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We Caught Snakes

by R. S. Armstrong

The giddyup boys are good with guns, don’t recycle.
They are by nature foragers and non-believers living in their parents’ houses.
They wrestle in the open cage of commerce, knocking one another down.
When they come on stage they forget their lines.
Gruffness becomes them; they are surly in public.
When I knew them as kids we caught snakes.

The translator links me to them from a trace
of language:
                              crick, busted, ain’t, holler.

The girl whose older brothers are bad is also bad.
What happened in the dark of small houses and trailer parks
I barely knew.  Say as means pretend.  When asked
it’s always the same untranslatable answer:

                                                                    can’t say as I don't know it.


R. S. Armstrong is a writer and artist currently based in New York.  Poems are forthcoming in Post Road and failbetter and have appeared in Seneca Review, Salamander, and Beloit Poetry Journal, among other magazines.  “We Caught Snakes” is from a recently completed manuscript entitled Phrasebook for the Unrequited Country, which was a semi-finalist this year for both the Walt Whitman and Beatrice Hawley Awards. (7/2009)

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