Cabela’s Commercial Disguised as a List of Things Better Left Unsaid

by Alejandro Derieux-Cerezo

                         after Matthew Olzmann



In the Cabela’s off of U.S. 23, you tell me
every animal in this place was killed
by the man himself; how names
fix themselves, silent, to the body.

A bobcat (mid-pounce upon
a mountain goat’s stagnant ass),
an African elephant, a full lioness
(perched above the “Bargain Cave.”)

A mug printed with “Liberty Or Death,”
on the side, which you insist we should own.
I tell you I couldn’t, I’m scared
to give people the wrong impression.

We wander the aquarium and watch
the live rainbow trout in their miniature pools.
A stream flows from the peak of a so-called
mountain in the center of the store.

The sides quadrant into seasons. The scene
turns from green to paper white and back.

You hurry me to the boat shop,
empty of boats. The ivory tusks missing
from the front of the “Gun Library.” You pause
and tell me you still listen for the sound
of the discontinued pop rifles.

Regardless, we leave with Moon Pies,
that mug which you decide to buy
for your boyfriend instead, and a keychain
with the words “MY KEYS”
(which you have hidden in your clothes).

In the car we laugh about how the keychain
triumphantly fails, does nothing,
yet does enough. The obvious shortfall
being the vague word “MY.”

In the case where someone else
has the same one, the words fail
spectacularly, do nothing at all.

What a terrible thing, a loud silence:
worthless speaking. The keychain
is so cheap because it says
what you could never forget.

As you sat there, cackling at the sea-green
oxymoron in your hands, I had the thought
to kiss you, if it weren’t for the fact.

In taxidermy they attach the skin,
preserved, to a foam frame. Muscle and veins
are molded beneath the surface.

Every animal dies in a certain pose, of course,
the kind an animal makes when it is dying.
Rigor mortis.
Then this function is rebutted.

But, I wonder if this fox, screaming at me
from the precipice, is posed in the moment
it knew it was done for.

The moon falls lopsided through the leaves,
the trees, the empty grain in the field,
and this too: a poem.

What is there to learn in a face
staring down the rifle barrel?

The next morning, when the snow was new,
a fresh coat on the snowshoe hare,
when the cotton in my mouth didn’t slow

I’d never sat open-throat before you,
with an evil word like “want.” Or “shame.”
“Envy.” I try to laugh it away, “covet”
has a funny sound.

You listen and tell me you’ve always
put it out of mind: “I thought if something
was going to happen, it would just happen.”
And I can’t tell if it’s advice.

And I can’t bear to imagine it’s an echo.
The noise of pop guns against the ceiling,
the mirror of snow, the light bowed
off a sunset. I tell you, I need some space.

Maybe it’s all proximity. Maybe the insides
relax when they leave the showfloor. Maybe
an elephant springs to life in the backseat
as we drive away.

And drive away. And things don’t have
to change. Things don’t have to change.
They don’t.


back to University & College Poetry Prizes