Tag Archives: Keith Gaboury

The Photographer is not Welcome

by Keith Gaboury

              Robert Frank’s The Americans
              San Francisco, 1956

I stand on a hill in Alamo Square,
my shutter clicking before a couple
forced to glance back at this
prying Swiss. In a pocket of seclusion,


is spray-painted across their faces.

I turn away from the pair I captured
as a relic on an afternoon when cirrus clouds
strangle the sun’s presence. As night
envelops a couple’s outline in the grass,

the photographer and the lovers sleep.
Soon enough, a pink sunrise is alive and well
for heavy heads to lift off crinkled pillows.
The chemicals bury and revive the unseen image.


A Snapshot in the Presence of Modern Cowboys

by Keith Gaboury

              Robert Frank’s The Americans
              Bar — Gallup, New Mexico, 1955

A man stood by the bar.
He must have known I was an outsider.
With my Leica lens exposed to native eyes,
I viewed America through a glass divider.

His hands rested in jean pockets
while never blinking into blindness
before an outline on the stone floor.

Within a fluorescent glow, modern cowboys
surrounded me as a Swiss immigrant
on a Guggenheim. Yes, I had come to document.

They created a clearing where the man’s fist
cracked his rival’s face and slammed that head
against the doorframe. The crowd’s roar

burst like a supernova. Under a prisoner’s moon,
New Mexican sweat mixed with the alley air
through a moist heap of masculinity.

He kicked a kidney until what scrambled
for survival lay motionless. In a lifetime’s minute
past midnight, his spit wad found disgust

for what came so easy. A rainstorm would strike
in a few hours but they didn’t know that yet.
It was a beautiful February night.

The Miner is Definable

by Keith Gaboury

              Robert Frank’s The Americans
              View from hotel window, Butte, Montana, 1956

The photographer stares through
a window overlooking industrial rooftops
and single-family homes. A coal miner’s

bootstrap breath traverses down E. Broadway St.
to a wife’s boiled potatoes, sizzling steak.
Here is the heartbeat within a hardhat dusk

breaking out into a darkness gone wild.
Leather skin inhales a huff of smoke.
The miner is definable within the exhaust

spewing into a city without a visible horizon
where fluid eyes process the cold light.
Robert Frank is isolated in Hotel Finlen

and will soon drive beyond the Montana border,
leaving the Butte native to his disposition upon arrival —
a flour-caked kiss in a porch-lit glow.

Moon Rocks At Large

by Keith Gaboury

              “The moon rock had been missing for about 30 years, and it was just one of about
180 moon rocks that are currently at large.”
                  “Ark. Archivist Finds Missing Moon Rock.” NPR. 26 September 2011.

And the moon rocks? Where are those moon rocks? I just put out an APB on 180 missing
moon rocks.

During the Nixon years, a single rock dazzled an astronaut’s eyes on that waning gibbous
terrain. He brought it back — CHECK OUT MY MOON ROCK — and NASA cut it into
slivers and sent each piece out to the states and nations of the world.

Now their snapshots are stamped onto milk cartons and line convenience store windows.
Beat cops search beneath every soda shop bar stool — FBI agents bust down doors all
Hollywood style — even my mother called in a tip, but it turned out that it was just a
piece of her cat’s dried shit.

Last week when I was driving through my suburban neighborhood, I swear I saw a father
and son playing catch with one.

Once I pulled into the seclusion of home, my uncle John called me up. He insisted I look
into the barrel of my eighteenth-century muzzle-loaded musket — he’d just wakened
from a dream where a moon rock was fired as a bullet during the Siege of Boston.

I did as I was told, but soon enough my son Keith started crying. As I bathed him in
the kitchen sink, my mother pounded on the front door. She grabbed me by the collar,
announcing a sizable lot are buried beneath the black-eyed Susans in the center of my
garden. I dug up the roots but only found the toil of diligence.

At last, I close the case file in the solitude of the Boston Police station. I drive without the
radio on — the silence serves me well as I rush back hopefully before my child is asleep.
My wife Maddy says that she put him down only a few minutes ago. I sit in the dark and
contemplate how I’ll need to replant fresh seeds before another New England winter
freezes my soil and skin.

The Moon Tree in the Forest

by Keith Gaboury

                “Apollo 14 launched in the late afternoon of January 31, 1971 . . . Stuart Roosa, a
former U.S. Forest Service smokejumper, orbited above in the command module. Packed
in small containers in Roosa’s personal kit were hundreds of tree seeds . . . the resulting
seedlings were planted throughout the United States.”
                                                                Dave Williams, nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

A space-traveling sweetgum seed
found a home in the Central Park woods

among the trees perpetually bound
to the forest floor. This very October morning,

a man went forth down a well-worn path
and swiveled his head into an enchantment.

Damn, what a view to perceive those leaves
shinning in lunar light. Set against a swathe of green,

pockets of photosynthesis growth remained
lost in shadow — like impact craters too deep

to sunbathe in — like an airplane-traveling tourist
stretched out on the Brighton Beach sand —

like a Little Italy baker stretching and rolling
his dough into loaves — like the man’s bike rolling

down to that shitty bodega at Flushing & Bushwick.
He bought a 40 because he found a moon tree today.

What have you accomplished? With the autumn night
knocking, he’s returned with a buzz and discovered

the ghost of its ‘Houston to Mission Control’
past still bursting back; yes, can you see,

can you see our sweetgum seed orbiting
over the peak of an ancient moon mountain.

Life is a Dirty Bomb

by Keith Gaboury

My skin is a field of radioactivity.
Along the expanse of a blistering ultraviolet burn,

Dr. Buck steadies his eyes upon this malignant
malfunctioning body. This is how my largest organ

will betray me. We have to cut you open
to save your life is what I hear. Dr. Buck directs

a scalpel towards the uneven borders of a mole,
notches of damaged DNA ballooning into an explosion.

They patch me up, sending my skin back
into the oven of Kansas City humidity.

The local meteorologist recommends
a slather of SPF infinity sunscreen.

My Kansas City Self

by Keith Gaboury

I must confide in you: I shot Dorothy in the gut.
Now the Munchkins itch to storm me
in the naked night, torches flaring.
My Kansas City self never perspires

for what a spit wad will squelch. Now the Munchkins
itch to storm me—I laugh at the ridiculous while picking up
I-70 to my Missouri porch where my Kansas City self
sits in silence, the .22 caliber’s kickback

still rattling these bones. I pick up my pistol
and drive until my Big Sky eyes nearly fall out.
I sit in silence, ready to expose a pair of urban
sockets to the streets my father taught me to love

and abhor. My Big Sky eyes nearly fall out, as dusk
coats the City of Fountains, the sheen of handshakes
& smiles glowing underneath. I’ve failed to spot
Toto on the streets my father taught me

to love and abhor. As dusk coats the City of Fountains,
I’ve failed to spot Toto alongside Richard III’s
anguish in Southmoreland Park, while watching
the Chiefs clash, or salivating over pulled pork

at Oklahoma Joe’s. Richard III’s anguish is my anguish
for a cyclone never swept up my home nor dropped it
upon a red-slipper witch. The pulled pork is worth
salivating over in this Midwest metropolis.

A cyclone never swept up my home so let’s murder
a fabrication. When you reach the top
of the Liberty Memorial in this Midwest metropolis,
you will be presented with a haven fueled in reality.

We’ve murdered a fabrication in the naked night!
What remains? A sparkling haven. A mere farm girl
bled out hours ago, the sun commanding a poppy-struck horizon.
I must confide in you: I shot Dorothy in the gut.