TEEN SEQUINS 2016: BRAD TRUMPFHELLER, AGE 19

Welcome to day six of Teen Sequins 2016! Today’s poem is “Scene from a Western” by Brad Trumpfheller.

 

“Landscape is character,” wrote Henry James, and perhaps nowhere is this remark more visibly true than in the traditional genre of Western films, where landscape saturates and governs every character’s action. In Brad Trumpfheller’s “Scene from a Western,” a family is fused with the mythical Western landscape. In this poem an absent father’s palms are plains, his eyes “like the rolling yucca trees,” and the land itself gives a ragged cough “which the wind would then fashion / into the shape of my mother.”  A newborn foal drags itself down the steps of a family home, no—Trumpfheller, the actor, the director, the author, draws a newborn foal down the steps of a family home, “..and this is how / the audience knows my father….” This a poem of clear pulse, astute attention, and wide horizons, swallowing a rider in the sunset. -Sophie Klahr

 

SCENE FROM A WESTERN

 

Below the canopy of day, a foal

drags itself down the stairs

 

of my childhood home, threadbare

mane slick with blood. & this is how

 

the audience knows my father

is never home for any of my birthdays.

 

I will only see him when the night swallows

the sun or something needs

 

to be fixed. & after my mother came home

from the hospital, the storm

 

door had come off one of its hinges. O God –

his hands like flat & empty plains, his eyes

 

like the rolling yucca trees. Now do you see

how the sandstorm crawled its way across

 

the desert? A dead landscape mustering up

some slow seize, some cough of dirt & bone

 

which the wind would then fashion

into the shape of my mother: bed-ridden

 

for days, thighs reddened

into clay. But there is something honest

 

about the sand. How it shocked the windows

with rattling. How the house was buried

 

& unburied while my mother’s pillows etched

epitaphs into themselves.

 

Before the audience leaves the theater,

or before my father can disappear

 

again – the scene ends with the foal, collapsed

in the desert, its body curled into the shape

of an empty crib.  

 

Brad Trumpfheller is a student at Emerson College, studying literature & musicology. He was raised in the south, but spent time all over the United States. His writing has appeared in / will appear in the Nashville Review, Lambda Literary, Red Paint Hill, and elsewhere. He reads poetry for Winter Tangerine and handles business development for The Adroit Journal. In his free time, he writes about music.

 

Honorable mentions: Ariella Carmell (University of Chicago, Chicago, IL), Deepali Gupta (DY Patil University, Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, India), Samantha McLaughlin (Denison University, Granville, OH), Eloise Sims (University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand), Em Sutliff (Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, OH), Oriana Tang (Yale University, Livingston, NJ), Eli Winter (University of Chicago, Chicago, IL)

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