Valhalla, Texas by Charles Lauder, Jr.

Valhalla, Texas

the horn honks opening notes of the overture
curtain pulled aside you have arrived
an offer of freedom from the heat
the burden of work my dumb brother

burgundy velour air-conditioned sanctuary
five of us crammed inside each of us armed
Larry has his spanner Billy his spliff I have
my pen Gilbert his logic your stringless guitar
is stashed in the trunk any sign of a fight
sparked by a finger or a word flipped
in the wrong direction we bravely flee
slink low through drive-thru windows
grab burgers and fries and then fly

too young for the bars we drink in the car
North Star Mall Malibu Grand Prix Arcade
bottles of Lone Star downed in great draughts
till all that’s recalled—not our troubles with girls
nor the fires walked through—but the conquests
the conquests party turned orgy
blondes blue-eyed and tall sailing into bed
first two then four then….

not even we believe your tales

dollar nights at the drive-in north of the city
summer blockbusters triple-X triple feature
reached by dirt roads foreshadowing suburbs
warned off by ravens as we encircle their tree
center of the world for bladders near bursting
a grinding forte of guns gears and groins
all but drown out the ravens’ song they tell me
I’m not trapped here by autumn you’ll be gone

in line for popcorn and nachos a giant ogre
and his brood waylay us demand to know
what you did to his sister


Charles G Lauder Jr was born and raised in Texas and has lived in south Leicestershire (UK) since 2000. His poems have appeared internationally including Magma, The Stand, Bare Fiction, The North, California Quarterly, The SHOp, Poetry Salzburg, and Under the Radar. His pamphlet Bleeds was published in 2012 by Crystal Clear Creators. He is the Assistant Editor for The Interpreter’s House.

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