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“Rules Outside the Ranch”

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RULES OUTSIDE THE RANCH

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Don’t touch the cactus needles which hitch

quick-as-a-draw to your fingertips.

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Don’t slip off your leather boots to stand

on iron-red stones, as hot and coarse

as the brand for a steer.

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Avoid a spring-time fling

with the pretty green bustle

of the prickly pear — she’ll just double-

cross you, send you packing with

nothing but rancid jelly.

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Don’t trust the saguaro to give you water.

There’s no froth there, nothing wet

to spoon. No oasis. No saloon.

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Above all, don’t listen to the nightly rant

rising from the chapparal —

that loco elocution, high and dry,

of the mind-rustling coyote.

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by Therese L. Broderick

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About ThereseLBroderick

Independent community poet living in Albany, New York USA.

14 responses »

  1. Fav line: “send you packing with nothing / but her rancid jelly.”

    I have no desire to find out about rancid jelly. That’s how effective this line was.

    Great poem. I like it a lot.

  2. What fun. You integrated the wordle beautifully, too.

  3. I was enjoying this repetition/variation of “don’t” statements then you bring out that fantastic image of the “mind-rustling coyote.” Great work.

  4. I LIKED this! As a died in the wool Arizonan, it really described the desert really well. How fun!

  5. Avoid a spring-time fling
    with the pretty green bustle
    of the prickly pear — she’ll just double-
    cross you, send you packing with nothing
    but her rancid jelly.

    I love this part. The whole piece is well-crafted – the use of the types of cacti is skillfully integrated.

  6. I love the saguaro verse, it sings to me. Unique subject choice, handled beautifully.

  7. Love it, Therese — maybe my favorite response to this week’s prompt.

  8. This conjures up images of the desert.Am mad about cacti.Cynthia
    may be a dead in the wool Arizonan
    but I’m a dyed in the wool Warrumbunglian.Enjoyed your poem.

  9. You tell such a different story with these words. I really like the second and fifth stanzas.

  10. It’s great to see the variety of tones chosen by everyone who followed the prompts. This captures the setting beautifully, and with such an artful use of the prompt words. I’m particularly fond of the third stanza.

  11. I really enjoyed this; it conjured up pictures of the desert for me, even if I’ve never been to desert America. Very evocative.

  12. I love that you applied these words to cactus – plants that mystify and enchant me.

    And living on the edge of a wild canyon where coyotes howl most nights, I especially enjoyed these lines:

    That loco elocution, high and dry,
    of the mind-rustling coyote.

    “Locu elocution” and “mind rustling” — so clever and perfect.

  13. This is wonderful. I’ve been double-crossed by the prickly pear in my childhood visits to Arizaona. I love the desert and haven’t been in years. Thanks for taking me there for a few moments.

  14. Wandering a little, and here’s a lovely surprise!

    Kind of scattered that type of prompt can become, but you held it together very well. And that “mind-rustling coyote” was just a wonderful ending, and the most provocative of the images used I felt. Excellent response!

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