« Blake Lee Pate | Contents | Jeffrey Allen »

Brian Blanchfield

Wheelwright & Smith



A wheelwright in the glen trains his young

son on the forge and the while cures his deer

meat at the spring. The water cold and swift

makes it last. Trains his son, that is,


to shape and cool the hitch. A hitch

is anything one carries from spring to hilltop

like a son, or is a hard bulb universal. There are both

meanings. A freight on wheels drags against the trail

but for the wheels. The trail can lead

over passes and dales full of dwellings

providence has had to ditch. Up the old

pigpath a bad deal in the weeds.

The wheelwright raises a smith

after his ampersand,


but the trade card the son enterprises 

to distribute among travelers he never

prints until the wheel of the old man’s passing parks

and the horse is unyoked. Then empties a sigh

into winter. It took this lifetime to learn

the trench suggesting settlers stay a while

was his doing too, drawing on far

more than the team could manage,

attached to his other idea: up and go

had ever been as popular as abide, & at that rate,

to set out was likewise heritage here.


Fanning across the Blue Ridge and piedmont

dismay and its parent Calvinism

intermarried more, Primitive Baptists and

highwaymen, until: Huguenot in her broad face and hymnal;

rumbling, he, like his brothers atop

the overhead-valve pushrod engine. Age 28 by 1980,

the census records his profession as

tractor trailer dispatch manager. One hitch, 7.



Eclogue Through the Night



What one person would I put on board to hoist me up if leitmotif

and timing were hastening on and worsening my rural depot outpost past,

snowpatches in the ditch still, the fathered bootlaced boy in Wyeth worried,

and clamber when our arms had locked his steady leverage up to where he’d

braced himself smart against the prow of palettes, his velocity constant and

his interest piqued in rescue of a wet new friend, you. By pearling or

by paneling, your eyes holding heaves of mine. Only, now I want to

switch. Hurry, you can make it,

                                                 switch. Make it reach. Are we tramping now

to Peridelphia by musculature of rail and had you known and how the payoff

of sylvan demigods was flicker light on tall blue spruce and, as luck

would have it, the gash I splash aboard with was from mirror pieces

in my pocket I carried myself by the wrist from Spokane herewith, some

low stakes modeling, then the safe passage it would buy us. This is your part,

darkness pressing in, the annotative margins and, for mine, I read through

the night. When you’re ready you can tell me, if I can put the catch in late,

whose is your freight under all that breathing blanket. I’ll sleep. Keep reading.



Littlest Illeity



Always there is agency, cleverer

the decree holding an instrument at

the moment it sounds. Belgrade

baby rattle that might spill if baby

tried. Otherwise a pacifier. No I do

enjoy being made to wonder. John

always has a jar, this one, too, open

enough to contain much more

solution than it does. Its settlement

capacity is deep, shallow albeit.

Is water a solution? Was anything

chemical happening when he

made the sound in the jar sound?

Seemed he was interested instead

in showing it, until I chimed in.

The swill of it, holy water from

the sound. Inside the wash were

people—no one you know—people

forms, the sort at whom a tinker toils,

no taller than an ornery thumbnail,

and daubs a cornflower matte cap on,

in a workshop the favorite nephew

and his boy friend know. Why

are people forms waiting for a train

to pass them ever over settled in

the meanwhile of a water jar

even John may not know.

Before I ask I tell him why.

I like that sound. I pressed record

in my heart when he stirred it

once again soliciting the sound.

A fifth click you can’t pick out.

Is brahm a unit of measurement

is the kind of thing I think, and

John is the friend I have who

entertains it. Little unpainted people

forms, fixities in a stroll, remains

already, instrumental once in a 

while of water, weird, for the tink

on glass the plastic go-round pisses.

He doesn’t have to explain it.




By and By



At the end of the meadow riven

in the longest dream by the young lead

kicking the reeds with boots brazenly,

if we are to see his distance by then as a ray

extending still hours over years

we might admire the stage of it.

This is a long shot over the southern canopy

revealing the Clearwater throughway

the beaten path once beaten will meet,

as the boy is yet prohibited to learn. A log

floats at least the distance he has thus far

traveled. The log does little but turn

effortless. His promise to himself is forming

as tupelo ties wet beneath riverside rails

brighten by steps at sundown and

underfoot one is seared with something.

Five or six words. Interdiction feel. In dream

science, they call this signage. In house style

set in small caps. It typically dissipates.

Often a child’s start out is Christian

in his hellbent way. The river

turned down and the log went

merrily, if not the boy, to Clearwater,

should he keep on. There is no final tie

transverse to the rails, except the tie

laid overtop. WHY ARE WE NOT TOLD

PLAINLY? The hymns call it homecoming,

tactically, the distance reached

at a grown man’s pace. The boots again

have the camera’s attention. Cicadas are sent up

hip-high in firework sprites each stride. The sun on

the meadow burns itself off like hay.



 Edge of Water, Moiese, Montana



Just this dry mix

of whitening pink and mauve and blue bean

powdered over cache, which becomes beneath

the least lick of the Jocko River

market radish red and cobalt, and some stand

half in bath—

                     To outlast alone the doubt one is alone, or

acclimate to a decency, differ in temperature

from the big and little stones in the scree decreasingly,

and search for a place to build a spine.


The phrase for it, catch myself, is fugitive

even. About Moiese the dry first fact

of a scarab, a white one specked in the chalk rock

whose antennae, nearly fabric, are data-fond

and then the woozy look again downriver

an hour on: moose maybe, opposite

and large enough, a legend at the water table

filling the green shade brown. Too, about

Moiese, to spot her, or anything, is a decision.


Put that third. Make a rule. Edges of water

are promise places. Lie back bare and

there is a cable pulling your next thought

to the sun. Rake your face cheek to jaw

with broken mica, and the moth traffic

triples at your back. Is that a fact?

« Blake Lee Pate | Contents | Jeffrey Allen »