Fritz Ward



The Doppelganger's John Wayne


In his one yellow dress, John Wayne

approximates the Mojave.


Swift to sear, but slow to blow

the candles out, his grit scours


the tongue in the sweat lodge of my mouth.

Like a cactus, he pricks


to protect the water inside.

He squints and testifies.


He leans against the unblinking sun

for support. I stare and go, go, go


blind as the Joshua tree. One deep

breath from his solar plexus


is the nexus of excess.

His Western-wear and diamond-backed


fingers rattle through my Palm Springs.

After all, poison is as poison does.


Between sunsets, he medicates and breeds.

Like the good and the ugly, I pray


to my predators. I start the pilgrimage by rolling

up the cuffs on my khakis. Bare-ankled


through the Eden of sagebrush, I'm bitten by the mirage

of this marriage. At high noon, I lie down with his body


and make an angel in the sand of his death valley.





Love Letter as Prosthetic or Personal Flotation Device


Dear Special Effects, the blue screen of free will permits the anomaly of an us. I could be dead or you could be Tina. In the editing bay, you score my life with prosthetic meaning. Underexposed and overbudget, we invest in the symbolism of shadows. Now splice here—an inch below the love line. I'll wink and tell you it's all too real: your cheeks thumbworn and f-stopped. O—, the aperture of your lips opening, opening, opening. I only wish I'd framed you with more original sin.