Christmas: Topsey, Texas

by Wendy Taylor Carlisle

The season’s self-pity circles by looking like that apple-red truck
you want but you’ll never be able to buy.Your ex-girlfriend
snuggles in the passenger seat, dashboard Jesus grins
at you and reverb thunders from the cab.The season arrives

with a compliment of far-away family and matching
sweaters. It drives slow past Texas Hunting and Mercantile
where you found that hand-tooled saddle you can’t afford.
Holiday homecomings provide you with a quick glance at

Rebecca, long and pale in her Tony Lamas, two big
Aggies escorting her. You can see she’s way above
your pay grade, which is when you know for sure
not one of these wonders, will ever be yours.

Raise your eyes when this sadness takes you over.
Lower your eyes when you know it will happen again.


Just Because You’re Standing In The Garage,
That Don’t Make You A Car: A Quatorzain

Everything I know about beauty
I learned in Texas—
waxing, plucking, coloring, lifting, buffing,

where to find trainers, Yoga, Botox,
cupping, couture. In Texas, I honored Restlayne,
discovered the importance of linings

and 5” heels, expensive purses
and stingy lunches. I mastered all this
in Texas, land of excess, boned up

on being skinny from Texas
women, who never aged,
grasped how to take a compliment from

Texas men in Brioni suits, figured out
how to clear out in Lucchese alligator boots.


There Was a Lot of Dreaming; A Quatorzain
There was a lot of dreaming in the Bronx (Ralph Laure)

and there was dreaming in the pastures,
slow cows chewing their futures before

the cattle truck came to ride them to the shock,
the bolt, the knife, the hose the hook.

They call it “finishing” when they take cattle
to be penned up and overfed, to become filet and chuck

and round steak, hamburger, become our full bellies,
our future heart attacks. Drive the Texas Panhandle

past a slaughter-yard in Amarillo that stretches
for miles. Disregard the smell that drifts down that

highway for as long as you can. Then imagine
the reek of 2000 unburied cow carcasses,

set out to rot, by some careless foremen,
in the field next to the feedlot in Shallowater.


Wendy Taylor Carlisle lives and writes with both feet in the Arkansas Ozarks. She is the author of five chapbooks and three books, most recently The Mercy of Traffic (Unlikely Books, 2019.) Find her poems in print and on line. For more information, her website is<><><>.