What Tall Man Says

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September 14, 2012 by The Citron Review

by Grant Clauser


Banshee Coming Down the Road 

Corn snake belly-up on a dirt road. We step over it. Banshee riding the sky. Tall Man look up, says he hears the rain coming south and we better get moving.

Hay truck on a pine ridge. Peter’s dog bit the baby, crying all day so we drive out to the trees and shoot the dog in the head. Bad shot. Shoot him again.

This day the roof leaking like a widow. Bed wet. Floor wet. Shutters blown off the window. Hail-storms banging on the roof. Banshee coming down the road. If lightning hits the barn again we’re done for sure. Tall Man curses from the chimney.

Rat trap snapping in the morning. Bit his tongue clean through like a sausage at the fair. Silo wind-whipped. Pond scum reaching to the smoke house. Yard nothing but a frog hole now. Copperheads nest in the basement.

Nighttime I hear Banshee flapping in the milkweed. Tall Man cooking meat in the shed. Says the sinning just a blister on your ax hand. But we got hogbush in the garden, skunk cabbage creeping up the yard.

Tall man chopping timbers in the barn yard. Cow gut stinking from the door. Says he gonna fix that fence and anything else he finds. His way back busting and clear. A good swing what counts. Keep that Banshee walking.


Devil in His Time

At the edge of Uncle’s rotted dock we skin the bullhead catfish. A rusty nail hammered an inch above the eyes into a splinter board ripped off the shed. Tall Man says you gotta hit it three times, twice on the nail and once on the head. If it ain’t done right you go home. A man can’t waste his life killing catfish.

Skin comes off with pliers like a wet sock. Nothing more perfect than this moon-eyed hog flapping naked on a slab. Uncle’s jackal-face dog laughing on the bank. I kick it in the crotch.

Last light slides over the forehead of the hill. Black birds screeching from the willow like kids running from a Tall Man. Sometimes the sky throws twisters just to prove itself tougher.

We carry the boat back and a stringer fulla crappie. Dog’s chasing pheasants through soft rush by the spring. Tall Man sipping wine from a plastic jug. Some things just there to be used, he says. Drink your blood in it’s time, Devil got nothing on me.

By day Grant Clauser writes for Electronic House. His poems have appeared in The Literary Review, Cortland Review, Wisconsin Review, Blueline and others. His book The Trouble with Rivers (Foothills Publishing) was published in 2012. He runs the Montco Wordshop and teaches poetry writing at Philadelphia’s Musehouse. He lives in Hatfield, PA.


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