The black dog next door opens his big mouth.
Sometimes I get drunk and say too much. We
circle the yard and bark. We head down south
and test the leash. It's that time of the sea-
son where we all get itchy. How come May?
How come that trill at the end of the bird's
song? Chain link. Divvy up the loot, and, hey,
I'll meet you this side of Texas, yessir,
next year. A small tail walks down the street and
everything goes crazy. The wind, the loud
thunder that split my dream last night, and ran
me ragged in two directions. I howled
in one. In the other, I walked the black
road. Fences everywhere. Then I came back.
The morning paper, and my neck is fucked
from sleeping wrong. I can't get this crossword
right. 29 Down: ___________ of the old blanked
blankety-blank. Late last night the stars heard
this rumor from this planet about how
things would shake down today. It goes like this:
If you want change, there is no time like now.
I don't know what I want. Some eggs. A kiss
from the woman in the other room. Health.
I am sick. Not well. But it is spring and
so thank you for the flowers. A word with
four letters, beginning with "L." A wand
I can wave around to make the answers
appear: last, lost, long, love-yeah, that one, sure.
Thirty at last and I now find myself
wondering how I got here: heavier
and in love, the dog pacing, a bookshelf
with thousands of words I've forgotten. Sure,
I'm alive and happy, but it is strange
to be an age, strange to be an older
thing getting older. I remember change
was something I wanted. I remember
asking for facial hair, and it came here
to this strange topography of body,
but now I ask it to leave, go back where
you came from, when I was softer, slowly
becoming me, and do I love what is
me, gone, to come, what then, what now, what this.
-from Pretty, Rooster
BIO: Clay Matthews earned at Ph.D. in English from Oklahoma State University in 2008. He has holds an M.A. in English and a B.A. in English, both from Southeast Missouri State University. Clay Matthews is the author of three books: Pretty, Rooster (Cooper Dillion, 2010), RUNOFF (BlazeVOX Books, 2009), and Superfecta (Ghost Road Press, 2008.) He has published individual poems in over fifty literary journals, including The American Poetry Review, Black Warrior Review, The Brooklyn Review, New Orleans Review, Pilot, RealPoetik, and Verse Daily. Clay Matthews has earned numerous honors for Creative Writing, including winning the Academy of American Poets Prize in 2005, being named a Finalist of the Burnside Review's 3rd Annual Fiction Chapbook Contest for The Pony Express, in 2009, and winning the Marye Lynn Cummings Endowed Scholarship at Oklahoma State University in 2006. He has been a featured reader at the University of Tulsa, the University of Central Oklahoma, Cameron University, and Oklahoma State University.