Almost Confident

          after Mark Rothko’s No. 15

by Dave Malone

I never knew white lingered
in the gold. Like that time I made off
for Chicago while you dumped cattle
into the south ten. I broke down
somewhere past Wrigley in a snowstorm
that dusted our Black Angus but stranded
me in the Chevy for days. Opening truck doors
sprayed snow into my hair like the time
we woke at dawn the first week on the farm,
and flakes slid off the roof and lanced our eyes.
When Rothko painted number fifteen, he snaked
our love story inside his wrists only to let go
like so much breath launched on Ozark
winter mornings—the steam rises
as wispy wood smoke, almost confident it’s alive.

Dave Malone is a poet and playwright who hails from the Ozarks. He is the author of two books of poetry, most recently Under the Sycamore (Elder Mountain Press). His poems have appeared in decomP, Elder Mountain, Mid Rivers Review, Red Rock Review, and San Pedro River Review. His interests include Ozark culture, Alan Watts, and private eye novels. He teaches part-time at Missouri State West Plains and blogs at

Back to Issue Ten: Winter 2011