Volume III (Summer 2008)
ISSN 1934-4324

Allen Mendenhall

Allen Mendenhall was raised in Marietta, Georgia, and graduated from Furman University, in Greenville, South Carolina, with a B.A. in English.  He then moved to Japan to teach.  He is currently a graduate student at West Virginia University, where he is working towards a dual degree in English and law.


To Wyatt Earp


You were the reason I started to draw.

Sitting in the backseat of a bright pink rental car,


My grandparents in the front seats, bickering

About whether grandmother would make a good


Park ranger, I sketched your profile from a book.

I was obsessed with you, could tell anyone anything


They’d like, or wouldn’t like, to know about you,

And I wondered how my pencil scribbles became you:


Calligraphic mustache, bushy eyebrows, cavernous eyes,

And skin like desert sand. You were nothing, uncreated,


Then a thought transformed to shape, a stirring image:

Head to hand to page. And there you were. My lap.


On that vacation, in Arizona, riding along flat highways,

My grandparents taking turns at the wheel, I created you


Because you created me: I on my pilgrimage, our car

Come covered wagon. My bright white shoes tall boots;


My never-before-shaved face mustached;

My hide rough and russet as a bison’s backside.


Tombstone, Tucson, the Painted Desert and Grand Canyon:

They became memory, but not you, not the man I made;


Not the lead lines on the white and wrinkling paper,

The lewd likeness of the man I pretended to know.


Silent, demonstrative: you, your gun, my flair,

And now a paling portrait in some dark desk drawer.