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 mid-July 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.