INSIDE THIS ISSUE:
Paul B. Roth
Bobby Steve Baker
Brandon S. Ray
R. Jay Slais
Mastery, the action or
The conception, loses
Substitutes an archive of
Habit and nothingness,
A curious quirk
Is present sometimes
But without corners,
Edges, or eyelashes.
It is like when the sight
Of a straw mat
Is no longer the sight
Of the diverse yellow patinas
Of the particular straws
But is a straw mat.
I sometimes, usually
At five o'clock in the afternoon
When the traffic
On the highway in front of my rented room
Become mainly one long white truck
After another long white truck,
I become self-analytical.
Who are the other people besides myself
That appear in my poems.
Are they Midwesterners?
If you ask me what a Midwesterner was,
I could not tell you.
I have all my life been categorized
And classified as being a Southerner.
If you ask me what a Southerner was,
I could not tell you.
Come to think of it, are there
Any other people in my poems
I am not sure if anyone else is there.
I will have to reread.
WHEN FOUR YEARS OLD (21)
A long time after I was four years old
I understood what being four years old meant.
At the time I was four
I needed not understanding or meaning.
I lived by something else, something
That has no word to describe in a child's vocabulary.
Nor had any word to describe later on
In the vocabulary of an adult.
Later on in adult life when life cannot
When adult life has no meaning,
The illusions of understanding.
The illusions of meaning
Are invented and repeated as a remedy.
I sit here at this party, I sit
On a sofa, thinking the above.
I sit here, talking,
But I am not talking.
I sit thinking of what is lost,
While my cocktail glass does the talking.
WHEN FOUR YEARS OLD (22)
On a Sunday cerulean blue morning, I stepped over
A crack in the earth that was called
A "gully." Sometimes the adults
Called this red break in the earth, "erosion."
The borders of the crack had a dark tint,
Formed a shape that I did not try
To relate to anything else, but felt
The shape as it was. I felt
Ideational-emotional related, had
No sense of separation from the red earth
Streaked with spirals of vermilion,
Being red clay earth, streaked vermilion.
Felt wonderful. When the school teacher
Was with me, she looked at the crack
With disgust and said, "The farmers
Should practice 'crop rotation,'"
And she would see the dark shape
That was the border of the crack
Not as a shape for itself, as I then
Saw it, but she saw the shape
As a rabbit standing upright,
Nibbling on a carrot.
WHEN FOUR YEARS OLD (23)
The circular head of the roofing tack
That held tarpaper, now loose and
Flapped black like a crow's wings
Pushed by a strong wind, to upright
Board of the collapsed side of a
Fallen, now abandoned sharecropper's
Shack dazzled silver in the sunlight.
It resembled a wild iris that grew
In black, moist mud, except its
Silver stem grew sidewise, not
Straight up from an ebony earth.
I would visit the collapsed shack often
Just to watch the silver dazzle
That came the sun shinning on
The head of a roofing tack.
When the shack lived in
By the sharecropper, my mother
Told me never to go near.
The school teacher said the couple, evil.
The couple were a taut, tough,
Browned skin, skinny thirty-year-old woman,
And a sixteen year old boy who never
Wore a shirt under straps of his overalls,
Always barefoot, never wore shoes.
When they rode close together on their wagon.
She had across her lap a shotgun.
He had the boy secured in a harness,
The school teacher said the two were lovers.
The more I heard the word "love" used,
The more I did not understand what it meant.
WHEN FOUR YEARS OLD (24)
I did not know at four
Supposed to be dualistic, a dichotomy,
Material and immaterial,
And now that I am older, have about
Ten, more or less, years to live, I still
That we are material and immaterial.
I did not know at four
Sounded like a
Singular taiko drummer who was alone,
An alien from his congenial world,
And drummed alone
But at four, I heard the woodpecker,
But it was not
The type of hearing
I became accustomed to the rest
Of my life after four.
I listened to woodpecker rhythms.
The miracle of motion.
WHEN FOUR YEARS OLD (25)
At four, I learned how
Important I was,
How important to my mother,
If to no one else.
Much later, when my mother died,
I lost my feeling of important
In this envious, hating world
Of ego-imprisoned individuals.
In a covered wagon, like those
Of the pioneers in Tim McCoy movies
That I would see in a city
When I had arrived at age six,
A gypsy man and a gypsy woman
Arrived at the farm.
The gypsy woman shouted,
"Chicken, gimme chicken."
My mother told my grandmother
To take me in the house,
Hide me, for it was rumored
That Gypsies would steal children,
Cripple them, and sit them out
In public places to beg.
My mother hurried inside,
Grabbed a shotgun.
One shotgun was mounted
On sticks above fireplace mantel,
Another leaned in the corner.
There seemed to be shotguns everywhere.
My mother with her shotgun,
Hurried outside, starting to ring
Dinner bell, so the men working
In the field would hear.
When the men came rushing
From the cotton field,
The gypsies quickly rode away.
Duane Locke, Tampa