R. T. Smith

Love Gun

I spec the clack and rattle of my dancing jack
caught your eye. Willard Watson’s the name
from Deep Gap, near cousin to Doc. Look
here at my wares—two dulcimers from fir,
rosewood and maple, whirligig, fluttermill,
a six-hole tootle flute, a jigging pig of oak.
In another life I been three miles into Hell
for coal, skidded timber, hammered spikes,
run a few gallons of Otherwise in deep woods,
never much caught. See here: music spoons,
walking mules, whimmy-diddles, clogging dolls.
Fondle ’em, son. They’re made for hands.
I favor white pine for a limberjack paddle,
but a tighter grain will render a mighty stomp,
and you know this gee-gaw is more than a toy.
Grave hunters found them in the desert tombs
of Egypt. It ain’t like I’m onto something new.

You ever cut into a apple branch and smelled
the moon? You ever run a cold blade keen
as a feather up a cedar shake and fringe it
into splinters? It’s a pleasure nearbout sweet
as love. I’m saying wood will work for you,
give you spice and gumption, been doing so
since Adam was a pup in Eden. Now I reckon
games are not your taste, but they’s a special
something if you’ll slip on ahind this tent.
Got to spit first. That’s Red Man, but way
back yonder a plug we called Bull Face’d
put out the eye of a cat, you hit him right.
I mean strong stuff, man stuff, but this here’s
strong doings, too. Smell them funnel cakes
and pork rinds in their grease? Hillbilly,
I reckon, what folks come for, but hunker
over now and gander the sack.

                                                                Adults only,
you understand. Wise men like us. I call it
the fuck gun, a whittled pistol, two rubber
bands doubled up. Along the slickwood barrel,
this pair kneeling. See her dugs and a swatch
for tresses, the other bearded and equipped?
Look here when I pull the trigger. They lurch
on the hinges, and his big jemison disappears
up the scorch-cherry socket in the dame.
Copulating, akin to hot possums on a log,
just doing what comes natural, no shame,
following Our Lord’s orders to be fruitful.
They can get up to a randy rhythm when
I work the joints hard. Bang, bang: I pull
the trigger to make pleasure. Somebody
should plink a banjo now, or bow a fiddle.
This here’ll whet the spirit of any surly girl—
weeping cherry, red birch and fire maple
with a sweet strip of cedar inlaid on the grip,
a-plenty of work, I’ll tell it for a fact.

labor is what I’ve put into it, and skill,
too, a sharp eye, practice and lucky hands.
I do it with a Barlow my daddy wore down
to a sliver. It’s rusted now with my blood
because you can’t do this without you nick
a finger. It’s bred in some of us, you hear,
that need for shaping something to linger
so we won’t be lost and disremembered
when the dark wheel up yonder hits our
number. For youns, it’s only eighty even,
cause you’re one with the sense to listen.
Eve and Adam, you know, before the snake
tickled out his tongue. It’s this here trick
makes our sorry world grin and spin,
but if you ain’t ready for such a secret,
here’s my fir and heartwood dulcimer
cut like a hourglass or a woman’s form.
You can you pick it with a goosefeather
and note its strings with a chicken bone.
I’ll let it go for just fifty Yankee dollars.
Music’s another way the world begins,
but don’t you be forgetting the joy gun.
Nothing that renders the mighty power
to stir our sap should be a sin.