This week in the PEN Poetry Series, PEN America features an excerpt of a poem by Travis Meyer. 


from Airstrip Falconry

that person you were amiss
for years now a light

lounging on the windowsill
with a leg off the edge
watching the late night
cityscape sleep through
the neighbors drinking Mickey’s

further west
bombardments boil in
the dark offing

left alone to uncoil
the detonator
to shoot the flare

lit for Christmas grocers
arranging chantrel baskets
at the open air market
smell of coffee and oysters

could you have expected me
to wait and what for?

we thought against a light of this
which was a tell

and then you with her
front seat in the blue Apache
what all my friends I cannot

a storm before you left
you and her, what I saw,
wet again and away

worn down Des Moines on a blizzarded
stretch from Duluth

rolling hills stacked
on a cloudless instinct

the royal flush set in neon
red letters across the mattress

and that
after speaking at Cape Horn
that was that

arguments led some
of the gang to Denver
while others moved back
home to Barakaldo

papery scraps on
the splintered clapboard
remains of the town
after the f-3 in ’29

this is your life now
she said, so spark it
there’s just enough matches

chewing it down like
a mealy tangerine

buried in the wail of freight
carried over circuitous
coal hills gutted from
momentum to take

a roof on the idea
you could harness yourself
to a balloon
and brought above the town for
the Independence Day fairgrounds

white clustered children waving
and the women’s hands
squinting visors shadow
the sun and white dresses
palm linked in the afternoon
circle at Council Crest

that evening in the darken
catwalk behind Palmer’s
we drank coca and sazeracs
cheap rye we brought to the cinder
basement and cooked plaintains on
the rusty cast iron

were reminded that winter
before Rainier we thought
it was a greywolf pushing
her snout against the tent

that brought the smell from
dried salami
not knowing wolves
still made it this far
without getting shot

not till dawn as usual
Broadway mute and unobserved

a barrel as big as a
small building boiling water
and drained to troughs where
the maple sap curdled

had jars capped a four-wheeler
a labrador and rubber mallet

she was asymptomatic for a time
that we found could breathe

settling in for the night
with a tartan flannel

a wool cap you found at the general store

out on the fields a stream plated ice
vivid overcast
and a cold steam bathed
the cloudy musk

the cabin boys with playing cards
and a cribbage set

a wooden still where the men made rum

in the car waiting for them
to send for the rifle shot
out along where the wild turkeys
flew through the trees

crows scattering above the forestline
he mentioned to me that Eisenhower

and the way they tap trees different
in Vermont sometimes

sleeping together again
his rear-end cupped in my belly

a baby, I said, beach sand in the windy
length of hair when I grew it long

another summer fighting fires
up in Winatchee

the rifle across his chest like
a cruficer in a Lutheran service
my brother when he was young

the canning jar of kerosene and
a box of warped Intelligencers

a window, the passing lovers
when I said I was afraid

my brother died that day
already at twenty-three
past highway 7 if wishing what
he’d stay for wasn’t me
wasn’t someone else

the smell his breath stole away
to the chamber
faint warmth from the stove



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