Red Shuttleworth was named "Best Living Western Poet" by True West magazine. His Western Settings received the first Spur Award for Poetry from Western Writers of America. He earned an MFA in Theatre Arts: Playwriting from University of Nevada, Las Vegas. His poems have appeared in over 200 journals, including Concho River Review, Rattle, Flyway, Elysian Fields, and Prairie Schooner. Shuttleworth’s plays have been presented widely, including at the Tony Award-winning Utah Shakespearean Festival, Sun Valley Festival of New Western Drama, and Sundance Playwrights Lab.
Women in Starlet-pink… Sly Smiles
On the knife-edge of boredom
two years beyond plastic surgery,
the twin sisters took a yodeling class,
sewed britches onto a neighbor’s
lawn statue of Venus at four in the morning,
paraded tottering drunk through Sun Valley
in peach-colored thigh-length golf shirts
and squirrel fur slippers,
got matching lower back
tattoos of Hemingway’s face
about the time he was cracking up.
Ed points out the women
up on the roof of The Roosevelt.
They’re at a table,
tall glasses of milk and raspberry tarts.
They don’t seem to know Ed,
though he said he’d had a recent
moist kiss from one at a party to honor solitude.
There’s a mountain drizzle as I haul
out of Ketchum, no deal with Ed
to produce another play of mine.
I gnaw a strip of bogus buffalo jerky,
crank up a Tom Russell song,
reckon it out: it’s too late
to wish I’d been born a coyote.
The Cinderella Game
She’s sweaty, dizzy on a pink bed
after another day of door-to-door
make-up sales to rumor-dulled women.
It’s a Motel 6: stand-up shower
with a fatigue bench, free shampoo.
Put your ear to the hard ground.
In some spots you’ll hear the bubbling
Amargosa River running down below.
Pioneer’s now a ghost town.
Once it had three newspapers,
three opera houses, seven churches,
twelve brothels. Pioneer lasted one year.
No clothes, no embarrassment, she opens
the door, no man’s brown-eyed blonde
in a white Mustang. Lonesome Jack,
druggy-thin neck of a rock star,
a quarter mile south of plain drunk,
found a black plastic bag filled
with lukewarm burgers in a dumpster.
Suicide is a daydream embellishment.
At cell phone midnight, she gathers illusions
over reheated buffalo T-bones.
Getting the last word in, he shouts,
I hate accepting facts.
A train loaded with sugar beets
crosses a weedy field. Thorns take flight.
Some kids toss a beer bottle from a car,
miss a road sign, spin gravel on a U-turn.
Awake and cleaning a rifle at 3 a.m.,
the rancher, not in good repair,
watches the TV screen in a mirror,
Jim Bowie coughing blood.
It’s the sound of a slammed car door,
hundreds of unmarked Great Plains graves.
A homely fried eggs ‘n bacon girl
catches a Trailways bus to Denver.
Do whatever the hell you want,
but permission is a wormy apple.
It’s brush the horse, go back
to the saloon for that glazed woman.