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C.N.P Poetry 

Wild West; Kneejerk

By: Matt Vekakis

Wild West

I know the insular 

In Shaker saltbox 

And Victorian turret,


Flagellations over 

Barren crop cleared

From forest like the

Hairless patch of a

Neutered hound. At

Jackson Square, the 

River speaks lethargic; 

Silver braid, with 

Ribbons of bridge and

Barge; the sculptures

Of industry & lives 

Forgotten to prayer. 

Hunted. Haunted—

The brave go West. 

Jefferson’s orders or

Your own: a syringe

In Salt Lake City; the

Corpse in the back-

Seat at the International

Border. You’re brave

Because you tried; 

Fear has 

Kept me 

Here. Best

We get back to the 

Airbnb in Bayou St.

John before the sky 

Turns over and we’re

Exposed for what we




shave & 


cigars fat 

like old 


that horse-

shoe around 

my neck. I’ve


death with 

spoiled milk

and Seagram’s 

since the day 

you were glad 

I came. inhaling

& thinking I 

had to: laughter 

as the men 

all turn to 

look at a


if it meant 

you’d see me. 


Matt Vekakis is a poet, educator & proud New Englander. His work has been published or is forthcoming in Gravitas, Poached Hare, Waccamaw, Inklette Magazine, Spectrum Magazine, Peregrine Journal and Tule Review among others. He lives with his beau in Northampton, MA—teaching 11th grade English at a local high school.

“Wild West”

Standing on an Eastern bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, “Wild West” is a lament of a limited worldview. Having never visited the American West—the Mississippi as a demarcation—I felt a sense of loss in the recognition. With so much of the world suddenly unknown to me, I reflected on the reasons that have kept my life oppressively safe and known—oftentimes at the expense of my true autonomy.


Masculinity is a performance. To a little boy in the company of men he doesn’t understand, “Kneejerk” is a rebuke of the binds that suffocate our authenticity.


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