Jeffrey Clapp

Bud and Dolly’s

Summer lakeside slow riding
early afternoon in June
vernal hum off insect lily-pad lagoon;
Bud and Dolly's Restaurant and Saloon,
sweet particle board retreat
till Dolly took off last week.
Never came home, didn't phone
"Lost Dolly!" 
best news of the week.

Sweet-drinking, slow bubbling glasses of beer
wet cardboard coasters, ears bent to hear;
done up in rollers, down in the weeds
red hair, blue lips, floating white beads
images conjured in bottom grass.
Bud in the pantry, cuddling her ass
fishermen frightened of hooking a thigh
Bud in the pantry, starts in to cry.

Late night listless
outboard hum on aqueous ink.
Close air in the bedroom,
something that stinks.
Closet doors opened, holes trenched wide
bones in the garden, dicks outside
Chief Detective Eichorn shaking his head--
did she simply skip out or
is poor Dolly dead?

Pretty fall landscape
Greyhound bus
flatlanders ogling the leaves.
Some say the reds look like rust,
others like blackberry tea.
They can send bloodhounds to the woods
volunteers to beat the brush
but every trail grows cool with time,
flesh rots and metal rusts.
Clues thin like sewage in a mile-wide lake:
too many untied ends 
for Bud to take.

Stone November 
cruelest month
salted licks for white-tailed deer
blackened vines and fruit that's rotted-- 
who's that brooding over there?
Slumped down drunk at a dockside table
polishing off the season's stock,
Yuengling, Schlitz and Pabst Blue Ribbon,
palest blonde to darkest bock.

You can roll the rugs up if you want to,
board the windows and bar the door,
draw the boats up and chain the docks in
till breezy April when fishing stocks in.
But Buddy sought a quicker ending:
Misery, mounting to his chin
blew his top off and toppled in.

White December 
town folk gone
clues like earthworms under frost
down at the station where they call it
The Big One that they lost.
Fishermen huddled at the center
of the frozen-over lake
dropping bait for winter rainbow
sometimes catch a writhing snake.

You can have the ending that you wanted,
find poor Dolly and bring Bud back
but that romanced kind of ending
is the province of a hack.
Dolly's gone but not forgotten,
Buddy's ashes spread last May
from the rowboat called "Remember"
Bud and Dolly's hideaway.

Jeffrey Clapp’s poems and stories have appeared in North American Review, Blue Unicorn, Dalhousie Review, Arkansas Review, Sycamore Review and many others. He is a past recipient of the Daniel Morin Poetry Prize at UNH and the Indiana Fiction Prize from Purdue. His work has been anthologized in Best of Blueline and Like Thunder: Poets Respond to Violence in America. He lives in South Portland, ME.