Charlotte Hamrick: Three Poems

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

The summer I was fifteen I was sitting on the pier at the local swimming hole waiting for friends when I was approached by an older boy. He asked where I lived and when I replied, “Down the road a piece.” he asked, “Is that near yonder?” I knew immediately he wasn’t from the south.

Thirteenth Summer

A chestnut horse rides better
bare-backed with sun burned
hands giving him his head, mamma
said you couldn’t come in the
house when she was working but
she didn’t say I couldn’t go out.

Beans grow fast, most mornings I
go out and pick ‘em, being careful
that they’re filled out before I pull
‘em from the vine. Sometimes I’m
not sure so I leave ‘em and worry
they’ll grow old and dry before the
next picking and something bad’ll
happen to me for my misjudgment.

I like to watch when you curry your
horse, brushing him till his coat shines
like an old copper penny. The barn’s
mostly dark with just a little light
coming in the door way at the end and
it smells of sweat and mash – I like
the smell, it’s a comfort like the animals
who listen to your whispers without complaint.

You’re all dusty from riding, a thin layer
of red dust has settled on your clothes
and the hair on your arms. I saw you ride
by at a canter when I was picking the beans.
I watched out of the corner of my eye because
I didn’t want you to know I noticed. I was
listening to Bob Dylan on my little radio
tucked down into basket with the beans.

“His clothes are dirty but his hands are clean
And you’re the best thing that he’s ever seen”

**

Hank and Nettie

You’re the kind of man
mamma warned me about –
always with the sexy smirk
and your hand metaphorically
in the honey pot when it’s
not handing some chick
her fourth dirty martini or,
no, I take that back – especially
when you’re handing her that
fourth drink because you know
it’s the one that’s gonna tip her
over the edge of judiciousness
and into deliciousness.

Yeah, mamma said don’t trust a
man with caramel-colored eyes,
especially when he calls you his
Muse and says makin’ love to you
breaks loose the words and they
all come a-tumblin’ out through
fingers as nimble on the keyboard
as they were on your skin, the words
skippin’ outa his mouth as he’s lickin’
your neck on down to your toes and
across that bright white screen shinin’
like the eye of the Lord on the
mountain top.

I told mamma I was leavin’ you –
you and your hard drinkin’, devil
writin’ ways, and I didn’t give a damn
about being no muse and I didn’t
give a damn about your caramel-colored
eyes and your smooth talk that was
s’posed to be for my ears but ended
up in everybody else’s. You can nimble
your fingers in other women’s honey
pot all you want but one day you’ll need
your muse again and it’ll be just too
damn bad.

**

A Day in the Crescent

It’s another balmy day in paradise.
I push down the plunger in the French
Press, inhaling the earthy aroma of
the blackest of coffees called Community.
The morning paper lies on the coffee table
waiting for its unfolding, opening and
adjusting shake. “Sneaking Sally Through
The Alley” is dancing out of the Boze, WWOZ
accommodating its listeners with the
best music in the country, bar none.

Noise from the street wafts through the
open French doors: the rummmm-rummmm
of the city bus, the high-pitched laughter
of kids on spring break, the artificially
cheerful greeting of “order when you’re ready!”
coming from McD’s drive-through so often
that it’s become just another sound like
the bus or the cat’s meow.

The newspaper serves up last night’s murder
du jour as well as the professionally whitened smiles
of the uppercrust partiers of the Social Scene –
Not on the same page, of course.

I get up from the couch, look out the front window
and marvel how the bad and the good
co-exist in the same city on the same
day and how complacent we all are that
it is so.

Charlotte Hamrick – Four poems

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I’ve lived all but eight of my more than 50 years in the south. If that doesn’t qualify me as a southerner, my crazy Tennessee Williams-style life certainly would.

Courtyard

Heady with lust within the scent
of sweet olive, dusk
descends chasing sunlight
across weathered bricks into
intimate corners where the green faerie
and fingers intermingle across
a wrought iron table top.
A thin sheen of sweat glistens
above her upper lip,
a hint of saltiness that melts
on his tongue.

**

Blown Away

In the time before the wind she
couldn’t imagine a life without him.
Long languid days drifted together,
shared conversations and whispered
secrets, dreams imagined and fulfilled.
Then the wind blew through, expectations
scattered and complacency tumbled.
Havoc rolled in on the hot breath of
August.

**

Chimera (A Wild and Unrealistic Dream or Notion)

All I want on a Sunday morning is to
luxuriate in my laziness. I want to watch
old movies with the volume turned up loud,
the newspaper crackling as I shift my supine
body on the couch, the words of duplicitous
politicians and photos of narcissistic socialites
mashed under my ass.
I want to gaze out my window where heat
rises on the street like steam from a gumbo
pot while I lie, cool as a nectar cream snowball,
in my Maggie The Cat slip, painting my toenails
a color called Bad Influence.
I would sip Southern Wedding Cake coffee
from the chipped china cup I knocked off
the bedside table in a moment of
passion and savor a fresh chocolate croissant,
tender flakiness that melts on the tongue like
vampires melt in the sunlight.
As the sun climbs the sky, I’d meander into the afternoon
with the expectation of an early summer storm when
we would go upstairs and slip between our cool, white
sheets and not be heard from again until
Monday morning.

**

After The Night

Let’s step down this street right now, washed
bright as our shining faces in the early pre-dawn light.
We’ll welcome the cool air of March
on our skin and breathe in the scent of freshly
baking pistolettes as we meander over cobblestones
worn smooth over time by thousands of footsteps.
We’ll watch the pigeons pecking for errant crumbs in
the banquette cracks suddenly startled by the passing
of a lone musician, coronet in one hand and fried
chicken leg in the other, home-bound in his wrinkled
white shirt, the echoes of last night’s melodies swirling
around his receding image.
Rodrigue blues and Hunter reds will pleasure our eyes
and a heavy spring dew will drip, drip, drip from the
galleries, sparkling like fading moon dust on the fragrant
buds of the tea olives. We’ll step into that coffee shop where
steaming mugs of French roast wait for us as the sun rises
over cloudy slate roofs making them shine like a brand new life.