Notes by Tark Mackintosh
This poem by the Australian French-Canadian anarchist-revolutionary and Wild West tenderfoot Guy Duvet is not in any sense a paean, or song of triumph, but rather a howling complaint of lost love that was penned immediately following the destruction of Gulliver S. Gulliver’s Hacienda Láatsi in southern Oaxaca. Guy Duvet himself set arson to the homestead of his most admired rival in a desperate attempt to win his attention and respect. The plot backfired, as GSG and his poet-soldiers Los Decepcionados abandoned the smoldering ruins of Láatsi and Oaxaca forever. Guy Duvet had been given the mitten.
speak what we say GD’s English was never extremely lucid. He probably means speak what we feel.
threat of brittle love / …bedrolls The image of precarious, physical desire most likely has some unknown reference to members of Guy Duvet’s Pont L’Eveque arts movement, whom Guy had converted to cowhands in the Mexican high plains with middling success. GSG and GD never rode the line at all, and both haciendas boasted large feather beds.
bedrolls The classic hen skin or sleeping bag. The ‘fire’ is the West Fence that separated the estranged leaders; the ‘bedrolls’ their embattled ranchos.
shamrock GD was convinced that the word was shamerock and used it as a synonym for crowbait, or shoddy horse. The sense is, ‘Not even a bad hoss whinny could get you to eye the pages of my manuscript of poetry about horses, boy, or the idyllic country life.’ GSG famously refused to read a single word of Guy Duvet’s prolific and fabulously successful cowboy poetry.
liver Traditional centre of cowboy angst.
butte Always pronounced ‘butt’ by Guy Duvet in interviews. The backside is a reference to the East Fence and thermal springs in the rocky outcroppings beyond, a scene of much enchantment.
dry gulch Of Gulliver’s cowboy liver.
high desert Of Gulliver’s lonely cowboy heart.
Soaring butte Of the stock or butt of Gulliver’s large repeating cowboy rifle.
drawn / quartered! The reader believes that reconciliation is near, but her hopes are subverted by the final cry of the poem, in which the poet is ripped into four roughly equal pieces by emotions more headstrong than wild horses.
Markenbaldi’s emendation ‘drawn / cuttled!’ makes no sense and should be ignored.
Photo by Phinehas Adams on Unsplash