A City Full of Eyes (James Cilhar)

About James Cihlar
Author’s Notes

 • Rancho Nostalgia
 • ’Til We Meet Again
 • Night Song
 • Lonely, Deeply
 • Light and Dark
 • The Face Behind the Mask
 • Johnny Guitar
 • Undercurrent
 • Nora Prentiss
 • King Arthur and His Mob
 • The Normal Lives of
    Good People
 • English Poem
 • The Projectionist
 • Man Proof
 • The Reality Show
 • Modern Maturity
 • Epistemology Roadshow
 • Nostalgiarama
 • Let’s All Chant
 • Rancho Nostalgia II



Rancho Nostalgia

No one knows where I went.
From the Ace of Hearts
to the Pesos Saloon,
when they remember me
they either laugh or spit.

I could ride a man as well as a horse,
canter him up to the bar
and down a shot of whiskey
while he bucked. After I won at birdcage,
I bought a ranch

close to the border, where
the light is good. A place
to step outside of time, to grow
my hair and nails,
to let my teeth get long.

Tell the girls to wear their crinolines
or twirl their parasols.
It’s hard work being beautiful,
being someone else’s
pipe dream in blue denim

or a birthday dress.
I needed a break from singing,
from my face aging in the mirror, from
hate, murder, and revenge.
My rules are simple:

No one asks any questions,
and I get ten percent of everything.
I went from the Eastern Seaboard
to the old Southwest
in search of an education,

longing for one man to change me
from water to wine. I found my alchemy
the day I set foot in Chuck-a-luck.
I knew at once
everything the town would not tell me,

the way color floods the wrecked sky
over the desert. I didn’t waste time
with worry. I learned with my body.
I was as smooth on the ground
as on the back of a horse.

I listened to my blood stream,
and I recognized the town’s complicity
with silence. Everything was fine
until Lucky came along,
nursing a broken heart for his girl

outraged and butchered by Kinch,
who spared her nothing.
Lucky was always standing
in doorways. He was always using his eyes.
I wished he would go away

and come back ten years ago.
We all get taken sooner or later.
That’s the bargain we make with time.
After years of steady stewardship,
we let our guard down once,

and it is enough for the whole enterprise
to crash to the floor. Let it be known
I’ll go along with dying at the end,
as long as it’s understood
that my death is the result of a mistake.

  © James Cihlar, 2012


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