“Utopia, Texas” by Tracey Knapp

My first trip to Texas
and we drove four hours out
into the hill country
where jackrabbits launched
themselves across the narrow roads
and the live oaks widened along
the long miles.

We ate gourmet off paper plates
and stumbled upon a real rodeo
where a Chihuahua chased the steer
through the pulverized dirt
and the children clung to the backs
of sheep bolting from the chute.

I was wide-eyed watching the young boys
raise and lower their hands in time
with the kicking ass of the maddened cattle,
choreography older than any living bull.

Everyone hollering from the bleachers,
everything softening into the dusty light.

I sang softly in the car back
to our room on the Sabinal
where we fucked in the river.

A golden retriever named Stevie Wonder.
I couldn’t have imagined it better.

Who cared, then, what we didn’t know
about each other—the Texas landscape dimmed
fast into the darkening sky, and all the people
we’ve ever loved went on living without us.


traceyknappTracey Knapp’s first book of poems, Mouth, won the 42 Miles Press Poetry Award in 2014 and will be published in 2015. Her manuscript was also a finalist for the Four Way Books Intro Prize. She has received scholarships from the Tin House Writers’ Workshop and the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fund. Her work has appeared in Best New PoetsFive Points, Red Wheelbarrow Review, New Ohio Review and elsewhere. 

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