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Wichita Mountains Ghazal 


How do you write a place? Maps have no sky, no wildlife, no rocks.

Hiking trails, thin twine unfurled, can’t be seen from above. The rocks 

you hop will take you nowhere but up over the plains, boulders

weathered and spheric, and you will see the west can’t be won. Walk 

back down the valley till the sight of Fort Sill isn’t. Like the

mountain boomer sprawling a gash on the forehead of a rock, 

its golden face distracts the fools, pollen drunk bees bumbling to burst

veins, pock hills with shafts, and strew tailings of split orange rock, 

but no one can mine the soul from this bone. Wooly old scrub-jays

chatter at their mud nests. In springtime, post artillery rocks 

blue thrush eggs from a red elm. In summer, the heat bares warped

fangs, fester of a diamondback sunning coiled between the rocks, 

and the bombs go off and the boys huzzah and the bombs go

off. If the west can’t be won, then they’ll take the east, bringing Iraq 

Team Sill Oklahoma Pride and craft beer. In the valleys, all this war is

forgotten, all but the plastic soda bottles stashed in rocks. 

If you dare to write a place, write its trash with all its glory,

You can’t hide the truth in open sky; shards of a miner’s crock 

sing it glistening from a creekbed’s debris. It’s an old rage,

so tense that it almost looks still, bison watchful, hard as rock.

In Talihina, Big Foot Likes Pabstsicles

Snaking up from scabby Big Cedar on Highway One, 

where the old monkish hills are steeped

in prayer, 

we say nothing, just spinning our wheels through

Choctaw Country 

in want of loving gods.

There are others

always there are others.

That keeps it from becoming something

our mothers can't live with, 

but our other language is bro & beer & bong rip philosophy

& right now we don't have 

the cash for that version of ourselves either.

leaving us tall wild ghosts haunted

in the woods

& there's

no honor in hunting cryptids; let a lonely body be.

When the guy at the diner that juts out of the gas station

says he lured one in w/ a 

sliced can of frozen PBR,

our first instinct is to try & set it free.

Nobody likes unfairness so we usually treat each other unfairly.

Our small powers over each other,

rare, random, hold together the wire at our throats

But this story ends as they all do:

Had 'im & lost 'im.

We drink to that. He does too, 

we just don't tell him.

Dusk. Sailing by Heavener

& their sham Viking stone. 

So many interesting lies here, stale coffee lore &

the ache smothered in our night ease back to men,

whatever that means, laughing and joking,

thumbslurring truth like a polaroid in the woods, 

a dream clogged as quartzite.


Seth Copeland graduated high school with 18 other people in Indiahoma, Oklahoma. These days, he haunts the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His work has appeared in Theta Wave, Drunk Monkeys, Heavy Feather Review, Kestrel, and Yes Poetry, among others. Twitter: @SethTCopeland

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