p o e m 

 


Linear landscapes, from last summer

or Coney Island, perhaps, a peninsula

of the Nineteen 40’s intact in memory only,

linked according to destination

and seated very close

to the Captain of the Ship.

 

They shall come and bloom again, the survivors

of still blue dawns and amazing erotic downtown nights.

Family and friends, lost in transformation,

locked into Georgia’s red clay,

Alabama’s limestone sill.

 

Across the hallway of time

one red light flickers solitary. East

or West Egg. Northern pleasures from the Jazz Age.

Off the coast of Leucadia I wait,

frozen into surreal place.

 

Like a lusty image come and gone, like

gourds of November clinging to smokehouse walls,

like the pulse of Niagara when the Master is finished,

these silences hoard a greater grandeur of meaning.

Far-off Atlantis nights, they haunt

me with homesick ballads

of Sasha preparing supper, of nomadic interludes

drifting in and out of coastal enclaves.

Later, in a twilight evening of perfection,

white candles sputtered into avalanche,

that onslaught of silt and flesh and bone

stored in salty earth-capsules,

hibernating until discovery.

 

Along the hickory hollows of the past

I see a house, four-square, mourning on a hill.

I see plants and animals dead and dying.

I see moonbeams leaning against the corner

of a nebulous world of make-believe.

A man waits in his battered muddy pickup

in front of Victory Baptist Church,

selling summer produce.

 

And of course Blue and Gray

sabers rattle across alluvial levees

flecked with blood, a man is down

in the canebrakes and other brothers join him.

Thin ragged lines disappear into history.

In the long ending, will it matter?

 

Lilac and wisteria, Natchez huddled

on its dogwood bluffs, and Oxford’s creme-stucco

literature of rural loss, trashy dimestore people

dying in the dust of Jefferson. I know

I know the good ol’ boys from High Point.

I know I knew them when back then

in slantback and cafes of Dixie.

 

These Delta dreams, enriched

with horsestuff nouns & verbs, Aunt Rhoda’s

faded photograph, Mama’s eternal rocking

on a wide-brimmed white front porch.

After receiving the guide-on I rode over

to the Promised Land for another look.

How far away, I thought, how far to go.

Piano music drifted out of Graceland,

and I simply closed up shop.

_________________________________
Errol Miller 1999

 
 

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