2 poems — Kevin Heaton


Sunshowers spit-shined the shark’s
tooth that gutted Kansas’ only diamondback.

You were just a puff adder feigning rattles—
scavenging rat droppings for field mice
in bales of switchgrass.

I want tallgrass.

I want a thunder god with flashes of ego.
A two-storied sod house near an artesian well.
Flag-side-up roses.

Wall clouds that squall more than hook echoes.

I want storms made out of water. Rain that doesn’t flinch
at dust. Ballsy wheat—flaxen—fully-headed. Two fresh
holstein heifers, & slow-churned farm butter.

I want forty ripe acres of Amish maize, two mules,
& a bullmastiff named Shep who eats corn snakes.

I want to break a green feather bed with a Dundee man.



They checked their irons to the smithy,
& for a fortnight forged the seams
of chaste decorum. Tallow took fuse,

callow wed rimfire on an unleavened
bedroll of mustered blues & faded
gingham. Maverick novas opting

for the bigger nights of open prairie.
Beyond squib loads. Beyond no-kick
flash pans & powderless ex-lovers.

Beyond fallow plow mule congregations,
yeastless corn dodgers & hardtack apostles.
Their union was a trysting of sidesaddle

halos, heigh-ho silvers under neon moons,
raised shot glasses to loose-wristed
barkeeps—hang-fire reloads & seared

saddle sores. A two-step stampede of glib
comancheros mounted on sure-shot trick
ponies—beholden to nothing but afterglow.


Kevin Heaton is originally from Kansas and Oklahoma, and now lives and writes in South Carolina. His work has appeared in a number of publications including Guernica, Rattle, Raleigh Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, The Adroit Journal, and The Monarch Review. He is a Best of the Net, Best New Poets, and three-time Pushcart Prize nominee.