"Come all you bold robbers and open your ears,
Of Quantrell the Lion Heart you quickly will hear.
With his band of bold raiders in double quick time,
He came to burn Lawrence, just over the line.
All routing and shouting and giving the yell,
Like so many demons just raised up from hell.
The boys they were drunken with powder and wine
And came to burn Lawrence just over the line."
American cowboy ballad.
Michael Luis Dauro is a poet, tarot-slinger, and beekeeper living in Bloomington, Indiana. He is a Millay Colony Resident Artist, Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship finalist, Pushcart Prize nominee, and a CantoMundo fellow. His work has appeared in As/Us, StoryScape, At Length, Phantom Drift, Rattle, Sonora Review, and others. Michael is also totally, unironically into spaghetti westerns and pro wrestling.
Welcome to the Poets Weave. I'm Romayne Rubinas Dorsey. Michael, what poems have you brought for us today?
Selections from the Woman With No Name
I ain’t a son of a gun, but a daughter of slaughter. My Pa a plough boy turned war orphan turned bully-beggar turned hallelujah peddler turned saloon broomhand turned barnhouse fisticuffer turned bronco-wild roscoe turned hell-bent highwayman turned train-heister turned twice-baptized preacher-mayor turned flesh-rancher turnin’ a fine profit turnin’ dog-men loose upon stolen girls, & then one day I turned up in one of them bellies & Pa went off to turn himself into a land-taker then a mine-staker drivin’ folks down them pits to turn over their silver hauls so he could turn flag-waver turned pale savior of the meager-wracked dream-chasers turned hand-over-heart fear-hawker who wrangled his new nation one town-burner at a time, & I wanted to be owed-to-none like Pa & so begrudged my fog-eyed Ma & turned myself into a murder-romancer, while Pa’s serpent-spoutin’ turned We-made-these-broken-lands-into-empire turned Heaven-brought-us-here-to-civilize-the-Sierras & went on to turn the meanest in his charge into lawmen all across the plains & then the day came when he turned his attentions upon my gunplay know-how & so turned me into his cold sharpshooter, his death-dealer, his mutiny-bleeder, his gallows-stalker & right-hand revolver, so long’s it wasn’t daughter.
Muck-faced & legless with whiskey, I once sat in the shadow of a sagging eave & beheld a funeral procession for a kite. A paper girl who drowned in a tree. My eyes smarted at how them children gathered about finger-fumbling & kickin’ dirt, the only means they could figure to pay respects. They took turns gnawin’ on that kite’s cotton string, their spittle catchin’ the amber winds until it glimmered with desert. & like a ragtag clutter of lazied hummingbirds them children went on to dip their heads into a rag of ether. What’s the use to all this remembering? I was mean with drink. I pissed myself. With a mouth soured with sick I hollered foul things at them children. Under the greasy hour of high-noon I rended my shirt & spat at them. Before all went dark & gone I witnessed men in pale dusters come & load them children onto a mule-drawn cart. & what’s endlessly shit-heaped within me ain’t that I did nothin’, but that doin’ nothin’ suited me just fine. Yet in all my dreams: the mule’s hooves, the cart’s wheels, the wake of amber dust. & through that cruel fog them hummingbirds, them children, them faces doused in a god-awful quietude.
You've been listening to the poetry of Michael Luis Dauro on the Poets Weave. I'm Romayne Rubinas Dorsey.