2 Poems

by Alec Osthoff

western interior

The lake
wrapped in ice
shrugs into night
as Scooby
huddles in his icehouse
pumping coleman gas
into a salad bowl filled
with drano

because sound
travels further over water
but gets muffled by snow
the men fishing across
the lake will hear his
and shout

can you repeat that?

beneath the lake’s
skin the water
rips and swallows
down to flooded mine shafts
where Scooby’s gear

broken erlenmeyer flasks
brown iodine bottles

on those days
the worst of days
code Alamo days when
the county cops are
knocking at the door
the Everything must go! days

past tires handcarts
children on cartons
cars sunk for insurance
the waters
the more primal waters
when this place was the ocean
and Scooby’s batch
—real prime shit—
jives with the fossils of
whale songs
that get so high
they forget they’re dead
wiggle loose from
the bedrock
shaking out a tune
of squids and glaciers
giant sharks
old age
tapeworms and
ticking tectonic plates
and the vibrations carried
out of the water
will reach Hudson Bay
where the new whales will
and say

can you repeat that?

Train Country

High-rises give way to rolling hills,
soybean fields and cattle farms—
salvage yards.
Neon signs selling Amish furniture,
Pleasure Land! selling mobile homes

The Hippie Cowboy Church,
the calliope museum.

Sweepsteaks: Win All You Can Eat
Steak For A YEAR!

log heads on the ice look like stranded dogs

              Come see the world’s largest ball of twine

              Buffalo ranches for burger processing

the raccoon goes unnoticed

the thump, surprisingly loud:
guts squeezed out rectum,
back legs wishboned, mouth chewing the air,

I’m talking STEAK
breakfast lunch and dinner

            toxic saliva,     eyes tracking movement,


            and fever.

Fur caught in the car’s low grill. Not quite a rodent
and not quite a mother. Caesarian by tire tread.
And only five hundred miles to Wall Drug.

The old timers

kept a knife in the boot,

a .22 in the glove box.

               have moved on.

Put the car
in reverse.

Come around
for another pass.

Both "Western Interior" and "Train Country" were noted as Honorable Mention for our 2017 Up North Poetry Prize.

Alec Osthoff Author Photo.jpg

Alec Osthoff

Alec Osthoff grew up in Ely, Minnesota. He received his MFA from the University of Wyoming. His work has appeared in Midwestern Gothic, Atticus Review, Western Confluence, and as winner of the Blue Mesa Review Fiction Contest.

He can be found on twitter at @AlecOsthoff.