The Oregon Trail can play
three chords on its Fender

You say I have a funny feeling about my lungs churning
into gravel. I count the rhythms in your throat, spell your
name behind your ear. Tonight the oxen are spooked
because there might be ghosts in the grass they already
chewed. That would mean there would be ghosts in their
stomachs: ghost bile.

At night you dream you’re drowning in the Kansas River.
You’re sweating in your dream where you’re drowning.
You don’t know where your sweat ends and the river begins.
There is so much water, you think. Do I have to pee?

A thief comes in the middle of the night, steals the bellies
from our oxen.

You should know it’s daylight but you’re still asleep,
sweating and drowning. Child #2, Wendy, is playing
in the ghost bile that has leaked from the stolen oxen’s
bellies. She is painting her face with bile. On her
left cheek, a green butterfly.

The oxen are ashamed of their nakedness. They blush
ripe pimento. They look at the chewed grass and wonder
if their hearts are haunted. Would the thief come back
for those?

The thief left a ransom note. What is normal? the note
wants to know. The thief wants 37 rusted bullets for each
haunted oxen belly. Wendy’s head is spinning like a wagon
wheel. I rest my head on the trail, listen to the soil, damp
where Jesus once walked.