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.
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
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
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.