Sharon Waller Knutson

Wild Wild West

The way she dangles her Pall Mall
from her poppy red lips knowing
the cowboys at the coral will whip
out lighters from back pockets
faster than a firearm, then takes
a long drag as their eyes slide

from her platinum wedge
haircut, Siamese blue eyes,
to her button-down blouse
and designer jeans
showing more curves
than a country road,

nobody can tell her daddy -
a big shot lawyer in LA -
has just dropped dead
of a heart attack and her mother
has dragged her out of UCLA
summer school and driven

her and her brother to a Wyoming
dude ranch in the early sixties
where Julia, her mother and I
serve salad, steak and Stout
to cowboys and dudes. The way
she wrestles with the wrangler

on the bed of his Chevy pickup
stinking of collie and Coors
no one ever suspects she is engaged
to an LA student with the scent
of Brut and marijuana. I don’t
tell anybody. So I probably am

the only one who isn’t surprised
when she goes back to LA
at the end of the summer
and her cowboy gets hitched
to another waitress named Julia
the next summer on top of the Tetons.


I’m the Wife, She Says

Her voice is as smoky
as the saloon where she
sits on a stool downing
a Bacardi Daiquiri

sucking on a lime
and licking salt
off the rim while
I sip a Singapore Sling,

my voice as sweet
and syrupy as a sunset
sinking behind
the Superstitions.

She is trim as Tammy
with a short shag
while I wear Dolly’s
blonde wig and breasts,

which is why he slow
dances with me
to George Jones
on the jukebox

and she shares
her sob story
with the bald

until the kids run
in and grab him
by the pantleg
and her by the hand,

and they squabble
over who is taking
the night shift before
driving off in the SUV

leaving me to hitch
a ride in a pickup
truck with a cowboy
who smells like a skunk.

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