The Tarkio River
Brian Clifton (Missouri University, USA)
for The English House
The coyote’s clavicle shirked our flashlights
and sunk into the Tarkio’s thick tar blanket
while fire flanked the riverbanks
and we were eating honey. Honey spread
thick on our dried bread as the prairie
burnt into a night sky of ashes. Even dirt
reduces to ashes. Farmhouses bow their heat-
broken necks. Silos rip their aluminum skirts
to twist the flames, to blacken to nothing.
We sang in the wheat stalks wasting to slag.
We ate our honey. We smiled with honey.
We smoked honey cigarettes. We asked
our honey to bask the world in firelight
as we danced through cold-fattened smoke
and coyote bone sweetened and charred–
not even the Tarkio could slake such flames.
Brian Clifton lives in Kansas City, Missouri where he walks mostly everywhere he goes. He plays bass and is currently enrolled in the MFA program at UMKC.