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Guinotte Wise

Black Velvet Elvis

by Guinotte Wise


The creek runs black, unfrozen, between white
snow banks, cutting a jagged tear of chiaroscuro
the dogs stop to drink and ripple the dark water
and my mind flashes back to Tulsa and falling
through thin ice in winter creek to my waist as
a boy, maybe ten, thinking I will never be this cold
again, but I was, in Aspen, skiing in a snowstorm.
I warmed in a tub in Tulsa, in a bar in Aspen near
a firepit where a black velvet painting of a Maori
tribesman caught my eye. I’d never seen that way
of painting before, then I saw Elvis everywhere.



Clouds Through Blue Plastic


A girl and a boy, she streaked with dirt,
he has managed to stay a bit cleaner,

and he holds the raft as if it would float
away as she pumps it up laboriously

it assumes its shape if not its calm pool
use, blue in color. She pulls the bicycle

pump needle, and caps the whooshing
airhole. It’s losing all its air he says and

frowns. She ignores him, her brother,
wonders why she thought it necessary

to include him in this project. She may
push him overboard when they reach

the pond, not on their property. They
carry the raft down the gravel road and

she can see blurred clouds through its
translucent skin. She will send him back

to get her bamboo pole and bait, shove
off without him, no doubt redfaced and

screaming, but first the pond. They lay
it over the barbed wire fence but snag

the thin balloonlike plastic and it makes
a raspberry sound at them. They walk

away, dismayed but only momentarily
defeated, leaving the limp blue flag to

catch the eyes of farmers driving by as
though it was a blue coyote skin. The

boy said, it farted. And they both laugh
so hard they hiccup and become dizzy.



Organization Man


Round bales lying touching side by side
wrapped in plastic look like rockets or
giant cigar tubes. The farmer who chose
this pool table flat area and made sure

they were so meticulously laid gives me
to wonder if he laughs or plays or throws
a ball for pet or son, and does he stack
the dishes neatly after eating, does he

have a pegboard with sharpy outlines in
his workshop, where tools must stay to
wait their use. Nothing wrong with being
ordered, things in their place and a place

for things, but when he’s gone and laid
to rest, will his spirit be contained or will
it bemoan the flaking barn paint and the
slightly canted shutter with a louvre out

of place? The Jimson weed that grows
undaunted, the leaning fence, the carved
arroyo deeper after every rain, gutters
full of seedlings growing vines and trees

that will reclaim the farmhouse, conceal
it from the passing view. His hands are
clasped already but are they wringing in
impatience to get things put right again?




Guinotte Wise writes and welds steel sculpture on a farm in Resume Speed, Kansas. His short story collection (Night Train, Cold Beer) won publication by a university press and enough money to fix the soffits. Four more books since. A 4-time Pushcart nominee, his fiction and poetry have been published in numerous literary journals including Atticus, The MacGuffin, Santa Fe Writers Project, Rattle and The American Journal of Poetry. His wife has an honest job in the city and drives 100 miles a day to keep it. Some work is at http://www.wisesculpture.com