Frank Little in the Big Sky State

They beat him, because it was clear
as moonlight to them that their fists
had the right to break a man’s jaw
and muddy his flesh and blood
with their blows; then they tied him
to the bumper and dragged him
out of town, because it was a right
the darkness bestowed, and also
it was a nice touch, it was, to erase
a man’s knees; and then they flung
a rope over an iron trestle and pulled,
all six of them, because at night,
they had the right to lift a man,
hand over hand, out of his life
on earth and into the big sky—
but before doing that, they had
the foresight to pin to his shorts
a sign warning us they knew who
we were and we could be next—
as the hills and buttes were their
witness, they had the right.

The next morning, we found him
cinched to the sky and cut him down
and claimed him
because it was our right
and buried him beneath red roses
and threw away the sign.

David Salner worked at manual labor for twenty-five years, as an iron ore miner, steelworker, furnace tender, and machinist. His fourth collection of poetry, John Henry’s Partner Speaks, appeared last spring from WordTech and new poems will appear in Cutthroat and The Iowa Review. He has just completed a novel on the life and times of Frank Little. (d_salner@hotmail.com)

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761