Table of Contents - Vol. VIII, No. 1
Shirley J. Brewer
I am the delirious goddess of the omelet,
a golden circle of egg
sautéed in non-virgin olive oil,
yearning for more than a mushroom border.
Partner me with one slice of buttery toast,
a pal on my uncluttered plate
who softens my frazzled edges, and gives
some measure of melted warmth.
Festus the Clown spotted me in the first row,
my somber face a concern.
Pink nose lit up, gaudy collar
rank with mothball ruffles, he bellowed
laugh, or your feet will grow, pointing
toward his enormous orange shoes.
My parents howled at the joke, yet
my toes still twitch in the night.
The lure of a circus eludes me;
painted loonies cavort in the rings.
I prefer a playful wink,
a smile over Cracker Jacks.
Hold the props, the pranks, the baggy pants---
celebrate sunlight on your small bare feet.
As a young girl, she knew loss:
three siblings, her mother.
When she ripened, old grief
emboldened her to reach for glory.
Lovely Libbie Bacon met her dashing Beau---
George Armstrong Custer---at a party.
She disliked the gaudy yellow lining of his coat,
yet on their wedding day she carried
roses tied with yellow silk,
the color of his cavalry, the tint
of his long ringlets in morning light.
On the eve of her marriage, she wrote
every man is so ordinary
beside my own flaming star.
Their wedding an aromatic affair---Libbie
wore orange blossoms in her hair;
the boy general scented
his curls with cinnamon. For weeks,
each bore the other’s perfume.
Tiny, dark-haired, a dynamo,
Libbie dared to be her partner’s mirror. She
knew how to sustain love, trusted
her man’s battle urges,
understood his talent for war. Often,
she risked it all, joined him at the front.
My darling sunbeam, my rosebud,
he called her---one letter neared eighty pages.
She answered my own dear Autie.
After the Cheyenne and Sioux slaughtered him
at Little Bighorn, Libbie withdrew
into a dark place, refused for a time to go out.
For I am wounded, she said,
and a wounded thing must hide. More
than fifty years a widow,
she traveled, wrote books, defended
her husband’s good name. Once,
in St. Petersburg---Custer famous even in Russia---
far from all that she had lost,
Libbie confided in a friend
how she missed her rebel golden mate:
here as everywhere,
he is always by my side.
Well, howdy buckaroos,
he crowed to his cowboy mates
in those black-and-white Western movies.
Gabby Hayes stood for grizzled and gruff,
looked darn sexy in a plaid shirt---a worn hat
crowning his long matted hair---
one bath a week in his battered tub.
A sidekick you could depend on, he
stirred up dust, knew how to get a laugh.
I picture Gabby the perfect partner,
a guy who speaks plain talk
through his wild beard,
chews off your ear,
makes you feel giddy, by cracky.
Together in a chuck wagon,
he’d share his plug of tobacco,
drive us into an old-time sunset
that reeks of frontier smoke.
Late at night, beneath a swirl of purple sky,
his serenade a prairie tune---
Gabby loves his blue-eyed girl
better than his blue-faced mule---
in his whiskery, whiskey voice.
© Shirley J. Brewer