“Transfixed, Gothenburg, Neb” by Michael F. Simon

Likely a first encounter starts with torn pants
and a cut, stuff’s just everywhere, even
places no one has any reason to stop
anything. It’s right up there with creosote
and smallpox as a weapon to domesticate
the West. Ultimately a mass of cattlemen decreed
barbwire must be used to define property boundaries.
I especially detest that softened mispronunciation
I grew up hearing, Bob Wire.

Here some farmer began to gather barbwire,
just to clean up his place. Others heard
he had a pile, and next thing you know
he’s forced to turn to Art to get rid
of the coils, the twists, always getting bigger,
becoming a bison, tall as a man at the hump,
five miles of wire wound into this beast,
three miles more became a horse and mounted
Lakota hunter. Breath half exhaled, I am a toy train
emerging from a fireplace into the harsh afternoon.