The catalog came for Randy’s father
who spent his time away from work
in the basement, melting lead
for bullets, reloading ammunition.
Bull pizzle walking canes
were the feature, three feet long,
preserved by taxidermy and topped
with a choice of handle: eagle, bulldog
or buffalo in brass or chrome.
We understood skin magazines
hidden in furnace rooms or toolboxes,
but what could grown men want with this?
A man myself, years later,
I met a retired highway trooper
who climbed oaks without a harness
to chainsaw limbs one-handed
and slept with a pistol under his pillow
every night since Vietnam.
He carried in his hatband a coon bone,
the S-curved baculum that lets the male
continue mating for almost an hour.
Said he used it to stir his drinks.
William Notter’s collection Holding Everything Down (Southern Illinois University Press) won the High Plains Book Award for Poetry and was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award. His poems have appeared in journals including About Place, Alaska Quarterly, AGNI Online, Crab Orchard Review, High Desert Journal, The Hollins Critic, North American Review, and Southern Poetry Review. He teaches writing at Virginia Commonwealth University.