blackbirdonline journalFall 2020  Vol. 19 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Villanelle (avec Evel Knievel)
A daredevil . . . can hardly generate much enthusiasm by mere repetition of his feat.
—Sports Illustrated, 1974

He pushed himself . . . at least attempting to outdo whichever . . . stunt he pulled off last.
—Esquire, 2015

Through personal upheaval . . . —
at almost unreckonable
expense (“I’m not a daredevil”),

and also arrested once: a pick and shovel
raised little hell, but, reared back in a (“Whoooa”) full-
tilt wheelie, the spare earthmover stole, top-heavil-

y, through bighorn country (“I’m an explorer”), to snort fumes, spit gravel,
cross a power line . . . lights out. “All rise . . . ;” as “Awful” Knoffel
(“the bondage of riming”) appraised his cellmate, the jailor pondered “Evil . . .;”

the man himself, meanwhile, would set the record (his first civil
disobedience) straight, sprung on that Wide World’s now archival
airings, he wipes his eye, and takes a knee; unshaken foil
of the well-oiled grandstanders, wrecked street rodders, Great American Novel-
ty Acts that made the Flyover Circuit (an all-night drive-in’s high vol-
tage sign flashed into view . . . “Car Hop”) his thrill-ridden victory lap—et voil-

á—nostalgie de la Butte notwithstanding, the earthmover engineered aval-
anche rolled him to rodeo, snowballed to ski jump, to ice hockey (check), going five whole
hot minutes per shift in big-game poaching, short-term insurance, the road-rundown travel-
ing horsetrader stabilized, arced, à cheval, on his Triumph, a nouvelle-mechanophile-
icon-on-velvet, as rendered to Caesar’s, sun-bronzed in the shade token obel-
isks threw to foreshadow what (forging ahead) fairly leaped like an anvil-
struck spark above Snake River Canyon (the primeval scheme of, as tribal
myth cycles depict it, Coyote—a moment of magical thinking) in freefall:
uncanny new valley, our national nightmare, a cold streak as blue as the Ford Oval

Office, the swivel-articulate figures (Ideal, preassembled)—Enough, al-
ready!—upward, if laid back in a (“Whoooa”) full-
body cast (“further and further”), limited, mobility. Through personal upheaval,
upward mobility. Meanwhile, white coats (“just keep it elevated”). Psych Eval. Slow-drip IV.
Late show caper flick of, one by one, black sheep clearing a fence . . . Cloudscape. Dreamland. Half a
lifetime, yet (“I am a daredevil”).  

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