth!

The tall prairie grasses are sighing; our loveblown bannerets mourn in vain.

A birdless heaven and a lonely seadusk, kicking off my boots and falling to my knees in the spotted sand.

The moon weaves a web of silence,

Lambent waters brood the passing of another sullen day


VI. (Lone Pine, CA)

Outlaw poetry?

Poets walkin’ outside the law,

Spewing bloodstained words

Life can only be lived forwards, but can only be understood backwards

Trembling hands,

Jaws set firm,

Facing down the roar as they sow fields of their innocence,

The winners of the game romping around in their dry daze.

The losers weep

Cheap blood suckers gnashing in their consciousness 

The self loathing gangsters kicking the asphalt mud

Glittery-gold heaven’s angels sputtering around whistling gleeful 

Everybody wants the same chimera,

The sawed-smooth sun-swept sierras

Everybody’s spoonfed champion jumping from the top 

We stand trembling in our mortality boots, the drizzles of religion falling on a burial field, the grim mouth planted, the satin of the earth coffin.

I could write it on walls across America- Dove in wings of peace, great Noah menageries, moonshine eyes and milky minds, dead dogs with shiny claws

They will all go up to heaven from where they are,

Like golden phantoms of angels in gold strap we go hitchhiking the Deus Ex Machina to heights apocalyptic and divine

It’s sick and soggy and perfect.


VII. (Marietta, GA)

Last night I played tennis with Jonathan

In the bleak brown traffic air

In the mortal Golden eternity 

In the dead silent coyote dogma 

It’s a thin Dixie white and worn,

From Virginia slims, drawn and torn

An emasculated visage, plain and dry

Braids tracing backs, feet are spry

The minute can’t be trapped in nets of cold,

But it can be snapped at frantically

And clamped between the pages of a journal,

Like a firefly at the mercy of a child’s whim

They all know themselves

Be it beast or jackal or love,

And they pry at the nails of their late Sunday nights 

Clawing at the crystal clarity of all their worlds 

In the church they light the candles,

And the wax rolls down like tears-

The band sounds like typewriters, 

Chickens scratching at my mortality

Plundered, betrayed, sold

crookedly they face a dark enclosure 

Baptisms, marriages, masses for the dead

What if birds aren’t singing they’re screaming? 

And roses are more than instruments of pure contradiction?

What if when gods come walking out of the living things,

Madness lifts its wing and covers half my soul?


VIII. (Bailey Island, ME)

The silence of god,

 The unbearable silence of god. 

The chatter of man, the silence of god.

This is the way it was,

While I was waiting for your eyes to find me.

The crucifix satellite tower

Stretching over the asphalt trenches,

Eric dolphy war whooping

For it’s a beautiful cosmos,

And a beautiful sea we sit watching 

As it crawls in lazily.

You rolling in your sand dune sleep

I basking in my completion,

 soaking in your enumerations


IX. (Murfreesboro, TN)

Ballerina purity,

How we meet today

Internalizing subtleties 

A movie night, a slumber party

Halloween on a tire swing

Our heads are drunk and empty

Take another walk by the scene 

Of all the haunting pleasantries 

I think I gave too much

But finally I understand your seasons

You speak in shallow sentences

Miraculous repentances 

For God is a dancer, nimble and busy

And if stay us dead in heaven

And our limbs should intertwine,

Shutter your stars, bleak and lazy

I’ll be back for them soon.