Two Poems by Danniel Schoonebeek

Marshall1Web Body

Marshall Schuettle. Mr. Bones. Photograph, 55×67 inches, 2013. Courtesy of the artist.


The suit I wore the day I was born

I stole

from a thrift store was wove

out of very cheap mother

warm muslin

I soiled

like men do

when the day comes to ruin their threads


Marshall2Web Body

Marshall Schuettle. Eden, WI. Photograph, 60×70 inches, 2013. Courtesy of the artist.


One of us falls into the manure spreader the sun

have you seen it

it bleaches the straw

the bone meal

It watches the flies in hysteria defile what’s breathing or isn’t

They breed

They hatch

The field like the thigh of a horse we think it trembles

Have you seen it the sun it smears

the salve in its eyes

It strikes out pitiless and burning the shit



Osmon Steele undersheriff of Delaware County he wore the tin on his heart

He boasted

during the Anti-Rent War eighteen forty-five that lead cannot

penetrate Steele

Well the bullet

when it ate through the six-pointed star on his shirt

was the black tooth

of an appaloosa it tore through the badge it left

a hole the size of a solar eclipse

A man in calico dress and tin horns on his head he wouldn’t admit he fired

the shot

(stifling that August

inside the courtroom) his testimony

he said Osmon was a good man a Delaware boy and so

the casket closed on him

He said justice for me is a field of dead horses in summer the flies when they come

they think themselves ghosts

They think it’s winter

But the ones who rent your land we know better it’s tar

not flies

and that isn’t snow it’s feathers

August in Delaware County the days do not end

not until a spinach seed

or a Delaware boy

pushes his hand through the earth

We say we’ll dust off

the book when we find it here in the dirt

its cover like skin if skin is blue corn

We say here in our American Legion

when the sandlot is empty

we will find the book and settle our names that we could not settle like scores

One of us didn’t know it

was loaded

One of us when he tore his shirt he soaked the strips in ether

He breathed until

he saw the million larvae

hatch in each of his eyes

One of us is shot down

in the desert the fire was friendly they ship him back home

wrapped in horse meat and feathers the sun

strikes out pitiless

and burning the quills

One of us we hear say I saw one of ours one of the Delaware girls today

Her face it was smeared

it was rouge on her face and unguent like one of those Bedford girls

I quit my mouth he says

like I’d quit any field that yielded no harvest one of us

instead of a fist inside of a rib cage was built with a boot knife inside of a rat cage

One of us bit

into an earthworm went crazy he chases

his father whose face

he’s never seen

down a gravel road dragging a string of empties behind him

The casket is closed man

we hear one of us say

The words in his skull we can see them glinting like coins

the manure spreader the grinder

the blades and the bone meal the sun

it’s burning the shit

The casket is closed man we don’t pay

respect we don’t

shake his father’s hand we don’t kiss his mother’s

When we find the book

we will settle our names that we could not settle (we say it) like debts

We say when his hand

pushes its way through the earth

I will pay Osmon Steele

the two silver dollars I stole from my grandmother’s eyelids

Thank you for the horses landlord

Thank you for the shit

I will tear my shirt to dress his wound I will smear the salve where the flies crawl

into his eyes

Osmon they breed

They hatch Osmon

They strike out pitiless and tarring the skin

Danniel Schoonebeek’s first book of poems, American Barricade, will be published in 2014 by YesYes Books. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Tin House, Boston Review, Fence, Guernica, Kenyon Review, Denver Quarterly, Gulf Coast, Colorado Review, Verse Daily, Drunken Boat, and elsewhere. He writes a monthly column on poetry for The American Reader, hosts the Hatchet Job reading series in Brooklyn, and edits the PEN Poetry Series. Find him here.

Borderland, a major solo exhibition of Marshall Scheuttle’s photographs, is on display at the CEPA Gallery through August 10th. A print edition of the exhibition is forthcoming this Fall.

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