William Stobb


Motel South Dakota

“You can check out any time you like…”
—Eagles, Hotel California

You’ll notice hooves in the Chancellor’s Suite aren’t real
            because cattle don’t dance.
The pasture is real because you crashed your bike there and
            Wanda K used pliers to pull
gravel from the wound where commemorative bluebirds
            circle the wall sconce.
Chickens have three tiny feathers on long spindly stalks
            instead of the cockscomb emblazoned
on the cigarette machine. Westward Ho! Bucking Broncos
            and nine rye whiskeys
in the Wagon Wheel Lounge where your ex-best friend
            bought unfiltered Pall Malls
and after you barfed tried to blow you on the yellow
            bedspread where stains
form a Virgin Mary chicken.
Your vision of the raccoon in the oil well is emblazoned on
            09, where oil wells boom
and raccoons thrive. When the raccoon makes a phone call,
            your wedding party answers.
Hello? Groomsmen currently lost in a Deadwood blizzard
            holler as pronghorn
advance by frame through white-out lightning. Please hang
            up and try again.
Tiny fake buffalo purchased from dollar stores. Scattered
            about rabbit eyes of unknown origin.
Being unable to remember kind or unkind courtesy of the
            buck crashing
through arbor vitae surrounding the outdoor pool and
            neurology. A doe has ticks so it’s real.
Oh dear. It’s not a deer with the needle and the not waking
The beaver is the most internet searched animal. It poses,
            fat tail in its delicate hands,
on the fold-out luggage stand and speaks Beaver, close-
            captioned direct to your vision.
“Here’s to everyone past and missing, that life a journey of
            marrying this.”
Caribou dance the caribou dance, howl caribou in the
            caribou song.
“Hot!” exclaims your rented raven reverend spitting coffee
            in the branches
of pine trees in a Spearfish brochure.
Finally, disgust in the owl’s expression is the dead
            giveaway. You said owls look
surprised because they shit out bones. Surprise! That was
            funny in the live performance.
But now bright screen of lapdogs gone coyote flips to
            windblown inferno outside Pierre.
Fanned flames pin back ears. Trees blow smoke owls at the
            moon and wild ember packs
leap to hunt the new world, Rapid City.
Tied off fake stegosaurus nods deeply and fades, its saliva
            puddle a mint on your pillow.
Under the bed something’s snapping all night. A wild
            turtle, snapping slow.
Head north at first light to Medicine Hat. Your note reads
            “Follow! Howl if you can!”
but the plan doesn’t make sense. The writing’s a foreign

WILLIAM STOBB is the author of five poetry collections, including the National Poetry Series selection, Nervous Systems. He works on the editorial staff of Conduit (conduit.org), teaches writing at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and runs the music and PA at the local hockey arena for junior games.