Colby Cotton




Had you been able to breathe or even stand,
I would have walked you to the river
and held your head underwater.
If I had found you in snow-

deleted fields, still alive in the shade
of sycamores— if you had failed

to pull the trigger,
I would have lifted you

in the pale orchard
of my hands and unraveled

your skull, a sun-
rattled coin spun across the field,

a flock of cardinals tearing apart
branches. If you had asked me

to cock the hammer,
or run the blade

down your arm, I would have
slicked my hands through your hair—

would have scattered
your teeth in the blue shade

of the barren pasture—
where the winged seeds

of box elders twisted

to ground.






From night, black as the rubbery lips of dogs,
eyes pink as pig jowls, I sat stoned
on the dented hood of my car while the others

wheeled a keg from the Texaco into the bed
of a pickup driving anywhere.
From the ambient light of the television left on.

The tremble of a text message on the nightstand.
The ambulance that wails another cold body
down the interstate. We packed the car, and rode

the province of rain-slick alleys, suburbs
of dripping sinks, leafy gutters spilling
rainwater. Because dust collects in the open

mouths of the living, because he walked
into a dry field with his gun. We lift a bit of hash
off the coil on a stove, pour a 40 on the lawn.

Because an officer bagged his revolver
in the high pasture, we see more clearly
the bats that clean the buggy light

on our empty lot. The caterpillar who makes
its slow crawl to chrysalis in the budding trees. 






"Elegy for Seven Years" is the last poem in a sequence of elegies I’ve been writing for the past year. The elegy is difficult to speak on coherently, but both of these poems were inspired in part by the Lucinda Williams song written for Frank Stanford, ["Sweet Old World"]