cowboys from the badlands

cowboys from the badlands

A Poem by Kylan


painting by Thomas Eakin



they nudge their horses into the singularity of the morning, the sun red

and breeding though the seamist that rises along the cliffsides. it is autumn,

and the wind from the coast is cold and murmuring through the rocks and the

scrubtrees like a labor song, heavy, pounding, with aching, rattling bones, like the

white whalebones, the great nervous systems of driftwood on the beach below.

the two men sit atop their horses and look down, where the ocean rushes

forward, slopping and capless, like scalped settlers, and they shrink into

their woven, borderland shawls and light cigarettes and they do not speak -- 

they have come a long way

to be at this coast.

behind them are love-seats of lava, with ripples and runes and looking

as if the black, rocky cushions may at any time break apart, red and yolked,

and emerge and slip toward the ocean cliffs,

like hatchling turtles fleeing for the sea. in between

the rocks and crevices, there are tiny, premature flowers, strange and yellow

and petticoated. they could be weeds in any other setting, but


they are unawakened and fragile, like hushed babies.

the seabirds cast along the cliffside and bob on the waves further out, white

and folded, but they are silent -- they are not like the birds along the beaches of cities and shipyards. the horses beneath the two men step and shake their heads

and the sun permeates through the mist like peachfuzz. they ride down to the

beach with its black sands and bony offerings and the softspoken smell of rot. they can

see an encampment of Indians a mile down the coast, and the washed up seaweed

spreads its cloaks and shrugs and the seashells are all broken

in the sand.

there are more flowers tucked up against the cliffs on the beach. they are white

and opened wide, like mouths to have tonsils inspected. they hang in sad bell

choirs, and quaver. the men on the horses ride along the beach as the flotsam

and jetsam sighs in and out, like lace curtains in an open window

-- they ride from out of the badlands,

along the sinking, atlantic oceanside, and the waves cry to them

love me, love me.

© 2010 Kylan

My Review

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Good job here. I think there is no need to reach for a "poetic" rendering. The line breaks and lack of punctuation (to my mind) detract from the quite fine interpretation of the scene. The clean straight shot, is the true one. Hope you don't mind my being a little picky with you posting; I do think it is well done.

Posted 13 Years Ago

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Added on January 9, 2010
Last Updated on January 10, 2010



Medford, OR

I'm a senior in high school and I came out of the womb with a pen in one hand and a notebook in the other. I have a complex relationship with poetry and fiction -- fiction being my native format, but .. more..

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