the battlefield where the moon says i love you by frank stanford

tonight the gars on the trees are swords in the hands of knights
 the stars are like twenty-seven dancing russians and the wind
 is I am waving goodbye to the casket of my first mammy
 well that black cadillac drove right up to your front door
 and the chauffeur was death
 he knocked on the screen he said come on woman let's take a ride
 he didn't even give you time to spit he didn't even let you
 take the iron out ofyour hair
 you said his fingernails was made out of water moccasin bones
 and his teeth was hollow he was a eggsucker
 you said he reached up under your dress and got the nation sack
 you said the conjure didn't work he didn't smell die salt in your shoes
 you said he came looking for you and you hid out in the our house you waited
 for him with a butcher knife you asked him why not
 let the good times roll
 you wasn't studying about kicking no bucket
 his tongue was a rattlesnake those sunglasses death wore
 I was talking to the pew of deacons they had white gloves on
 a midget collected ears on a piece of bob wire
 the black dog lifted his leg on the hubcap
 the wagon load of boots and banners was dumped in the bayou
 the chain gang drowned together in the fiood
 the disguised butterfiy
 the quivering masts when the hero returns
 one came on horseback with the enchanted sword in the hands of the father
 the magician comes into the grand court and his head is lopped off by the boy
 so the father comes back and knights his son with three strokes on the shoulder
 this was the accolade of noblemen the investiture by the magical father
 the bridge burnt up the tent and the ladder and the piano are on fire I saw them
 after the fiineral a drunk peckerhead pulled a pistol on daddy
 mother had a double bit axe just in case but daddy kicked his teeth in
 if his head was cut off it wouldn't grow back he wasn't a knight he was trash
 the pecker had cooties
 a blind fisherman used clorox jugs he use to be Mama Covoe's man
 he gets snuff on the harp I play it like when I kiss her on the lips
 and she is dipping snuff she is dead
 to put it out they rolled it down the bank the night crawlers
 the honkytonky is burning
 the piano under the water looks like a shark
 O.Z. stuck a ice pick in his knee
 the bull whip hanging up over the stove in the saloon
 the shadows in the rafters the stevedore dreaming his knots
 the empty sardine cans full of tadpoles and rainwater the stale Stage Planks
 the icy spars the rib of the wolf the lavender trappings drenched in blood
 the fine horses the deck of marked cards the prisoner's sock
 the toe jam blues the waterlogged guitar
 the haunted ship the tornado set down in the woods a hundred years ago
 the crew of vines and snakes and vinegarroons
 lightning striking the boom
 Baby Gauge and 1 taking a bath in a wash tub Mama Covoe washing our mouths
 out with lye soap for cussing
 my grandmother riding sidesaddle through the lowlands to meet Percy
 the steamboat going to the opera in New Orleans
 the autograph was a dream it was a black cape I took off on the levee
 I dream about dresses flying up for a moment 1 dream about
 mussels in the moonlight like castanets the antimacassars drifting off
 the couch the hair let down in the evenings I can dream about a stabde man
 shooting dice in a tent I can dream about the legions of angels in the forest
 I can dream the harquebusier showing out for Venus fencing with his shadow
 cast on the beach the grave the dreams sifted through cold dirt
 I can dream about a dead man's letter and the five dollar bill in his shoe
 I can dream about the ship of blind horsemen
 that puts out in your sleep that is rigged by spiders
 that has a plank everyone must walk
 and the dream sweat on the figurehead's lips like dew like mourning tears
 like a poisoned animal like moist silk like slivers of wood
 there are so many revolutions light years away
 like a catfish winding a trot line up like the emblem of a saint
 like a roulette like a song of the holy innocents like a bent hook
 like a blindfolded knife thrower knowing the bull's eye like a torn mouth
 like an invisible sword like the captain of death trying to spread his fingers
 apart like a frozen hand passed over a flame like vessels embarking at dawn
 like a revolver held at the temple like unblessed holy water
 dripping through a wound like a Virgin's piss like a rope burn like a plucked
 eye like a ship's wheel spun free
 steering a dream like a wolfiing chasing his tail
 on the Fourth they had a fish fry and the police hid in a clump of willows
 because they figured Johnny Lee would try to make a break
 they figured he was going to come home to see his mama
 a car went through the weeds with fishing poles stuck out the window
 two horses were on each fender a propeller was on the hood
 tonight the gars on the trees are swords in the hands of knights
 the stars are like twenty-seven dancing russians and the wind
 is I am waving goodbye to the casket of my first mammy
 well that black cadillac drove right up to your front door
 and the chauffeur was death
 he knocked on the screen he said come on woman let's take a ride
 he didn't even give you time to spit he didn't even let you
 take the iron out ofyour hair
 you said his fingernails was made out of water moccasin bones
 and his teeth was hollow he was a eggsucker
 you said he reached up under your dress and got the nation sack
 you said the conjure didn't work he didn't smell die salt in your shoes
 you said he came looking for you and you hid out in the our house you waited
 for him with a butcher knife you asked him why not
 let the good times roll
 you wasn't studying about kicking no bucket
 his tongue was a rattlesnake those sunglasses death wore
 I was talking to the pew of deacons they had white gloves on
 a midget collected ears on a piece of bob wire
 the black dog lifted his leg on the hubcap
 the wagon load of boots and banners was dumped in the bayou
 the chain gang drowned together in the fiood
 the disguised butterfiy
 the quivering masts when the hero returns
 one came on horseback with the enchanted sword in the hands of the father
 the magician comes into the grand court and his head is lopped off by the boy
 so the father comes back and knights his son with three strokes on the shoulder
 this was the accolade of noblemen the investiture by the magical father
 the bridge burnt up the tent and the ladder and the piano are on fire I saw them
 after the fiineral a drunk peckerhead pulled a pistol on daddy
 mother had a double bit axe just in case but daddy kicked his teeth in
 if his head was cut off it wouldn't grow back he wasn't a knight he was trash
 the pecker had cooties
 a blind fisherman used clorox jugs he use to be Mama Covoe's man
 he gets snuff on the harp I play it like when I kiss her on the lips
 and she is dipping snuff she is dead
 to put it out they rolled it down the bank the night crawlers
 the honkytonky is burning
 the piano under the water looks like a shark
 O.Z. stuck a ice pick in his knee
 the bull whip hanging up over the stove in the saloon
 the shadows in the rafters the stevedore dreaming his knots
 the empty sardine cans full of tadpoles and rainwater the stale Stage Planks
 the icy spars the rib of the wolf the lavender trappings drenched in blood
 the fine horses the deck of marked cards the prisoner's sock
 the toe jam blues the waterlogged guitar
 the haunted ship the tornado set down in the woods a hundred years ago
 the crew of vines and snakes and vinegarroons
 lightning striking the boom
 Baby Gauge and 1 taking a bath in a wash tub Mama Covoe washing our mouths
 out with lye soap for cussing
 my grandmother riding sidesaddle through the lowlands to meet Percy
 the steamboat going to the opera in New Orleans
 the autograph was a dream it was a black cape I took off on the levee
 I dream about dresses flying up for a moment 1 dream about
 mussels in the moonlight like castanets the antimacassars drifting off
 the couch the hair let down in the evenings I can dream about a stabde man
 shooting dice in a tent I can dream about the legions of angels in the forest
 I can dream the harquebusier showing out for Venus fencing with his shadow
 cast on the beach the grave the dreams sifted through cold dirt
 I can dream about a dead man's letter and the five dollar bill in his shoe
 I can dream about the ship of blind horsemen
 that puts out in your sleep that is rigged by spiders
 that has a plank everyone must walk
 and the dream sweat on the figurehead's lips like dew like mourning tears
 like a poisoned animal like moist silk like slivers of wood
 there are so many revolutions light years away
 like a catfish winding a trot line up like the emblem of a saint
 like a roulette like a song of the holy innocents like a bent hook
 like a blindfolded knife thrower knowing the bull's eye like a torn mouth
 like an invisible sword like the captain of death trying to spread his fingers
 apart like a frozen hand passed over a flame like vessels embarking at dawn
 like a revolver held at the temple like unblessed holy water
 dripping through a wound like a Virgin's piss like a rope burn like a plucked
 eye like a ship's wheel spun free
 steering a dream like a wolfiing chasing his tail
 on the Fourth they had a fish fry and the police hid in a clump of willows
 because they figured Johnny Lee would try to make a break
 they figured he was going to come home to see his mama
 a car went through the weeds with fishing poles stuck out the window
 two horses were on each fender a propeller was on the hood
 a man said how you I said fine I said I wouldn't go up that road
 any further ifI was you John Law is up there
 the doll fiy trailing in the wind from the pole hit the ground
 why don't you come over here white boy a man said like hell I said I
 ain't getting my throat slit
 you got me wrong he said no I don't I know you broke out the penitentiary
 shit man I know who you are Johnny Lee somebody
 get him the man driving said
 somebody kicked the trunk open he was inside all along he tipped his cap
 he spit in his hands it was him
 he said lay off Buchannan I knew the kid's daddy he's it
 he said Johnny Lee Dowd white boy
 you caught any he asked me not but two I said what do you mean I'm it
 say I said there's a posse up there you know it
 one of the Other ones was whistling and the buoys before the sun goes down
 I lost track of what he was saying I was scared I was dreaming
 the law ain't nothing but bluebottie flies
 well if you was to row me to the other side I just might show you where
 your luck will change he said I lost a track I said
 what about the Police I said to him I ain't studying no posse he said
 all of you I said no just me he said them boys is going to set things up for me
 they going to drive into that fish fry they straight see and one of them is
 going to turn around and look at the trunk and then them peckerwoods going to
 mess up a good car
 we stole it anyway boy that Buchannan said and the one driving
 picked his teeth with a ice pick
 you been pulling my leg I said I thought this was a laylow on account
 of that lay low up the road damn them Iaylows anyway I said you knew
 all along they was up there you knew I was here you mean that one
 called Buchannan ain't going
 to slit my throat I said that's right he said old Baby Gauge done told
 me where you was Buchannan smiled he said no hard feelings
 the man got in the boat I shoved us out
 1 was rowing Johnny Lee Dowd to the Mississippi side
 I looked him in the eye
 I said you sure do look familiar
 he laughed like someone had they hands around his neck choking him
 how come you talk that way I said he said some towheads tried to hang me
 they didn't even break his neck
 those blowfiies in that posse they thought they hung this nigger
 ha ha no sit this here ain't no shuffling nigger what you see
 I was looking him in the eye a rowing that boat
 he was drinking wine
 I didn't take him to be no tapdancer nohow noway not me no sir he was
 what I call one mean you better believe it I wasn't messing
 with that man the sweat was working up on me because I figured somebody
 was fixing to cut down on us
 to change the subject I said what was that one's driving name
 that's Fireweed he told me and it weren't even dark yet
 he said now you mean to sit there he had him a pistol too and tell me you don't
 remember me he pulled down his bottom lip
 with his finger I saw the gold tooth with the star of David in it
 he spit the tobacco juice out between his teeth he reared back he said woowee
 boy and I remembered it was a long time ago I was a baby I was
 drifting away in a wash tub tied to the raft the cottonmouths was crawling
 up through the willow limbs there was a dark face above and black hands
 grabbed a hold of me the negro swam a long way with me in his arms
 he always smiled there was the star in his tooth we got to the bank he cut
 a X in my foot with his razor he said this hurts me more
 than it does you white baby he was biting the bottom of my foot he was
 spitting the moccasin juice and the blood on the ground all the while
 him swatting at things jumping out on him and the gold tooth
 with the star of David in it I was trying to catch a butterfly
 then he started cutting on himself he kept a saying woowee
 just like mosquitoes he picked me up I sat on his shoulders we ran
 through the bogue we ran through timber all the time I'm riding up high
 on his shoulders bouncing he wasn't no horse
 we came into camp another negro rode up on a horse he put his fingers
 in his mouth he whistled they laid us in the back seat of a black car
 we was going to beat hell before I knew it all got smokey mother was driving
 the cadillac then a man with sunglasses that had bats for cars
 everytime I looked out the window I saw a tall man on a horse that was
 my daddy the other horse had a negro on him we went to cross a bridge
 and I could see them trailing along side the boy's daddy and my daddy
 coming into town they rode into town I could tell by the wires
 and I could see them my daddy stuck his hand through the window he held
 the colored boy's hand my mother was in the front
 seat she was so pretty her hair like smoke daddy was saying appreciate
 we hit land I said I know who you are I said I ain't got time to talk
 to say what I want to cause them Police is after you he said I ain't studying
 about no Police he pointed to the other side
 I saw my daddy on a horse in a white hat with a rifie in his hand
 and a pistol in his belt he was waving to a man on a mule
 the negroes were passing it on down the levee
 Johnny Lee said they going to have to kill that man before they kill me
 daddy raised up in the saddle he waved both arms he said ho and it
 carried over the water that must have been the all clear signal for Johnny
 you could hear singing up the levee
 and a lot of shotgun fire and then a explosion that was the car
 rolling into the river I bet I said I hope those two got out
 shit man they eating fish he said reckon any of the peckerwoods going to shoot
 daddy I said not likely he said now the oars in my hands felt like two shovels
 what about you now Johnny I said
 Frankie boy I'm dead he busted out laughing he pointed way away down
 the river that's the place he said he got out the boat he pushed me away
 he laughed I saw the star of David he bent over he started talking
 like a crazy man he danced up the bank yelling I rowed back the sun went down
 the cars waved goodbye so long I said I saw the moon in the pool of blood
 in the boat so long all night long I dreamed about him
 I went to sleep in the saddle with daddy I put my finger through
 the bullet hole in his hat with the rattlesnake band
 everyone riding the levee road back to camp with their heads hung low
 I asked him reckon he's going to make it he said course he is
 two horses were on each fender a propeller was on the hood
 when we saw the posse coming towards us daddy give me to a negro I believe
 it was Grease Man then he rode out by himself he told the white men
 let my men pass the negroes and I passed by daddy brought up the rear
 there wasn't another shot fired that night
 at the show Baby Gauge and 0.2. and I saw a man say Frankie Frankie
 that damned Melvin got sick to his stomach I thought about the stranded
 sailors and the mates alone and queasy on the rafts and the years before
 the masts and the old naval battles in ancient times it's so lonely in the tent
 after they run the picture show boats knocking against one another
 at midnight the prows
 the hypnotist lives in Mound Bayou he got drunk and fell
 ofi his mule and we all walked home kicking at a empty lard bucket and Melvin
 I know I've seen a man on fire high tailing it down the road his son knocked
 on the screen he told mother his paw was burning up
 I know Odysseus drenched the tunics with blood
 I know my great grandfather was Francis Gildart
 I know the echo the horse and rider
 I know I just as soon stick a broom straw down a hole and sing to a doodle bug
 than go to school
 I know shit from shinola
 I know you will never know what is true or not it is through a glass darkly
 and the balalaika tells me to go to sleep and it also tells me I'm not Russian
 and the guitar lets me know I'm not Spanish
 and the black fiag is definitely raised
 and the bouzouki my ship
 bless the polished blades the fingers of the blind mirror makes
 the plum the drunk and the koto
 with the breathing of meditative animals the knives that are dreamt
 the moon is a death place that is dreamt by snake doctors
 the whiskey corks bobbing at eleven-thirty and my dreams
 like a samurai's sword my soul of aged wood under way
 of sleeping fish
 I sleep I wake I sing I am the last gift to the cities of loneliness
 my dreams of wood entering the gates at night my dreams like a horse
 built in the evening
 and Jimmy and the negroes I know their names each and everyone
 like the constellations like scars
 on the levee so drunk they couldn't stand up
 the dynamite man drunk
 the oiler drunk
 the root picker drunk
 the man on the bulldozer drunk as the one running the dragline
 daddy's drunk
 go back to camp big mama Emma whupped us with a hickory stick
 she switched us all
 the day is so hot like a strawberry patch full of sidewinders
 Chaucer's little pointed shoes the old fool riding around on a mule talking to
 himself all day I ride through the mountains and you know there's not a goddamn
 hill around here the corpse cussing in the slew '
 the sambo sees the ghost horse I see feet dancing on the deck by themselves
 everything good is always nailed down and bleeding Jesus is a pickininny
 peeing off the front porch he was lying in a ditch drunk as a pole cat asking me
 did we get any cats the note in the bottle said pleez hep I my feetz n uh
 bar trap in snow lake arkansas sin mony
 the midsouth fair is a gyp the only thing good is the world's smallest man
 who happened to be a personal friend of mine
 don't go on thursday because every hillbilly in Arkansas will be there
 they believe in all that stuff you know they are a little touched
 in the head
 I had a long conversation with the world's smallest man one day and got to know
 him pretty well we was what you call buddies right ofi" the bar I take to
 people that are all fucked up I am like Jesus in that respect well no one
 else was in the tent he had this high whisper voice so nice he said he was
 from Brooklyn New York he told me to come over closer
 he was just twenty-two inches tall and that's no lie his face was all right
 his back was a little crooked and one of his feet looked lame the little
 fingers on his hands like sea creatures there was music from the old world
 playing in the alps he said if he fell he'd break like an egg he wasn't
 bowlegged the time came for his stunt to end he asked me will you come
 visit me we went he walked high up on a platform with silver crutches and there
 was space for regular people to walk it was like I was a way long ago time
 god talking to a captain on a ship he sat down and ate
 his lunch I turned some down because there wouldn't be any
 left this little room in the back of the tent just like a doll's house he threw
 his crutches away he didn't really need them he said
 he was the loneliest of carnival freaks so I went to see him
 everyday after school while he was in town he had been all
 over the world could talk in seven foreign languages and him not even
 two foot tall I'll be damned he was something
 one day we were in his tent in between his act he was looking
 at himself in the mirror with a piece of stocking over his head
 he had white make-up on he said now when the fair leaves I hope
 you'll write to me I said sure I knew he'd be back next year
 besides I could probably catch him in one of those Mississippi side shows
 he called me over he asked me if I was his little outlaw I said sure
 but he was littler than me his name was the mountebank he said
 I asked for a soda pop right after the first sip I thought he put
 some potion in it cause I was light headed I looked on his walls there was
 a toreador on a poisoned horse a scaffold a fioating crypt and a fiineral
 of violins and piccolos there was a tier of illustrations ripped out of
 books I had read there was a bunch from Les Miserables I started calling
 them out like I was a chant I was real still and wary like a buck
 with his bloody hoof raised in the fog like a onyx in a dead man's cufi"
 you know how a dog run over in the fall raises his head and barks
 but you don't hear nothing you just see the smoke coming out of his mouth
 that's how I was like a soldier on top of a mountain clover under my boots
 an old woman with the bloodstone beads in her toothless head the lips
 of the firneral a path of chicken bones in a black and tan's throat
 the laughing victims of the Sleepwalker I am at the dance
 tickling the virgins' palms he shook me a little said listen I called
 off the pictures he tore out of M. Hugo's book
 Hullo said she You Have A Mirror The Ravine Was There Unexpected Yawning
 Directly Under The Horse's Feet The Woman Had A Vague Look In Her Large
 Black Eyes Waterloo After The Battle He Was Sleeping Peacefully Cosette
 Sweeping then I perceived he was weeping
 I asked the world's smallest man did anyone ever try to steal
 his money he was changing into his admiral's suit the naked little man
 he put on the hat the magenta plume he said yes and sometimes they hide a cat
 under their coats they stare at me they don't look at me they laugh at me
 he said you want to know what I do I said
 what he went come here with his finger I went over I put my car
 up to his lips he stuck his tongue in it he busted out giggling
 what you trying to do I said he said sorry come back I went over
 again he said come closer and I'll show you what I do he drew
 a tiny sword like a woman's hat pin out of his scabbard and poked it at my eyes
 no
 I jumped back I'm pretty quick he said don't hurt me I wouldn't
 put your eyes out for anything I believed him I asked him have you
 ever poked any out he said hundreds of times what color people
 I asked white he said tell me about it he said this
 the last time the fair was in Arkansas some football players and some wrestlers
 came in the tent I was dressed no he said attired I was attired as a matador
 I broke in his story I said I have the opera Carmen he pulled the silk
 handkerchief out of my suit pocket and swirled it around his arm
 wonderful my boy he said he went over to his phonograph it was
 a old time one this is just for looks he said to give that shall we
 say the effect he made a movement like the court jester did in
 the French comedy he said here's where the music really comes from
 and he turned on some switch and I heard the most beautiful music
 coming from everywhere all over the room in my eyes were a hawk
 and a stallion he said my eyes were triskelions that they
 were heliographs he said the woman and the magician on the tapestry must swim
 the river and I should lead them clearing wind and water he said
 someone bowing was unknown he called me the averter of fiies
 that my wife one day would hear one child with a golden thigh
 the constellation of a woman he said that my mind was like a rose
 window a water wheel he showed me paintings and books he told me buildings
 were for termites he told me about the big time the graveyard of dice
 in the corridors it was like 3-D the way he talked there lie the ancient tombs
 the ancient dead he said there the untrodden sanctuaries he said
 that I was swathed in the night songs he put the needle on a german's
 aria he danced around and he clicked the heels on his little boots
 I let him sit on my shoulder like a parrot he said it was almost
 time to start the next show he said he was the saddest of side shows
 the little freak with the screwed up back now he jumped up on his feet
 like I was the big man in the harbor saying this piece of music is known
 as the fourth symphony of Brahms sure I told him I've seen it played it was fine
 alright we walked around the midsouth fair him like a bird
 he never shut up winking at all his gimped up buddies a drunk sapsucker
 who said he was from Jonesboro wanted to shake his hand but he couldn't do things
 like that on account of his eggshell bones and all he went on and told me
 how his best and only friend was Rhine Stone the three-legged tight rope
 walker he was married to a monkey and everybody saw his wife stab him
 in the house of mirrors he bled to death
 his leg was a fake it was tied on and the line he walked was actually a board
 I said well the horses drowned in Whirlpools
 he pinched me on the dieek and said and the blood and the ships were burned
 I said I ride a wolf
 he said the fire is perpetual like the great trees of night that genufiect
 in the lightning
 I said the fioor of the altar is a Whetstone
 where is the pyre in honor of the victory of the dauntless knife he said
 I said below the ice the shadow of the grave ship bearing the shattered blade
 can be seen ho and he said the horsemen are hanging from the gibbet masts
 the thieves the courageous who fell in smoke battle with the tune rock
 anchors around their necks and barebacked the young warrior naked as snow
 dealing out death and the aces of wind
 comes commanding the ship of the dead comes maneuvering the swatch
 or night sail in that journey through the black knees of sea
 I said a dream of a great horse a man dies
 all the people shooting at targets and riding rides and hoping to have their
 fortunes told seemed like lemmings to me they seemed like straw men
 like harlequins that belonged to a no nothing a know nothing a collector
 of string a man that did tricks with a rope something done for a buck
 with dime store mirrors not the magic in a Hindoo's basket not the great
 bronze discs of China only a herd driven by gimmicks performed
 by the outriders of talk
 and here I was carrying around the world's smallest man on my shoulders
 I said friend shit or get off the pot
 tell me what happened when they tried to make off with your treasure
 well my little outlaw he said two wrestlers a safety a center and an end
 came in to see my show it was the last performance in that town
 boys being boys one of them unzipped his pants and exposed himself
 he requested that I perform an unnatural act on his person
 I told the others to leave the safety wanted to stay but the wrestler
 persuaded him to go I told the wrestler to shove his lumber into my miniature
 camera the lens that is I would act the part of the photographer and that
 way with my head under the curtain and his member in the camera and all
 out of sight we could always say I was taking your picture if anyone walked in
 his picture not mine I told him I don't go in for that
 quite right he said anyway the wrestler who the whole football team admired
 shut his eyes
 I said that wrestler wasn't Sputnik Monroe was it I know him and I don't think
 he's that a way at all no he said I don't remember his name it wasn't Sputnik
 though this one had peroxided hair
 well what happened I said do you know what a guillotine is my little outlaw
 why sure I do I said that's what they used in the French Revolution to cut
 the rich people's heads olT and before the Citiuns took over the rich folks
 who was known as the blue bloods cut the bandits' poor heads off I've read
 about that contraption in a lot of books and I've seen it used in the picture
 show a tale of two cities and I saw it in a movie with no talking a old time
 one where everything is real fast I like those they're the best they come up
 with the writing in between you know then the strangest thing took a hold
 of me I heard the songs of people matching the blade of the guillotine
 was hovering in the heavens people were running down the road with torches
 held up every once in a while the leader would stop and turn around and say
 something a slogan or a cuss word I can't tell what and then the crowd
 would take up a running again I couldn't tell if they was going to some place
 or leaving some place the world's smallest man said his camera had no shutter
 just a razor blade I said you mean you cut that wrestler's pecker off
 precisely he said he said the blood when he cut went up in his nose I said
 you are kind of awnry you know that he asked me if I wanted to see it he had it
 preserved in a aquarium I dreamed about the old movie with talk where the
 nobleman got shot in the mouth and he put the handkerchief over it then
 there was one where the king had to show the next in line a book so he'd know
 what to do with a woman he was fixing to get married they would look down
 the wrong end of a megaphone and some body would dust them with powder on
 the wig in the end just about everybody gets it even the woman who I liked
 the world's smallest man said later that night the center came back he stooped
 over and asked the freak could he see what was in his pants the freak pretended
 to go in his britches but he pulled his sword and in the freak's own words
 he put the cutlass on the end of his finger for aim and plunged it into the
 center's eye he pulled it out some of the white was still on the blade he wiped
 it off under his arm and before the center could get away he climbed on his back
 and jammed it in his Other eye he said he did it just like he was a sick bull
 he said the crowd would have asked for it he said the first thing the blind
 center did was get down in a stance and try to hike a football all the time
 the blood streaming out of his eyes he told me how he put his hands up to his
 face and the red seeped through his fingers I asked him what the eyes looked
 like and he said like two piles of chickenshit
 well I told the freak I'd better be going that I'd see him the next time he
 was in town he got off my shoulder on to his little balcony he said wait a minute
 that he wanted to put another record on before I left he did that this song
 he said was called the magical fiute one I hadn't heard before we were standing
 at the front of his tent where you walk in to see his act and the song
 was coming from way back inside his tent I was leaving
 when I put my hand out to shake he kissed it then he put one
 of his tiny arms in front and one in back and did a bow I didn't know
 what to do so I genufiected and said goodbye he said farewell I left
 I told all my buddies about him some of them didn't believe me but that's
 alright they never do only the ones in camp believe me I told them
 when he comes through their neck of the woods they ought to go see him
 tell him the outlaw sent you but don't let him take no pictures of you it was
 about a year later I guess I was waiting for the fair
 to come back and when it came the world's smallest man wasn't in it I asked
 the barker where he was he was real perturbed at me asking those questions he
 said they dropped him fi'om the show he wasn't making enough money
 and besides they'd had a lot of complaints he said I would probably like
 rubber man better anyhow I told the man to go get fucked he hit me in
 the head with his cane I ran off he yelled at me a freak is a
 freak I stole five dollars in change all dimes from one of them gyp joints
 and doubled it at the baseball throwing booth then he says the man running
 it that he'd give me if I could knock those milk bottles over again
 fifty dollars I bet the ten bucks that shithook gave me a loaded ball I know it
 so I went up to this man I started crying I told him I needed some
 money to get home on he gave me fifty cents well I said to myself I can
 sure enough make some cash at that rifie shoot but on the way there I
 saw one of those striptease joints so I spent a quarter there and guess
 who sits down right next to me the guy who lent me the four hits and
 the god's truth of it is he was the Chief of Police I lit out of there
 just when she was getting under the jackass goddamnit I missed it I ran
 over to where they had the shoot they were a lot of those hillbillies
 from Arkansas there and they was doing pretty good but sweet Jesus they're
 stupid I won around eleven bucks all those hillbillies wanted was the
 stuffed animals the man running the show said kid this baldheaded fucker
 here he could have got a hundred clams off me but he wants those pigs
 he wants them all the same size all the same color while he was handing me
 the money I give him the go around sign with the finger on the side of the head
 for somebody's crazy I decided to run off again from home and school
 and catch me a bus and see if that freak was working any of those small time
 side shows over around Rosedale but first I had to go home and leave a note
 1 was thinking about how I'd slip up and call the world's smallest man
 a freak in front of him he didn't like it I thought well I won't call him
 freak no more when I got to the house I went in the front door Charlie B.
 was asleep he asked me where in the hell did I think I was a going I said
 listen you tell on me I'll tell daddy you doing goof dust again I'll tell him
 you been taking that car out at night and I do know where that pistol went
 go head on he said I was walking out the front door he said hold on
 a package come for you certified inshawed it was well give it here 1 said
 there's a letter come with it he said you read it 1 said I didn't read shit
 he said I opened the letter first it was from the freak
 Charlie B. said now who do you know in Mound Bayou I know lots I said
 well you going to read it or not he said I tried to read aloud what I saw
 but I couldn't I thought my eyes would burn holes through the paper Charlie B.
 asked me if I let a fart there was that smell I didn't I closed my eyes I
 heard that music I was a dead lion I was a black stallion I disappeared
 under the water I was made sure of death the icebergs the wagging tongues
 a warrior cleaning his fingernails over a painting by the one called Goya
 the fragments of the moon drawn into the dead man's mouth the magnet
 my dreams shooting at one another from creeks
 and books and thickets my dreams like nuclear fission my dream tracks
 left by the clairvoyant paw
 my dreams like something I wrote with a branch on the bank
 like a bob cat honing its claws in the dark
 like astronomers sleeping in a ship of bark like my dog telling me someone
 will poison him and the stories I write at night I start the fire with in the
 morning a whop bop a lu bop da bop bam boom a doot doot doda ta do do doda
 tota op popalima dop a lop nop dota doot doot doot doot
 do da loba holding the spoons of death tongues licking woman underwear
 and the old broke gentlemen in their rooms
 drinking with the old porters
 and the blind negroes dancing by the light the muscadines are picked
 the whortleberties are picked the snake and the grapes and the berries
 are in the bucket of death the cock's comb is full of scabs and his spurs
 are sharp and blue and the spitchcock smoking in the skillet the crawdads
 in the gumbo the man swallowing okra he keeps saying to himself over
 and over I will find it here we are I will I know it some say there
 is nobody up there on the hill but they die at daybreak like a young fox
 in the highway he lies on the lines in the middle of the road a swamp rabbit
 dying on a stump I have seen it he says dead rotting asking one of the boys
 for a smoke outside his window my old cousin the ninety year old queer
 the moustachioed alcoholic in a white suit playing pitch at the Peabody
 can see many people pass by the light
 once in a great while
 he says to himself it is nineteen-twenty it is nineteen-twenty he don't know
 you can hear him talking that way crazy like he drinks whiskey
 all the time he knows the smell in the corners of old hotels
 that make old porters sick he knows the musk at the top of the ladder
 he shoots the shit with Sunday Call who is going blind he use to be
 the meanest man in Memphis he ran all the barrelhouses now he cleans up duck shit
 my old cousin listens to Puccini he shakes his cane at the wall
 the picture is gone he says the one with Robert E. Lee drinking buttermilk
 at the well with his cousin is gone he walks down the long hall
 and looks for the shoe shine man where is the peg-legged man
 who knocks a pigeon wing in the Lobby of the Peabody while the polish dries
 he's dead once in a great while. the yellow snake cuts his tongue
 in two on the hole in the hollow egg listening to the night
 play tunes for the unborn chick and the possom talking
 in the persimmon tree shakes his head at the hissing carbide
 drifting its stinking light into the nests of the hairless young
 the pink children and the possom warps his tail
 around the limb like a mad man like a boss with a whip
 Hailing a slave it's there but you can't see it it's like a squirrel's dick
 and the taps on due errand boy's shoes ignite the sample dust in the cotton room
 and the pianos and the pistols stop for the fun I never look straight ahead
 I look at all sides I look at water because my father says water
 is the weakest substance on earth it is the most powerfiil I know there must
 have been so many received into that place called Valhalla so many
 at Agincourt so many at Maldon and death rolls on like a burning wheel
 like an envelope of staunch names avaunt the loincloth the spear
 avaunt the Elysian Fields aweary of the sun and the bloody child
 a hundred knights in scarlet cloaks riding black horses
 a hundred bowmen in green on white stallions a hundred more in blue
 riding chestnut steeds the tips of the Virgin's fingers on my lips
 the thick locks of black hair and the boxer of laughing eyes
 the questions of the maiden put forth to the bull
 the kidnapped dancer of ten years combing her hair with blood
 the butcher's son the stable boy the fury I Francis I swear it
 to the riverbanks to the blackesr of nights
 one day they had gone down to the river to bathe
 they saw a horseman come riding
 the horse pranced around the beach shaking its mane the dancing steed
 the horseman he wore a flowing white robe
 his hair was swept back
 and all the maidens loved him avaunt tangled limbs and crimson garments
 and the husbands have all drowned themselves on behalf of their mistresses
 and the wives have run themselves through
 and the mistresses have born children and become suicides too
 and the bastard sons will grow up and fall in love with other men's wives
 and they will be wounded in duels
 and all is like a one-armed negro blessed to blow harp what was his name
 what happened to the five blind gospel singers where are they
 where is Hatti who always carried a butcher knife where is Melvin where is Ben
 where is Seventy Five where is De Juan and the one I call the Cisco Kid
 where is the horse called Seven Trumpets where is Mama Covoe I lay down
 in the cook tents and she washed greens and squashed the snakes under the floor
 boards I looked up her dress where is that gospel ship coming from where
 is it going to I don't know all I know is tomorrow morning I must attend
 a sour room a building like a newspaper I have to sit in with a claque of
 milksops they are going to have a class picnic again the last one we all
 went swimming I showed out we had horse fights the one teacher is good looking
 she likes to give me whippings with the paddle full of holes she touched
 me between the legs and said excuse me she did it she got on my back
 around my shoulders at the picnic at the lake it was like slow motion
 when she got knocked off I had to swim under to go under her legs to pick her up
 I could see the hair the bathing suit was pulled up over her hips I tried
 to smell and almost drowned I went down again when I went between her legs
 she put her hands on the back of my head where it tickles she pulled me
 through her legs my eyes and checks rubbed the insides of her thighs my neck
 and my back touched her sex the whole time I never have been able to hold
 my breath that long I swam back through from behind I put my hands around
 her thighs I lifted her out of the water I stood up with her riding my shoulders
 she was a lot taller than me she knew I liked to tell stories about wars and ships
 and wolves she said I was a wolf and she was a she warrior I forget the name
 of what you call them we beat all the other horses and riders that is because
 she had long arms and blonde hair I have a strong back and short legs which
 makes it impossible to knock me down besides while no one was looking I'd
 kick a few of the bigger ones in the nuts after we won all the fights I
 thought about how warm she was at the back of my neck and she had her hands
 on the top of my head we went walking through the water she tried to get me
 in a neck scissors with her legs this cuts OR the blood in the carotid
 arteries while I tried to break this hold she bent over with her wet hair
 hanging down in my face giggling at me I used my chin and my thumb she
 rested her chin on my head she said things she put both her arms around my
 neck I didn't know she was just resting I thought it was a strangle I reached
 back I threw her off I felt her soft chest I was embarrassed she came up
 not with a smile just a look she dunked me she got on my shoulders again
 we walked away from the others towards the deep
 I carried her we talked about the story called the maelstrom by Edgar Allan Poe
 we spoke about the mythology of Hero and the poet who swam the channel
 I asked her what her favorite sound was she said she liked the hum of the arrow
 the whine of the bowstring the unsheathing of swords the piccolo and dirt
 and a shovel and the fiamenco guitar the heels of an eighteen year old wild
 like an animal a black hat alone a gypsy humming while he ties a knot
 in the tails of his shirt a greek fisherman thumping the hull of his boat
 I said I liked the dance of death which is silence which is all things
 heard separately and together I stepped off into nothing into a blue hole
 there wasn't a bottom we were going down I figured she'd get scared
 and scissor me but she got off my shoulders she grabbed me by the hair
 she was swimming up with me she must have had a life saver course 1 knew not
 to suck in air I held my breath and let it out gently my face was between
 her legs it was like a pillow it was like she was a mermaid but with legs
 instead of fins when we got to the top of the water I didn't even cough
 we stood on the bottom now the water about waist high I walked backwards
 into the deep it was getting dark I didn't want her to see me I said here
 I am she looked at me she swam over she put her hands on my shoulders
 we were face to face she pulled herself up around me with her legs holding
 on I knew she wasn't going to scissor me she kind of leaned back and held on
 the mosquitoes began to bite and someone was ringing the bell the bus was
 loading up I would be in another grade next year in another school a whippoorwill
 called and something fiew down close to us it wasn't a bar it was something
 after bugs she said it's time to go she wouldn't be going back on the bus
 she kissed me on the lips it was a french one like falling underwater her lips
 and all the time the moon was behind her hair when she left
 that summer I sent her the drawings of the ships they called me teacher's pet
 we got a letter and a clipping that summer she drowned in Mississippi
 Charlie B. threw some cold water on me he fanned me with the letter from the freak
 and I thought when you have a swimming party always go alone
 do not attend show up by yourself don't show up unless no one is there
 swim alone never with a buddy always go in the water by yourself no matter what
 they tell you jump off banks even if you know it's shallow below crack your head
 open always swim at night jump in when it's COLD and you gasp and can't move
 my advice to all is death by water if you have an appointment at dawn a duel
 swim to the forest of honor with the moon over your shoulder
 dear Francis it said by the time you get this I'll be dead my unfortunate
 accident took place on the Arkansas side of the river and I was unable
 to find anyone here who could write so I had to wait until our little show
 reached Miwissippi before I could get some person to pen a letter
 both my arms are crushed my hands are like two gloves full of bath powder
 when I broke I sounded like a pecan cracking by the way my new friend
 and colleague M. Antonin the knife Bergarno a colored hypnotist is writing
 this for me he is only recently out of prison himself
 and that is where we met by coincidence while humming the same Creole tune
 he has a glass eye blue and all the toes on his left foot are missing
 there are numerous scars across his cheek and arm
 the big toe Bergamo cut ofi- himself to get out of work the other four
 were removed by the white man whose boot he spit on
 I might add that after we were released Bergamo put a spell on the guard and he
 cut his own throat well my little outlaw aside from my eminent expiration
 my predicament is this I was sentenced to eight months in jail for the murder
 of a third rate performer by the name of Crawling Vine you remember his tent
 don't you the one with the half and gibbous moon on either side of the canvas
 nevertheless I will explain the diminutive penalty rendered you might recall
 that Crawling Vine was a hermaphrodite well the judge kept this in mind in light
 of the severity of the crime he ruled manslaughter
 yea I seen that mofadyke Charlie B. said I seen him in Clarksdale I mean I seen
 it there my my 1 don't see how no judge can give a man near abouts a year
 for killing no mofadyke how in the world did that man rule manslaughter I don't
 know shut up Charlie B. let me read this letter
 which was a questionable decision on various grounds one of them being
 there was no corpus delicti I will explain but for now the motives for murder
 Vine that ignoble umbrella loved cats he was always taunting me with them
 he knew there was a hermaphrodite in every sideshow fiom Cairo to New Orleans
 whereas I was the world's smallest man why everytime I think about that tacky
 act he she or it has of fucking himself herself or itself I just shiver
 I seen me another mofadyke its name was Kudzu reckon it was Crawling Vine
 the freak went on I had just concluded my act I was still in my cape
 drinking a cognac about to remove my gloves when I noticed the withered arm
 of the hermaphrodite lowering a Siamese cat into my parlour
 I was aware of the ambush ahead of time I reached for a match
 when the hideous creature sprung at me I doused it with cognac presently
 striking the match and igniting the cat I took olIE my gloves with the feeling
 of a deed well done and watched the monstrosity burn a pity you weren't there
 mon ptoscrit to pour me another brandy I poured it myself and awaited the return
 of M. Vine I toasted his most hideous and immediate presence may you piss in your own
 cunt may you inherit the lice of Snorri Sturluson may dung bugs frequent your
 grave may you give yourself trench mouth may you put your cat out with your
 duet of piss no I'll do that I unzipped and peed on the cat it smouldered
 it finally went out like an old couch when all at once the infuriated
 hermaphrodite came out of the boards and grabbed me up and attempted to avenge
 the death of his sickly wife of a cat by pressing me like a rose between
 the pages of an early edition ofTess of the D'Urbervilles my rapier never fails
 is there need to say more I think so I had the Chinese acrobat dragging
 him to the tiger's cage when I had a most horrible idea suppose I were
 to practice my cuts on the still living corpulence I had the acrobat hide it
 in the kitchen I went to work on it sit it was a stroke of luck that the sawdust
 was fresh for the fioor was a sponge of blood I whacked it here there and every
 which a way my fervor was further heightened by the crowd shouting
 in the tent we had rented for the Revival next door I strung its ears and eyes
 on my blade like shish kabob I ground it all up the entrails everything
 it made just enough burgers to feed the starving religious maniacs and I can assure
 you that most of them were saved the holy spirit and others entered their bellies
 the devil be had Charlie B. said I bet them sapsuckers would a really rolled
 in the fioor if they had a knowed they all had eat a mofadyke goddamn he said
 I bet you that damn elf has got some head on his shoulders I'll swan
 wonder if that freak ever thought about going into show business
 I won't go into prison life here I just want to tell you
 about our new and short-lived show called The Floating Troupe of the Unnaturals
 named by myself and financed by a philanthropist dwarf a gentleman of the arts
 and a planter to boot it was Bergamo's idea to set the carnival up on barges
 and bring joy and murder and music and good food and cuckolded husbands and
 young lads and young maidens to the people dwelling on land the landlocked hearts
 they will come to us we will at last have a home a temple of shittim wood a
 watertight tabernacle no more one night stands out fairgrounds will be any good
 landing we will bring back gamblers the fortunes of the soul the fates in the
 fashion of the steamboat perhaps the lost and forlorn will choose to sail with
 up and down the river we will take on all comers we have already acquired
 the assistance of a sword swallowet who had lost his nerve we have a trapeze act
 that broke up due to the jealousy on the part of the older man over the younger
 one we have a fat lady that makes good ballast we have a wandering poet who draws
 fierce looks from the husbands and tears and farewells from their wives we have
 thirteen Chinese midgets all jugglets and acrobats we have a deaf snake charmer
 a woman that will go with any animal and of course the one-eyed negro my friend
 the knife thrower at night you should see our tow of barges all lit up like
 the northern lights die ridiculous music the last show before we put back into
 land and let the people off is my friend's like some god he hypnotizes all
 who are troubled and when he snaps his fingers they wake like butterfiies
 oh little outlaw if only you could join The Floating Troupe of the Unnaturals
 but alas the townsfolk stood guard on the banks they never let us put in
 our only home was the island our friends were the river rats and to think
 our only port before was night we docked like the dragonfly the wharfs
 of laughter like a virgin walking in a lonesome meadow the round tables
 of older brothers like bull fights most holy the grave and not alive all the time
 in the tomb dressed with the old sayings secretly went he and hid in the lady's
 castle and the mirrors riding horses and the robberies taking place and the
 rugged fingers of the carpenter building a piano that catches drowned seamen
 and the wise blood brothers of the earth the inhabitants of helmets
 being eaten by sharks and wolves and gars and falcons the bitter cold of the
 swallowed moon the launching of the ship made from the nails of the dead
 somewhere around the river town of West Helena home of fourteen singers
 and thousands of unknown songs a local group accused us of bootlegging
 a whole school of little boats rowed out with torches to meet us they boarded
 without permission sacking what they could the}' said we were running whiskey
 and whores of course it was found and of course upon seeing the chinarnen they cut
 open the sacks of opium that the jugglers smoked if only we could have made it
 around the bend we would be a troupe to this day the men with their greed they
 set fire to the ancient barges to the paddle wheel and tug to all the tents
 of dreams and painted canvas some of the animals and horses burned alive I saw
 a fiaming tiger with his supplications to the moon the bearer of vanished water
 as well as member of the Unnaturals most of them drowned to extinguish
 themselves the suicide of the blood brothers and the conquerors picking their
 teeth with chicken bones the editor of the newspaper was there but the story that
 appeared in the middle of the week was nothing like what took place it was only
 a fabrication it was only a lie it read a barge full of circus people and thieves
 collided with an unknown tug steered by a drunken pilot all were drowned none
 were charged those men pouring salt on the poor that crawl oh that collusion
 begets calamity in the turmoil of my unfortunate shipmates and fellows I was
 knocked over by a shotgun pellet the wind came up and a piece of rope and canvas
 nearly beat me to death and now as I lie on my death bed without pain
 thanks to Bergamo I think of you mon chanson if 1 had anything to bequeath
 you other than the enclosed you know I would want you to have it but all was
 lost and what money I did have on my person I am leaving with Betgamo my
 confessor and friend so my little outlaw sweet dreams my prince of the good
 night I bid you an affectionate farewell
 signed with an X Count Hugo Pantagruel the world's smallest man and friend
 of the Devil such were the last words of the freak
 I heard about that one-eyed nigger swinging a watch Charlie B. said
 let's open the package he said looks like the hypnotizer's handwriting
 just think I thought the freak was dead I asked Charlie B. if he'd ever
 received a letter from a dead man not that I recall he said
 there was a note written by the black man's hand reading it was the last wish
 of the Count that he be cremated and he named you as benefactor of his ashes
 just before the little man passed away he added that you might want to use
 his remains in making a bar of soap ifso he asked that you scent it with
 the enclosed eau de Cologne his favorite may Allah be with you
 signed Le Couteau sole proprietor of the lasting estate
 and keeper of the unexplored grounds of Count Hugo Pantagtuel
 this was like some honor some knock at the door late at night like throwing
 a stone as far as you can under the full moon and listening to it plump
 in water beyond the woods you didn't know was there like a blind man in
 the evening thinking about the old days a dark horse nuering his side
 got to be some kind of crazy man to inshaw a freak: ashes
 and send them through the mail Charlie B. said and I thought about the trick
 with the wand and dust from a magnet how you could put a loadstone in the
 fingertip of a glove and write with red dust on a black table the solo was heard
 coming from the remains of a ship Charlie B. said I need a beer let's take a
 tide we drove down to the section they was frying catfish I asked the chef
 for an eg I walked out of the joint with the smells and the blues alone I
 dropped the egg on the sidewalk it was like the man in the moon having a child
 a son a man with no legs came by on a board with roller skates underneath
 like a mechanic's scooter he had a harmonica rig around his neck he had a puppy
 he said I'm gonna let my dog lick that up alright he played the harmonica
 I heard the barge horn on Wolf River
 a long time ago I found a mouth harp all rusty in the Eleven Foxes barr pit
 he told me sweet dreams prince of night
 I feel like an old man who knows there ain't no point in changing his shirt
 he knows he's gonna die in a couple of days anyhow so why not
 save the clean one for the grave
 they rode by on seven horses it was so dark I couldn't tell a thing
 verily I dream about drawn swords
 the horse of the black wood the secret movements
 and the gypsy had eyes like new moons
 and all the oaths were broken
 and my head in a maiden's lap
 and me with my wounded brow where I dreamed the mouth of the passage
 and the boat wheel like a shattered mirror
 my dreams without dominion
 my dreams like hill moons
 like halberds humming underground
 like ricocheted bullets
 my dreams like a hunchback kissing the calligraphy of a dancer's foot
 that smell of the tarboosh of the dismissed wedding guest
 the clavier of sweat and the clarinet of tears
 the dauntless garments
 like tracks made in the dark of the moon
 like stones embedded in the muscles of beasts
 and the refiection like a ritual
 like vibrating blades
 like words spoken on a field of honor I found the young girl asleep
 I lay my head down on a damsel's tomb the hunchback's daughter dead when buried
 I looked at the notches on the handle I was bleeding
 the cork went under I was sleeping the tug boat
 put to death by morning black is the color
 victims of the oracle bones BoBo spoke to who was swishing the brandy in the
 glass I dream where no one is going
 like I am turning in space like the photograph of iron in the trunk of
 the wrecked cat
 I will rise and take my journey into oblivion
 like a convict's song
 I am like a column of smoke
 like a brain hovering over a blue indentation in the forest fioor
 like a swarthy hull mistaken for night
 I am as dark as
 the duel fought by the gypsy in behalf of the massacred children
 the fronds of the troops of the dead
 the burning net around the gutted vagabond
 the eunuchs fiying into the wagon of unplayed guitars with their deluge
 of pick axes
 like hairlips in love with a moustache
 to mount and ride away the gypsy says to himself scattered all over the field
 I will he says
 and the eunuchs are holding the strings up for one another like a bob wire fence
 like a nest of snakes underwater
 the girl forgot her wrap
 there are times when it seems I walk an endless pier
 a pier as cold as a spoon
 like a glacier of sleepwalker's sweat
 seamen sliding down an inclined fragment a shard of mirror
 looking at his new tattoo
 there is no backtracking there are imprints on the pillow
 it was black
 blood the fragrance of jasmine the color of wine all under the fingernails
 staining the maiden's cloak
 I say unto you beware the ghost of the gypsy said
 they rode together
 one fiowing back fiapping a trilling like a hidden bird
 trailing in the horror zone northwest
 and in class the students paint by numbers the last number says join
 I am the only one who strokes chance the sleeping panther
 I take off my gloves and hit it in the face I wake it up I grin at it
 with my teeth clenched I deliver my blows like a conductor like a grenadiet
 I hold up both hands clasped together Mahatma Gandhi I come to peace with it
 I let it bite me on the throat if it wants I know the source of all blood
 on the chair I watch it stalk me in a circular lope
 it struts along with a limp wrist like Socrates and all of a sudden it turns
 around and fights with a fist that never fails
 to knock me out and so chance the wise snowball that bleeds when I kiss it
 always sings a song so long you can never remember the beginning
 in this life it is a looking glass where one is seen as two
 my brush like the strokes of an oar at a river where none have been seen before
 I follow no numbers for me the last stroke is the knife
 I carry the tiger to the mountain
 like ikai-do I am fast to sever the enemies of my dreams
 my blade has a thousand layers it is soft as a feather and hard as a diamond
 a sword like a man praying under a waterfall
 a sword like a hymn never sung
 for years and years the victim of chance tempers his edge he prepares
 for that reckoning that lasts less than a second
 the drawing the slashing the cutting the replacing
 the scabbard of dreams
 with the motion of a disturbed tiger as natural as a moon shadow
 the blades ting they marry one another
 now for chiburui the blood cleaning chance rotates his swords he snaps
 his strong wrists and the blood comes ofi'
 like a cat shaking water off its back
 my dreams like a hawk fighting a snake my pennant the beak and the fang
 recess is over put the marbles in your head the book like a mashed hand the texts
 the desks are bloated fish the chalk is ground from bones the questions
 are pockets with holes in the bottom they are easy the answer
 is like being tied up in a trunk
 do you know anything about the pyramids they ask me
 the eunuchs whining like fiies
 what do you know about Tierra Del Fuego
 how far is it to Jupiter I answer however long the hall is to the bedroom
 of the mother of Dionysus about 484,000,000 miles from the Sun
 I still miss it to piss her off I throw in l,5000,000 light years to Andromeda
 Galaxy I go into my beam contacts with the messengers of black space
 what is the fifth largest river in the world how long is it compare
 it to the Hudson she doesn't know her ass from a hole in the ground
 I say the Hudson River looks like a stream of piss
 compared to the Ob' it is as long as a note on Louie Armstrong's trumpet l fiunk
 after a while it is my turn to stand up and recite fractions
 instead I play a character from The Tempest by William Shakespeare
 I get up on the desks and yell I take off my shoes and break the lights I say
 fuck arithmetic I start turning the people over in their desks the macher
 she is all messed up she signals for a fire drill and everyone gets up all in
 order they walk out the door in two rows she turns on the intercom she says
 Francis is having another fit she walks out too and locks the door
 boy I'm really yelling now I'm running into the wall head first like a bull
 I spit on everything I think of I look in the teacher's drawer and get my radio
 the one she took last week I tune in the World's Series I get me a piece of
 chalkI write every low down thing I can think of I'm still yelling
 every once in a while I bust a window to let them know who's boss
 some of my buddies like it when I throw a fit that way they get out of work
 Tanan I say I push the intercom button I say run me up a grilled cheese
 and a Co-cola how about it go to hell I tell those son-of-a-bitches
 now I'm going to write fuck all over the boards I yell out the windows at the
 little grades playing I say this ain't no school and it's not no stabling
 it's a dog food factory go to hell
 I climb up the ladder and turn on the civil defense siren and they are talking
 to me over the intercom I say you want to know something I'll tell you
 something when that damn Shelbey has that geography book on his lap and he's
 keeping time with his foot he ain't working problems he's jacking oifi
 if you don't believe me look in the book there's cum all over the maps
 I say give me the principal I want to speak with her I say you'd fuck a rock pile
 if you thought there was a snake in it go to hell over and out mayday get fiicked
 the people are yelling at me wait till they see fuck all over the blackboards
 my girlfriend is whispering through the keyhole Frankenstein
 some of the boys shooting marbles outside say do the Wolf Man
 I tell them throw away the cat eyes and start shooting dice
 I start doing a Russian dance I am saying I am telling you don't you be stepping
 on my blue suede shoes or I'll be coming up side your head
 y'all got that this is the Wolf Man over an out
 at that moment something went inside my head like a horse snorting like a
 spinnaker filling out somebody was a yelling my name outside it sounded
 like Charlie B. I looked for a black car I remembered we were suppose to be doing
 tenses I was writing a poem the teacher caught me she made me stand up and read
 it aloud in hem of the class everyone was laughing at me it was
 a love poem don't you see so the werewolf decides to improvise
 I do the banana peel backfiip I give a Ida and then I let down my pants I shoot
 the moon I was ducking and dodging I can see that old teacher sitting in her
 bathtub cutting farts she popping the bubbles open with a crochet needle
 let her get a good whiff she probably smells bicycle seats
 I don't like hospitals I didn't like being around the world's smallest man
 when he took his enema when he had Harold Warthog the weightlifter
 giving him a tub down the darkening of the sun old pappy Pugh passed
 the poem was about a girl with black hair
 who had to walk the plank with a rose in her mouth
 her hands were tied behind her
 and they blindfolded her with a pirate's sleeve
 you could tell the thorns were cutting her lips
 there was blood on her mouth her tongue was under the stem
 before she stepped off into the deep and french kissed the sharks
 she turned around and gave all the men a chance to see her face
 the black rose became a knife in her mouth she swam with
 her lover was hung up by the heels on the yardarm
 and his severed hands were nailed to the mast
 for some reason the last line I threw in was about how I saw a hawk eat
 a whole bait can of fish eyes
 but that isn't what I told them I told them some dirty shit
 with the good ears of a spike buck with my dreams like a pocket
 you are afraid to reach into
 like a cove that only a few people know about the best hole around
 I concocted the burning sulphur in the ventilators in the gills of the gypsy
 moths the immaculate conception took place
 I got the idea for my entry in the Science Fair from the astronomer
 I built an observatory in Tennessee
 I took it to camp with me
 I could see all the fronds and fishes and creatures of the sky
 my telescope is like a microscope
 it is like a towrope thrown over a wall I see through the tent screen
 the negro men and women like old bananas and oranges
 the constellations rub up against one another and lumber
 around like the big people like bears in old paintings
 the mirror has been ground with the precision of a sword
 like an archer shooting a fiaming arrow into watery space I vaunt the natural
 earth blood with my black spoon I dig up bait I find it everywhere
 I was asked to give the plot for the discovery of America I said
 the men entered the forest
 with the assistance of the jewish boy next door I made a computer
 it gave the names of the most valuable players of the national league
 and selected the presidents of the United States
 I entered the Science Fair with my planetarium made out of kotex boxes
 I made constellations with a pencil I poked holes in the boxes
 I put the stars on the ceiling of the school
 they named it Sherwood what a joke the fiag was raised like a village like a
 pair of soldiers' pants and as I see it close by I must say please
 bless the spirit of Francisco Villa bless the fingers of the blind
 pointed towards the sky
 they asked me what is your favorite hobby you know what I told them
 for second choice I put down riding around with Jimmy in his beat-up Ford
 sand soaks up blood real fast
 because my next entry was a bucket of hot ice and fox blood
 I use to have the hide tacked up somewhere
 well fuck me running they didn't kick me out of school
 the swarm of teachers like silent farts you get an award for diarrhea of the
 mouth the spelling B is like a kissed ass you don't have to sit down
 if you're nice to the teacher it is a joke so
 so long Charlie B. wrote me a note to get out I played a good hooky
 we rode around we shucked and jived
 we went downtown and got a fresh car we had it fried I swigged a little beer
 I threw to the line he let me wear his cool hat the cadillac was parked
 out from it was new and black he had me go turn the radio on
 full blast the music drifted in the cafe like smoke it was Bobby Blue Bland
 yea we rode around like cats that afternoon I wasn't studying about
 a ass beating I wore my pants up real high and shake my knees on the corner
 like him if we're waiting on the light I pull them up his last name is Lemmon
 in case you've already heard of him the chauffeur in the red beret
 they call him vitamin C for the women
 he always carries about seven dice in his pocket he has a Mr John root
 on his watch fob a Caterpillar bulldozer
 he's got a Italian knife too
 he knows all the singers some of the cats call him Midnight Blue
 I mean he's wearing those long toed shoes
 can he ever hold a note
 from one stoplight to the next
 we ride around in the black cadillac he plays it cool
 I am the truant trouvere so I am told
 and the truant officer is always looking for me
 after we leave our neighborhood I say you gone let me drive
 sho boy
 and I take the wheel
 he sits in the backseat next to the window and says drive on Francois
 I push the button on the automatic power drive seat
 soloanseeoverthehood
 I punch the buttons on the radio like it was a typewriter
 keeping the good music on all the time
 hit that cool air boy he says
 I turn the air conditioning on but we ride with the automatic windows down
 afier we get out a ways he lights up a weed and puts it in a
 cigarette holder that's kind of black and brown marvel
 he sits bunched up back in the corner on the driver's side
 so he can sort of turn his neck a little and poke his head out at the corners
 can I put it on now Charlie B. I say can I
 put the cap on boy he says
 see I have this Chlamys a pen pal sent me from Greece
 it's supposed to be real old
 it sort of fioats back in the wind and Charlie B. thinks it's ever so cool
 when we get down his section of town
 he pulls a pair of baby shoes out of his pocket and says
 hang these ovah the rear View mirruh
 I say why not the sponge rubber dice
 do what I say he says
 got you boss I say
 if he sees somebody walking down the sidewalk that he knows
 he might scoot over to the other side of the seat real fast and look cool
 we get to the market and he says run in and get me a Zagnut
 I go in and buy one and everybody in the store looks out the window
 if he really wants to show out he says go back and get me some pocket change
 he likes to stop off and get his shoes shined
 when we have a whole lot of time he goes to the hair parlor
 one day he stopped in and asked if his friend was dead or not
 he asked the barber how Mud doing Trueblood
 he's fine now Lemmon
 he must not a got the rabies huh
 a man laying back in the chair says who this nigger ya'll talking bout done got bit
 ah man you know Mud the barber said
 that cat with red hair he asked the one that live over on
 that's him Charlie B. said
 Trueblood asked me how you taday son
 fine how you Mr. Trueblood
 well I'm doing ok as long as I'm cutting hair and not throats
 how'd the man get hit the man in the chair say
 bunch them boys got drunk and was ovah to the Zoo and Mud say he gone bebop
 with a bear and he went back in a cave to get him and a albino bat bit him
 Tmeblood say and I say damn wonder if he's got the hat
 I reckon he does the barber said with a laugh really] say sho he do he say
 why he brought it in here in a mason jar the other afternoon asking me for some
 alcohol see the police had to get it so they could run a test on it to see
 if it was a rabid bat or not I give him some Rose tonic shoot Charlie B. said
 I bet Mud will have that thang up in the amen corner bound to Trueblood said
 I'd give anything for a albino bar I says and the man in the chair say I bet
 that nigger wish he hadn't tried to dance with no bear and they all laughed
 we left and as we was going out the door Mr. Trueblood said ya'll come back
 and Charlie B. say yea we be in next tuesday to get our ears lowered and I
 thought I must be the only white boy in Memphis to get my hair cut by a colored
 man because that is what M r. Trueblood bet the other barber that comes in on
 fridays when daddy comes to get his ears lowered and I kept saying to myself
 I'll never forget six years ago when we went and a man sat down in the chair
 and he had this look on his face when he leaned back and recognized the face
 of the barber who had been a barber in prison the one who had to do a extra year
 of bad time cause this here man the one who sat down fiew in a forged kite
 that tipped off the captain to something that really wasn't no I'll never forget
 the look in his eyes when that barber cut his throat from ear to ear but now
 Charlie B. says let's go on ovah to the White Spot and eat some pie boy sho I say
 and that is what we do
 hey honey Charlie B. says to the waitress I'll take a piece of blackberry pie
 A La Mort what you gone have kid well boss I say I'll have two donuts and a cup
 of milk to dunk them in a lemon-lime to drink how's that Charlie B. clicked his
 tongue and the dark skinned waitress clicked her gum then his expression changed
 and he turned around the other way on the stool and I says what's wrong and he
 says see that big black nigger ovah in the corner and I say which one and he says
 the baldheaded one and I say yea I see him what's wrong with him and he say ain't
 nuthing wrong wid him but see that high yellow sitting on the uthah side of him
 yea I see I say well he say that trifiing nigger collects for white mens what you
 mean I says what I mean he says I mean he's always slinking round heah wid a pair
 of brass knuckles and a hog's leg collecting on bills and I tell you I owe plenty
 what you owe him for I say wheels boy he say a sky blue dyna-fiow Buick me and
 Tickle Willey and Soap went in on this winter how much for I say mo than we got
 at the moment he says what you gone do I say hide he say if he see me and come
 this way I want you to tell him I'm yo chaulfeur and we is in a hurry going to
 the Dog Races in West Memphis you tell him that what if he gets rough I say then
 he says you go ovah to where that big nigger is sitting and say Cholly told me
 to tell you a friend in need is a friend in deed and then you run like hell will
 do boss I say but as it turned out the man didn't even recognize Charlie B. he
 just asked for directions but nobody would tell him none and he left damnation
 that was close he says we eat our pie and donuts and Charlie B. made eyes at the
 waitress and asked around where Soap was iffen he was still in Blaine or not and
 the waitress says she hear he got run out of town over there and besides that he
 shouldn't be asking her no questions bout no skunk like Soap that low down country
 shiftless thang she called him and Charlie B. winked and said that's Soap alright
 and we left and he said drive on Francois and I got in but he snapped his fingers
 and said ain't you fah getting something boy and I says oh yea so I got out again
 and opened the door for him and shut it and sat down and turned around and ask
 for directions and he says destination Beale Street and I says wonder if a police
 sees me driving and he says tell um I got drunk on the job and you had to take
 ovah last time they thought you kidnapped me I says oh I say there's one on a
 horse right now you got that beanfiip he says yea it's under the seat I say he
 reaches in his trousers and pulls out a dice and says heah you go pop that mare
 in the butt so I did and it reared up and threw the policeman and he says drive
 on and I say how come you ain't driving the Buick cause he said it didn't rain
 last wednesday what I say I bet Tickle Willey my thirud it was gone rain the next
 day and it didn't you crazy Charlie B. I said sho I am he say bout as crazy as
 the trespassing dog is and I say ain't nobody that crazy and he says that's a left
 and the baby shoes is swinging and we are cruising slow like through the section
 and I says hey boss we got time to go by the orphanage and spring somebody today
 and he says let's wait till next week we been going past that place too much and
 you is liable to get caught and then it's gone be this nigger's ass all on account
 of you and I think the best thing in life is to help an orphan escape from Saint
 Blaise Home of Destitute Children slow down B says and I go with my head like I
 mean ok boss and so we is going bout five miles an hour and I am thinking one mo
 week just one mo week and we'll be out of this goddamn city and I'll be out of
 that goddamn school and the astronomer won't be able to lay his hands on me and
 make me act a certain way and I won't have to take no more of them tests to see if
 I was a mind reader and Jimmy will come back and I'll see Baby Gauge and life
 will be swell but I know what will really happen which is what I know which is
 the mule being led to the barge and the folks is lined up on the bank with hand
 kerchieves and just the other day I got a post card from the astronomer saying
 they must not look at you they must enter you which I don't get anyway turkey
 season is in before you get stung the wasps go into the shadows of the rafters
 that is the last you ever see of them until they get you riding along and I say
 hey boss what he says you mind if I say nigger depend on how you say it he say
 well I say like if I says it like you say it I don't give a damn he says would you
 mind ifI say it couple of times go head on if that's what you want he says so I
 got the steering wheel and I look down the sidewalks and on the steps and there
 is this colored man in a wheel chair taking pictures for a quarter and I say theres
 a nigger ain't it Charlie B. and he says yes with his head I see him through the
 rear view mirror we go on aways and there is this kid on roller skates and I say
 look there at that nigger boss I see him he says we turn the corner and in the
 next block a woman has a mouth full of clothes pins and I say that's a nigger
 woman for sure ain't it and he say sho is and I look around and say would you look
 at that nigger and he says ok that's enough and I say did you see him he was a
 and he says I told you boy that's nuff fah one day don't get out of hand ok boss
 I say and I thought many times I drove Charlie B. Lemmon around and I looked back
 over my shoulder and I said boss is it ok if or boss can I say nigger now and he'd
 look at his watch and say you got two minutes and I'd say it stop heah and pick
 me up a quart of wax he'd say and I'd say what if he won't sell it to me and he'd
 say you tell him it's Fah me Charlie B. Lemmon and the son-of-a bitch bertuh sell
 it to you ok ok I'll get it he was all the time saying Rendezvous man Rendezvous
 we were going down this street see and this cat sitting on the steps sees us
 and he says hey Lemmon what you doing in the back of that car and Charlie B. lets
 down his window and says to me without moving his lips real real slow boy and
 the guy comes over to the curb and says again wheah you going man and Charlie B.
 takes a swig of the beer and draws a little off his smoke and sniffs in through
 his nose and looks over his sunglasses and says going to get my shot man and the
 other man says style man Charlie B. you got style he claps his hands together and
 says got a goddamn white boy driving you to the County Health Office damn man and
 Charlie B. says how come you so down man I can see it in your eyes and the man
 say hadn't you heard man heard what Tickle Willey the boss said heard about Soap
 the other one said what about him Charlie B. said they got him on the other side
 of Lambrooke the one with the sleepy eyes said who got him Charlie B. says who you
 think Tickle \Villey said done lost our padnuh uh Charlie B. said sho did the man
 said and I thought about things and the boss says what you on Willey goof dust
 and he say I'm down bout Soap and all what all Charlie B. say that yallow nigger
 is coming to take my Buick away what you mean \Willey yo Buick I mean Soap dead
 and it didn't rain so it mine look heah nigger the boss says Soap told me if any
 thang was to happen to him when he went to Arkansas I's gone be left his thirud
 well they coming to repossess it taday so you bettah side which you want the radio
 or the battery or the tires of what he says you mean you gone set there and let
 that white man's nigger take the Buick back to the lot what else I gone do he say
 burn the son-of-a-bitch Charlie B. said hold on I say look who is behind us who
 the boss says the truant officer I say throw a brick through his windhsield he say
 I'll really be in for it then I said chicken he said so I got a brick and chunked
 it and the man peeled out and left he'll thank a nigger done it Tickle Willey say
 a woman with a fiy swatter in her hand and a dip of snuff in her lip stuck her
 head out this window and say hey yonah Tickle Willey the Inshawrunce Compknee
 called up and say they was sending a man right on ovah heah to get yo car shoot
 Willey said let's burn it Charlie B. said they ain't gettin none of my money back
 ovah my dead body let's jack it up and take the tires offi he says you keep the
 lookout boy the boss says right oh I says then went down to the corner and borrow
 some tools and bought a gallon of gasoline and come back and jacked the Buick up
 and Charlie B. give me a screwdriver and said get the damn radio out of there
 and while I was doing that Willey was stealing the tires and Charlie B. was
 taking the battery out and I thought if I was in school right now I'd be learning
 about ancient history or eating a Heath bar at recess and I said when l undid
 a wire I ain't gone never amount to nothing next year all my buddies which ain't
 real buddies will be on the football team but I won't cause the coach don't like
 my attitude and Charlie B. says hurry up boy and I says to myself I could go back
 and kiss all their asses and play like a fool like they want or win the spelling
 B or win the essay why I am a good American contest and they'd all forgive me but
 to hell with it I'll just go my own way even if I break that poor woman's heart
 but eventually that's got to happen anyway so to hell with it so we set the car
 afire jacked-up and all and sit there on the steps and looked when the yellow
 nigger drove up with two white men he said ain't ya'll gone help put this fire out
 and Tickle Willey said it might blow up any minute and the man said all the fire
 department sound the alarm and Charlie B. said that sho was a nice looking set of
 wheels and the nigger said I can have ya'll prosecuted for this I see you've
 already stole the tires and I don't know what else you'll pay I'll see to that
 and Charlie B. spit and got up and said Tickle Willey come on with me this hea
 boy will drive us and he looked at me and says since you itching to say nigger so
 bad why don't you call that cocksucker there one he's a reel nigger alright come down here
 taking our Buick away and I said let's beat it and the white men took my mamma's
 license tags down and I thought see I'm in it now I'm in shit clear up to my eyes
 these damn backsliding dreams of mine
 how they wake me up when I'm asleep in the backseat
 Jimmy frogs me in the arm he says Cockeye
 when a truck with one light out goes by the hunters with shaving cream
 in their ears and that Buick that afternoon burning like hay with the radio
 half out on the sidewalk and still hooked up and playing the blues
 and the men looking at me and taking down notes on a pad with ball point pens
 setting out the decoys drop drop drop for the tear ducts
 with the deer lick full of tongues and the blind cross-hairs
 I am breathing on my hands like the freezing skier trying on his mask
 I lay in a boat I dream
 the clouds are symphonies I compose my book fell in the water I bet someone is
 kneeling at a tomb who knows
 when death will kiss your eyes
 what kind of knot does he tie
 when he throws his rope at me I'll give him a mirror and let him kiss hisself
 he can lasso that
 he dresses as a man but he might be faking it he might be a woman
 it really doesn't matter who death is it could be a fiy
 you can't tell till you're down and bleeding
 I see myself swimming on my back only my foot is in the river I'm in a boat
 I would call out to my brother
 I would smell the oordwood I would
 watch a Chinaman pray
 I would ask the help of stones and branches
 I would draw a painting I would call it the mirror in the tomb
 the entombed speculum
 the secret dream of Lafayette the guillotine with the blue blade the figurehead
 in the basket the pyre swathed in pity
 the ship
 going nowhere
 the town called Goya the pose passed through looking for the Colonel
 the man who could not speak
 you have heard it said that you should chop the weeds around the outhouse
 down but I
 say unto you dream
 ain't gone knock no johnson grass today
 and it has been said
 dream and ride the nightmares
 of the cnrsade of Barbarossa the nightwalker of the eyes put out
 of the pyre
 of the docks the boar snouts the falcon beaks the wolf heads
 on the bows emerging From nowhere
 I hear them the crumbling harpoons the splices of rope
 the warriors
 the gown for shouting made out of the topgallant
 Delos my home of the sea horses
 when death has talked to the dark
 I leave
 I will not march with death and his comrades I will dream bout buried ships
 I will sleep I will say no
 to Unferth the coward
 no to the taxidermist doing unspeakable things in private dying his hair in his
 office no to the trifiing doubledealers to the lingering death no to the post
 hole digger no to the dragoons of legislators no to the fiends no to the lawyer
 swearing out affidavits no to the packrats no to the broken pacts
 just look
 at the wolves shipped up the river
 at the swimmers being picked 0H
 no to the lips
 no to the words
 no to the lies that is nowhere
 when the tongues are hair triggers no
 there they are looting the water
 there they are eating hate four times a day
 while no one is looking
 get thee hence
 a dog licks his own puke up
 have you seen the cross bones of the mysterious prisoner
 have you heard the soothsayer howling like an angel's sword
 the bones in the shackles the black sun driving the horses away
 the blood on the boats the sap the rampant stigmata
 the amigo said when I'm dying
 did you hear
 the water
 the long chains
 rattling did you hear
 the long chains
 dragging did you
 I go down to the sea in the ships
 1 am that which is
 I do not exist
 I don't wish to offend anyone but I must say in the midst of everyone
 and everything once again I am having the scene you cannot look upon
 the scene you must enter the tunnel for
 my name is David my name is Wyclif
 a weak track a trail of blood in the blue snow the silence the light the night
 sweats my harp intercepts
 the delirious spirit of Beethoven's hands
 beating his fists on the hammers that come down like the legs of dead horses
 that break open like ripe fruit
 and the keyboard of blood
 Beethoven staring into some fire the fists are
 fighting hawks his dreams falling offi the tree
 warriors taking deep breaths
 black and white rattling the mail of
 Beowulf his dreams staring one another down
 his dreams like storms
 Beethoven's phantom like silent ticochers in my sleep
 Beethoven the definite anarchist Beowulf the gallant spirit
 playing chess outside my window in Snow Lake when I'm sick in bed
 piece de Resistance
 dirge of the undressed girl the accompaniment of scented fingers
 the first cummetbund I was too young I was the hawk
 I was learning to fiy
 with the seated eye I fight already my bloody feathers whistle over
 the river my tune on some shoulder my tune in a gloved hand
 it was only her hair she combed it was only what I saw in the mirror
 when I tied the four-in-hand the feeling like radium before it was discovered
 like eyelashes like delicate whips of odors I remember like pieces of eight
 something underground something desolate
 like perfume you remember two years ago like three looking glasses
 at once like no covers on the bed every night I tied the knot in the blue
 necktie I folded the pallet I saw her put on her panties by the light
 raking the leaves
 of the moon I crept in her room and kissed her knee I smelled her feet
 the elastic popped but she didn't wake up she was all night
 shutting my eyes with two fingers in a cup of wine my dreams
 before the mast before the mask
 and my ears warm as a fox listening to all that goes on in the forest
 I hear the needle of a compass get there and hold like something in my pants
 I hear an afternoon changing her dress
 I hear what they told I hear
 a scalawag picking his teeth in a skifi" I hear a cypress tree
 that burns in the middle of December I hear the night
 hawks fighting I hear lightning
 that strikes a man on horseback like a snake
 the hoes fiashing at noon or there abouts
 and the scarf of the somnambulist fioats behind me
 of course and me hiking over the gunwales to keep my dreams on course
 my body like a quintain and the minnows like spellbinders
 like the sleep in the vaqueto's eyes like a solitary garment
 and her black hair on fire like an envelope of forgotten names
 and I was falling out ofa tree all I am is a song
 I know it
 sung to the dead by myself all my days
 and the sacred ointment was hog slop and the bowstring was drawn
 over the mountain and death followed soon after where the bulls danced in a half circle
 I am like that no count dog that hangs around the store
 always chasing fiies
 I shut my jaws and my dream teeth crack
 me snapping at my dreams in the late of the day just like beans in a cold pan
 on the porch when it's hot
 a lap
 they keep coming up in the morning like smoke from a field hand's chimney
 they roll on
 at that time of day in somebody's shack
 like gospel music when it's still dark
 you can hear them fly off and hop down the road like a hubcap
 you can turn them over with your hoe in a cotton row and a long one will be
 hiding in them hang them on a box springs
 and shoot when you get drunk when you let your pants down
 in the outhouse they roll out of your pocket like brand new change
 they fall into places ain't no way you'll get them
 they say the lord he gives and the lord he takes away but I bet he won't reach
 his hand down no outhouse no sir not for nobody's half dollar
 he ain't getting no shit under his nails
 just like a pair of hand-me-down britches your cousin sends you in the mail
 my dreams don't fit they are tight in the seat
 and long in the legs but on sundays when you wear them you find
 money in the CMfi
 those dreams of mine buried in lard buckets and coffee cans and molasses tins
 come back cat I say you got to
 come on back or them chillren they gone die
 behind the outhouse and the old colored grandpaw
 he ain't telling where nobody but me and him all the way on his death bed
 getting up in the middle of the night going
 out there with the lamp and shovel I done the digging
 everyone else not paying no mind them thinking he's slopping the hogs
 slipping them a little extra when she gets dark
 him going to pull the wool over their eyes bring a little more at market
 Mr. Rufus saying say sooie evah time you put yo foot on the blade
 they really got him figured out them talking bout the old man
 and Mr. Rufus saying I got them beat now fah sho I do
 at the hog butcher's the fat nut cutter with the cleaver laughing
 in between chops saying that nigger must be pretty slim cause his pigs
 is awful poor the only thing solid in they slop must be gristle and bone
 he ain't feeding them shit and all along Mr. Rufirs sitting in the outhouse
 counting his money he bites each coin then he rubs the spit off
 with his finger and thumb and chunks it in the pail cachink and I am there
 and I keep account for him I carve a mark on the outhouse door with his jackknife
 and you can hear us at night counting money cachink in the bucket
 and him saying to the one and me with the knife in the old ash wood saying
 marked it be and maybe you know how tough lumber smell when you cut it
 how the dark part comes off like meat off a bone and the light stufi' is tender
 and many a time I've gone to sleep holding the knife
 and woke up in the shadow of Rufus Abraham
 standing there before dawn a toting a sorghum can full of pennies in his left
 hand his right arm with the walking cane
 spread out like a plucked and injured wing spread out like something supposed
 to come under the shadow and there he'll be
 walking the same narrow path like it was a rope between his toes
 a path so worn and without grass that it fills up with water when it rains good
 and him wading through his Canal in his high rubber boots drawing
 water like a listing ship he lumps over like a wounded rider
 taking the money to his grave in the moonlight with the post hole diggers
 I bring out cylinders of black earth and half portions of the night crawlers
 he says fetch one of them cans that looks like good hair to me don't
 cut yoself on the lip now nasuh you done had the Lock jaw already and I
 gather the worms nigh on long as snake babies and I lower the coffins
 of copper and silver into his graveyard
 and most that walk or limp or ride or drive by say Abraham that old fool nigger
 a burying every critter on his place why I bet they say some do he'd
 dig a grave for a dog if we's to hit one this morning and the other white ones
 spit out the window of whatever they're in when they see the sign he
 put up on his cane fence the sign partly in his own hand and partly
 in mine seeing how he never got no book learning all full of buckshot holes
 and the stains of bacca spit it that has the lord's prayer and next to it
 Rufus prayer Beware Bad Bull Absolutely No Trespassing On Rufus A Propti
 Or Be Blowed To Kingdom's Come Signed R Abraham his will be done
 and the spit fiies back into the bed of the pickup
 and hits their towheaded chillren right in the eye and so they has learnt it
 too to say goshdawg nigger who he thank he is and Mr. Rufus he always
 says a few words holding his hat in his hands
 each bucket gets a prayer Law bless this heah one too
 then I'll fix those sapsuckers they ain't getting shit when I die
 him putting his cracked black hand out and ducking his head along about the time
 the sun comes up he says well I reckon it's time for me to job
 go draw me some watah boy and I got to go out the pump now yessuh Mr. Rufus
 I prime it and go to pumping the handle and he yells check on the hose
 and I see if they is a kink I check it all the way from the spout
 to the outhouse and there he say ain't getting no watah ain't noun kink
 though they is liable to be a bullfrog in it I say wait a minute hole on
 don't have ta wury bout that I ain't doing nuthing till the watah come he say
 whoa I say here it is somebody done hoed this thing half through and he say
 I ain't getting no pressure yet so I tie it off with a tow sack and resume
 the pumping that sounds like a squealing pig and the old man tell me hole ofi'
 that's nuff and while he's taking his enema I pick figs
 and feed the chickens sometimes he reads me a tale outen the Bible but he don't
 really read it he just member it how it goes he been knowing it so long and
 all you know they is folks back in Memphis that would laugh and make fiin
 of me a hepping a old man take his gnmt but that ain't right I don't care
 bout myself but when folks get old they can't do things right anymore they
 can't zactly shit right you know I sit down on the worn ground where I keep
 it raked and clean in front of the outhouse and Mr. Rufirs leaves the door
 open and I stick a broom straw down a hole a saying doodle bug doodle bug
 anybody home and he's getting worked up in his preaching and that's when
 he can relieve hisself when he goes to breathing hard but even if he can't
 he's got plenty to do to keep him busy there is a matchbox full of rusty hooks
 and a file a catalog and like I say the Bible would you get me my medsin
 son he asks so I go in he shack and pour the mineral oil and slow gin
 in the jar and bring it on out and I says to him has you do-dood yet
 Mr. Rufus and he say no likely and il'fen it takes a long while there
 is an old stump with squares and plenty of bottle caps in case he wants
 to play and besides I give him a transistor radio I got out of the mail
 for his birfday three year ago the batteries was low or we'd a listened
 to the blues all they have is music that time of the morning don't have
 no advertisements excepting for the hog prices much obliged and he drunk
 it you need some more pressure I say and he says naw I just need the Lawd
 to send me a idea how I'm gone get even wid them white men when they
 come afta my place when I pass ain't none my chillun live and left so
 you gone have to stand guard and see to it don't none of um get the money
 and there it was Rufus Abraham's cemetery of change and them thinking we
 was burying critters and slopping hogs ha ha that was the berries he sho
 had them there boy we got another pail you reckon we ought to count it out
 to pass the time and I say might as well so cachink cachink when the coins
 hit the bottom of the bucket go get the fiy swatter he said so I did
 boy by the time you is gtowed the Knife will be worth plenty tell you
 that sho it will I says boy you can open you up a baitshop or a fishing camp
 shit you could do all kinds of things I know I could Mr. Rufus too bad you
 ain't got nobody to have it well he say I got kin dopted chillun but they
 just well be dead they done gone OE what you want me to do iffen they come
 back and ast fah the bend and the money well you make sho they got some
 credentials and get them to sign and say the truf then you get a witness
 and you cut off a chunk how much I say ah bout a quartah OK I says I's down
 to Bohannah's the other day early and I seen something queer out behind
 his place what's that he say I seen a space man I thought had on a helmet
 and everthang shit boy yea I did too it was a bad fog so I couldn't make it
 out right but I seen who it was it was a man welding and when I come up to
 him oh about forty paces I reckon he say half I says what you welding and
 he say never you mind beat it I wonder what it is he's welding Mr. Rufus
 oowee I heard that Mr. Rufiis that was a fine piece of broken wind weren't it
 sho was thats music to my ears I reckon you might job some this morning huh
 I might if the thunder keeps up say now you talking bout that welder he
 been welding on that contraption ten years now he covah it up at night and
 won't let nobody look at it what is it I say he say it a rocket that gone
 blow up Wushenton DC. but he probably gone blow hisself to smithereens if
 he don't watch out how's he aim to get it clear up there he say it'll fiy up
 there and he gone fiy wid it I don't believe it do you well he got the idea
 from them KumaKazee pilots in the Wah yea them Japs done that I say I seen
 a good pitchu show the other day yea what bout it was about this Chinaman
 Charles Boyer was him and the name they give it was Shanghai
 that right Rufiis say I knowed a grifnigguh call Shanghai
 is that so I say sho is he say well you see you really didn't know
 what was going on tul Charles Boyer says we chinese naw he says
 a clever tea we make we chinese that gives it away see you come
 to find out he was half white and half yellow his mamma was a chinese princess
 that wouldn't marry his pappy but nobody knowed it not even his girl friend
 who he was pretty sweet on gone Rufus say well this buddy of his Lun Sing
 said everbody'd drop him like hot cakes if they knowed he was a bastud
 but what he done was to give a big costume party and all the international
 big money folks was there and he come down the stairs dressed like he use
 to be a coolie rickshaw boy everybody got a big kick tul he tole them
 he was part chinese then they all left what happened then he say
 I can't really say I said why he said cause I said it come to this part
 where he found out his mother had done gone and kilt herself so he'd have
 a easy hoeing in his growing up life after that I went into a deep spell
 of thinking you didn't get yo money's worth then he say I snuk in anyhow I says
 having any luck yet not yet he say you know that astronomer back in Memphis
 I's telling you bout yea whud bout him he's ruining my life I says how's that
 he says cause I says he wants me to be well I don't know what he wants me
 to be whatever it is I has to stay inside and read books and talk right and
 wear a tie to supper ain't that a pile of shit you tell me if it ain't
 it is he says what's bad is sometimes I like it I even want to do it sometimes
 you young they ain't nuthing wrong wid that besides you got a God given powah
 to read minds and if you use it right and runs into good luck you got it made
 I don't know about that I says jimmy says it's gone be hard when I go to dating
 girls I'll know just what they thinking bout me well he say you know what
 that tree and this dime and 1's thanking bout you don't you sho I do I says
 but that's different I'm use to that what them three scbundrels from town
 drinking bout my land he asks they was thanking about soon as you kicked the
 bucket they was gone come and claim this place for they selves one of them
 was thinking he had a fi'iend in a high State Govment place that could swing it
 well them he say you know what to do if I could just think of a idea to get
 them fellahs riled where they couldn't do it then I could wuhp um but they
 already got it figured out so I got to think fast a great big stinking fart
 come out man alive I says Mr. Rufus you sounded like you broke the bat yea he
 says I gone get a man on base heah in a second but I's watching out for the
 double play and him thinking those doublecrossing goddamn white shithooks
 he was thinking they was the reason he couldn't shit and I says how's about
 me and you taking offi tomorrow from work and go to the doctor he said no
 look I says when they come you got to be ready and if you die afore you get
 the idea then they is gone get it and he moaned and held his heart and says
 what about the othah money you mean the stolen cash I says yea he says I done
 what you role me to do wid it I buried it where they'd be sure and get hold
 of it goddamnit I lost it he said that's what he says when a turd decides
 to crawl back in his hole that ain't gone stop fah long though won't stop them
 up far no time if the law won't get um damn I just got to have that idea soon
 Lawd you need something like the sign I says that really gets them riled
 evertime they drive by maybe you right I been thinking bout something mean
 but maybe something long that line like you say and so for the time that I
 was with him he had trouble taking his shit even though we buried more and more
 tin cans as time went on some night he would count so fast the cachink was
 like afta Brother Pull decided to get that silver collection plate instead
 of the straw basket so folks could hear all over the church just how much
 everbody dropped in it rung like a bell at first and afta they'd get it firll it'd
 rattle like a chain and he finally got it one day it come to him out of the blue
 he role me about the rope and the bucket of shit and the bricks and the cofiin
 and the candle in his room and the ice cream stick he tole me just what to do
 and it all happened right but I can't tell you cause I promised him I wouldn't
 he called me over that day that it come to him he passed wind like a horse
 snorts with that look in his eye and he say shut the door and he role me
 he tole me like he was a priest who says hey you there come ovah here and let
 me confess to you for a change and that's what the outhouse reminded me of
 and I buried him like he wanted to I done it just like he said I knew his
 heart was gone give the day he passed I just knew it he quit wanting early
 that night and just sit there and gtunted like he was tugging a barge rope
 and he said Lawd it's me or this crap take me now or let me job how about it
 but I done it right just like he said he wanted the fiag fiowed at half mast
 down by the river so I done that too he would a really liked that when the
 fishermens all took ofi: they hats when they come in of a evening he'd a really
 got a kick out of that I can tell you I bet you never even heard of Abraham's knife
 there was only one guy worth a shit who worked in the orphanage
 he had a oboe and when this boy put hisselfouten his misery the guy
 had the decency at least to play Kindertotenlieder on the gramophone
 somebody had ought to told the newspaper why he done it but shoot
 the night the night no song
 can do it justice when it rains I run
 through the forest it is evening the sun
 like a little but left in the bottom of the bottle
 strike the tent lads look at your watches make ready for the camisado
 I look into wounds I see cross-eyed babies I step on dead fish and listen
 to them pop I hear talk like a rope of lightheaded threats
 over due horses' necks I feel old men sweating in their sleep
 I watch the flashes of hate the bit in the moonlight
 the stirrups that cost sixteen dollars a pair
 the rocks that cut your head open from eyebrow to eyebrow
 I forget beatings like room numbers I beheld death with my own
 eyes there passed the night
 my dream like a trapdoor like baskets of warm bread like a port salutes
 a barrage of forgotten tunes a tent fiap like a sail my last dream
 like a stranger riding by
 a pistol shot along about seven-thirty
 like a sack so heavy it takes two to carry like a circular object
 hidden from the Greeks like a ghost story by the Indian
 told on the other side
 of the fire like a burning chicken coop
 the dance of burning feathers at one o'clock in the morning
 like an incomplete message
 carved inside the outhouse with a piece of glass
 by a wounded Negro
 like a broken Co-cola bottle like a black hand bleeding before it thunders
 like a stolen car coasting down the road with its lights offi
 and the commands like songs the shouts like whispers
 the old mamma with the child in her arms saying shush
 with her finger on her lips
 the blood crawling down the loin of the mule like a chickensnake
 the damp reins of barge rope that taste like salt and smell of the ditch
 the wounded rider who ain't about to bite the dust
 and the covers laid back and the people sitting up in bed as the rider
 rides by
 sandy land dust like the wake of a doomed ship
 like the color black distinguished from the new moon
 men who never come back
 from Panther Brake an open mouth like a fish
 staring at the lantern
 like a white face among white eyes tucked under an ancient quilt
 I can smell it like fixings for supper
 and the news that goes back forty years on the walls
 and the mice that come out in the dark
 to get the droppings in between the cracks of the kitchen
 floorboards like men with something hard in their breast pockets
 kneeling on running boards with lucky teeth like rhinestones
 twinkling on the mudflaps
 my dreams like red dice you can't throw down
 like somebody's older sister in Memphis who leaves a crack
 in her bedroom door and lets you watch her undress
 and you know it like the back of your hand
 a dream like a plaid skirt that takes forever to fall to the fioor
 and I can't swallow
 the breasts like two fishing boats riding a wave
 and she turns sideways to her mirror and sees me in the hall and says
 what you doing
 she takes my hands and holds them up to her and I feel them with my palms
 two prows gently rocking
 in the fall I sing to each leaf like it was the last to leave
 I fall into water on purpose
 so I can take off my clothes and build a fire so I can lay me down
 in the dirt I see how far I can spit and the wind weighs anchor it
 takes me into cypress trees into oaks
 my dreams like war drums made of the enemy's hide fioating on great rafts
 like wolves with their mouths full of blue feathers
 l have my dreams alone like a young squaw has her child I have them like fever
 1 slobber at the mouth sometimes I beat my heels on the ground
 my bed of dreams set out in the forest like a ship set down by the winds
 like the silence of the stars and their movement
 a bullfrog catching a sparrow
 someone whistling up at Shrimp Eye's Landing
 a nighthawk
 a dancer with a quiver without a bow shafts that pierce any target and keep on going
 on this side of the boat I am borne away
 buzrard magic cirque of night
 snake doctors fitcking the daylights out of each other on my big toe
 like a dream the horses bathe in the river
 I glide past it all I forget to ask questions
 the gars are my companions I greet them with a pain in between my eyes
 the songs I see in the bullets of river water
 like someone throwing guitars at me like bats that come out of a black hole
 wandering moon like a mirror where one tear is seen as two
 like a background for my eyes that light up each parabola of water
 as it did yesterday it will do today
 why won't they leave me alone why won't they let me be
 like everyone else no they won't let me sleep they bark all night
 they want me to salute them the congress of sharp shooters
 hell no I won't they give me Toe Main poison
 I say get
 on out of here come back another day but do you think they listen
 no they are like a dog somebody gives you to take care of
 for a while they run folks' cows they bite the people down the road
 when they go out to draw water in the morning and what's worse
 they get in between them and the outhouse why you can't even take a shit
 my dreams are like spirulas that crawl under my bed from the ocean
 they hole up under there and die and stink for a week
 they are like lain up ships the enemy I am always looking for
 those dream dogs of mine
 with their howling like splices of rope with muddy feet tracking things up
 they kill everybody's chickens they run up side of the big house
 and get neck blood on the wall the feathers are like seven of us having a pillow
 fight they pee on my bicycle and get the aces in the spokes soggy
 l have to reach down there and put another one in the Clothespin I put a one
 eyed jack in the other one everywhere the night is dark
 and the dreaming dog wouldn't you know does his dookey right where I crawl
 under the house isn't that the luck a moon struck dog
 and when the man comes back to get him I'm sorry he's gone just don't ever come
 back you hound you ship fill] of bones on the bottom knocking in the locked
 compartments you song I can foretell before I sing
 the negro went around talking to himself all the time if he was drunk
 he was liable to slap the shit out of you just for nothing I remember
 one time everyone was sitting around the stove in the store white
 and colored alike was spitting in the same empty lard bucket and you
 know the reason it was empty you guessed it 1 had to throw it out
 I threw it on some sapsucker's tire I don't give a damn
 well I mean to say it was cold outside and in walks BoBo mumbling
 to himself he was saying I'm going to get that dog I'm going to get
 that dog listen here I'm telling ya'll I'm going to get it
 evertime I walk up that road that damn dog jump out of a bush
 and bite me on the leg me minding my own ain't d1at right you tell me
 you hear that and here is where nobody but me can tell what he's saying
 I know I mean I don't know I be drunk walking up that road at night
 with a good idea in my head one that will fool that cat
 and here come that dog I'm getting tired of that look here where
 he's been chewing on my pants I don't know whose dog that is but I'm
 going to get it the other morning I said to myself 3030 if you was to
 piss on the fire and tell the bossman you ain't studying bout no cotton
 today thinking fuck his cotton tell him it's mighty wet better lay by
 with the chopping tell him boss let me off today and I'll guarantee
 I'm going to catch that fish here's the hole and the devil can have it
 I took your car last week and you didn't even know it you fool I took
 a half gallon of wine and a new pole and some side meat I know what
 I'm doing I poured some molasses on a hoe cake I wrapped it up in
 some newspaper last thursday's Commercial I believe I had all that stuff
 up in my hands and that damn dog jump out of the bush I kicked him
 in the head whose dog is that I want to know there wasn't nobody in
 my spot if they had been I'd a run them out if had been
 white folks I'd say oh no suh fish left out here last tuesday
 they is all up around Abraham's Knife after them mayfiies you won't do
 no good here no suh you got to get up to the bend where them fish
 they sound like a somebody shooting firecrackers on the Fourth of July
 and if the old son-of-a-bitch would a told Well I done caught six already
 well then I'd say I bet they ain't fit to eat I say boss I know you
 want that fish and he's right down there where that barge sunk then he's
 looking at me thinking what's that drunk nigger doing around here this
 time a day why ain't he in the field that crazy bastard I don't know
 what he's saying maybe he knows where that catfish is
 and I say go down yonder capum for a fact I seen him the other day
 and he knows I know well he does there ain't been no barge on this water
 in twenty years I was here when they called it the cutoff see that
 little finger but the fool is going to wrap his line up he's going to waste
 the good part of the morning taking the time roll it up on the pole you
 goddamned cocksucker take all day you ain't going to catch another thing
 and you know what he's asking me 3030 what should I put on my hook
 I know all about those folks I tell him capum uh well now uh if hit was me I'd
 uh go down to the bridge I reach under the west side and find them dirt dobber
 shacks and break some off and run them blue babies onto the hook I have
 some real good luck dirt dobber chillun on my line
 and he say thank you 3030 I'm much obliged what you going to do here
 boss I'm lucky last nite won fi dollus shooting craps so I sided come down
 to the revuh and get some crawdads fuh brekfust and the old man he's already
 half way to the bend by the time I finish saying to himself why don't they
 do something about these crazy nigers why won't they go get their shors
 I know all about them I go over to the sycamore and get my pole I ain't studying
 chickens or Ivory Soap or cheese or no dead pigs no sir I'm going back
 to the old time favorites to a quality bait I'm going to run me some sidemeat
 on there down in the woods the owl he says time to get up nigger rise and shine
 I take my jackknife out my trousers and cut me a big chunk of that sidemeat off
 that salty pork feels just like a cat's tongue don't ha ha where's my wine
 I put it on the hook now I'm ready cepting one thing and I been saving it up
 in the back of my throat all morning I cough up one of them big green loogies
 and bring the hook up to my mouf I wind that spit around the hook like it was
 a worm I still got a lot in my mouf so I'm going to test the water wid it
 I rear back and spit way on out there on the other side of that willow
 boom that catfish hit it when it hit the water he suck it down like it was a bat
 now it's time I chunk my line out I let it swing seven times before I throw
 it in the river I got my lead just right seven inches have the hook and the
 leader it's seven foot to the fioat I know that damn cat is ready to come out
 today if he don't take it today tonight I going up to that old man's horse barn
 and set it afire and while evabody fighting the commotion I'm going to slip
 in to his room I'm going to get that sword off the mantel and run it down
 his mouth and out his ass and while the white man is twisting like a minnow
 I'm going to cut his liver out and the last words that old son-of-a-bitch
 will hear is see dis capum i'm gon catch that flathead wid hit I'm gon put
 yo livuh on a hook and then when Easter slides around I'm going to put lilies
 on the old gentleman's grave ha ha I look at my cork I don't let it out my sight
 there it goes in a circle like a wolf see him something in the clearing
 I don't put no kind of tension on it cause that cat's mouf tore up enough
 I say to him real low I'm just whispering now cat I'm going get
 you this time suck it on down in your guts suck it on down that
 cat smelling that meat that pig he sho know how to stink up the bottom
 that ice pick on his back sure enough he's big you going to get it this morning
 cat yes sir talking to him good now I'm going to cut you law this
 morning cat right now it's a chill of a morning but the sweat is
 coming off me he's got the meat take it on down working in a big circle
 take it on down come on now you got to put a little tension on it now just like
 you was trying to get up some gal's dress not too much just
 touch it you can grab a halt in a minute eat when I jerk this line that cold
 steel is going to bite you I know how it is in the dark of a morning
 when you is half asleep and a reaching over into some woman and she
 know what you been doing she know why you been getting on the other
 truck every morning she know why you want to drop with that other woman
 on the low turn row right where that tall stuff is right about then
 she starts carving you up with a butcher knife I know don't be telling me
 when I'm in bed with my eyes shut and some woman comes up side me with a shiv
 she near about cut my leg off and here I was on cloud nine with some kind of
 dream well cat I want you to bleed when I set this hook I'm going to pull
 a whole wad of your guts right up in your throat pole now pole please oh
 don't you break on me this time you hear now the sun is trying
 to cough up some light he knows there's going to be blood in
 the water then a snake doctor lights on my cork and then another
 snake doctor lights on that snake doctor now the hawk is fixing
 to dive now that awnry moccasin is just waiting for that redneck
 to reach under the dock now I hear somebody pumping water there
 ain't nobody yelled yet on the river not even in the slew so I'm
 going to be the voice this morning I'm going to be the first one
 and then I hear that white man screaming on the bridge mercy jesus mercy
 he mus a reached down like I told him the old fool thinking goddamn
 that crazy nigger mercy lord I can't see lord them yellow jackets is all over me
 help help that damned BoBo don't know the difference between a dirt dobber
 and a wasp please help me lord somebody come by my heart my heart oh lord
 that stupid nigger and I'm just laughing my ass off but
 shut up nigger 1 say it's coming testify going take it down in the channel
 ain't you yea yea yea come on goddamnit get out of there wait a minute
 scoundrel taking me to that snag again please don't let me have him this time
 lord must be a thousand hooks in that cypress knee now this damn fish acting
 like a lamprey eel maybe he ain't no cat atoll the devil have him if he's a eel
 no sir I'm scared to death of them I won't touch it don't tell me a eel
 is on the end why I'll throw the pole away wait a minute now no sir
 you ain't fooling me cat I know you well I sung too many songs over
 you I raised my fist in the moonlight too much I try to gig you
 now where'd I drop that wine I need one more hit foe he runs with it
 I reach under a many a log after you and all I grab is a moccasin
 all messed up on account of you snake bit amost dead and all that
 ok cat take it and run get ready 3030 you going to yell first
 listen here dagoes a nigger's going to talk this morning you hear that
 my voice swallow it cat take it down go on dive run with it now I let it go slack
 if he's going atoll he's going now the tip of the pole is in
 the river cat I'm bringin you out of this slew I taken my fish
 knife and put it in my mouth the blade towards me when he goes I'm going to
 bite it going to cut my mouth clean open in the corners I ain't going to bite
 through my lips again eat this is hurting me more than it hurts you
 he's still talking all this and he's right the scars will grow like turnips
 the seeds was coming out just like when I sit on his knee and squeeze his nose
 me telling him grow some turnips BoBo come on grow some turnips
 and about the time the sun hits the knife the catfish takes the bait
 the cork goes under and 13080 has his eyes shut on account of the fiash
 but he doesn't need to see a fioat he Feels the fish he lets out
 a yell he raises the pole like he was pulling an axe out of a log
 the water drops slide down the line and the blood comes to 3030's mouth
 now what he's saying whatever it is I can't tell cause he's got his teeth
 shut over the knife and it looks like the cat hooked him instead of him
 hooking the cat I can tell what he's saying when he's got a lip Full of snuff
 or when he's drunk or when he's got cornbread and grits in his mouth
 but I don't know what he's saying now no sit it beats me
 I know he's cussing the fish and now the pole is bent over like a bow
 and 3030's giving ground to the fish like the cat means to shoot him
 with an arrow he's panting he can't get enough air through his nose
 even if it looks like you're looking down the end of a double barrel shotgun
 now he's throwing his head back and sucking in air and the knife
 almost Falls out of his mouth but he catches it he goes at it like a dog
 eating a stolen bone in a pack you can hear some of the outboard motors
 starting up all the old fishermen is coming to see if 3030 lands the fish
 but they is a long way OH and it'll all be over when they get there
 cause the dog has showed up and it run up on 3030 and bit him
 in the cheek and now he's got a hold of his britches leg and 3030 kicking
 at it and the catfish is a coming up cause I can see the line
 coming up like a ray BoBo is thinking maybe that cat will run onto
 a stump and knock hisself out but he can't think about that long
 cause the dog is fixing to knock him off his feet the dog is crazier
 than 8050 he keeps jumping up like the negro's forehead was a bleeding
 fish head nailed to a tree and 8080 is shaking his head like he
 was a wild boar hog wanting to cut the strike dog's guts out
 with his tusk and 8080 lands a lick he gores the hound and the dog almost bit
 his ear ofi but 3030 ain't got no ear the rat took that along time ago
 and he's thinking I want to know whose dog is that why don't they keep that hound
 tied up I'm going to kill it that thing ougut to be dead right now it must
 have nine lives like this catfish cause now watch it pole cause I tied me a
 tow sack to the wheel of the truck and went on down the road by that bush
 where he stay and that dog come running after me barking at the tires and he
 catch hold of the gunny sack with his teeth and I figured I had tore the dog's
 head offi I didn't know cause there weren't no side mirror on the right side
 but hell at least I done broke that sooundrel's neck but no sir I didn't
 now the fish is rolling and Bobo is in the water a walking down the bank
 now the catfish is like a mirror and BoBo ducks his head from the light
 the dog all the time down in the water too chewing on the negro's leg
 the knife not cutting too much any more cause now he's biting the
 handle and fighting the dog with it and the fish is running up
 into the shallows and Bobo's still got a chance and for one second
 he is dreaming about the time he was in Hawaii when the Japs flew over
 he was on the beach with the Wahinies lifting driftwood showing off his muscles
 but now all his children are dead and his wife she is gone
 at this moment anyone looking up at the sky in the morning will see it
 and they will never see it again but they would know all that went before
 and all that come after is like a crawdad with one claw
 the fog is rolling in and I'm getting dizzy and I don't know if what I see
 is what really is or what I don't see is so I rest my neck which hurts awful bad
 and I can hear the fish tail slapping the mud and I can hear the dog barking
 and all I hear from 3030 is not talking just some groaning sounds and every once
 in a while when the negro rears back on the pole the line hums like
 an intercepted message like walking papers from a woman in black
 and then I hear it I hear the pole break it didn't go up near the top now it
 snapped at the stock just right about where 3080 had a grip I know how it
 feels I had a lot go on me but it feels worse later your hands turn blue
 like they do when you break a bar but the pain is worse than that it feels
 like it would if you was to pick up a crow bar and slam it across the railroad
 tracks yes I heard it break like a tree struck by lightning in the woods
 I'd like to yell out to God almighty right now if I could Pain sweet
 Jesus Pain but I can't and I'll tell you why in a second and besides one human
 being has lifted his voice and how he can talk with the blade of a knife
 down his throat I don't know but he's yelling Pain Pain Pain not like fools
 at a football game but like a man that went through a war and a prison would
 Pain Pain Pain he's a saying under his breath in great sighs like they were
 the last words of a song he was singing for a dead friend maybe a mother
 I see a boat maybe a washwoman way out in the river with no one in it and it look
 like a coffin to me but I can't do a thing noway cause wait a minute maybe
 this is how death come and take us like it did to the nigger mechanic
 you know a bulldozer engine was hoisted up on a block and tackle and he was
 under it he was a fine fixer and all of a sudden a grasshopper landed on
 the motor and woom it fell it fell right on the nigger's head and when the
 men hoisted it back up his head look like a squashed frog a grand daddy bull
 some soda water truck done run over on a bridge and the driver didn't even
 stop to pick it up a good meal like that a fine voice been living on the bayou
 all his life and ain't that a disgrace for a fine voice to go like that
 and the first thing he said was boys I'm going out of my head in pain he cut
 a joke he did it himself like somebody letting a fart in a firneral he said things
 like have lost a breeze ain't nobody's business father of lightning get some
 Maxwell House wEee a Fifth Avenue and baking soda what happened to that mule
 then he come back he wasn't out of it no more he said 1 got a one-legged cousin
 in the penitentiary he's got a hard to fit foot like me would one of y'all sec
 to it that he gets this left foot shoe we wear about the same size that small
 foot runs in the family hold on a second I want to be laid out in them tell
 the undertaker bless his heart I ain't studying about one of these two hundred
 dollar coffins no sir I want a cheap service just slip him five understand
 and rent that good one for the church and then have them put me in a pine box
 painted black I'll go under in that another thing I want the top lid of the casket
 shut let me show from the waist down I want them pants I picked up in Memphis
 last year got that and tell my wife I know C that's what we call Lamont ain't mine
 tell her I don't care I love him I hope he turns out better than his daddy did
 ha ha is the boss around I can't see nothing tell him I enjoyed working for him
 he pay two dollars more a hour than anyone else on the river tell him he better
 retire pretty soon or that river is liable to get him the Old Man takes everybody
 child and foogie alike it takes good mules and no comtt dogs tell him I was
 the one that stole that set of wrenches and yea see if Mr. Ltu'n is around I want
 to know see if he'll take my picture I'd like a drink but I can't swallow
 Lum wasn't around he was playing Samba on the other side of the levee
 he was a Bohemian photographer who spoke bad english so he cussed all the time
 he was a communist like mother was he was pretty good with a knife a lucky one
 if he is he said tell him I sho did appreciate those pictures especially that one
 with the woman and the donkey ha ha tell the boss lady bye she saved my life
 a many a time and maybe the lord will take me now it sho does hurt man alive
 hold on here the mechanic moved his arm up to his head he said my eyes is gone
 they was too they was squashed right out of his head like I told you
 where are they give them here and somebody said something about that grasshopper
 and he said give urn here damnit he was going out of his head again he shook them
 like a pair of bones he said look here brother death you grasshopping bug
 you ain't about to spit no tobacco in my eyes then he shot his eyeballs
 on the oil covered dirt he rolled snake eyes and died they buried him
 under a shade tree that is because mexicans colored and white all brought
 their cars to him when the Job was shut down he was known as the best shade tree
 mechanic around and study that I wished I could do something but I can't
 there ain't no way I can wave that boat if that's what it is cause two white men
 hit me in the head with a wrench last night and tied me up to the oarlocks
 in a boat full of snakes cause I caught them stealing horses they run after me
 and caught me at the bridge they tried to cut my tongue out I wouldn't open
 up my mouth so I just spit in his face and shut my eyes I guess the other one
 he wasn't nobody atoll I told him so he must be the one daat come up side me
 somebody will come along before long I reckon I thought all night I hurt
 and I'm still thinking it right now ain't nobody but a deaf white man showed up
 and 8080 run him off now my friend when he ain't drunk and crazy I ain't scarred
 of him but still I'm the only one that will pay him mind when he's loony
 can't nobody else understand a word he's saying he's after that fish and he
 ain't studying about me I thought those Italians that was out before it was light
 would see me I was kicking the transom out with my foot but I had to quit
 because I said to myself uh huh keep on boy and you going to sink this boat
 if you pry that loose and then you is really going to be sunk the men they just
 passed right by my boat they didn't even see me it was so dark and foggy if
 this was a castle I was in and I was a actor I would say the caliginous morn
 but I ain't I am just tied up and dying somebody come along I reckon those
 thieves was crazy there ain't nobody around here going to help them cause they
 ain't outlaws they ain't out for nobody else but themselves I know these snakes
 is crazy cause they ain't bit me yet and for sure 8080 is plum out of his mind
 he's dragging the cat up on the bank the pole is broken so he grabbed a halt
 of the line now I can't even talk right with this rope gagging my mouth
 I bet you ain't never had rope burn on the lips and my hands is bound to the
 oarlocks and my feet is stretched out to the stern and I can hardly breath
 I'm telling you I ache but I know there's people on this earth bound to be
 hurting worse than me so I'm going to quit feeling sorry for myself and look at
 3080 now he's pulling the catfish up the bank he's down on his knees
 with the knife in his mouth the dog is trying to get a hold at his throat
 so 3030 jerks his head around and gores the dog again I mean a good one too
 the dog is lying in the mud whimpering 3030 has got a hold of the fish it's nigh
 as big as he is about two hundred pounds about the size of that alligator gar
 we was riding the other day and I see the catfish whiskers that look like
 indigo snakes I've felt them brush up against my knees at night when I was in
 the water I know 3080 is trying to stick his knife in the soft spot on the fish's
 head all he needs is a piece of wire like those sapsuckers twisted me up with
 that's right bob wire 8030 is going to try to paralyze it but the catfish
 rolls and sweet Jesus the spike that big fin on top of his back it went clean
 through 3080 he's hung up on the fish it is like the fish had it in him to spear
 the nigger who run him through I can see it sticking out of 8080's back
 and just when 3080 was grinding the knife in him turning the blade around and
 around but the negro he still ain't found the cat's brain you got to hit it just
 right that dog is just gnawing and now I can't tell the difference
 between catfish blood dog blood and 5030's blood come to think of it
 I'm bleeding again myself I'm going to have to yell in a minute
 but I'm mostly scared too I don't know if I got no tongue left or not
 I ain't got no feeling of one but sometimes I think I can see it
 I see the negro pulling himself off the spike and the dog he done chewed
 down to the bone pulling his guts along like a king's robe
 3030 is on his back 1 think he's crying I hope not cause the salt will be
 running down in the cuts he is looking at the catfish and it's growling
 like a bobcat I know that cat is smart but I think the fisherman is smarter
 and I think that dog can smell what to do now I have to tell you something
 I don't really have to when 3030 lay his head back in the mud that pillow
 we all want to comfort us most he saw me he saw me twisting my head
 he saw that I had on the aviator cap that use to belong to his son he gave me it
 you know that cap saved my life the fur of some Japanese animal inside it
 and the soft leather outside the calligraphy that says something but I don't know
 what so it says whatever I want to white band sewed inside now dark with
 the child's sweat from his play and his work in the field the child dead now
 and to think when 3080 got it long ago there was only one stain on it
 a small sphere of blood where the pilot was shot a stain directly across
 from that other red moon that rose for his nation and its gods the moon
 that is black now like the rest of the head band and in it I can still
 smell the odors of 8080's boy I can smell the kiss of death in the sky at dawn
 I can smell the aromas that came years later the Vaseline and lye
 the eggs and potatoes all of the congolene that the do-rag didn't soak up
 I can smell conk job after conk job and it seems just the other day that I
 waited on the porch for the fat lady to finish with him I can smell where
 we cut our wrists with a broken wine bottle blood brothers forever
 and the blood kept dripping into the hat and we ripped the do-rag into
 we used it for bandages and now I am a poor way'faring stranger twelve years old
 just like you would a been and all I have to look forward to is the next
 launching of a rocket a Vanguard or a Jupiter C maybe the Russians will contact
 them my ancestors first I don't know like a knight kneeling with his weight
 on his sword like all those who have gone before me I bow my head I say a grace
 to memory a bitter dinner I cannot speak like a man with his throat cut for now
 the two spheres are indistinguishable they are like a hot iron for a boy's hair
 and a cauter knife for a colt just like a circle no larger than a peacock's eye
 on the black robe of a slit-eyed man kneeling under a waterfall with a knife
 in his hand the sphere is lost to the moment and the other sphere the sun
 rising behind the mountain is like something bloody falling on the stable fioor
 like a horse neighing on Jupiter like a feather with many colors
 that is how they are
 two demiurgeous moons moored to the fiute in the music we heard
 in the german pilot's house just like two ships of death
 tied to a drifting dock with the lines in complicated knots
 coiled around the cleats like snakes I hoisted you up
 you hoisted me up and we looked in the window of the gutted mansion
 we saw the german pilot drunk and singing with his eyes shut
 we saw the collection of phonograph records and the shelves of books
 we saw the dog asleep and the pilot come around to each window
 and open them up we saw the tornado in the lightning
 and the pilot with his scarf trailing in the wind
 the fire licked up and he toasted the music and the night and he
 broke his glass on the end irons in the huge room the two eagles
 I remember the melody it is the same as Miss Barker played in fourth grade
 I was drawing ships and men fighting on the wall one had a knife
 the drowned one played Haydn Concerto #3 the same music
 the cuckoo clock strikes twelve under the waning moon the tall one
 and the short one come out with their sledge hammers first the tall one
 then the short one hits the anvil I remember the music for two years
 I remember it now and I remember a long time ago when I did not know
 what is was when I first heard it and I remember
 her playing it two years ago and that german pilot it was the same
 the crop duster with the shack out back fiill of poison
 the crazy one who starts his two winged airplane up at night
 and takes off god knows where he pretends the war is still going
 on and he strafes the negroes chopping cotton in the fields he'll die
 one of these days if he ain't dead already
 now I'm in the boat the bob wire cutting my throat cause I'm giving
 BoBo the high sign and he sees me I don't have to tell you this but I will
 he is fearing for me so he just let go of the catfish
 he just turned it loose on account of me don't you see he saw that cap
 the cat got away and 3080 swam out to the boat
 he took the wire pliers out his trousers and cut me loose
 and the dog followed the fish down the bank as far as he could barking all the time
 but I'm not going to tell it that way no I'm going to tell it this way
 like a dream
 supposing a clown was to walk into your picture show one evening and say
 my friends put up your popcorn and soda pop
 and about that time the sides of the tent would start bulfeting like sails
 and a hole would break in the top fiap and water would come down
 in a stream on the stage and hit the clown in the face
 all the white make-up would wash away and his baggy suit would cling to his body
 and all of a sudden the phony country music would stop and the silent
 newsreel of the tag team midget wrestlers would end and all you would see now
 is the long beam of blue like moonlight hitting the sheet they use for a screen
 and instead of Baby Gauge and Melvin who are sitting on Co-cola cases in the back
 lifting up their middle fingers to the empty projector light like they usually do
 shooting two big birds to the audience instead they would point
 down to the stage at the wet clown who wasn't a clown at all but was
 the most wanted man in the county the quickest knife fighter on the river
 the one who is known as Abednego and called the Gypsy
 now the audience all in the dark could see the ring in his ear
 the band of gold he took off the finger of the preacher's young wife
 the girl who stabbed herself on account of the Gypsy
 they could see now his eyes like caves those passages that jilted so many women
 they could see the dark hairless chest showing through the wet cloth
 the crucifix and the madonna beating against his powerfiil breast
 with his heavy breathing and too they could see faintly the two red dots
 on his cheeks those strange circles that hadn't washed away
 supposing this Abednego the Gypsy showed up at your picture show
 one night with his black-brown curls like the wet feathers of a hawk
 wouldn't you remember him the rest of your life or would you ask me
 how could this happen how could this be I can only say that he did appear
 and your question to me is like asking the mist on the mirror it is
 like asking a meowing deck and you know when they asked the painter about The Dream
 he said the woman dreams she is in the jungle listening to the fiute
 it is like a man drawing the bow across his belly it is like the dream tramp
 with the worn-out britches the saint carrying the devil in a croker sack
 on his back I tell you Ray Baby was holding the reins of the black horses outside
 supposing now his side-kick and third cousin a negro comes out on stilts
 which are really two weather beaten but sturdy oars
 and drapes the Gypsy's wide shoulders with a velvet cape of indigo blue
 now have it that he looks out the corner of his left eye with a smile
 that stretches the scar on his thick bottom lip
 when he sees the baldheaded reverend standing outside with a bible and a pistol
 and supposing now you hear only the cachick cachick cachick of the loose
 end of the picture film on the spool because the projectionist is still asleep
 in his booth knocked toged'ier with dynamite boxes
 and the fan he took home from church with him ten years ago with the scriptures
 and the big EYE and little time notes to himself about when to change reels
 has fallen to the dirt floor so supposing this silence
 is broken by a black child with a pair of short pants and no shirt on
 slapping his thigh with the palm of his hand him saying well I'll be a towheaded
 dog
 and everyone now looking around and the man running the projector waking up
 because the Gypsy has thrown a knife at the empty light
 and the blade in the powder crate is quivering like a wing on the sheet
 while this is going on the colored man walking on stilts
 picks his way through the folks and children who came to the tent
 and paid a dime to see Think Fast Mr. Moro and Orphans of the Storm
 but they aren't even going to see that because the man who runs the picture show
 he is saying hold on folks we got a little problem here there's been a mix-up
 in the mail tonight y'all will have the privilege of seeing The Tower of London
 Bedlam and just a second folks here we go how about Mad Love but by now
 the audience is booing and throwing soda bottles and clods of dirt at the sheet
 because already Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is showing and that is what they saw
 four nights in a row last month and to go one better amidst all this confusion
 in your picture show suppose the tottering negro he puts another roll on
 the projector a movie no one has ever seen before a picture made by a camera
 not invented as yet at least a camera no man has ever looked through
 and say silence comes once again to the tent in Snow Lake and say
 the beat-up speakers the circus doesn't even use anymore the ones the politicians
 got rid of last election day just say they work for once this time
 not that it really matters because most of the pictures are silent anyway
 say the warped music is just beginning to come through and suppose it isn't as
 strange as most of the audience thinks because what makes it so odd is that
 they have heard it before but they can't remember they don't know where or when
 they don't recall it late at night and at dawn drifting out from the
 german pilot's mansion now the audience is not at attention they are in
 suspension they are like a fleet of rafts rocking in shallow water a motion
 that even puts the man who runs the Ferry asleep with his eyes open
 at this instant Abednego snaps his fingers
 and says the comedy is beginning he takes off his hat with his right hand
 he puts his left hand behind his back he bows revolving the hat lower and lower
 he goes the hat sweeping the dust from the stage the left foot going to the rear
 resting on its toes the bow executed perfectly with a swoop and his head bent
 gently to one side his lips moving in the shadow he has made
 forming an inaudible adieux
 while everyone is in a hush he takes advantage of this position to pull
 the ballet slipper back over his heel and with one insouciant twirl of his arm
 he is up and the cape is fiowing behind him
 as he dances up the moonbeam after his knife and now for the holy fare-thee-well
 drawing the blue cape around him like a cassock the Gypsy like a stranger
 standing vigil beside a windy grave
 lifts up his knife in front of them and holds it there like a monstrance
 then slowly he backs away our of the picture show
 with his knife swathed in its cape giving them its benediction
 my friends if I may borrow from the Gypsy we have heard the flute and the cello
 and now it is time for the violin
 the sheet is dark and waiting for the image so why don't we follow him
 outside where he and his side-kick are mounting their horses
 besides the music is better from a distance
 Abednego is about to throw fifty-cents to Ray Baby for holding the horses
 enough to get in and eat with a buddy for four nights
 but the third cousin whose name I never caught says don't give that boy
 that money Gypsy that's all we got to live on till we get to New Orleans
 the Gypsy says got change for a half-dollar boy
 and Ray Baby says all I got is a steel penny
 the Gypsy fiips his side-kick the coin and gets down off his horse
 he takes his knife out and goes over to the side of the tent and makes two
 slashes in the canvas he says that ought a hold you
 we hear the hooves of their horses bringing up the dust of the delta road
 as they ride toward the river to the bridge
 and if the white man hadn't already stirred up the yellow jackets
 we would hear the cussing of wasp bit men
 but tonight we will hear the crack of a pistol shot and the groans of a thrown
 rider we will hear a baldheaded man of God running through the fields shouting
 l kilt him I kilt him I shot that damned Gypsy we will hear this just about
 the same time we heard the hooves on the planks of the bridge and now
 listen 1 got him I got that little wetback I did Reverand Hacks did it
 y'all hear I kilt him at the bridge I shot the Gypsy I got him the one
 that raped my wife I done it he got my Jenny the court let him go but I got him
 I hated him Lord I hated that little bastard my wife was all time after his as
 Lord I shot him listen y'all hear that Reverand Willy Hacks shot that Gypsy
 but fear not friends the Gypsy is only wounded he's not dead he will return
 even though the baldheaded fool is running through the fields yelling it
 Abednego is resting his head in his side-kick's lap he is saying to him
 Gypsy I told you that sharecropper was going to shoot you if you didn't lay low
 and from afar y'all seen that curly headed cocksucker slinking away
 like a fox off my backporch and the third cousin tending to the wound saying
 he almost clipped you for life I wonder if he was shooting at it we see
 the blood seeping through the clown pants from the fiesh bruise on the groin and
 Abednego with his arm around his side-kick singing one of his old homesick songs
 let's take the long walk back to the picture show on the lonesome road
 where the prow of the moon the Viking ship
 is putting out in the black waters of Snow Lake
 and if we have a nickel let's look in through the tear in the tent with Ray Baby
 because he will surely say wait a minute partner it's going to cost your ass
 five cents to look in this hole
 so we cough it up and stick our heads through the canvas like fools
 in a side show dodging baseballs and we hear the sad music again
 and we see the audience weeping at the sheet even the children aren't ashamed
 to let one another know they are crying
 over in the corner a woman is dipping snuff and rubbing her aching feet together
 a black and tan puppy is licking her toes
 the crazy man with his innocent eyes is playing the Jew's-harp
 but no one is paying him any mind tonight no one
 they don't even care when the woman pulls a wadded up two dollar bill
 out of a pop corn box and says well shut my mouth I done won the prize
 all souls are sighted dead ahead and on the sheet in black and white they see
 BoBo as we left him not bleeding in the mud looking at me
 about to let go of his catch and swim out to the boat and save me
 but BoBo exhausted and panting in the mud holding on for dear life
 looking into the strange eyes of the huge fish like a drowned Chinaman
 he knows he can take him he can land the cat .
 but if you have never looked into fish eyes that large or rode his big fiathead
 or seen any of Lum's pictures then the only thing left
 is the movie that is playing inside the tent in Snow Lake
 and this is how it is and this is how it was made
 suppose the camera was in my boat that is slowly drifting away from 8080
 suppose its refiexes are like those of any of the swift animals in the woods
 say a deer for it sees you a long time before you see it
 then the machine that made this picture is like a doe in my boat
 and I suppose you know how they lift up their heads
 and the eyes that are seeing everything the eyes that look through the camera
 are those of a spotted fawn so what we see is not what we have ever seen before
 it is like the spike buck the son of the stag that the people in the town
 see for the first time the feeling you get is like if you opened
 your mouth once too many times and a man takes off his gloves and slaps you
 in the face and you know he is better than you and he'll kill you tomorrow morning
 it is the feeling a towheaded man pulling on his boots gets
 when he is sitting on the steps lying to a bunch of folks
 and suddenly a stranger a long lost man he thought he did in returns
 so the towhead shuts up for a second and leaves go of his boots
 and everybody turns around and looks the stranger's way
 but the sock footed man can't stop talking he wants the sapsuckers to listen
 to him so he says out loud so the stranger can hear him
 who is that nigger
 and now they can see the stranger's eyes looking right down their throats
 they are all taking a swallow like he was a fiash fiood or a wolf
 they are all thinking I hope he ain't come back from prison to call me out
 shoot I never done him no wrong I helped him out when I could but they all know
 they are as guilty as Cain now they are not looking at him any more
 they are looking down at the ground because he is getting closer
 and the one sitting down he's not saying much now he has forgotten all about his
 boots because he is scared to death but to try once more to get the sapsuckers
 to listen to him he says under his breath what he does not know to be his
 last words now where'd that bastard come from
 that is how it is that is the feeling you get when you see 8080 through the eyes
 of the deer in the boat when you hear the crackling music that is
 the Quartet in D maybe in G I'm not for sure I can't remember things
 like that now maybe in a few years I will but for sure it is the composition
 of Franz Schubert you have heard the violist and the violin so now it is time
 for the fiutist and the fiute again and it goes like this
 the catfish is trying to get back to the water the dust caking up on him
 like dough and he come out of the slew so pretty and blue and white the slime
 that he needs to live by is all dried up
 the dog is chewing
 BoBo gets his knife and stabs the fish but he don't hit the right spot
 when the fish gets to the water Bobo grabs him he's trying to get his hands in
 the gill like he was grabbing him out of a log he gets it open
 he sticks his foot through it comes out the fish's mouth
 now the dog has to go around on the odter side and chew on the negro's foot
 and on the way some of his guts get hung up on a snag but the dog
 aims to eat off BoBo's toe
 and we can hear a way off in the water where did that nigger go
 but now BoBo can talk but he ain't answering the calls from the river
 you probably wouldn't know what he's saying but I know which is
 dog I could a kilt you a long time ago when I had the chance I could of kicked
 your head in when nobody was looking I should have blowed your head off
 I was scared you going to be some white man's dog I ain't
 studying about killing one of those and here you is some nigger dog
 now I had the fish and you spoilt it he's going to go 03' somewhere
 and die and fioat up down the river a piece
 that's what 8080 is saying but he don't know that his foot is still poking
 through the cat's gill out his mouth and so he misses his chance
 cause the catfish is beating his tail against the bank like he knows
 BoBo done give up and if he ain't give up then he done lost track
 of himself so the cat digs a hole in the mud and it fills up with slew water
 like it does when a horse finds water in the sand and fioats up to
 another level like he was a barge in one of them lock and dams on the Erie Canal
 and now I mean to say that fish is going he is swimming off
 the line is going through BoBo's hands
 it's that clear line they say the fish can't see and it'll lay you open
 like a branding iron 8030 is dizzy and he can't keep a hold of it
 he's thinking now why did I let that peckerwood sell me it
 I had some good line on my pole shoot he's trying to find a grip on it
 like it was falling water but the line is going right through his hands
 you can smell is skin cooking and here he thought that fish was going to be
 frying in cauldron full of pig lard by sundown no
 you can see the big flathead and the tail fin and the handle of the knife
 swimming away now all you can see is the knife
 the fish is coming towards me he's twiced as big as I am
 he is like a dream he is so big
 but 8080 ain't give up yet no sir not by a long shot he lets some
 slack out all he's got the tail end of the line is all in a mess
 it's what you call a blackbird's nest he doubles up the line all around his finger
 like he was making a salad like he was doing hoodoo a putting a conjure
 on somebody well he better throw a conjuration on that fish
 and if one of 3030's buddies was to walk by with a sack of perch
 and seen 8080 with that mess a line between his fingers
 he'd say uh uh nigger that's what you get for messing around with that no count
 line that's the slippenist shit I ever did see and don't you sit there
 and tell me you wadn't fishing wid it cause if you was a commencing one them
 cat's no they call it tomcat's cradles well then nigger you done naturally
 fucked up but there ain't nobody walking by and besides about the only friend
 8080 is got is me and he don't see me and it don't make no matter no way
 cause I'll be dead in another hour if somebody don't come along
 I'm just full of mosquitoes like I had a black shirt on and they done sucked
 enough blood out of me so that if they was any ticks in this boat I bet they'd
 latch on to them a mosquito as sure as the world
 here comes that fish he's right under me now look a here look a here
 I see the line not tight yet but it's fixing to be now it is
 like a ray again like what would come out of a one-eyed composer's eye
 when the song comes to his fingers there it is
 that fish line with the sunlight on it like a tight rope nobody's going to walk
 cross and BoBo yells cause it's cutting into his skin in between his fingers
 he yells goddamnit lord have mercy
 and then crack like a rifie the line breaks
 it looks like lightning and the mist on the line hits you in the face
 and now it is fioating down over my boat like a spider's bridge
 landing on the bow and 30130 is crying he reaches down at the dog
 but he don't have to cause the dog grabs him
 and he pets him he pulls him up to him and it looks like they going to be
 friends for a minute but he takes the dog by the jaws
 and you hear one god awful howl
 when he tips the dog's mouth when he rears it in two
 I hear both the jawbones break it is as loud as the line was when it broke
 a person might of thought three shots were fired
 I see the dog kicking his legs I see the paws digging into BoBo's chest
 the negro still don't see me now my boat is turning around
 I'm a heading up river and I see why that damn line done caught
 in a crack in the bow and the fish is towing
 me as long as you don't never go straight ahead the line will hold
 I ain't looking at land no more I know the catfish
 still has that knife in his back cause I see the sunlight coming off something
 not water in the morning I ain't looking at land just above and I see trees
 going by and I feel fine
 ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo went the barge horn
 the dream was a house on a mountain on an island I was asleep in a highback chair
 I could see the snow falling even with my eyes shut
 I knew the ashes on my cigarette were eleven inches long with the holder
 before I could say tray a hunchback wearing a fez appeared with a platter
 he came out of nowhere my back was to him I faced the water my eyes were closed
 floating in quicksilver on the platter was the severed head of a child
 wearing a black patch
 a gyroscope two chelae applauding me with a synchronized hand and a locket
 but no ashes because I dropped them on the fioor
 and when the servant bent over to clean the immaculate wooden fioor
 I put the cigarette out on his neck
 he said please master I atn so ugly I see myself in the fioor
 by concentrating I could make the chair revolve I could even make it levitate
 when I got near the ceiling where the chandelier hung
 I could see hovering outside in the snowlight a buzz saw and I know it was
 a buzz saw because if it hadn't been I would have called it a chainsaw
 I saw the trails of the bleeding cabrioles
 inside my robe was a looking glass I let the servant look at it
 I knew the chair was red
 the mirror cracked like the huge fire he had prepared
 over and over please master
 I decided it was a matter of integrity to stay still in the chair as long as I
 could but a woman with eyes liked crushed blueberries was sliding
 off her back onto a larger cylindrical mirror my eyes were shut
 and I could see myself not in the chair but fixed to the pine wood
 my torso light blue like a statue rooted into the body of a horse
 if I had known the melody on the fife I would have known that I would be
 in the seventh grade next year and so could have recognized myself
 as a satyr but I won't learn that until next year
 but the curly hair is there or was there because I saw it with my closed eyes
 she is sliding down the circular banister that keeps going down
 I know that out there I can hear the black ice as tall as masts
 groaning like beats with no legs
 the lady is saying she has been ravished by her steed she is breathing
 so hard the mirror is fogging up even with her breath alight year away
 she is standing in fi'ont of me she is saying the vessel of my horse
 gives way in his belly when he sheds water in my face
 my eyes are closed but I know she is in pantomime stroking my locks and my stifie
 I am sitting in a red chair but I can feel her fingernails
 dredging the rivers in my side I can feel my member like a roll of salami
 so I know not in the too distant past it was used
 I reach down into my black robe and I expose it I hold it like a chalice
 with both hands I push on it and it won't budge
 it is as if I was being hauled back up the bow at the last moment and there I was
 dripping wet holding onto the boom now the figurehead turns her head
 and I see her neck giving its adagio and she parts her salty lips
 and her tongue crawls out and touches my bowsprit
 and she says in the storm with my eyes shut let me call it my bowspirit spoken
 by the dancer
 I have to open one eye and I see the corner of the map a familiar geography
 and when I open them both wide I see it's just the Mississippi map
 marked with X's at all the places you can buy boorlegged whiskey
 and a snake doctor splatters all over the windshield
 I can smell the summer evening coming through die side-vent
 and the chuck-holes in the road are like the old cowboys yodeling
 and I can remember staying up all night till we crossed the Memphis Bridge
 so I could see the naked back of that woman stretched out on a mattress on the sign
 the other dream was Buster said the hawk's gone
 y'all done set here and let him leave me telling you keep you
 eye on that hawk
 he just going to do some gliding y'all can follow him there ain't no fish
 going to take your pole this time a day anyway
 now I ain't going to get the eye in time
 we was looking at June's bite Duck said
 y'all knew I was wanting that eye
 June had a good one Duck said
 I reckon it was a hog Haemon said
 they all lying June said we been asleep all these fish is asleep
 they ain't studying about biting when you left I told them
 Buster was the one that wanted to fish I sho didn't
 and Duck says there ain't nothing but gars in this bart pit anyways
 so I said shit let's knock some 2's and Haemon says flick that hawk so
 we all goes to sleep looking at that bird and when we wakes up he is
 gone and you is coming through the woods and Duck says he wasn't afier no bait
 leastways no fish bait he didn't aim to catch no fish he ain't aimed
 to catch no fish for the last month bringing us to this gar hole
 it's just that bird is all he wants and Haemon says he wants the eye
 and I said why does he want the eye
 the mosquitoes knock the dew ofi their wings the doves shake down too
 and Buster drives a stake into the crossroads at dawn
 he is in his second mind
 wait it's coming I know it is like a blue curtain
 when my ships comes in when this woman dies
 one hand will break open like the skin of a good fruit
 the other will go back behind my eat
 like a wing to hold in the humming of my skull and stay there
 until the bees that are my eyes sting me and leave me
 alone the head bone behind like a fiower what will I think
 then when I see him kicking his feet under her lids
 when I see the insignia of the foe the white bulls of ice
 the armies of double tongues tied like fiag ropes so you can't get it down
 so you can't run up a pair of long-handles or a dead cat
 it grieves me
 that Cybele who did beat me like a skin of wine to my dream
 is laid out in a catafalque of burning arrows
 alone I look up at her fiaming pyre like a bulwark dead feathers
 here she comes down on two shrouds her arms folded over her chest
 her legs spread like a divining rod she sits down on my lap in the red chair
 at last she runs her hands through my hair that leave furrows of musk
 with my eyes closed I know the white island was a dream the eye was a dream
 and I know too the bridge was a dream
 but her crooked teeth and her lisp are as real as the chanfrin over my face
 and the tables are turning
 I can be Arthur I can be Launcelot I can take the oath of knighthood
 again if they'll give it to me if I may believe my eyes
 Merlin comes on a gallant charger I may not believe my eyes
 sit down Francis I am tired of your impulsive outbursts in class
 I walk out of the room I say Miss Fulgum this chevalier needs to piss
 goodnight leave it alone I worship fire
 I saw where I wrote fuck in the halls I saw where I left I opened the door I saw
 that I said kiss my ass I saw that I walked over to Soudtwestern I saw
 the old stone I stole a book a hundred years old about magic I saw the old stone
 I stole a book about sailors I walked over I saw where the astronomer had moved
 I walked in his butler he lived alone said cookies and milk master Francis
 that's where I got that from and the woman was his adopted daughter that wasn't
 there she didn't like Memphis State she was a foreigner like him I saw
 the painting hanging there the sun like a broken eg with blood in it you've
 seen eggs like that in the country I saw the fulvous moon I saw the Sleeping
 Gypsy I see the gallows for Hotspur the dancer's friend all night long in
 my dreams I look at what my brother Francisco Goya has done
 the astronomer doesn't think I'm crazy when I talk like that and that
 is the reason I like him I say what I want I can cuss if I want
 the butler says you didn't have to steal those books I would have been glad
 to check them out for you I say I'm going to take them back but I
 like to keep a book for a year or so I'm already tired of this magic one
 it is fill of bullshit I'll let you have it now I'll keep the sailor book
 everynight for supper the astronomer wears a beautiful robe we eat by
 candlelight he says your parents will be worrying and I say no they won't
 I told them I was going to look at Saturn he says well
 Francis what shall we talk about tonight
 the astronomer told me about de Montcorbier he told me about snowballs
 he told me about Alcofribas Nasier he told me about liars
 he told me about the one-handed Saavedra who I already knew about I thought
 who is my hero he told me about how not to drink water at a creek when you are
 hunting unless you can see who is behind you I picked up a new cuss word
 from him instead of saying dogshit all the time like Jimmy I said
 Goddamnarune ha ha it took me a while to catch on
 since the astronomer has no son he likes to give me compliments
 he says you should be a saga Francis you are like a paladin
 I figured he got that from Have Gun Will Travel because I always wear black
 but now I know about the real paladins I know lines fiom Shakespeare like Paladin
 I know a Chinaman too but he doesn't have a pig tail he has a bladtbelt
 he said you are the wandering soul the lover of Beatrice
 it took a year for us to finish Dante Alighieri
 one of my favorites is the one who sold his soul to the devil
 you know about Christine incognito with a borrowed pistol he shot himself
 in the head Portinari he played music like the world's smallest man
 over the roses in the urn on the table he on one end and me on the other
 he says Francis tell me what you see
 I said I saw a man singing through a fine-tooth comb
 and there was a long-legged man dancing in a cane tow
 he said what else I said that's all he said see it again I said
 that cousin of mine they say died in a fire in the civil war the one they say
 was a lieutenant that helped those people off that burning steamboat
 that is a lie he was drunk at a Sunday picnic in Virginia they was having
 a gander-pull and he fell oifi his horse and broke his neck trying to grab
 a goose by the throat what else
 they let a Job early one year it was good weather so daddy had them start
 working early in the Spring when it was a might bit cold yet
 they knew they had to patch Turner's Levee before the river crested so
 they had the dragline: and the boom machines going
 I went out with my father at dawn I saw negroes pouring coal oil
 on I don't know what I asked my daddy I said what them men doing setting fire
 to that dirt like that and he said son they is burning snakes
 I said what he said in the fall the snakes of all kinds go in the ground
 they make nests and hibernate like bears they tangle up together
 he said the poisonous ones and the ones that just bite
 they all tied themselves together in great balls about seven feet across
 and when the bucket of the dragline first broke the stakes and dug
 into the cold earth of what would be the new barr pit that every year
 it lifted out great clods of snakes
 and the negroes would stop work and get down off the bulldozers and mules
 and wagons and dirt dumpers and they would go fetch kerosene
 and throw it on the sleeping snakes and sit there and watch them burn
 the first time I saw this was when I was four years old
 I can remember how the cold blood of snakes smells just like hot metal
 the astronomer said go on
 and then one of the drivers would be selected to make the first run and dump
 the first load of dirt on the old levee
 and when and if it ever came a great fiood again that is where the black people
 would stand with their lanterns and possessions that is where they'd tell
 the steamboat captain to let them off because there hasn't been a levee
 yet to break where they first dumped snake bones and moccasin ashes
 once the engineers long ago decided they'd have to dynamite a few of the beams
 to relieve the pressure and the run-off during the fiood well the smart-aleck
 right out of college from Saint Louie got the job he wouldn't listen
 to the old men to the negroes he come down and he thought he knew it all
 he kept pouring powder into the levee but she wouldn't let go
 all the time in the rain the negroes with the black raincoats on holding the
 lanterns saying uh uh boss you got it wrong this here's a cottonmouth slope
 that powder ain't going to raise him out of his grave the Old Man going to get you
 if you don't watch out but that tonic selling engineer he wasn't going to listen
 to folks that knew better he kept a blasting until it didn't make a matter
 if the levee broke or not cause the people down river they was already washed
 away and the engineer he done buried six good men doing it his way
 and you know what it read in his home town paper Local Boy Saves Lives
 lies lies lies he got it one day he tried to take a boat out by himself
 in some place he'd never been the river got him and it'll get you too
 that's a fact if it'll take a fisherman been on it all his life
 it'll sho take a Whippet-snapper who don't know what he's talking about for damn
 sure I know the rivet like the back of my hand you say well that hand
 can get you in a heap of trouble sometimes
 don't stop Francis
 and I saw the man called Sylvester who was called the town nigger
 by the peOple of the town and I saw the people of the village
 who were called shiftless trash and peddling cowards by Sylvester and I saw a bull
 piss in the shade and I saw the whitewashed Judas tree and I saw
 the jonquils and I ate the spoonbread and the old woman
 chewed the orris-root and her letter she sent I wrote it cause the son
 was hanged by the sapsuckers who I call all a Judas like a cut
 horse sealed with a kiss some by signs and others by whispers brother for
 nothing why was he killed to me he was a friend we use to see how far
 we could spit those people they come around a good red melon like fiies
 after the seeds they lay their eggs on the Tom Watsons from Quiver River
 they light on the Moonstars from Black Bayou and the Rattlesnakes from the
 Bogue Phalia why couldn't he have been a tree or a weed to them
 why not a pecan a sweetgum a walnut a ash a wateroak a sycamore a cottonwood
 a yellow top a wahoo bush he was only a peanut farmer chunking clods
 of mud across a creek he only skipped them seven times he was only some cattails
 or some pokeweed he was only mud on someone's boots
 he was only the heelgnawed porch steps of the store he was only
 a sole with rat bite fever he only had the dueling pistols because he found them
 he dug them up they were buried near the ruins of the old house
 he only drank whiskey and he never took it out the paper sack he was
 only a little sawgrass a crop duster's propeller a feather an anchor
 a broken guitar a orange crush neck a rusty tub he was just a lame
 nigger running his trotline on Caintuck Bend and before he hung I
 took him his shiny black Johnny Walkers he got them his mother's request
 like a song of white people who can't dance he was only a katydid
 and his mother broke a window to steal something she didn't need
 to get them off the trail like a killadeer bird she was and the sound
 of the new shoes with the holes cut in them when they dumped
 him in the coffin like a midget's ship it was hard like a plunk in deep water
 it was soft like a Shoshone kneeling on a hill with a knife between his teeth
 many times he played the cane fife in the deep woods
 and I would come our to him alone there sitting on a rotten log
 in the strange clearing where the crippled animals died where the good wood was
 and see the negro playing his fiute by himself and the mushrooms
 and the snakes tumbling in mossy logs he wasn't afraid
 I called him the black angel cause he had a black choir robe cause he was
 always alone and he weeped like an angel
 but to them he was only something born in the rainwater that stood in an empty
 sardine can his home was something you was liable to cut your foot on
 he was a hubcap not worth going after on account of the chiggers in the weeds
 if he was around he was like an old tin sign nobody reads and they probably
 can't even read anyway I know how the white men come into the store and mark
 down their X just like the test he was a boll weevil in Whiskey Jim cut
 he was one of them red tick spiders to them he was
 a dead square a chunk fioater rain at the wrong time a no count worm
 who wore a white suit in the spring and a long black coat in the fall
 they looked on him like he would never lap the middles them with their red bowties
 the razor cut red lat hanging over their collars on election day
 and the mud up to the lug nuts them shaking hands in the rain
 why it would make you pull out a pistol and shoot at the first thing you see
 moving down the road even if it was your own mule I tell you they listened
 for him like he was a tornado
 just another jogo just another jigaboo just another stowaway on the
 yellow dog some preacher hanging around for a month or so turned him in
 they had to get somebody and for me he was the BLACK ANGEL
 now he is deader than hell his mule is dead they stole the new wheels he made
 for his wagon he had a speaker in his outhouse so if you had to do your business
 while you was listening to a good song or a close game you wouldn't miss a thing
 they tore that out some peckerhead got it why don't I go to toting a pistol
 I know he was on the hog all the time no dough and all that he didn't get
 drunk like some of my other friends do but they called him Mr. Petty Gouger
 he said he was a dicty cat from way on back I don't know he was just
 the BLACK ANGEL
 his mother made a living selling spells she had a sack of conjurations
 some gopher dust some signs a little bit of everything
 ain't nobody's business
 but St. Francis bad lucking trouble all my days to them he was only a weed
 I know then the ones that done it some by signs others by whispers
 if you have ever picked up an old Nehi bottle buried in a ditch
 for two cents and poured the muddy water out and seen a tadpole
 beating his tail on the new hot mix asphalt that the prisoners was made
 to lay down just the other day that stufi' still crawling over the weeds
 and all and you see that tadpole like the black rag of a fiag
 fiapping on a dead mast then you know what I mean you know what people
 will do to one another do you think just because some county sheriff
 is got a buddy up in state government stealing off folks and he's going
 to see to it the law is elected judge do you think then we got to do
 and abide by what that redneck says hell no why he ain't even from
 around this neck of the woods he never set his big policemen foot
 in this county till a few years ago he never sharecropped for nobody
 he ain't never broke no hoe hell no he moved down here from Iowa or Ohio
 or someplace like that and him going to drive that patrol car down
 a back road once a week and tell some nigger on a tractor boy I think
 you busted a row why shit the way they do things around here is like
 one of those bounty hunters they send after a outlaw who's been a
 pestering these banks in the state they get some lay low fixed up
 between them and then ambush him while he's playing the mouth harp
 in the outhouse then they bring him into town over a mule and say
 how they shot it out with him bullet for bullet them that never fired
 but one slug into his head while he was wiping his ass I tell you
 the man that runs the newspaper he's in with all of them on it so he
 lies in a big story so everybody will start getting his paper and just
 to make sure he throws in a few pictures that they fixed up in the dark room
 seeing how it is that most of the people can't read noway well the rats
 that ambushed him they end up being elected next year I know all about it
 some by signs others by whispers it ain't no different from the way it
 was a long time ago except back then I believe if my book learning is
 right the cowards didn't talk as much one of the exceptions being
 Unferth who always liked to wag his tongue while he pidted at the bumps
 on his face you might remember how he stood up in the king's saloon
 and told that lie about how Beowulf couldn't swim a lick well that's what I mean
 if I'd a been that seagoer I wouldn't been knife fighting and arm wrestling
 with that gar or gorilla or whatever that damned abominable snowman was
 I'd a hauled olf and kicked that son-of-a-bitch in the knee and then when he
 bent over crying I'd drug my gauntlet crosst his lying lips
 that chain mail a clear up them bumps real quick old Beowulf should have just
 said shit on it and kicked his teeth in
 the fourteen plates of snow are set before me the moon has bright eyes
 I meant to say the twelve cups of wine are raised in my honor
 atop my friend the black fiag that sings
 in the blizzard hundreds of years gone by in the streets of Paris and Moscow
 aloft I of the horses and the slippers riding bareback
 like a blood poisoned man that enters houses uninvited
 like someone who has never and will never turn twenty
 like I am given invitations by wives and I eat their good making
 and their husbands ask me about football and try to get me drunk
 and if they are from new york and on the block it is ok for young ones
 to drink wine and so it comes out that the woman is from new york and a jew
 and that I knew already and it comes out the husband isn't fi'om there
 he is from Texas and his wife says your teacher told me a secret
 you have a collection of private papers and the man says what do you do
 besides play catcher play fullback play tennis go fishing collect stamps
 with little billy phillips build rockets and I say I consider myself poet
 and he eats real fast and looks up at his wife and says well I better go
 polish my shotgun and oh yes I'm suppose to play cards with the guys tonight
 see you later honey glad to meet you Francis goodbye
 she wipes her mouth as he leaves she says tell me about yourself
 before I can do anything I tell her I have to go to the bathroom
 because I am about to throw up on account of the drinks they gave me
 those grasshoppers it is real big a pair of her panties are lying over
 the sunken tub there are all sorts of good smelling powders and bath oils
 like baking pics on the counter I look through all the drawers I like
 to look under mattresses in shelves in bedside tables in strange houses
 there is no telling what you will find and if you find it out the sooner
 the better whatever it is because that way you will know what to expect
 of the people who hide them there I opened the closet and looked under
 a stack of nice towels they looked like they had never been used
 I found one of those electric toothbrushes they just came out but I had
 to go puke then so I vomit pretty good in the toilet I don't get a bit
 of that oatmeal on the toilet seat pretty good aim when I throw up
 all the time I am thinking now have they invented those electric toothbrushes
 yet or did I just read where in the next few years they would have them
 well I gargled with some yellow stuff looked like Listerine in a fancy bottle
 you know how some folks put soap and medicine and everything in these
 fancy bottles well it was perfume anyway I said to myself I didn't see no cord
 to that electric toothbrush I wonder if they got them to work on batteries
 I went back to the closet or what you might call a pantry and looked at that
 thing-a-ma-jig I hit some button and that dude cut on I thought it was
 shocking me so I was switching it from one hand to the other like a hot potato
 it was humming like a egg beater it was vibrating like one of those things
 a barber uses on those old men's heads to make them calm down well it was
 tickling my palms I turned it off and thought my my I don't see no sockets
 for a toothbrush and the way that thing goes it's liable to knock your teeth
 out no sir that wasn't for me I'd just use my hand and some baking soda
 the lady knocked on the door she said are you feeling better Francis
 could I help you I put the thing back under the towels and fiushed the commode
 I walked out the bathroom door she said your face is red she got a cold
 wash cloth and she sat down in a chair she said sit in my lap but when
 I sat down my back to her there wasn't a lap just the chair and her spread legs
 I tested my head under her chin and leaned back she applied the cold cloth
 to my forehead she said now there she told me I guess you know our little boy
 was run over by a garbage truck last year he would have been about your age
 about twelve but I wasn't listening to her any more I was dreaming
 about sun discs immersed in oceans you could look out over and all you would see
 were icebergs and on top of these would be werewolves but there would only
 be one iceberg and one wolfman because your ship would be a mirror
 I thought of a frenchman walking down alleys so cold and finally getting an open
 door and some old gentleman feeding him supper one of the vagabonds one of
 the old soldiers and as they talked over the firelight the man looked like
 a wild boar with big teeth but you only thought that because of the way his
 tusks went and because he was eating so fast really he looked like a wolf
 and when the man told him he was just a no count gypsy and the man was a bastard
 I want to point that out he slowly picked the knife up off the table
 the gentleman gasped but the gypsy only cut the cheese and put it on the good
 bread he drank a whole lot of wine that warmed him up and they said goodbye
 when he stood outside and saw the monk with the rope around his throat
 hanging from the bell tower he just coughed up some blood and spit it in the snow
 and said to himself who was about the only one he talked to except for low life
 he said as he pulled out the silver watch with no hands and held it in his own
 fingerless gloves his breath like smoke from a thin cigarette going up his nose
 le bateau noire en face de l'eau il vien pour moi
 l have inhaled the fumes of the chicken feathers of death myself
 I have dowsed the burning birds I have set the wet feathers afire
 like the lullaby from the Russian ballet in many tongues but none of them double
 none of them spliced none of them forked none of them separated by words
 I carry on with myself in even the most I don't know what moments
 my dreams some of them come and go like fiash fioods some of them rains that never
 let up and some of them the river that remains forever on the verge of passing
 out with so many batons and lost music like toothpicks
 like pieces of pork and fur stuck in between like it could grow to the gums
 the dreams they are strangers striking matches in the dark
 they are boots that keel over to the side a definite limp for forty days
 like hot metal hissing in some liquid the liquid is unnamable I
 open the pages of the book without the benefit of light I walk into the bathrooms
 of the catholic families and the stockings of the older sisters catch in my
 eyes like webs they fiutter in my hair like little wings
 and when I'm asleep in a slim woman's lap I am not sitting on the chair
 anymore I am sitting on her little belly and she is giving me a horse ride
 like it was eight years ago and now I know why the older gentlemen give
 the little girls horsey rides on their legs they like those rings on their
 fingers and those bells on their toes they like the moist cotton panties
 on their shin but now the woman is giving me a ride below her stomach
 she is moving around on the couch she must have lifted me up while I was sleeping
 in the same position now I have a sailor suit on which is too big that
 I saw in her dead son's closet and my pants are off and so are my socks and shoes
 and the inside the soft part of her arm is in between my legs and her hand
 is waving at her belly and she has the hair and I don't and now I remember
 telling her about the electric toothbrush I found I must be drunk
 and she brings her arm up like a wand and tickles my lips with her wet fingers
 that smell like water fiowers
 she takes hold of me with the same fingers like she was fixing to puff a cigar
 but she doesn't do that no she gets my arm with her other hand and goes to
 tickling the soft part of my arm with my hard part so now she is making me
 tickle myself and I get goose bumps now I see what is so soft on the back of
 my head her breast she only has one I remember that she said do you care
 have you seen these have you seen this have you ever done it to yourself tell me
 she says I am to do this with my teeth and tongue she goes like you do when
 you are making a call in the woods at dawn the way she has her lips spread
 and her teeth clenched it is like she had a big hook in her mouth and she was
 about to pass the line through the hole and make a good knot a figure of eight
 maybe a falconer's knOt but like she was tying something up
 she said I was like someone asleep on a c118 and I said ship ahoy and jumped"
 off she wanted me to be her son I said no deal she gave me a bath I had to let
 her she would have come in the door anyway I've never seen a bathroom with so
 many doors while I was bending over the tub before I got in washing my hair
 I always do that first she came up behind me and put her tongue in my asshole
 I jumped and hit my head on the water spigot and cut it open and I actually
 was knocked out and drowning but do you think she cared I guess not when I woke
 up I was naked and shivering on a large bed and blood was all over my pillow
 she was groaning and squirming around on me with that electric toothbrush
 crammed up inside her if that don't beat all I tell you I'm going after a girl
 my own age I'm tired of these women getting me in my dreams that woman didn't
 even get the soap suds out of my hair and they got down in my eyes and
 I started crying but I really wasn't but she thought I was so then she wanted
 me to suck on her titty some more just like I was a damned pup or something
 no sir I believe I'll ask Veronica Novareese out next Saturday night
 she's thirteen and catholic I really like the way she dances and her accent
 at home I keep a record of the various accents I run into while I'm living
 but of course you all know by now that I am Death and my twin brother snoozing
 over there is Sleep so all I have to do is talk to myself
 I dream with one eye open and the other eye shut
 I open windows and pull up blinds they want me to knock it 03'
 they say it is wrong to think up bedrooms and tigers to see murder committed on
 the streets they want to wrap me up like a mummy and my dreams they won't get them
 I'll tell them to run off don't go down with me the people if you know anything
 they want to cut your tongue off so you can't tell what you really saw
 they want to moor me to some shelf like a book
 leave me alone and goodnight let me go to bed with me let me pee on the quilt
 let me bark on the clothesline let me unravel
 let me be a yo-yo going around the world while they are trying a suit on me
 in julius Lewis let the string snap and I'll break the mirror
 watch the ends of the two bones going to shreds
 see the skull split in half and the threads will pass through the needles
 of wind my dreams that need to be changed like bandages
 because if you don't watch out they'll set up and get infected there you go
 that's what you get but the Indian calls me the sleepy-eyed one the fish boy
 some of them want to get me in their gill nets but huh huh brother
 I know I have no markings I know I take no bridle I know no bit
 my helmet is ringing aye the bird falls the author of the wound
 Lucy eating your corn on the cob the pools of vermilion butter whitecapping
 in your sockets saint with a slit throat saint of the finger fucked mandolin
 the maenad eating of the god himself master of illusion bullcalf with his blood
 so full of fiiry the transubstantiation the women sucking mysteries out of his
 palms the dead goat around his neck his hair matted with wine his lips
 dancing like an opened coffin Dionysus with my fingers full of splinters
 like a lad overboard I told the woman about my hawk
 with bells on his talons the falcon manning the wrist of the lady
 the bird tethered to the bleeding wrist the hood like a new moon
 the eyes that swoop down on the backs of rabbits I told her about myself my bird
 that sat on my shoulder the one I found with the broken wing see the stairs
 on my back where the hawk toes sunk in see him dive see him fall bloodthirsty bird
 like two friends of mine who visit me often while I'm looking at clouds
 Sir Richard Burton and William Blake you should see them carrying on
 together what with them letting down their pants in front of the churches
 and the bone houses of government shooting their moons
 old baldheaded Ike adjusting his truss says who are those beatniks
 I've read about those two men and there's much more them with their dreams
 I would like to quit school and go back and live in a tent I would like to
 dream again sometime I am afraid one day life will give me its Sunday punch
 I am afraid after reading all these so-called initiation books that some
 cortege of boot lickers will enter my room while I am sleeping and suck
 my eyes out with soda straws they will be older men and women much like
 the arnanuenses with bad breath in the principal's oflice who call
 up and tell on you the Unferths of the world better beware
 1 know Jesus would have kicked your necth in you couldn't pull that shit on him
 he was telling his buddies one night boys I'm glad y'all decided to come on up
 and eat supper with me I hadn't got much there's a few things I'd like to say
 at this time Matthew says to Simon I sure as hell don't know what he's got us
 here this time for I'm beginning to wonder you talked to him lately
 yea I was shooting the shit with him on the mountain but I want to tell you
 this Matthew don't never come up on him when he's alone he jumped on me
 I thought he was going to kill me he was just walking around just talking
 to himself waving his arms like he does he's worse than John
 Jude put his hand up to his mouth and said down the table I think Jesus is going
 off his rocker get Simon to tell you what he asked me
 Simon says he didn't want to talk about politics or dreams or nothing he just said
 Jude next time y'all are over in Mesopotamia why don't you pick me up a few
 bottles of that wine they make over there
 sure thing Jesus I says
 well now the boss is talking he is saying I asked y'all up here because frankly
 I've been feeling a little sick lately and I want to make sure y'all know what
 to do in case anything happens I know one of you is going to do me in I know
 that but goddamnit y'all know those people in town are after my as
 the other night I walked down the streets in a disguise and I seen a couple
 of you messing around and drinking with the soldiers what's going to happen
 if one of you gets drunk and lets it slip where I'm hiding out then I'll
 be in a fix you know if they was to find me they going to cut me y'all ever
 think about that and Peter ain't you ever going to get it straight what you're
 supposed to do give me one of those biscuits Judas and go outside and take a
 look-see I got you Jesus Judas says
 John leans over he says been catching any fish Peter
 oh well I been getting a few of a morning they ain't biting too good now you know
 on account of this blamed weather nobody is even listening to Jesus he's just
 talking to himself like he was crazy Matthew says I believe he's been hitting
 that wine a little too hard don't you reckon
 Jesus says another thing I told all of you it'd be better if you didn't get
 involved with women
 now just listen to that little two-faced bastard James the Lesser says
 we all know what he's up to shacking up with all those town girls
 the other night he was dressed fit to kill and drunk as six hundred dollars
 a rolling around in the mud like a hog kissing that whore's foot why shit
 I wish he'd let us in on what he really does
 Thomas spoke up for once he says I know what you mean the other day Andrew
 and I asked him about some scripture he said leave me alone I don't know
 nothing about that shit and then we seen him cussing out a priest over at the
 temple he knew more about it than the elder did
 another thing Matthew says I wish he'd start writing what he wants done down
 and do it so I can read it you know as well as I do that damned Peter can't
 keep it straight he won't get anything right
 Bartholomew says don't make no difference atoll cause Paul is going to tell
 it like he wants to that's for damned sure
 all the time Jesus just mumbling to himself wine spilt all over his robe
 the rest of them chattering and cussing trying to figure him out
 John the Baptist about the only one Jesus can count on except for crazy John
 is banging his goblet on the table he is saying now ain't this a sight
 spitting in the lord's face at his own birthday party I'll swan
 Brother John why don't you tell Jesus what the real problem is
 . the crazy one says everyone of y'all is chickenshits you are afraid to look
 those elders in the eye and tell them what you think y'all get up on a rock
 to talk and you see a soldier coming and you say anybody seen a stray mule
 Jesus is saying to himself I'm going to pull those temples down if I have to
 get me a rope and tie it to a pillar and a jackass and do it myself
 wake up Jesus Philip says
 Paul who hadn't touched a drop gets up and gets his paper out and says
 the nature of the problem Jesus is this the people don't believe you
 those fellows in the temples have got it all organized all they have to do
 is send out stooges and hire a couple of rednecks who make out like they're
 crippled they have a big gathering they say the same things you say they
 pull off a fake healing the redneck's wife stands up she says LIE he ain't lame
 he's just drunk and so all the people go home saying those christians what a
 bunch of wind see Jesus they are using your material but they ain't coming
 through so that is making you an enemy of the people we just got to get
 organized as is proved here today by your followers carrying on as they did
 so I'm getting sold down the river by the elders and their hirelings uh
 that's right Jesus ask anybody here why I didn't think they'd do that he says
 I told you a long time ago not to keep talking with them temple people John says
 you should a know'd what they was up too ain't nobody going to understand you
 why you ought to know that when we first run on to you we had second thoughts
 we thought you was crazy there's probably still some sitting down here right
 this second that still thinks you are a crazy one but Jesus you should a known
 we been through a lot together we go a long way back you should a listened
 all they wanted was you they liable to get you yet then they won't have no
 competition they want to keep feeding the hogs the same slop
 they the ones that want to get fat man you listening to me Jesus
 he says ok if that's the way they want to do things at the temple
 I'm going to change my tactics I going out after these chillun more than I have
 been they'll know I'm telling the truth I still got a few things up my sleeve
 left what's that Paul says
 I'm going to do a few things can't nobody follow
 we could always go back to biting the heads off fish and chickens Peter says
 why don't you let us in on it for a change Paul says we follow you around
 like we were bunch of sheep picking up your tab bailing you out of jail
 coming up here all the time fior supper and what do we get to eat nothing
 why can't you have a little faith in us Jesus
 ok this is what we going to do he says hold on who is that walking up the steps
 it's just Judas
 how does it go boy Jesus says and the other one answers just fine Jesus just fine
 and John the Baptist turns around he says to the one who has just slipped in boy
 didn't I see you talking to some white folks the other day
 here endeth with a chord on the guitar that's how the men did Jesus like he was
 old like he was young just like Elvis did to Big Dad Arthur 1 know
 just like another blind singer the men come down to see with their equipment
 they get his song they pay him twenty dollars and he don't hear from them ever
 again except sometimes in the mail on Christmas when one of them might send a
 five dollar check there won't nobody cash oh tell me brother how do the old men
 feel who were young as purple flowers fiom Hawaii once when they listen to their
 songs coming in over a borrowed radio tell me don't they take up a notch in they belt
 don't they tie another knot in they headband don't they wring that sweat out
 have mercy Jesus deliver me from the lawyers and the teachers and the preachers
 and the politicking fiies can't you hear them buzz can't you hear them bite another
 chunk out of me oh brother I am death and you are sleep I am white and you are
 black brother tell me I am that which I am 1 am sleep and you are death we are
 one person getting up and going outside naked as a blue jay rolling out bellies
 at the moon oh brother tell me you love me and I'll tell you too I want to know
 how do they like it when the ones who sung shake they leg on the Television
 I want to know Jesus don't a blind man oount no more some by signs others by
 whispers some with a kiss and some with a gun and some with a six bit fountain
 pen whoa lord help me and my brother help us get through this tookover land
 we are poor wayfating strangers bumping into each other in the dark
 going to the outhouse like the picture show in the tent in Snow Lake
 that old marquee tacked up side the whiskey sign it ain't ever right
 everybody specting once upon a time one thing and ain't getting such a thing
 when they get there they might as well turn around cause it won't be on
 less you want to get a pint and buy a ticket and take a chance
 you can't never go wrong on that sign it always got the good show playing
 I tell you I'd rather put my faith in a fishing pole instead of a word
 many a time in school I've had my mind like a circular table like a mirror
 ready to be set with hope but when the teacher opens her mouth she besets
 it with TV. dinners when I had a feast in mind a feast to feed the world
 of my dreams and I had them and I had one oh lord help me my ship is spinning
 round and the women and children is still on board those fiickers in Washington DC.
 done grabbed all the life boats and they ain't letting no more board
 I tell you one day in the unknown county where my drums jump and shout
 a train will arrive and it will arrive like a General
 oh the days I spend in the classrooms are like caltrops thrown in the path
 of my ponies with my dreams their riders I heard tell of a man get a call from
 his house come on home lay the plow down and unhitch that mule I got yo dinner
 ready you can finish the row this evening well the man goes home he sets down
 with his family he eats a fine meal of field peas with relish and turnip greens
 and sweet potatoes and sidemeat that is cooked just about right ice tea and
 a jelly glass full of buttermilk I know he goes back out and cuts his firewood
 that evening when he hitches up that mule to finish his row he hears another
 voice it don't sound right come on home and eat your supper early supper tonight
 he thinks but he do what's right he goes on home and when he gets there his
 wife and chillun is stabbed and tied up like hogs and for meanness they set fire
 to his wood he just got through stacking and take him on to fight with them
 oh fight that battle one more time get this strawboss ofi'en my back
 what a body can think up like a new grave to put somebody else in they want you
 to join this be a part of that they won't make cinders out of me I say no
 to the crowd of whimpering dogs I say low and behold I won't sign my X to
 another pack of lies they can't run me out of my own land my home no they can't
 they can't run me for office they can't run me through somebody take up the call
 shout it so the dwarf rowing his boat can hear it on the other side of the river
 oh dreams nesting in the helix oh dreams under the dirt the last testudo
 I breathe into my image on the jambeau under the waters of the archipelagoes
 I watch the anchor chain wind up like intestines the mooring line to the companies
 in arms my dreams like a horse bucking at my crotch leave my brother alone
 who is sleeping the black vine together we tie our shoes in the bow
 we see the asteroids brother do we see them fall leaving their trails of burned
 rope brother the sails dropped like a good card under the table like something
 red on the side of the bill a footpath where day is lifting her hem
 here I go brother looking for shadows good morning brother night
 my companion I am dead like my mother I hold my hands over the fire
 like the lightning that struck her
 I walk through the breeze I am the falcon my dreams the falconer
 the jaegers will have to take it from me I intend
 to put up a good fight
 I remember those guitars under your arms still
 this jack tar makes a little headway
 into the past with all its spiders toting hour glasses
 where I cut my feet on the crystals that have sprung loose
 where some negro burns a leech off my shin with a Lucky Strike cigarette
 where we go hunting the bulls in britches spun out of mud like gods with tridents
 and the split tongued creatures knock their brains out going for the gorge:
 those fables in the photograph like heirlooms put away in brandy
 where 1 see the lieutenants entering the room in maroon
 and lifting the slips offof the women with rapiers
 so be it
 the dream for all its splendor was run over in the middle of the road
 while it was licking itself and we will all go south from the Susquehanna
 with my Chaplet of ashes and ice I swagger through valleys with a black sash alone
 and I see maidens with the backs of their hands over their eyes
 listen to them trill on the S that means sad '
 and see the teachers in the halls asking for excuses in plain daylight
 and go to the school at night and see them taking the pups away
 the unweened ones with their eyes still shut see them load them in their sacks
 watch the water level carefully where the teachers have all joined hands
 do you see that concertina below their feet
 do you see how afraid they are that the water wheel might come loose
 do you see them passing their whispers along in the night like a dead man's wind
 do you see them joined to their lies like cancer
 do you see them joined to the word like an insurance salesman
 look at the cankers that signify the name of the club on their belts and lapels
 when you enter the city limits the road signs announce the time and place
 where the diseases are having their noon day dinners
 look at them talking like they don't want to go home watch them go home
 watch them accuse the triggers of backsliding
 see them grading the papers with a scalpel like a piece of butcher's ice
 am I wrong to say there is no place for the parabola or the shipmate in their
 shingles of nerves and skin infections
 if you ever pass down this street you will see them all looking out the windows
 at the lights of the automobiles they want
 I would like to point out that they all have excellent credit
 listen to them reciting the long numbers on the reverse sides of the cards
 hurry on now don't tarry or a wife will open the shutters and lift up her breasts
 to you for sucking for the nipples have turned hard as cleats on a shoe
 leave this neighborless hood of shoddy carpentry and tables that won't stain
 or the bugger men will get you watch out for the street lamps like a regiment
 of minervas those white lights burn like men throwing acid at your doorstep
 in the backyard the kids are bending silverware beneath the clothesline
 they are pouring detergent boxes full of cockroaches over their red hair
 they are holding the kitten by the tail
 in one garage is an imported car with the price on the window and a football tag
 on the front bumper and fifteen dollars worth of unread magazines in the backseat
 I have to side step the dog shit and I see unopened cartons of hair oil sitting
 upright like a gas meter 1 see mail boxes like cleft palates
 behind a bush a man is picking at his bumps like he was trying to start a fight
 I see fireplaces that are never used and everywhere you look there are new dimes
 I can see all this out the lunchmom window at school and I throw up my dinner
 someone slips me a note saying I was betrayed by a rat I see the teachers
 assembled like an erector set and one of them is looking over at me what the hell
 this place is a port of lies and a sewer of words it is a harbour I must never
 allow myself to enter again for the rows of desks are like a regatta of coffins
 my teadrer has a tongue like a cow it will reach all the way up in her nose
 she is saying attention the president will speak they turn on the TV. up on
 the pall the stage it shows a picture of the flag being raised and when it is
 tied in place a bumrd sits on the pole speak president cave in my ears
 while I atn dreaming of submarines
 and a master on a ladder floating down a canal
 I drink the rest of my milk that cost me a nickel
 I fold the carton up into a box I place it on the floor
 I stomp on it and when everybody is looking towards me I shoot duet fingers
 like a pair of love birds I say so long flies
 I run out the door and slide down the waxed floor on my horseshoe taps
 the faster I run the smaller the building gets I run and I run and I hitch rides
 but I get my young ass out of there where all butts are licked or kicked I leave
 I come to the edge of some woods and a negro puts his finger to his lips
 I am breathing hard
 he bends over and lights a firecracker stuck in a redneck's sole
 he makes a motion with his head like he had a tight shirt on in church
 we get the hell out of there in the background a crack like a big fish at midnight
 blast those fucking children the white man says
 but we is long gone by now
 I told the boy without even catching my breath I already had it I says
 I know where there is lots of jiggling change to be picked up off the sidewalks
 but this boy here ain't going to try for none of it they is all crazy
 the negro blew on his fingernails and rubbed them on his T-shirt
 how about you treating me to a Eskimo Pie man he says
 we buy two from a Chinaman and eat them both before they melt
 all the festering sores on my legs had disappeared and they wasn't even little
 white spots where they had been no they had all tanned over nicely mighty nicely
 the boy looked to be one of those nigger indians from over around Caddo
 he was humming the beat to In The Evening When Things Go Wrong
 I say where you from he say Louisiana my name Emmett uh uh call me Don Moon too
 bye and bye we got to be friends strickly speaking I mean we was
 and on a day like today we come up on a blind child named Mack Son
 he was helping his Mama clean fish a couple hundred buffalo
 you should of seen them chickens eating those guts
 I asked Don of the Moon hey where did they take those out at
 back up in them rupelos he says
 I smelled something somebody's sister cooking her hair he say uh Miss Adeline
 could me and this boy have some yo ice tea
 go head on and get sis baby to po it fur ya des fish is giving me a time
 we went inside there was a sweetback man playing some of them old Jax records
 he was high as a coolie's kite him with that juice rolling out the side of his
 mouf like a buick man the sister had a pot of snap beans in her lap
 Don Moon say watch that Mack thow that hade to the cheekins
 he listens to um peck them eyes out he's teched but he's got a power
 I heard someone call I heard them a hollering on the levee
 at this point the dream that had cut the nightmare's throat left me
 1 was fathoms away with a cracked glass in my hand
 where these three or four people came from and went to I don't know
 never was I to come across them again in all my travels
 it might not even be worth mentioning to you but I ain't going to forget ever
 it was like it wasn't even me maybe I was living a part of somebody's else life
 the men at the college told me about how a person even if he's dead can be
 somewhere else that he wants to be I believe this has happened to me before
 because before my granddaddy passed on he sit up in the bed and tell mother
 honey I'm going to see that child one way or the other
 and I wasn't even in this world yet I was dreaming in a belly
 but I remember when I was one it was awful hot and this colored woman sit me
 down in a wash basin of cool pump water and I was looking at these wasps
 making a nest and then I go to hearing these hiccups a coming from somewhere
 that was the ghost of my granddaddy cause he died with the hiccups
 another time in the middle of the winter we went to camp nm to hunt but to check
 on some equipment just the day before I was daydreaming during the consecration
 at church about checking on that place where the gas come out of the swamp
 and what happens but Baby Gauge comes up to me and says damn yo hide you must
 a run off and yo daddy down here to get you we seen you in a red robe
 and a white gown lighting a fire in the water with a golden torch
 man you pull some of the darnest shit off I ever saw he says
 and right then I get goose pimples and shut my eyes and another time
 we went into the quarters of an old house where a colored seamstress lived
 for many a year in the night the old sewing machine hummed the gospel
 and wouldn't nobody touch it cause they knew it was deemed
 for a long time I thought the name to this was on account of poultry lice
 caused I overheard some of these scientists talking but I was wrong but
 I ain't about to go into that cause it is another long story and a hard
 song to sing
 right now I dream
 and the faces of dead people look into my windows at night I have to sleep
 with the quilt over my head sometimes though these dreams
 simmer down like broth and then they fiare up again like a border war
 the kind you are always reading about in the paper
 except the way the news has it is wrong they don't know the inside you'll have
 to ask some of them spics about it I'm for the spies in the border wars
 to the south I think it's kind of dirty us telling them how to shit
 what I am feeling here and now is got to be nothing but a pipe dream but I dream
 all the lawyers and teachers and preachers and government is gagged and bound
 on some beach and we is free to do what we want that is how crazy I am ha ha
 for some reason I thought of a hatchet
 it reminds me of once when I was sitting on a cypress bench a year or most about
 ago talking to Sylvester the Black Angel
 he says wit so many killings and all in this world how come somebody
 don't get a market for all them bodies you know wit the starving going on
 be a lot of meat feed a lot of people get some dem navy cooks and make a stew
 I told him that was the craziest thing I ever heard of
 me and you both know that human beings wouldn't eat one another
 yes yes yes Sylvester use to say cause that meant no he didn't believe it
 them days he was holding down a job with the bootlegger in other words we was
 outside the liquor store in the heat of the day seven miles off the highway
 right there near Miss Viola's place over around the foul ball weeds well I don't
 know how to tell you to get there you can hear them shooting craps at Spoon's
 Landing though some of the time he had the strange habit of singing stories
 in his sleep and the words was hard to make out sort of like when a colored man
 gives a little back talk sass to a boss and him smiling all the time and the old
 boss he don't even know what the man is saying might as well be morning capum
 out of the corner of his mouth he would say Jesus died to save our sins
 he was dream talking about when he had his free man's feet
 propped up on a cot and a sheriff's deputy kicked them down
 he said come on you burr headed nigger you coming with me
 that gnat telling me talking bout he taking me to Arkansas no no no
 I ain't goingl seen them feed dead triggers to the hogs in that penitentiary
 I just pick up that bottle of scotch uh Cutting Saw was the label with the ship
 on the bottle I'm telling you I hit him I don't lie I busted his head all kind
 of blue fiies come around ha ha I seen a pretty monkey woman fallout dead
 in the field in picking time and a purple butterfiy lit on her head goddamn
 now I'll tell you what happened the man from town rode into the country they is
 the ones that done it I know they got them one tree
 they do it in I know where it is I mean was cause Sylvester's mama and me
 went out there yes we did after they hung him
 we know the man that led the lynching party too his name was Guy Sipp
 we got to that tree his mama and me and I Cut it down
 took a long time to fall can't you hear the haunts yelling timber
 1 don't have to tell this but it fell in the river and floated on down
 it knocked the poles out from under one of the river rat's shacks
 when it collided I was laughing woowee you can guess what happened to that shack
 ha ha he was another one that was in on it he just goes by Fat Man I think
 that's all I ever hear anyone call him I fixed his wagon
 I put a cotton moccasin in the cab of his pickup
 snake bit him seven times
 didn't do nothing to him cause he was so fat anyway while he was running
 down the road with his swelled up ankles I put a match in his gas tank
 for good measure
 I blew that fucker's truck sky high
 but that now is just out of the way and I wouldn't want you telling nobody got
 that I hope so I loved it when that tree hit the water all the branches
 and bark and bugs and dust fiying off it settling over the backwater
 all them fishes getting their supper off it I looked up at the piece of the moon
 like a chunking rock and I say wonder if that was a dead minnow fioating on top
 and I was a big black bass lurking in the blue hole something I want to swallow
 but to get back to the song I was moaning see Sylvester didn't hold with anybody
 that disagreed with him it was like this he came home one night and said
 the county had passed a radioactive law so he was going to have to go to jail
 I tried to tell him what retroactive meant I looked it up at the court house
 cause somebody tore that page out my book I told him but he wouldn't listen to me
 what I don't understand is how they can make your serve time on a retroactive law
 it just made it worse that they was doing it cause Sylvester wouldn't listen to
 me but they damned sure well sent Sylvester up on one I talked to every shyster
 and clerk in that court house and not a dad burned person could set me right
 on it and I know I am right about the only thing I did see worth agreeing on
 was some old man in the spit and Whittle club tell a preacher in a long coat
 damn you man you making me nervous throwing that bible up in the air like that
 see he was catching it and pointing out verse and reading scripture loud as he
 could I agreed with that why not shut his mouth and let a fellow bull shit
 whenever I'd go visit the Angel and I'd bring him some liniment and tonic and a little
 candy and the newspaper which he read like Shakespeare
 and I'd tell my side of the story again and he'd say boy you as wrong as that
 calendar there hanging on the wall you can't make a 54 calendar work in a 55 year
 boy don't you know anything atoll ain't I got one
 lick a sense through your mule head that reminds me you better not come so close
 to those bars now that I'm natural bondy fite radioactive I'm liable to blow
 you up see what I mean once he got something stricldy in his mind
 a stick couldn't knock it out I never brought that particular subject up again
 excepting that year he got a job working awhile for the county
 what he did was quit soon as they told him he was entitled to some retroactive
 pay For some work he'd done for them a long time back
 he got drunk and went to Louisiana trapping alligators and never did come back
 for his check finally he returned it wasn't on account of them gators
 no one day they was catching some saw tooth sliders to sell for eating
 they had a whole boat Full of them but his partner wanted to stay out in the dark
 and see if they could get any soft shells well Sylvester got a hold of the
 fisherman's nightmare a seven Foot grennal eel not no congo 1 mean a big one
 he come back to Mississippi and when they told him bout that money later on
 he really fucked up he told me uh uh they tried to pull a Fast one on me
 but I fixed them I said to that lady I don't want none of that radioactive money
 they should a just said Back Pay I don't know why they do like they do
 but those damn rednecks working in the court house they learn one fiicking word
 longer than Deuteronomy and they keep on using it every chance they get
 they ought to go back and read about some of them curses Buzzin Insects Will
 Infest All Your Trees And The Crops Of Your Soil I know I had to go back and read
 Chapter 21 Verse 22 now that I'm thinking about it but I ain't thinking about it
 because it is just like a warrior delivering his blows to the night alone
 and unnoticed like a blind swordsman going through his forms on the top ofa
 mountain the blade severing the side and the thighs of his dreams oh I don't know
 it ain't so bad it's a pity wasn't everbody crazy as the Black Angel
 he'd walk down the road and on purpose run into a tree like a loco horse
 so he could say to all who were on the same road see there ain't no tree
 around his neck he wore a little noose he had braided out of twine
 some person passing by would say how you Sylvester and he'd say
 fine but don't you come up trepsing in front of me like that I'm radioactive
 he never did take his shots so a lot of people said about him his mind
 was ate up with the syphilis but that was a so-called lie with that atomic
 talk of his he still had his reservations about bombs him a lying up on
 a brass bed with a blue tic mattress reading a funny book and some soul
 walking up in his yard he don't like so Sylvester just raises his arm up
 and smiles uh uh brother that's nufi' like he was Moses hitting the water with a
 two-by-four he didn't quit giving his warnings until he got that geiger counter
 I sent offi For in the back of a comic book actually I sent ofi" for him
 and you know that is what he found the pistols with them old ball-and-hammer
 dueling arms that wouldn't even click like a beetle just some rusty side guns
 that was all the evidence the trial was about as fair as a white man's Face
 they made the Black Angel wear the red scarf around his neck I went to the
 newspaper office about it i walked in the door without knocking I caught
 the man beating his meat he had the roll chair shoved way under the desk
 the liar tried to tell me he was sharpening his pencil he said he had it put
 under his desk why do Folks think they can talk their way out of things
 like that but I had to be Socrates I had to be a nigger so i say suh
 would you please tell the people the truth about what happened to Sylvester
 he didn't mean nothing with that radioactive talk he never hurt nobody
 he took down notes ofwhat l was saying and when it come out in the paper it
 said boy of six confesses to witnessing Sylvester Martingale said Negro
 the accused and deceased rapist commit rape
 now a damn fool is the only one to make any sense out of that but when I seen
 what he said I seen that was the last straw and say jesus how come you letting
 all them camels with them strawbosses in the gates so what I do is one of two
 things it is possible that I did them both or I might not have done either one
 nevertheless two simultaneous acts were acted out in my dreams
 like ancient inscriptions being read offi in my sleep in writing I can't read
 but in language I understand like scrolls unraveling like a piece of rope
 I dreamed in my bed covered with mauve I walked in
 to the newspaper office I saw the man zipping up his pants and I could see
 a piece of string hanging out his fly the unthinkable but brutal truth
 of him hoisting his meat with the same twine the Black Angel wore around his neck
 was incredible it was like this lying grasshopper giving an invitation to Death
 yours truly brother of black sleep I am that which I am that I am
 all me Death I'm tired of Ishmael for no one knows he had a secret brother
 on the ship with him who escaped also he was black as the ace of spades
 and blue as a channel cat but not a soul knows this and if he had a let
 Ishmael tell the truth the book would have been uncomprehensible except for
 a few swarthy seaman and the men who will dream in the future
 he the one called black sleep whose name I will not reveal was a real wild man
 when ships passed at sea even the captains shivered when they saw the secret
 brother in repose sometimes with one eye or both eyes open in his sleep
 but this is another song one of many I will not sing on account of the rebus
 turnabout did he know that carpetbagging coward that he had invited death
 to his desk or table or whatever the first words of the blushing host
 yes I've taken care of everything now the people know how and why your friend
 died he tells me he told it just like I told him I say well my book learning
 ain't too hot why don't you read it to me and he lies a little more
 and says he's got to go to a meeting at City Hall and here is where I wish I knew
 the word of the double a what let's see I can't never remember it but I
 had a dual dream like I told you about and here is where it begins to unfold
 before I was able to remember what I did or what I was about to do or didn't do
 I recalled the wind like the breath of a black tiger stroking my hair
 as I stood on the mountain I saw all the geometrical figures in the astronomer's
 textbook Hy past me like a swarm of hornets I saw in detail all the great
 naval battles that had ever taken place and I saw the overruled nautical plans
 I saw oysters on the half shell served to me by a negro in Justine's
 and what is odd is the fact that I ate this dinner in the first Justine's
 which was impossible for the building was torn down long before I was ever born
 I saw Sir Richard going through his cuts and there was an empty bottle of brandy
 in a corner that caught the light of the sun I saw an alcove of bones and the
 master bedroom of musicians I saw three fires and three floods at once the same
 ones that turned my granddaddy into a drunk I saw Governor Vardaman show him
 where to sign his name when he named him warden of Parchman Penitentiary
 I saw the convicts with their axes raised and ringing like the battle swords
 of Beowulf's warriors I saw hulls of ice I saw boys waiting on boats at the levee
 with dim lanterns in their hands I saw the statue of the knight wink at me
 at Will Percy's grave I saw the men coming back from the First World War
 and falling in love with bourbon and french I saw King Cotton dead and buried
 I saw the abscission of the guitars I saw Rousseau St. Augustine and Beethoven
 taking their evening bath I saw my ancestors committing adultery in the lowland
 fog I saw the spot where job stood I saw David composing his songs I dreamed
 I was chosen to slay Unferth who was in the guise of the newspaperman I dreamed I had to
 take a long swim at night and at exactly eleven-o'clock I appeared dripping wet
 in his office where I avenged the Black Angel's death as was called for in
 one dream and at the same time at the corner the second act of the second dream
 was carried out I borrowed a needle from the canvas sewer I sewed the man's
 lips up with the twine I knocked his child out with a beanflip when he passed
 by on a tricycle I became a shoe shine boy and when it came time to polish
 the newspaperman's boots I spit on my fingers and went to work and when it
 was over and he said how about a kiss I bent over and at the same time reached
 into his boot and drew out his own knife and severed all the connections
 behind his knee these two black acts were carried out to make amends for his lie
 I walked out of the town and kneeled down and prayed to the voices of sleep
 and that is where I dreamed I saw in a pool of water a horse in the distance
 and mounted upon the horse was a midget who was stabbing the horse in the crest
 and this is when the method came to me the method I should use to murder
 the flybait of all evil the one called Unferth the open sore the baby eater
 it was so simple it was funny I had spent a year studying ninjitsu the art of
 stealth I had become a ninja but Unferth was too low to use such a high form
 of death on I decided depending upon how long I could wait to save my money
 to purchase one or both of two objects one a very large mirror the other one
 of those new fangled cameras where I could take a picture of myself and this
 was my plan to order the mirror and the camera and to take them way oifi into
 the forest I was going to have in my pocket a thousand pennies that would
 fall out as I walked back to town I would go over to the store and suck on a lemon
 and drink a Nehi full of peanuts I would wait for the figure of evil to pick
 up the copper scent I would watch the philistine Unferth pick up the money
 and bite down on it ha ha just like metal like blood like a knife and as he
 started following the scents out of town into the woods I'd take the short cut
 through Dee Earl's pea patch so I'd get the last coin so I could climb the bald
 cypress with my dirk and jump on his back as soon as he got there 1 had it all
 planned the camera didn't come but the wall mirror did everything happened like
 it said it would in the dream I would lie awake at night thinking how is that
 son-of-a-bitch going to like it when I tie him up and let him watch hisself
 get all cut up I'll put a couple gashes here and some holes there I bet he'll
 be the first person ever to actually see his own throat slit I couldn't wait
 I wished that camera with the gadget would of come so I could have an official
 record of me killing the rat but it didn't and just when I was ready to jump
 out of the tree the knife fell out of my hand and shattered the mirror
 I let him off hell it wouldn't be any fun if he didn't get to watch his own death
 I know the evil will come back someday in some form he always does and I'll be
 ready with a new plan like a dream but when my mind is clear I think of Sylvester
 with his talk like a steamboat of jive of magic we would sit on the bench and
 spit and Whittle we was some kind of friends just like that
 cross your fingers
 not like you was telling a fib like a doctor's sign
 we had it all
 figured out what the evening sun did at night
 we could finish one another's song if he got
 drunk if I got tired and went to sleep
 he told me how the congressmen had beeshit between their teeth
 the moon was our sentry
 he kept a good watch he looked out for us
 he could wear some of the awfullest getup you ever saw
 he had those black dice made in Spain
 he knew some gypsy talk
 when he got back from the doctor he always had bad news
 like he lost a payroll at the horse races
 he had the blues
 you know how you get of a morning
 when you feeling so good you feeling low down
 when two or three of you goes out to check the lines
 you get in the bow and lean your head over the prow
 you can see your shadow
 some people like to look straight out the window of a car
 I look down at the water in a boat
 sometimes the dog will get in the front first
 he stands up like a wolf
 the diving birds leave their feathers on the rivers like hard-ans
 I might say to him what you reading
 he say I'm reading bout these here border wars
 we'd be in the shade
 outside the liquor store hey Sylvester
 whose war is it this time
 mexicans shooting it out again he said
 which mexicans I said
 1570
 them ones way on down there got another border war he said
 any our business I said
 maybe it is and maybe it ain't he said
 got any more wars this week any on them ended yet I said
 got a whole slew of them got them all over he said
 who is a winning I said
 reckon the gorillas is he said
 must not be dropping any bombs 1 said
 yea they dropping lots of bumbs he said
 must not be on target I said
 them Hy boys is hitting the bull's eye he said
 then them bombs ought to be killing them guerrillas I said
 what you talking bout boy he said
 you ain't making no sense I said
 I told Sylvester to lay off that bottle
 I thought he must be getting you know what
 I told him he was crazy he looked the other way he went shoo with his hand
 I said look here I ain't cur no fart
 man I'm talking to you I said
 he give me one them shit eating grins like I know more than you do
 you don't know nothing he said
 I know you is full of shit I said
 a dream like a snake crawling off was ]e congnois vision et somme
 you might think I'm showing off with the french talk
 don't get me wrong it's like the riddle in the rebus
 it might turn up like snake eyes so don't come down on me for it OK
 who you talking to like that he said
 I'm talking to you I said
 goddamn here you go off to Memphis and go to school you still don't know
 I know plenty I said I know a bomb will blow the hell out of anything
 wrong he said wrong wrong wrong I got you now
 Sylvester I'm sick and tired of your crazy shit I said
 ain't no goddamn bumb gone kill no gorilla he said
 no point in even talking to you I said
 might learn something he said
 all I'll learn from you is how to tie knots and it's better to take them shots
 mens can drop them bumbs all day ain't gone do no good he said
 look Sylvester a fucking bomb will kill a fiicking soldier hear me
 won't do it he said
 will I said
 not no gorilla he said
 a customer drove up in a truck and Sylvester had to get up
 he opened the Wonder Bread screen door and said how you boss
 dry the white man said dry as that dirt on the road
 you need a drink then don't you boss
 I could see the man drawing water from the cooler inside
 Sylvester came back to the bench and got in the hammock and said that cocksucker
 one these days a white man going to hear you cuss him
 come head on muthafuckah he said
 you got that from Jimmy I said
 hell if I did I got that from a wetback and jimmy got it from me
 what else it say in that newspaper I said
 it say the gorillas has retreated to they stronghold afta enfiicting heavy losses
 yea they'll blow the shit out of them with them bombs though I said
 boy I'm gone tell you one last time now you listen to me
 ain't no aeroplane made that can drop no bumb gone kill no gorilla
 pigshit I said they might can duck out the way of some of them
 but them Atom bombs will kill everybody I know I seen it on a newsreel
 now you never did hear me say no bumb wouldn't kill everybody I said wouldn't no
 bumb kill no gorilla
 no it ain't I said
 yea it is he said ain't but one thing kill a gorilla and that's a white woman
 I don't know what the fuck you're talking bout I said
 I'm deep as a well he said
 you're deep alright about as deep as a pile of shit I said
 you ain't got no call to talk to me like that
 you don't even know what you are saying I said
 I'm saying won't no bumb kill a gorilla he said
 then you don't know nothing bout the Korean War or the Second World War
 what you talking bout he said I know they was fighting soldiers then
 they was fighting wave troops and fox holes wasn't fighting big gorillas
 and that's what they use in them border wars they don't waste no men
 another dream came to me ]e congnois tout fors que moy mesmes
 I know the chinamens was hard to kill but they bleed red like everybody
 everybody but a gorilla he said got to have a woman bring him down a white one
 you must have a brain like a dill pickle Sylvester I said
 here you is one of my best and favorite blood brothers and you is crazy
 nah its yo book learning done gone bad he said
 just tell me one thing I said where in hell tarnation do you get your notions
 motherwit the bible and the Memphis newspaper I know it all he said
 then you can't read right I said cause bombs is falling and bombs is killing
 they killing people but they ain't killing gorillas he said they stout
 ain't nothing that stout I said
 I got up off the bench and stomped on the ground
 along about that time I heard a dago cussing behind the fence
 I turned around and a wagon wheel came rolling down the road
 dust was going through the spokes
 Sylvester said yep there goes his wheel I see it
 he ought to put him another rubber tire on that side I said
 that way they'd be in time he said
 yea and they wouldn't be coming off all over this county scaring everybody I said
 ain't got much sense for a one legged man he said
 he's pretty stout though I said
 yea I Indian wrestled him before he said
 you get beat I said
 hell yea I got beat can't nobody beat that one legged dago he said
 excepting one of your imaginary guerrillas I said
 you right for once boy a gorilla could take him
 have you ever seen him churn buttermilk in his wooden leg I said
 nah but I seen him drink out of it he said
 I heard he puts sorghum in his good shoe so the dog will lick his toes
 why don't you go over there and see if he's got a ice cold cantaloupe he said
 you buying 1 said
 I'm buying he said but don't you bring back no chop sticks with my money
 damn chillun send them after fire crackers and lemons and they bring back them eating utensils
 I'll see if he's got a honey dew melon I said
 I heard him cussing the broke down wagon
 the pots and pans he peddles was jingling like chimes
 he must have been asleep while he was driving I said
 he don't see the wheel uh he said
 he don't see it I said
 them fish he's selling going to rot if he don't get them out the sun he said
 maybe he's got urn iced down I said
 if he do get me a chunk he said
 I'm going to ask him why his leg is so strong I said
 I heard he skates in the dance halls he said
 I heard that he was hell on wheels in them roller rinks he said
 builds him up I said
 I wonder if he can ride a bike I said
 go get me my mush melon he said
 I'll tell him where his wheel went maybe he'll give me a discount I said
 I'll clean my knife he said
 I'll be back in a minute I said
 go on then he said
 I'm going I said
 don't forget my ice he said
 the wooden wheel was asleep in the cotton in Tar's patch by the turn row
 ask him why he's got those license plates hung all over his wagon
 that's so he can sell in forty-eight states I said
 you mean he can peddle that junk in every state of the union
 that's right I said you know how them semi-trucks do
 see if he's gone cook any spaghetti up this week-end he said
 I walked over to the dago's wagon
 you got any mush melon for sale I said
 he was slapping the mule
 ofa course I gotta melons he said
 he had a old Co-cola cooler with ICE COLD painted on it
 I got up in the wagon to get it while he cussed his mule
 it was dark on account of the canvas was brown
 I reached down in the cooler I felt the ice
 and the slick backs of the catfish and the smooth soft shell turtles
 a fin stung me they were still alive
 I felt a melon and I heard something like a low moan
 I thought it was a cat
 but on the floor on a patch quilt was a girl dirty as sin
 she was waking up and she didn't have a blouse on
 I said excuse me mam
 she said whata you want
 I said a honey dew melon mam
 she wasn't too much older than me she got up she had those big earrings
 she didn't even try to cover herself up kind of like
 when you is riding in the car with colored people and some lady is nursing
 her baby but this woman she didn't have no baby
 she said one quarter barnbino
 I reached in my pocket I could feel myself I was glad it was dark
 then I remembered damn that Sylvester didn't give me no money
 she was standing with one arm akimbo I seen a roller skate hanging up
 I said mam a nigger sent me after a cantaloupe and I forgot to ask him for change
 and was going to do some more explaining but she
 giggled and shook all over I could smell her
 she tossed me the melon and said I know you but you don't know me uh
 I reached down in my other pocket I wasn't that way anymore cause I wasn't
 looking at her so much she was still laughing
 I didn't know what to swap
 I found that black patch and I give it to her
 she said whata I need this for thata man gotta one leg not one eye
 you never can tell I said your husband might can use it for shade
 she tried to tie the black patch on herself she said thata my poppa boy
 the man was still cussing his mule with a whip now I could hear him outside
 in the light I was sweating like her
 she was holding the black patch in place still trying to tie the knot
 it wouldn't stay on her head she had too much black hair
 hey bambino tie this on for me hey she said
 I went over behind her and made a bow
 I was breathing like I had been swimming
 I remembered Sylvester wanted some ice
 there was a picture of a clown spinning the moon on the end of his finger
 I told the girl where the wheel was I kissed her on the cheek
 I reached in the cooler and grabbed a chunk of ice
 I jumped out the wagon and ran all the way to the liquor store
 my hand was burning cause I had got dry ice
 when I had leaned over my belly touched her on the back
 she reached around with her hand and rubbed my side like I was a pony
 I didn't have no shirt on either
 it wasn't dirty I don't have to ask forgiveness no I don't
 maybe the spelling was bad on what it said in the picture I don't know
 she rubbed me like I rubbed the trees at night like a flank
 I set the melon on the bench
 cut it you son-of-a-bitch I said
 I looked out in the field I was breathing the dago was rolling his wheel
 I don't have to ask to be forgiven
 it was like the moon said I love you
 boy how come you left out of here without getting the change
 never mind I said just cut it
 he opened the knife up the sun was at his back
 free at last I thought ain't gonna be studying bout sin no more
 no more no more
 I sang
 I went down to the corner get a pack of cigarettes
 police drove up said boy you under arrest
 hey I like that Sylvester said
 he sang
 look at them handcuffs look at that bat
 whoa back boys I'm coming back
 slice it I said
 he got out of the hammock and cut the melon in half
 he scooped out the seeds from one half with his big black hand
 he chunked the handful in the dust
 I reached in the other half and got the insides
 I threw them up in the shade tree
 now he sliced it into quarters
 he cut the rinds off and threw them to the chickens
 the dog got his tongue hung up on the dry ice
 twofuhyouandtwofuhmehesaid
 man that cantaloupe was good
 we was eating and talking at the same time
 the melon was orange like a harvest moon
 the moon passed into its phases
 a cool breeze came up
 I knelt down beneath the shade tree I said thank you Lord
 I thought the black angel was standing beside me
 they teach you in school every boy has a guardian angel
 I went to a Catholic school a couple of terms and learned that
 by the water when I might drown at night he is there
 sometimes he solemn and holy
 sometimes he cuts up like Sylvester
 anyhow they bath is dead and I still know his second mind
 two rednecks walked out the liquor store and seen me and shook their heads
 they told Sylvester he should have put the seeds in the newspaper
 so the fiies wouldn't come down
 you know what I told those white men why don't you shut up
 I can get away with that cause daddy is a big shot
 he ain't one these fat lazy bastards he's skin and bones
 work to him is like blueberry pie
 he can't get enough
 I got to say I've been jumped a lot when I's by myself
 shit I can take it
 I got me a knife now that'll cut hairs so I ain't worrying
 come ahead on muthafuckus
 why don't you quit talking to yoself wit that melon in you mouf Sylvester said
 as the men backed out I give them the bird
 you little bastard one of them said I'll get you
 I threw a rock at the window
 they drove off
 damn you awnree boy what ailing you he said
 I want to kill somebody I said
 hush that talk boy
 I do member when I found out where them city slicking boy scouts had set up at
 oh didn't I fix them
 you almost fixed yoself blue jaying like that he said
 I had them thinking I was the son ofTamn
 that master thought you was a son-of-a-bitch
 bet those farts won't come around here no more I said
 this is what happened I seen them down there in those Sears Roebuck tents
 it was a joke
 I took all my clothes off I bit down on the knife
 I put some mud on for war paint
 I grabbed aholt of me a vine and boy did I let me out a yell when l swung
 I run through their camp like a drunk Chickasaw
 I danced through their campfires
 Tmahahmahahahahahahahahdmhmahahahmwdiahahahdmhahahahahahahahm uh uh I
 beat on my chest like a ape
 I howled like a wolf
 I bucked like a pony
 I slashed through the tents I cut a few of them in their sleep
 I stole a side of bacon
 and give it to the poor
 they had this troop fiag tied on a branch sitting up there like a what-not
 I ripped that shit down and spit on it
 I took on a couple of them
 kicked them in the balls
 I beat my chest like a monkey again
 watch it boy you slobbering all over my paper he said
 now I'll miss my story
 fuck your guerrilla story ain't nothing but a lie
 now that Sylvester the Black Angel is dead I wished I hadn't said those low
 down things to his face like that
 lot of things I done I'd like to take back when I put that snake in that man's
 slop jar for instance
 and when that old man fucked my side-burns up 1 left out of there and went down
 to the Hardware Store and stole a hammer and come back and busted his gum
 machine how was I to know they hired a handicap to cut hair
 he's liable to cut my fiicking throat bless the cripples take it back
 when I shattered all them mirrors in the picture show in Tennessee
 telling me I'm not old enough I got the sin of murder eating my soul I ain't old
 enough listen at that he should have got a job working with the highway department
 take it back when I kicked this feller in the stomach and he had a sack
 of blood and piss strapped to his waist lord I take it back
 don't worry son the devil going to take it back
 and I don't mean that devil or a devil but the devil
 I'm ready I said
 if you don't watch out when the voice says all aboard he gone take yo ticket
 let him take it I said
 my my ain't you contrary this afternoon
 you better shut up you been fucking me up all day
 just trying to knock a little sense in yo hade
 give me that newspaper
 ain't nuthing in it but border wars
 look I said I've had it up to here
 well lots of people don't believe Sylvester he said I'm used to it
 ain't we buddies I said
 sho we are he said
 well then if you could prove to me once just once you are right I'd know
 from now on that someway you was right about everything
 I got to prove it uh
 yea just prove one thing you said today
 that's gone be a might hard with you since you is a pen pusher and a boolt reader
 forget that I said just prove something forget the words say it anyway prove it
 let's see he said I can't even prove the sun's gone go down this evening
 but I know it will
 just pretend I never asked you to prove nothing just talk like you was doing
 no he said
 if you ain't going to say nothing how you going to prove something I said
 he just shut his eyes and relaxed in the shade
 that's a fine howdy do I said
 back down when the going gets rough don't you
 I'm smooth and easy man he said you the one in commotion I ain't got to prove
 nothing I already know
 you don't know nothing though I said
 well now I might not have a etchication in the sense of the word but by the water
 of jerdon I know a hell of a lot mo than you
 no you don't
 yes I do
 prove it then I said
 done he said Chile and I don't won't no sass you hear you coming with me this
 Saturday night to the pitcha show
 why I said
 so I can prove something prove it to you I mean something I been talking bout
 who going to be there
 never you mind you just wait and see
 what picture show I said
 the one over in the next county
 outside inside or in a tent I said
 tent he said
 what you think you can prove I said
 don't think I can prove nuthing I know I can
 what I said
 I'm gone prove bout them gorillas and bumbs
 oh you are huh
 yea I is and I'm gone make sho you see it again
 see what again
 the pitchu the pitchu boy you done seen it once already I know 1's sitting
 next to you see how short yo memory is
 what I'm gone see in the picture this time I didn't see the first time
 you gone see the truth and that I'm right
 when are you going to prove it
 when the lights go out
 what are we going to see anyway I said
 Kang Kong he said
 goddamm Sylvester
 got you now he said you wrong
 you're crazy I said
 can't take it when you wrong can you he said
 Sylvester I don't even want to talk to you anymore today
 because we talking bout two different things
 how's that didn't you see the pitcha
 yea I saw it but you're talking about an animal and I'm talking about a man
 see a gorilla is spelled different than a guerrilla
 hold on now you ain't slipping passed me like that
 it's the truth though
 yea but it's some of that slinking up on me book learning he said
 Sylvester guerrilla is a french word meaning a man who fights
 hold it he said boy you been messing round with too many of those Creoles
 I know cause I'm Creole myself and I know I never taught you such a thing
 I take that back I said it's a mexican word meaning a man who
 hell then he said I'm right didn't I say down there in them mexican border war
 Sylvester it's spelled different and it means difierent
 shit I don't care if you spell it in chinese it still means the same he says
 words can sound the same but they don't mean the same especially when you go
 into other countries
 admit it he said admit you wrong giving me all this bullshit hell you just said
 it was french now you say it's mexican
 it still means the same I said
 then I'm right he said can't no bumb kill a gorilla nowhere
 no I said a gorilla is an animal that comes from one certain place
 and a guerrilla is a man that can be anywhere
 don't tell me where they are and where they come from I know
 boy just look in this paper they got them hired out all over the world fighting
 Sylvester have you ever seen a gorilla
 sho I has twice he said
 where I said
 seen one in the Chicago 200 and seen one in the Jackson 200
 then you know they are animals
 I know they is about the meanest things in God's world
 one of them bout tore this white man's arm off when he stuck it in there with the
 peanuts I know me a monkey man too and he's mean as sin
 his brother was a monkey too and you know who I'm talking bout
 who I said
 the man it took that posse all week to catch
 you mean Deck Monroe I said
 that's him he said
 why he was colored
 sho he's colored but he was an ugly monkey man and mean too
 what's that got to do with it
 you know how many shots it took to bring him down
 hell he was full of bullets when he escaped it was the warden's daughter that
 tried to talk him into surrendering then they ambushed him it wasn't her fault
 see what I say he said
 monkey man is an expression of speech Sylvester it don't mean nothing
 it mean something cause I know this here Creole couldn't take that much buckshot
 besides they wouldn't never have got him if it wasn't for her and him been
 hoeing her garden all spring I know
 look I said Deek Monroe was a human being
 King Kong was an ape and was made up in a picture anyway
 you the one he said to talk about making up things
 finally I said a guerrilla is a man who fights in the jungle
 and a gorilla is an ape
 plus just in case you'd like to know a monkey and a ape are different
 well then you little smart m tell me what Tanan is
 why he's the Ape Man but
 see boy all that talk ain't getting you nowhere why don't you mid it I'm
 right and you is wrong anybody knows Tarzan lives wit monkeys what you mean
 they all the same thing here you his cussing me and not more than a half hour
 ago telling me how you acted like the Ape man in that scout camp and don't you
 go telling me Tartan was white so that make him different no suh it's all the same
 I didn't say nothing bout what color they were they can be chinese
 but a bomb will kill them
 won't do it he said
 will to I said
 you better learn something when you go back to school this fall he said
 Sylvester I give up
 you better cause it'll be a cold day in July fore Sylvester get drawed offsides
 I ain't going to say nothing else cause it don't mean nothing anyway
 be a bad sport he said
 not less than an hour ago I was forgiven and now I'm miserable
 that fast talk give you the blues he said
 I feel like I got a no count haircut
 know what you mean he said
 I guess you is right Sylvester the world is a piano and we ain't got a finger on
 those chickenwire words ain't gone hold this hound in he said
 I feel like a spotlighted deer and the world is a pickup full of teethless hunters
 got a nice ring to it he said
 let's see he said this here world is a relief ditch of shit where you don't know
 whether to sink or swim
 that's a old one I said
 yea but it still works
 just like that old time religion huh
 kind of like he said
 Moses swum the creek didn't he I said
 Moses hit the water with a two-by-lbur alright
 but he was standing on the bank when he done it
 he was smart he didn't get his feets wet
 I feel like a riderless horse Sylvester
 that's OK wait till you feel like a mule
 I feel like David sitting in the middle of the desert with his harp
 and a wind storm blows a phaeton with a dead gypsy by me
 some dream he says
 who is that Sylvester
 why that's my cousin McGillicutty
 what's he doing with them boards
 he's mending the fence son
 why's he doing that
 cause 1 got him the job
 what's he doing with the bootlegger's lumber
 he'll never miss it
 what's he making
 that's his trade he has to make them
 McGillicutty you say why he's the undertaker
 like I say somebody got to
 I don't care what he is you tell him to quit harnmeting on that coffin
 Jesus was a carpenter
 he wasn't no undertaker and he didn't build no caskets though
 I say McGillicutty he said you spooking this boy
 how bout fixing me that swinging board so I can get my whiskey
 will do brother
 McGillicutty limped over to where we were he said I through anyway
 who passed Sylvester said
 boy child drowned in the barr pit
 what your first name I said
 Mulciber he said
 what happened to your leg
 mule fell on it
 don't you know no better than to be nailing coffins when it's dark
 I like to work at night
 take your work someplace else then
 yassuh
 you ain't got to leave you can stay with us but the casket give me heebie jeebies
 I see
 Sylvester said cousin you got the dimensions right
 well now I don't know
 I knew the two negroes was jiving me
 look here at this boy reckon he's bout the right size.
 Sadday night if he ain't
 they got ahold of my arms and legs like I was dead man
 leave me lone I said
 but they dropped me in the coffin
 it was shored up on two saw horses like a boat
 the shavings of wood inside were like a nest of dead wasps
 it felt so good real tight like new clothes that fit
 like a muscle man T-shirt
 I heard thousands of ridetless horses
 I could almost see them
 the coffin was like a boat in the pocket of the watery harbor of sleep
 I saw what was left of the light and their fingers crawl
 from under the lid of the boat
 the lame negro had bored out two holes for the plaque
 and I looked out into the night from my portals
 and I heard the harbor master death call lad overboard
 dead wings crisp as the biscuits in the pockets of a man on the run
 I dreamed l was wading in deep water
 I kept reaching down in the mud
 until I found something heavy
 it was the black tennis shoe of the drowned child
 the moonlight was coming through both portals
 I had to shut my eyes
 Mulciber was walking around the casket singing she was a gypsy woman
 and Sylvester was beating the lid like it was a congo drum
 I breathed in like I do when I want to show off my muscles
 water came out of the eyes of the tennis shoe
 I was waking up I was going down the dock was aground
 in the waterless harbor I couldn't breathe
 but little did the infant dream that all the treasures of the world were by
 I thought
 an angel passed his hand through the wood and gave me a book
 I was lowered into a cottonfield with ropes
 that were burning my hands
 an empty book is like an infant's soul
 my bed was harboring me
 I will open my mouth in parables I will utter
 things that have been kept secret from the
 foundation of the world I was stabbed in the back in a London ravern
 death I won't take this lying down I said to myself
 I dreamed I danced in a way that left me out of breath
 and I went back to sleep again
 I woke again
 sliding down a sort of inclination
 it was only a deck and death was close at my heels
 I went down into the chambers of the deep
 and all I found was a gathering of people
 a bowl of cherries was sitting on the coffee table
 I went over to get one and my hand was slapped
 I was called insolent sullty mad by all but a daughter of one of them
 she called me dream horse
 I was only a pony I trotted around like I was wounded
 to keep the others from jumping on my backs with their stolen knives
 I called out to her don't look for me in a building
 I am in the bed in the forest where the cello is heard
 I weaved back and forth like a hawk with severed wings
 I made my own trail a cloak of mauve
 I staggered like a stabbed man with an empty bottle in his hand at his breast
 there were enough bloody feathers for a thousand poets
 to sign their names to make their ingenious inscriptions to carve
 their epitaphs in my soil
 enough knives enough wet clay
 black dirt under the assassin's boots
 hauled into the cemeteries for good looks
 the unweaned are still kicking their feet
 still being born
 across the fiinerals of water in chains
 those that have committed no crimes
 are interred by men who when they open their mouth women speak
 I warn you
 messengers bring me no messages
 teachers do not raise your voices like a fiag I will raise my hand
 like a fox looking up on a hill in the afternoon
 I will smell you out
 in the dead water where my tongue is held captive
 if it is to be silent it will be silent in my mouth
 where darkness and the scent of roses come out like smoke
 I smoke alone in the woods to be smoking so I can say
 I have smoked
 even after the maggots have entered the quick
 I all out madam
 shall I undress you for a fight the wars are naked that you wage tonight
 in a bed as broad as a battlefield
 as a sword I mock the fallen with
 and the angel says what is dead is dead
 I dream what I dream
 until the nigger lets me out of the coffin
 I yawn at the wharf I see words on borrowed crutches and vacant wheelchairs
 and I know it will be four years at least before I shave
 the lame one puts a broom straw through the hole and says doodle bug doodle bug
 anybody home
 like a man sitting for his portrait and the artist never shows up I wait
 in the new wood until I am awake
 Sylvester you let me out of here you black assed nigger
 he mad as a rarnrodding buck ain't he cousin
 reckon we ought to let him out
 cantankerous bastud ain't he
 I tried to pry the lid off with my feet
 you bettuh hesh up talking nigger he said
 let me out I said
 you gone hep me cut the weeds down maw moaning
 yea I do anything just let me out
 open up McGillicutty
 goddamnit don't it get dark quick seems like the day won't ever tarry
 black night is falling Mulciber said
 then I seen something I won't never forget not ever
 this here lame handy man got down on his hands and knees looking all over
 the ground he was saying come here cootie
 he had a pair of pinching eyeglasses on called pince-nez
 what's that fool looking for I whispered to Sylvester
 you'll see he said
 whatever he had he filled a Prince Albert can up with them
 he turned the tin up to his mouth like he was eating cracker jacks
 give me some of them I said
 I figured they was peanuts cause they sell nabs and stuff in the store
 he'd rattle them in the can and shake them in his hand like dice
 he'd turn them up like pills of medicine
 penny-pincher I said give me some them M and M's
 104
 4170
 I'llfi
 M"
 he poured a few out in my palm
 you know what they was they was rollie pollie bugs
 he said melt in yo mouf not in yo hand
 I threw them in the coffin and they bounced out
 why he's crazy Sylvester
 a black cat jumped up on the fence
 Mulciber got this look in his eye
 uh uh he said as he opened up his jackknife
 there was the noon
 he lit out after that eat
 there he goes you won't see him again tonight Sylvester said
 good riddens I said
 he'll be back to get his casket at dawn
 I ain't going to be here
 yea you is you gone hep wit the weeds
 I will if you take it back about those border wars
 what you thank the truth is boy a playing card I ain't no Indian Giver
 that's right you ain't nothing but a nigger
 boy there's a time and a place for everything and I can see right now I'm gone
 have to teach you a lesson
 I don't have to do wat you say you ain't my boss
 cording yo daddy I is and I can lift my hand when I damned well plea:
 you better not hit me I said
 you bettuh shut yo mouf then
 I can say whatever I please
 pot calling the kettle black he said
 well this here pot is white then
 I thought you was a slop jar he said got you didn't I ha ha
 fuck you I said
 well the way they got dis Mississippi law I could tell you a few things
 but you'll find them out later
 find out what I said
 bout this who's a nigger and who ain't bizness
 m white as the moon I said
 yea well the moon ain't all the time white
 why don't you talk about something you know about like gorillas I said
 would you believe Sputnik Monroe got whupped by a gorilla
 sure I would and a guerrilla could probably kill him since they know them kicks
 so I'm right he said
 in a sense you is but in a sense you ain't
 you sound like that chinaman he said
 I figure it this way I won the battle but lost the war I said
 I sees it you got beat both times he said
 I've seen a trick mirror where two look like one I said
 I seen a man by hisself praying in a boat one time he said
 I seen a jew cut a hog's throat without hitting him in the head I said
 I seed a white horse break away from a funeral hearse he said
 I know a cowboy said he seen a ghost ship in the desert
 I seed a blind child dancing behind Mamma's house
 speaking of blind you member when I stole that white man's eye I said
 yea you carried it around in velvet ring box he said
 I pulled that out of my pocket at the state marble championships
 and them boys from Chattanooga packed up and left
 say it whupped a Chatoyant hey he said
 sho did
 what happened to it
 at the Nationals this slick talking cat from Cleveland pulled out a Steelie
 and broke the eye into a million pieces
 Cleveland Mississippi he asked
 no Ohio I says
 he whupped everbody
 shu he said listen
 it was only somebody yelling about a fish they'd caught
 we got in a fight over which bait the man used
 we done some cussing
 and he said he had to teach me a lesson on how he was twice as smart as me
 so I said have at no shit Sherlock
 he said what would you say ifI say I can steal a fifth of whiskey
 then take a couple of swigs out of it
 then give it to you
 then slap you up side the head until you is yelling bloody murder
 then when that man comes out
 throw the bottle up side his liquor store
 then get him to make you do my work in the mawning
 I'd say you was day dreaming
 this is what he did
 he went around back and stole a bottle of Wild Turkey
 he drunk part of it like he said
 then he give it to me
 then he commenced to giving me the worst licking I ever had
 call me nigger in front of my kin folks will you he said
 I yelled help
 the bootlegger run out and says hands 0H: that boy niger
 Sylvester grabbed the bottle and busted it upside the shack
 the man was red in the eyes he said you crazy bastard what you doing busting
 good sipping whiskey in the dust wasting it like that
 I was fixing to talk but Sylvester put his hand over my mouth
 he said boss I's got full permission and responsibility for this here child
 and I caught him stealing a bottle of yo foughteen dollah whiskey
 he had it halfway turned up too
 I give him a good licking and snatched it out his hands
 boss I hope I done what was right when I broke that bottle
 well tarnation the bootlegger said I owe you an apology Sylvester
 you done right I'm gone give you a bottle for catching him
 boss if it was me I'd make him work off that foughteen bucks
 I will I will I want you to see to it he cuts down all these weeds first thing
 tomorrow morning ya here
 yesuh boss I'll see he does a good job
 you might ought to give him another licking too
 I'll do that boss
 goodnight Sylvester you done a good job I been wondering who's a been stealing
 my whiskey I thought it was you wait till I tell that boy's daddy
 evening boss
 I bit down on Sylvester's hand like a mad dog
 I dreamed that there wasn't no such word as that
 that way everyone would say the instead
 I dreamed the delta was a whore ship without any name
 I dreamed fifteen big negroes got off the boat Vidalia Sandbar was the place
 I dreamed the catwalk was called the gangway
 I dreamed the oil drum sounded like a jackass
 I will always dream the black patch I tied in a bow
 I dreamed the gypsy daughter washing her feet
 when Sylvester went to sleep in the hammock
 I went to sleep in the coffin
 I pretended to be the drowned child
 I can't remember if it was the last time I saw Sylvester alive or not
 at dawn Mulciber was standing over the wooden box
 he gave me a bloody black cat's paw
 he said I got to have it now
 the boy is sleepy-eyed and waiting to go under
 like a page from Mamma Covoe's bible a boy was pointing in the temple
 I said Mammy it ain't polite to point in public
 she said child Jesus didn't study no manners
 the sun was too bright by then I won't ever know how he got the coffin
 out of the bootlegger's place
 maybe he hauled it off in a truck
 there wasn't a wagon
 maybe he finished the fence maybe he didn't
 I think he built the black angel's coffin but angels can't die
 who says they can't
 I do
 they got holy water in a Nehi bottle burns the devil's eyes out
 I went over to where Sylvester was sleeping
 I hauled off and socked him in the mouth
 there you go I said
 thar'll teach you to whup on me
 he felt his teeth to see if they was loose
 ready to cut weeds he said
 I went to get the sickle but the hands had took it to the field
 that undertaker left his ballpeen hammer I said
 I got the scythe instead
 the clouds were going over real fast like horses chasing one another on the ground
 like a cavalry with no cavalrymen
 the wind the wind picked up in Mississippi
 the moon was a garden where I picked roses at night
 where my fingers bled over the guitar
 it was a temple and the priest was a drunken wolf
 my clothes are holey and black as dusk
 I slumbered in a sepulchre where my hair flowed back
 the stone was my horse I rested on my arm
 I was the rider I dreamed
 like a drowsy bird sleep is death and it comes by water
 the blade is dull on that Sylvester said
 why don't you use something sharp
 this will do I said
 too many folks used it already he said I got just what you need
 what I said
 a machete he said
 call me orphan of silence
 call me dead drunk
 call me sleep rider
 can I call you a no count bastud the black angel said
 call me what you please
 if you get hired on to sod the levee that is how the story is told
 my lips are a bell my tongue is missing
 so I had to commit a crime
 I stole a hundred and fifty dollars
 I stole a mule I just borrowed it
 I rode over to the aeroplane poisoning service
 I asked if they had any Italian pilots
 they wanted to know why
 I said I wanted to write a message in the sky to a gypsy girl
 they told me to get lost
 I flashed the money and they jumped but they wasn't a dago to be seen
 maybe they could write some sympathy for the drowned one I thought
 wonder where they is holding the service
 I didn't feel like making no line up or quoting no song though
 I guess all I want you to do is say McGillicutty you Forgot your hammer I said
 so the man wrote that I guess he saw it
 I told them if they had any smoke left to write one-Ie'ed gypsy I love your girl
 where at they said I said over near the river somewhere
 I give them the bootle'er's money I didn't even look up to see if they did it
 I just left fuck it
 that's how life is you do somebody bad to do somebody good but you don't know
 what to do what to do oh gypsy girl I miss you
 I dream
 and in my dreams his drowned fingers play the submerged guitar
 like sea anemones in the glove of sorrow
 I with my sackful of dreams my heart never puts down I like the ghost of the
 dead horse casting a shadow l with my soul like a harbor I with my body
 like water I speaking in the fields me and my dreams like ships going nowhere
 like long lost cousins
 I am fast asleep in the depth of the sea and when a keel
 passes over me it is like a cool drink I the dock of empty
 stalls I am me some dummy and my dreams are a ventriloquist
 I sit on a mysterious knee that is always sleeping I thought
 this was my lot but low and behold one day
 I saw the shadow of an arm in the ventriloquist's back and so I knew
 that God fondles our guts he likes to make his finger stink
 with our suffering he likes to show out in front of the angels
 he likes to have his boots licked he likes for them to smell his finger
 like an oaf who talks all the time he leaves the maidens who
 aren't maidens anymore in the woods 1 can see his point some of
 the time but why does he have to have his ass kissed
 when all I have is my lavender robe and my dreams like a wino
 howling in the forest alone shooting a pistol and so my dreams
 outride the winds unwrapping the cold bosoms the young ones small but quivering
 listing in ceremonial lines my dream bullets richochet and if I wait forever one
 might hit me by chance so I got up From the ground where I had stared
 at the water I got the nerve from singing so long like 1 did when
 I told my teacher she didn't know her ass from a hole in the ground
 and I reached around and I broke the ventriloquist's arm I used kansetsu-wau
 I started talking back and it was like real orange juice like a breeze like
 diving into cool pools with no snakes I took a knife I out
 myself open the blood and the sawdust fell on the fioor
 it was like a circus arena like a butcher's shop I cut the ventriloquist's throat
 the same stuffing came out like mather's Thanksgiving dressing
 I heard God spoiled like meat like the child of a king I heard him rattling
 in a mudhole like breath in a sour building like some old man
 that shits in his pants and he was the crowd and I was the bullfighter
 and so instead of severing my car as the painter did I slit
 God's wrist nothing but black
 blood fiew up in my face our lips pumped like dogs riding each other like beating
 hearts the clowns the elephants the wrestlers of Greece the wives
 who were always slipping me letters on the side behind their husbands' backs
 and the chinaman chopping bologne all had blood on their shoes
 God has lost so much blood now he can't speak he had to go to giving
 hand signals like a deaf and dumb man
 all was silent as a winter pond silent and untrue like a featherless arrow
 like a shaft of sleeping wine beneath a tree the rotting teeth
 and the dreaming knife and my dreams still ricocheting so close
 and so far apart like journeys into space like the fast madness
 of butcherbirds like field mice and toads and grass snakes all of them
 with holes in their head have you seen that bird beating the minnow
 against the branch he's got him by the tail the eyes of the minnow like rubies
 tin lids with their duets under the creek in the moonlight
 like planetoids who never make it weep for the children with their bellies
 buzzing like a hornets' nest hill of snakeskins made by the sparrow
 the pieces of stars passing my ship
 so slowaI can reach out and touch them if I could
 I lay in slumber charged with death
 stuck like a sword in a battleground giving its aria
 like a dancer coming to life
 in the solar ditch I ask the sailor of space touch one
 finger with the other like a symphony the blessed legend in the void all over
 again 0 how we died
 centuries
 ago we slept friends I tell you I heard the oboes that belong to the wolf
 the opera two steps from the blues the light years boogie all the
 time I heard the blind tiger guitar so that is how it goes how my dreams
 those sad captains
 treat me the unkept rendezvous with the void which is black the pocketknives
 I lose in infinity those blades of grass that cut you in the dark
 when the insects are doing their hoeing when the granddaddies are singing
 in the blue mud the friends you meet in your dream journeys that
 are bound to come dreams like holy rood birds that tell on me
 in the morning that slip suicide notes under the door
 that tap on the window at night with the beak of the unknown
 this earth like a fiea on the back of some beast
 and who is it that leaves cross ties on the front porch who leaves his guts
 there on my doorstep when it is so cold I have to warm my
 feet in them and how they steam up and the red swear is seen by the
 horses on my brow they just come out like farts those dreams
 like the acolyte looking up dresses he has the good vantage point
 dreams like peeping toms that make the rise in your pants
 those dreams like devils that jump out from mysterious trees that jump
 out of the pan like a pair of bullfrog legs God you don't never have to empty
 the slop jar you always making your children and saints
 do it oh I tried knives and books and praying and friendship and
 picture shows and thinking and thinking and thinking that's like
 lines in the highway you never get to see anything else
 not even nobody peeing off a front porch not a soul getting knocked out
 just other cars and fiats and wrecks the highway of distorted
 visions I say I am leaving forever I don't travel that road
 friends there are people that never leave that road that come back to
 where they are going to where they have been and they tell us like T.V.
 highway that deceives those who go by it those travelers of headlines
 who never get to where they are going highway of deception
 the only thing worthwhile I ever saw while going down a highway
 was a school bus fiill of ghosts with photographs fiying out from the cracks
 in the windows and we both know I didn't see that
 on a highway I saw that in front of Bayhalia's Place a place you have never
 been to not because you have never heard of Miss Bayhalia
 not that she is known to you no how but because the place she comes from is
 unknown my home part of the years in the weeds in the mud in the shacks
 in the tents in the roads that don't see but a half dozen automobiles
 all year long and them is so bad they is always broke down and what ain't
 is stuck like knives cause the roads they is no count in the fields in the turn
 rows in the ghost mansions with the furnitures of apparitions
 in the Peabody Horel in the Cotton Exchange 1 walk the same dog in Memphis
 of my dreams twenty years ago eight years before I was born I dream about
 what must have happened and I keep going back fiirther and further until
 I am no longer in Tennessee I am in Egypt now oh the city is a leash
 and sometimes a whip I must have been on the chain gang working the pyramids
 cotton's got to be easier than that woowee huh huh brother
 so I know I'd rather be hypnotized by the waves not the sands not the lines
 of the highway I'd rather be a sinking boat than a 61 Chevy I'd rather be a lost
 board instead of a house I'd rather be a gypsy with no tongue but with a ring
 in my ear than a man in a building with a ring in his nose I'd rather pick cotton
 than deliver papers fuck that fiick urn both for that matter I'd rather catch fish
 than shine shoes huh huh you heard me there is enough to go around to do all
 that God if I could put you out of your misery maybe my dreams
 like a mother who has lost her cubs would shut up maybe my friend would wake up
 maybe she would find me and keep me
 warm in her fur all night oh what the hell nothing like that is ever going
 to happen me and my buddy are like lost pilgrims of sorrow and my dreams are
 blazing a trail in black water
 and if you try to follow our wake
 you'll find yourself lost in the unknown country of the water
 the country of the infants tired of carrying out the plans of the strategians
 of war we will write the play the country of the infants of the forest
 in the beautiful river where the hawk gave me one of his eyes
 where the panther gave me his neck where the bloodhound who has nothing to do
 and the fox gave me their noses where the negro gave me
 his lips and his butt where the white man gave me his skin
 and the pony gave me his dick and the baby sitter gave me a hard on
 and the teacher gave me F's and a hard way to go
 where the mother wolf gave good milk from her red teat when I was born
 the black daddy wolf gave me his hair and his teeth and the buck
 gave me his ears and the owl and the chinaman who only use their tongue
 twice a day they gave it as one I wouldn't take it as split like a man's
 the bear thank you for his hands and Jesus gave me his blood
 that was still warm and tasted like strawberries so wild when I drank it
 out of a tin cup dipper fashioned after the stars
 and I want to know did I ever at dawn shoot a buck l have to know
 and the old villages are so lonely the old white women on welfare
 and the old negro women on welfare living together and see how they go
 to market together and they cash their checks together and the white woman
 hiding the return address so no one will see it's from the government up
 in Washington and the black woman she don't care about the envelope
 the one still thinking the other a weed and herself the fiower
 I want spring to come I want to smell it like blueberries
 I want people of twenty seven languages walking back and forth saying to one
 another hello brother how's the fishing
 and when they reach their destination I don't want them to forget if it was bad
 spring wasn't here yet it hadn't come if it ever was it was still cold
 if I had been Gulliver I would have took the barren fields
 to be giants' graves and the tombstones were the mist that
 went on and on forever through the trees
 if a man were to drive that road even the bad highways nor once
 would crop duster poison hit his windshield if he had one smelling of
 cheap perfume the kind you can buy for a quarter in any dry goods store
 some of it not even costing two bits not even that but seven cents
 he wouldn't hear the high voices like rainwater hitting
 the tin roofs advertising light bread in the spring if it was spring
 no he would only see the raised axes out of time the wood cutting of cold men
 with their breath like swamp smoke
 on an early twilight like this in a late delta winter there wouldn't be a thing
 blooming not a dog or a rose not an idiot not even a hound I say
 standing on an Indian mound lonesome and howling at the cold tin
 selling everything you can imagine that was put up so long ago
 you can't even read some of the signs the ones on the sides of the houses
 and on the fence posts however long ago it was the ones that got the two dollars
 for putting it up on their place now they ain't even living there and ever how
 long ago it was don't ask me I wasn't around back then by now the sign is like
 a part of the wood that built the house but if you was to take it away
 there'd be a big bright circle or a square or a rectangle or maybe even
 a hole and it just wouldn't look right but the money is long gone anyway
 that dog seeing all this who can still feel the frost of this morning's dew
 in his toes and in between his ribs poking out like plowed rows thinking
 when oh when thinking like a farmer with his foot resting up on the third step
 is that spring going to come nor could you see the stray cotton of autumn
 strewn along the sides of the roads like love letters to a whore
 not no man not even a yankee could feel the warmth of a wood fire
 nor would he shake the hand of a negro who caught the winter
 fish and the fish so cold you couldn't even hold on to it for more than a few
 seconds just like a block of hundred pound ice for the water barrel
 but colder than that since it ain't summer yet by golly you can get
 lonesome when it's cold when you look way off and the only light
 you see is in a house of folks for some reason you not allowed to mix with
 it is something strange where you are cause you don't know how you got there
 and now all the time you are wishing you was in camp you wish you
 was holding a carbide lamp so a friend could get the bull
 but it is not so now no now you are alone and dropped off with folks
 you don't know people you ain't never seen before in your whole life
 for some reason your own folks they gone maybe they went to New Orleans
 the Job and the camp they is shut down so why ain't l in Memphis then
 beat every thing I ever saw for some reason I'm staying with people I never seen
 I don't even think the folks have seen I wonder if I been kidnapped this is the
 way it happens I don't know who these people is but I am with them
 a old woman and a old man both of them ain't said over ten words since I got here
 maybe while I was taking a nap my real folks got killed and so now time has
 passed and this here is who I'm with now kind of like a drifter but I know
 the relatives they'd take me in they wouldn't let strangers get me maybe
 these here folks is who I been with all along say I just went out of a evening
 to slop the hogs and lay my head down to rest and I dreamed ever thing else
 just think about that it gets to a point where a fellow he don't know his
 left hand from his right he don't know if he's dreaming this or if he's this a
 dreaming that I'll be damned that was the way it was the way it is with these
 or them folks call them what you like it don't make no matter
 just look at them looking at that T.V. ain't said nothing since supper
 except you'll not be seeing no niggers while you be under this roof
 now have you ever heard anybody talk like that sounds like one of them
 hillbilly preachers and just look over there at that chocolate cake
 here I am a guest and do you think the woman has said a damned thing
 about that cake hell no ain't even offered me a piece and I'm company
 I think something is a little off here them old fogies can't see nothing
 on the screen they ain't even getting good reception the aerial is bent
 over from the storm I wonder what the law would do if I killed them
 borh seeing how it is that I never seen them before and how they could
 of got hold of me by some means not called fair and square I swear to
 you fi-iends I never set eyes on this place before in my life and yet
 I am here in their custody in this house with people I don't know from Adam
 at least she could ask me if I'd like a slice of that cake I'm tired
 of these white folks I don't see nothing on that TV. I want to know
 where my real folks is I want to leave what they looking at some kind of
 show you can't even see I ain't got a damned thing to do with them
 but I want that cake the man says maw fetch me a slice she says sure paw
 he says I'm going to put that boy to work by sun up how much did you get
 him for maw says I give twenty-two dollars and a saddle for him maw he says
 have you cut him yet paw we don't want him running round with the fillies
 he looks to be about ripe for a solid cock why don't you go see maw
 that's what they was saying them talking about cutting me when I was
 thinking about cutting that cake maw comes over to me she picks up a knife
 I say ma'am I sure would like a slice of your cake but she ain't studying
 no cake cutting I say you going to cut the cake with that kitchen knife
 she puts her hand down on my pants leg she says come on out to the barn boy
 she gets me by the ear and drags me on out there where she has all her
 vegetables put up I say my them is fine looking preserves you got there
 she says off with them pants and it is at this point that in my dream I
 stab a chocolate cake I dreamed I shit in my pants but that is only
 because I really had a slice of devil's food in my back pocket in the dream
 there was blood on the icing I heard the old preacher telling his wife
 how they could boil them in bacon grease and have another snack
 I'm gone
 I looked way off into the night
 I saw this light
 I saw it come and go in the same place
 I figured it was a firefiy but it was the wrong time of year
 if it ain't a lightning bug what is it
 I walk on down the road a piece I pull down the fiaps of my cap over my ears
 along come a stray mule
 for some reason I recollect some tune
 a tune like the chain gang sings in the winter a slow blues
 1 mean real slow and cold like two rivers running in to each other
 so I hop on the mule
 this place is not in no neck of the woods I ever been in
 none of the plantations around look like I know
 I don't see a bridge or a cut I walked over berne
 I'm just letting the mule take me anywhere it takes a notion to
 I don't care now I'm just a poor way'faring stranger
 you know what I mean
 if I was older I might get drunk but I can't hold it yet the wine gets to me
 my long lost brother might like it if I was to drink some
 well I'm riding the mule to nowhere
 then after awhile it is a pony and then it is a horse
 don't ask me how it happened though
 I see the light is getting closer
 but it is so dark now I don't know what it is
 it is like shooting stars coming from the same place
 and going to the same place it beats me
 the horse he balks
 get up here boy he won't go
 no further and even though I know I am alive I bite myself to believe it
 my hand hurts like a mad dog bit it I like it like that
 I get off the horse cause I see two white men
 I go up to them I says I wonder if you all could tell me what that light
 is and where it's coming from they don't see nothing
 but I see two childrens I take to be the mens' sons I ask them
 and what do you know one of them is a girl my age
 I walk over and I see she is
 dressed in a white nightgown she has a ribbon in her hair which
 is braided and black and from the start I am fond of her
 the other kid is fat and has red hair he sounds like some
 sapsucker from Texas he is a lot taller than the girl it is
 like the difference between a little piece of smooth wood and a roll of wax paper
 I ask them what y'all doing the boy says we're fighting a duel
 did you catch that i everybody from Texas says i lie pie listen to them talk
 they say rice dice lice oink oink
 the girl says in the shy voice of one of my Mississippi cousins
 I will lose
 I know I will I want to cross the line but they
 won't let me anyone who wishes to cross the line will be shot
 all girls fourteen and under must die in a duel
 her voice I remember like scarlet like a grove of honeysuckle
 like a cantaloupe someone brings you in bed
 on a Sunday morning
 she said some of the other children have made it they are known as
 the infants of the wood
 she says this in french but I don't know how to spell it
 when I see her mouth I want to walk away and cut long gashes in my chest
 this is the way I am when I hear the music
 I said this ain't fair give me that gun
 I'll shoot that cracker right between the eyes and you can just sit yourself
 down and wait for me then we'll cross it together
 she is standing there in the wind and the cantatas of moonlight
 holding the ancient pistol
 once more I request the dueling arm
 hold on the girl's daddy says I arranged this due] and no one
 is going to stop it I intended to be my daughter's second but if
 you wish you may however I give fair warning you will not interfere with this
 duel young man you got that
 three birds fiew by they seemed to be saying Musset Musset
 then Strindberg the first of August then a raven like a fat monk said Hoffman
 creatures that I've always heard in the dark all my life
 suddenly were like rustlings of the devil
 the father reminded me to take up my place
 the other old man said through his nose now that's right I got a bet down on
 my old boy
 how many times like crimes committed in Holiday Inns have I heard that phrase
 the so-called good old boys that come in the middle of the night
 with blood on their hands the fraternities burning up churches at ten pm.
 I said look here but before I could do anything the girl
 with black hair and the fat boy who talked through his nose like his daddy
 both were stepping off back to back against one another and the fathers were counting
 I made a move towards the girl with black hair at least I could
 take the shot in my heart instead of hers
 but the men threw a blanket over me
 I was yelling this isn't fair stop this at once
 that didn't do any good so I said y'all better quit it or I'm going for my knife
 at this very instant I heard a negro's voice
 a call sweet as a chilled muskmelon like whoever the black man was he knew
 the sound and the eyes of the girl with black hair
 once in the life of every youth he must yell these words Help Me
 more often than not no one answers
 but fate often delivers an undoomed earl and fate has seen to it
 since in my dreams at least my spirit be gallant
 that I should receive the sorrowfirl countenance
 of Beowulf with his visionary sword
 of Roland with his sad horses of solitude
 of Cid with the scorpion tattooed on the back of his hand
 aye mates I've been lucky the guitar and the rose a whole host of others
 with their sidearms
 and the ships doing battle on the bottom they come up
 they all come to my call
 they owe me one I have consoled these warriors when they weren't warriors atall
 when they wanted to tuck tail and run
 I've seen their chain mail rattling just like their teeth
 I've seen them send the young ones in to do it for them
 I've helped them off with their cages in my dreams they do combat
 so loud what with them all drunk and calling each other liar
 the beer and wine rusting the hauberks awful bad I just have to tear offi.
 the corners of somebody's flag and stuff them in my cars
 so I can sleep in peace
 now I hear the armor creak like the lid of a cofi'in
 I hear those damned mail coats dinking like coins dropped into a chest
 oh the knees that can't genuflect anymore
 oh these forecastles hill of booty look there at the rings some still
 on the warm fingers is this why I love you heroes no
 I love you all dead and buried ri'ed out in your battle gear
 my friend William has done your portraits he has told all of you to stay where
 you are don't rock the cradle why can't the lovers ride off
 I must take OK this coat of dreams and lay it over the altar
 will you click your heels if I do will you cut my throat will you
 I'd like to know I want to kiss the bullet in the dark
 if anyone reads this they will say what a fool what a sissy
 but I admit the night
 I missed the dancers' performance I felt the draft of the javelin
 as it passed through my side I felt like the wolfling the mother wolf won't
 touch because a human has already touched it
 they have just picked me up by the fur of my neck to be doing it
 and they have left their smell all over me
 like a blind sextant taking his readings I am diging the graves for my dreams
 it says in the black book I am who I am
 I want to know if death is the master of this household
 who did he take over for where did he get the whip for a fact
 when death has once entered into a house
 he invariably almost returns immediately
 as if he knew the way death knows the way to my closet
 he knows the way to my bedroom he knows how to get in my shoes
 death knows how to tie knots in my fishing line
 he unbuttons my shirts
 he whets my knife death
 like a rudder to the slaveship moon
 with its sombre sarabandes like little footprints like tombs put to music
 songs that cannot be sung
 listen how it tangles my tongue
 and see here the spectators of death
 his messengers are sliding down the spiral staircases backwards
 they are stalking me in my abode my bed in the field by the river
 and now I see the barrel of the dueling pistol
 resting on my beloved's shoulder the left handed girl with black hair
 and her finger to the trigger
 cocked over her heart I see the I
 who will look down the same chamber one day
 the voice in the wind that parts your hair for the dance
 it was the Black Angel
 he said Francis you must leave you live in an occupied land
 you must be the banished youth throwing his discuses into the sea
 the girl child will be murdered there is nothing you can do
 carry her body across the line don't look back come with me
 I said Sylvester shut up talking like that and help me goddamnit
 who told you to talk like that where'd you pick that up help me
 there was one shot that cracked like a small bone
 I took the blanket off my head she was still falling down
 she hadn't even turned around her lips were counting seven
 that red headed coward had shot her in the neck
 the girl's father was shaking hands with the sapsucker
 the other father was proud he was slapping his son on the back like he'd
 run a punt back for a touchdown
 I said I didn't second this act
 I wanted to break her fall but
 the girl with black hair was lying in a ditch
 blood came out of her mouth like a lullaby
 I went over to her I unbound her hair
 I looked at her a girl about my own age at last
 when she fell back she hit her head on something and her robe came open
 and she had nothing on underneath
 it wasn't the first time I'd seen a girl my own age undressed
 there was no hair at all between her thighs
 and her little breasts were like the heads of two dead squirrels
 you touch in the forest and they are still warm
 I heard the wolf hounds coming down the road
 I bent over and kissed her the blood was
 on my lips I wasn't ashamed at the feeling inside my pants
 since she was very beautiful her wound opened up and the blood
 seeped over her gown and into the black hair I felt like I make myself
 feel but this was a lot better the pool of blood and the ribbon
 and I kissed her soft eyes that tickled my lips with her eyelashes
 and drops of creek water came to my eyes and I looked up and I saw
 the moon spread over her naked body that was dead but not cold
 like a sail and I said I am the captain and I lifted her up in my arms
 her hair trailing the ground I looked at that line
 it don't look to be much more than a ditch I thought anybody can
 cross it was that fish frying on the other side it sure did smell like it
 I lifted my leg up and set it down on the other folks' land
 and when my foot touched the ground I tell you it was like an electric shock
 when you pull on the light cord and you got wet feet
 it hurt it hurt awful bad the worst I ever been hurt
 and the blood was fiowing from her wound like her black hair
 like the moon and all the young doe fawns died in my heart
 and I looked back and I saw the two fathers and the fat boy with red hair
 and I spit crosst the road on their side and me who ain't even got all the way
 crosst myself and I saw my spit was taken in by the cold dust the undertaker
 and I knew I would have a night with the dead child and I
 would bury her the same night
 who is that cooking fish this time a year I tried to lift my foot
 from their side to free it they laughed
 it was like a dream where I was straddling a huge razor blade
 that little crack in the ground that looked to be no more than a rut
 but when I set my foot down I could see the crevice
 you know how it gets late in the summer if they are having a drought
 that cracks up the ground like a jig-saw puzzle
 you've heard about the little canyons no bigger than that but big enough
 to swallow up pigs and cows and a neighbor's child
 that's how it was
 me with my legs spread out far as they could go
 like I was involved in a powerful mean game of Mexican stretch
 except I wasn't worrying about nobody sticking the knife in the ground
 I was worrying about me splitting up the middle
 I was holding the dead girl close to me like we was the only two things
 left in this here world like we was the only things that meant anything
 to each other in this land of backbiters and it didn't make me a tinking
 damn if she was dead at least we was friends
 I wasn't worrying about nothing but them three folks and those hounds
 I heard it never come across my mind to look to the other side
 and when I did I noticed the sister woman with the fan saying
 step on crosst child that's right you can make it
 lift that foot come on crosst all the time her wiping the juice from the corner
 of her lip and looking back over her shoulder cause I guess there was
 others in the dark her saying raise your leg
 and I crossed the line like a buck jumping a fence
 with the dead child with black hair in my arms
 and I dreamed about a wolf on a mountain lifting his hind leg
 peeing on a burning boat
 and the sis woman said follow me and I followed her
 the girl's hair flowing over the dust making a wake and the drops of blood
 and the footprints forming letters in the road it said this is the Black Angel
 speaking boy you better go on back cross that line and get one them dueling
 pistols I'll guarantee you going to need it later on
 I wanted to say what in tar nation is going on Sylvester but I was dreaming
 so I gave the girl to the negro woman and I went back over
 to the other side and I saw the horse with his head down near her pistol
 and I thought why that old stray is showing me where it is I wonder if she'll
 make a jump I got the pistol and just when I had the mare by the mane
 a fixing to throw my leg over her seeing how it was she didn't have no saddle
 I felt something travel down my back like a piece of hot ice I doubled
 over holding on to her crest I whispered get on up here let's see if you
 can take that fence she give away a little I looked back over my shoulder
 but I couldn't see nothing on account of the moon under hill sail
 kind of at an angle I seen a man chopping firewood I thought but he was
 using that chopping axe on a piano it was still playing
 ever once in a while it would wolf that red headed one that shot her
 he had both ends of a bow in his hands and the fool was trying to snap the wood
 his old man had a harelip I hadn't noticed that until now no wonder he
 couldn't talk right well he was in a truck and he kept backing it up over
 a fiddle I didn't see those old folks I stayed with I don't know where that place
 was but I know I ain't going back ifI can help it
 the redneck told his boy shoot him again son shoot that horse out from under him
 I reached around my back with my arm I started feeling around
 I looked down at the horse what did I see
 my blood on the withers why those bushwhacking peckerwoods
 sure enough my finger would go into a hole in my back
 I put my thumb in the hole too like it was a cherry pie to see how big a wound
 it was I wasn't studying about losing a lot of blood that night
 I was falling off the horse I keeled over
 the mare brung her neck around and licked the bullet hole she nudged
 me back on with her head here we go to jump that line
 the dogs snapping at her shanks we glided over
 I passed out from the time she jumped till we hit the other ground a second or so
 but it was long enough for me to dream I was in my bedroom in Memphis
 I was asleep and Jimmy and Elvis Presley walked in a little drunk
 Elvis shook me on the shoulder he said can I borrow a comb I ain't famous yet
 jimmy said we got in a fight over at Clarksdale
 he went over to my desk where I keep my secret papers he picked up an hourglass
 and turned it over they climbed out the window I heard a cat with loud pipes
 crank over yep that was Jimmy I got out of bed I run to the window
 the astronomer was charting the heavens and his daughter was naked she was
 looking through the telescope with them I had to talk right I said one of you
 mind telling Elvis he can keep that comb they didn't hear me
 I was going to climb back in a window but it was the wrong one
 it was my great grandmother's window she was staying with us she was born in
 1860 the year of the civil war now she was taking her pot on the slop jar
 but she couldn't get up why I didn't go help her I'll never know instead
 I found my lost baseball in the cotton hull fertilizer in the holly bushes
 so I took a walk I caught a bus when I give the driver my token it fell
 clean through his hand we rode around I don't have time to tell all that I
 saw but I tell you it was plenty and it'd make your hair stand up
 especially when we doubled back around I seen what the astronomer and his
 daughter was doing on my front lawn brother
 I was walking down in colored town my footsteps was like I was pulling
 a wagon behind me I turned around a negro with lightning bugs in his hair
 the one with no legs and arms who scoots along on the mechanic's board
 he asked me to pick him up another french harp the next time I was in
 but he didn't say where and that is when i woke up on the good side
 I fell off the horse a way off I saw that light
 I stood up by myself I took the girl from the woman I mounted the horse with
 the girl with black hair
 I forgot to tell you what I did with that baseball I broke that big mirror
 in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel the ducks are the shattered glass
 we rode off into the forest and when we got to a good spot I lay her down
 in the feathergrass
 and as I drew my breath like a knife the musk of spring fiew into my head
 and the girl touched me
 she said Francis I am dead from now on but I will live as long as the cloud
 stays in front of the moon and I looked up and saw the black ship
 like a great wolf after the neck of the moon
 and she took off my pants and my cap and my wool sweater and my boots
 and she stopped the bleeding with her hair and she said why do you always dress
 in black and I said on account of all the hand-me-downs in my closet
 are midnight blue for the winter and sweet milk white for the summer
 but I thought about the black cloud so I didn't want to speak
 and so the grass was a quilt patched by one night and though I couldn't see her
 I knew she was there and I loved her I was with the girl with black hair
 and when she lifted her legs it was as if
 she wanted to balance the moon on her toes to keep it from falling
 but I knew all along it was the black cloud that needed to stay in place
 and so in that country where I was once and now and will be before I was
 where I spoke the words holy holy holy Lord God Almighty all the earth
 is full of Thy glory where the whistling swans ride the backs of the white
 horses of the river where the boxcars and skiffs are full
 of drunken troubadours where once I did lay awhile longer the pavane
 of whippoonvills while the pallbearers are strutting in the ceremonies
 of my sleep the passing bell nodding like a snake charmer all fat
 past away deep behind the woods down the road where I saw that lightning bug
 in the country where my dreams are like bark
 peeled off by lightning I was with her the girl with black hair
 while the wolf had the moon by the throat
 I said I love you in the field of honor
 and she was like a colt
 and she was water I held in my hands
 and she was the canoe I worked through the river
 and she was the flash at two-thirty in the morning of the suicidal knife
 and she was a fire of pine cones who ran like a deer
 and she was a butterfiy that lit on the fioat of my pole
 and she was the night herself
 she was the cape I drew over my body .
 she was dead
 she was the girl around about my own age the girl with black
 the horse encircled the clearing and dug a grave with her hooves
 while she looked for a drink
 I buried her beneath that very same tree a sycamore I believe it was
 nigh on three hundred foot tall
 and every time I threw a handful of dirt in her face the horse
 reared up and pranced around the grave in a circle
 and as the water seeped back down into the earth she went with it
 I raised my hand and a Gerfaloon fiew to my fist
 he bore a worthy hatchment
 I let him go and he climbed and climbed as high as the tree then he
 dove towards the river grave bearing his gift
 that would be last I saw of my sweet falcon for some time to come good night
 follow her into the realms of dead children
 I only said goodbye
 I only let the horse circle the burial water once more with me his rider
 I looked up at the moon I raised my list to the heavens
 I vowed to slit the throat
 of every sapsucking straw boss from Vicksburg to Memphis
 now you talking a voice seemed to say
 I saw a shooting star that fell towards the western hori zone
 and I saw that light come and go
 it was hard for me to resist the temptation to dismount and dance
 a dirge alone
 a dance like a lost ship wheel like ten years from now
 where are you kind spirits where are you dreams
 when I need you
 I galloped towards the mysterious glow that wasn't a glow worm
 that first came and then would go
 I slowed down to a trot and then it was like the horse was a shadow
 it was only a negro it was just the Black Angel striking matches
 on the side of his britches
 all along it was Sylvester
 I said Angel you going to burn a hole in your pants
 there he was with his ladder-backed chair cocked up side the wall of the store
 with his bare feet the toes like acorns gathered into the lower cross piece
 of the beat-up chair that soon would be a stool on account of the back
 was fixing to fall off there he was with the rag around his head
 sucking on a diamond match stick
 now wasn't that sweet what I seen he said
 shut up goddamnit why didn't you help me
 I'm kind a down in my side lately see he said
 well when you going to start cutting up them white folks
 who said I was up to that I said
 you did he said you swore on the Bible I seen you why don't you do something
 to them men that hung me
 I already done took care of them you can ask your mother I said
 watch your english he said
 yea boy that was one hell of chick you had back there a natural blonde
 you going to start that shit again I said
 I'm the same dead as I was alive he said
 how come you ain't got a shirt on ain't you cold
 the Black Angel said what the hell I don't never wear no shirt on my back
 in the middle of July
 by the way I want to ask you something
 shoot I said
 which one of these here names sounds the best for a girl Sardinia or Gardinia
 I think they both sound like shit I said
 well I got to name that sow something she's fixing to have some pigs
 and I'm going to have bacon every morning you hear that
 yea I hear you I said
 look at all those silver dollars a lying out there in that mud hole he said
 them are mussels shining in the moonlight I said
 boy when you going to learn about that moon why it ain't no such a thing
 like a cargo that shifts from one side to the other in a ghost ship
 that is how my dreams change their course
 I have nothing to do with it
 I see the babes of the wood but do you think people will believe me no
 I see wings in the sand like whorls
 I see bows brought across throats and one-armed drummers
 I see Jewish stamp collectors that have run out of spit so I lick them in
 I see the magnifying glasses the crackers and the beanies
 I see old men totter out from the outhouses in back of the church on Sundays
 with shit on their cuffs and they don't even know it
 and I see the cuff links the gold buttons someone found a hundred years
 ago that fell off some grey jacket soldier
 I see the remains of dugouts uncovered
 I see the skulls of horses and dogs and wives vanish
 all day I drift along in the rivers on my dream horse
 I ride ride ride
 out of the water and up the levees over the fields
 in the dead of night
 I dream shots coming through the window I dream cars leaving with no lights
 and no muffiers I dream the strawbosses with the red bandannas tied
 around their necks with no guts
 it was on a Saturday morning it was raining
 so Jimmy and I didn't have to work we got to sleep late
 how come you took all the damn cover last night I says
 shut up boy I wasn't even here last night
 he was talking through the pillow and I could see there was blood on it
 sho do like this shower don't you
 he didn't say nothing
 I says you want to hear about my dream
 naw let me sleep now
 Jimmy how come you hiding your face
 I tried again everybody at the cook tent is off this morning
 want me to fix you some pancakes and salt pork Emma showed me how to do it
 he reached down his fist in between his legs and yawned
 then he reached his other hand behind his head and he propped himself up
 I ain't hungry
 what you thinking about how about let's us have a wrestling match out there
 in the mud Indian style you can use both arms
 while I was talking he took the pillow from over his face
 both his eyes were black there was cuts all over him and places where the blood
 had dried up
 what in the hell happened to you
 what's it look like he says
 looks like somebody beat the holy living shit out of you
 that's what they did alright
 go get that mirror so I can look at my face
 they didn't break my nose did they it sho is sore
 they didn't bust it I says
 I bet you been messing around with that man's wife again hadn't you
 I bet you had to fight more than one
 daddy told you that man will kill you
 didn't you have a knife or nothing
 he says left on the bedside table there it sits
 how come you all that powder box a bedside table I says
 go get me some juice he says and shut up
 tell me about what happened first I says
 well last night I thought I'd go down to the dance hall and see the bootlegger
 what did you drive I says
 I drove that truck sitting out there
 anyway I was going down the road about dusk and here come this colored woman
 running towards me it turned out to be Miss Cassie she said could I go see
 about her man that they had been walking over to Mama Viola's Place
 when they seen up the road a car full of drunk white men with a fiat tire
 Miss Cassie said Hilo that was his name told her you wait here Cassie
 I better go see bout that fiat tire I don't think we be able to walk on by
 without hearing about it she said they could hear them swearing
 she said he said this here is a levee camp and everybody treats favorable
 but she said she told him them wasn't no levee camp men better leave them be
 but he said now Cassie if I was down under and broke down I'd sho appreciate
 some help so he is walking over towards the car but before he gets there
 the one driving yells hey nigger come on over here and fix this fiat tire
 HiIo didn't pay no attention to what the white man said he just said
 evening boss looks like y'all is broke down thought you might need a hand
 jack the car up boy the man said
 HiLo went around to the trunk it was tied down with rope
 he looked back over his shoulder and give Cassie a alright sign so she says
 before he jacked it up he said y' all mind stepping out
 the man said just jack the car up
 Cassie said the men was looking at her and talking so HiLo could hear them
 he got the car up a ways it was an old beat-up Dodge she thought
 and the bumper give way and broke off
 the men come out the car madder than hornets
 and that's when you showed up right I says
 yea one of them had a four way tire tool in his hand fixing to come up side HiLo
 but I grabbed it when he drew back I said ain't going to be no lights in this
 camp the man said you and your people think they run this place don't they
 I said no we just run a levee camp and we look after our own
 he said you telling me that nigger works for y'all I ain't never seen him before
 that's when I had to think fast Jimmy says he's the new bulldozer man I told them
 I ain't never seen that boy on no Cat one of them said
 you told them a lie didn't you Jimmy
 yea I did and I told that one he was so drunk he probably couldn't see his foot
 then one of them that never got out of the car he said to me boy
 you better shut your mouth before I four way you
 that was the woman's husband wasn't it I says
 I just kind of motioned with my head to the colored man I didn't know yet
 to go over to my truck and when he did I just back on off and when I get
 to the truck Cassie says thank you Jimmy and I met HiLo except he liked to be
 called Bacho by men so we shook hands and got in the truck and I took them
 over to Mama Viola's Place and they invited me to supper and I stayed
 and we shot some craps and then I told them I had to go over to the dance hall
 to see my man and Bacho asked me would I mind picking up a little for him
 so he give me a twenty and I say so long see you in about a hour and I leave
 what else did y'all talk about I says
 just the general situation I guess Jimmy says
 I asked him if he was just living in for a while if he was riding
 and he said he was looking for work except not in the fields
 he said he had skinned the car before so I told him the graveyard shift
 needed a dour man so he said I could use something like that
 tell me how you got in the fight I says
 well I was waiting for the bootle'er at the dance hall all those sapsuckers
 tapping their feet to some no count country band I think everybody but
 the guitar player was from Iowa or somewheres like that they wasn't no good
 and one of those piss ants that was in the car was there and he says howdi
 you mean you is coming to a white folks dance just looky here had enough
 of those niggers for one night son he was drunk I didn't pay him no mind
 my man hadn't showed up still then here comes that man's wife
 and I mean she was dressed fit to kill
 I was sitting in the corner she says how you doing Jimmy
 she said I bet you ain't done as good as we did last time
 I wasn't going to listen to her but she comes over there and sits across my knee
 and you know what she says Frankie
 what Jimmy she says Jimmy I bet you don't know I ain't got any panties on
 that did it man she said let's take a ride I told her hold on wait till
 the bootlegger comes she says why don't we wait for him outside
 I could tell Jimmy had a hard on it was showing through the sheet
 he didn't have it on account of his story though any fool knows anybody
 gets a hard one the first thing in the morning and it don't go away till you pee
 go on I says he says the bootlegger drove up and there wasn't nobody else
 standing around outside so I got my order took first
 did you get what you wanted
 he smiled and says and some of what I didn't want
 I dropped oifi what Bacho wanted at Mama Viola's Place and we stayed there awhile
 I says I bet that redneck's wife wouldn't go in at a colored place would she
 what you mean boy she hangs around those joints all the time
 she almost wouldn't leave once she started drinking that whiskey
 there was this real cool little nigger named Vash Ty he played the french harp
 she was liking the way he was holding and blowing on it you know
 but it turned out he had him a asshole buddy
 we stayed around there for a couple of hours then the electricity went out
 I says that's on account of the cyclone that hit up the river
 yea I know he says well the fans wouldn't work and it was natural hot
 she started dropping ice down her blouse and carrying on in front of those
 colored men and Miss Viola come over to me and say Jimmy what you want to bring
 trash like that around here for and Bacho say get that bitch out of here
 before one of these womens puts a ice pick in her back
 I took her outside and she passed out in the truck I went back in
 and apologized to Mama Viola for bringing her and she said I had ought to know
 better I ought to know she run a juke joint and not no honkytonk
 and I said I was sorry and Bacho helped me out to the truck and Mama Viola
 says come on back soon as I do whatever I was going to do she was chuckling
 she says why didn't I bring that girl back that she met last mondi
 and I says cause she got married and she said speaking of married folks
 you better watdr out for that big galoot husband of this one she said that
 cracker will cut you down I told Cassie and Bacho I'd be back later on
 if they was still open and Cassie says Viola's joint don't never stop rocking
 and I looked over under the Chinaberry tree and behind it was thundering
 and heat lightning and there was half a dozen colored men sniffing dust
 through a hundred dollar bill Jimmy stopped and watched a car go by
 don't stop I says keep on going
 and one of them says Mr. Jimmy this here is what you need and I blew a little
 of it and they told me about a plan they had for a boxing match but what
 was really going to happen was they was going to spring a couple of convicts
 and asked if I'd have transportation available and I said sure and I
 looked at what was driving up goddamn if it wasn't your mama's car
 but she wasn't in it Charlie B. Lemon was he got out and said I have arrived
 I said Charlie B. I'm gone now but I'll be back the boss is in Memphis
 so we going to rock tonight and he turned up the radio loud as it would go
 and it looked like rain but I knew Miss Viola didn't mind a tracked up place
 so I went and got in the truck and slapped that peckerwood's wife cross the face
 and said wake up baby you going to get fucked tonight and she had that skirt
 off before we got to the levee we got in the bed of the pickup and I mean
 she fucked the daylights out of me I comed and she corned ever time it thundered
 that old husband of hers don't know what he's missing
 I said Jimmy how come them women is always after you
 he says it sho ain't cause of the size of my dick
 how's that I say
 well my meat ain't much bigger than yours
 what's that got to do with it I says
 not much I don't guess cause sometime they got to play around with it or suck
 it for it to get hard
 I guess I'm like what Vash Ty told me I was
 what's that Jimmy I says
 he said I was a little piece of leather but well put together
 I got to ask a question Jimmy I says shoot he says
 how come Baby Gauge's and thems' dicks is just about the same size
 when they taking a pee and they have a good morning rooster
 is that the question he says
 it is I says but how is that your dick and my dick they is three
 times the size when they cockadoddledoing and not peeing
 well that is just some of God's handy work Jimmy says
 say Jimmy I says you know I sho want to be like you
 those women will travel a state line for your ass won't they
 I reckon they will he says
 boy I got to ask you a question
 what's that I says he says how come and where you been seeing all these dicks
 oh well I says we have pee wars sometimes
 and others we'll circle a snake or come on to a fire in the woods
 and all of us will pee on you done it with us before I remember a long time ago
 you peed on O.Z.'s foot and he slapped the shit out of you
 yea once we all clumb a rotten tree and waited for this river rat to walk by
 all seven of us peed on him he thought it was raining but the limb
 broke and we all liked to killed ourselves
 anyway tell me about the fight
 we had to get back in the truck on the figure of them mosquitoes was getting so
 bad look here all these bites on my ass
 humidity was so bad you couldn't strike a match until it started raining
 she's just a old country girl never been out of the state but twice
 and she goes in to how her husband don't love on her right
 and how people probably thinks she's fucking everthing that walks
 but that ain't right she just shows it off and how I am the only one she is
 screwing and goes in to her husband some more I tell her to shut up
 and she starts bawling because of some song that don't come in right on the radio
 and then she starts wanting it again I mean really wanting saying crazy things
 like she would like to be sleeping beauty if she could sleep forever
 with my cock in her mouth crazy stuff you know
 well we do it a few more times and one of them she tries to stick her thumbs
 in my eyes she says stuff like I am the rain beating on her
 don't that beat all he says sure does I says
 and the last time we done it she opens the door of the truck so she can get her
 feet wet and then she scoots back the other way and opens the other door
 so the rainwater can hit her lips she says
 Jimmy you took them lights out didn't you
 yea he says so nobody could see me when I shake my dick and change the rubber
 you must a had a pile a rubbers on that levee last night
 no I didn't he says she wouldn't let me use one she wanted hot meat
 and that's what she got wasn't it Jimmy
 you damned right he says
 well what else happened I says we fucked in the mud he says
 I believe that last time was the best I ever did it
 you know that old girl ain't too much older than me and she's not so bad
 to be around after she's been flicked a dozen a times
 that' s all she needs isn't Jimmy
 that's all he says that and a little love
 she got any kids about four he says you know what happened to the one she lost
 don't you no what's that I says she must a started having them when she
 was thirteen she did he says
 that oldest kid the meanest one that takes after his daddy
 well they say he seen his old man with a mirror and a fiashlight one night
 drunk as a skunk talking to himself saying baby are you mine
 you look more like blackberry cobbler than peach pie
 later that night the kid went in and got the baby nobody is sure what happened
 exactly some say the galoot paid the boy six bits to do it
 but for sure the next morning when white people woke up they heard this kid
 just laughing and laughing and then they heard some dogs barking and then
 the girl screaming and running through the fields she didn't even
 have no blouse on for a while folks thought he was just beating her again
 but the story goes like this you know how a baby has a soft spot
 on the top of its head when its born
 I do I felt them many a times I says
 well what that kid had done was taken that baby':ad out to the porch swing about dawn
 and punched both his thumbs into that childsh
 did it die
 hell yes it died but it didn't go to hell
 what was all the laughing about
 that's because the kid walked into their bedroom sucking on one thumb
 and holding up the other bloody one
 he woke his daddy up and said you wrong both times paw
 that baby was cherry pie ha ha ha ha like a mooncalf he laughed
 and when the mother woke up and got some wind of what in the world was going on
 she went out to the porch and saw her little daughter and a Rhode Island Red
 rocking in that porch swing
 there was one hound with his paws up on the boards licking the blood
 and another one under the house sucking on what came through the slats
 no it might a been two cats two mangy cats I believe it was
 what she do
 she wrung the master's neck
 I can see it Jimmy
 you can see what
 in my dream I can see the headless bird beating his wings
 against the sheet on the line like a sail a crossjack
 with the insignia in blood of Sagitta
 I can see the saintship of the lowlands putting out with the red arrow
 turning black I am Carina the keel I have an unseen companion the binary Sleep
 I am Lupus the wolf of the night sky
 you going to do that shit or are you going to listen to me
 my dream Galileo
 dream Francisco Goya dream Vincent
 dream the geometry of a lunar eclipse
 dream an ode to the atomic weights
 dream about six years a go a woman was hit on the head in Alabama by a meteorite
 dream about the turn of the century in Siberia 1500 reindeer were
 killed by a fireball from the heavens
 you want to hear about this fight
 there are men who have their photographs falling off the wall and they don't know
 shut up you fool
 I'm sorry Jimmy but I liked the way you told that and it set me going
 did they bury the baby
 no that kid poured gasoline on it and set it afire
 it was a daughter you said that's right he says
 you think I'm crazy Jimmy
 no I know you ain't but some of these others might think you are
 why is that
 well I know of what you is talking about but I don't that much about it
 but those other folks they don't know their own shit from a dog's
 so they think you are plum loco you got to admit here and in Memphis
 and just about everywhere you go you run into some strange folks
 and you take up with them right off the bat like you have known them a thousand
 years people don't know what to think of that
 you hit it on the nail Jimmy that's the way I feel like centuries ago
 you scare me sometimes boy I know when you have to you act like your mother wants
 but I seen you do some crazy looking shit
 I never done half the shit you and Charlie B. lemon done
 well that's different
 some of that what y'all did ain't too much different
 like that time y'all was down in Florida or somewhere and y'all met Harpo Marx
 on the beach in the middle of the night singing in the german language
 that was just a coincidence
 hell it was what about the time y'all stole the organ out of those white Folks'
 church them holy rollers didn't like that a bit
 they didn't like it that we put it on a barge and used it in a fioating whorehouse
 down the river he says
 daddy didn't like it either I says
 shit boy I bet you we fioated that son-of-a-bitch a hundred miles
 including all the backwater and cutoffs and islands we went through
 I never will forget the look on that motherfuckers Face
 whose face I says
 that river boat pilot's he says
 well why won't you forget it I asked him
 cause he says it was a lot of fog on the water and that captain couldn't do
 nothing but hear us until he got up on us
 he must a thought there was a baptizing I says
 he must of had twenty barges in tow but I know he had to lose one of them
 when he saw us
 what did he see I says
 the pilot saw Charlie B. playing the organ and twelve whores singing While The
 Blood Runs Warm
 Jimmy y'all have some high times don't you
 I like it when you get drunk and ride horses
 I like it when you and some of the men and some convicts play baseball with no
 baseball I had a funny dream last night
 don't be talking about those dreams he says
 I dreamed that riders rode up last night
 and fired three shots
 a shotgun and a pistol is what I heard
 I dreamed that I saw the buckshot and the bullet
 coming towards the window
 I got up I was naked with my boots on
 but I wasn't in the shack I was in the big house in Memphis
 they was having a dinner party everybody had on suits
 the glass broke like a bucket of water and the shards put out the candelabra
 the shots fiew over the table ever so slow like when you see mosquitoes
 coming at you on the bayou
 now they were sailing to the other picture window
 I got my catcher's mitt and walked outside in the backyard
 0.2. was combing the dog
 something clicked like when you say get on up mule
 I thought I saw myself in the front yard making a peg to second
 but I was in the back and the ball come through the window
 I caught it
 it was a strike
 I know it was cause the priests in the sycamores clapped
 I dreamed I was sitting at the end of the table cause daddy was dead
 I saw the old baseball pass over this was after I dreamed I threw it
 Rufus Abraham whispered in my ear tag him
 I could smell his breath
 I held out the ball in front of me
 Rufus Abraham called the man out but there wasn't any batter
 he held up three fingers
 I did not know if I was playing catcher or pitcher or second base
 I don't think they was playing by the rules in this dream
 but I do know that Rufus was the umpire
 and I do know that when I looked way off through his black fingers
 I saw a colored woman stooped over washing a child
 you listening Jimmy I says yea go ahead he says
 but she was washing her with milk in a wash rub
 the girl was my friend down at what's there names' plantation
 who fell ofi: her horse and broke her neck last year
 and do you know what kind of milk it was the woman was washing her back with
 wolf milk there was a mother wolf standing in the tub
 and the colored lady was milking her
 I walked on over there they was next to the pump
 I remember them lavender butterfiies two by two lighting in the mud
 I remember I worked my toes around in that mud
 something had happened to my cleats I was barefoot
 the pump was pumping by itself with a growl
 black water was pouring up out the spout and little green snakes was swimming out
 when they hit the ground some kind of bird was eating their eyes out
 I heard a racket going on behind me
 like steel in a blacksmith's shop like two automobiles hitting one another
 at ninety miles an hour like iron battle ships plowing into each other
 it was a huge snake like the one they didn't believe I saw last time
 the one that esmped out of that circus and stayed around here for a year
 it was shedding its skin like God sheds his grace
 and what a commotion it was making the wolf wouldn't give no more milk
 the lady turned her head to spit
 and I readied over and touched my girl friend right where her breast was starting
 the wolf howled and I heard hammer and nails
 like you do early in the morning when there is going to be an election or a circus
 or a picture show or a revival
 but it wasn't none of that it was Mr. Rufus tacking up stuff on trees
 I thought it was money cause he was unfolding them out of his billfold
 maybe they was pictures of naked women Jimmy says no I says I'll tell you what
 they was they were the paintings of Jesus by the dead artists
 I knew some of them by name but most of them I had never seen before
 the ones I hadn't ever seen before was the ones that sent drills through me
 there was for sure the Resurrection of Christ by Piero Della Francesco
 nailed up to a Chinaberry and there was
 Christ Healing The Blind Man With The Violin by Ludovico Carracci
 hung on a Shagbark Hickory and it looked like wild plums
 I saw Jesus Among The Teachers up side a blackjack oak
 who is that by he says I don't know how to say his name I says
 there was one I know who done it but I don't know the title of the painting
 Giovanni Bellini where the lord is unwrapped and the top three holes
 is showing his eyes are shut in pain and he is looking at Mary and a fellow
 on the side he is looking 0&- to the right like he was crazy
 there was another one by Lorenzetti where one man was taking the railroad ties
 out of one of Jesus' foots with a pair of ice tongs and his mother she
 was kissing on a bleeding foot the hammer is at the foot of the cross
 Jimmy says sounds like those dagoes had it sewed up don't it
 you know I use to date this Italian girl from Leland I went to church with her
 a couple of times and what you is talking about reminds me of the stations
 of the Cross those Catholics call it I looked at some of those pictures
 where it showed Jesus getting horse whipped and all the colors is all the same
 you know just like a plate of spaghetti of course now I never said I knowed
 much about Italian art but I do know those whops like that tomato'looking blood
 I says I know what you mean Jimmy but it's different from that
 but talking about whips I believe I saw Jesus Driving Out The Money Changers
 From the Temple by Giotto the lord is mean eyed looking in that one
 say he says I thought you said Rufus had a billfold with all them pictures
 wadded up in it I did I says well he says that was your billfold
 I know it I says I already figured that out see he made it for me out of leather
 and he put a wolf head and my initial on it and one of the last things he told me
 was boy don't let them white men dig up my money
 so that is how it got in his hands in the dream I says I see Jimmy says
 then he asked me was any of them pictures by the one you got hanging up in
 the outhouse now what's his name
 I says no there wasn't don't worry about that name it's hard to say
 I know he says Geronimo nah that ain't it he was a Indian
 hu hu I says that ain't right he's got two names so I just let him go by Jerome
 I had enough of that other name I wasted a whole can of blue paint
 trying to name my boat after him I had to end up painting the whole damn boat
 blue what did you end up calling it he says I painted Savonarola in black
 on the bow on both sides too I says Seven who he says Savonarola I says
 he was burned at the stake almost five hundred years ago he was a stray monk
 oh Jimmy says I thought he might a got that name cause he shot a lot of dice
 no I says they said he was a heretic or a lunatic or something
 they got a picture of him hanging up in Italy in his bedroom I hear I sure would
 like to see it one of his buddies did his portrait
 did they do it while they was burning him up or what Jimmy says I don't know 1 says
 I just know I see him in my dreams
 I don't guess them Catholics burn up people anymore do they
 I don't guess so I says
 I guess about the only folks that get burned up these days is triggers
 I reckon so I says
 I reckon Hitler burnt up a lot of them jews though didn't he
 I believe he did I says
 did you ever see that picture show Diary of Anne Frank
 no but I read the book I says
 that show got to me I waited until everyone had left the show house
 cause I knew I was going to cry
 I walked out of the dark into the lobby and there was a whole other line of people
 staring at me and me a bawling my eyes out
 one of the fellows I knew he says look over there at Jimmy look at him crying
 what you do take a sock at him
 no I just walked out the picture show drunk a few beers
 I tied a real love knot with Anne he says
 I says Jimmy I bet you when you leave out of here this fall you ain't never
 coming back I bet when you go to that college you are going to knock up some girl
 and get married the first thing
 no I won't he said I'm going to get my degree in sipping whiskey and pussy
 well you already done got Phd. in that I says
 Jimmy you ought to run 03' and be a sailor
 yea I thought about that I'd like to do it
 you ought to sail around the world and get you a woman in every port
 that's what I'd like to do
 don't you know a line or two about a sailor talking about his woman he says
 yea I know lots of them I says but right now I'm thinking on that dream
 did you ever see Mr. Rufus again in it
 I sure did I says I seen him taking a crap in the outhouse
 and drinking a bottle of Dr. Tichenor's and eating a mashed Banana Flip
 he said come over here boy and get this wrapper
 you know how he'd always give us the paper to lick the sweet stuff off
 yea I know he says
 well I beckoned to his call but I had to walk through a forest a mean one to get
 to the outhouse and I saw Jesus hanging on every tree
 pecan sweetgum hawthorn cottonwood bald cypress weeping willow mulberry dogwood
 chinkapin sassafras persimmon catalpa bitternut buckthorn ash and wild black
 cherry I saw men walking through the woods at nine o'clock in the evening
 with fiashlights and rope I saw the astronomer giving a lecture on how in a few
 years the rocket ships would be powered by sails and they would call it solar
 sailing and the wind would be the pressure of radiation I dreamed I was
 a wandering star among the black dwarfs
 I walked through the halls where the limbs of animals and men and trees
 were grafted to one another
 it was an inarched way of rocks and water and light and tongues and fingers
 and unholy dark without its usual enemies and speaking of dark
 a few of the lines of one of my favorite poems was
 grafted to the mast of a sailorless ship
 the waves they were dead and the tides they were asleep in their grave
 and the moon the whore had taken her own
 life with a knife
 and the battlefield was silent and rotten and fioating in the abyss
 and I made myself a home in my soul
 I the Wanderer I am alone as heretofore
 as my brother standing on a hill with myself
 music of beggars so black
 the dream passes and you hear the words of your brother of dreams
 outlaw of black
 dream brother lord
 Byron brother of mad friends of youth I take you out in the third round with a
 cross to the jaw
 with your clouds like horses I remember all of my life
 I had a dream which was not all a dream
 where did you find her the same place I did
 with her great black eyes
 with her black hair blowing in the wind
 with the water coming towards her
 with the lightning tying the sash about her dress
 see her on the mountain holding her breasts in her hands
 if you are eleven I will fall down and stud your belly hole with an onyx
 I will unfasten the chanfrin binding your palfrey
 I the rider
 I dream the sick roses sitting up in their blood at your feet
 rubbing the hill with the vines like pig tails
 let me kiss you like a gambler
 in the shadows of a charred table I danced once to the pistols
 like a funambule
 I tip-teed out of my room at night I got in my boat
 I met the frigate of my dreams
 I got my socks wet and you know how that is
 at dawn in the fall on the river
 I sing to your eyes like little bells heard from aloft
 and the moon putting the slips of paper in my hand
 and the side-long glances I give to your jet black hair
 when will I meet you daughter
 of mirrors skipping down the road
 when will I retrieve your tangles
 coming about and leaving again off on their own sojourn
 daughter I see you wading with your jeans rolled up
 I see your dress sleeping in the closet
 I see the water getting dusky between your legs
 and I see the crawdads saluting your toes
 there you go jumping rope by the light of the moon
 with your only fi'iend a black willow
 and here I come with my definite limp
 taking long strides with one hand behind my back through the ruins
 watching your carnival watching your mass
 listening to the drunken monkeys throwing their lemons at the pony
 let me tell you with the song in my strange eyes
 you are no stranger
 you splendid animal circling the gables of the blind
 I take off my hat to you but someone stole it while I was sleeping
 so now I have my diploma in despair in black
 and I watch you bathing yourself from afar with my eyes half closed
 a sight to dream of
 daughter with your blue stockings crawling off your legs in the dark
 with your headdresses lined up like a caterpillar
 oh my midnight lamp oh my ribs caving in like waves
 the sighs I must one day give to the skull
 I renounce the breath of the angel of death polishing his apples in my
 melancholy my steed bound for the old mansion in the lowlands
 I see the plows fiash in your bath water
 I feel then in my dark wanderings I feel your cars like passageways
 if only you knew how I gaze
 this proud outlaw that I am if you knew the revolutions I want to live
 I am watching you in the foothills of oblivion
 and I want the real thing
 I don't care for the handmaidens anymore
 I want to stay out all night shooting craps I want to drink
 I want to turn it up and empty it and break the vessel against the bricks
 of fatherless water that is what I want the mountain and you
 the mottoes I've forgotten them all good
 night wind is all that I read
 breeze of deep water and lisping children and pungent books
 I want to draw your eyebrows like bows to my chest
 I want you to know my dreams volant as I know them
 I want you to hear what is unheard the unsheathing of my sword
 daughter the procession has served its purpose
 I have forgorren the world
 and I have watched you run through the woods in the morning
 like censors suspended and making in tandem for a moment only
 you spit out the bit and all I see of you is smoke
 you who have dianged my mourning into dancing
 my plight into singing
 and I see you passing away
 and I see you making a victory out of death
 the columns that surrounded your past are talking like shipwrecks
 I bid farewell to the harpsid'iords in your temples
 hear the prayers to your down the tone of my sword
 goodbye to the sonatas at your lips
 goodbye to where I want to enter the caves
 the guitars under your arms
 you must of got a letter from that girl in Memphis Jimmy says
 what makes you say that I says
 the last time you got a love letter from that girl you sang all night
 by the time I'd finished my dreamsong the devil was whipping his wife
 and Jimmy was dressed and drinking a Jax beer
 the rain had almost stopped and he says when you going to shine my jackboots
 I ain't doing any such a thing I says
 will you shine them if I tell you about the fight
 I'll polish them so you can read a fellow's hand I says what happened
 we was fucking in the mud she was on top
 I thought I heard somebody drive across that cattle gate
 but she said there wasn't nobody coming to the levee on this kind of night
 I still had the radio on and I mean that sax brewing like Maxwell House cofi'ee
 in a Lake Village Deer Camp I wasn't studying about the battery though
 I was just letting that woman have her own way
 and rubbing the back of my head in that black mud
 when I opened my eyes
 you seen them then uh Jimmy I says
 boy I seed six or seven of the ugliest looking peckerwoods I ever saw
 they were standing around me in a circle with yellow raincoats on
 they must a been out coon hunting cause they had those carbide lamps on their
 heads stinking up the night
 one of them stepped forward he had on one of those ponchos
 camoufiaged like the woods you know what I mean
 I knowI says I seen a bunch of them down at the Army Surplus Store in town
 well he pulls a fiashlight out from under his belly
 that must of held a dozen batteries
 he turned that light on and I mean he hit me right in the skull
 just like he was stunning a hog
 I bet those cars in that Eveready made your eyes shine didn't they Jimmy
 they sho did man my head caved in like dirt
 did the first lick draw much blood I says
 not as much as the second he says one of them come crossways
 with his boot and I got a taste a mud in my mouth
 what did the woman say Jimmy
 she say don't y'all touch this boy
 they didn't touch you did they Jimmy
 no they plumb near stomped the holy living shit out of me they didn't toud'i me
 though he says I say I bet you knew
 which one of them was her husband didn't you
 he says I'd know that galoot anywhere
 what did he do to his wife
 he had some of his buddies hog tie her with bob wire
 then they dumped her in the trunk like she was meat
 I says you going to get killed one of these days boy
 did you ever get a lick in atall
 I got one good one he says I done that Indian leg scissors and busted
 one of thems' knee pretty bad I might of broke his leg
 you going to teach me that trick I says
 if I get time I will he says
 they didn't pull no razors did they Jimmy
 hell yes they pulled them but I didn't give them no chance to use them
 but I almost didn't have to shave he says how's that I says
 you know that fat greasy looking one with all those bumps on his face
 the one that goes by Dirt Dobber
 that one that tries to wear them muscle man T-shirts and goes around
 with that little cracked mirror always squeezing them zits in between
 his fingernails like he was pulling ticks oil: a dog
 we talking about the same person alright Jimmy says
 he tried to do you in hu I says
 yea he opened a straight razor on me but 1 just kind of kicked out with my foot
 and shut it on his fingers
 I bet he was yelling blood and murder wasn't he Jimmy
 he don't need a mirror to look at his meat down to the bone does he
 did they stand you up and work you over with a chain
 you don't see no chain marks cross my face do you
 I want to know how you got out of that mess I says
 well I stood up so one of them could get a good shot at me
 I let him hit me and I reeled over and fell back so I could roll down the levee
 that was my getaway plan you see
 rock rock rock and roll I says
 hell no then: wasn't no music to that song the man played me
 I was luck to come out like I did
 you was luck to be born I says
 it was luck Willy Ed got news of his wife was having child
 cause he never did move that water barrel down
 what are you talking about I says
 that barrel is what stopped me from rolling it give me a hard lick itself
 what did you do didn't they come after you
 I hid in the barrel
 how come they didn't track you in the mud
 cause one them Government Engineers drove through and told them to turn those
 lights 0&- he told them that with this storm and all people look to the levee
 and see all that commotion they'd be thinking a fiood was up and everybody
 and his cow would be gathering up there
 oh they moseyed around and they almost got me
 I heard that man who was her husband say I believe I'll get a drink
 I heard him fetch a paper cup out of the box and blow on it
 then he uncorked a pint
 I knew I was done for if he ever put his thumb on the spigot
 cause the water was low in that barrel and I was crouched down low as I could
 get trying to get it to rise but it lacked yea much
 about a quarter of an inch I says bout that he says
 so what did you do I says
 I peed
 I'll be Jimmy you Fucked his wife and then made him swallow your piss damnit to
 yea he just cut that whiskey with a little of my water
 then he cussed the niggers for making bad ice
 that was fast thinking you know it I says
 it was just a coincidence
 I believe the Lord is on your side Jimmy
 if he ain't then the Devil is winning by a long shot
 I put on a pair of trousers and followed Jimmy out to the porch
 he propped the chair up against the wall and sucked on his beer
 you want to go to town I says
 what town you talking about there ain't a damn town for a hundred miles
 I thought we might go to a picture show
 I ain't driving a hundred miles to see no picture
 just wait a couple of weeks that man in the tent will be back
 yea he'll be back maybe with one we ain't seen a dozen times
 Jimmy looked around at me and smiled he says just think we might see a talkie
 I got some firecrackers I says
 so what I got a half case of dynamite sitting in the back of that truck
 we could go bring up a couple hundred pounds of fish
 and go up to the store and sell it
 don't need powder to do that we can use green walnuts
 will pecans work
 I don't know I don't even know if I can get any this time a year
 what about that old telephone
 that' ll work alright but all we'll get is rough stuff
 I bet you we could sell a lot of white perch on Saturday
 you is fixing to talk me in to something
 if we don't clean them I reckon we could get a dime a fish
 I could buy me a fishing reel you know that one I had my eye on
 you don't need no reel around here just a pole
 and you could buy that Confederate pistol
 it'll shoot that chinaman told me he shot a mad dog with it
 quit dreaming
 I ain't dreaming I seen it in the back he keeps it hid but he'll sell it
 he found it when he was diving for clams in the bayou
 he found this old bucket filll of lard
 and when he pulled it up out of the water that pistol was buried in the grease
 I'll blow them up if you'll net them
 wouldn't that be something if I had that pistol I could fight a duel with
 the midget
 that's the one that's going to kill you he says
 no he ain't I got eleven different plans on how I can kill him
 and I'd have twelve if you'd buy that pistol
 why don't you just blow him in two with a shotgun
 that's too easy any drunk Creek could think of that
 I want to kill him like they do in church I want a ceremony
 I know what I'm going to do he says is that chainsaw still sitting out in
 the woods
 I reckon it is won't nobody touch it they think its got a conjure on it
 I wonder if that thing will still run he says
 why I says cause I got a idea he says
 talking about that midget done give me a idea
 Jimmy do you mind if I finish telling you about that dream
 make it short he says
 well I kickedyou in the buttwewas in bedseeIsays toyou
 don't hog all the cowrs Jimmy
 and a man turns over and puts his hand over my mouth and says shut up
 I ain't Jimmy he's dead
 I pass out
 along about then I hear some gunfire
 I got to go to the bathroom so I reach under the bed for the slop jar
 and somebody shakes my hand
 the person says he ain't dead yet here take hold this pocketknife
 it was Rufus he says don't tell nobody where I is
 and don't you let them men dig up my money
 and when I look down under the bed
 there ain't nothing there but a run over dog
 the house is shaking like it does when the pressure is dangerous
 so I walk through the other rooms to the kitchen
 and open the back door
 I have to duck cause a whole fiight of knives like geese
 passes over my head
 and when I look in the back this time it ain't here and it ain't in Memphis
 neither one it is some place though but I don't know where
 and it looks like this
 sea that goes on forever going blue going green going black
 an oval mirror sapphire where whoremonger morning moon is seen
 it is above the heads of the young dancers tying ribbons in one another's hair
 now they are on the rocky shore Iimbering up
 the children berating that maker of thieves
 and a dog trots up to where they are putting their slippers on their feet
 with his gold teeth he unties their shoes
 the ballerinas watch its breath on the mirror and the moon disappears
 the clifis which were heretofore unnoticed are noticed
 a woman is looking from the window of a stone dwelling
 if we could see behind her she would be undressed
 and way in the western horo zone would be a tall black mast about to make sail
 and sleeping in a skiff would be a youth about my age but crippled
 now in this dream I saw a spoonbill catfish rolling over and playing like
 a dolphin
 as the wind came up before I could notice it I was standing by the water
 praying and when I looked in the water I saw the annual Cotillion
 the girls walking together in the country club with their long white gloves
 hanging loose on their slender arms
 a dark looking man stepped forward from the audience and said his name was
 Rood the visitor
 he snapped his fingers and the most gorgeous of the debutantes
 came to him and kneed him in the groin
 he smiled and you could see all the black in his teeth
 the girl then got down on the fioor and raised her hand to his lips
 as he bowed he opened his mouth
 and a hawk stuck his head out and gored the soft part of her wrist with his beak
 Rood was able to accomplish feats such as this for he was really
 a snake swallowet who is now serving time in the Shelby County Penal Farm
 the reason I know this is because the tale of the visitor is told
 in an unfinished libretto bequeathed to me by the world's smallest man
 Jimmy says boy you ought to set up a sign and pay folks two bits to listen to you
 get one of them old scratched up opera records the astronomer gave you
 and I bet you could get every loony tick on the river over here
 I says Jimmy I just have a little ways to go then I'll be finished
 ok but cut it short I got to go to the bathroom
 well you better go on then cause it'll take a little while
 well he says I feel like taking a long shit so follow me on out to the outhouse
 and while you are at it set the record player on the back porch so I can have
 a serenade I don't feel too good I'm down
 what you want to hear a little BB.
 no he says I feel like a sinner put on some gospel
 who I says
 Dixie Hummingbirds singing I Been Buked and I Been Scorned
 mother lent that one to Sadie I believe
 then I want to hear Mahalia Jackson doing Didn't It Rain
 I see I says you going professional
 go ahead and put on Old Ship of Zion by the Pilgrim Jubilee Singers while you
 are at it I says hey can I put on the Pilgrims' Overture too
 yea I guess so but put it on last
 Jimmy thanks I really like those trombones this time of day with the clouds
 the way they are and all
 he walked on out back and set his mind right and I set the record player up
 and set a penny on the arm so the needle wouldn't skip
 the music started up and Jimmy started groaning and I started telling him
 my dream where I left off was that Rood worked in the carnival and knew
 my friend for a very brief period
 the world's smallest man had mentioned him one day it happened like this
 I saw a man in a bathing suit and a carmine cloak
 he was standing up on a platform swallowing snakes
 I says how does he do that and the Count says he learned it while he was in
 the Army and I says what army and he says the Foreign Legion
 he says it should be explained that there is a difference between snake
 swallowers and snake charmers and snake handlers
 Jimmy says what did he do it with a mirror was it a trick
 no he really did I says he done it with poisonous snakes but I guess they was
 operated on to take out the fangs like they do a skunk you know
 yea I know he says and I says say didn't you ever run into a man
 twenty-two inches tall down on the river he had him a outfit down there
 Charlie B. told me he thought he'd seen the one-eyed nigger he run with
 well he says I seen a lot of one-eyed men but not no man two foot tall
 I was just wondering I says anyway this here Rood goes back into his rent
 and while he's in there a strong man comes out of the tent next door
 the first thing he did was tear at Memphis telephone book in two
 he was a stout son-of-a-bitch wasn't he Jimmy says
 I reckon he was the Count told me he seen him rip up a New York directory once
 but the twist is this the Count told me the snake swallowet and the strong man
 was the same person he was crazy he had what you call split personality
 I don't believe that Jimmy says I don't care if it is a dream
 yet it is the God's truth I says and I'll tell you why and how come a body
 was to dream such a thing it is because I read it in the paper
 don't you remember back a few years ago when the headline every evening was
 another victim bitten making the toll of snake bites within the Memphis
 City Limits ninety-seven don't you remember how there was a crazy man
 going round putting cottonmouths in the Catholic churches well they caught
 this mad priest who had a run-in with the bishop he was letting them out
 in the oonfessionals well this give Rood a idea see
 he started letting loose poisonous snakes in all the libraries in the county
 hell some folks run up an awful bill cause they was so scared to bring their
 books back Jimmy says I recollect something like that happening
 the police department put a whole lot of folks on it but couldn't none of them
 crack the crime and all the time they were taking their families to
 the Mid-South Fair every other night and paying two bits to get in and see
 the culprit don't that beat all how he got away with it almost a year
 well not with the snake bites cause they went to sleep during the winter
 so he went to ripping up books I mean he'd pick out a subject or an author
 and tear him to pieces however about the time Cotton Carnival rolled around
 a tutty-fi'uity man that worked for the library had just about figured it out
 but he didn't tell nobody on account of his favorite reading was about crime
 Sherlock Holmes and Father Brown and all that don't you know anyway
 he put the water moccasins and the books together cause of the fact if there
 was any freak of his specialty and he'd go see
 them over and over and over and it got to where all the books he didn't like
 he'd just set out in a hidden away nook of the old library like a pie or like
 a woman who fixes her stockings in the elevator in front of you when they
 ain't nobody riding not even an operator when she watched you look at her
 and she makes the holes in her nose spread open and her low lip drops off like
 deep water say man that ever happen to you Jimmy says I says yea it did
 he says once I waited on an elevator a long time and I figured some kid had
 got it stuck on purpose then got oil but see a colored man told me how you"
 can get them free if you open this special box and push the button well
 that's what I did cause it was stuck on my fioor so the doors open and what
 do I see but but a Mexican woman leaning up against the side with her legs
 spread out and a man on his knees eating the stuffing out of her I mean
 he took out when those doors opened I says what did she do
 why she reached her fingers down into her wool like she was knitting a sock
 ha ha he says damn your hide I says you just funning me
 now he says you tell me how the visitor got caught if the fruit didn't tell on
 him and the police couldn't catch him
 easy I says a fifteen year old colored boy caught him
 how did he do that he says he done it like this I says
 Five that was the young one's name he decided that Lula Mississippi wasn't quite
 his speed so he stole the undertaker's lawn mower and decided he'd push it
 all the way to Memphis and cut yards on the way for pocket money when he
 got to Bluff City he was going to roll in the dough he heard that some of them
 people paid as high as fifty cents an hour to have their fancy yards cut
 well all he took with him was a pic comb and his sombrero
 it only took him three weeks and bed a made it quicker than that except
 every other day he had to get some cardboard and trace out the pattern of his
 feet so he could make him a new set of soles for his tennies
 he arrived in Memphis in high style he said to himself now this is what I call
 a City because you see it was the first night of the Cotton Carnival
 and the first thing he saw was the all black drill and precision team
 from Melrose High and I can tell you he wore out some soles high stepping
 along with them on the side of the street yes he went up to the top of some
 building and looked out the window and seen the white Carnival going on at
 the bank of the river he saw the Queen and King fioat in on a barge and all
 the fireworks and the double ferris wheels that dip you out over the Mississippi
 and he heard all the music and that's when the night janitor told him to get
 out of the building and since I was in the same building the Cotton Exchange
 I believe I'm not for sure I told him to come on look out the window with me
 we shot the shit and decided to go to the white Carnival so I had to be his escort
 so we got in one of these girly shows and while I went to go pee the barker
 run him olfI didn't see him until the day after when he had his picture in
 the paper but what he did was won a pair of spy glasses and hid under the tents
 so he wouldn't have to pay none of his hard earned change out and he got
 about the best look see of everything there including the freaks
 that night he slept on a bale of cotton that was on a broken down fioat that
 everyone had forgotten about on account of all the good time and all
 at dawn he saw two negroes throw out a bundle of papers and he says to
 himself well bless Five's ass and he saw right there how he was going to make
 his breakfast money and how he had something to do until the dew dried off
 the headlines was the statement of an old maid librarian who stated while
 on a ladder in Biography she saw two strong arms tear a copy of Volume Two
 of The Life of Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton in half
 Jimmy says it had to be Volume Two cause you stole Volume One there it sits
 she went on to state that on each arm was a tattoo
 on the left arm a zarf and on the right arm a xebec
 a what he says nothing I says it'll come out later
 now personally I couldn't tell you if Five read the paper
 or not all I know is that he pushed his lawn mower downtown
 and ate a two dollar breakfast in a White Spot and after
 he got through with that he turned right around and ate
 a Lemon Ice Box Pie that the waitress said he couldn't have
 until eleven o'clock when they started serving dinner
 but when she and the rest of the help seen how it was this
 boy wasn't studying about not waiting all morning on his pie
 they gave it to him and when he was finished he left a two bit rip
 and asked them was there any charge for the Air Conditioning
 they laughed and said no and he pulled up the cinch of the cord
 that held the sombrero on his head and went outside and wrapped
 the rope around the pull starter and cranked his lawn mower up
 to see if anybody had poured sugar in the gas tank while he was
 eating well it cranked right oifi and before he had a chance to
 fool with the choke to get the lean right a policeman was yelling
 his head OK at the boy but Five didn't hear him so the man give
 him the old pilot's high sign the finger across the neck and Five
 thought the policeman aimed to kill him so he pushes the mower
 over the white man's foot and takes out running down through the
 middle of town but it really don't make no matter cause everybody
 is still hung over from last night anyway and here the policeman
 he's on the sidewalk with his eyes shut cause he afraid to see if
 his toes is all gone the reason being just the other day the second
 page headline was man turns around to give directions where gas station
 is and while he is talking lawn mower rolls over his feet arnputating same
 but there wasn't nothing wrong with no policeman's foot all he needed
 was a new left shoe and the police department would give him that
 the first good cut of grass Five saw was already being mowed by another
 boy about his age so far Five hadn't seen one big fancy lawn that
 he'd heard about he was thinking about loosening the lug nut on the blade
 when the boy shut his machine down for lunch but he figured it was
 liable to kill somebody so he keeps on walking and where do you think
 he sees the mighty finest longest looking grass he'd ever seen and it
 hadn't been cut in nigh on a week where Jimmy says the Police Station
 I says and just the very same day a city official had called up and
 cussed the man at the desk out for not having their lawn cut why what
 with it being Cotton Carnival time and all and so when Five arrives
 the men is cussing the general nigger situation how they is so unreliable
 and all especially after a holiday or a fisneral or something so Five he
 sauntered up he what Jimmy says he sashayed on up to the two captains and he says
 look boss how much that nigger been charging you to cut your yard
 the two explained to him how an employee of the Park Commission was supposed
 to cut the lawn but to get the City Office 06' their backs they accepted
 Five's offer of forty-nine cents an hour and all the ice water he could drink
 he offered to do the edging and the trimming but they said a inmate would
 be assigned to that so Five cranked his lawn mower up by the way he called
 it Eleanor after Miss Roosevelt and started singing verse 490 of the song
 he had been making up in his head ever since he lef Lula you want to hear some
 nah Jimmy says just finish the story I'm about through in a minute go get me
 some paper you don't never put it back here's a dime go run down to the store
 let me finish first I says along about two o'clock Five says shit it's hot
 and shuts off his machine and goes up to a prisoner a white man from West Memphis
 no from Twist I remember now Arkansas who got drunk tried to pick a fight
 with the Planter's Peanut Man a robot who tips his hat at you Five asks him
 what you want hit a man glasses on fer the man don't like the smart aleck little
 nigger and he's fixing to say so except Five has took the shiny object he found
 in the grass out of his pocket and is saying to the white man hey why don't
 you see who lost this key I ain't got time for that shit I got my own company
 and I'm too busy to be turning in lost articles so the man lays the clippers
 down and takes the key and says sho boy and Five undoes his cord and lets
 his sombrero fall over his back and walks into the Police Station and asks
 please to meet you Five Spoke speaking could you show me where the ice water
 is a man points the way and then goes about his business but then grabs Five
 by the collar and says spread out boy I'm going to frisk you now sir ain't no
 call to do that I ain't carrying no dirk I sold it last night where you from
 boy I's from Lula riginally but late I'm from Memphis where you stay uh yes sir
 I stay over on a let's see Bale Avenue where he says over on Bale I ain't never
 heard of a street like that no sir Five says I don't reckon nobody even heard
 of it being that small the way it is why it ain't even worth mentioning I believe
 I'm be moving soon as I get my money he says and the man says how long was that
 knife boy it wasn't but four inches boss see Five Spoke knew all about the
 city regulation of illegal blades cause somebody had wrote in red paint on a
 road sign just before you get to the Tennessee Line important put them butcher
 knives and razors up you can do it with a jackknife just as well signed Zero
 what's that in your pocket a pistol no sir boss them's them spy glasses I won
 last night running that dragline I was after a real camera but uh I'm through
 with you go get your water so Five found the Colored fountain and stepped on
 the pedal but wouldn't no ice water come out so he tried to double clutch it
 still wouldn't no water come out so he finds him the white fountain and takes
 a long drink out of it by Jesus the water shoot half way cross the room on that
 one he gets his handkerchief and wets it and puts it back inside his sombrero
 then he lets that cool stuff hit on the inside of his wrists and looks up
 at the ceiling fans and while he's daydreaming he remembers what some of his
 buddies told him to do look at the wanted posters and see if the law had any
 paper out on them so they'd know if they could come to Memphis or not
 but before he does any favors he cleans the lint off the lenses of his spy
 glasses and buys a Big Time candy bar out of a broken machine that he gyps
 he's chewing on it and looking the warrants over when he comes across one
 with a picture of a man of the cloth on it and it reads The Snake Priest
 accused of freeing poisonous snakes in many of the Memphis churches
 Five is saying to himself all that hocus pocus shit don't fool me
 and beside of that one is a warrant with no picture that says Mad Bookworm
 wanted for turning loose dangerous reptiles coral cobra swamp rattler copperhead
 and cottonmouth in the bays of the libraries of Shelby County
 approach this man with caution he may be armed and carrying it said
 and while Five Spoke was thinking about the worse crimes he'd ever heard of in
 Lula men buried alive in the levees men nailed to a sycamore and burned
 a hog butcher selling his wife to everybody in the county babies beat up side
 the barn like rabbits that were still kicking men tied to gars and Hadreads
 men poisoned by sorghum children blinded by sling shots cofiins open with hack
 saws not once did he ever hear of a loony tick crime this or like these
 the desk sergeant removed the poster with priest's picture on it and tacked up
 another one in its place and Five says caught that devil uh and the desk man says
 yea we caught him boy but a couple of these whop politicians got him sent
 down to Bolivar instead of the electric chair so he can call Bingo
 say boss what that is there a called Bookworm something like a chink bug or a
 Boll worm or some kind of fish bait y'all use over here no the man says that
 was the nickname the papers give him a bookworm is some kind of egghead that
 bores into books oh a queer bait I see wall did they get him yet not your
 the man says but I don't believe there is another man I think it's a gang of
 that catholic's altar boys cause I heard a woman say they seen one of them
 in a red robe and that's what those friends of the devil wear you know that
 Five says I seen them cooking gopher dust and ringing bells at midnight
 on my way home fiom coon hunting once them a talking all that mess makes me sick
 the desk sergeant was tacking up a warrant beside the Mad Bookworm but you
 couldn't read it cause his big belly was in the way Five was thinking I bet
 that woody ain't seen his thing in ten years and the man saying hadn't been
 bothered with the snakes too much lately this here is the one they trying to
 latch on to now they call him the Library Molester he goes around ripping up
 the taxpayers' books of course now I've never been in one of these libraries
 myself but every citizen has got a lot wrapped up in them so that is why
 there is a thousand dollar reward leading to the apprehension of them or him
 that's when the desk sergeant moved out of the way and Five saw under noticeable
 marks TWO TA'I'I'OES a zarf and a xebec
 Five swayed his head from one poster to the other like he was fixing to strike
 well fuck a duck Five says to himself and he is olf alone in his dreams
 like Napoleon at Elba he knows that all he needs is someone to hold up a light
 and the bar will hit the plug he threw in the air yes indeed the vampire
 will catch hisself on the lure with three treble hooks and he knows he can
 tie that on his line and catch god knows what he can do it
 like when you hear the bagpipes in battle you know they can win
 he knows it like mule carts like tunes in a water jug like the name Daisy Bates
 like jack boots full of minnows like a preacher with a pompadour
 like Ben Tallow the Griffe so he asks the desk sergeant say boss you got
 a dictionary over there I could borrow I got to look up a spelling
 and while the sergeant is telling him sure I got one you know the captain don't
 like us: not to spell Mississippi right and thinking at the same time look a here
 at these niggers from Mississippi even go around spelling like a white man
 and Five is thinking he has studied ever letter in the book in the outhouse
 except XY Z cause the teacher said to spend more time on CST he is thinking
 batfoul on Moon Lake and how come a thousand dollars for this and not for
 a murder and who goes there spoken at night and washing Windshields in the
 summer and white women with their dresses hiked up and legs spread for a breeze
 he finds the meaning to the first word and goes with a whistle like he seen
 a good looking girl and the colored wash woman scrubbing on the
 stops the isometric torture under the sponges for a second to look around the
 building because she senses something funny going on and now Five is looking up Z
 like a dress like a thousand dollars a Kansas City roll and thinking all the time
 back last night with the white boy he goes to take a leak and I get run out
 I win the spy glasses I hid under the fiaps I look at everything the red headed
 woman and the bull dog the other one with and now his eyes are port and starboard
 as the men trash and quality alike beat each other on the back and rear
 up like cattle laughing on the benches in the big top full of cigar smoke
 and now Five remembers how he crawled out without being seen and looked
 at the spectacle again with his spy glasses another one with a boa constrictor
 over her shoulders like a fox stole and he looks at the crowd
 ofwomen gathered outside around the snake swallower's tent he sees them gasp
 with one hand over their mouth and another over their breast or lower
 he sees in red and blue the two designs on the Arab's arms and the performance
 is about to begin inside for those who will pay and away he goes back into
 his abode and next door he sees the strong man in scarlet and he sees the same
 tattoos and he knows they are the same but what of it now he knows a zarf
 and a xebec ain't nothing but a tea glass and a sailboat and he knows
 he sure wants to claim the reward but he don't know how so he thinks best to
 take the warrant with me and go finish cutting the yard and then say something
 so he goes back outside and the other man trimming is gone and he starts
 Eleanor up and goes about his business thinking when I get around this when I
 get this part done I'm going to be rich and so Five cracked the case
 so Five got a thousand dollars uh Jimmy says no I says
 then he gets five hundred and splits with the desk sergeant
 no I says he don't get nothing but six months
 what the hell you talking about didn't you say a man named Rood appeared in one
 of your goddamn fucking dreams and he was actually based on a real character
 who is now serving time and that a colored boy named Five with a sombrero
 got his name in the paper for catching him didn't you say that cause if you
 are trying to give me the run around I'm going to beat your little ass you hear
 I hear I says but you won't let me finish
 you see that dog asleep over there under the house he says
 I says yes
 well when that dog wakes up you are shutting up and going to get me some paper
 got you I says see the white man from Twist Arkansas was a rat fink
 that's how come he got to work outside and drink soda pop and look at legs
 he decided to make up a story and tell the captain that he found it out
 the story was this the nigers according to him was going to try to make a break
 cause this little prick had stolen the key from the desk sergeant and give it
 to him the man that was telling it to give to the head steve
 Jimmy says I'd sure like the pleasure of killing that son-of-a-bitch
 you don't have to he's already dead see they sent Five and Rood up to the same
 camp on the same bus cause how was the visitor going to prove he wasn't colored
 the guards even gave them the same cell and they turned out to be buddies
 but the circus finally got a lawyer to get him switched to white man's jail
 and do short time they was able to do that cause they had some dirt on all
 the court people who went to this one performance and did some nasty things
 Rood told Five it was a dirty trick that fucker from Twist pulled on him
 and he made him a promise to do the rat in so one day while all the bands
 was working in the peas Rood found a cotton moccasin sunning himself in the shade
 he picked it up ain't no snake mind the visitor he's easy going and on
 and put it in his hat and that night he slipped it in well let's just say
 Smart Pants Sammy the Rat Fink from Twist met his maker that night
 what'd he do damnit Jimmy says I'll tell you I says every night Smart Pants
 slipped out of his bed to go be this other one's sweet boy cause the other one
 had a connection in the kitchen and he had a lot of extra food
 well this one particular evening Sammy decides to jimmy open the other man's trunk
 and while he was doing it he got caught and oh there was such a commotion
 and this is when Rood slipped the snake in some say his pillow others say his pants
 but Five says it was his pants he had took off before he went to steal and be
 sweet boy anyway the guard quiets the two asshole buddies down from fighting
 and says if there is any more noise that night everone will work this coming
 Sunday so everybody shut up and when Smart Pants come back to bed and got bit
 sometime that night and started yelling snake bit snake bit his so-called
 buddy that worked in the kitchen come over and knocked him out with a spoon
 the visitor done short time like I said and then he got Five out and sent him
 to India to learn all about how to charm snakes I mean he paid the whole
 fare there and back and now they got them a quality act worked out
 now that is what really happened and not a dream right Jimmy says right I says
 I want to know one thing maybe two he say
 what's that Jimmy I says
 how did that old lady that worked in the library know what those two tattoos
 were there ain't nobody that smart to know what they meant
 if a body were to know that she and some other ladies in her congregation
 spent their summer in a sd'iool bus with their priest in the Mediterranean
 then it would be easy to see how she could recognize the rarf and the xebec
 but as to what they mean that is another and a very complicated question
 the tmmbones of Wagner are making me forget my explanation they are making me
 remember my dream where I am gazing into the pool of water where the ballerinas
 are weaving the backs of their hands to the glow of the balefire
 the trees of dried blood making on the clil'foh moon you whoremonger
 maker of thieves mirror of dogs' breath
 a sanctus in the loins of my dream the astrolabes where I see the circulation
 of the red liquid in my fingers where I am lain out naked
 to the dancers bowing and heaving great typhoons of hair over their shoulders
 I see myself on my dolmen
 but I will tell Jimmy what he asked for
 do you remember me telling you what a rebus is Jimmy
 yea I kind of recall what one is but why don't you put that cave man story on me
 again and I'll bring it up to date and get the picture he says
 I will do that but I want to point out that what I will be saying
 is what the astronomer has told me and what I have pidted up from my eleven
 girl friends and twenty-two pen pals all over this world
 let it be known that I Francis will explain to you however I will not violate
 the secrets of the rebus
 cut that shit out and tell me he says
 before men could speak they enjoyed confounding one another with signs
 they enjoyed this as much as a mirror enjoys an image
 as much as the evening like a ship enjoys its sapphire grave
 they came to this not out of folly or spite but love the love in their own eyes
 like rivers of no return and the other eyes like two dead moons
 so it is that some youth who had grown old before his time due to the barnacles of sleep
 to the impossibility of anyone comprehending his dreams
 as he remembered them at dawn
 decided to retell them not as a member of a dwelling or a tribe
 and the matching of hands
 but in a manner where he made something more than was there before
 he forgot about fish between his legs and the fog in his head
 he embarked on the water of his soul alone he went out among sharks
 bringing things into his bosom and making them one
 he walked around at night pointing at things
 he allowed himself to be ravaged by wild beasts
 and the beasts allowed him to mount them
 say they started that stump breaking away back uh boy he says
 I wasn't talking about putting their heads over the mantel
 he began to wail out his dreams from the rocky crags
 he began to dance them out in the afternoon while the others were hunting
 he began to bring home more game than the rest and thus gained respect
 he began to be thought of as a devil by some and a god by others
 he began to spit on the hot chunks of stars that buried themselves in the earth
 he began to clip his fingers in violet blood and write his dreams by a light
 in a cave he wrote them in the dark also
 he began as a mark in the dust not a word
 he began to collect bones and clay and hair
 and then one day he put things together and the others threw rocks at him
 until it stayed there while even he was gone they looked at it
 it was a combination of three dreams that he did not have to go back and perform
 over and over like making a chorus in the pond with a stone and making an animal
 yell no it was this when the moon was full he drew a circle in the cave
 he came outside and cut a hole in a tree and looked at the moon through it
 he had a fit of laughter that caused so much commotion someone had to knock him
 out he got up and went to a mountain and never came back
 they could hear him laughing and weeping and yelling at the butterfiies
 he learned to track the dinosaurs and check out their shit
 he knew the ones to watch out for
 night was nothing to him but a song
 one day while he was dancing he saw people picking lice off each other
 and pointing at a stump he had carved into an oval
 he pushed loose some rocks and started another fit of laughter
 they tried to come after him so he ran off and for a year he carved
 something on every cypress knee he saw
 in the early morning fog his army of carvings was a sight to behold
 the tribe thought it so horrible that only once a year was anyone allowed to look
 upon it and this was always a young girl who hadn't been taken by a man yet
 she would return to the cave and tell the others what she saw
 one of them when she was finished would creep up behind her and beat her in
 the head with his cock until it got hard
 then they would put a knife in her mouth and make a mark on her neck
 and set her upon a wild beast that looked like a horse
 and with a sharp branch puncture the horse in the eye and the girl in the side
 they knew the blood would draw the tigers
 the youth saw these goings am one too many times
 when it came time for the tiger to leap upon her he leaped on the tiger
 of course he was almost eaten alive but he was now better than anyone else
 they wanted him to be back they said they wouldn't laugh at him
 all he wanted was the girl he got her and left
 now they could hear both of them dancing around in the snow
 leaving mysterious trails
 this made the others so mad they decided to ambush them
 155
 IZIO
 an
 it took them a year how to figure this out
 all the while the youth and the young girl were fishing everyday
 when the appointed time had arrived for the two to be done in
 the others licked over each other and clicked their heels
 already the youth had created two different symbols or sets of symbols
 for two Ways that were closely related
 he noticed that when he practiced his fighting with his knife
 he moved it from one hand to the other
 this would make a tiger or a man turn his head and follow it with the eyes
 one day he saw his reflection in the water while he was doing this
 and it looked like he was throwing many knives from one set of hands to another
 he thought now this looks like a man myself not a man yet balancing apples
 or making sticks dance in his hands
 as he looked at himself he saw that he could do this without looking at his hand
 of course he could see his hands in the water but he could look at his eyes
 if he could do this without looking at what he was doing then the enemy
 would fall prey to his eyes before he used the knives
 the last day the girl and the man were together he saw a tiger crouched behind
 him on a cliff he saw it open its jaws and leap
 he had spun round and was ready with his weapon before the tiger was firlly
 extended in the air of course he could have gashed his neck open but he didn't
 he let the tiger go he dodged out of its way
 so as to gather more information about the habits of the tiger
 he formed an elaborate rebus commemorating this experience
 with all the elements he had heretofore known about
 now he was getting somewhere for the weapon that he juggled
 was what he would sever the tiger's jugular with in his dreams
 at the time these two words were as far away as sound cameras
 but he still could see things and hear things and so he'split the rebus
 and made a rebus for each thought
 later that afternoon the tribe using one of his own tricks a simple law of motion
 but an elaborate construction to them
 rolled a twenty ton stone down upon his wife
 she raised up on her arms and looked down upon her crushed legs
 and with her tongue pointed to two things crawling out of her belly
 a day or so after she died he cut two of his fingers offi
 for the girl child died too because one of the others' dog got her
 and buried them and his Family members in a wooden tree and set it afire
 it burned on for days untold and when the channels of blood of the two girls
 burst in the heat a multitude of streams
 fiowed out of the hollow tree gushing out the knots like corks
 and flying fish and sharks danced on their tails like dolphins after the sweet
 juice and bears and horses and tigers pranced around in a circle on their
 hind legs with honey on their pates and hooves
 and this put such fear into the tribes who had gathered to celebrate their
 victory
 that they all crawled home on their bellies and not one fly remained in the land
 when they left they carried them with them like tongues
 and in their retreat they came upon a mother wolf as large as a bear suckling
 her brood and what they did was peel the hide off the cubs while they were alive
 while their eyes were still closed and under the not forgotten spell of that
 other world that dream world
 the youth seeing this removed the two stumps of his fingers from the boy child's
 lips his sustenance thus far
 and took him to the mourning she wolf the weeping mother
 and set him down to one of her gorgeous tears and as the winds blew he dreamed
 and this became a reccurring rebus as the three or four or five
 whatever the number was of two humans and a handful of animals
 wandered throughout the unexplored dreams of the living
 the treks over the plains became like waves they were so many
 often times while the child played with the tiger and the wolf
 the youth would lay back in the shadow of the great mare
 and anticipate the next rebus
 he would watch his son get down on all fours and lope like the animals
 now for some reason he knew it was time to tell the child of the rebus
 the rebus that would lead to all rebuses
 he dreamed of a time when his son who was all the sons that ever were and will he
 would be enticed by the same enchantresses
 challenged by the same sword
 lodged in water in stumps in rocks in trees in other men
 and he thought strange that the names of these things come to me and 1 do not
 know them
 even as he dreamed the sources of rivers and the components and cells and veins
 of his son's rebuses he saw the baby fat of the underbelly change into
 muscle and the cheeks molt with black shadows
 he saw with astonishment his son
 lift his head at the same moment the animals did when the musk of the sea
 sailed up their nostrils fiared like concave mirrors
 in his loins he trembled for his youth
 which was thousands upon thousands of years old now
 and he wondered as he watched the morning and the evening subside
 how he had come to know so much '
 with his still finger he would make his last rebus in this life
 one of the stumps put to the mouth of his son
 which made the son remember
 his first rebus and his last rebus
 all I can say hereafter is that the journey has never ended it is
 going on even to this day it is being undertaken
 there are two more parts that conclude those parts that made the latter possible
 but I haven't finished reading the letters fi'om my friends properly
 one is from a boy in Japan and the other is from a boy in India
 jimmy says that Hindoo who lives on the mountain in a orange parachute
 yes and then there is a letter I'm expecting from Arabia
 I can say that while reclining in the astronomer's observatory
 and listening to the harpsichord compositions of Francois Couperin
 I heard another a more sombre piece
 being played on another harpsichord as it were
 I left the lighted dome and entered the dark corridor
 leading to the planetaritu'n and there if my memory serves me rightly
 I heard D'Anglebert's Tombeau de M. de Chambonnieres
 and the last image of the last rebus which was the first rebus of the son
 was made known to me
 the child looked over his left shoulder and saw something
 if he had looked over his right shoulder there is no telling what the world would
 be today all I know is that he saw what was probably the first crew
 the first seamen of the seas and all twenty-seven of them were pissing on a ship
 yes they were peeing side by side upon the charred and upturned hull
 I could of course give the description of the design a cyrna an ogee arch
 but that is another rebus in itself
 what I will say for now is the child put out with these men in a ship that he
 helped construct while his father died on the beach
 where I will take up from here is when the child is a man and living among
 men the first seagoers of the seas
 you go get me some johnny paper jimmy says I still don't know what the fuck
 you are talking about but I just ain't in the mood to mess with it today
 as I walked up the road to the store with the money for the paper
 I saw in my dreams the astronomer showing me the fine blooded unicorn on his wrist
 I saw a compass untouched in years
 I saw a catamaran in the foreground of the water going blue and the dancers
 of the dream were hiking over the side
 I saw men tasting the substance that dripped from underneath the engine
 of their truck and I knew where I was
 I saw bets being made I saw cartridges ejected
 as I walked along I remembered the stone over my dolmen
 I saw negroes dreaming in the open road with white dust in their nose hairs
 I saw my fingers two years ago when I was ten smelling like hickory wood
 with my palms full of spit like the fire
 I saw the sweet animals I killed and cleaned
 I heard the spirituals being sung outside Indianola
 I watched the didts slipping through the belts of boatrnen
 I smelled the strong coffee of the hunting camps
 I saw what stuck to my ribs
 I saw the jitney cabs broke down
 I heard my grandmother playing Chopin
 I saw the winters gone by where I knelt in front of the hearth
 and looked through the annuluses of screen mesh
 I dreamed I saw the burial of Beowulf
 I thought I saw a knight with a fiaming sword it was only a man in a welder's
 helmet fixing a bulldozer track
 I gave the chinaman the dime
 I took the toilet paper back to Jimmy
 I went back to the porch I called out to him'Jimmy
 there's got to be one thing I'm right about I heard shots fired last night
 he laughed and told me to look at the wall in the shack
 I looked through the broken window
 1 saw the pattern of buckshot in the tar paper and calendar and Virgin Mary
 and Yogi Berra I felt sick to my belly like I had the worms
 1 went back to the porch swing
 I looked at the clouds
 the devil was whipping his wife
 Jimmy pulled out a knife and threw it into the tree in the front yard
 it quivered there for a long time
 I dreamed of a thousand pocketwatches and I was pouring salt on them like slugs
 for no reason Jimmy slapped the shit out of me
 he yelled as loud as I ever heard him yell like he was crazy
 he looked at me real close and he said Frankie louder than that
 he says ain't life sweet
 man coasted down the road on a bicycle with a mudfiap
 he was singing blues before sunrise and tears standing up in my eyes
 shit I've seen all kinds
 I've seen baptizings at the levee where a big woman will take a preacher down
 why I've seen them get the cross around their neck hung up on a root
 I heard tell of a white deacon who kept up a awful preaching he kept
 stepping back into the river saying come and be drenched in the spirit
 I'll be damned if the fool didn't step off in a blue hole
 and ain't never been seen since
 yea I've seen the one get dunked get snake bit before
 I've been out there a half dozen times myself and I've felt the gars
 brush up against my leg
 I seen a man get religion driving a bulldozer I seen him drive the Cat
 in the bayou
 shit they ain't even any point in talking about it what do you think
 somebody got an eye put out ha ha
 0.2. was the oldest so he ran the show he was the boss
 Jimmy was next
 I guess me and him could have told him what to do
 since it was we was white but we never thought of it
 anyway he was the oldest and the best
 daddy was going to send him to college
 he read all the books mother gave him
 he was a photographer he got a developing set off a comic book
 we made pictures at night in the tent
 I got a telescope and the complete songs of Roland
 Jimmy got a beat-up car and a gun
 Baby Gauge got some cool shoes
 Melvin got sick and a coat with a knife in the pocket lucky stifi"
 Ray Baby's folks were too poor so he didn't get nothing so I gave him
 the radio I got last year so I cried
 Born in the Camp With Six Toes got to go see his daddy in prison
 he took him a pegleg he said was made out of elephant bone
 it showed a herd of deer crossed the levee
 my sister has all the luck
 Emma got the pistol back the same one she got took away from her for shooting
 a man she got a new dress for sundays
 Louise Fazenda sent my sister a ring and a brooch and 100 U.S. Savings Bonds
 1 gave daddy a new Panama hat
 I slipped Charlie B. some dice
 Mose Jackson got murdered so did 3080
 there could have been a fiood in the spring
 I gave mother The Poetry of Emily Dickinson and kid gloves
 I know she woke up one night
 she said look Frankie at the cross
 in the heavens
 it was as she said the cross was a fiaming mast that is what it was like
 to my friends I gave a surprise
 to the secret pact of warriors I gave dried rattlesnake hides
 l tacked the skins out on an old barge plank everyday I put
 salt on them
 everybody had a rattlesnake hatband
 i had a hat with twenty-seven kinds of pop and beer bottle caps on it
 the first day we got back from camp
 I walked in the Peabody and tipped my hat
 Daddy said the woman was a whore but she would appreciate the thought
 Memphis is alright with all the parties and all
 I was supposed to go to Cotton Carnival but I let Howard have it because he was
 fat and his mother gave me five dollars
 I didn't like the cross-eyed girl they had in my grade besides
 these young ones are alright for falling in love with but the older ones give
 that hoochie coochie I'm a man Bo Diddley Jimmy says
 when I'm in Greenville with him I tickle their palms
 that's pretty cool he says
 I drink beer and smoke and all that shit
 one night we riding around me and Jimmy with a bunch of colored caddies
 we must a put two hundred miles on that man's Thunderbird
 Archie Lee knew how to turn the mileage back he said
 De Juan laughed cause he already unhooked it
 Jimmy say let me drive man he was drunk too
 we all got out and peed right in the middle of the road
 how about that for fun
 when De Juan has his chin on the back of the front seat turning up a pint
 like a rooster drinking rain water and we are fish tailing through some man's
 burnt up cotton and drowned soy beans I'd like to take a moving picture of it
 I'd get a stunt man to ride the hood so he could get a picture of the faces
 you know they ain't no curves you got to make your own
 I wouldn't play no juke music I'd set a classical piece to it
 Island of the Dead by] can't spell his name he's Russian
 over yonder way back in the mist of the evening once we were riding like that
 clean through them woods stands an old mansion they use for a country club now
 no cotton around it for awhile they made a 18 hole golf course
 then you get to the cotton 1 want to tell you can't no pro find his ball
 during picking time if he loses it no sir if you are just traveling through
 as I'm sure you are don't even fiash a five at a caddie there ain't no use
 well we seen this place burning
 the smoke was winding around like a staircase
 and the fire was like a chandelier
 and the evening was going into the mouth of the night like a panther
 the house was headquarters for my daddy's camp fifty years ago when they used
 mules instead of cats the house was a home and a headquarters during the civil
 war we all watched it burn from a distance we got up close on it
 and a wall of an outbuilding they used for a locker room had fallen
 De Juan says look at that hundreds of bags of golf clubs burning
 Archie Lee smiled like he played an ace
 I believe somewhere in some backwater
 fishermen with fingers cut so deep and divided like railroad tracks
 was watching the old timber burn like a ship
 I believe they was checking their lines and bringing in a lots of catfish that
 night it was somewhere in Mississippi I know that
 we laughed and laughed for most of a three quarter hour
 until someone in the backseat moans haw me like he was crying
 we only cruised home
 you might of asked if you was from the east or west or north now why
 didn't you guys run out through the fields and lend a hand with a bucket
 cause my friend that'd be like swimming out to a burning ship
 we was all too young to die and still is but we all will give it a chance
 wasn't no bucket nohow
 yes yes shiver my timbers I want sardines for breakfast and a lemon for lunch
 for a afternoon snack I'll get in a fight and you can keep my supper warm for
 three days I'll take six foot of ground
 sometimes a lonesome feeling gets me in a mighty good hold
 you know a lot of the way peoples live is a pile of shit
 don't put a After Six around my back I'd rather shoot the bones with the caddies
 the help is always better than the ones in the bow ties
 the loner that is me I loan out pieces of my heart like tickets to a picture show
 where there ain't nothing on the screen but solid BLACK
 did I ever tell you about Denton that's my first cousin my age real cool
 got a Letter in everything including Love man First String
 six pairs of shoes his pants is so tight and his billfold so thick he can't even
 get it in his back pocket man that's what I all got it made
 we drive down to the levee and play chicken dragging for five dollar bills
 there's only one person run us off the levee and that's Jimmy
 new
 we pulled a fast one on him once we hid Charlie B. in the back seat under a
 blanket and he drove Jimmy wrecked that night
 well we always show up late see bad manners to get there early at a dance
 get this me and Denton at a Ball
 showing up drunk at a Cotillion see and the girls really dug it
 we don't dance though we just loosen up our ties and go over to the bar
 slip the man a five he gives us a toddy and we go to gambling
 craps and slot and cards when we get through we done lost our ass to the nigger
 and I want to make amends you is got to see and he is known by THE got it
 nobody can beat him in poker or black jack once he gets the deal you might as well
 take off your studs and give him your cuff links too
 he is the bartender that tends to all
 in the future he gone tend to me I know but he don't know I got the power
 I lose on purpose so nobody will know if they was to find
 out it'd be all she wrote for me yes one of these days Roundtree gone do
 me a favor you see that look on his face it ain't right
 he ain't in no good mood with the white jacket and all and him that can play
 the piano no it ain't right he's studying long ago he was in the Jew's house
 working on a song see the man had a piano and the one I call Roundtree
 is thinking what happened to all those tunes in my head and the Jew is looking
 through a magnifying glass at his stamps then he look up with the big eye
 oh yea he remembers the big eye and he say to Roundtree that couldn't be a
 train could it and Roundtree who had predicted bad weather the night before
 at the juke joint saying hell naw ain't no freight train coming through heah
 got to be a tawnaydo him thinking how he jumped up thinking about his boy
 by hisself at the shack and him smiling at Denton beating the socks off him
 at craps but not really high inside but thinking about the tornado not
 the good looking girl or her daddy who is buying that is asking for her first
 drink he thinks as she has been ripped and robbed of her virginity but he
 don't know it and even while he mixes it and smiles saying there you go little
 missy he's thinking about that day at the Jew's house and him saying come on
 Roundtree let's get into the shelter that what the old man call the storm
 cellar but sometimes calling it like he calls other things you don't have
 common use for the Shtoorem over and over without the the and Roundtree
 all mixed up shaking his head naw it ain't no train and not knowing if the
 Jew is talking about the tornado or the storm cellar all the while the old
 fellow saying like he's still asking the question Shturem or not and Roundtree
 knowing the funnel probably done bounced off Albert Franklin's levee and
 gone set down in Spider's bean field but the Jew still wants to know so
 Roundtree thinking now the jew word for train of which there is none is Awpdahkh
 so he is shaking his head no Jew no Awpdahkh and the Jew holding out his hands
 and saying even as the roar and trainlike sound approaches no Opdakh and
 Roundtree saying nah man but in such a hurry the old Jew thinks maybe he wants
 to get somewhere which indeed he does so the Jew now saying as he is thinking
 it this is what it must be just a Tsug and so saying Tsoog to Roundtree with
 a smile since the lonely fellow lonely for such along time now I think then
 is happy that someone is come to pay a visit to his friend the piano player
 and Roundtree mistaking Tsoog for tornado damnit all he thinks he don't know
 jew talk so he nods yes so to speak but I know this without words being spoke
 I know it past for sure and present certainly and sometimes even in the future
 I know it even if it's in a different tongue I know it if I got a whiff of it
 like you would give to a bloodhound say then I can follow it once I get the trail
 it was dark as all get out Roundtree thought taking Denton's money and beating
 out a tune and nodding when the father hugged his daughter the debutante
 and my boy the only one I got of any woman the only one I had was on the porch
 steps or under the house I know it and the Jew motioning come on I'll take
 you to the train the one that was not and even if it was it wouldn't have arrived
 until three-thirty that morning as the freight don't run through these parts
 too much no more and so the two of them got on the bicycle and the Jew having
 second thoughts about Roundtree telling him that there wasn't gone he no storm
 that his relatives was coming on the train and as they both pedaled the Jew
 turning around and pointing back to the house as if to say they are welcome
 to stay at my home to have a drink and to refresh there if you would like
 but Roundtree taking his meaning to be maybe I should go back and get into
 the storm cellar while you go fetch your boy maybe it would be faster going
 and coming both if I did that and so Roundtree nodding in approval so the Jew
 dismounts and runs backs to the house saying in jew talk I hope he's right
 in any case let him meet his kin by himself I'll tidy up the house and crank
 the Victrola up so they will have something to greet them when they come to
 the door Roundtree thinking all this as he looks at himself drying the hollow
 stem glasses they have just toasted the white girls with at the country club
 in the mirror it wasn't none of his fault I can't say that he thinks how could
 it a been he meant well it took me time to talk wid him I lost time but he
 meant well and him remembering it dark as all get out dark as the tailfeathers
 of a blue andalusian rooster it was he thought that when he opened the last
 bottle of Sparkling Burgundy with a fooup and the cork came out the cork
 he puts in a cigar box and saves for the cooks and maids so they can use them
 for fishing bobber that's how my boy flew away the wind picked him up and sucked
 him away and he went like that offen his pet pig's back the one he was riding
 out to meet me on that boy of his that weren't old enough to know the difference
 tween new year and the fourth so he had them sparklers lit it took him awhile
 under the house with the matches on account of the wind but he done it by golly
 him saying look yeah pappy look at these spoklahs you buyed me ain't they sweet
 it dark so I can light them now can't I pappy as I said the boy knowing it's
 got to be dark after midnight on the first of the year but having it all mixed
 up with the fourth and him and the pig and the pink sparklers sucked right up
 like the wind was a carp eating duckshit on the bottom of a cattle pond and he
 never seed them again not never nobody ever did didn't find hide nor hair
 he thought all this and even had a few fuzzy memories of what the Jew played
 on the Victrola what was that the old man was telling him what kind of songs was
 they on the old discs he'd brought over from his old country Russia the Bashkir
 songs was that it the songs in an untranslatable language in fact an unwritten
 language but songs nevertheless by a race of people fearing some kind of God
 no doubt but it was dark as the black hornets' nest that took away his boy
 and as he thought this he came out and said I say he come right out and said
 maybe it wouldn't be so bad if only if only the words everyone has heard and
 is said to themselves but mostly to others sometime in their life if only
 he hadn't gone away then it wouldn't be so bad that I ain't never gone play
 no piano in New York City no Roundtree you blackassed nigger who never been
 past Kansas City and then only to see a Army buddy a Army they never did
 let you go nowhere with cepting Texas no Roundtree he saying to hisself
 ain't never even had a chance to cut a record in Nashville too many people
 in it these days too many folks but it wouldn't be so bad if the boy had lived
 thinking this as he sings a melody of a man who he personally despises Nat Cole
 so all of a sudden he just stops not a note more does he play the people
 on the dance fioor stop and look at him but he is far off looking out the picture
 window onto the golf course and swimming pool next to it looking at the two boys
 belonging to his new and third wife fourth if you don't count the one he had
 in Texas Roundtree Roundtree who it was once said of he had the booginist finger
 in the delta but now he sees them the caddies with one foot up against the wall
 and he knows he won't cut no record and they won't mind him a bit he knows
 that until the country club decides to get rid of him whenever they find or hear
 of somebody new who can do it all too like he has done it these so many years
 they will fire him and hire the new one oh yes he is thinking he'll be doing
 this probably the best he'll ever do just playing what they want behind the bar
 the money is fine though he thinks taking it off the underage rich folks kids
 who just gamble to be doing it all under the legal age so they give him the big
 tip so they can drink and he sells them that no count powder they think is
 Spanish Fly and now word has got round to some of their fathers even about it
 and they is wanting to purchase some too so they say to get the spoks fiying gin
 wid they wives so now he has to get hold of the real thing if there is such a thing
 but he knows he's still got one thing going he still has his looks he ain't lost
 them yet a penny will still bounce off his belly like it would the top of a pie
 he gets it from those he won't talk about the ladies that come in and never make
 the fifth hole before they take to the bar he hasn't lost that but all and all
 that ain't what he thinks that ain't nothing of what he really wanted to do
 just play just sing go to New York to Harlem a place he'd dreamed of and make it
 big but he knows that now and I know he knows it but he don't know how come I do
 yet he don't but he will I just has my fingers in my thumbs to be right in my
 suspenders and I know and I give him the fifty cents and he thinks what evah
 happened to that Jew and it is New Year coming up soon for sho but it wouldn't
 be so bad working at the country club if his boy was alive but he ain't he thinks
 and I am thinking Roundtree will do it he'll be there when I need him I
 know he will he don't know it now but I can feel it just like
 I can feel it when the mule kicks me in the side or when 1 get a bad
 hold on the bat and get a good piece of the ball I can feel it on my forehead
 irredeemable as the astronomer has taught me to say like the raindrops
 after it has quit raining tick tick tick on a saddle or a papersack
 and the horses and their riders with their brandished swords jump into my eyes
 as if that grey sea creature in my head was the thick of the battle
 oh yes I can feel always have and always will not I hope just like the bad food
 at the orphanage I feel it how after the meals feeling it I would sit in the
 windowsill it was awful big windows you see and sit there with my thumb
 in my mouth not sucking like the rest do but turned over the other way
 clicking my thumbnail with the permanent tooth on the bottom in the silence
 of the attic room the dormitory on the fourth fioor I'd do that and do that
 until I took the notion to bite the nail off and I would I'd beat down
 with what teeth I had like ['5 trying to get ahold of a knot in a fishing line
 and pull sometimes it'd take most a minute to pull it off but it'd come
 and it'd bleed too like never you mind and you couldn't stop it and then
 I had to do my chore the swiftest one I had not no hard labor to it or nothing
 but it was the one I hated most and especially right after supper with the
 sick feeling in my belly on account of that mush food that tasted like puredee
 shit and I hated that job the one that would look easiest to you if you was
 to compare it with all the rest I's made to do but the only way I could do
 it once a week without throwing up is if I'd bite a nail off and soon I didn't
 have none left so I got to where I could bite my toenails oEwithout feeling
 no pain so when I walked down the fiight of stairs into the dark hall where
 there was a big nook and there stood like an evil and wicked king no a brutal
 general the grandfather clock that had to be wound so the ones that run the
 place told to me lucky I was run off from that place or I might a plucked an eye
 out to keep from winding that thing up how I'd go to that place and get the key
 and the only way I could keep my mind off of getting sick if I didn't have the
 pain is if I'd pretend the key was a knife and the slow levorotatory movements
 I wound with was just a working that blade in his gut but he was tough he never
 yelled in pain once except for the sound like a ship's bell like him an admiral
 giving commands and each time I left some of my blood in the clock and at night
 I couldn't stop the tick tick tick like drops of water like a moom pitchu show
 you has to see over and over again without no sleep you tied in your seat and
 ain't nobody else there shoot they ain't even no popcorn and just you and so one
 night the night I stole away I taken that sardine key offen my neck and the
 St. Francis medal too the one that fool give me foe he passed out and I went
 down to where the clock was it a good nine foot tall and I unscrewed that which
 I was told never to touch and I seen all it was too it just a goddamn gimmick
 damn they hide I was thinking it weren't nothing but a fat tick tock
 it wasn't no general I seen it didn't have nothing inside but steel wheels
 so I puts the sardine key tween one and and it slips a gear and I bust
 out laughing me all along like a buck private or a prisoner of war but I
 had to hold it back lesting I should wake that son-of-a-bitch or one his mens
 up I taken the medal he give me and chunks it in a likely spot and did
 it mess up oh I tell you it did the hands commence to going around and around
 backwards and so I didn't have to pluck my eye out so I went in the hymn room
 and got that fan with the triangle an the big EYE on it and I cuts it out
 and reach under my desk and get some chewing gum and chews it a little to get
 the sticky back and sticks that EYE on that thang that goes back and forth
 ha ha I packed my bags that night and says to the ones that was up outside
 kneeling in the snow on account of bad manners see y'all boys I'm getting
 the hell out of here and I did I can feel that I did like I was trading licks
 with Jimmy you know when you plays if you can take a lick you can give a lick
 he always wins and my arm it so sore the next day I can't even hold a fork
 or pick up a bucket but the astronomer says these things must stop I must
 devote myself but he ain't never gone find me heah I'm so far down the river
 now ain't nobody can find shoot I don't I don't even know where I is but there is one
 thang for sure if I pull through ain't nobody gone have call to want me for
 no reason cause I'll just be a kid nothing else won't have no power
 ahh if that was a cottonmouf I say good show brother jolly good show like
 the Englishmens did before they went out and got they head blowed ofi-
 fimny how the water does to your skin make it all soft and white looking
 makes little channels in it like the wrinldes in an old man's face I declare
 when they ask me who was I tell them a stray
 that same bird been here a long time maybe he'll be a friend
 if I'm on top of the water my brother must be under the water
 he can hold his breath longer than me anyway
 I learned how to ride when l was twelve days old I remember
 but I still had a hobby horse and when l was rocking
 I could see my brother on one right beside me his was black
 and his was asleep and I kept saying wake up wake up what wrong cat got your tongue
 and the mammy woman would look through the peep hole and say come heah missy
 he doing it again and they'd all come listen to me and call somebody on eh line
 they done that if we's in the town if we wasn't she just asked them to pray
 for me it can't be another fiood again the river can't get that high
 I can live off scraps they don't have to be warm
 I scare the shit out of some people
 I bet all them letters in my toe sack got wet I bet nobody can read them now
 if somebody happens along and finds me it'll be good if they can't read the hand
 writing that way I won't break the Seal
 in some respects I'm like one them priests I can't break the Seal
 strange pen pals you have the astronomer tells me but he knows
 they got it too especially the Hindoo and that Jap
 I got a letter from the Hindoo right there at my feet hold on wait a second
 nah it ain't I got my head on it for a pillow I knowed they was something soft
 under there the raft timber might be waterlogged but it ain't that soft
 if I was to tell it what the Hindoo said I couldn't talk like this even
 if I was to say it like he said it I'd still have to talk right
 I bet the handwriting is ruint so I better recollect it one more time afore
 I forget it that would be the dogs if I forgot it I couldn't figure it
 all out if I didn't know it that's how we make it us who is like we are
 I send them letters that is just as important as the ones they send me
 now you'll be able to see right from the start the boy's english ain't so good
 but he's a Hindoo so it don't matter I'll cut out all the Hindoo greetings
 and tell it like it goes from the third page but I'll have to talk different
 he don't call me Saheeb or nothing like that either he's a for real Hindoo
 with the power just like me but it's driving him loony too
 friend as to the origin of that ancient race of individuals you inquired about
 let me begin it as it is begun in my country
 and recount it as it has been told for centuries
 and so it goes
 the voice of the primogenitor
 get out of here
 they told me
 I had no boat
 no weapon clothes or shelter
 no food
 I left
 I thought
 on foot it will be seven times
 the distance
 about a mile into the woods
 the wives
 turned up with those things I would need on
 my journey my return home
 may what ever spirit that it was
 which sustained you here in the first place
 guide you back to your people
 the oldest wife told me
 they were all there
 with gifts of farewell and with that
 which I had planted in their bellies
 already I hear your sigh it is a strange tale
 the lad tells us
 but I swear to you it is a true one
 they all bade me goodbye with a kiss
 and permission to touch those that were part mine
 high in a tree that evening
 I could see them outside the gates of the city
 the young and the old with children
 being lashed by their husbands
 just as they had beaten me
 just an hour ago
 I was outcast by them
 I who came a stranger will leave a stranger
 but I will leave knowing
 I have done what it is l was sent and found to do
 but before you shall know what that was
 I must begin with my birth
 the woman who gave birth to me was the last woman
 in our village
 shediedsoitisthatuntilafewyearsago
 I had never seen that which they call woman before
 being the youngest I was trained
 from the first day onward for my task
 I was taught to survive on nothing
 I spoke nothing
 I are nothing
 I was taught nothing
 I had to be made ready for my solitary voyage
 and I had to succeed
 otherwise my people were doomed
 long ago before anything was written
 it was said and acted out by the wise ones men and women
 that one day such a child would come to you
 and by coming it would take that
 which is
 vital to the rest of you away
 I did this
 I was the one
 however I was never taught guilt
 I was never made to feel it
 I departed in a small ship of reeds
 at that time I was what you would call six years
 the gallant men waved me goodbye
 I don't know how long it was that I sailed alone
 perhaps a month perhaps a year
 one day I was found in an inlet
 by a young girl and her mother who were bathing
 for a time they tried to hide me
 but they were soon found out
 I was guarded and watched clay and night by the men
 I was to them an animal
 I imagined they were men they were so unlike the men of my village
 these new men had their women do their work
 they sent them to the field
 while they sat around within the gates of the city
 and talked
 they spoke much faster than the men in my village
 yet they seemed to say nothing
 it would seem that a man who used his mouth
 a lot would develop strong muscles around it
 just as a man does who is given to rowing
 not so for these men seemed to flop around the jaws like swine
 what was strange about this place I wondered
 and then I noticed there were no young men
 from the women as I was sent out to work with them at the time
 I learned that their husbands had lost interest
 in the spirit of two things
 themselves and wine
 two spirits I had never known the pleasure of
 but was soon to know
 after a while I learned that these men were easily
 bcsuficd
 their minds were set to petty things as is the mind of the dung bug
 without even trying I was able to send them off
 while I learned what it was I was to learn from women and wine
 each one taught me something different
 one at a time the old and the young
 took me deep into the woods and lay me down
 they touched my body in a way only the wind could
 they showed me how to enter darkness
 I breathed hard as I would if I had climbed a mountain
 when they buried their heads between my legs
 it was like diving off a cliE
 never before had I smelled anything as fine as their hair
 whenever my member woke there was always a woman to stroke it
 but these pleasures did not last long
 one noon a girl and I bathed one another in wine
 and the pleasures were so great I was forced to yell out
 at the top of my voice
 she did the same
 before we knew it we were surrounded by the men of the village
 they beat her and did unmentionable things with filthy animals
 to that part of her where the spirit dwells
 I was chained and marched back to the village
 for their odd pleasures I was forced to mate with everyman's wife and daughter
 they stood in a circle and made jokes
 many of my ribs were broken by their feet
 for fear of endangering the lives of those I had come to love
 I submitted to their beck and call
 I will not state the acts I had to perform
 I am an honorable man now
 fortunate to be one of the sources of the primogenitures
 and so I left the city that day
 and so I returned to the men of my village
 real men if I may say so
 I told them that soon there would be women
 over wine I also let it slip out that there would be children
 if they were allowed to live
 enraged at the thought of their danger
 they suggested we all return at once
 for the women and children
 hold on my fellows I said
 living men among men has made you forget
 that there are some who live by the sword
 one fellow close to me boasted
 if these men are as you say they are
 then they shall be an easy enemy to defeat
 if circumstances were equal that is true my brother I told him
 but tell me which one of you here
 remembers how to wield a weapon I dare say which one of you remembers
 how to love a woman
 at this put to them as I did
 they shook their heads in dumbfoundedness and said you are tight little one
 we are no more any longer men than these swine you speak of
 how shall we return then
 we are doomed another said
 that is not so said I
 give us a plan yes give us a battle plan
 I will I will in good time my line fellows but first
 aren't you interested in hearing of the women
 with that there was a loud roar from each hearty fellow
 and much wine was put away
 I told the rascals you were sending me 01fi with not one word about a woman
 for a while the women of the village thought me quite odd
 not knowing what to do and all
 tell us little one a friend true to me said tell us
 what it was like to look upon a woman for the first time
 I cannot say my friend you will have to see for yourself
 in good time in good time
 that night there was much feasting and drinking
 and all listened carefirlly as I told them my plan of return
 but little one these women and this wine have done
 something to your head that is no plan at all
 we are all sure to be killed at such an offer as you will make them
 you do not understand the hate in these mens' hearts my brothers I said
 in their eyes what I will offer them what we all will propose
 will be nothing more than a show of strength
 a challenge
 I hope you are tight little one
 otherwise I fear we shall all be dead before we get one foot on land
 another one quite true said also
 I think I fix one will not mind dying so long as I have the sight of a woman
 before me
 there was a ring of laughter and we retired to sleep
 that night my dreams were filled with the women
 but most of all the girl the one they beat before my very eyes
 that morning we set out in our boats
 one man to each boat which was part of my plan
 the voyage lasted for days
 but it was seven times as short by water
 our small fieet of ships arrived just as the men were sending
 the women to the fields
 at first sight of us they fied leaving the women behind
 to think what would have happened to them if we were a real enemy
 the women were at the beach waiting for us
 as our prows touched
 my men trembled at the knees on seeing such beauty
 the mother and girl who found me were the first
 to greet me
 what is this little one she said how is it you come with a navy
 without a weapon you shall surely all be slaughtered
 not so kind woman said I
 look she said already the sloths are donning their battlegear
 I looked up the hill to the fortress
 there they were the swine all of them standing high up
 surrounded by the stone walls
 seeing the time was now or never
 I looked at my beloved and said where are my children
 her eyes went towards the water
 speak girl I said we have come for you and my children
 the mother spoke up
 little one all your children were murdered save one
 my daughter's child who gave birth to the only boy child
 upon hearing this I felt for the first time that which they speak of as hate
 if I had a sword I would have used it
 I looked at my men and said these words
 I swear to you more children will be born
 with that I gave the command to pour the wine
 each man stood in the prow of his ship
 the women pushed us out again
 from above we could hear the other men shouting look look they are leaving
 ready I said now
 we all waited for the right moment just as the sun shown brightest
 in the morning haze
 raise your goblet men I shouted
 salute them I said
 drink to the enemy I commanded
 toast the swine
 taking the glare of our goblets to be the fiashing of swords
 the men were prepared to surrender without a fight
 they threw down their weapons and ran
 my lads let up a resounding cheer and we put into shore once more
 each with the woman of his choice in his arms
 the old went to the old and the young to the young
 thus ends the tale of how a noble race of men was born
 in one sense a race of bastards
 born of men who had lived among men
 and unfaithful women
 that race of singers and makers of song we now call poets
 I kind of like it didn't you the Hindoo sort of has a way with words don't he
 I have to admit that was one of the best letters he ever wrote me though
 golly it's getting cold out dieer first it's cold and then it's hot if it ain't
 one thing then it's another oh yes it is the way things is going I'll never
 make it something gone get me if it ain't something gone be somebody
 what was that what was that put me out my misery Lawd
 I like to smell my mother's purse at night I like to reach my head
 down in it like I was a horse with a sack of oats around his neck
 I like to take all the bills out of her pocketbook just like a payroll stack
 I like to smell each one I put them the twenties over my eyes
 I hold them up and dream about them where they come
 from who had them last once I told the hypnotist I knew
 one of the fives was stolen sometime in the past and the man
 who lifted it had his throat cut in a prison cot I could feel the sheets
 like wet clothes on my back in the afternoon a cloudy day
 I could tell one of the bills stayed wadded up in a nation sack
 next to a fat colored woman's thigh I could see the rolls in her stockings
 above the knee I could see the girdle like a merry go round
 some of the money smells like juicy fruit gum
 some of it is like the perfume the actress sends mother from Paris
 I look at the wounded photographs and the cartridges of scarlet lipstick
 the leather is like what I would like to be wrapped in when they bury me at sea
 over the starboard side I love the cracked mirrors
 the pennies drowned in the bottom and the broken lifesavers
 the toothpicks like bowsprits I hold up the dollar bills like five cards
 I want you to pick one isn't it fine to have folding money
 that purse is like cloth hung up in a castle it has cold
 and secretive doors like frogs in a circle by the outhouse like the bayou tapes
 my own like an old sign you can throw rocks at the strap is like
 a whip nailed up to the wall in the old gin at night you
 can hear the wheels turning because my old cousin hasn't been in the Strand
 for twenty years he never had enough money and when he did he bought shoe polish
 or if he had a lot he sent it to Alexandria to help take care of his crippled
 sister that worked at the school sometimes I think I can fall into the purse
 as if it were a well with no light I would wander and wander through the circle
 I would touch the wet caverns I would yell
 moon and it would echo a thousand times and by the time
 it got back to me it'd be soon
 it is time to get up and go to school go to school go to hell
 hole on a second I'm free I ain't got to go nowhere now
 ain't that just the way it really is though you get up on Saddey
 thinking shit I got to go then you say wait it's Saddey and from now on
 brother evahday gone be Saddey
 no more sucking hind tit for me I ain't kissing nobody's ass no more
 so I take my hands out of the purse I put the lovely money back I
 might steal a dollar now and then she'll never miss it oh Sunday how I hate you
 like an unforgiven sin
 great grandmother is a hundred years old in six years and taking down her hair
 will she make it folks my aunt with a spoon
 of milk of magnesia in her mouth so she can shit
 Elvis lives right up the street maybe they'll drag race tonight
 I can't load the pistol Charlie B. Lemon stole it
 I can't go in the attic and scare Hatti because Hatti is gone she is
 gone there is a body in the attic touch it
 I vow to spring all traps in Mississippi
 I vow to make it safe for all animals come now the astronomer saying you will
 find yourself wandering through the rainforests pulling butterfiies out of
 spiderwebs a lot about it he knows forget the rotten teeth in the skull sucking
 the nipple dry don't listen to the canticles of death the madrigals of dust
 on the biers don't listen forget the litanies wearing a black patch
 don't lift up don't look underneath the bed the water
 sing so long to the world where the liars are gnawing through one another's back
 my dreams say you will not hear them again the voices will quit gashing
 your underbelly my dreams like the fiight of an antediluvian spear
 that knows no mark like arrows on a plain in Greece like oblivious ships of death
 I shall walk the log in the Bear Creek Woods with my hands behind my back
 like I was commanding the wind singing the psalms and songs I know and have known
 I shall whistle up the moon in the Diamond Woods everyone I meet I will sing to
 I will sing to take my leave I will use what words I like I will sing do you hear
 me my song on the trotline my song in the bogue my song on the paddle my going in
 the water barrel in the ice my song like a pair of lost gloves in the river in
 the rose gentians in the climbing buckwheat in the pokeberries in the snaketh
 like a knife through a belly like a sack of fiour like a cadillac on fire like
 catfish talking on the fioorboard my dreams are dogs in the fog they are embarking
 from the spot where I lay in the fields they fioat like feather stars they wait
 for me on the levee they have always been true like a blood brother like saber
 toothed tigers with stripes like a prince when you eat my dreams they are sowbellies
 hopping john hoe cakes and molasses some them gallop in at night and I sweat
 you call that succubus with her sexual hooves that's how you get nightmare I
 suffer from pavor nocturnus the outworms in the soul for bait death to the tyrant
 I make a vow to always fight them I francis gildart knight of the levees and
 rivers and ships keeper of tears and virgins and horses with lucky markings I
 will do this even if I have to say it again somebody left two cents on the dashboard
 I won't go into what happened to Jimmy and me while he was in prison
 because Dark is going to come by and pick me up and take me to the
 Sunday Baseball Game in fact I see his mule kicking up dust down the
 way right now you know I finally figured out how they play the game
 without the ball and I know nobody in the big leagues could do any good
 with us I forgot to say they is letting me play catcher which is lots
 easier than being a spectator the other hind catch went to Chicago
 my mitt is made out of old saddle leather and I mean the pitcher can
 really burn them in I have to really watch his curves and submarine balls
 my hand is all swole up and red after nine innings I was a little bat
 shy at first but I found out a hickory stick up side my head don't hurt
 nearly as much as that ball when it hits me square between the eyes
 or right on the nose but now I say ball but there ain't no ball like I say
 but we say we got a baseball and it don't really matter I am the only
 white boy on the team except for Jimmy unless one quarter white counts
 just the other day a representative of Dr. Tichenor's Antiseptic come
 all the way from New Orleans cause he heard how it was our team the
 King Snakes don't get us mixed up with the Crawling Black Snakes they
 is convicts and is bad at first and lacking in the outfield hadn't
 lost but one of forty-nine games they was thinking about sponsoring
 us and giving us uniforms with The Best Antiseptic In Town across
 the shoulders but when the man saw one of our games and found out we
 didn't use no ball he said shit these crazy niggers now I seen it all
 and got in his car and tried to slam the door but the dust is so bad
 won't none of the joints and grease slip together like they do on the
 asphalt he just left out of here like that just like he came didn't even
 buy no ice to put in his air conditioner or nothing we could see his trail
 going back and forth like a blue racer snake for most of ten minutes he
 was naturally lost again like most who end up around here I guess he was
 mad cause it took him so long to find the place you know there ain't no
 real road to where we is you can look on any map and I'll bet you can't
 even find the name of the village we are staying in this summer and I'll
 be damned sure you can't find no road to it unless you got a hold of
 a bootlegger's map by the way we wanted purple uniforms with black stripes
 but I will say why he got at even six months for getting even with those
 peckerheads that tried to kill him you remember that chainsaw he was
 talking about the one that's been sitting out there in the clearing for a
 long time well Jimmy went and got it and took it to this shade tree
 mechanic he knows who is blind and part Choctaw the man got it running
 for five dollars and wanted to sharpen the chain but Jimmy said what he
 aimed to cut wouldn't take long and he could cut it dull as a widow's knife
 he threw the buzz saw in the back of the pick-up and went over to the chinaman's
 store to buy him some varmint poison then he drove down to where them white
 men had their honky tonk when he got there they was outside drinking beer
 and barbecuing drunk they might of been celebrating some holiday no they wasn't
 I remember now I'll tell you in a minute this here honky tank is kind of like
 an arbor you know with the shaved tree poles whitewashed and buried in the
 loam holding up the roof they got them a juke box but it don't play no juke
 joint music it just plays their kind of music the bar is an old fishing boat
 a fiat-bottom turned upside down resting on two saw-horses the place set
 right on the slew and they was so dumb as to put a horse shoe ring to the side
 so if you was to make a long chunk it'd go down the bank in the water
 a bunch of chickens was pecking through the goat guts that's what they was doing
 barbecuing goats and the pen firll of coon dogs was trying to dig under the
 chicken wire to get at all of that good meat some of the goats was still
 hanging up by the hind legs bleeding out their throat and still another one
 wasn't even on the pit yet and the pit now they had about fourteen of them
 was these fifty-five gallon oil drums split in two and hinged together again
 up on some scrap metal structure they had some nigger weld together for nothing
 they was all painted black and the reason I know this is this we seen one
 of their and by we I mean me and Melvin we seen one of their buddies making
 the barbecue pits he got the barrels at the river off a barge and he had him
 one of them acetylene torches going cutting through the metal now you is
 supposed to fill them drums up with water before you put a torch to them
 cause the folks up north ship that paint thinner in them sometimes the fool
 burnt hisself up just blew his head to kingdom come Melvin said he would
 this happened awhile back me and Melvin walked over to where a dog was
 barking we seen the man's head come off but we didn't know where it landed at
 sure enough it was him he still had the goggles on Melvin said man he was
 stupid and this here barbecue was in their friend's memory don't you know
 Jimmy said he saw about five more goats skinned out and hanging up on some
 buckthorns and he started getting ideas right then he slipped over to the dog
 pen and when the mean one set his nose through the wire Jimmy caught hold
 of the snout and pushed down on the back of his neck with the other hand and
 broke that coon hound's back he skinned it out real quick and waited when
 the men went back in to where the wash tubs fiill of beer was Jimmy crept
 over to an empty pit where the coals was hot he salt and peppered the man's
 dog and put him on the spit and put his bloody hand over his lips and broke
 out laughing and snook back to his truck but I forgot to say he poisoned
 all the other meat and the dogs too and he almost got caught doing it cause
 one of them mens who wasn't drunk was whitewashing some trees in the back
 he seen Jimmy but not what he did and he was fixing to yell hey but Jimmy
 was smart he reached in his pocket for nothing and when he pulled his hand
 back out he let about five dollars worth of change hit the ground and you
 probably know that when a bunch of rednecks is gathered together and drinking
 and one of them is working then he is the fool and would probably like to
 kill a few of them hisself this man the one Jimmy had shucked the spending money
 to had tried to kill one of them by gasoline but he set hisself a fire once
 he was real ugly didn't have no hair or eyelashes or nothing he was singed
 like a pig but he had a rich queer uncle in California that paid for him
 a operation but them doctors must of hit some wire in his brain cause now
 he's always teching himself in public playing with his private parts he's
 like a loony now you can yell Leo you better quit that and he'll jump and
 stand there like a hog until you go by I guess that's cause so many people
 have caught him with his hands down his pants Jimmy was going to hit the fool
 in the head but he put him on his bicycle and told him to ride on out
 the man kept wanting to shake Jimmy's hand cause nobody is ever kind to him
 they just poke fun at him but Jimmy didn't want to shake his old nasty fish
 smelling hand the fool rode away pedaling like crazy looking back over his
 shoulder and he ran into the ditch and some trees four times while he was
 waving Jimmy just saying low to himself get on out fore you get me caught now
 the men were calling at the fool they thought he was working they had them
 a naked woman calendar and was looking for fun Jimmy took this chance when
 he had it he poured the rest of the poison in the bucket of hot sauce and
 run back olf down the bank and waited he kept raising his head up and looking
 over the rise like a soldier waiting on the enemy to show himself he done
 this for a long while he wondered if anyone was going to eat them goats and
 especially that dog and the time went by and still wasn't nobody come out the
 tank finally a man and I'm telling this story exactly how Jimmy told it to me
 come out and basted the meat but he didn't touch a bite this made Jimmy so
 damned mad he run up on the man and beat him up Indian style so nobody could
 hear he tied him up and shut him in the dog pen where all the dogs was dying
 he almost give hisself away again by laughing at what he was doing but he
 sucked it in he crawled back to the slew and listened to their music
 then a fat man stole away he come out and looked around you know how
 they don't want nobody seeing them when they is slipping food on the side
 I have seen and been where these fat people will walk right up to you and invite
 you to eat with them they try to find some restaurant where there's not too
 many folks and they walk in real stiff and look around like they was hot shit
 and they always hold that chin out like they was shaving they do it at the
 movies too they pick at their face like they was trying to take the slack out of a
 store bought suit don't get me wrong now I ain't got nothing against
 fat people that would be like saying I didn't like albinoes or mexicans
 or cripples or string beans no I like everybody but Unferth and his multitude
 of descendants and I pray for them like I was knowing they was going to
 execute me and my friends one of these days I don't really think they got
 it in them to kill a twelve year old and some colored boys more or less the
 same age but you got to remember they done worse in other times gone by
 what about the sleepwalking sword babies not to mention the ATOM BUM
 as you know colored people is more worried about the peckerheads and the devil
 and the evil eye but since I'm white I get scared a studying that bum
 like I say it ain't all those fat folks bad they is Okie Dokie lots of the
 time take Fats Dominoe what I don't like is the ones that makes a habit of it
 asking you out to dinner to all kinds of places high and low a telling you
 what to eat and how to eat it one time I was asked out of the blue and I said
 hell yes thank you I'll take a hamburger and some grits and a pineapple soda
 that's what I told the waitress but while I was fiddling with the tooth pick
 machine he changed the order on me they always end up ordering what they want
 then they shove the empty plate on your side and take the full one and commence
 on it I tell you what's this world coming to you bend over to rub under the
 table to see if it is tacky or not just looking and feeling dried up gum
 and they try to steal something off your plate then they tell the chef bring
 this boy something more to eat on while I finish my dinner and they eat another
 plate of that shit they eat once I got took to a high class joint and I felt
 under the table and there was a team full of gum I guess that means that
 what use to be tacky is now high class it's a sight these fuckers pay your way
 into the show and at the best part they say go get me some more popcorn fuck it
 what was wrong with the fat one that come out the honky tonk was this he had
 what they call a gland problem so once he started eating he couldn't stop
 along about last year he got up to about four hundred pounds they tell me pretty
 soon he'll have to weigh hisself on the cotton scales at the gin Jimmy said
 Fat Man tore into one of those goat legs I guess that's what he called him
 he didn't stop eating he couldn't he had the sauce
 all up in his moustache and his nose in his ears and hair the fool he was
 grunting like he was hung up in the outhouse there he went to scratching the
 dingleberries in his ass he can't wipe right cause he so fucking fat
 and got red hot sauce all over his khaki pants I take that back them was duck
 he's got to get them special made at the tent place he had eat about two goats
 before someone coming out to take a leak caught him yelling goddamnit
 Stoole is eating up all the goats get a rope somebody the man only had one arm
 got it blowed oil: in Korea he had to use a hook you ever see anybody shake
 his dick ofi' with a hook I bet you they get pee all over the side of their
 trousers the dumb ass men come running after what they heard Stoole was doing
 Jimmy said when they dropped their beers little ponds of foam rose up
 but they wasn't no dog come a licking cause the dogs was all passed out for dead
 Jimmy said he shut his eyes and rubbed his hands together
 he said they all jumped Stoole and tied him up
 he was rolling around in the devil's convulsions
 he burned a design on his face from the grill like a fisherman's net
 to make sure he didn't roll around and knock someone eating off his feet
 they laid three railroad ties across him
 man I'd like to seen those idiots trying to drag Stoole away from them goats
 I'd like to seen them get the bellyache when they started gnawing
 Jimmy said it was just like the bible a whole lot of that gnashing of teeth
 one fool bit clean through his tongue then he spit it out like a fish bone
 a blue chicken eat it
 the music box was playing that song
 and Jimmy had to knock his head up against a tree when the one armed man
 chewed his dog the song that was playing
 was the one that come out by a colored man and a country singer at the same time
 since white people owned the radio station they told them not to play
 the colored version but you could get it from
 WDIA on your dial in Memphis it was a big deal if it ever come on the radio
 turn it up loud in the car and be sure your windows were rolled down
 this pissed the white men OK it was their theme song
 and some nigger was singing it but the nigger he wrote it what about that
 Stoole was yelling that's my song
 he was talking about his little girl 1 went to see my lil one dancing
 at the hop she was sock footed at the school sliding round on the gym fioor
 I heard one them boys say she fucks like a snake I whupped her good
 took her out to the shithouse and done it cut all her hair off with a cauter knife
 then he was saying why don't no one love old Stoole don't nobody love me
 fellers how come y'all tell me is it cause I'm big y'all think I'm soft
 don't you please boys what's wrong with me go get me some cookies Doyle
 I helped you wid] your barn last spring do me a favor
 untie me and let me get some that goat he was my friend too
 get me a drink my belly hurts for sure powerfirl I need one
 everyone was talking out of their head but him most cause of the poison
 according to Jimmy
 while he was telling me the story I dreamed about the civil war forget which battle
 but he socked me one so I'd listen to him
 a raft bearing a granddaddy clock was moored to a black willow
 in the bog and it was four minutes past six in the morning
 there was a whole lot of shaking going on
 it will be night if I see broken soda bottles in the garden of love
 jack in the pulpit and sweet flag in the water like stirrups
 like chains around my ankles
 if someone is pumping the water out of the accordian on the bridge
 I'm going to dig a hole and put the devil in it
 I was dreaming this when he hit me
 one of them saw the bloated coon hounds he wooped ambush
 the triggers is on the war path
 he done this cause Jimmy crawled around back and put the colored version
 of the song in the juke box he had to steal a dime out the cash drawer
 low down stinking black ass triggers was coming out of their mouths
 they was all sick as a dog unto death
 all the tongues swelled up and everyone was passing wind
 a man who had become fairly diuy said he saw the mau mau and a hovering machete
 the rifies were sleeping in the cab windows of the trucks like turkeys
 some of them were holding doubled up fists between their legs
 Jimmy was just laughing his ass off
 they seen him out in the open rocking in a regular chair under their arbor
 they yelled trespasser done it they called him Trespassing Dog
 they rolled around puking and cussed him out for ten minutes I reckon
 he went in the honky tonk and turned up the juice box loud as it would go
 he come back outside and got on the teeter totter with a fifth of whiskey
 he told them to go to hell
 after a while they wasn't yelling at him calling him the mad dog
 they wasn't saying he bit me or white man done it Jimmy done it
 or running up and down screaming mad dog mad dog
 they was begging for mercy asking for the vet to come see bout them and the dogs
 please Jimmy oh please they said on their hands and knees
 Jinmy went over and peed on one of them
 give us a break boy we gonna die if we don't see no help
 lots of these grown men were crying
 Jimmy let the emergency brakes off some of their trucks and let them roll
 into the slew
 he told them all y'all ain't worth the powder to blow you to hell
 come on let bygones be bygones
 he said bygones shit
 and went over and got the hide of the mean dog and walked over to one of then
 and said Henry Tilt this here is what's left of your dog
 I skinned him and you ate him ha ha
 Henry was crying and making the hook go like a crawdad
 not one man or dog died from the poison
 it must of been too old to kill anybody that's what I told Jimmy
 that it set on the shelf of the chinaman too long
 if it had a been me Id at sent a letter and the box top in to the company
 and got my money back
 while they was thinking they was all dying Jimmy got the chainsaw out of his
 truck and commenced doing what he came to do
 to saw up the honky tonk
 he done it too he cut the damned thing down like he had a crosscut saw
 and them watching him all the time
 him drinking their whiskey and cutting down their dance hall
 in one of the back rooms he found the piano keys and the chandelier
 that got stole out of a old widow woman's mansion a couple of years ago
 he put that in the truck bed and smiled at them the ones that took it
 he got in his truck with a piece of barbecued goat he hadn't poisoned
 and put his panama hat back on his head and drove off
 as he was leaving he said out of the side of his mouth
 so long motherfuckers
 I forgot to say that when he sawed the juke box he got the holy living shit
 shocked out of him
 like I say I don't really want to go into what happened to him while
 he done time in the penitentiary you all heard enough songs and story
 to come out of a prison anyway don't never get caught though
 at doing a crime Jimmy said cause prison is perverted
 he said he met more flicking wild men in one day than he had in his whole life
 I was riding with the man called Dark
 he smelled like alcohol that had been asleep and his smoky clothes
 that he hadn't changed for months were like ship wood
 when he spoke which was seldom
 his voice carried over the fields and the bogs and yet it was not loud
 it was deep like a wound or a cool well
 when he sang like a blue hole with no bottom the words made no sense
 at first but then if you looked
 out the corners of your eyes without looking you saw what he was singing
 about there might be a night snake choking to death
 with a chorus frog
 there might be women with big breasts walking at the turn row
 there might be water for the hands spilling
 out of a barrel on the back of a blue school bus
 it will be many years before I can tell about Dark before I can remember
 that low down song
 as the sleepy mule swayed back and forth down the road
 the dust curling under his wet belly
 I was rocked to and fi'o like a careening boat
 I dreamed with my eyes half closed about the practicing carnival workers
 the violinist and the juggler thinking about stretches of sea
 through their windows where they were born
 I saw them in time I saw them going to sleep at their work
 1 saw them as children before the wars with extra spending money
 along a coast in Europe
 climbing diffs and talking about the days to come
 the handkerchieves tied around their necks and the sea below
 I felt like the wounded man being painted by the drunken artist
 in the picture show Odd Man Out
 I felt like he did when he remembered the words fi'om the bible
 and he stood up amidst the states of the living paintings
 and said his piece
 I felt the two words Power and Dominion had been betrayed by the lawyers
 of property I dreamed that these days the union carpenters
 in the suburbs have joined the same houses together for the sake of joining them
 I believe there is no sanctuary for me and my strays
 in the subdivisions
 and I dreamed the cathedrals built by the unknown
 I am like grass cracking their concrete
 I am a horse confused on the highway
 I am carved by a blind negro in the shanties where I learned to speak
 and the ones from town are automobiles made in the assembly plants of Detroit
 and my brother is the bleeding child of hit and run
 he is bleeding in his sleep
 I am the rider called death
 I sit in the saddle with Dark the negro
 and his crazy blues sinks down like a diver into my belly of dreams
 like terrible adventures like unknown poets going down with their ships
 centuries ago in the kingdom of dreams where the unicorns and the oars
 tried to roll over on the beach
 I was dreaming to be stalked is to be rescued
 and to be rescued is to be stalked
 l was dreaming about Jimmy going back to the penitentiary in the Spring
 he done it again
 somebody fucked him and Charlie B. over so they put the quietus on them
 it was Saturday evening
 along about five o'clock
 Charlie B. and Jimmy was washing up out at the pump
 usually there is a bar of Ivory Soap in the prime jar
 wasn't nothing but Lava
 one of them yells boy get me some white soap
 they was the both of them naked as hell splashing cold water on one another
 I run down to the store about half a mile got a great big bar
 run back they was already drinking
 and talking bout what they was going to do that night
 hayar bastuds sending me afia soap and don't want it
 don't be talking that way boy I mean we done some work today
 I knew what they meant ain't nothing like a good cold bath
 what y'all gone do night but they didn't answer
 we was camped at that time pretty near a big town about four hundred people
 least it was big enough to have a Drive Inn Picture Show
 this here town must have been twenty miles away maybe twelve I don't know
 I want you to know had my eye on y'all last week I said
 I said this cause I figured on what they was thinking from a week back
 I went in with them when Jimmy got a haircut
 see there was this advertisement in the window saying Coming Attraction
 I never should have laid eyes on it neither
 a Easter Sunrise Service was going to be held at the Drive Inn
 but the night before the first sunday morning after the full moon
 they was going to have a all night picture show marathon
 which was this particular coming Saturday night
 I had it all figured out that's what they had in mind
 you might want to knock me for mnning down to that store after the soap like I
 did you might think I should have give them more lip
 uh uh but you'd done the same you'll be a bootblacking dummy when you want
 somebody to take you somewhere then after you get there you can tell them off
 why hell I learnt that from a colored boy when I was six years old which was
 nigh on six years ago and he wasn't but seven at the time you got to think
 reckon we ought to go get Tang the real cool one said
 ya bout that time the other real cool one said
 what you gone weer he said
 that black silky shirt
 then why don't you let me wear the burgundy one
 don't spill nuthing on it
 I won't he said
 I wonder I said real loud what I'm gone wear
 both of them looked at me
 you can wear a chinese nose guard Charlie B. said
 seeing how you ain't going nowhere Jimmy said
 I'm gone tell I said I know plenty
 let the sonvof-a-bitch go Charlie B. said
 you better get ready we got to go get Tang
 going to have a carload ain't we
 it should be explained these damned country drive inns has got them a gimmick
 they ain't no difi'erent from nothing else
 see what they do is advertise about twelve moom pitchus to get attention
 now you know they can't show a doun in one night except in the winter maybe
 unless they got some short ones
 oh they might once in a while on special occasions
 but the people they come anyway
 hoping they'll get to see a couple at least
 some of the pitchus are kind of new and ain't busted in the middle
 but a lots of them don't even have talking
 they're what you call Silents
 it don't matter they charge the same
 these fucking rednecks make a dime anyway they can
 about this particular drive inn now we hadn't never been to it before
 but you can't pass something like that up when it's just that far away
 you might know or have heard how they shoot a lots of these moom pitchus
 on Location
 that's so they can get free acting and won't have to build no props
 these here kind of pitchus are sure fire money makers
 so they keep shooting them over and over
 so the people will always come back to see theirselves
 even if it just shows their backside for a second or two
 you can be in a drive inn where they have one of these shows on
 and you ought to hear the folks making fools out themselves
 honking their horns and yelling
 poking their head out and laughing
 just listen at them
 there I am there I am they'll say
 look honey it's me that's me pumping gas
 see me striking a match
 it's sickening
 I believe if a hick was to walk in front of a huge mirror in a museum.
 all he'd see was hisself
 they make these so-called racial pictures that cause a lot of controversy
 these dumb rednecks the fucking idiots don't even know what they're about
 they just go looking for their face on the screen
 the only ones that raises a ruckus is the ones that didn't get in it
 and they is liable to get drunk and kill somebody
 them Hollywood producers ought to take that into consideration
 the character who is the hero turns out to be a hero to them
 colored people like to go see themselves too
 why not they're just like everybody else
 they carry on too when they see themselves but it's difi'erent from white people
 course there's always some jive cat yelling
 but the nodding and humming like they do like they was in church
 well it's different as if they was listening to what the pitchu is meaning
 as if they was looking for real at what the people was doing
 like they identify with the character of course they bound to do that sometimes
 cause it is them
 I want you to know they ain't paying no quarter just to see theirself
 I know that
 in Memphis in the colored theatres they play Hallelujah and Baby Doll
 over and over they play Intruder in the Dust too which is my all time favorite
 this way all the folks that live over in Mississippi can come see themselves
 they make a lot of money on them just like the white shows do
 I have seen all these pitchu shows many times
 I know a lot of people who was extras in them
 Tangle Eye the root picker you get to see walk by in Hallelujah
 and Charlie B. hisself is in Baby Doll and that's a lot newer
 it don't have no busted ends and the talking comes out of the lips right
 them two was a couple they was claiming to show the night before Easter
 a lot of folks bound to had been coming
 I thought I was going to have to beg them to let me go with them but you saw
 how easy it was when you got something on someone
 Tang was waiting for us in front of his tent
 he got in the backseat with me
 Charlie B. and Jimmy sat in the front
 I could tell on his breath he was already drunk
 hi you Mr. Tang
 evening boy
 what you want to drink Tang
 give me a beer Charlie he said
 they had three cases of beer and six bottles ofwhiskey
 looks like I'm gone be driving back tonight I says to myself
 Charlie B. was claiming he could a been a moom pitchu STAR
 he said they wanted him to go out to Hollywood
 1 don't know if he was telling the truth or not
 I don't even know what he looked like in the pitchu
 we just cruised around waiting for sundown
 Tang was mumbling to himself he was in a different mood
 cause that pitchu he was in was a long time ago one
 and you could tell he was recollecting the past
 it didn't take us long to get there I guess cause I was excited
 and as we got nearer to the Drive Inn itself
 we saw other carloads of negroes going past us
 they were sitting down low in the back and the mud flaps drug the road
 as they went past they would wave hi y'all
 said ain't gone show Baby Doll nite
 and the old man Tang would raise up and look out the window
 Charlie B. said shit Jimmy
 another car went by a woman said tell Mr. Tang Hallelujah won't play this evening
 I looked at him I said you hear that Tang
 he nodded his head
 Charlie B. told Jimmy to pull off to the side
 and he got out and flagged another car down he asked them did the ticket man
 tell you he wasn't going to be on how y'all know you try to get in
 a man said naw man we can read the sign they wasn't posted
 I yelled out maybe he run out of letters lots of them is broken
 he's missing a lot
 shut up Jimmy said
 I said he can't spell anyhow
 he has to get his son to put the letters up they told me in town about him
 Charlie B. says y'all means you didn't even buy no tickets
 maybe after you buy a ticket he'll tell you what's on
 Tang mumbled damn ticket taker
 he didn't think I was paying him mind he thought I was listening
 to the talk going on outside the window
 damn ticket taker night foe Eastuh ain't going no show that man ain't
 gone let no nigger in ain't even gone let a man see hisself on moom pitchu
 that son-of-a-bitch and here it is dem niggers ain't even tried that gate
 he spit that's the reason he said even as evem
 shoot they know the sap ain't gone let um in night foe Eastuh
 like I say I had never been to this Drive Inn before none of us had
 but what the old one was saying was making sense
 Charlie B. was cussing mad I figured he was fixing to knock somebody's
 block OH I said we can still go we can still go
 what y'all so blame upset for they got ten more shows
 I seen them in the Barber Shop
 no call to back out ain't that right Tang
 the old man he just snort out his nose like a horse
 so what those two y'all in ain't on tonight
 we'll catch then down the river somewhere won't we
 I was really shining shoes cause I had my heart
 set on seeing them moom pitchus and I had this hunch
 that on this night before the Lord rose again I was going to see twelve shows
 I knew down deep they don't usually do it nowhere
 except in the winter if they ain't closed down but I knew it
 I just did and so I said
 you like Harpo Marx don't you Charlie B. he's your buddy ain't he
 they got one with him in it I know
 Tang you can't tell me you don't like them no talking moom pitchus
 they got one called the Hunchback of Notre Dame
 Jimmy I know you crazy bout James Dean they got one with him
 that right he says
 yea they got the Count of Monte Cristo too
 night don't seem like a total waste does it Charlie said
 there's another one 1's :1 Fugitive From a Chain Gang
 I go to see that one you hear Jimmy
 I hear he says
 I ain't never hear of what they call Wild Orchids or The Southerner
 l have Jimmy says
 Tang mumbled these words they didn't hear a damn white man caught the catfish
 what about Dracula y'all like that
 nah you ain't getting me out the night foe Easter
 looking at that Charlie B. said
 they got one of the Charlie Chan's
 sure it ain't Mr. Motto Jimmy says I says I don't know
 hey they gone play Viva Zapata Charlie B. says no I says
 I'd like to see me some Edward G. and some Peter Lorrie Jimmy says they crazy
 did you see that one where he was always combing his hair
 with a silver comb
 yatdawg that hand coming after him while he's playing the piano in that castle
 I see them both I says
 what else Tang says
 that old time Buccaneer
 ain't that got Boris Karloff Jimmy says hell no I say he's Frankenstein
 shit I know he's Frankenstein in his spare time boy
 but he plays a pirate in one them shows
 they got one by Edgar Allen Poe I says
 he didn't ever write nothing bout pirates he says that was Mr. R. L. Stevenson
 don't you think I know that I says
 wait a minute I says I recollect something about a pirate
 don't make no difI'erenoe he was dead
 drunk and a dope fiend anyway tell me what else on
 the one of his is Murders in the Rue Morgue
 don't want to see it Charlie B. says sound scary
 sho is a bunch of shows you reeling off Jimmy says
 I might a been looking on next week's on some of them
 but it seemed like they had that one where Lionel Barrymore
 keeps them people in a jar he shrinks them up like dolls
 want a beer Tang Jimmy said
 yea he says then he tells me that John was the one I took to
 what kind
 Jax boy my Brand open me one
 Charlie B. held on the wheel and Jimmy got the opener and when he opened it beer
 spewed all over due dashboard
 get me a nuthun Tang said
 hey Jimmy let me drink the rest of it I says
 can I have a swig give me a drag
 boy you too lil to smoke and drink Tang said
 I was talking out of line cause I done talked them into going to the
 all night shows
 but when we pulled up under the sign and waited in the car line
 all they had in bad spelling was science fiction and hillbilly music
 they weren't another colored person around
 let's get out of here Charlie B. said
 fuck Jimmy said
 damm they lying hides anyway I yelled go to hell as we peeled out
 loose chat went all over the rednecks cars
 one of them yelled hey look at the Trespassing Dog and his pack of niggers
 somebody else said Wolfman even got a coon's tail on his radio pole
 I shot them two love birds
 and Jimmy fishtailed a little
 give me that pistol he said
 get on out of here Jimmy Tang said I ain't getting killed on account of you
 I said give me that pistol
 listen to the old man Charlie B. said
 go ahead and shoot him Jimmy I said
 ya you do the shooting so we get shot Charlie said
 turn yo radio on Tang said
 ain't even got a goddamn war movie on Jimmy says
 not noun western either Charlie B. says
 Tang says next store you hit stop and let this boy run in to get me some
 lunch meat I hadn't had no supper yet y'all come for me too early
 yessuh Jimmy says
 didn't I tell you Jimmy was cool you should have seen the car he had
 it rode low
 with tear drop fender skirts
 spider web decals on the headlights
 and naked women on the glove compartment
 glass packed pipes with chrome extension
 and sponge rubber dice hanging ofi- the rear view mirror
 when him and the B. dressed up I mean they was cool
 they took a long time in front of the mirror until everything
 was just right and fine
 the night went on and we cruised on
 they was getting pretty high The Wolf and Midnight
 and I just sort of let their talking drift off and I just leaned out and looked
 and let Tang mumble and I just did that
 a wash woman was emptying her scrub bucket
 and I thought about how you want to kill yourself on Sundays
 and how much I hate going to school in Memphis
 it was kind of like a haze when the pilots go home
 when she wrung out the mops and the sponges it was like lifting weights
 except it was useless like when they put one of those bars up in their closet
 those men that sell in the city and it's like they do it cause they ain't
 got nothing else to do except make money and she's got to do it to earn
 I have to admit I might be wrong about a lot of things
 though I might be prejudice so don't pay me no mind when I get a idea
 as we drove on I was only remembering this
 because for a few seconds it was daylight and hot and I could smell
 the mule and me and Dark was all riding to the basede game
 that is the mule he was riding in his second mind cause we was on him
 but this only lasted about as long as a pop up fly
 for soon it was the cool of the darkening evening after a day of work
 it was the night before the first sunday after the full moon
 and my lord he would be risen tomorrow on the morrow as they say
 and I was riding alone with an old negro born in the 1880's like my father
 and a young negro born in the 40's like Jimmy
 and I for a moment was silent as Sleep my unknown brother and I am Death
 and I felt in were to get out of the car
 that had just now just a fish rolling over moment ago
 left the new road and struck a path into the woods
 that if I were to open the door and go touch one of the dogwoods
 it'd be as soft as a doc I felt as if the warm sides would move slowly like a
 dream everything would move ever so slowly
 like a river guide's scull
 I could read the letters on the hubcaps
 and if I could do that some old man sleepy eyed cause his whiskey
 didn't have no ice was laying on a high back couch and day dreaming
 it was hot I tell you he was thinking about a fight or a pistol or a horse
 I could watch Tangle Eye's adam's apple as he took the long draw on his beer
 bob like a fishing cork
 and how complete how as the astronomer says circuitously perfect and returning
 like a cottontail always running always fieeing always vanquishing his hunter
 within the same circle of ground
 that the fishing bobber was usually a liquor cork anyway
 now the hunter can shoot the hunted or the hunter can shoot his dog
 or sometimes even the hunter can shoot another hunter
 or he can miss
 yes I could pee on a flat rock and the mayfiies and mosquitoes would drift away
 I could trot down the river and see the lantern in the fisherman's skiff
 I would listen to his voice like I have a thousand times carrying
 over the water
 as he counted his beads to the fish as he said
 his rosary of hooks
 even now with my flat palm riding the wind out the window like a ship on the sea
 just as a bug a snake doctor or a pair in tandem hits it square
 and leaves its or their insides there in my hand like a great bird
 beating itself to death in the high rigging of a mast
 don't you know that I know I ain't doing no such a thing I'm riding
 a goddamn shackling cotton mule with Dark but
 even as the rabbits scoot out of the way of the cockeyed headlight
 still I could know what will become of me
 I could feel the splinters in the oars
 I could see the faces I knew like the back of my hand turn around in the light
 now we have left the woods and are turning onto the good road again
 we are going back to the Drive Inn
 at least we are going by there on the way to someplace else
 and if we are doing that going to some store for to get Tang's supper
 then we aren't now because I have just looked up towards the screen
 and seen before I tell you what I saw I should tell you the rebus
 I found out a very long time ago in my father's camp are many tents
 I see I saw and I will be seeing
 since I'm on die mule anyhow
 but what I saw was a face in the moom pitchu
 they said they were going to have but they didn't have we thought but now
 they have and I
 say heh Jimmy look
 that's Dean
 I say I know that face anywhere
 what's gone on Jimmy says
 shit yes it is Charlie B. said y'all want to turn in there
 they might be having some those others
 fine with me Jimmy said
 under his breath Tang said they just put that other shit up there
 so they could turn those niggers away shit I know
 he cut a hard left and we pulled into the ticket window
 he said put your beer down before we get there
 he turned the headlights 05'
 he said three dults and one child and handed her two dollar bills
 the woman ducked her head and strained like a goose to look into the car
 she had red hair and Tang said when he heard her talk I bet that gal's from Texas
 she was chewing gum she said ain't got nobody in the trunk do you
 lady we got what I said we got he said
 then she shined a fiashlight in to see if we was hiding anybody under a blanket
 on the floor board and said my husband told me to check
 I run this booth for him
 lady I said you from Texas ain't you
 shoot how'd you know she said my husband says you can't tell
 I can tell I said
 she shined the light in Charlie B.'s eyes and then in Tang's
 I bet that got her when she saw his
 they squinted and turned their heads away
 shoot she said again and went back in the little room
 Clyde she said come here
 we couldn't see what she told him he looked out the window
 Jimmy said hey Mr. could we have our tickets
 we'd kind of like to see all we can of this show here it's pretty good
 ask him what's gone be on Jimmy
 say man ask him what's next Charlie B. said
 the man looked at a clock advertising shoes he said hold on
 and picked him up a microphone and turned on the switch
 the sound coming out of the pitchu into the car spearkers went off
 and his voice come over loud and clear
 ladies and gentlemen we have a real treat in store for you
 with our next feature we'll take a five minute break now though
 so you can go to our two modern restrooms located on
 the east side of the building and while you're there why don't
 you come on in and buy some of our delicious intermission drinks
 we got candy and popcorn all sizes dill picldes and fresh fried cat
 from the river remember we sell ice cream and watermelons
 at Clyde Miller's Sunset Drive Inn and folks we want you to know
 that recently we joined the Commonwealth of Southern Moving Picture Drive Inns
 so now we can bring you popular entertainment at lower prices
 and of course we go by a standard code of ethics so y'alls children
 can always accompany you to our home local Drive Inn
 people was honking their horns to beat hell I guess cause
 they wanted to hear the picture
 but he kept on a talking out next feature will be the Count of Monte Cristo
 and after that Nashville Hit Parade a short
 shit I done missed Harpo Marx and The Hunchback Charlie said
 doggonit Tang said tell that white man be quiet
 we missing something I said loud
 and the man added folks next week we going to have a guest appearance
 of that up and coming rising young star from Jonesboro in person Zeek Tate
 people was really beeping their horns now they was what you could call
 going crazy I heard one man say fuck Zack and Jonesboro both show the movie
 turn the sound back on goddamnit another man set his dogs to bay
 I said Jimmy get his attention ask him if he's gone show any of them again
 hey lady y'all going to have repeats tonight
 friends the man said we'll only have one more intermission this evening
 and that will come between the two local shows shot near here
 we want you he began but he couldn't be heard on account of the racket
 they going to have it Charlie B. clapped knew they would shit Tang said
 say they are ask him I said
 must be Baby Doll Charlie said they ain't showing Hallelujah to these white folk
 hot dog he said
 come on Jimmy ask him
 the rednecks was laying down on the horns now
 shut your mouth up Clyde Miller we want to listen to some music
 if you ain't going to let us listen to the show a man's pregnant wife yells
 I still got hope Tang says
 Jimmy was looking at the pictures trying to read James Dean's lips
 there were for real tears coming out his eyes
 the man turned up the volume folks we want you to remember our sunrise service
 tomorrow morning we'll stop whatever is showing as soon as the preacher
 gets here we would ask your cooperation in picking up the bottles and cans
 under your vehicles before the preacher arrives
 there will be he asked me to announce a collection taken up
 aw shut up Clyde Miller a kid says
 hymnals will be passed out at the concession stand after five o'clock this
 morning thank you now back to our feature
 honk honk honk he switched the mike off
 and with a quick glance he reached in the till and got the two dollars Jimmy
 give him and give it back to Jimmy saying sorry you can't bring those nniggers
 in here tonight we got a religious service at daylight
 and turned his back to Jimmy and says to his wife
 Ronnie don't pay no tention to what the customers say I'm running this Drive Inn
 Jimmy yelled what'd you say
 the man's wife said honey you should a heard what some those people called you
 the man turned around said get it they ain't coming in here
 this woman said colored night was last night
 Jimmy said we drove along way ma'am
 sorry she smacked her gum
 Tang said uh uh what I say now what I say
 the woman said y'all come back on another night and me and Clyde will be happy
 to let you in see tomorrow's Easter and it just wouldn't be right
 be too much scuttlebutt wouldn't honey say boy didn't Ray Charles record that
 I just love Ray Charles he's one of my favorites next to Hank
 did you know he's not really blind I read in a magazine it was a gimmick
 hey Jimmy I said tell that mother fiicker who I am
 and tell that lady Ray Charles's blind as a bat
 and while you're at it tell her she's bat fuck too
 Jimmy said
 sorry but you can't bring them boys in here I don't care what your name is
 that didn't work either
 the woman chewing gtun said the others are welcome to come in she smiled
 y'all go head and go Charlie said
 Jimmy rattled the two bills in his hand like he was going to lay down and bet
 ask him if we can come in just to see Baby Doll I said
 what about me Tang said
 ask him about Hallelujah too I said
 he asked Clyde Miller
 he was getting mad at Jimmy he said get on out the niggers couldn't come
 they was having a revival service in the morning he said
 the man said hold on cause his wife says it's time honey
 he picked up the microphone and was about to talk
 but Jimmy yelled out why don't you and Mrs. Miller go get fucked
 the both of you I added Amen Tang and Charlie B. said
 it carried over the sound system to every white man's car and truck
 I know there must have been a tense moment for a moment
 in the moom pitchu Drive Inn
 cause all the peoples turned around and looked out they cars
 I figured we'd be dead inside a minute but those folks had more sense
 than I ever give them credit for I know them like the back of my hand I thought
 but I guess I don't cause they just passed they two brown faces on
 they must of know'd who we was although I'd like not to think so
 yessiree they commenced to honking and yelling and laughing at Clyde Miller
 it was a sight to see Tang looks over in my direction he says smart cracker jacks
 Jimmy shoved it in reverse and scratched out backwards
 he left two dollars worth a mbber in the man's Drive Inn driveway
 he runned into his ticket shed on account of the slipping and sliding
 then he hit another man's car he said get your ass out the way
 Jimmy should never have riled the white man like that cause it tiled all of them
 he peeled out forward and we tore up some dead bushes Clyde Miller had planted
 Jimmy was mad I guess before long we was doing a hundred miles an hour
 fucking shithooks he was mumbling
 I didn't think that car would do a hundred you dmnk Jimmy I said
 sorry bout that he told Charlie B.
 Tang was laughing to himself saying told you so
 he touched Jimmy on the shoulder slow this thing down boy he hit him in the head
 you crazy or something
 we cruised on some more
 boy that pisses me off Charlie B. says
 don't it though Charlie Jimmy says
 shuckit I says
 goddamn motherfiickers Jimmy says
 be what I told you wouldn't it Tang said y'all won't listen to an old man
 shit y'all just whipsnaps I rode a hundred mules
 you want to go back and shoot him Jimmy I said
 nah could of clone that then
 open me nothun Tang said
 say what about my supper
 we stopped off on the way home about the time he said it
 can a buy some firecrackers with the change Tang I said
 yea but you better get me some soda crackers
 I got some under the seat Jimmy says
 good then they'll do he said
 Jimmy gave me a dollar and told me pick some shells up
 they had a sale on fishing worms and hooks so I took advantage of the bargain
 I got enough to eat alright
 so did Tang and the test
 drive up to the levee I want to yell a little bit Charlie B. says
 the night got darker and we drove up there and parked
 turn the damn radio back on Tang said
 going to run down the battery if I do Jimmy said
 piss on it you can coast start it if you have to
 I got out the car and drunk me a lemon lime
 lemme have the pistol I want to shoot tin cans
 don't shoot yoself Charlie B. said
 give me that box of shell too I just bought
 don't shoot up all my bullets Jimmy said
 I walked down the levee the high road
 now it is getting colder and I am getting madder but an idea will come I thought
 I'll dream something up
 here I am saying this and still ain't off the mule yet
 I ain't hit ball one ain't caught one either
 I kept shooting at the can keeping it on top of the levee sometime having
 to reel off some might quick shots to keep it from rolling down
 whenever I missed I yelled missed
 I didn't miss too much
 after I'd shoot a full round I'd eject the empty cartridges out of the chamber
 into my palm I'd warm my hand on them and smell the gunpowder smoke
 it curled out of the brass like a garbage fire
 I walked way down to a place I hadn't been before
 some clearing had been done
 the remains of snakes that had been cut in two by the bulldozer blade
 stunk to high heaven the flies was buzzing like a radio station that won't come
 in the trees were like wounded soldiers bent over on a battlefield
 men that knew they had lost the fight and were going to die to boot
 I can't see it but I know its there
 gaunt and gallant like an old man with a pistol and an ace up his sleeve
 reserved and noble with a silver moustache
 mean as a convict's widow the river
 I can smell it
 at the edge of the barr pit I heard something moving in the dark
 I made it out to be a possum
 it was walking away from me towards the water why not shoot it I said
 to myself I knelt down I raised the gun
 up following the possum as he crawled towards
 the batr who cares if I kill a goddamn possum anyhow
 it don't mean nothing it ain't nothing what good is it
 playing dead before its dead it ought to be I shot
 I sighted him in he got back up he's gone die like a bull I thought
 I lifted the barrel of the pistol ever so little I cocked
 the hammer back and what did I see far away but the square of the Drive Inn
 like a tiny photograph I looked so hard my eyes hurt I looked at it so long
 like you do a star and then it starts moving around on you it did like a
 Whirligig water bug it danced in front of my eyes such a way 03
 I thought I made out a hillbilly singer but this really wasn't
 there because my mind made it out and not me cause I knew that was what he
 said was coming after the Count of Monte Cristo so I thought that
 but even before I had time to remember it was a short and think by now
 the country music is off I knew before any of that what I saw even though
 I couldn't make out the image right I knew anyhow what I saw was
 a strawboss with a gun and men working with sludge hammers in
 striped pants even though I couldn't hear from that far away shucks
 nobody could I could make out I could hear the shovels like so many
 graves being dug I could hear the sludge hammers ringing and somehow
 I could even make out the ball and chain around the white man's foot
 but what I saw was the strawboss with the shotgun I saw this before
 I had time to think of any of the other even before I had time
 to remember that the next show was about a chain gang and I aimed without
 knowing the exact location between the boatswain's eyes
 oh yes I could see the cocksucker from a long way off
 I held my aim still and steady I squeezed the trigger
 at the little picture screen with the barrel raised a little
 die you son-of-a-bitch cause 1 cause I knew I was high up but the bullet
 would still drop and I didn't want it to go in the ground and I
 didn't want to go over the top of the tiny screen so I fired
 the gun when my breath was just right and I knew if there had a
 been a real man standing there he would be
 dropping right about now but with my luck they probably changed
 the scene they was playing out and I could have shot somebody
 I knowed but who did I know in the Drive Inn that night no one
 except Clyde and his red-headed wife and they could both drop
 dead for all I know but I would like to think I shot the dog sergeant
 I yelled I killed him I shot the Sadducee
 right between the eyes and them in the car who was used to me yelling
 I missed sometimes like a whippoorwill and others a bullfrog
 they cranked the car up and come down the levee after me
 with the coons' tails dancing off the high powered antenna
 to pull in the good stations they jumped out the car before
 it even stopped rolling scared to death I done shot somebody
 down there gigging or something they was drunk I said I killed him
 just for meaness but that wasn't true at all and all I did was smile
 they was stumbling around looking for a body I reckon I said I done
 it I killed the deputy on the screen see I pointed way off
 so they could see the Drive Inn and they all laughed
 and Tang said open me nuthun
 I was dreaming the way vanifia smells
 Jimmy said damn I sho wish we could see them shows
 I'm getting tired of that word I thought on the mule cause
 Dark was saying over and over that woman that woman that woman
 I call them blue bottle fiies I said
 they worse than that Charlie B. said
 think up a idea boy Tang said
 I been drinking I said back there at the store where I got you die lunch meat
 they had a couple of pair of Army Surplus Binoculers
 we could go back there and rent them from him I bet
 then all we do is drive back to the levee and sit down and start watching
 for nothing
 you quick Charlie B. said
 and good too Jimmy said dumbass how we going to listen
 well I already done figured that out in the space of eleven seconds
 we could get the deaf and dumb man to read lips for us
 he can use the chinaman's spy glasses
 what the hell good that going to do Charlie B. said I can't read sign language
 I can I said
 where you learn that at boy Tang says
 I learned hand signals from an Indian I said
 I give them the hand signal for in the morning the children can sleep
 I told them what it meant but Jimmy said so what
 he said shit you taking the long way around
 by the time we know what's happening with that old fool the damn show
 be over and another one be on
 ain't it the truth Charlie B. said
 the store is closed anyway I said
 hey what about your telescope Jimmy said
 don't you think I done already thought about that I said the damned mirror
 is cracked
 wait a minute Charlie B. said
 hold your horses I got a fine idea
 he was so crazy drunk don't see how he had it
 with that wounded man look in his eye he looked around the levee
 where bouts that engineer shack at he said
 to make a long story short what we did was stole
 four transits from the U.S. Corps of Army Engineers
 we stole some bottle cases too
 we sit on them
 I ain't supposed to tell this but Charlie B. stole a case of dynamite
 I told him to put it back but he wouldn't listen
 when he gets drunk you might as well forget about living
 until you wake up safe the next morning
 we lined the looking pieces up and they put the beer where they could reach it
 Tang put a bottle opener around my neck and said
 when I say attack I wont you to bust me open a can
 when I say charge I wont you to pour me a drink of liquor you got that
 yessuh I said I got your number Mr. Tang
 it was good that they was all dnink that way they couldn't get so mad
 not being able to tell what the actors was a saying
 yea we sat up there on the levee like four generals looking at a battle
 Charlie B. said these here is what I call box seats hey Jimmy
 these is the white man's bench alright Tang said
 the two negroes and the white one Jimmy and myself sat in the balcony
 of the delta
 we were like four noblemen in the loges at the opera
 women of all colors and ages vibrated their fans in sexual motions
 a black hearse arrived on stage and a musical instrument was dumped out
 before the mask of the woman in mauve
 soon the clock
 must strike twelve and the comedy must end even for the Italians
 there we were four clowns on the mourners' bench
 I must be some memory some bastard son of David
 why do I pet this harp so much where do all these songs come from
 the blues
 if I go on a journey I want to embark from the bottom of a river
 there are enough boats full of dead men going by
 I can see that
 so I shall fioat the currents on a cello
 surely the tow won't take us under
 I am going on a journey
 everything was fine for a long time we seen a whole lots of good moom pitchus
 but after a while our eyes started aching
 Dark said did you know this mule ain't got but one eye
 but it's a good one
 we had to give ourselves a couple of eye baths in beer
 Charlie B. accidentally knocked his looking piece out of place
 Tang was yelling charge and attack too much
 he said to Tang uh oh I got a fight
 he told us directions and sure enough we seen a mean fight taking place
 it was like coming in on the middle ofone of those picture shows
 Tang figured out the plot foe anybody else
 he said they was fighting over a woman
 most likely he said one of the white men had caught his girlfriend loving on
 somebody else they had probably snook off thinking nobody gonna see them
 at the Drive Inn but I guess the man decided to tail the the woman he said
 he stuttered on the
 the one lad had the other one pinned with his knees on his shoulders
 it looked like the one on the bottom was getting peed on
 the other one was pounding his face in like a jack hammer
 it was rough
 watch out Charlie B. said but it didn't do no good of course
 one of the guy's buddies I guess walked out of the blue and hit him on the head
 with a bottle
 we tried to find car with only a girl in it
 that would be said gir
 Charlie B. called what we was looking for the Coming Attraction
 Jimmy said green Oldsmobile sixteenth row left hand side quick
 it was a girl laying in the backseat all by herself
 no go he said damnit we missed it
 she was putting on her clothes
 we saw her climb over into the front seat
 that some quality pussy Charlie B. said I seen her in town one day she's count
 wonder how many of them she's fucking Tang said
 she got out of the car without even looking at the three or four who
 had started up the scuffie again
 guess your plot was right Tang Jimmy said
 she was heading for the rest room
 that gal's a gypsy Charlie B. said she ain't nothing but trash
 you say Tang said if you going by the book maybe alright but that girls daddy
 he done got rich
 how Charlie B. said
 he had his junk wagon someplace over in Arkansas where they have them
 diamond mines he wasn't selling nothing but ice and vegetables
 that daughter of his she started dancing round the camp fire one night
 and the man he got his whip out and beat her like a slave
 he told her now this is what I hear from another white he said that'll
 teach you to dance around in front of your paw with no shirt on
 I believe that white man was lying cause he said she wore a black patch
 she didn't take to the beating so for meanness the next day she tied
 her daddy's leg on the wagon with some rope and drug it pretty neat five miles
 through that country foe he found out that what was making such a racket
 his wooden leg well he beat her again foe he put it on they say he walked
 around with that big diamond rattling inside for nigh on two days foe
 he looked in there to chunk it out he thought it was a rock he chunked out too
 that gypsy daughter of his was stretching herself in the bed of the wagon
 and seen the diamond flash in the moonlight like a knife she went and got
 it like a nigger's dog gets a scrap I'll fuck her any day he said
 no you won't either I said she's mine I give her that black patch
 so now you see how I found out about the gypsy girl who by now was a woman
 all three of them laughed at me
 Jimmy asked me the usual question did you get any pussy
 no I gor forgiveness for my sins
 boy you got it bassackwards Charlie B. said
 yea Tang said next time get the pussy first then ask the lord for forgiveness
 all y'all be in hell fore the night's over I said
 and with that a cloud like a fallen horseman passed over the fulvous moon
 there was some heat lightning and a little rumble of thunder
 it was a coincidence
 while they were looking at each other hangdawg like
 I thought how I saw the same complexion on the girl putting her clothes
 on in the backseat the belly did look familiar
 so she kept the black patch I thought
 they was looking through the instruments again not paying me no mind
 she's coming out Jimmy said
 yes there was the gypsy girl buying a sucker in the concession stand
 you could see the fat boy behind the counter giving her the eye
 she put the evil eye on everybody she met I reckon
 look at them tits Jimmy said
 I seen them you hadn't I said don't talk about what you ain't seen
 shit I can see um from here Charlie B. said
 all y'all shut up about that girl
 I thought as the mule stood there I wonder if she's any kin to Abednego
 if she wasn't they'd sho make a hell of a pair
 she was drinking soda pop now I couldn't make out the label
 look at her sucking on that licorice stick Jimmy said
 you're filthy I said
 they wasn't even looking at the shows anymore all they cared about
 was the for real life show
 I had my eye up on the big screen though I was planning my strategy
 take a guess what was on
 here comes another fool Tang said and some man comes up to her and they talk
 awhile he points to a car and she smiles and they head out to the corner
 he stopped off and got in another car
 she went on and got in this one way off from the others
 going to have a gang bang Charlie B. said
 I didn't know what else to do so I was giving the world sign language
 after a while he got our and followed the same path she went on
 he got in the car
 we could see the back of her head all along but he went out of view
 it looked like she propped her legs up on the dashboard
 everybody had a aching eye but we was all looking at that
 Jimmy made fun of me said I wonder what they doing now
 Charlie B. laughed and said I reckon he's looking for a dime she dropped
 Tang said she dropped a lot of change on the Ho
 we noticed that lots of the cars had bad shock absorbers
 Jimmy messed around with his tripod and got an unusual angle
 her head was bent back over the seat like she was waiting for someone
 to chop it 05'
 her eyes weren't closed
 they were open and looking at the moon
 it was her alright no doubt about it
 look on the side look on the side Charlie B. said
 there were four or five boys with their pants down
 the two that had been fighting was standing next to each other
 looks like they all got the same woman Tang said taking his eye away
 who's that I said the gypsy
 nah he said Mary Five Fingers can't you see
 sure enough all of them was looking in the windows jacking off
 if that don't beat all I said
 anybody here get a thrill out of that Jimmy said
 nah Tang said
 nah I said
 we'll look again in a minute Jimmy says
 look now I says they is fighting again
 sho is Charlie B. said
 one of the fellows had pulled the other one off the floor boards
 and they was all outside rough housing it now
 the gypsy crawled over and got in the backseat
 we had a full view because of the moonlight
 the boys was a good fifty yards away form the car by now
 she was off in the corner in what Tang said was her own car she just had bought
 so it didn't belong to nobody else
 Jimmy said I think I ought to get my young ass down there quick while
 she's melting
 you ain't going nowhere I said leave her alone can't you tell that's what she
 n
 she needed herself it was plain to see just like you might have seen
 if you had been spending the night with a buddie and accidently walked
 into his older sister's bedroom while she was laying there without any clothes
 and doing something I just did learn about
 it wasn't nasty I would have like to have an artist paint a picture of it
 I wouldn't mind being down there right now Jimmy said
 me either Charlie B. said
 so sweet Tang said
 she'll be coming round the mountain in a minute Jimmy said
 he almost fell of the coke box
 it would be a lie if I said everybody didn't have it up
 we was all breathing like we been pumping water all day long
 when she comes when she come Charlie B. said
 someone could a cut a onion and not one eye would have been batted
 her eyes were closed now
 and her arm looked like it was trying to find something lost somewhere
 it was like she was blind and feeling around for something
 it was a matter of life or death
 Charlie B. screamed loud as a man got stabbed
 she opened her eyes and her mouth at the same time like she was going under water
 and she knew it and she aimed to get one last breath
 before she drowned
 that is when the figure appeared on the screen
 the figure I had been seeing all along why they hadn't the black spectre
 Dracula appeared in his cape
 just as the gypsy was drowning
 it was like having someone meet you at the time of death
 it was unexpected
 for Jimmy and Charlie and the old man too were frightened
 perhaps it was the unusual timing something I would call a rebus
 that made all four of them tremble in their pleasure
 I saw the girl bring both hands to her eyes I saw the mute scream
 I was use to reading the lips by then
 the one hand already glistening in the moonlight as the tears
 were forming and seeping between her fingers like blood
 my three companions had their heads in their hands too
 if all I saw was the ball and chain of guilt then I was free
 for I did not feel it at all I only felt like I'd swurn a long way
 it was midnight
 or after I knew by the stars and the moon and the animals and fish and insects
 they forgot about the gypsy
 the gypsy couldn't forget about us because she never saw us but she might
 as well have
 Tang said ain't that the doublecrossingest thing for a gal to do by herself
 like that the night foe Easter
 I thought she stole the melon from Jesus
 He said damn white preacher be out there fo long and there she was
 fudting her self like a dog
 ain't it the truth Jimmy says it is Charlie B. says
 drunks I said
 aw shut up boy all three said
 I went ahead and looked at the shows while they talked
 if there was one thing they didn't want to see again that night
 it was the black figure if there were two things then the other was the gypsy
 I commented on the one in black without ever taking my eye off the picture
 I said I sho wished y'all would of let me had my way and got
 the deaf and dumb man we could have had the words
 instead of y' alls belching and farting
 what's wrong with the radio Jimmy says
 what's wrong with the tree frogs I says
 the night became morning and the shows kept going in the background
 like a fish playing on the top of the water
 every once in a while to break the chill of the air
 one of the three drunks would stammer seen youself yet
 or has it done passed by yet
 or what's happening what's happening
 then the voice or voices would break off into snores or mumbling
 I always get mixed up with drunks
 they're fine until they go out on you
 wake up I said
 I got the wash tub of ice out of the trunk
 I poured cold water all over them that woke them up
 am I on yet Charlie B. said
 nah you just drunk I said
 Jimmy said any of you planning on going to church this morning
 not me Charlie said I can't the deacons think I'm after some woman
 won't let me in the church door
 I ain't been inside no church building since my wife passed Tangle Eye said
 been to a lots of funerals and wakes and picnics and baptizings though
 ain't been into no church house and I ain't intending to go
 when I die I don't want no words said over me in no church you hear
 I hear Charlie B. said
 be quiet y'all look hey Charlie look Baby Doll is coming on
 he fell off the bottle case
 he stumbled over to my transit but I knew he couldn't see nothing
 both his eyes was fogged over I focused the transit in again
 he was saying ain't this the
 shits can't even see your own ugly self in the moom pitchus
 ain't it a shame indeed it was
 agreed Tang said so why you wasting yo time looking
 in that forget it to hell with them
 but you could tell in his voice and the way he
 moved that he was kinding of hoping in the back of
 his mind that Hallelujah might be on before dawn you can't
 blame him even if he was a old cuss he wanted to see
 himself like everybody else why not it's a free country
 then he broke down like a bulldozer his voice
 broke I mean he sobbed and couldn't talk directly we
 found out why you see he wanted to see the pitchu awful bad
 it was cause his wife of long ago was in it
 just a little face over to the side a few times maybe a song
 we come to find out she was young and good lookin in them
 days before she passed
 away just eighteen then when she sung with the Dixie Jubilee Singers
 and a mighty fine and pretty group they was he said most naturally they was
 Tangle Eye took off his old hat and covered his face
 hah Charlie B. Lemon said there I is right down the road not twelve mile
 I reckon and there you going to be too Mr. Tang most likely and we can't
 even see our own face close up can't even hear the girl's voioe
 she had a pretty voice Tang said I mean she did real and true
 she could sing bout that gospel ship yes she could
 didn't she wade the water he said amen she did Charlie B. said
 where bouts is she in the show Jimmy said
 well son they got a good close up of her on the left
 hand side right near the start if I recall
 got anymore I said
 sweet Jesus it's been so long I think
 there's one of me and her strutting down Beale like I say
 that was long time ago I could had dreamt it I don't know I think so
 yes I was cool them days don't laugh
 a real dirty cat a racehorse man I was that you better
 believe it I had me a real silk top hat
 boy I remember when I met you daddy about nineteen and ten
 he come into Pee Wee's Saloon
 next thing I knew we riding down Gayoso in a police wagon
 arrested us both goddamnit he bailed me out and we been
 just like that ever since he snapped his fingers
 when he said just like that
 we was both still drunk so we stole two police horses
 and rode through the streets all night long
 passed out on the river we did that long time back it was
 but they's one more I remember
 me and my wife over on Hernando Street
 what time is it Jimmy said
 I don't know 1 said but it'll be light in an hour or so
 more like two maybe I said can't tell on account of the clouds
 and the moon Tang said
 Jimmy hung his head down low and spit in both his hands
 he rubbed them together and said the way 1
 figure it if we can't see them last two moom pitchus
 shouldn't nobody see them
 leastways no white folks Tang said I don't want them fools
 looking at my dead woman he shook his head
 I could tell the liquor was wearing off just enough
 for them to think up something low down and mean
 Charlie B. run his hand through his hair he cleared
 out his mouth with his tongue and sucked on his lips
 he squirmed awhile and answered cousin what you got in mind
 Jimmy cracked his knuckles and winked let's just say
 well go back to jail for it
 for how long Charlie said not too long Jimmy said
 I said Jimmy don't you go getting in no more trouble now
 how far is it to that Drive Inn you reckon he said
 oh well Tang said let's see by boat if we cross
 on the other side of that clearing I reckon that's where
 the water is hell son it's just a hop and a jump
 but now if we got to go by road like we did the first time
 I know it's fifteen mile more or less cause we got a lot of backtracking to do
 we'll have to drive he said then Tang said we better get going
 hell if it's mo than twelve mile it's far away as camp is
 can't be too fah as the blackbird fiies but they ain't no ferry
 what you got in mind Jimmy Charlie B. said
 I aim to go the senrices this morning and get me a little religion
 that so I said you too drunk to drive all of you are
 why don't none of you ask if I'll drive you or not
 cause you don't know how to run a bulldozer Jimmy said
 what's that got to do with it I said
 Mr. Tang how long you think it'll take me
 to get a bulldozer over to that Drive Inn
 about a D Seven Caterpillar he said
 hum Jimmy I believe I think I know what you got in mind
 ah man what you gone get me sent up this time fah Charlie B. said
 he was on the ground on his back too
 Jimmy don't you pull nothing like that I said
 I reckon you can get there in time for the sunrise service Tang said
 now they was all trying to sing
 they was helping each other in the car
 Lord bless us and keep us this morning I whispered Amen
 can you drive Jimmy you ok can you drive I say
 he turned the key on but the motor it wouldn't start
 wouldn't even turn over give us a push Jimmy says
 I guess he meant me I was the only one that could
 walk I was stout fah my age but they aimed to go down
 the beam road anyhow so it wouldn't take much
 I put a crow bar under the bumper and pried like I was
 rolling a big clod of buckshot with a stump or a root in it
 here we go I say you hear me here we go
 over the side of the levee boom the engine backfired
 get in son Tangle Eye says I hopped
 in the window head first just as we was coasting straight down
 me looking at the driver who was looking at me slouched down
 and the only thing he was holding was the knob on the steering wheel
 the blue one with the naked woman squatting down and holding
 her tits it was a Three D picture I figured Tang
 would talk the two young bucks out of it but now he was mean
 assed drunk too he was as they say fair game
 I'll see you in the mawning honey I'll be there he mumbled
 telling us now y'all be watching for her
 I yelled out Tang peed on himself Charlie B.
 old men do it all the time I don't care
 I was just glad the fools forgot about the dynamite he stole
 there it is Jimmy says after we had :1 went a ways
 parked on the side of the levee like a yellow bull from the east
 the blade of so many tons glowed blue by the light of the moon
 honed and shined like a field hand's hoe by the earth
 and now is the time of year when you can watch before your very eyes
 the change of the paint on a new plowshare like something being born
 yes I say I know you can see the dirt polish it like a servant shining silver
 get up early and walk behind the mules
 or ride the tractor that's what they got nowdays
 and look down at the ground like a great sea
 at the plow cutting through the water like that part of the keel
 under the prow of a ship sailing upside down underground
 look back at the wake and if you is tending mules like topgallants
 you can't help but go down in the Whirlpools of dirt
 see what you've made always see what you've done fore and aft
 there they were the both of them two rebels if there ever was
 Charlie B. Lemon and Jimmy cranking up the little engine that starts the big one
 now they were like the people on the picture show
 because their lips were moving but I couldn't hear a thing
 on account of the noise the bulldozer was putting out
 listen here I say but they didn't notice
 Charlie B. took the Maxwell House CORE-e can that keeps the rain out
 off the exhaust and then he hopped down off the dozer
 give that wash tub of beer and one them bottles he said give it here
 yes he got his rations like a soldier in my mind they had a tank
 those two again bound to know whatever it was they was going to do
 was sure as the sun will rise going to get straight back to the penitentiary
 for it why they want to break the law like that I don't know maybe I do
 I'll have more to tell you on that later
 Jimmy circled his hand and pointed straight ahead like a charge
 called by a calvary officer doggonit there I go again
 tripping up on that word I mean cavalvalryl mean cavalry I know it like my name
 ever since I missed it at the city spelling B
 when the teacher called it out I spelt the wrong word I tell you I
 know them both like the back of my hand I knew them then
 it was bad elecution on his part I say it was the way he pronounced it
 I should have asked them to use it in a sentence that was my right
 but damn it all there was only one more word to go and I thought
 I had things all wrapped up but he called it out wrong
 no not once did I ever have trouble before but ever since
 then I can't keep those words straight in my mind
 why didn't the last boy standing get calvary and I get Caedmon
 why didn't I draw it I guess that was my lot why the boy didn't even know
 who he was but he knew how to spell it he knew it was a capital C
 and he knew about the a: but he didn't know who he was
 but I guess the spelling is what counts the most I found that out
 I lost
 Charlie B. turned the bottle of Early Times up
 I believe he kilt it
 he was sitting beside Jimmy and now he give his signal
 seeing how they was both up on the dour
 and Tangle Eye was delirious I took it for granted
 they wanted me to drive the car
 what Charlie B. and Jimmy meant was lead the way
 I did
 follow me you crazy scoundrals wake up Tang we leaving
 the seat was far back as it'd go and I couldn't get it up to the wheel
 I couldn't see over the dash board all I saw was those dice on the mirror
 I grabbed a soda water case out the backseat and put it under me
 still when I shifted gears I had to stand plumb up on the floor
 we cruised on towards the outskirts of the town at a pretty good lick
 they was keeping right behind too
 one of the damned headlights was out I didn't really know the way
 that well Jesus Christ I didn't know what was happening
 I didn't even know how to drive really I couldn't shif gears
 oh a standard ain't so bad when it's sitting under a shade tree
 and you is pretending but I was really driving clutch and all
 what made it bad where I couldn't keep my eyes
 on the road is that Tang got the pistol
 out of the glove compartment and he was shooting at cars
 when they passed by going the other way and he was
 shooting through my window I had to duck all the time
 so I was running off the road if I put on the brakes to slow
 down they'd run into my rear in with the bulldozer
 I had my hands fit"
 right after we hit the pavement I remembered how cat tracks
 tear up a asphalt road real bad a cat will chew it up like Double Bubble
 for fun they veered off the side and tore up a man's field
 I guess it was already planted they must of not like him
 there wasn't a damn mailbox left I can tell you that
 I had to keep looking through the rear view mirror
 and giving hand signals out the window to quit it
 Tang seen a man slapping his daughter or his wife up the road
 guess she come home late or something
 he said Mr. fuck that noise and shot at him
 it was thundering and lightning and a sprinkle began to fall you know how
 a road stinks when it just gets wet and the steam rises up
 the mist was like silver Persians trying to jump up in the trees after birds
 you could barely make out the ocherous sun
 but the moon was there
 I thought about talking to companions around a campfire
 in their own language I thought about being a guest
 in the summer at the home of wealthy people
 I thought about the manners I knew to use there
 I felt like the way I did ten minutes ago
 when I saw the dago I lent my shanty boat to
 he had many a fish and he was happy] saw him fioating darough the trees
 in the backwater the same water the high water that brought me the boat
 I found it the other morning out there in the fog
 like a solitary captain
 the Italian had the crucifix around his neck he had no shirt on
 he was kissing the cross for the good catch he was say asolando
 or something that sounded like that
 I carved a rebus in the transom of the shanty
 they were tunes like on a buried boat
 I felt like an apprentice of songs
 of night and of day
 I carved Tintagel on the bow
 I felt like I'd done a hard day's work and wasn't guilty
 I felt anonymous
 like I do when I find the star on my own and the astronomer says leorningcniht
 I felt like dust that blew into camp
 just like nothing all I've done is ride around with three drunks
 and now I'm taking them to break the county law
 I might as well slit my throat right now
 but I didn't because I knew I could turn around right now
 and drive back the way I came and get out the car and call and look
 and somewhere I'd find that naked brother of mine
 tall and I mean dark
 there he would be I know it like my own blood the young one
 the negro sleepwalking through the forest with the pet master on his shoulder
 i felt something knock the shit out of the back end of the car
 it was the damn blade again hold it I said I heard
 footsteps on the roof
 then Charlie B. stuck his head through the window
 we getting there ain't we he said
 what you trying to do I said he said gettin me some Lucky Strike cigarettes
 what's wrong with that
 nothing you gone make me crack up though
 shit boy Jimmy'll keep you on the road
 he's gone get me killed is all he's gone do
 Charlie B. said wake up Tang give me a weed
 the old man shot a hole through the roof
 damnit put the hog's foot down
 Tang said we there yet
 nah I said it's right up the road a piece I can see the lights
 the screen was at an angle where you couldn't see it
 y'all better hurry up it's getting light he said we might be late already
 Charlie got the smoke and jumped back on the dozer
 shut yo light 0": boy he said
 Mr. Tang please don't shoot nobody
 I ain't he said what they gone do anyhow I says
 testify I reckon he said and I thought they'd probably
 get a hundred carloads of town folks to do that in court
 a couple hundred yards from the Drive Inn
 on the right hand side of the road a stationwagon full of kids was
 broke down a man was jacking up the rear end
 I said look there ain't that the preacher looks like he's got a fiat
 damn if it ain't he said and shot a hole in the other tire as we passed by
 I believe the preacher's gone be late he said
 I was fearing for the children but Jimmy and Charlie was already
 making their move they cutout to the side ahead of us and crossed
 over into the other lane fast as they could go the fence come right down
 I looked in the rear view mirror and the preacher was shaking his fist
 I cut a hard left and followed them through the hole
 they made in the fence I don't like this a bit I said
 I do Tang said with his eyes like a fish
 he reached under the seat and got Jimmy's Old Spice
 and poured some on his big brown hands and patted his face
 what are you doing I said
 never you mind boy just park this thing while I get fixed up for my wife
 Jimmy and Charlie B. was taking out the back row of speakers
 the honking and yelling was beginning
 it was light enough to where you could see the morning and the screen
 where it was now saying the end and over the loudspeaker
 Clyde Miller was saying folks the preacher ought to be here any second
 we'll stop this last show soon as he gets here I don't know
 who that is on the bulldozer I can't see but don't y'all worry
 none and the words Hallelujah were appearing on the screen
 just as we drove up to the ticket booth where the man who was taking
 stuck his head out the window to see what was going on
 and Tang leaned over and said Mr. you touch that contraption and I'll
 blow your fucking head OE and Clyde Miller lifted both his
 hands and says anything you say anything you
 say and his ugly wife Ronnie swallowed her gun and screamed
 and dropped all the dimes she was stacking and the cars
 was honking at the dozer to beat hell and Tang says you tell
 your man I said roll'um and I says Tang they rolling now the one you
 want and he says with a smile so they are so they are and hands me
 the pistol and says if that peckerwood says a word shoot him and I
 nodded and Tang sunk back in the mt relaxed now with his head swaying
 and his voice humming to the low down music that was
 coming through the speakers he was nodding now not out of drunkenness
 or sleepiness but out of his memory out of that long row of
 his dreams
 time seemed to pass quickly for me with the pistol
 in my hands it's hard to remember just what happened 1 know
 Tang got to see his young wife several times
 I could tell the way his bottom lip was just jumping and the way
 he crumpled his old dusty and oily hat in his hands
 and brought it to his breast when he sighed he sighed he sighed
 like chords on a guitar he let his quiet breaths out
 in the midst of all this commotion everything was silent
 like when you standing by yourself in a long grassy row of a morning
 how can that be you might say you might have it all wrong
 you might say all this was like a parade but to me it was a funeral march
 it was as quiet and listless as the mule I'm riding how can I tell you
 maybe I shouldn't tell you about drooping eyes and turned down lips
 if you think I'm trying to be fiinny you got me wrong
 I might let on bout how the good times roll but they roll without a sound
 like a wheel through a plowed field like a negro boy yawning
 when he looks at the casket I know for a fac: Charlie B. and Jimmy
 ain't intending to draw attention to theirselves
 no they ain't doing nothing more than what an acolyte does
 when he puts out the candles when everyone is gone
 the sound they make might sound like a fart to you but it's only a sigh
 some people laugh at cripples you smile if a colored man tells you at a wake
 well that cat just boogied on off didn't he though
 but you know he's got a toad frog in his throat
 just like the altar boy practicing his voice in the dark
 in the cathedral it is like being in a daze
 and seeing the silence of two friends on horseback
 galloping on top of the levee
 the sound of which is no sound is like a careening phantom ship
 it is the sound of a dream
 it is the sound of death
 even if you have to get up and go to work in some city you're bound
 to know what I'm talking about which is nothing
 you might be listening but I'm not talking
 quit jiving me man that's chinaman talk you say
 that's the stuff that comes out the gritted teeth of a squint-eyed coolie
 the kind of talk that is not talk that comes out only every once
 in a while because he's got his mouth full of water and if he
 ain't got his mouth full of water he's spitting on your shirt
 or he's making his calligraphy with his laundry pencil in the back
 of your collar and I'll be damned if you can read it
 you might say I'm long-sighted or short-sighted but I ain't neither
 one I just can pass my hand through things I can look at a minnow
 until I get dizzy and it is making the sound of death
 sheets fiapping out behind of some shack is making that sound
 I can kneel down beside of a creek and lift up the moon
 I can kneel down beside a deathbed
 by and by maybe I can tell you what it feels like
 maybe I could show you the way BoBo fought that fish if somebody
 would ever invent that contraption but I doubt that anyone ever will
 so I might as well get use to the feeling the blues
 my residence is not important but a couple of year ago I was living
 in a shack it was the night before Easter and my sister lost her new shoes
 I stayed gone all night long and filled a cottonsack up with dogwood
 blooms and flowers and lined the way clean to the church from the shack
 so she could go to the service without any shoes
 I went barefoot myself so she wouldn't feel bad
 you might of laughed when Tang said that gypsy found a diamond in his wooden leg
 but the way I see it that there is as dead as a run-off dog's pan
 I say fooey to the smart-alecs I will say what I have
 to say and my voice be it only a murmur like that of a wolfling
 with no mother wolf's teat but I'll wean myself I'll fend for myself
 I'll enter the old mansions invited or not where the furniture
 is draped in sheets like ghosts where there is so much dust
 on the mirror I can finish writing my given name
 be it nothing more than an afternoon spent at the bedside
 of a dying jew I baked the cake I put the stamps in his album
 the others were playing mexican stand off outside the tent
 I was dreaming be it nothing more than the odor of a gypsy girl
 if you can teach me I will hold my tongue until then I curse
 the night in which it was said a man child is born I should have been
 as though I had not been I should have been carried from the womb
 to the grave it was water last time they say it'll be fire next time
 there are two words for my crossreyed visions of what goes on by night
 and by day in my antediluvian residence where these mules and people
 stanchions of stillness these folks taking the fishbone out they throats
 with that look in their eye adagio delta eye pavane by and by
 Sylvester squeezing his pocket watch like a weapon saying I
 ain't got time fah that shit and the eye in the back of my head
 pas de trois ahoy there I'm sinking down into the eloquence of words
 like a riderless pony in quicksand what was those words one doom
 and the other destiny sounds like two dead pan troubadours a couple of
 bootblacks singing farewell and one blind he white and the othern
 got something wrong with his tongue what they call speech impediment
 draw a check every month and the othern who used to run with them
 he died he ain't in the act no more he's blacker than this one
 passed away last month of a bullet wound what the women won't take
 the whiskey will but it wouldn't have done nothing more than syphilis
 did two signs on the side of the road one say present in the ditch
 the other with a arm and a mallet say past love she don't fade away
 in this daydream not by a long shot who says they knowed it I want to
 know which one it was geometry the astronomer was teaching me
 is in music like the warden said to the guard put that nigger in isolation
 said it like a chink does Isola down around some neck of the woods
 if I have omitted anything scuse me I beg your pardon nocturnal emission
 don't matter nohow noway it done already happened it is being happening
 done like a tragedy where you get a belly ache from laughing like a loony
 in the nut house a biologist told me where to catch the fish they are
 in three layers under the water but they really ain't they say they only
 live in one on account of the temperature and the pressure I better
 check on the one outside the Liquor Store it's getting mighty ho:
 that if you put your bait in the right spot the fish'll take it drop
 it on down but he couldn't catch no fish so now he crazy and telling me how
 the dago he pissed on the mologist the negro said boy I bet you don't
 believe fiying saucers look up there in the sky at that big white belly
 slit it open while I made the journey on the raft the cottonmouths
 crawled through the spaces in the willow timber they were like hands
 off a church tower's time piece be with you did you get any
 I folded the dead man's ties up like a carpenter's measure
 for the hell of it I stole it and put a hook line sinker on it a
 fish broke it in two Carmine going to have twins one dark one light
 the doctor said what she going to do to pass the time of day I stole
 a watermelon I admit it don't knock it this particular one was planted
 over a grave everybody steals melons Carmine say there was a man from
 Jackson holding the heel of his boot in the palm of his hand smelling
 his skin rolling his shoulders Jimmy was chewing gun with a Panama hat on
 he said see that man I said yea he said I done his wife now watch him chew
 his fingernails when he sees me he don't care he likes the rodeo too much
 that so I said why sure it is Jimmy had a suit on but his pants was down
 so low if he took his coat off and bent over you could see the crack
 in his ass you need some suspenders Jimmy watch me take this pistol
 out of my coat pocket boy watch that slicker run the man was gone
 you see me do that boy yea I seen you Jimmy he slapped me up side the face
 take off your hat and let me see your head of hair Jimmy he tip his hat
 the guaranteed natural wolfman he was driving a truck just for the hell
 of it he could a had a T-bird but like he said to the law then whenever they
 catch him and whoever he's with which is usually someone not of the white
 race I just got a soft spot in my heart for trouble didn't get him first Carmine say
 I saw a man left for dead with a slit throat he couldn't talk he writhed
 in slow motion then he jumped like a silent picture show it was unnatural
 beside him was a fish in the dust the lips were like an infant's
 a crow was walking around in bright daylight beside them the fish eye
 was in its beak I spit on the crow when it's bright there are many colors
 in black it spread its wings at me the feathers were like scrolls
 naturally I
 dream of a voyage
 where the country is silent the water is still
 and if a fish jumps everyone will hear it everyone will turn their head
 the dead man walked through my country no matter where I hid or how
 fast I was he always saw me first like two animals apart in years
 feigning a mirror to one another he didn't wonder why he needed
 nothing no food no drink his body needed no sleep one day I noticed
 the scar on his jaw just about the same place my cut is
 it was as if it had grown like a negro's does it was a lie
 that he never slept I thought though I never saw him sleeping
 he was far too quick for me I know it was a lie that he was
 dead though he wasn't alive he was death
 hanging around outside the towns in the hinterlands waiting
 for them to finish building the scaffold I am told
 constantly by myself that it could be said of him that his
 imagination was likened to the moon and his intellect
 was likened to the sun or vice versa to the east and to the west
 of those orbs in solo but how could that be the bayou was green
 as the night though when I threw the knife in the tree the blood
 fiapped out on one wing like it does when it comes out a pig's nose
 the illusion of the snout was seen in the kettle Jimmy ya man
 did you eat jowl on the new year did you bring it in right no
 I didn't he said I eat me some fish oh I said while I was looking
 on the ground he stole the double five and scored he held the bones
 in one hand and picked the beer bottle up with his teeth and rolled
 a cigarette with his other hand how you do that easy he said
 did you know you was ugly he said yea I know that I said hey hey hey
 he said when I get old if I'm married by then I'm kicking the old
 lady out and marrying me a young one might not even marry her
 I thought they made you get hitched if you was white I said
 no you can common law he said you can ride what are you talking
 about they didn't kill no hog in December you'll have a pot belly
 by then Jimmy I said yea he said but I'll be happy with that girl
 the gypsy's daughter ain't but two years older than me I might
 presently I live out my past so presently I can live with the pressure
 like a diver has in his ears like the hourglass in the saddlebags
 with the broken crystal 1 wish somebody would find the horse
 I need this here cotton handkerchief wrapped around the other hand
 I need it like a vine in my fingers like a shroud when I draw
 the knife and call out the night when I ask someone the time of day
 as if they'd give it to me there was a whole bunch of them singing
 I wonder which one was his wife the people were on the tops
 of their cars yelling at the bulldozer Charlie B. did too have a stick
 of dynamite that's why nobody was pulling them two down and whupping
 the fire out of them if the cars didn't get out of the way then that was it
 is that me on the ground bleeding I see the shadow is it really me
 there's only one way to tell so I felt around my belly my hand stepped in a hole
 it hurts awful bad boys the wound was like seeing a rabbit not ten
 foot from you you didn't know was there one of them goddamn federalies shot me
 what's that hole y'all doing what if I was dying it was a hole I put my hand
 in it not the hole in me the one in the ground Si Sefior that is when we
 attacked them when dey was beelding de fence his son was looking at my boots
 don't you take my boots OK you hear me Si where's Jimmy at I think he got
 captured what about Charlie B. I think he dead what about Le Couteau
 oh Sefior you should have seen what he did to them how come ain't none of
 y' all dead oh many of us died look out there in the field it was dark I
 couldn't see anything hey vaquero what happened to my girl she's supposed
 to be here when I'm dying and I'm dying you see this hole those son-of-a-bitches
 shot me why'd they listen to me I thought it was a good idea to fight a war
 of liberation hey you talking out of your hade Sefior where's the gypsy
 she was captured by the troops she was damn y'all going to build some
 statues of us if we all get knocked off Sefior we have to win the war first
 well goddamnit that's what we come down here for me and Jimmy and all them
 niggers to fight a war on account of good against evil it hurts
 Sefior there were many heroes today younger than yourself even look at them
 out there my other son he was among them I had to put him out of his misery
 myself his brother here had to watch sorry bout that looks like my bunch
 got pretty well wiped out too I don't mind telling you right now that was
 the stupidest idea I ever had about coming down here and helping y'all
 in this war I wished I'd never said it I understand Sefior it is not a good thing
 I will die I know that I will die for my sons even though there is only one
 left and if he dies first then I will die because there is nothing left to do
 man alive this is just like it is in them damn moom pitchus here I was always
 spouting off about it ain't no good unless the good guys get killed in the end
 well I'm fixing to get killed I know that I'm dying sure as shooting
 Sefior there are many calls I must pay tonight tell that Tang to bring me
 something to eat some fish or something I ain't dying with an empty stomach
 there is not much food and I do not think you will die tonight
 goodbye vaquero goodnight soldier of fortune shit that damn Jimmy here I am
 half dead and Charlie B. he's dead and that damn Jimmy I bet he makes out
 with the gypsy before I'm ever buried and that smart-ass Sylvester who does
 he think he is anyway with that you sho did it this time before he died
 got us in to one hell of a mess every datburned one of us you and your ideas
 the hell I say you told me nothing could whup a guerilla I figured we'd do
 something right for a diange all of us shut you mouf boy I didn't say we had
 to come join up with them hell what country we in damn mexicans you better
 remember where I'm buried at so when this here war over you can come get me
 and take me back to Arkansas where I belong why the hell there I say
 you live in Mississippi not no mo I owe too much money there I live cross
 the river now but I knew that wasn't right cause I seen them taken his body
 down from the tree I seen it with my own two eyes I knowed he was dead
 as a nail I talked to his mamma and can't no nigger die twice
 but there he was up now off the field in the black burnoose he walks
 wake up Tang I ain't asleep leave me lone he grabbed the pistol and shot
 at a man creeping up on them with a four-way lug wrench I had a blue suit
 on the rest of them dressed in white or off white they were asking me
 about the tests from the school you can't say f-k accidently in private
 company or they'll shun you if you automatically say f-k in closed company
 you are in bad taste like hand-me-down clothes that don't fit out of date
 and you're not considered to be having lasting admirers I slip like the organ
 grinder did the city put his monkey to sleep his music box is in the window
 of a pawn shop somewhere in Arkansas I was passing through there you might
 ask why in the hell was you doing that and I would have to tell you the
 truth of it is I had run oifi from home again and bought me a bus ticket
 to Mound Bayou Mississippi to see the hypnotist at least I thought that's
 where I was going but the deaf man give me the wrong ticket and put me
 on the wrong bus I kept telling him loud as I could where I was aiming to go
 I had to yell through one of them things that looks like it come off a
 hand crank phonograph and I was getting kindly embarrassed saying I was
 going there seeing how it is the only town without one white person in it
 in this whole country and ['5 afraid the police might hear me so I just
 wasn't too all fired up about being real careful I just wanted to leave
 out of that goddman city and school and for that matter the bus station too
 why I never seen so many afflicted fools in my whole life I aimed to have
 me some good times in Mound Bayou I was going to learn how to swing that
 silver pocket watch and put people to sleep I was going to take up drinking
 liquor and dipping snuFf and that way I'd always be drunk or have my bottom
 lip full and wouldn't have to pay no tention to what nobody was saying to me
 ticket please to Mound Bayou Mississippi was all I said
 what's that laddie I say I'm going to Mound Bayou
 I had my hands around his Thanksgiving thing in his hear like I was drinking
 water you ought to be on a pension instead of selling tickets old man
 what's that he said that's what I asked you I yelled how much does it cost
 where you going I told you a wasp fiew in the horn and stung his eat
 so you can imagine I never did get nothing tight with him holding his hand
 over it I didn't want to yell too loud didn't want nobody white to hear me
 it was might crowded in there the negroes with shoe boxes and paper sacks
 in their laps would turn around and look at me all at the same time whenever
 I'd yell where it was I wanted a ticket to if I was doing it over now well
 I'd just gone up to some lady and asked her ma'am I go by Bellerophon
 any name will do see and I was wondering pleased to meet you if you could
 tell me if any of these folks is going to Mound Bayou that's where I'm headed
 but I didn't do that I was too stupid instead 1 got the old man to go in
 the rest room with me so I could really yell it I shouldn't have done that
 either go in the one marked white I knew that slick wasn't about to go in
 the one marked colored that's where I usually go because you ain't so liable
 to run into such peculiar stuff as you do in the white ones but I didn't
 you can imagine what I seen one dipshit asked me to pee on his leg then he
 wanted to smell my shoe I wasn't about to take off my shoe cause that's where
 I had all my money wadded up another peculiar man was down on the fioor
 scraping between the tiles getting all this nasty stufi' under his fingernails
 I seen him do it again later on down the mad he rode the same bus as I did
 and this bathroom was a heck of a lot nastier than the one I left out from
 then he went out in the cafe and bought a donut and went over and played the
 pinball machine and smelled his fingers scum scum trash goddamn there some
 crazy people I finally got a ticket the old man even showed which bus to
 get on which was naturally the wrong one I should have looked on the front
 of the bus where it says where it's going to but I had been looking at
 this man's naked women magazine and I had a rise in my Levi's so I had to
 hold my head down with my suitcase which was a cigar box over my front
 that made me look like a kid and all these old ugly white womens saying
 little boy you want to sit here with me I always go back to the back
 I went to sleep see this was my dream like a book where the german sees
 himself riding by in a black cape I didn't dream none of this dream in
 Tennessee all you can do there is think among the many individualired forms
 dead or living upon the Hill there was one neither dead not living it was
 the creature which had lingered outside the illusion of Eden for the man
 who had consented to its company it had neither intellect nor imagination
 so it couldn't have been me cause the knife fighter Bergamo he calls me
 bel esprit but he could just be letting on ah come on I tell him the strange one
 it could not criticize or create for the life of its substance was only
 the magical apparition of its father's desires it could not be a rebus
 it is said in the old tales that the devil longs to become incarnate that he
 may challenge the Divine World in his own chosen house of flesh and that he there
 fore once desired and overshadowed a maid but even at the moment of
 conception a mystical baptism fell on the child and the devil was cast
 out of his progeny at the moment of entrance
 he who was born of that purified intercourse (that use to mean talking
 now it means f-k I ain't gone say that word more if I can help it
 otherwise I will not be considered worthy) with angelic sacrilege was
 Merlin who wisest of magicians prophesied and prefigured the Grail-quest
 and built a chapel to serve the Table till Logres came to an end
 and the Merciful Child Galahad (get it) discovered the union in a Mass
 of the Holy Ghost which was sung by Messiahs among a great company of angels
 since that frustrating transubstantiation the devil has never come
 near to dominion over a mortal woman his incubi and succubi which tempt
 and torment the piety of anchorites are phantasms evoked from and clouded
 and thickened with the dust of the earth or the sweat of the body or the shed
 seed of man or the water of ocean so as to bewilder and deceive
 longing eyes and eager hands I dreamed that in Mississippi
 nobody could dream nothing like that in Arkansas you couldn't even read
 nothing like that about the only reason I can see for somebody to go to
 Arkansas is to look for diamonds and I wouldn't even do that cause about
 the only person I ever heard of finding a diamond was that one-legged dago
 and he's crazy now and besides it was a accident shoot I miss that girl
 I should have asked her to come over and eat melon with the black angel
 and me the land of opportunity my ass I was trying to catch this pigeon
 one day I was going to take it over to the store and let it roost there
 so it'd shit on Chitum's head when he was out there on the porch telling
 lies when I come on to this man from New York I could tell by the tags
 he had him a brand new Roebuck tent and a wool shift on a lumberjaclt's
 right in the middle of summer he was eating a lemon icebox pie he said
 that's all he had that day since he was on a diet I said what you doing
 he said he come to Arkansas this was a long time ago this happened
 see I had swum across the state line to get that shit bird to get a slice
 of life for a magazine and to lose a lot of weight I said you'll get it
 alright if you keep on eating that pic in the middle of the summer like this
 in this heat you'll get you a slice of poison he wanted to know if I had
 a few ribald tales I said no I'm sorry he said that's too bad I said what's
 that you putting down he said how many times he'd been mosquito bit
 since he'd been in the state of Arkansas I said hell why don't you just go on
 ahead and get snake bit while you're at it you'd have a lots to tell about then
 a marvelous idea he said I never thought of it where could I find a reptile
 I said oh just about any place around here let me go look in that hollow stump
 no they ain't one in here I can take you down to the bank and guarantee
 a moccasin though he said that's fine he didn't see the pigeon shit on the pic
 I guess he couldn't tell it from the meringue well I said to myself I'll tell
 him later maybe he can use it he went ahead and did it too can you believe
 some stupid slick giving me five dollars for showing him where he can get
 snake bit it's the gods truth he put his hand right under that rotten
 shanty boat and a bull took it the first time hell Jimmy made twenty-five
 driving him to the Palm Reader's place and she made a hundred a Hat hundred
 for putting antidote on it she told him it was a potion he believed her
 hell Jimmy told him next time somebody got kilt he could get his picture
 took over the body and he was sure the one that done it would let him stand
 trial for it and that way he could tell everybody he actually had kilt
 a living man but the man said he was against violence and Jimmy said you
 don't say he said I wished everybody that's after me was against it and
 Charlie B. who got fifteen dollars to sing a dirty song said you ken second
 that so Jimmy seconded it and what was fiinny the man thought it was a old
 song and here I done made it up not two weeks ago in the boat when we was
 engaged in some bootlegging activity I sho wished I'd a had some tales
 to tell the man though he was a alright guyl talked to him like I am now
 so he'd feel good and think he was right after all I wasn't going to mess
 up no good deal cause why he was laying there on Marna Julinda's bed
 he told me and Melvin and Baby Gauge we could make lots of money catching
 poisonous snakes and milking the poison out they fangs and sending it to
 New York City to the hospitals he said they do research on how to save
 people from bites I never did get his meaning how come they needed it there
 if all the people that gets bit is down here oh I guess folks must go on
 vacations to some other place in the country and carry it with them but hell
 they don't need to do no research cause it already works Mama Julinda can
 make it and so can this chinaman I know about that time Ray Baby came in
 and he was mad cause he didn't get no money he had a pocket knife with him
 and told the man about how Ray could give him a scar and he said no thanks
 he'll just keep the one where Mama Julinda cut him with the razor he called
 her Mrs. Julinda and told her he was for civil rights and I said it was
 good to hear that on account of how me and Baby Gauge was intending to go
 to school together at last ever since that young colored man come driving
 through camp throwing our papers with headlines about the Supreme Court
 there was a good time in camp that night daddy shut the camp down the next day
 for a holiday but Ray Baby was still mad so I said maybe if you dance for
 him or something he'll give you a silver dollar so he danced a little and
 sure enough the man gave him some money and when Ray Baby held out his hand
 to get it the man smiled at him and Ray Baby said you sho is a fool man
 and Mama Julinda said shut yo mouf child and we all went outside and looked
 at each other and Charlie B. said you meet all kinds and Tang showed up
 and we told him he could probably get the man to loan him some money
 so Tang took his hat off and run up the porch steps and went inside for a while
 and I said watch out and Clyde Miller and his ugly wife jumped out of the ticket
 booth just in time cause Jimmy and Charlie B. flattened it and then Tang
 come out with his hat full of bills and a smile on his face and he said boys
 let's go to town and we all went and had a nice time on the man we poked fun
 at him but it was all in fun cause actually he was kind ofalright
 whenever I'd go to town to get a haircut or get somebody bailed out I'd always
 stop off at the drug store and get me some ice cream and look through the
 magazine rack but I never come across that guy's picture I guess he was a liar
 I looked for a long time and the soda jerk said quit looking at those girls
 buy it or put it down and I said I ain't looking at no girls how about that
 and I gave him the bird in this place I was telling you about where I got
 off cause I just had woke up and I seen us going across the Ferry at Helena
 but I didn't believe it cause just right back a few miles I seen a Moon Lake
 sign on the side of the road and that meant we was about halfway hell and with
 them stopping at ever rat hole so I said after I had my long dream on the other
 side of Lula just go back to sleep by and by you'll be there I had made this
 run so many times I knew it like the back of my hand I did I say but goddamn
 I just thought I was dreaming about that no-fingered nigger friend of mine
 selling pot holders that he made and watermelons on the ferry him coming on
 the bus saying boy what you doing going to Arkansas I just said I didn't see
 you and he said still mad at me huh Ok I'll wait until you in a better mood
 see you in a couple of months see I thought that was a dream but it wasn't
 after I found out I said let me off this goddamn bus I don't want to go no place
 in Arkansas but the driver kept saying leave the driving to me and said just
 leave me off I paid a colored man a quarter to pull the stop cord and when
 the bus stopped I socked the driver in the eye and jumped off the bus before
 he could shut the door everybody looked out the window and waved and this one
 woman she said good luck and I said same to you and I hitch hiked until
 I got picked up by another bus going the other way and when I got off there
 I seen this barber pole that was green red and white instead of blue so I
 walked out of the station to go look at it and that's where I seen the music box
 in the window under these three cannon balls just by chance I wanted to give
 the fellow five dollars for it but he wouldn't hear of it he wanted six
 he was a real hick he said kid you can go fly a kite so with my finger I wrote
 with razor bladed blood on his shop window Mr. you can go get f--ked and a
 policeman put his hand on my shoulder and said through his nose I see that
 let's go to the station downtown and I thought what town I didn't know what
 to do it called for quick thinking I thought about talking like I do with
 the astronomer but I knew that wouldn't work I looked around across the street
 224
 at the newspaper office that old man who sold me the ticket was a
 foreigner I remember seeing a hearing aid in the shop there was a book
 for ten cents in the window covered with dust I give the policeman
 hand signals for I was deaf and dumb he didn't know what I was doing
 he didn't believe me I took out his ticket pad and wrote
 officer I can neither speak nor bear but I can read lips I am in this
 country with my father who is a scholar somehow I have lost my way
 and am without funds how do you say in english I am stranded yes
 I'm afraid the proprietor of this shop has mistaken my meaning it's
 so hard you know all I wanted all I was looking for was a small out of print
 book edited by franz kafka I put a period down and pointed to what I had
 fingered in the pane and began to weep the policeman's jaw dropped
 like a long turd he shook his head and patted me on the head he said
 I'm sorry as loud as he could then took hold of his lips with his fingers
 and said understand loud as he could again and I pretended to concentrate
 on his mouth and then I give him the hand signal for yes I see what you
 mean and smiled and wiped the tears out of my eyes and he said Gee
 it must be awful tough on you getting folks to read that sign language
 especially you being a foreigner and all UNDERSTAND it shore is a good thang
 you can read lips UNDERSTAND he said this he pronounced it like an old whore
 putting on lipstick in front of a mirror he looked at the tablet that had
 made four carbon copies of my spur of the moment lie he repeated my words
 over and over to himself very slowly he went over all that I had written
 nodding his head as he read along saying my words aloud and matter of factly
 in the strange approximation of some tongue I'd never come across before
 stopping here and there to correct my spelling and the way I penned my ['5
 giving me tips like directions out of town a sight it was I ain't suppose
 to be able to talk like that yet my teacher told me once I was thinking
 but I'll be dead before long so it don't matter but it does cause I seen
 this john law had some redeeming trait he wasn't near no quality though
 he couldn't a touched that with a ten foot hickory stick he looked stupid
 he looked over to the window at the dime book a soft spot for trash sucker
 that one I just seen let me see how can I describe the joy and surprise
 in his ugly face when he saw that he had found something that someone
 else needed someone in such a stress like me for instance going soft if you
 think a goddamn police has a heart of course it was the same book why else
 do you think I'd made up something like that why it just popped into my head
 like that why that particular book was there don't ask me it was a coincidence
 like the time I got caught in the girls' orphanage that night shoot I told
 them I was disturbed and a suffering from somnambulation I was Francis
 Gildart the fimarnbulle to hell with it I told them oysters reminded me
 of the number zero which isn't a number at all but it makes young girls
 go to sleep and they all drew lopsided circles in the air with their fingers
 and I went through the routine about me being a sick dog that eats
 graveyard grass I told them how sensitive I was how the stars give me
 tattoos I get tan in my sleep I played dominoes with both eyes shut
 felt the foxholes in the bones who are you one girl cried I am a seafarer
 without a sea I said I am a wanderer with a place I want to abide in
 told them another lie about me and my pony better known as the fioating
 statue of the north to the wise and aged seamen we went riding one day
 to a deep wood where we found a frozen mirror the pony wanted a drink
 so we fell in we became an iceberg in a great black sea where there was
 never light only the stars to keep us warm all was quiet how quiet the
 littlest one asked I said in this land there was a river so silent a hundred
 children have drowned oooooooo they said from their beds the ones up in their
 teens even listen mates says I it was odd indeed how we returned to this world
 how was that says they like this I said a great hull run up on us
 and cracked us free nah we didn't hop aboard we swam for it we swam for years
 it seems the background music was Mahler and I dreamed as I stroked
 a gaunt sort of fellow who owned a printing press made out of wood a live oak
 it was told me sonny in a scottish accent whould ya be wanting me to bind
 any of yet songs up so the first place me and the pony got to where we could
 get land underneath us we stood up and I made motions with my hands
 like a sleight of hand man and all these songs came out of my sleeve and I didn't
 even have a jacket on they come out like blank playing cards but sure enough
 my songs was on them lassies and be bound them and the cover was confederate
 grey and my name maroon but I didn't see the book he told me about it
 but I kept doing my hands like that until it was in a courtyard and I was
 singing in sign language to a bunch of deaf and dumb children and the next
 thing I knew my boat struck something submerged like a clock striking midnight
 and I woke up and I was here then I do my bow like the Count taught me and
 the orphans are happy and clap and I put my finger over my lips and say
 shu then I go over to each bed and kiss the orphans goodnight and one holds
 out her hand with a pillow feather in the palm and I blow her a kiss and the
 feather goes sailing away with me and we hit something else under the surface
 and at home I fall out of bed and there is a copy of some book tied to my
 ankle like an anchor and quick I get up and draw a picture of the warrior Beowulf
 then I have evening clothes on real tails and I'm at a opera eating oysters
 that make me sleepy the girls on stage are lined up in their boat beds
 I ask the usher for my cape and hat and cane and I depart with water
 on my shoes and in the streets of the city which looks more like an isolated
 shore I hear a storm coming up I get down on the ground and open my mouth
 and try to swallow the moon but I need some water to make it go down
 then there is this spray coming from the sea it hisses like a panther
 like a thousand virgins saying hush like the fiower of death
 oh this must be the wake of the ship of death I get it now another round
 of applause however the authorities at the orphanage made certain I could
 never return disguised or not my dreams have become silent
 like picture shows unmade in the twenties not made at all just dreamed by the
 dead directors and actresses the horse and myself asleep in the ice
 there are wheels and dust and rings
 there are souls within the knife
 there is dampness and a hobbling infant
 there is a dirty comb
 there are fiying children of those I am one
 there is the phrase death is functional I made up two years ago
 there is always my spit
 there is always my brother he used the rudder Ibr kindling
 there is always the possibility I will remember the dream the bedroom
 there is someone whispering in the labyrinth
 there is that worm that fiies by my broken window at night
 there is the glass in my bed
 there goes that hearse again
 there is the time I rode clear to Baby Gauge's house wasn't nobody home
 there is that life of waiting for snow
 there is that sail sheet of blood
 there is that wake
 there is that abode under the surface
 there was the time I was a sleepwalking baby
 there is the thicket of snakes and honeysuckle where I kissed my hand
 there are the dead and the dead and the dead and the dead
 like the Mississippi River
 there are the dreams Huckleberry never thought about telling I know
 there are hovering over my hair dead butterfiies
 there are the shudders of the mothers pleading for mercy
 there are the tunes I've sung to the animals
 there are the times I thought I was a saint
 there are preposterous lies I can't even remember come morning
 there is a kingdom in the wind with no king
 there is silence and roses
 there are the adult males leaving the house in the dead of night to get something
 to eat
 there are the fiies around the bedposts when they return
 there are my swaddling clothes
 there is a great poet called Browning
 there are the minnows eyes on the back of my hand
 there are people shooting their mouth off in word and deed
 there are girls about twelve clutching their new breasts
 there are and there are orders and liars and dead things fioating
 but I will settle for the quivering breasts
 then of course by way of comparison there is Francis Solitaire
 making a poor showing
 and all of you with your teeth full of beeshit don't tell me
 there is only one way don't lie don't tell me about the football and the crowd
 at the same time don't lie don't give me that double talk
 don't be constantly saying you are right and they are wrong
 let there be silence without a word without another speech in behalf of silence
 without a mouth without a word let the dead rest in peace
 without the doubletalk the two-faced are tongue-tied
 here I go again exhotting those less fortunate than I
 father forgive me
 they know how to speak listen to the policeman his calculated and earnest speech
 his attempts at precise elocution on my behalf as if he were standing before his
 congregation on a sunday evening and giving his reading from some chapter
 this awkward unsynchronized soliloquy of breath and speech and ignorance
 to do a good deed when one fancy word means more than the life of a man
 his good intents he means well but this is only a brief encounter with the best
 of his syncopated heart but I will forget my hatred of him and his evil
 for one second I'm going to forget what him and his kind did to Sylvester
 the town nigger THEY SAY and his people I'm gone forget the hearts beating
 in their boots and the go ahead signals while the coast is clear signals
 like broken wind on his lips I'm gone do what the boy in the temple said to do
 (you already missed the punch line there is no sockdologet for the gospel truth)
 I have known the evil procreated in the offspring of the bad ones in bad times
 I would like to say something good but the way I figure it if you can't say
 something good about nobody then don't say nothing atol that's a white washed
 lie right there some of my own kin folks tell me you ought not to say that
 spitting in the face of God and the white race they're not all bad if well if I
 say I could find all these white folks I know so good was good where I wouldn't
 have to all time be telling them then maybe they might be right but ain't so
 if you take them all as a whole then they is evil quality and quantity
 I ought to know I'm white but now just as if I was some writer or something
 I'm going to enter these minds this mind that mind of these characters men
 I didn't like all my life but later if I'm dead tomorrow that is after living
 and breathing with them for so long these whites I got the right to speak my mind
 you can't help but say yes some of them are evil but you still have some feeling
 for them not cause you got the same skin that's like the same name a coincidence
 a rebus as if they were something out of the past but they are present he is right here
 but it is like that part of the past where values are without value
 where you no longer distinguish between fear pleasure it is just the past
 which is the present it is like a dream a memory of winning or losing
 it is all things that have already happened and so they will happen again
 and even after they have happened again you still say do you remember
 and just like Dark has said to me Dark the only negro I know
 who has killed more than one white man and can tell about it
 boy there ain't no such word as if he says so they hung Sylvester what of it
 I kilt me a whole sty of white mens kilt them in the war and kilt them
 at home kilt um up north and kilt them down here boy don't talk to me like
 you doing you can't say if only this or that they hung him and that's it
 all you can say is it happened and that's it when you think of him you got
 to think of him ventually getting hung cause that's the way it was
 you can't think back on something that didn't happen because if it was
 it is now but it ain't so when you think about it you can't change it you
 got to think on the whole thing the whole truth and nothing but the truth
 shoot I wish I's young as you was again I'd go through it all gain just to
 be your age but I'd still do it I go through all that hell again just to do
 it no I don't wish none of it happen different that's like wishing I was white
 like thinking some of that going be white when I get to heaven that's woman
 talk that ain't nothing but bullshit all my young days I wished everything
 was different but I wished myself I didn't never wish I was no white boy
 but I still wished myself out so now I know you better quit it sure as
 you better tag the man out if you drop the ball when he strikes out
 and so now I don't even think about tomorrow I don't even think about what's
 up this road I ought to know it's a baseball game you say but I ain't even
 knowing that no suh cause that be like saying we play with a baseball and we
 don't it gone take you a long time to learn that about us but you will you'll
 get up one morning and you'll say I know that and I'll tell that don't be
 saying you know how to play without the ball already hell you know how to
 fish too but you ain't got to keep nobody alive you might have a pretty good
 way with the water but you ain't got to keep from drowning sure as shooting
 I'm telling you the gospel ship is coming in one these days it's on the way
 now but I ain't thinking about it I'm just my sassing back self ain't even
 a christian I'll talk back to yo daddy anytime I ain't scared nuthing
 it's coming fah my people let them take the long walk up the catwalk
 but I ain't going somebody got to shove the boat back out in the water
 I got plenty chilluns on board maybe when you get old they'll be chilluns
 of yours on board white chillun maybe everybody gone he in the same boat then
 putting out to some different place it gone be the same country but
 I don't know how to say it just a different place you might have to stay
 behind and get it too would you do it I think you would things is changing
 just not like they use to be they might quit that scufiling I don't know
 gonna have to learn one way the other though there was a time and maybe still
 when that man right there see him pumping water I see him I says could
 a shot me down offen this mule for spitting in the wind I done scoundrels
 like him in befoe I know it I says so does you pappy he says but still
 I seen that man when he was a different mind when his girl child fell off
 Turkey Buzzard's fence in that pig sty when all them sows had them new ones
 wasn't nothing Turkey Buzzard could do bout it he been blind all his life
 them sows root her to death or she sufi'ocated in that mud one we'll never know
 never will I says never he says but that man he got down on his fours like a dog
 and wailed them sows come at him and he fight back like a blood hound
 I reckon the first face he seen was mine my big black face and he says and this
 hea boy it is the God's truth hep me Dark hep me he says down in the filth
 like that the sapsucker talking to me him I had hated all my days round hea
 you daddy having to hold me back from blowing his head off many a night but
 I reaches over the fence with my hand and heps that peckerwood up and says
 to him now and I says some out folks gone find her reckon she's gone Dark
 he asts me and I says believe so Selbey and he heard me for the first time
 call him by his last name but he know'd I never called no white man Mr. for
 nigh on ten years not even you daddy but of course we call each other by the given
 name but a long time I know'd he'd been telling the other white men in the store
 that nigger he'll not call me out and get away with it and the others they knew
 he was scared to death of me but he liked to talk it that way I could smell that
 white man being scared of me from his front porch when I rode by I just knew
 in my second mind it weren't gone be me that started nothing but it weren't gone
 be him either it was just gone be something to make him break so he could get
 rid of that fear he been carrying round like the sickness for so long a time
 like a still light inside his white trash heart I could know in my second mind
 he'd shut the lamp off when he see'd me coming up the road and he'd go inside
 and tell his wife and chilluns hesh and he'd look through them curtains and
 cuss me under his breath when I passed by and me knowing him like that I'd just
 turn my head round and look at that house like I hear you calling my name what
 you want I ain't coming but my ears and guts they hot and itching for a fight
 like I had the worms but he was there all the time and he knew I wasn't no scared
 of him they wasn't no call but I knew what he'd tell them with his back to the
 door and his face to the store counter and the stove a warming his hands when I
 walked in the door outen the cold and how it would get quiet and they'd turn
 their head but he wouldn't cause he just knew it was me but liken both of us
 come to the same bridge or to the same fence with our coon dogs at the same time
 which one of us is gone pass by you better believe it'll be me but when I got hold
 of his hand he pulled hisself up and I looked for a second at this butterfiy
 in the mud and I thought reckon this man gone take a swing at me but befoe
 I had a chance to think on it any longer I sees behind him this other white
 man with a crow bar and this other one with a spade and they is punching the
 ground and listening for that sound like it do when they is a body under there
 and all of a sudden it hit me I wouldn't want no child a man with no hole
 punched through her I'd just as soon get down there myself and find his little
 girl rather than that so I give him a pull and yells out hey there what ya'll
 mens doing with them tools we can find her with our hands and the two white
 mens his friends I knowed they was for a fact they leave off and one he rests
 his great big foot on the shovel blade and leans up against the handle and spits
 all the time looking in my eyes but I ain't aiming to be no mean nigger with
 a child's death like this but I still got my lip pouting out looking at them
 mens now since they give me their sign and all this ain't took but about two
 seconds but it seemed like most a half hour and the one with the crow bar
 says to the other 'n he's right hold off Sam and Selbey he letten go my hand now
 and says Sammy you put a spade through my daughter's face and I'll kill you
 and we dug her up with our hands and he ain't spoke to me since but he don't
 hide and watch me when I ride by no mo he don't tell the other mens he aims to
 kill me neither but that man right there he sees me but he won't wave and even
 if he do I might not wave back but I know he got that soft spot in his heart
 the problem is what you do with it once you find it I still hadn't made my mind
 up about that yet what do you mean I says I mean boy do you keep the tender
 and throw the tough away or do you chew it all or does you once you find that
 soft spot just shove you a knife in it there's plenty that'll do that I use to
 but I don't know anymore about this killing and this hating but when the ship
 comes in if somebody got to do some shooting to get it shoved out or if somebody
 got to get killed I reckon I just as soon do that cause them chilluns got enough
 misery to go through in they life anyhow without having blood on their hands
 and colored chillrens they know what blood is but I don't know if the white ones
 knows what they daddies do or not but the youngs one come right on along and do
 it too I can't see that who is that up the road that there is the Indian I says
 well tell him I said I sho enjoyed those fish and see if he wants to go to town
 with me next week when we go there I gave the Indian hand signals for what
 Dark said and asked him a few questions myself the mule didn't want to stop it
 just kept on going so I had to turn around and give the hand signals as long
 as the Indian could see me and I give him the one for so long until then
 old one but the Indian wasn't like the policeman but what Dark says is like him
 that's what I mean Selbey and the law are all alike like that if only I could
 castaway but I can't I have to stay behind and look after the others like Dark
 says it is like the time
 the time I keep saying that word I had another word doom in the shadows of
 horses and pool halls I had the cue balls and wounded masters
 I had my childhood of harps and fishes and out of date maps I had
 her ladyship the virgin and the courtyard of the moon and angels
 I had my reverie of strawberries and timelessness
 I had a time tagging along behind a man in a brown frock coat all day I had come
 from a country so different wherever I'd go I'd feel like a stranger
 I have not been there for a year or so I feel like a foreigner
 even in the southern capitals
 where is my country I ask the men and they don't know what I'm talking about
 there was so much time and space between my people myself and those others
 now I am old enough to kiss a girl on the back in the country club
 she lay on her stomach and asks for the straps to be loosened
 I write obscure words nouns and vicious and silent verbs on her back with lotion
 I touch her booty where it comes out like a phase of the moon
 after great pleasure a formal feeling comes bullshit
 I had the notion that many would hear about the land but only a few would tell it
 the way it was so it just as well might not have been said at all
 I had fun spitting on the steps of the fimeral home
 there were sharp knives and heaving bellies I had subterranean camellias
 on Maundy Thursday and I watched the goings on with a nude's lorgnette
 of parquetry and riparian hooves I dreamed
 I had the gumption to splinter my fingers on the rudder of the moon
 I had crawdads waiting for me after church
 I had somnambular calves and coves of loins and berries and thorns
 I had jasmine that spurred death in a furious arc
 I had insomnia over apples and mistresses as faithful as a swamp
 there were navels and satin and gallant foals
 I had mornings as long as a root and coach rides that smelled of soap
 I had enough oranges to juggle
 I had a roar like a bear and the melancholy of a clove
 I had to throw away untried knives
 I had to watch crosses of blood painted above the doors
 there were lamps I could hear being blown out
 and pools of crickets and drinking water
 there were panties that gave like guitar strings
 there were ceremonies of wet shipwrecks between the legs before the afternoon bell
 and love for all sends me dying in a swoon like a betrayed gypsy movie
 like a lover I had the pick of the crop I never had it bad
 I hold out my arms and birds fiy out from underneath
 I make murderers look like saints and saints look like thieves
 as a boy I will not tell on the others
 I had the hair in the stirrups
 there were drunken husbands who wished to slash their wives' wrists for them
 there were deaf mute children baiting their books
 there were red-headed women who gave birth to black-headed children
 who grew up to be dashing gallants with no hair at all
 there were times when I did not wish to sing but these were bad times
 I sang about death like the second coming
 I drew the ace of blood and threw it away
 I never played my best cards the ones I left to the rain in the balcony
 there are ashes and moons and ponies going away forever
 never to return I had a belt of dock rope and a bicycle prayed over by nightingales
 there was com and naked infants and unfolded clothes yes
 I undressed in front of silence and peed in the creek
 there was a shimmer I wanted to burn in the mammy's rocking chair
 there were lies of nightingale: when there were only whippoorwills
 I had islands within easy swimming distance
 I had dice that no one would shoot and a black horse just one negro would ride
 I later was hired out to widow women
 I tell you there was a time
 it was the last time Tang ever saw his wife I reckon
 the policeman said seeing how you is affiicted I'll just buy you that book
 much obliged I translated into the colloquial onto his ticket pad
 is it easy to read lips he said quite I wrote
 did you know Harpo Marx ain't got no voice he said
 no I didn't know that I jotted down
 when he went into the back of the shop I sneaked in and stole the music box
 he came out with the book I left on the bus and said where are you heading
 across the river I said then you is going to Mississippi he said hey didn't
 you just tell me where it was you was a going he said I shook my head jesus he
 was stupid could I pay your bus fare for you kid he said loud as ever why sure
 you could I thought and I give him the hand signal for yes and he understood that
 in the back of my mind I was thinking about the taclde box the other bus made
 olT with I guess I'd never see those lures again but I had to get all-of that bus
 the son-of-a-bitch bought my ticket and everything he even waved goodbye
 I want you to know I sure as hell was glad to get out of that state
 I aim to redeem myself from low down ways one these here days that'll teach me to
 pay tention where I'm going some fool driving me to Arkansas and I'm running off
 to Mound Bayou shit I'm on the right track now I guess that particular
 John Law had a soft spot but I don't want to go overboard about it I still
 hold a grudge against some his kind I intend to come back out of exile
 one these days like Odysseus done with a magic bow and let some them
 son-of-a-bitches have it that's what I'm gone do I'm gone write my history
 on a tin whiskey sign and use it for a shield I'm gone get me a wooden cross
 and say onward and didn't that crazy man get that white gar with a magic harpoon
 I don't know what I'm talking about I got to get thirteen before I can do
 any of that but goddamnit that sailor he never did aim to stay gone long
 as he did he kept getting waylaid I ain't gone do that where in the hell
 did he go OH- to in the first place the astronomer said you will do battle
 with the notion of time you will allow your person to plumb it so your
 ship may pass through it again everything has already happened already has
 happened now what the hell was he talking about just look at that now just
 look out the window at that how come does it remind me of the Old Testament
 the way the jews leaned on their hoe handles and looked at the road
 over their shoulders they wasn't looking at no chariots unless it was a fiashy
 one they was just looking into a long fiat tunnel of time they had done
 wondering at themselves what was coming next but mostly thinking about the past
 shit I got to start getting objective about things here I is stop off and
 walk 05 one bus I just got on where is that no-fingered nigger at how come
 he ain't on the Ferry I'm warped and buy me a Zero candy bar and walk back
 outside with my cigar box full of personal effects damn I'm gone make those
 cocksuckers look up my tackle box if I decide to go back home and this here
 music box and what's this bus doing with the lights on (get this) and me
 eating that candy and go to the back and the bus it leaves and the bus
 driver takes out of there like a bat out of hell and I fall down and look
 at all the niggers up front what is this what's the point in sitting in the
 back and this colored man with horn rim glasses on picks me up the music box
 grinds out and I say much obliged and he says glad to have you along and I say
 well it took me a long time getting here but I wasn't going to go into my
 mishaps and tribulations and I says this bus is going to Mississippi
 ain't it
 and all these folks turned around and looked at me with a smile and shake their
 heads and I says ain't it real loud and a kid my age handed me a chicken neck
 and says won't oun soda watah and the man who helped me up was a preacher
 and he says son you on the right bus cause we is going through Mississippi
 and everybody goes Amen we going to ride ride ride Amen and here I has done
 got on a freedom rider bus without looking I'll be lucky to be alive they
 done blowed up eleven of these buses in the last year and nobody will never
 even hear about it cause the mens that owns the papers won't put it in
 and pieces of my body blowed all over that cottonfield's face shoot I stepped
 in something this time just back in the cafe in Arkansas I heard them talking
 about a burning bus woe is me and woe is they I'm getting 0H: this bus
 well that's Broadway no I ain't I'm going to Mound Bayou in style
 and if we all get blowed up before I get there well then nobody will know
 who I was and that way I will play my part anonymously
 just like I never was which was what they had in mind all along
 so I clapped yassuh Brother and took a drink of that boy's soda
 and walked back to the bathroom and on my way a great big dark man
 holds out his white cane and says over his sunglasses you packing a rod
 no suh I'm just going to Mississippi and he said I ain't blind I'm the body
 guard and I has to check on all the white folks go right ahead I says
 while ago I was lost but now I'm riding for freedom and he says happy
 to have you along thank you I says and went inside the toilet and found a dollar
 a coincidence I was wiping my ass and hoping we wasn't gone get blowed up yet
 you might think that was funny but I seen the body of a colored man
 from up north who got murdered in a field hand's outhouse and that wasn't funny
 one bit it always goes though you laugh at the tragedy and miss the comedy
 the astronomer is always telling me about indirect understatement of the facts
 how a body can feel something from way down something he knows like the back
 of his hand and the one listening which is usually him cause the rest think
 I'm crazy except some of the girls and Baby Gauge and them will think now
 that's right I knew it all along but I didn't really know it but now I do
 and this person that is doing the thinking he will think ain't he fair and
 square and didn't he call it like be seen it but I don't know beans of what
 he was talking about not in this mind but really I do cause I know it
 but I ain't suppose to know nothing like that yet so I'll play like I don't
 cause I is tired and I'll say is instead of am just to spite the teacher
 but you can tell when I really say I is like I was breathing and when I say it
 to make the teacher mad of feeling like I do I'm getting out of focus
 cause there is things far away you has already seen up close in my heart but they
 is things real close you couldn't even pick out hell you didn't even know they
 was there and somebody knocks on the door white boy you better come on out
 of there if you gone march in the bus station wid us I'll save a place for
 you at the counter yessum I says I'm coming on out directly and so I go
 and sit down but before I do I take a look at the desolate bus I thinks to
 myself do Lord remember me which might be selfish but it's because I think
 maybe I might not never be
 in no boat in the barr pit with the sundown in my eyes
 and a man walking on top of the levee with a bucket
 I was reaching for the catsup to put in the hot water that there is soup
 vagabond but this other man I sat next to picked it up and sat it back down
 and snapped his fingers at the kid behind the counter and held up two fingers
 and pointed to his plate like he meant to say bring him another drink just like
 mine I said Mr. I ain't got no money and he give me the so what look
 out of the blue I lied and said I'm a outlaw on the lam and I'm one mean bastard
 they kicked me out ofschool because I was a communist I wanted to sing
 Tramp Tramp Tramp Hear The Feet Of Many Children but they said it was a communist
 inspired melody then why in the fuck is it in the songbook is what I told them
 over the microphone when it was my turn to lead the song actually I meant to tell
 a lie but what I ended up telling him was the truth I just can't help but lose
 he nodded and kept looking at my mouth before they brought me the hamburger
 I told him look if you are a queer you can have this hamburger back he chuckled
 I ain't in no mood for no horseshit I says cause in the next few days I'm
 liable to get blowed up I took a bite and turned on the stool and pointed my
 finger at him and says by redneck dynamite and nodded myself thank you for this
 food I says and asked him could I look at this magazine somebody had left
 in his place he nodded it was the kind where you flip the pages real fast
 with your thumb and you see a living picture in action this one had a woman
 fucking a donkey on the other side it had a Italian looking man nailing
 his hand to a board the man looked up and crossed himself with the other hand
 he had one them white robes on like Catholics wear oh go on I said you never
 can tell what you'll see until you pick it up these days I says then I looked
 at the man sitting next to me and sat up like a zombie it was him I says
 that's you ain't it you look younger but that there is you he turned his mouth
 down and shut his eyes which meant yes he looked depressed about it like
 he was ashamed of having appeared second billing to the ugly woman who screwed
 the jackass how much did they give you to do it I asked he shook his head as
 if to say nothing oh come on I says ain't nobody going to do that for nothing
 why'd you do it tell me I says what's wrong cat got your tongue
 he pulled back the sleeve of his right arm and with a twist of his wrist
 a little violet card appeared between his fingers shoot do that again I says
 it was like he was a magician who had read the card I had selected in my mind
 but this weren't no playing card no it was the alphabet of deaf and dumb people
 at last I thought I can use my sign language I don't have to speak so I give
 the stranger the hand signal for I speak your language tears
 came into his eyes and I thought this here is a coincidence and he give me the
 hand signal for brother give me your hand and we shook hands and I thought this
 here looks like a greek and he says how is that you know the way of the mute
 I give him the hand signal for Eight Moons son of Black Horse and Lay In The Grass
 taught me sign language when I was only a child and I have picked up what lingo
 I need from the poor deaf and dumb ones who go in and out of the buildings
 and sell those cards like you gave me I met these people in the city
 and he said with his hands it is a fine thing you have done by learning
 the language of the deaf and dumb it gives me hope that you took the time
 I give him the hand signal for shucks he give me the hand signal for I am
 a man of many faces as you will undoubtingly soon see you must understand
 howl feel at this moment my spirit is paroled I am no longer in the valley
 of death and silence for many years I have wanted to speak my mind with my
 hands and not with a pen with words which always seem to smell of the glands
 or the burning structures of the brain with all its forged and faulty symmetry
 and now I see before me not another deaf and dumb child not another affiicted
 face but I see at last someone like myself of course you can speak and hear
 and I cannot but I see something of myself someone who will appreciate what
 I will say with my hands so far I am the only poet of my kind in this country
 though you have probably noticed by now that I am from another country
 (I ain't never heard no real life poet speak his own words I have heard them
 in dreams the ones that are dead but I have a feeling you could put twelve
 of them in a barrel of shit and they wouldn't say hockey the ones I haven't
 heard but that is hard to say since I ain't never actually heard them but
 this man could speak songs and poetry with his hands even if I hadn't a known
 hand signals both of them would of danced like a man and a woman in a ballet
 don't get me wrong he weren't no sissy cause I seen him knock a man's teeth out
 for sicking all his boys on me but this man I tell you he was something else)
 your face he said with his hands has sadness and faith it has something swarthy
 and something holy I was turning red usually they say my face is ugly
 and no count or conniving ((it might be that he wasn't no good at all
 since he might a been just letting on about me so I'd think he was special
 maybe he just had a way with words like a mirror has but a mirror don't lie))
 say I give him the hand signal for where was you born he gave me the hand signal
 for Italy you wouldn't know the town but I am of Greek descent just like I thought
 now he was trying to rhyme his words which was not near as good as a nigger
 can do I give him the hand signal for how about another Grapette but of course
 he signaled and made the motion with a snap of his fingers at the kid and the kid
 looked at me with the evil eye and I remembered that I was traveling with
 freedom riders and I said with my hands you know I'm figuring on getting killed
 and he said until a moment ago I was without hope until I met you I was only
 riding with them out of some memento mori but now with my faith restored
 I will ride more out of faith than hopelessness tell me he said I have noticed
 your unusual and sighted ability to go with the wind with the language
 if I may compound the analogy you seem to be able to row through the motions
 of the hands without ever looking back over your shoulder without ever missing
 a stroke I suppose you get that from the Indians but I've also noticed in your
 speech by reading your lips how you can change your dialect like the gait of a
 horse I give him the hand signal for I don't want to talk about that
 you see when I's small I thought I's double exposed I don't know what I
 thought I still don't know but I showed out and give one of these boys a fork
 and says to him go head on and stab my double standing beside me and watch
 me yell except then I didn't say double I don't know what I said well this
 smart alec boy who was bright for his age he was white he said you know what
 I'm gonna do I'm gonna stab you and listen to the other one yell shit I liked
 to bleed to death but you know what someone yelled in a child's voice
 it gave a sigh and the white boy heard it and he said did y' all hear that
 to the other ones and they said oh shut up Warren and he got scared and started
 running away and yelling I heard me a nigger boy yell ough when I stuck
 him with that fork I swear on a grave I did but like I say I don't want to
 talk about it cause I go crazy and so I have to be ofa different mind when
 I talks to dim-rent people so they won't get their feelings hurt and don't
 give me any shit pardon the expression for why don't you go ahead and hurt
 their feelings and be yourself cause I don't like the sight of pain and suffering
 I don't mind blood mind you but I don't want to go crazy seeing people
 in misery and I ain't got the call no call to put them out of it but I just
 wish their bodies would die and their souls would go somewheres or something
 just something cause I really get the blues and he said with his hands there
 there let's go out to the bus with the others the bus is leaving and the kid
 who was giving me the evil eye says here give this wet rag to your friend
 he's got catsup all over his deef and dumb fucking hands and while you is
 at it why don't you show me what the hand signal is for nigger lover
 I hauled off and socked the freckled kid in the nose then I said watch this
 Trash Can I picked up one of the stranger's hands and got a fork and poked
 it right through and the kid fainted then I give the man the hand signal for
 sorry but I had to show that cocksucker up pardon my french and then on the
 bus amidst the singing and speeches he began are you any good at riddles
 and I motioned I use to be but I give up at them long time back cause I know
 this chinaman that can ask some can't nobody answer and that's why he asks
 them so won't nobody say nothing then he give me the hand signal for what is
 he handed it real fast a monk's key 8t nun's drum I give him the hand signal
 for that's a riddle and he give me back precisely and so I give him so let's
 don't fuck around with no more of them OK and he does done and I ast him
 what he was doing and he said where nobody would see his hands when he moved
 them slow like for the last year I've been robbing banks I walk into some
 establishment and hand over to everyone I see one of those cards like I showed
 you then after collecting a few dimes and pickles and pennies I go over to
 the teller's window and hand her a card and on the back is written this is a
 hold up quite simple you see and I says you mean you is a for real bank robber
 and he says perhaps that will douse your premature misconceptions
 of my Christ-like attributes whatever you say I say and he says for that
 matter what you probably see in me is some figure of the anti-Christ
 since our civilization has been so long without some moral avatar
 no I just think it's nice that you is a bank robber I said back in Memphis
 why I could take you around I know lots of rich folks with big houses
 and we could rob the fire out of them and he says Prometheus always
 the Patrician now he was beginning to sound like a smart alec like the world's
 smallest man that's the way they all get soon as they think they got whoever
 it is they is talking to over a log and so to keep him in the dark I let on
 with the yassuh socrates jive Mr. I says don't be pulling my leg about
 the history of Rome I know all about it and I was thinking all along see how
 it is see how it is even in sign language somebody is going to take advantage
 of you believing in them and he gives me the hand signal for I only mentioned
 my birthplace after you asked me and now I could tell he was testing me
 he was still a cool and a for real person but he was putting me to the test
 seeing if I'd let all my past experiences sway me to taking a prejudice point
 of view like a sucker asks and I seen this and we was playing chess about what do you really
 think when you come right down to it with our hands and he give me this look
 outen his eye like I had done past the first of many tests to come but I done
 told him I didn't want nothing to do with no riddles but what was happening now
 was for real it wasn't no drunk man's mud pie it weren't no piping daydream
 so what I wanted to ask about was his hands how come he's got them holes
 and he gives me the hand signals for ah the stigmata strange they should be
 impressed after I gave up the priesthood in my heart and I says after you
 what thinking damn if 1 had them holes I could do some of the god awfulest yo-yo
 tricks you ever seed and I says you mean you is Catholic dammit I knew they
 was the ones that put you to hammering your hand to that board and he says no
 child I did it more out of body than spirit and I was breaking my vows by night
 now I seen what he meant by all his faces and I says why don't you start
 from yesterday and work backward and tell me what happened he nodded like a
 Arabian Knight with a but of course in a stealthy manner and thinking all the
 time if they didn't put him up to it who did he wasn't the devil
 and he told how his life had been one absurd misfortune after another how
 he spent his years after that time in the monastery acquiring twenty-seven
 languages and what happens when he is about to he says contribute one of the
 most original and promethean treatises on linguistics he is drafted
 into the local militia of his country and his manuscript is confiscated
 by way of a jealous professor now a colonel and published shortly after said
 linguist loses his voice at the front from a piece of his own troops' shrapnel
 ordered by said colonel how now his wife and adopted family think him dead
 and before that he worked in the Diamond Mines of Africa and I said no shit
 and he said that was the problem he and the band of Africans had become brothers
 in the blood and he had figured out this way they could steal a percentage
 of the diamonds what they did was swallow a whole handful everyday at work
 and then that night they'd go home and take a big shit and be rich but the
 European bosses they caught on to their plan about diamonds and guns so they
 got this witch doctor that was a stool pigeon to make up this potion where
 they couldn't shit that was one word I never learnt in sign language constipation
 how come you was to go to Africa I says cause he says I found out I was descended
 from an African and a greek you mean you is a nigger I says partially he says
 as you can tell I'm translating into my tongue not his cause that takes too much
 out of me how much I says about one quarter well that's enough in Mississippi
 to make the other six bits of white don't count specially since you got that
 dark skin while he was in his little reverie there in the back of the bus
 I opened the black medical bag he was carrying under the seat it was just like
 the one the hypnotist has got sure enough he was a bank robber cause it was full
 of dough I took my shoe off and stole a twenty dollar bill just couldn't hep
 myself looked like he was dozing off I turned the reading lamp on and go: that
 magazine of him molesting himself and thumbed through it seven or eight times
 while he was asleep I punched the colored boy on the shoulder
 and says say man
 what's this cat's name he bought me dinner but never did catch what he goes by
 he say ah man that's Vico much obliged I says and he put his head back on the seat
 I was getting bored so I punched him again hey I says he opened his eyes what man
 he say you want to see something cool what man I pointed to Vico's hand and smile
 seen that already he says oh I says I tried to think of something else
 I punch him again hey I says hey man what you want I'm trying to sleep
 seen this magazine and he lets out a sigh and gives me one old and tattered
 thank you I says and thumbed through his this one had a bunch of russian dancers
 going around on the fioor
 six big negroes got off the steamboat with the casket
 on the other side of the reds was a eerie looking moon aintimation they call
 it but you spell it animation and it weren't none of that Walt Disney shit neither
 these monks with candles in a dark corridor where the ceiling was so low
 they had to bend their necks when they walked through the door and in a white
 sheet with pierced hands Vico looked like a damn circus act shoot he don't fool
 me that liar and him wearing those wore out white gloves
 with no lingers
 he might a wanted out of that monastery but he still had that religion in him
 any minute I could tell he was liable to come out with it but no he was going to
 sleep dozing off with both eyes open and that there colored boy he punched me
 this time and says say can you get that that music box to play and I says sho
 we can and I picked it up and whispered in Vico's ear which was like throwing
 a knife away reckon it'd be alright if I play this music box it wasn't no joke
 you know it was like asking a blind man could you turn on the Friday Night Fights
 when the TV. it's so old you can't get no sound and that is like them monks
 like a silent movie and that is like the Cloisters of my country like I was
 telling you about the silence but with sound of the wagons and mules sardine cans
 cane poles breaking motors that won't turn over a negro holding a hearse horse
 on a big boat saying betta watch out white boy and the red tassel on the head
 and hands bent over and the hoes at noon like pieces of a shattered mirror
 and now it is dark and the one they call Vico is talking in his sleep and used
 to the somnolence of his tongueless bell he hands me another one of his cards
 nothing but death
 it is violet and on it is written not the signals not the note about the hold-up
 but the words in hoc signo vinces
 and I sit up in the seat and say with my hands to the sleeping paladin
 yes Vico I stole it out of hock in a pawn shop in Arkansas
 then I sort of stand up in my seat and grind the music box and the heads nod
 as if to appreciate a foreign music and I open my eyes and my mouth and look
 around and pat myself on the chest and a woman who is cutting out a picture
 in a church calendar gives me her scissors and I grind it with one hand
 and snap the scissors with the other and look around like a loony tick
 and the colored boy snaps his fingers and says shit you don't fool me
 you ain't no Harpo Marx what you talking about and a barge horn blows twice
 on the river and it is silent like this I thought a freedom ride was fun
 but it is like going out alone when a tornado is sighted down the
 it is like we were troops on the way to the war
 it is something so simple it is difficult to say like after you read a book
 and say why I never did know nobody like that ever was but they was all along
 driving in the night without your folks
 songs of branches and being alone and about to swallow water
 to see the bypasser who died of fever
 at dawn there is no shade in the saddle no hooves heard on deck
 harmony of evening and lightning bugs and socks
 rid me of the bony feet under the sheet the two skulls with the toes in their
 teeth holding the bow tie and dogs barking on the other side of Spoon's
 there is solitude in pecans and hooks and shoe laces and there is
 solitude of the barges and shed skin
 and solitude in the black shadows of the hairdo of the forest at one o'clock
 solitude in aimed pistols in bridles in breaking rope
 what can a miter want it never misses a thing sir a deaf mute is talking to me
 in his sleep
 he is saying things with his hands like infinitesimal instant of death the
 solipsist the veterinarian who has contracted the disease from reaching
 into the rear of the cow without a long white glove on the rider is reaching
 into the saddlebag and so the language of sleep is always the same nothing
 but death he tells me of one man who came from the Vatican to investigate
 him concerning the murder of a prclate of the mother church and I am thinking
 why didn't I get to talk about the history of Rome so I start in with my hands
 to the man who is asleep listen Vico I know all about Rome there was a time
 when there was so much unemployment they hired this man to give them bread
 and circuses kind of like the way football is now days then they wanted everybody
 to break ground cause they wasn't no food so they hired this man who wrote
 poems about how nice it was to plough grapes and then they had all those
 men with clover in their hair lying around in mausoleums on marble tombstones
 eating grapes and cornholing each other the virtues of agriculture it was
 and I was just sort of giving my hand signals and listening to his turning
 the crank with my toes like a monkey and that boy was blowing on empty bottles
 and Vico he was way 09' the track and I shut up a second to look at his hands
 close cause he was using them so much they had done started bleeding and I didn't
 cotton to that so as I was listening to the fine and difficult words l's trying
 to dab the palms with a clean sock I had in my cigar box damn them folks lost
 my taclde box and he was going on like he was giving a lecture to a bunch of
 fools angels he says not in the sing song way he was angels are beardless
 sexless being winged human in form and barefooted often they are arrayed in
 the vestments of deacons and carry the wand of authority again they are shown
 in long tunics with golden girdles about their waists I'd like to see Sylvester
 in some get-up like that sometimes with a stole or pallium angels are pictured
 as carrying various objects if they carry a pilgrim's staff a scroll a book
 a sceptre or a sword it is a representation of their ofiice as heavenly beings
 or as the guardians of mankind shit I might as well be reading a no count book
 if shown with a censor or a thurible it is the symbol of the adoration which
 they olfer to God they may be pictured with musical instruments indicating the
 praises which they sing to God if they carry a palm branch or a sprig of olive
 leaves it denotes victory or peace if shown placing a wreath of laurel on the
 brow of a human being it is a mark of distinction high class either in poetry
 or literature in the service of Christianity made it rhyme with insanity not
 me brother I ain't hoeing that row I ain't catching no fish by no Popular
 Mechanics theory they don't know shit they ain't never caught nothing on that
 lousy fucking bait underwater bats bullshit ride to Mound Bayou the laurel
 wreath is not for warriors a wreath of oak leaves is a symbol of strength yew
 leaves express the idea of immortality and cypress leaves of mourning
 an angel with the right hand extended slightly palm open means
 guardianship of human beings the blood sprinkled upon the doorposts of Egypt
 was a symbol and the angel who slew the first born of every creature
 spared the households upon which this sign was placed shit I know that
 fuck these angels wonder how they pee bat night desolation death charadrius
 frog panther scythe decadent nimbus l's going to say I wished I had a tape
 recorder the seven-fold fiame and the winged wheel he says he was descendent
 of the Moors which is not nigger but it might be in Mississippi who is Vincent
 of Saragossa vox clamantis in deserto if this son-of-a-bitch don't come around
 I'm gone wake him up schemhamphoras all I could make out was some body down
 on their knees looking up a hog's ass I'm gone tickle his ear he said that
 he must of been trying to talk like me son-of-a-bitch gone bleed to death
 truth is not something external to the mind now he's talking like the goddamn
 astronomer it is never found in knowing as in doing we make things come true
 we can have certainty without knowledge as when we improperly substitute dogmatic
 certainty of mere opinion for the tmth we can and ought to create or properly
 supplement with faith truth that is beyond our power to create I guess I got
 that right the only reason I didn't let them stick them wires in my head was
 on account of if they found out I had it they'd put me on caster seals and
 on little hourglass boxes on counters so people could drop dimes in next to
 the mints and toothpicks and football schedules and fiicking rubbers I didn't
 want that nohow on the certainty that attends erroneous or dubious opinions
 there is no need to dwell manually knowledge must include an acquaintance
 with the past but it must do more than that it must be accompanied by an
 imaginative ability to put ourselves in the shoes of long ago and other peoples
 and to see whatever period we are studying (.) through the eyes not of our time
 and place but of those who lived in it our Failure to deal with primitive human
 life in terms of itself and our tendency to read into it our own sentiments
 and conditions lead us to errors like the contract theory for example guess he
 was a lawyer too however if we can see others as they see themselves we shall
 find that primitive beliefs and customs are not based upon ignorance
 and superstition hadn't you ever heard of burying a chicken Foot beneath the
 house it don't work all the time but are rather a kind of poetic wisdom
 which grasps in its naive and imaginative way precisely the same truths
 and principles as more mature civilizations exemplify in a more refiective and
 sophisticated manner sounds like a crock of shit to me what about you he talks
 enough maybe he had oughten to been a stump broke politician oncet 1 like to die
 cause I eat a destroying angel oh did I have a bellyache (Good Friday Goodnight)
 I finally figured out a name for it now all I need is one them contraptions
 I wake up and it rains
 on the raft a thousand chinese tortures an orchestra and a
 bestiary
 so the hole in the bucket doesn't matter
 you find me undressed and dead beside silence and water
 you see the wolves whimpering over my tracks in the snow
 the voyages I have taken the fiies I have swatted
 death is in the ruins of the earth bowing in the handkerchief
 it is in my body that casts two shadows
 in the bloodstained evening and in the disfigured bosom
 in a sack of stolen apples it is where girls touch themselves when the wind
 blows on their blouses
 death is its own desecration
 especially it is undone clasps and towels
 death perspires like an e' in an incubator
 you can taste it in milk and in stamps
 it is somewhere in the bottom of the boat
 it is lying in ambush for a child alone it is just like the child
 in his eyelashes and knees and elbows
 in the mark in the garden
 death is like an anchor like a ruined net
 it is undulating under the blue sheet like the corpse of a snake-bit girl
 you see it in the night you
 throw stones at it
 and it comes back and spawns on your pillow
 it wants to make a drum out of your skin
 it wants to catch your attention with a blue light
 cast your shadow under the judas tree it whistles
 marry me have this ring
 and it spits in your eye like a grasshopper
 it gives you warts and makes it impossible for you to pronounce certain words
 you see the smoke and when you get there the altar is a booby-trapped juke box
 it rolls by with its passengers wet as broken blisters
 the school bus of death with the water barrel on the back and the haunted shovels
 when you listen to its nuptial lyrics you sink down at the cross-roads
 it confesses rose water and horseshit
 if and when it reads it has no eyes it reads from the book of the dead
 you can't tell it from the bride or the bridegroom
 it never shuffles the deck it makes you dance on ants
 it walks by like an angle in a letterhead seen from outside the window
 always it will make you two minutes late for the matinee
 I was not chosen so I don't accept the curse of the father I am chosen by a
 woman didn't the Laws shake creation my first mammy said
 it so happens the pallbearers are hauling up the gangplank
 the horse walks in a circle my father's horse black as Sunday without the moon
 sits death is no gentleman
 when you address it address it as if you'd never met it
 as if you didn't want it to get where you were sending it
 just five letters like the numeral eight written on a mirror
 death that drives the cheerleader next door to leave
 the curtains parted when she takes off her sweater
 death that drives a cadillac car a coup de ville
 death that says why he's a genius so you can hear it when you tip toe past
 the door death that points out your undone fiy and wants to zip it up
 death who makes dye run down a head waiter's cheek
 who makes grown men tango by themselves in their offices
 while thinking of ceiling fans south of the border
 that wolf that buries its fingerprints and tickets
 that leaves deceptive traces behind
 that kisses with no lips
 that turns the lights out and goes to the theatre
 that makes the fourteen year old touch her womb
 that makes me two years her younger lay awake in the guest bedroom
 with the door wide open so the sister will pass by
 dream on
 at midnight the assassins arrive with a spit shine
 death that makes animals lose their shadows
 death like a missing carnival
 do you know the lords of death the salutes in the rose
 death who wants you to forget the body odor of the fishermen
 when they come to town to the picture show
 death who also says forget the lost child throwing photographs at the moon
 this odor is Ivory Soap and shaving cream
 the clock on the bed and the white horse sad as the island
 the dress and the double suicide and the unclaimed baggage
 death in the port giving away free round trips the mothers that want to
 throw-up by themselves
 the wasp nests in the radio in the outhouse
 the tunnel where you give people you don't like the finger
 the arm chair in the room with the comma on the wall
 perhaps the slope of twilight made it so
 a Bedouin dagger
 characters in books as real as strawberries
 and death makes you stumble and give yourself away to the lovers
 death makes the priest scrub the rug around the rail
 it makes common thieves suffocate in boxcars
 death that makes you write your epitaph on a drannel buoy
 that makes you wonder why the widow woman buys bananas she never eats
 the things you find in the bedside tables when you spend the night
 the big brothers looking at themselves all the time
 the lumber camp that smells like puke
 death has a piano oh yes but the keys are dead
 when you punch one it is like a broken bone
 death has a knife of sweat and a scabbard of tears
 long walks won't do any good
 horses fisck inside me and a river makes a bend in my shoulder
 that is all I have up on death
 I have wild dreams I live a wild life
 I'm: seen things better not to tell
 I am the son of the river
 just another bastard childhood is not worth living no matter what you hear
 that voice coming from the parlor holding my hand good luck is all I can say
 DEMOCRATIC MOOM PITCHU REBUS BLUES
 how two infants one invisible landed on earth after a journey from another
 planet fioating dirt and became one with the people and told their story in
 song and dance and the only one invented in the last two thousand years
 and the others too and now Vico is telling his hands his sing song way
 (Francis became omniscient when he opened his eyes blood fiows existence ends)
 I looked up at the moon
 like a cold bath in the dark in the east
 wood was burning
 I looked up at the sun
 like a hot bath in the light in the west
 steel was fiashing
 I said these things
 when I try to tell the truth I forget the words they are like drops
 of water nmning down a sword
 the truth is why you can't see Dark's fist when he hits someone
 I've learned a lot I know nothing
 I should have learned by now that better men died trying
 to say those things that cannot be said
 I listen to some men talking in longwinded and precise phrases
 they circle over the Truth they hover like vultures
 the words buzz like fiies
 I think I would respect humming if I couldn't hear it
 I'm not talking about bees they shit honey
 (Francis loved philosophy it was ambrosia it was water it was ichor it was ice
 it was gas it was music) when I want to know the truth of the matter
 I stumble and fall
 when I try to say something smart-alec you've heard it before
 it is like dipping your finger in the meringue when there is no pie
 you can get away with it when it's cool
 ((notice the stings black eyes scars and bites))
 I want words that will soak me in blood
 I do not want to be bushwhacked
 maybe my brother is a spirit
 that leaves me in the cold
 I would like to break my back on the truth then (his body)
 there is only one ship
 you can board for truth and all the adventures will be like a dream ofa dream
 there will be mental journeys and physical voyages
 you will be the captain
 and the ship will be the ship of death
 I stand by
 even on horseback you might not know how to ride
 the opponent is death it is on a mountain by itself
 the blade has not been burnished
 the angel of death
 ( ( (the paradox of danger) ) )
 if the natural order of the delta was the river of death
 then the early failures of the US. Army Corps of Engineers was false order
 if the victories of dirt and my father and men and levees was a higher order
 then the concrete now without a fight is order for the sake of order
 what is forged is broken
 (they were broken Maldon)
 what is well tempered will stand it will be broken over the knee
 so long to the river I'll see you when I get there
 ((son of death))
 the colored boy is beating his fist into a catcher's mitt
 where'd you get that at I says
 found it
 that's mine I lost it the bus company lost it was in my tackle box
 see the man give me the wrong ticket and they lost my luggage I says
 finders keepers losers weepers he says
 if that don't beat all I says to myself
 what you looking at me fah he says
 I ain't looking at you I'm looking at my mitt
 you mean my mitt man he says
 I was drinking I can't say look at my initials cut on the inside strap
 cause when I cut them on there I done had changed my name again
 and it say F V so he'd think I stole it
 hey Mama he say make that white boy quit looking at me
 what he doing that fah son she say
 cause he say
 why she say
 I done give that boy soda watah now he saying this here his
 catcha's mitt
 tell him I found it Mama tell him
 it might be his son she say
 well he ain't getting his mitts on it if I has anything to say bout it
 what you so nervous bout boy she say
 cause I tired riding around on this bus with y'all
 we got to ride she say
 I want to do something he say
 now the kid is beating his fist in the catcher's mitt harder and harder
 and he's looking out the window at the people looking up fiom the fields
 waving cause they see the headlights on in the bus but soon every bus will
 have to have the lights on cause it's just now getting dark and I can turn
 the reading light off cause I didn't read nothing anyway but the dark thunder
 clouds made it like night now it is really becoming night naturally it is
 and that boy looking out the window and a car passes us real fast with the horn
 blowing and a boy with freckles gives the bus the finger
 and the colored boy says hey Mama that there was that peckerwood that broke
 that egg over my head it was the same one
 and I look and it was the soda jerk
 and I tell myself what's the fair way of doing this
 so I say to him hey
 what you want man he says
 what position you play I say
 I plays pitcher man
 what you need a mtcher's mitt for then I says
 cause I ain't never had no glove befoe
 well listen I says I play catcher and that there is my mitt
 my mitt he says
 but at home I got a good fielder's glove that I didn't never use
 so I took it to the leather place and had them make a pitcher's pocket in it
 cause this colored man I know he pitches for WDIA but the glove was too little
 for him so what I'm saying is let's make a swap I'll send you that glove
 if you'll give me back my catcher's mitt
 look man first off this here is mine and next how I know you gone
 give me the
 other'n where is it
 in Memphis I says
 shit on Memphis we ain't in Tennessee
 boy you bettuh hold yo tongue talking them nasty wuds his Mama say
 give me the mitt back and I'll send you the glove
 no deal he says how da I know you gone send it to me
 I run off from home see to go see a friend in Mound Bayou but I'll go back
 I got to have that glove I says I can't catch with nothing else it was special
 made from saddle leather and the regular catcher went to Ching and I is the
 youngest on the team and the only other one that's white is Jimmy and you don't
 know who he is but we got a team that can't be beat but ifI was to screw up
 we'd really be in a fix they'd all think it was my fault and it would be cause
 I'm the youngest and they is letting me catch I say
 no reason to get upset he say
 it's mighty important I say
 look now he say when I'm up on the mound I got to have me a quality glove
 and I just don't know if you gone come through
 I'll pull through I say give me a chance you can trust me
 I don't know he say if this glove you speaking of will do me any good
 what you been using I say
 uh well I'm use my hands he say
 your bare hands I say well one these days a baseball gone to cripple you up
 your fingers won't take it so you got to have a glove let's swap I'll say the
 catcher's mitt is yours fair and square if you trade it
 don't like it man sound fishy how come you change your mind so quick he say
 cause I remembered something I says
 what he say
 I remember that the mitt was made and give to me by a colored man
 his Mama looked at me and said chile we saying Negro now
 yessum I say a Negro man give this to me since then he done passed away
 I'll buy that but I ain't gone give you my catcher's mitt until you send me your
 glove
 a deal I says
 put your hand on it he says
 we shook on it
 say you want some Nugrape
 yea I says
 Vico bought a whole case fah me he says
 he's kind of screwy but he's alright he says hey whea'd you learn
 that side talk
 from a Indian I says
 that right he says I got a fouth cousin is a Indian ain't he Mama
 I been working on it for a long time I says
 is that glove I'm gone swap for broke in good
 shoot yea I says a real ace used it for a while
 say he was pitching fah WDIA radio
 un huh I say
 name wasn't Lemon was it
 that's him alright I say
 he kin to some singing entertainers ain't he
 yea I says
 reckon it'll fit me
 sho I says
 well I'm gone get me some shut eye he says
 good night I says same to you he says
 I closed my eyes and Vico was still going in his sleep
 then a voice behind me you want to play with while I' m asleep
 the boy says
 if you'll let me I say
 he gave me the mitt and says boy you got to give it back soon as I wake up
 sho I says
 I lay back on the seat my eyes dizzy from lack of sleep and the excitement
 of the afternoon and the concentration on Vico's hands and the persuasion
 I thought my family was probably looking for me
 I thought the whites of my eyes ached
 and the Negro kid was putting himself to sleep with fiip fiop and fiy I don't
 care if I die
 I thought about how one year the geese going or coming I forgot the season
 of the year how they were brought too low by the lights From some city
 and when they passed over the country lower still they fiew into the Drive Inn
 screen it was like the death of the moon
 1 could lie and say a movie was playing but none was just white
 and scarlet and the blue cloud like a hearse
 casting its black shadow
 and this is another one later now and the preacher is driving up in his wagon
 but now is not now it is then and so
 where the moon says I
 have lost the country of light I never knew it
 was like the night it always believed
 it was alone
 I beat my fist in the catcher's mitt
 the one who looks in the mirror and the one in the mirror
 a fire as silent as an orphan
 days and work that have passed on like dragons and wands
 abode: that only exist under the water
 forgetting the anchors the ridges the foreshadowed and those that are happy
 the contours of pain
 that saved myself from myself I lied I went away
 one evening to confess to the water
 the melancholy of torture of drifting
 night that sleeps in a bed made up by Savonarola
 I would like to blame the astronomer or the world's smallest man or Jimmy
 or the Black Angel or the bullet or the water or my tongue or the moon
 or the silence for my voyage
 but I can only blame the truth and my dreams
 I only blame myself I look for the time that is lost like a place to fish
 like a pursued man I hang on the hands of a lost clock
 I admit my guilt but I don't know why
 sometimes I dream Baby Gauge is standing over my deathbed and telling me
 you bettuh watch out
 then it goes black like a statue in front of a castle
 a beam of light illuminates a few words on a scroll
 if only I could remember them
 then I am standing there on the cliff and the wind
 is giving up its death breath in my hair and my cloak
 fills out like an equinoctial sail
 I kiss the map of the island and point out to sea
 to sleep on the land of the island
 if the astronomer were there and I am glad he was not he would have corrected me
 with equidistant
 the bus is smoky I pinch the corners of the windows for air
 I am like a mime carrying glass
 the letters from mysterious pen pals from all over the globe keep coming
 the post script on everyone is you mustn't tell what you have seen so far
 I take these letters to the astronomer to translate and sometimes he takes the
 glasses off his nose and looks up shaking the tassel on the fez out of the way
 and says the spirit of these words defy translation who are these children
 where do they come from and I answer they are the light off a long sliver of
 steel when you dream of a sword they are the stripes of the tiger they are over
 there on the sand naked and fighting in the sun in good fun they come from
 southward fi-orn the lake and wesrward fi'om the river
 for a long while he looks at me over the long table he brought from Egypt
 his face is almost green and I dream of the desert
 enough of the astronomer that is another story
 I should have never asked the yardman about him 1 should have never talked
 to his daughter I should have never read his diary
 he's insane or he's returned from the dead
 I am frightened at the way he says Memphis and when he slips up
 and says I
 when he speaks of ancient times when he makes references to me
 and he tries to cover them up like a fart
 it is like he knows my destiny a word I've always been fond of
 I doubt that it was an accident that he left those books at my father' s house
 I wonder about him but I never try to tell about him
 perhaps it is because he is so mysterious and so resigned to coincidence
 that split in his teeth and his tongue when he talks
 how he can look up without ever raising his head or straining his neck
 that time at the lake not too long ago when I went over to their cottage
 in the boat and no one was home
 at night the shadow of the astrolabe on the huge wall bare as a lie
 his manner of speech sometimes when we talk about my firture
 as if he is anticipating something
 the way he looks off into nothingness like he was preparing for some journey
 his frequent slips in tense and point of view
 when he is the one who is always correcting my way of speaking whatever it may be
 what voyage is it he means well but what does he mean
 why all the concentration on his personal speculative astronomy
 as if he knew a short-cut through the woods
 for a long time I suspected my family of hiring a headshrinker and having him
 disguise himself as an astronomer since they knew that was my field
 I feared this was his unusual interest in my dreams
 I don't think that any longer I know better because I know he knows about me
 it is strange that at my age I mention my mother and father least of all
 I feel guilty
 it is like they would read a play where everyone but them was mentioned
 this problem won't ever go away it comes back ever year like the geese
 next comes the astronomer as if he was in league with my brother
 don't tell me I don't have a brother either I'm bored with that talk
 why just last night when I came back from the show a poem and some battle plans
 for our journey to help them out south of the border were finished
 Charlie B. says he's in league with the devil and that what I need a brother fah
 but enough of this Charlie B. is dead drunk on a bulldozer enough
 he and Jimmy are in prison enough they are in Chile enough they are waiting
 for me and Dark to come to the baseball game enough I'm glad I didn't tell that
 boy in the next seat we didn't use no ball he never would a made the swap
 to tell the truth I don't know where they are
 enough
 Vico is still asleep why
 now the bus rolled through the first neon lights of the little town
 just another mail stop no matter
 it slowed down and seemed to coast past a Billups service station and a Flying
 Service and an Ice House then it stopped under a street lamp
 now what town was this I thought I know the route like the back of my hand
 it was on the tip of my tongue they take on freight right up here at a dnrg store
 and then make a little circle and head on out the highway again past a Drive Inn
 and this time a year I had ought to be able to see something on the screen
 and we are stopped now and the passengers are all seated except for the man
 with the collar on and he's at the head of the bus giving instructions about
 how to remain non-violent no matter what when we all get off the bus to take
 a rest stop but the driver turns around and says wont be no rest stop on this
 stop cause ain't no real place to get off at this time of evening the drug store
 be closed on up the run a way everyone will be allowed to get off and I noticed
 the way the white driver said the words like he didn't mean to be smart alec
 just that there was no point getting off here and so the preacher asks would
 it be alright to stop off at a service station somewhere cause a couple of
 elderly ladies is kind of sick and he says oh yes we ought to be able to do that
 but we is pulled up under a street lamp now
 beating my fist into the catcher' s mitt and the boy and Vico still ain't wake
 and out the window on my side I see four or five white boys sitting
 in the back of a pick-up and there is a man looking back through the panel window
 at them with a smile on his face and look up in the sky now but seems like
 I recollect one them faces so I looks back down and the bus is fixing
 to start rolling again and the driver of the truck now he' s outten the cab
 standing on the running board and looking like he' s biting the stem offen
 an apple and he tosses it to the boy sure enough that soda jerk the one with
 freckles and he looks right at me now and throws it in the window
 but it gets there before it really gets there like it was a slow motion way of
 doing things which is unnatural but this here was a natural hand grenade
 and I seen it coming and I held out the mitt and it was for real alright
 and nobody on the bus seen it atol but me and the bus is rolling again now
 and the boy that threw it yelled catch nigger lover and I caught it I really did
 but I never would have ilfen I had never played baseball with no baseball
 and so I taken it out of the glove and I remember what Dark and Jimmy told me
 and the other one that went to Chicago too don't HESITATE if a man is stealing
 second base and they ain't nobody on third throw it and so there weren't nobody
 going to first so I reared back with the ball and pe'ed it to second I don't know
 if the man was out or not but there was a boom and I was squatting down in the
 seat of the bus beating my fist into the mitt saying come babe come babe
 and so Rufus is dead now he's dead so now he's dead one of them say he was
 dead so now he is but I seen him first so I said it so I know he's dead
 nobody else say a thing I said it to myself that he was dead
 now that he's dead and the wind come up and blew that hand of Beleaguered
 Castle solitaire offen the wrought iron table with the glass top
 and I climb that tree and jump through the water of the table but that was
 seven year ago so I don't know it anymore and which nigger had them Easter Egg
 laying chickens Rufus say come on and look if you dont believe me and I go
 and sure enough it was and he called it Araucana but that weren't all he had
 he had a stamp collection that was colored too and he were that beanie
 and he walked with a cane all over the county and nobody ever called him nothin
 but The Jew and he make us scrambled eggs of a morning once but how come they
 lose they color I say but I can't taste it right nohow cause of this glue
 on my tongue but that weren't all he had a stain glass picture window
 to look out of I figured it to be a portal but no no he say that when you
 look out his window you look out a grave so he's dead now with him a stamp
 like a picture in the Bible on his tongue with those colors and all them
 decks of playing cards like the Admiral's fleet them that he called Father Time
 Rouge et Noir Four Intruders House in the Wood Harp Faerie Queen The Wish
 Gavotte Idiot's Delight Osmosis Napoleon's Square Forty Thieves La Belle Lucie
 labyrinth I thought it rhymed with baby Tam O'Shanter Contra-Dance Nestor Puss
 In the Corner and Rufus saying he's dead alright yessuh he's dead would you
 look at them cards I reckon he's been playing by hisself like that fah seventeen
 years been gambling like that and the chickens got to be fed too go head on and
 see to that boy I'll prepare the boy yessuh I says to Rufirs but Rufus weren't
 dead and them chickens got in the house and got after them playing cards
 the Blue Andalusians pecked the wild cards and the bantams had the Queens
 and the one-eyed jacks chased the Mottled Houdans out the back door and the
 seven of clubs slipped under the screen and the Black tailed Japanese went
 after and the Plymouth Rocks shit on the three of clubs but the nine of spades
 was in the bed and hadn't no chicken got to it but the Laltenvelder was roosting
 on the jew's head and Rufus say I'm gone ring one these chickens neck with
 all them stamps in they belly and I say won't do you no good unlessing you was
 a foreigner cause them stamps ain't fit for nothing in the United States
 and he says well I'm liable to go to South American States one these days and I
 say oh go on and he says I mean to catdt that Argentina and take in Peru
 and Chile and some them other south of the border places and I say go on
 and the dog wanted in but that weren't right either cause it was really part
 wolf he said so I tied the neck tie around the dead man's throat I couldn't get
 the knot right to save my life here boy let me do it no I say I can do it so I
 did it I tied it around my neck first then I take it off and tie it around his
 and Rufirs took a long draw and says whew that jew drunk stout whiskey and he
 opens the lid of a music box and a tune neither one of us had ever heard and I
 say oh go on you ain't going to Latin America and I didn't even know where it was
 and for sure that was nigh on I can't count but now he's dead like that night
 before Easter and I can't find the white gloves and I know you wear a white rose
 if your mother is dead and a red one iffen she alive but I must had been sleep
 walking that evening cause 1 got up foe dawn and them gloves wasn't on my hands
 and I sleeps with them on my hands but they was gone so I says I better go
 find them gloves cause they got to have them at die service so I put the derby
 on my head and goes out in the chill and yellow fiowers and takes a look off the
 porch I asked the rooster say you hadn't seen them white gloves nowheres has you
 and he don't answer and so 1 goes off down the back road and run into this here
 colored boy with a white moustache and I says has you seen them white gloves and
 he says nah has you seen the Bunny I says no what you doing he say I'm got to
 fiag some my kin folks down so they'll know where we stay and he's drinking milk
 and I got to find those gloves and it thunders and I say to myself if I'm quiet
 maybe I can hear them
 no so now I go under what use to be Mr. Rufus shack but the white people got it
 now so I got to be quiet and I can see the new lumber on that new outhouse the
 white man's wife made the white man build cause she says she wasn't gone have no
 nigger man's privy on her land but it weren't her land for real cause they took
 it after Mr. Rufus died you call that chicken squat but the old outhouse it'
 was still there but with vines growed up around it and I put my hand up over
 my ear and listens for the white glove but all I hears is this crying I don't know
 what is whining like more than one maybe three or four it's got to be animals
 I thinks so I try to find them nowI remember where I left them gloves in Rufits
 outhouse yessir so I forgets about that noise cause it was light now but I forget
 to walk so I just crawl towards that outhouse and the crying it gets louder
 maybe the Palm Reader making them gloves do like that but I know she can't do
 nothing that badass the sound is like cats I reaches in the crack in the door
 yotdang that thang scratch me look to see how many make sho it weren't no snake
 it was that wild cat alright the white one that nobody can get close to
 I reaches back in and feels around for the white gloves I get them and put them
 on and the mamma cat scoot out the door like that lightning that just hit
 so the kittens is making a racket now and the bullet comes through the windshield
 like a pick laying open a two hundred block of ice and I say Tang they shooting
 but what I felt the first time wasn't no wet toilet paper it was a kitten a white
 kitten so the marnrna is gone now so I best leave or she won't come back and if you
 touch them when they first get born the mamma at won't have nothing to do with them
 that's a fact so I run off under Rufus house and say come on back at come on
 back and feed your chillren but the mamma cat won't come and that was that
 Easter along time foe the one now cause I know how to drive a car now
 and I wait on the mamma cat for a ever long time and she might gone let them
 die so I got the white gloves on now and she might not smell me if I pick one
 them up and turn it over so I goes back I walk this time cause I don't wont
 no chickenyard dirt on my hands and I picks up the kitten and all of them still
 got the mamma belly guts ties on them like they having to drag they guts around
 in a war and they trying to crawl around grey not white with they eyes shut
 and stepping on the mamma baby guts and they is all tangled up like a fish reel
 and so I taken my knife out but I just can't cut that thing I can slit a fish
 but I can't cut no guts loose so says I got my two front permanent teeth in so I
 can bite them in two so 1 do and they make a racket I mean and I spit the blood
 out and Tang say duck and they is up in what was Rufus house now and I ain't
 through with the last two but I got to hide cause that white man say he gone kill
 me for what I done if he ever catch me on his property but it ain't his land not
 by a long shot but he claim to have the paper on it now but that the way it always
 is somebody shooting and lying over land or a dog ain't that the truth is what
 Rufus say but he's dead now and the white man he's yelling that damn white cat
 done laid a little I can hear them out in that nigger's shithouse and I say whoop
 I'm better be gone so I ducks out and he come out in his long handles and barefoot
 and say shit they'll die the mamma done gone I ain't listening to no squalling
 all morning though so he lifts them all up like he was picking up peaches and
 throws them down the outhouse him saying you'll keep down there now I can't hear
 you but as he leaves I can and I'm saying to myself come back cat go get yo lil
 ones but the wild cat is gone and this bullet burn like a poker and so I go down
 afta them and it's like a cave but all but two is dead and it my fault cause I
 went looking for the white gloves and got lost in a sleepwalking and I should a knowed
 better to mess with them kittens cause ain't no wild mamma cat gone tend to
 them now and the two that is alive is twisted up around one another and hanging
 on a nail by the mamma baby belly guts them I didn't get a chance to bite free
 so I gets them and take them up and the man don't see me and please come back
 car so I run with them up the road and how you make them pee is you lick they
 belly so it'll come out kind of like listening to running water I reckon so
 I does that the cat won't come back and I says is you kin folks come by yet
 nah what you got two kittens ain't gone make it least they mamma comes back
 she's wild why don't you take them ova my house my cat got a litter last night
 so I do but it was my fault that the cat wouldn't come back
 and I give him the derby with the two cats
 and Inigo says hermano no es bueno pensar en lo pasado
 and I felt guilty with them all slapping me on the back and saying brother
 I only said shoot it was just a coincidence I had the mitt and was looking out
 the window and just think 1': the one that opened it up in the first place
 no I couldn't accept no thanks it was just one of those things that happens
 I said and the kid said boy I'm glad I let you stand watch with my glove
 and I said anybody could a done it and I didn't know what to say when they
 asked me my name cause by now I had changed my name so many times I couldn't
 recollect which one I was using so I just say I go by Inigo and the kid says
 I thought you was Mexican you look like a wetback and I nodded and Vico gives
 me the eye like why didn't you tell them your real name and I give him the hand
 signal for I done forgot it and he says that's impossible I ought to know you
 can't forget your REAL name the name of your parents but I did that I sho did
 I get up outen my seat and stroll up the aisle to where the driver is and I says
 Warren when we gone get to Mound Bayou and he say leave the driving to us that's
 all he ever says but he ain't so bad I had already done figured out like I had
 remembered what Dark said about white people and on the way back to my seat the
 man who pretends he's blind tapped me on the knee with his cane and looked over
 his sunglasses and said mighty fine thow brother whead you learn that and I told
 him about me and the King Snakes and our win loss record and then the man that
 was the leader he said all bow their head in prayer he said Lord this catch that
 this white boy made wasn't no piece of luck like he say it was nor was it made by
 the skilled hands of a man no Lord this was inspired by you and you alone
 and the body guard leans over in my ear and I could smell Gypsy Rose wine and he
 says bullshit no Lord it wasn't the happy accident or the grandstand play it was
 a signal sent in from the bench up there Amen whose bench and everybody said
 the Lord's bench and the bodyguard say you believe that shit man and I said nah
 and he said I'll give my life fah that man preaching that's what my job is but I
 sho don't believe in Jesus you don't huh I say nah man he say I'm Muslim is that
 I say I got a friend called Bergamo is a Muslim he's got it in for white people
 awful bad hum the man that wasn't blind say and the preacher say the Lord run
 that play in heah yes he did brother for sho he did that's right some white folks
 sitting up front from New York was saying Amen too and it sounded like they was
 ordering something extra on they hamburger and I asked the bodyguard say what
 all them pictures and he say them's the folks that died in the cause I see I said
 you must be like them mens that guard the body of the president ain't you and he
 says kindly but they is keeping me away from him and I am keeping them away from
 that man up front there I see I said and Vico motioned me to come there so I told
 the bodyguard so long and the preacher was going like I do when I get a Harp
 Psalm Song Poem going and I dreamed that Harpo Marx was David and that I lived
 in Medieval times playing a psaltery and all die singers rung the bells on their
 toes not in their sleep but in their death kicks and I was the only one left but
 I won't go into that because now somewhere in Mississippi I heard the Moonlight
 Sonata unless it was only a dream I hear but for sure the man in the white collar
 is saying the devil
 was on fust and he tried to steal second
 but the Iawd threw him out
 yassuh he had two men on he wanted to get a walk
 and load the bases the devil wanted his men to scoah
 but they shan't do it
 and a man said no they won't
 and a bull in a field bellowed like a barge on the river
 and Vico said you the young light hearted master of the waves
 in quotes
 who gone be the one to strike the devil's man out
 I is the boys said
 then go head and chunk the ball the preacher said
 thow him a fast ball a woman with a purse in her lap said
 Satan ain't gone get no mo times at bat
 let him take the field and we gone swing
 we gone swing brother a man said
 sister take a stand at home plate and hit you a home run
 look over yondah and show them whea you gone hit it
 we ain't studying bout no pop up foul no infield ground rules
 when they play back what you gone do brother
 gone bunt
 when they play up what you gone do sister
 hit that line drive into left field
 ain't gone swat the white fiy no mo
 gone get a piece of that ball
 who gone be in the blue suit calling it brother
 the Holy Ghost Sister
 who gone be watching
 evahbody but we ain't selling tickets to no Wuld Seeries
 we playing for keeps
 we ain't looking at but one thing the ball
 looking at Jesus
 we ain't trying to watch the grandstand
 and I busted out this here is something Dizzy Dean can't call
 Amen they said
 listen to that boy talk
 bleeding Jesus let me take a drink
 let's ride brother and sister let's ride
 so the bus passed through the towns like a ball nobody will ever catch
 the pictures of the dead were raised and the living were quick
 indeed about their tasks quick on their heels
 the preacher said let evah bootblack in the country sing farewell
 so they sung
 and the man with the sunglasses on is sitting beside Vico
 and Vico is trying to read his lips
 but Vico is drunk because the bodyguard gave him the Gypsy Rose
 because he said it was against his religion to drink
 I don't know ifI am travelling or meandering
 Vico goes to sleep and the bodyguard says you best take care of your buddy
 and so I sit beside him
 he is motioning how he killed the professor in the old country
 but he keeps bringing in the Moors with the other hand
 now I get it the colonel and the professor are one
 I guess that what's be saying now the colonel was a traitor a friend of the Nazis
 he killed him with his finger I don't get it
 he was reeling off the names of places in an accent something like the Mexican
 blacksmith I know but it was different from that there was a place called La
 Pampa and many cattle and an old railway station where some men talked out of
 the rain there was a victim a villain who had been stalked for years there was
 a river called Negro and many towns and villages I don't know what but the names
 of the places were recalled in an ofi'hand manner as if Vico was quite familiar
 with them names like Cipolletti and Paso de los Indies and Coronel Pringles and
 Ingeniero Jacobacci and a place on the coast in another country Saavedra and
 Lago Buenos Aires and Nahuelquir and Las Plumas and Bernasconi and Bustamante and
 Mazarredo and Cavo Virgenes and Zarate and Lobos and a saloon in some place he'd
 forgotten where he first saw the colonel and his men and now he was making some
 circular motion 1 did not know the meaning of then I got it was the way you throw
 the bolas yes he threw them around the legs of the professor as he was running
 out of the saloon but did he kill him how with one finger he sent a telegraph
 message actually he said a telepathic message with his finger but he was drunk
 that reached Buenos Aires where it was delivered to a strange band of Jewish men
 but now he falls off into his further past before the war before what I don't know
 just before and there is a street in Germany somewhere and he is a boy in a choir
 passing through and he sees a strange man through the window at his writing desk
 and up the street or down the street are a lot of drunken actors and painters
 but I can't translate rather I can't even make out the name of the street but the
 man at the table is angry at the debauchery up or down the way and he comes out
 of his house he even gives the number and the way and shakes his fist at them
 it is dark Vico remembers and much later now I would suspect and he mentions
 attending a lecture in London I think on the 315: of October 1942 delivered by on
 something something something Tyrrell there was a description of Oxford and the
 courtyard much as I had read it to be by many others who had been there a brief
 reference to shadows refiections footsteps and the like yes I had expected it to
 be like that and now there is a word about l-ness and an allusion to The Producer
 and The Stage Carpenter but I'm not interested anymore because what he is saying
 reminds me of the movie the astronomer's daughter took me to see in Memphis with
 Douglas Fairbanks it was silent and we saw it twice and I think I had seen it
 before but I couldn't remember but the name of it was The Gaucho see what happens
 is the Blessed Virgin Mary appears to these children like she did to those
 Italian girls awhile back and while this is going on this no count politician
 named Ruiz is living off the fat of the land while the people is starving
 but what is so bad that there is this guy see who goes by Black Death and when
 ever you see him you know somebody is going to die but the good part is where
 The Gaucho falls in love with a whore who works in a honky tonk and Mary gives
 them a blessing it was a swell movie alright almost as swell as Nightmare Alley
 which wasn't playing the night I was telling about but it might as well have been
 there is a mind reader named Stan who is a no good fake but pretends to really
 be something well he does have a way with the women sort of like Jimmy but he
 wasn't near as good as Jimmy cause Jimmy wouldn't a never been caught dead workin
 in no carny anyway this guy was a big hit at first until he got found out then
 he turns to the liquor and end up being the Geek which is about the most low
 down thing any human being can be more than that though you kind of get to like
 the mind reader cause he such a fool what I liked about the movie was Tyrone
 Power to tell the truth I guess you know I met him and his wife over on Moon Lake
 one summer the Gods truth (the boy he saw he didn't really see his name was
 Gip) I remember the gypsies breaking camp I looked at blood I looked at boats
 I heard graves open up like fiowers I heard watches ticking in letters I heard
 Vico saying the words to the colonel when he lost his voice in the war he wrote
 in blood professor there will be a terrible reckoning for the betrayers and this
 reminded me of the dream of Claude Rains in The Man Who Reclaimed His Head where
 he tells the guy who took advantage of his gifts and pacifism to wage war so once
 again the partners part but in the end the accused turned out to be the accuser
 at least that is what they meant but I don't know if it really happened to Vico said
 such a man wishes to live with himself for he does so with pleasure since the
 memories of his past acts are delightfisl and his hopes for the future are good
 and therelbre pleasant his mind is well stored too with subjects of contemplation
 and he grieves and rejoices more than any other with himself for the same thing
 is always painful and the same thing always pleasant and not one thing at one
 time and another at another he has so to speak nothing to repent of (for his
 friend is another self) I was riding a horse and that survives I lie in wait
 I try to hold water like kisses in a hand spread apart like a pentacle it wasn't
 Germany it was Switzerland in a town called Zurich and the rabble rousers lived
 in number one Spiegelgasse and the Russian lived in number six and Vico walked
 through this street in 1916 and now he was making songs with his hands
 (((next comes the subject of Recollection)"
 where I was for six months you couldn't write but one sentence a month so I told
 the one who keeped care of us say how about letting me save up a long one if I
 don't write no line for three months so he said that'd be fine so I done that
 and it was nigh on long as Job and Jeremiah is put together
 take him he was too young and the people of Memphis was gone cut his throat
 and I kept having them dreams over and over the same ones like the same horse
 until I had to go to Mamma Covoe and ast her what ailing me and she said child
 at midnight tow a shanty out the water and lay in it fah one hour do this next friday
 then you do this she whispered in my ear what to do I went out to her outhouse
 and drunk that what she gave me and waited and waited keeping my eye on the
 watching tree until I took me a thirty minute shit and I had me a dream I mean
 I dreamed the same dream fourteen times in a row looking at the tree until it
 turned and a long time later after she dead I went back to the same place with
 the weeds growed up and the dirt dobbers in there and I had the same dream of
 this here man white as a sheet like a clown washing his hands in a tub of lye
 a scrubbing the skin off on a washboard and him singing the last words of this
 song go like even though your heart is breaking and he was grinning and then
 not before but then is when I hit on it who it'd be the only one cause they was
 saying what you gone do now that he's gone telling all us that what you all gone
 do now and I says what am I gone do now and they say can't nobody take his place
 and I dreamed in the outhouse ain't but one man alive can do that and they done
 run him out the Unity States while back but I seed him a thousand times all the
 better cause I got runned out too so I crossed my fingers and picked up a wasp
 and let him bite me for God's truth and I said ain't but one man alive could be my
 daddy and they run him out a ways back I had a dream bouten it but I believe it
 only one fellah and that's the Little Tramp he gone be my pappy l knows he will
 I sent him eleven letters in the Unity States mail them with the line that don't
 quit telling him why I aimed to have him for a daddy saying you is just the
 opposite from what you do and what you mean and that is the way I am I wrote the
 letters at least some of them in a bad hand so he'd think I never had no learning
 but the Unity States sent them all back and said return to sender no such person
 no such place damn if that didn't send me off when I knowed he was real me and
 the Jew boy went to see him a thousand times at that place in Memphis how else
 I gone get the idea him that has a tear in his eye when the rest is laughing and
 I'm like that go head on and laugh like the boys did when they caught me singing
 one of my made up songs go on but it ain't really funny it is all sad just as
 sad as a mule drop offi dead in a field by hisself and don't nobody see him I
 asked some folks where they thought he was but couldn't nobody give me a good
 answer but I seen in a magazine where he lives in a castle in Switzerland one
 day and I says ain't that swell I know the name of one street there it'll be a
 cinch to find him but the john law found out 1': stowed away so he wasn't never
 my daddy no for real he wasn't but he could of been but I never seed him excepting
 by myself in the evening when I dream seen him one day trying to catch a fish but
 I know that Jew boy seed him cause I was with him you can ask him if you want to
 maybe I should have said there is another one sort of like me a twin who don't
 eat much maybe I should had said that but I reckon it's too late now ain't you
 going to shoot him Jimmy said shoot Charlie B. said blow his head off Tang said
 but that didn't happen not in no border war and I told the kid who thought my
 name was Inigo how wasn't but one fit to be my daddy in that dream but if he
 would of even then I'd had two which ain't right but that was the dream I had
 once I dreamed Mozart seventeen times no lie
 fire Sylvester said but I didn't
 but it was dark in there
 and I was singing
 even though your heart is he said wave them away fiy their speech and smiles
 here they was trying to blame me for writing that word in the rest room at school
 I never
 it hurts awfitl bad I bet the dog is still asleep under Jimmy's pickup
 they wrote home I was a raving in my sleep
 they told them I ought to had been seed to and that's how they found out I could
 read minds
 the ice tongs were under the seat
 instead of photographs I carry library cards
 what good is my tongue anyhow the doctor oughten took that out when he cut
 the busted appendix out
 I never heard no bullet clink in no glass I aimed to put a hole through it
 and wear it around my neck like a charm
 I put a coal oil Funnel in my mouth and poured two pints of whiskey down my throat
 to get rid of the blues I tied myself on a appaloosa and rode through
 the country one night
 Vico was dozing with his head on my shoulder
 a big congregation of white folks was running around but Tang's moom pitchu
 still wasn't off
 Vico said this
 when I was still an infant my mother sold me to the black monks of the monastery
 near our village however I doubt that she was really my mother
 probably someone who had found me and taken me in there were many like that
 in the old days they raised orphans and waifs only males as they brought the best
 price the nuns never had much you see and sold them to the monastery for
 money and indulgences and if the boy's voice turned out to be good
 they were rewarded with masses she couldn't have been my mother I never knew her
 the way Vico talked with his hands it sounded like all this happened at the
 turn of the century but he didn't look that old to me
 to this day I remember the coins and the relics that later I found out to be
 pig bones as I worked in the reliquary and I can remember during choir lessons
 how the young girls from the villages would come to the cathedral
 and fondle the beads like seconds of pleasure until they came
 to the end
 how they would nudge one another and whisper when they
 thought they'd come upon a Face that reminded them of someone
 they were the mothers of course most of them in their
 twenties breathing hard when they recognized their child
 soon I caught one looking at me she sat apart from the others
 and Brother Zophiel switched me many times during the lesson when I missed
 my note but I still stared at her lips when she kissed the bead at the end
 of the prayer her skin oh how I remember it and the darkness of her eyes
 it was always as if she had something in her mouth that's how it
 was when she closed her lips her teeth that made me want to take another
 breath I was young then younger than you the lunar markings
 of her mouth like a Cloister I could not enter then
 Brother Sabas instructed them to leave he whispered it was that time
 and she got up with the veil over her shoulder as if she were passing through
 a bazaar the youngest one who you knew had spoken
 to no one I longed to pause by the confessional and listen to her confession
 burning circles stars fit" of wild fiowers living feathers from the sea floor
 the brown meat of the apple and the indigo banana the stranger the family
 secrets the enigmas of the grapes and the humidity crossing the prairie
 the train stations that do not exist and the coach of the well to do
 if I could prance up like a horse then already I knew enough tongues
 to understand what she said the iris shot out with a moan
 barcaroles for women who want to be alone buried like a key
 she crosses herself and leaves the church brusque mother goodbye
 I would come to know her by reputation
 my own reputation as a singer would help make it possible
 but we never met we never talked there were letters delivered
 by fishermen and gypsies and mendicants along the coastlines
 in the afternoon a child in the fog of the basilica hid her note
 beneath the portrait of Aurelius Augustinus of Tagaste and Carthage
 I heard of him I says but of course Vico didn't hear me he was asleep
 I give the hand signal for I peed in the holy water font once
 and stole a solid gold taper boy oh boy there was a drunk man outside
 by a lamp zipping up his pants and I talked up to him and lit his cigarette
 for him and I says brother have a light and he liked that I walked over
 niggertown giving everybody I seed a light with that stick
 I ended up giving it to a piano player the same Negro who got arrested
 with Jimmy for going around and peeing in those Country Club swimming pools
 I forget his name start with a R and Vico was saying let it pass
 sorrow and joy and fear and desire and he went on into some philosophy
 hell he's worse than me about staying on the subject I'm lost he said
 he tells about the investigation by the Vatican don't tell me he killed
 one of them things too that murderer somebody had ought to let his blood
 ship moon wandering light horse ballad of water and stone the memories
 and the lightning in your eyes in the bed like washing off a child
 and looking over your shoulder and a Negro is taking a drink of soda pop
 I said I bet you never knew them fellows had me under suspicion did you
 they sent one clear over from Rome Italy when I was born he come by boat
 and I was nigh a month old when he got there wherever it was the orphanage
 I reckon but maybe camp I don't know (there were twenty-four homemade poems
 done on location soon as it rained the riverbeds of the letters became
 rivets again and the dust became mud) but I know it never was no breaking
 Charlie sung it was even though go on a few is aching but they had lots
 a trouble over my birth cause the woman that had me now this is the way
 I got it she claims she never done nothing to have me I don't know if she
 was one them Catholics or not I sho hope not but whatever she said she never
 she was about fourteen year old I hear and them nuns they told me but
 I broke into State Govment building and stole my case history but before I
 had time to read it all the batteries went dead on my flashlight just think
 if I hadn't a stayed up all night with the fiashlight under the covers
 the night before reading that book mother gave me I'd a knowed I really would
 of known I might even not a got shot oh well let bygones become bygones
 (there are numbers that make me sleep well and comb my hair and suffer)
 I was barely awake and the Indian pulled my toe it was too early for me to tell
 you my name the one the way the Indian says it but it means boy with wild hair
 to become one of them I had to sleep on a mound with a gunnysack full of
 snakes for a pillow the next morning I had to swim a fur piece and then ride
 a horse naked and then drink a mixture of blood desperate milk and fog
 and tell them what I dreamed the night before I told them so I told them
 about twilight and the sojourner of forests without dominion and harbors
 full of the dew on their ships and new bread that smelled like wood like
 chocolate and the color of a blueberry and the women saying goodbye that was my
 dream but my toes don't stink anymore really I don't know it's been so long
 since I last smelled them and the moon that falls out of the wet saddle
 like a man who will never reach his black destination he said the equivocal bells
 the swallowed whispers the blades of grass the pitch black day of departure
 and I said with the dust in my hair like forgotten navies
 I put two butterflies one under each arm pit and I raised my arms and dove off
 backwards I am traveling through the stations of the heart
 and my palms like a steeple or a prow
 my feet like a lamented rudder I forget everything I know nothing
 give me a sign and he did for
 I stole the abbot's mirror and in his chapel in private I unbuttoned
 my cassock lay on the cold marble of the altar and exposed myself
 I traced the image of the crescent scar on my scrotum
 the mirror between my legs
 every day that passed that my voice did not change I glimpsed
 a little more of the past
 I dreamed that the other one was in the heavens
 it was Pluto and I dreamed it before the planet was discovered
 I scrutinized myself in his holiness's chamber
 I felt the solitary orb move like a sleepwalking oyster
 I held it between the two fingers Christ holds up like a magician
 showing the audience the egg
 wound like the long line of dirt beside a furrow
 once when stroking what wasn't there much in the same fashion a child
 strokes the sleeping spot of a lost cat
 violent tremors shook the village and an earthquake demolished a wing
 of the monastery and l attributed this act of God as the handiwork of my lost
 orb and the benediction 1 gave it Tolle Lege
 holy nugget source of my voice gold plain sang indissoluble in anything
 other than Aqua Regia
 almond of Mary
 at the age of eight I was already famous for my voice
 in every cathedral and capitol of Europe I'd already performed
 I was the chosen of all singers
 I was bribed by the greatest opera companies
 by the time I was ten I'd lost interest in Gregorian music as such
 practice bored me it was only in the lofts alone when I performed
 that I felt fulfilled Sanctus Sanctus Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth
 I began in secret to sing other music whatever my voice could sing I sang
 Dufay and Landini no longer held my attention I was at ease with the newer
 music and lied was my love I wanted another voice beyond my means I knew by then
 I wanted a voice for something other than the son in Schubert's Earl King
 mein Vater disgusted me I wanted to sing the part of the father if not the
 Erlkonig himself
 occasionally during tours through the cities I would slip away from the disgusting
 deference of admirers and make ofi' in the company of young men and women
 a decade older than myself but these stranger friend enemies
 were ready to accept me as I was
 a voice
 with them while Zophiel searched Paris Vienna Zurich Munich Venice
 Berlin London
 I was present at numerous literary and theatrical premieres
 long since forgotten
 over the years many years ago even after I fled the monastery
 I recall the chats over drinks and cards with some of those childhood friends
 that is friends I knew when I was a child I will never
 forget the year after my performance in Zurich we ducked into Montmartre
 it was 1917 sometime in June and Guillaume's piece was to be staged that night
 at Theatre Maubel what a night
 whatever happened to Tati and later my comrade Jean-Louis Barrault after the
 war or wars 1 should say I forgot all
 there was old man who had known Buchner he spoke of him as if he was his son
 many of them had attended Alfred's opening Shit
 it was far too late but how I wanted to perform once again
 0 Fortuna
 velut Luna
 statu variabilis
 semper crescis
 aut decrescis
 vita detestabilis
 nunc obdurat
 et tune curat
 ludo mentis aciem
 egestatem
 potestatem
 dissolvit ut glaciem
 Copeau and Renard where have you gone
 howl despised the pious poseur of this monk or that whenever I returned
 Montmartre to Casino
 I don't know what the fuck Vico was talking about
 I know Le Loup-Garous means the werewolf though I know that but
 they gave me books on Schubert's boyhood
 damn Ave Virgo virginum to hell with Veni Creator Spiritus my voice my voice
 cut out of my throat like another nut
 the adam's apple panting beside me like a cuttlefish
 all my life I've had to navigate around an armada of piss ants
 who won't even crawl in their home port they want to fioat in good waters
 in the abbeys in the universities in the sea I see how they have
 occupied with the odor of gas and urine in their socks vestments uniforms
 Vico takes leave of the Abbot of sham
 Vico vanishes from the building where lives the Professor of termites
 Vico makes the Admiral of piss ants walk his own plank he wasn't meant to
 float in the sea Vico the youngest in the history of Holy Mother Church to under
 go papal vilification
 at the age of seven I was drinking wine with my eyes shut
 in my cell I sipped alone a brew three hundred years old
 at the age of thirteen I broke all vows
 I dipped my cotta in blood
 a year later at Benediktbeuren I was so drunk I couldn't sing
 I took to drifting in boats with mirrors
 as I was quite famous I could get away with it
 I longed to be one of the monk saints so silent tending the fields
 then I wanted to be one of the wandering students that had taken me under their
 wing then I dreamed of a life on the sea a common sailor
 I sing but I am not a singer
 I write but I am not a writer
 whew I thought I'm glad of that I wouldn't be caught dead calling myself that
 that's like me being a bastard I know I am but I wouldn't allow nobody
 to call me one unlessing they was just joking around like Negroes do when they
 say hey nigger to one another no suhree I wouldn't be caught dead
 the more carousing I did the less I spoke then
 the more priors hated me and tried to limit my leaves from the abbey
 he had one hell of a growing up I'll tell you that
 at the age of seventeen I fell in love with a twelve year old girl
 I should like to point out back when I was her age I prayed for a miracle
 at Lourdes and one was granted to me
 that there is what them Italian women called it when I was born
 the one that was
 my mother she said it too but the man who came in the purple suit from Rome he
 didn't think so he asked her all these questions
 had you taken in liquor
 were you in a catatonic state
 perhaps you sinned in your sleep
 did you perform an unnatural act for the boy and forget to wash your hands
 when you thought about it and self-abused yourself
 can you imagine that a grown man asking a girl who just had a baby them
 questions I declare I'd a told him wasn't none of his business
 on the secret Diocesan record it said this a few years after the disputed birth
 a local parishioner reported the questionable mother as saying to herself
 as she was riding alone in her father's field isn't that my luck
 have a kid and didn't have a notion of getting screwed
 it said that sort of remark could only be attributed to a sinner not a saint
 so the Church called the investigation off but a lot of the folks it said in
 the State record still genuflecr when they see the girl coming down the road
 I she wished I knew where she was now
 they say she was quality and he was a no count
 but she claimed there weren't no he
 it don't make a lick of sense to me
 I don't believe in no miracles though Vico is lying
 I ought to wake him up and tell him so but there ain't no
 sense in it just look at me talking with my hands at him
 telling him about my mother finding out what I did was worth getting shot
 it was a miracle I tell you and has been recorded in a few dubious medical journals
 but of course I could never report this miracle to the Church
 the nature of it and the manner in which I found it out the way
 it appeared too is worthy of penance more than it is devotion at
 least in their eyes that is Juvenal classified his mimes as paradoxi
 I ain't listening to no more of that shit I says thinking
 thistle rhymes with epistle
 etenim si incertam vocem tuba det quis apparabitur ad bellum
 I'm lucky he ain't pulled a half a dozen of them other foreigner languages
 off on me him saying we have a whole lot in common
 the hell we do
 he's worse off than I thought he was
 going on about how he got gelded but God had sent
 his nut back to him the devil he did I
 say Mary Jesus Holy Ghost wouldn't a done nothing like
 that he went on about that twelve year old girl how they carried on a while
 and him knocking her up with child he say I see
 why he wasn't gone tell none of them priests about it shoot fire a monk
 here he wasn't old enough to buy beer in Mississippi getting a
 girl wasn't no teen-ager yet in trouble think
 about it a girl my age and all to each his own
 he said the older religious called him Brother Hellion like this he said
 most appropriate I should think oh do I miss those early days of wandering
 and singing in the alps in the taverns fate often delivers an undoomed earl
 Brother Lawrence advised me told me well after I had been found
 out leading a double existence I believe I was thirteen then
 when I captured the heart of a married woman with my act my
 act being thanks to God and to old Father or was it Frater Wenceslas
 the blind tailor under my constant prodding he fashioned a handsome man
 of about twenty-five gaunt and drowsy and from a first row distance
 he seemed the ventriloquist and I the dummy dressed as an old dwarf
 a Bavarian septuagenarian but I was the one who sat upon his knee
 and I alone was the one was the one only soul who controlled my enigmatic sidekick
 him with his anatomy which was nothing more than the discarded vestments
 of the clergy
 Vico was the one who showed me how to
 throw my voice I could throw it into all kinds of objects pencils globes
 shoes maps wine bottles dictionaries cuff links binoculars forks cream
 tickets from the Bijou record discs minnows and even into a young father
 standing in a plowed field with his child in his arms
 a cappella
 Gabriel was to get me the post at Notre-Dame-de-Clignanoourt as organist
 how they were shocked in his last years Faure is deaf they shouted
 the preview of L'I-Ioriaon chimerique based on Jean de la Ville de Miromont
 to this day as if they keys were black I can recall in my sleep Masques et
 bergamasques when we were there they shouted to the choir Asomati
 the duel where Wolfgang was commissioned to write the opera The Abduction
 from the Seraglio
 the Sparrow Mass
 Les Adieux L'Absense Le Retour
 I'd say he was having a bad dream wouldn't you
 and at such a tender age the irony was unbearable
 it is vulgar it is free from illusions
 the lemures with plenty of money
 my sobriquet the kid
 in those days in excelsis I could throw my voice like a smooth stone
 across a lagoon eight times
 it left the water and I was one with no trace of a human being memories pants
 too small are like that gloves like a snagged sword
 and I smile alone night and l are one the moon and l are one water
 and I are one lemures basic props
 scenes
 the taste of seafood how they came to visit bringing with them
 their hate like a harelip how they knocked at my door with a boot
 for the sake of protocol making forced entries while I was bathing
 or sleeping at young monk cannot hold up to a life like that I tell you
 he was trying to sing again like a dog with his vocal chords cut out
 giving me superfiuous advice managing my affairs I couldn't even listen
 to the vendors in the street women unbuttoning themselves and requesting
 that I unlace their shoes and bodices after dinner the brandy
 little ponds I looked into mirrors I passed through
 they supposed I wasn't
 aware of their limpid game of doing me in but I refused one nut and all
 not to bloom
 I say he's a idiot
 I was The Castrato of the century one of the last
 wouldn't it be the dickens though if the little tramp drove up outside
 my door in a limousine and honked on the horn a contradiction in terms
 the mystery chord sonata da camera sonata da chiesa sonata da soprano
 Vico sognando Vico smorrando Vico vivo
 the choirmaster said I was possessed by the devil
 he thought he was Magister Machaut
 why don't he shut up the Negro lad said
 he ain't saying nothing I says
 I don't like all that sign language he's using he could be talking
 behind my back
 I'll guarantee he ain't I said
 you doing it too he says you ought to see yoselves
 it sho do look silly
 maybe he'll quit in a minute I says
 I sho hope so
 me too
 see that white man up there the kid said
 yea I see him
 what that he got wrote across his sweatshirt
 oh that there is the name of his university
 that white woman got one on just like it too don't she
 yea that's so they can let people know where they're from at
 that there writing in that bull's eye it just like that shit on the back
 of spending money ain't it
 yea I said
 if I was them I'd turn them sweatshirts inside outs
 that ain't such a bad idea I says
 say he says iffen one of them asks me what y'all doing I'm just gone say
 they swatting fiies OK
 might as well it's a long story and they wouldn't understand it
 at the next stop I'll fiip you fah a pop OK
 OK
 hey you see this
 see what I says
 this black eye man you blind
 oh yea I seen that but I figured it just might a been natural
 shit naw it ain't natural
 how'd you get it
 we had this long stop while back this was foe you got on see
 I just got off to pee
 but this hea man he wouldn't let me use his bafroom
 so I cided to buy some gum when I up and seed all these chillren
 across the street thea coming out the Piggly Wiggly wif balloons
 I says to myself I'm gone get me one of those
 this hea market had them new magic does too
 is that tight I said
 you know how we could get rich man
 how I said
 swipe that contraption wit the seeing eye
 Memphis is just full of automatic doors I says
 you gone let me tell it
 yea I says scuse me
 we load it up in the trunk and take it way off back in the country
 where nobody never seed one afoe
 and one night we hook it up to somebody's outhouse
 next mawning man we'll have evah field hand on the place paying to shit
 but that ain't how we make the cash what we do is go round to the schoolhouses
 and churchhouses and sell Franchises or what we could do is keep it moving
 in an old Wonder Bread truck like Public Health does go from village to village
 camp to camp charging to shit what do you think
 I think I says how the hell you get such a good idea like that
 sounds like something I'd think up
 I just took a notion
 you'd have to get a patent on it though
 boy all I'd need to get on it was a crowbar and a screwdriver
 we could steel in Memphis and sell them in the country I says
 now you thinking he says
 what would we get for them
 oh round five dollahs how that sound
 pretty fair I says
 get them to pay on the installment plan about a dime a week like the undahtaker do
 we could have us a Delux model
 how's that
 steal us them baby juke boxes that sit ovah the table in them bus stops
 damn I wished I'd a thought of that I says
 I got some great Ideas plenty
 you want to see a pitchu of my daddy I says
 while I was getting it out I thought
 that damn wallet Rufus left me was so new you could still smell
 the bull on it
 or was it brand new it might a been old I can't remember
 this heah chinese watah torture work pretty good
 and the kid said we might could sell mo of them to white folks
 than I expected
 I showed him the pitchu
 you keep yo pappy's pitchu in yo shoe boy
 I nodded
 drop drop drop the bamboo will grow and the water ought to make a ruby
 right where the Hindoo girl has that mark on her forehead
 shit this ain't yo daddy man
 yea it is
 that's a pretty good line I believe I'll pull that someday
 no I says I promise that's him
 quit funning man
 I bet you a quarter it is
 look now I know this ain't yo pappy
 yes it is I promise I really do I swear cross my heart and hope to die
 this is a pitchu of Cholly Chaplain man
 he says you ain't fooling me he ain't yo kin
 I promise he is I do I really mean it he really is really and truly
 he's my daddy I know he is he might not but he does true blue I promise
 he really is
 he shook his head
 Vincent did a lot of self-revelations (but what is the use)
 I have no wish to be a hero or a coward
 Road with Cypress and Stats
 I got me anotha idea too
 what's that
 go round to the back of old white ladies poach and get them to sign
 sign what
 sign confidential agreement
 about what
 tell them I got a magic trick will suck out all the nigger blood ha ha
 that's pretty good
 yea they lots of Negro ladies would like to get the white blood out too he said
 you keep coming up with them
 man you evah been in a aeroplane
 lots of times
 I sho would like to go up in one
 wondah what it feel like to take a shit that high up
 I never had to I said but I peed out the cockpit of a crop duster once
 no lie he said
 the truth I said
 I thought about his idea of the outhouse with the electronic beam and the jukebox
 I goes in the store see and ask fah a balloon but the lady at the countah she say
 you got to buy something I could see them othah kids getting something blowed
 into they balloon so it'd fioat I bought me some gum and I asked the lady filling
 them up what about me now and she say she was just putting gas in the balloons
 I'd have to get one from her husband when he got back from lunch they was cool
 with a Face drawed on them and some clown shoes out of cardboard
 that'd be cool if I could drag a red balloon behind me you know
 so I waited I tell her lady I gone miss my bus if he don't hurry up and come
 back maybe you could let me have a balloon see I done bought something else
 I got Mamma some snufi:
 she wouldn't even pay me no tension
 she knocked off too in a couple minutes and I says to myself I can steal this
 place blind but I ain't I just wanted a balloon
 I went ovah to where she had the gas and this white boy working behind the oountah
 say hey you why don't you breathe in some of that gas it's good for yo breath
 and him and a nudden look at me I breathes on my palm but don't smell nothing
 but Juicy Fruit but I turns the valve on and draws a breath like it was perfume
 I chokes and coughs and was calling them son-of-a-bitches but something went
 bad wrong wid my voice it was up real high like a midget
 now if I'd a come on to that on my own it'd been ok but they pulled one on me
 so I drawed me a nudden and talked to myself and waited fah the man wid the
 balloons to come back I went outside and hid and tried to beat that doe
 but I couldn't I tried to slip up on it from around the cohnah but it seen me
 I's standing in the wrong lane and a woman wid whole lot of groceries come out
 wid a basket and that damn doe tried to kill me I fixed it I put my chewing
 gum ovah the eye I blinded it and the doc got stuck I fixed it and the man came
 back and he say you little pickaninny get on out a heah cause he seen me wid
 my moufovah a balloon trying to blow it up myself and he grab it outen my mouf
 and chunk it on the ground saying what you go and put your fat filthy lips
 on one my balloons fah get I said that what he told me so I thunk me up something
 on the spot I went crosst the street to that filling station that keep a padlock
 on they bafroom said WHITE I see why too I picked it see it was the nasryist filthy
 thing I evah seen a body liable to get him a disease if he go in there I sho
 wasn't gone pee in no place like that I took out the two bits VICO ovah there
 give me and bought some fucking rubbahs and went back crosst the street
 to the market and breathed me some of that gas and me talking like this
 he imitated the soprano voice of a midget
 asked that woman hey lady how's bout blowing this up fah me
 she got holding bof my sholders and tried to shake the daylight: out of me
 but all I done was peed I was gone pee on the Ho mat in front that doe
 to see if it'd look and catch me but I couldn't hold it her husband got hold
 me wid his lef hand see it now
 he points to the black eye
 he hauled off and busth me one and they got the sheriff down there and they
 taken me to the station and stood me up on the desk and made me sign my name
 to a piece of papah saying I did ask this white woman fah a piece of pussy
 he said if I didn't sign it he was gone beat up this old man they had in there
 man that nigger looked like he was a hundred years old too
 I said nah don't do that I'll sign it so I writes my name and then they asken
 the nigger man did you see this nigger boy ask this woman that question or not
 and he held up his Ief hand I swear if he didn't say I did
 looking down at the Ho and when the Law jerk his hand to point at me the
 nigger man fiinch like he was suspecting to get hit and 1's so scared
 I could feel the pee running down my leg it got on the warrant and the ink
 smeared and when they seen me peeing on the Law's desk they drew back and I yell
 please don't hit me I couldn't hep it I got my young ass out of there quick
 good thinking I said but if you told them yo name they'll come looking for you
 shoot boy I give them a false name
 what I said
 and he said I told them my name was Howdie Doodie
 they believe you
 white man believe a nigger call himself anything
 some of them will
 what you talking bout onct I said my name was Cold Dirt
 and they believed me
 did you get anything in before you made your get-away
 yea I says Howdie Doodie you Law you ask me gin I'll bend ovah and let you kiss
 my booty ha ha
 you told them didn't you
 you damn right I told them shit I wished this damn bus would stop I'm tired a
 riding
 it will it will
 when the dinner guests left they were so full of the meal they could not catch
 their breath they left
 I bloomed
 all Europe smelled me but the Church severed me
 for years I was under the spell of the cello and virgins
 I was under the delusion that l Vico was none other than Dante Gabriel Rossetti
 I painted words and wrote pictures
 in my cell I saw the dreams of Keats Scott and Malory as a moving picture
 when there were none
 from pillar to pillar I was persecuted
 I did unmentionable things with the blessed sacrament in the privacy
 of my illustrated walls
 I wrote illegible and cryptic epigrams on the backsides and undersides of pebbles
 there is a rendezvous of images and words
 the Vita Nuova was a sleeping tiger
 I put out the candles with my finger tips the angelus Ballade des Dams
 du Temps Jadis now he was saying something I knew about
 a figment of my imagination
 and here the lost hours the lost hours renew
 while I still lead my shadow over the grass
 not know for longing that which I should do
 as soon as a thing is imposed on me as an obligation
 my aptitude for doing it is gone what I ought to do is what
 I can't do
 the Sid
 the magic gone a maniac collecting mirrors
 the fieshly school of voices
 my bedroom against the wishes of the abbot is hung with mauve velvet
 I marked all kindred powers the heart finds fair through death to love
 moonclouds from child to youth from youth to arduous man from lethargy
 to fever of the heart from faithful life to dream-dowered days even as a child
 of sorrow that we give the dead
 boat that draws dark water of night like a burning sword across our souls
 look in my face my name is might have been I am also
 called no more too late farewell
 but the others
 were always
 waiting
 always waiting for some indiscretion on my part something that might cause
 disfavor in the eye of the Church waiting to do me in to have me
 silenced to have me watched
 I was adored I was loathed did he not take the name
 Dante himself
 the other ones in the monastery the friends of the mad monk
 were intimidated with threats and excommunication
 they were told they couldn't look at my paintings my papers were forbidden
 to be copied and recorded
 they were guilty what could I do why did they keep up their visits and invitations
 at sixteen what was Vico to do to keep from hurting them
 enemies leave me in peace
 they were all guilty their confessors broke the seal to tell me
 they were guilty
 but I was too valuable I was the one that made the heathens and peasants
 and counts and viceroys listen I was the one they came to hear
 the stooge VICO the fantoccino Vico the castrate
 at this time I'd like to call what you might call a seven inning stretch
 which ain't like Mexican stretch where you throw knives at one another's foot
 I'd like to tell about my first mess up what you call malaprop but I call fuck up
 ever since I was seven year old I have attributed the meaning of the disease
 gonorrhea to the word gongorism I was put straight at the astronomer's dinner table
 it wasn't no worse than being a stuttererl reckon
 play ball
 the words burn like the blade of a forged cauter knife
 the Heshly gentlemen have bound themselves by solemn league
 and covenant to extol fleshliness as the distinct and supreme end of
 poetic and pictorial art to aver that poetic expression is greater
 than the soul and sound superior to sense and that the poet properly
 to develop his poetic faculty must be an intellectual hermaphrodite
 the way I take that is like Willie Mays makes his catches
 but that ain't a good example there is just always gone be folks to set a lay
 low for you if you don't do things according to their book you know how a nigger
 acts like a niger so he can get the best of you well the astronomer tells
 me I'm a solecist which means I ain't got no manners but he knows I just don't
 feel like having them I might if some people come over but they ain't so what
 I was the last
 to perform that song the last singer of the time
 to perform what they were to see for the last time
 Vico is death to an era Vico is a runaway monk who fathered children
 by a miracle a gonad served up by the Holy Ghost in a golden ciborium
 the kid says why he's plum nuts
 Vico gave up song to speak in other men's tongues
 Vico lost his voice in the war
 Vico murdered more priests and professors than soldiers
 Vico has finally given up the mysteries of crime and the rosary and the absurd
 to ride for freedom where he met a lad like two lads
 Tang said why shit boy keep a steady hand don't you know how to shoot
 with my head on the divine ground
 the kid was sucking on a lemon damn Mamma he say when we gone stop
 I who was sold into bondage by a seller of orphans I who have returned
 to Lourdes innumerable times in recent years hoping for another grace granted
 I attend the candlemass on St. Blaise day but it is of no avail
 my voice is lost forever and forever
 this is a riddle which 1 cannot unfold cried Don Quixote
 and now my friend pardon me that I have brought upon thee as well as myself
 the scandal of madness
 there have been and there still are
 we shall all the child Maldon
 too much monkey business the kid's breath in the bus window
 what pennon sir
 our sad bad glad mad brother's name
 familiar sounding ain't it
 the barefooted baby
 I am on the deck alone now
 once I had nostalgia wash me out to sea like a tide
 I yelled in the shadow of some ship
 the past is lost
 it has gone off course
 it is a pilotless vessel
 hour by hour I lose another to the past
 I am losing time
 now there are trains and time is like a half buried girl
 the white shift in the cabinet
 froth in the dark like a wolf's jaw
 oh oh the water
 from nowhere a caravan
 brood like a mourning dove
 brood
 my hair
 the fist fight in the school yard
 the first time it ever snowed
 angels waiting at my door with bruised knuckles
 a ship's wheel
 two monks walking down a corridor in the early morning shafts of light
 a slack rope
 a drab olive corduroy jacker
 a companion stood in the room near the piano it was four o'clock
 in the afternoon
 the moon rising was riding on in its sleep
 say goodnight in the hall
 follow her up to the top of the stairs
 lick the mirror
 a skirt galloping away
 it was only a girl mounting the stairs
 Voglio il mio cavallo
 Il signore e ferito
 look between the eyes
 I have no name
 the moon has no friends I am setting out again
 the bedchamber of the ventriloquist
 who is twelve years old
 if it weren't for the darkness you'd never know
 creek of night
 and you bobbing like the canoe of the crowned
 lovers with stolen apples in their mouths
 and their hands tied behind them
 when I saw them gathered together
 talking behind my back
 finding it hard to swallow
 after they had mentioned my name
 I would sometimes hesitate as if in deep thought
 and then pass on with no notice
 of them whatever then I would stop
 and say quite frankly over my shoulder casus belli
 as ifit were the rest ofa song
 casus belli to myself
 the Church the scholasticates refused to look into my telescope
 the experience of I
 maya Van Gogh
 a silence like a chill beside the mountain
 see that nigger where ovah yondah yea I see him what about him
 he so mean they had to let him out of the pentitentiary is that right
 sho it's right he raped a nun and the judge give him nine hundred years is
 that right sho that's right I'll be what he go by goes by
 Methuselah that what the othah ones call him how come
 he never got hung cause he's white oh I thought he was a nigger nah he ain't
 I'd say somebody shot them both in the head with a rifle
 you can't do nothing bout it
 I go: sick to my stomach dizzy like
 and my eyes give out I couldn't read it and finally I figured
 out it was a tree
 put me out of my misery
 Vico was making me throw up it might a been something I et
 (this is how he talks with the astronomer) no longer was he gesticulating
 an aged bitterness like a rare wine he was merely moving his lips he was actually
 trying to sing but it wasn't a song it was just like that dog the folks in the
 city had the operation done on it was pityfiil here is how it was
 not like this not even a rasp not even an expellation of breath not even enough
 to put out a match no just a tedious and mechanical movement of his lips
 like an insect in the weeds like an old mule who'll drop dead before sunset
 something waterlogged drying out on the bank I thought
 Elvis Presley ain't Orpheus he's too common
 once I pissed in the chancel in the cathedral in Ravenna and I dreamed I was
 singing a mass eight centuries ago at Isola del Corello
 you say I sola we already passed it didn't we
 there once was a race of people who thought there were some names too sacred
 to utter a yod in a triangle
 sholy that there sounds like a rebus to me and me tole him about it
 my father asked his death from me
 a respectable name
 I still don't understand it it's so unnatural so alien to me
 the child of caprice
 Vico punched the eyes out of a portrait of the Virgin and collected evidence
 brother this with a soiled corporal at his bedside
 brother that with his hands under his alb
 and that damn baritone of the Byzantine Rite who toiled in the fields
 how he hated the soft life of the fi'aters and choir monks
 from sunup to sundown he tilled always with his hands clean of blood and sin
 only the Italian soil and cuts from her rocks soiled them
 how he cursed Italy he was a real Greek I tell you
 a holy man indeed ready to tread no man's land for the Lord
 his litany was as natural as a bullfrog
 I forget his order but he would keep his Office under any circumstances
 engaged in a fist fight in the village once he ordered a halt to say None
 his stomach growled all through Marins
 he was careful to keep record in his Raccolta
 even his Ejaculations were counted
 a hunchback followed him on a jackass everywhere he went another Sancho I tell
 you that hunchback was quick with the pen and the Creek was always
 giving him the signal to mark it down Oswyn 300 hundred days for Jesus he would
 say I could never hold anything against him he was a saint
 to hear him tell of his pilgrimages Loretto in Italy Lujan in Argentina I too
 have been there Zaragossa in Spain Czestochowa in Poland Fatima in Portugal
 but what makes this monk so branded in my mind is the fact that he
 under some calling visited these places before the miracles ever appeared
 Lauds he was sweating from the night before
 Prime he was anticipating the labor of the morning
 so I know as I say there were some beloved of me and no doubt God himself
 praise be his name even from a blasphemer as I am
 Vico got his words mixed up sometimes
 Terce he whispered that no rnonk should ever pray to St. Cyril of Alexandria
 while he was around
 Sexr he would let out with a fart
 Vespers he cleaned his fingernails with a lance
 Compline he had enough wine
 he soaked his feet in holy oils
 the blessing of the dresses he put his hands on their thighs
 Benedictio Vestis et Cenguli
 he put ashes in his hair at night
 he slept like Mark Twain
 he claimed to have seen the Lady of Sorrows twice
 that kid was humming a song that the Dixie Hummingbirds recorded
 let's see it was Bedside of a Neighbor
 and here I just done bought Rev Ballinger's Little Black Train for Mama Covoe
 she gone like it too I know that I'll be in Mound Bayou soon and when I leave
 if you should chance to meet my mother or my father it goes
 some friends who I can't recall
 kindly take a message to the other side
 I got a telegram in the mail from the hypnotist say to come
 I told you this one come oh yellow paper not in my head
 I bet not
 you ain't never heard of nobody like me just in other countries maybe
 where you seen pitchus about them maybe if you ever read a book wrote by Charles
 D that's right I don't stay with no folks like most kids
 I got some give to me but they is something in my blood
 it runs so fast I have to keep up with it
 it is the truth (and also a fact) that I members everything
 even the dark tunnel
 just ask them doctors and professors but don't get me to come with you
 cause they'll turn me into the Law for what I done
 you ain't going to catch me telling you what I done either
 cause you'd probably find out bout that reward and use it as
 evidence no sir
 no deal not me
 sometimes my blood is cold and slow like a snake
 like a moom pitchu with no sound
 leastways no talking but it had ought to be
 the astronomer calls meiosis blooded so I looked it up
 in the summer the listening post on Livenu and the Greek shut up Vico
 I'm
 no recitation of Porphyry be quiet I'm talking now he don't hear me ha ha
 why ain't he a earthworm
 at first I kind of figured it to be a Egyptian mummy or something you know
 you ever et an Egyptian one eye for breakfast
 my mother can cook them
 that damn book must a weighed fifty pounds it was like a sack of chicken feed
 1 tell you course now I know better since I got out and they give me
 that re-abilitating job working in the library
 first I thought they was gone have me cutting yards but I dusted books
 there some weigh more than that I know cause I got a hernia lifting one
 I kept a looking on that word and the instructions say go over here look at this
 and what I bet I missed half the show on account of looking at that word
 it said you could spell it miosis do you think I care me in Italian
 so I looked on that but you can't win for losing cause the next night at dinner
 (he even made me wear a long tailed coat he had my measurements took for it and
 everything) he changed his mind and calls me mimesis I put some chowder peas
 they is like field peas but not near as good on the end of my fork and hit it
 with my list and hit him up side the head ain't no damn body can call me a sissy
 and get away with it now that word was a hard one I got a mimosa tree
 but it seems like it sort of sounds Egyptian maybe he said Nemesis he's got
 a awful bad accent you know but that weren't right either
 that reformatory was something hell
 I don't care
 but I'm like that spent most of my time on water and under tents I don't take
 to houses too much less it's a good shack or a mansion nothing in between
 don't cramp my style Sylvester use to say but he was drunk but he wasn't really
 in that there orphan home now I knew a kid was a real head on his shoulders
 he could a got somewhere but one day after the lunch period he skipped out
 and went to a pitchu show and when he got back he threw his crutch through the
 window and wrote something on the wall and swallowed a whole bottle of rat
 poison and said piss on it his last words I remember last words if you had a
 seen as many folks kick the bucket as I had you would too
 damn fly whup I got him dead fly guts on my hand
 he keel himself but they didn't get no write up in the paper
 it depends on who owns it that's why least that's what they say
 white upping at night sometimes you can see it
 wouldn't it be cool to have a concave mirror for the lid on your coffin
 at the Jewish country club they call it community center listening to women
 talk by the pool side little ripples in their legs up near the crossroads
 like a mirage or when you are looking way off when it's hot and it moves a little
 how it does when the gas man pumps
 them hairs like a column of ants
 they catch you looking at them
 but them words
 you can't beat the spit and Whittle club at the courthouse
 I gotta pee
 men singing in boats
 just don't listen to the drops it ain't so bad I can take it if I don't listen
 to the water the torture ain't so bad
 the moon runs blood
 but fiy our paths our fevered contact fiy 221
 the crooked councilor with ties that burned like a cadillac
 I believe in ships leaving at night
 he carved it with his knife Jimmy did when he took a grunt in the outhouse
 tick tack toe ha ha you owe me fifty cents signed Jimmy pee ass you better pay
 and cough it up or I'll beat the shit out of you
 frankincense
 the wolf from Assisi
 he should a never forgot them books
 plunge deeper into the babes of the woods
 call it the dream
 children
 I seen a whole bunch of kids die they don't tell you about it in the Unity States
 I'm gone see that one again
 she'll come back the mammy will come back she got to
 I dug him up for sho I did
 it weighed as much as a sack of hog feed
 three railroad spikes
 a milk snake sucks on his tail and he's long enough to go around the cotton picking world
 that was the name of my idol's sword
 what's worse a pen or a blade neither one for me maybe a wand or a bnish
 them peacock feathers just think they killed a pretty thing like that so I could
 dust off some old goddamn books I owe it to that bird to read them even if they
 is full of no count lies you could call me a no count if you want I been called
 worse a lots of people are worse off than me I got it good
 while the Jewish teenager was asleep on the lounge I kissed the bottom of her foot
 and sung raspberries and strawberries real low
 she didn't wake up
 Vico sho ain't
 the preacher wiped his mouth with his arm
 never did like them Beach Boys all them hot rods and whacking off on a surfboard
 but that's now and if I think about now I'm dead
 so I'll say do you remember when I first heard Uncle Sam was gone get Elvis
 I don't
 often times I looked through the keyhole of the Greeks cell and all he would be
 doing is dancing or tending his beard
 when it's a full moon I like to kiss the pond
 have you ever played bottlecap checkers with Bavon down by the river
 the college kids at Southwestern dug me they let me play touch ball with them
 they all went off to be Ivy League after the first year
 most of them were of the Jewish faith
 I nmg the bell and went on in that's how you do at a person's house with a maid
 but I walked in on the Rabbi doing exercises
 I told him my baseball was somewheres out in his fiowetbed and by God he hepped
 me look for it and damn if he didn't find it
 I'd rather play the piano than mess with these
 keys but I done fouled that up
 Le Philosophe Sans Le Savoir
 and the Abbe de
 the Greek perhaps I a Moor was half Greek had something to do with it never
 upset me I never had it in for him to the contrary we were quite happy together
 one morning he and the hunchback asked the abbot for permission to go fishing
 he sent the hunchback with a message saying he would enjoy my company
 his private privileges were a mystery and so I joined them
 I rode with the hunchback monk and he rode alone
 near the river we halted and he took something strange from the scapula
 around his neck the hunchbadt smiled
 I was astonished to find out it was hashish
 was this the source of his mysteries
 I asked him and he answered with a formidable no
 I only smoke during my excursions from the monastery
 ask the hunchback
 riding along after it was done I cannot do it justice
 such a ride through the countryside
 young mothers bending over in the fields
 beggars and soldiers on the march
 when I strung the worm on the hook I prayed to St. Francis
 it is best not to attempt to recount the best let it rise like the moon in your
 mind
 I be a walking down the street and it hits me
 I feel so strange I just can't say like I was some stranger or a foreigner
 I just as soon be walking through the streets of Alexandria
 these memories of the desert too I don't like it
 the astronomer watching me look out the window when he plays these records
 when Vico speaks of the old days in the monastery it makes me think
 of that book I read when I was working at the Library
 to tell the truth I ended up stealing the book
 what the hell I checked on the card and it hadn't been checked out since 1824
 the name was written kind of mysterious like
 whoever done it had a confident air about him or her
 when I read the name I got dizzy like I was floating down a river
 or asleep
 what I done was this
 every time I'd read a page I'd tear it out and replace it with one of my own
 pretty soon though 1's writing 2 or 3 to his one
 I didn't never reckon nobody would check it out but I'll be if some son-of-a
 didn't go and do it
 I let the astronomer come to the Library and read about a thousand pages of it
 and he said self-involution and dreamlike continuity
 he's always saying shit like that
 I told him about how one night at work I went to dust it and somebody had done
 took ityou mean it is missing he asks me
 you know I just don't have too much luck when it comes to pen pushing
 whatever I do the river comes up and takes it off or I forget where I laid it
 or somebody at the house gets hold of it and burns it or I leave it at the pitchu
 show or something shoot
 I'll tell you though I've always thought the astronomer went down there and got
 that pile of paper
 I don't see how he got it out the Library looking like it did
 there was too many pages to fit in the cover
 I don't miss it
 cause it was kind of like me the guy was see he had the power
 like I do and instead of being a good sort of person and going to get examined
 down there at Duke (they didn't even have a good football team) he takes to the
 river with these gamblers cause it is he's got control over dice
 really done for a while too I was making good money trouble is these damn
 white men well one of them wasn't white was getting it all
 I didn't take to no penny a day for chewing gum
 that was a quality book I tore all the pages out of though
 and what I hear tell is that the fellow that pushed that one he wasn't
 too much older than Jimmy about nineteen I think if I recollect right
 a long time back I wrote kind of like him about a castle over there in France and all
 I missed a damn bargain and almost got killed on account of it
 it was the year I had the best batting average
 I pushed most of it in the outhouse I had it setting in a Dynamite box
 with some marbles
 well there was this kid see who didn't like me cause I was getting all them hits
 he knew I read it in there
 and when you is turning through something real long you got to use the Bible
 method of reading that is putting a little wad of spit on your fingers so
 you'll be sure and get every page
 you know what that goddamn little cocksucker went and done
 it was somewhere about 811 I think but that number could have just been a figment
 I's getting out of my head
 he put cotton poison dust in that box
 it was white and I never seed it
 and I was eating sardines so naturally I couldn't a tasted it
 oowee I shit up a storm
 if I had wanted I could a thought up a way of killing him
 easy as pie and I'd a never got caught
 but I swore that stuff olf
 I didn't get cold feet
 in a boat full of fish we took communion from the antimessiah
 you already had your fucking turn
 I saluted the women three times in the eastern Fashion
 then I heard where you could send in and get money for a story
 ain't that the lice
 there is a heap of these send in offers in the backs of these magazines
 there is all sorts of organizations you know
 but what give me the idea was I knew where I get a good deal on a
 Parker Broes shotgun and I heard it on Hoss Man's show on the radio fi-orn Nashville
 that they's a place would give cold cash for stuff
 they had a advertisement for Royal Crown too
 I put it in a Kotex box and had the address on correct and everything
 and mailed it at the post ofiice
 I wrote them a letter saying I'd swap for a even fifty dollars
 you know you got get the high bid on the first quote and I said I'd throw in
 a blue tic pup of good blood too
 it cost me nigh five dollar to mail that thang
 I listened on the radio ever night to see if they got it or not
 even wrote Randy's Record Company a letter but they said they just sold records
 I didn't know no better in them days I was just a kid
 I waited and waited I even wrote them a letter saying I'll let it go for
 five dollars whad you say no reply
 pretty soon I got a bill fiom the Unity State Govment Post Office and it read
 you owe two dollars postage please pay
 I didn't take to that so I tole the astronomer and he say it weren't nothing
 but a big slick operation just write another one if you like you'll never see it
 again I didn't neither so I wrote one in lemon juice (invisible ink) it was
 about Napoleon growing up and you had to pass it over a candle to get it
 I can't shoot with you looking over my shoulder I got to drive too
 shoot him
 I can sholy do it too iffen that one that pushed The Monk can
 that is the name of that book I tore the pages our
 listen hear I mean look here at Vico going on about how his voice got deep
 and sepulchral fiom yelling so much what a goddamn lie
 it was filial
 some of them mens sing the blues with a high voice
 I heard them every night
 they were like the willows
 how does a man get sent up for forgery if he can't even write his name
 Tang wants to know somebody tell him I don't why
 memory won't go
 away it hangs on like a bloodsucking leech out of the bottoms
 I had a heap on me once a Negro burned them off with a Lucky Strike
 that place in Nashville was crooked
 maybe I ought to have folks like everybody else and it wouldn't be so bad
 you probably think it's cool to read minds a getting hold of what people thinks
 about you and dirty thoughts and what kind of pitch you gone get
 let me tell you something buddy I wished I had it cut out
 Mamma Covoe tole me evah blessing has a curse
 I'm just gone mind my own business From now on
 live in a run-up Tug somewheres if I can get the wasps to leave
 who is that talking
 hell I can't even draw a check in Mississippi unless I got a guardian
 ever once and a while now this is when I get older I'll make my entry
 I'll come into town on a horse with a black suit on
 or a white suit depending on the season and I'll go into the country club
 and sho nuff Roundtree will remember me
 I'll show out with them dice won't say a word hardly
 ifI'm 18 in ever make it that age I'll swig me a beer
 and give some rich girl the eye
 I'll be pretty good with a knife by then if I keep on practicing
 nobody but Abednego could take me
 unlessing it was a Chinaman
 you can't whup no thing like that they can out think you
 I know
 I seen one paralyze a man with his toes once
 they can fight but you got to drive them to it
 he's letting me on to a few things too
 that'll be six more years just think
 I bet you Harpo Marx could give a man a pretty good fight
 you think he could
 shit he wouldn't even need to hit a lick he'd just drive you crazy
 when boats strike one another in the fog in the middle of the night
 was it St. Apollinare in Classe or St. Sebald's in Nuremberg
 how come the bus driver keeps looking out the side mirrors
 finally I was silenced and forbidden to leave the walls
 a papal guard was sent to confine me
 the fathers of the Church had come to hate me more than ever I was
 slandered in everyway of course I had sinned but their motives were quite
 ulterior I was even exercised
 from above I would stare out my cell
 at a woman selling onions a man smacking his lip a daild of about ten skipping
 rope my mirror was my only gate a simple entrance a fortress always
 beseiged but never in danger
 figures on the levee
 toujours
 I am especially interested in the touch of cold things
 a woman in her thirties with black hair and children
 who has just come in the entrance in December with the groceries
 undoes her shawl and is surprised to see me making a fire
 the cold metal on her finger like a bullet
 dreams there I said it again
 unfortunate accidents took place
 my music took on the air of that which is performed in private
 except for a few chosen confidants I sung in solitude like the winter nights
 the holy water would be frozen dementia praecox Dante
 the gypsy dancers huddled around the fire
 the village people stoning them
 the opera I composed based on La Vida de Lazarillo de Tormes
 y de sus fortunas
 y adversidades it was confiscated also
 a threnody a tragedy of unknown blood and General Lee's men
 spoke of themselves
 as Les Miserables
 the war of the theatres
 at the age of ten 1 had memorized every battle and cavalry tactic of the civil
 no the war to the states so I could forget it
 this stinking bird wasn't going to bend my back my whole life
 as the credentials of the family that took me in are excellent there is no
 need for me to go on and on
 I called my two boats the unicorn and the phoenix
 IXOYC there you go
 the older brothers always have it in for the younger one he can't
 do it they say
 I listen to the voices
 from water there comes a flood from wind a tornado from fiame a fire
 very simple you see
 two months I hid in the cave with the bats and the chinese handcufi's
 then I was struck like a slave with the most abominable design a scheme Dies Irae
 fioating in the chamber pots of the guilty
 such imagination and invent some concoction a stratagem
 only the devil could whisper in my ear
 so be it
 playing against the guilt and malicious utterings of the others' false charges
 against me for they had to be alone and afraid sometimes
 1 devised an elaborate counterplot of incriminating confessions
 that would link arch rival against arch rival
 (from what he said they deserved what they got)
 I was most self-confident and proud of my machination
 as everyone in the monastery that would be pitted against one another were
 only men I should say eunuchs much less fortunate than I
 of talent that is to say it would take a man of genius to find his way
 out of the maze of guilt I planned to let fiourish like a garden of thorns
 a man of talent true might well be able to with much time cultivate an inferior
 maze as is quite that is I should say as was quite the case at the time
 however a mere prelate of talent could never in a hundred years traverse
 the simple forest of a genius
 for like a figure or a mirage on the desert the gifted spirit is quite solitary
 whereas the men of talent tend to draw together like flies around after-birth
 these are not my words but rather those of a young melancholic archaeologist
 I met while on tour in the Middle East it was after 1910 but sometime before
 the war and this Englishman given over to drink and an anile rebelliousness
 because of his illegitimacy this was my only meeting and at that a chance one
 with that handsome but recldess melioristic bastard Thomas Edward Lawrence
 (there was I think another with that name saying deep and dark)
 and it was like amaranth
 it was
 he was most self-conscious
 deafinute handtalk ain't like regular talk when I get back to Memphis I'm gone
 mount the daughter of the taxidermist we do horse and mare
 I had one confidante who had been sold into a Carmelite nunnery
 at a tender age I forgot to tell that she was the one Vico said was the only
 live sole survivor cause the abbot had hired a pilot during the first world
 war to bomb his own monastery cause he was getting restless on account of
 all the stuff going on that Vico was kicking up but the pilot didn't speak
 Italian too well and besides he got drunk and bombed the wrong castle way
 I heard it was he fiew back through over and over again chunking bombs out the
 cockpit yes we were lovers and she was proud of my plan
 the holy orders within the hierarchy of my monastery were such that each novice
 and tonsure and potter and rector and acolyte were personally chosen
 by the priests and by confessing this sin to that confessor
 I was able to watch the points d'appui form by themselves
 finally I done it
 this is what I said to myself I got to get one and I can't get one in Memphis
 or it'll ruin the family name I got to hire one from a town
 most the ones I seen is crooked so I got to look them over for markings
 I'll go into the quarters and ask around
 I can't stand it no more
 somebody has got to stand trial for it and it's got to be fair I tell you
 so I went and asked and told and they told and give me the way
 and I got on the mule of the evening and rode to a big two story clapboard house
 with a pretty garden and cut lawn and beat on the screen
 and a man with his back to me in a hepplewhite chair turned his head
 with a meerschaum pipe between his lips and said something but I don't
 know what it was cause I's looking up on the wall at the mural of seven girls
 in fiowing white dancing in the forest with the night sky so blue
 and the tarnished gold frame and now the man uncrossed his legs and set the
 huge thick book with the leather binding down on the little stand with a thud
 just like it sounds when you drop a fish or an anchor in the bottom of a deep
 hulled shanty like nobody likes to use anymore and this man had jungle birds
 and parakeets and monkeys and all kinds of yellow and scarlet plants and fiowers
 smelling up his sitting room but that pipe was too and I thought it was
 smoke but no it was the dust from the jacket when he set it
 down and I says is you the lawyer Orosius Bede
 who the folks in the section call Capum Fury
 I am he says speak your peace
 but I couldn't say nothing cause my heart made my head move real slow
 from one side of the room to the other as if I wasn't moving my head atol
 as if I was a statue turning on a pedestal
 and I opened my mouth but I seen this ship in a bottle
 and I says that there is something I know about
 I seen a picture of that vessel once I bet they call it Skioblaonir
 he nodded and said speak your business
 but I didn't want to do that right off that would be sort of impolite
 so I said the man in the quarters told me you have a Negro wife
 uh well I hear tell you was in Africa when you met I hear she's a for real
 medical doctor and she what is it that you come for he says and I
 says I come to get a fair trial had for me and my pals
 who sent you
 nobody but the spirit of the dead huh I'm sorry I just talk like that
 sometimes it comes right out see some of the ones I want to get a hearing
 is already dead but I come to get justice even if it means digging them up
 (dream of the moist spade)
 is it wrote anywheres in them Law books where I can get a court held like that
 his wife came in like a phantom and pulled the doctor mask down and says
 could I get you sarsaparilla or milk
 and I shifted a little on my feet and looked at Mr. Orosius
 and says much obliged ma'am but I'll take a shot of bourbon whiskey if you got it
 and it's all the same you partake at such an early age he says oh well I
 say I don't really like the taste but I got to have it sometimes
 the wotl will treat a fellow mean especially if you ain't thinking on yourself
 but on everybody else ain't that right I suppose so he says
 what brings you hear that bird here
 like I told you I've had enough I can't take it anymore
 from that duck fountain in the lobby of my daddy's well he ain't a for real one
 but from there clear to where my sister goes to school with them episcopalians
 in Vicksburg from there on into infinity I reckon ever sapsudting son-of-a-bitch
 with a lowdown tongue has got it all sewed up
 I been here and I been there but won't nobody listen whatever I see as the truff
 they turn it around like a pole cat and stink it all up
 I went into how there was this man who mm a newspaper and I tole him about
 the Black Angel getting hung and this pen pusher was going to tell the truf he
 said but he turns out to be the biggest jack-offing liar that ever was
 there was a couple of times me and my pals had to take the law into our own
 hands I got to get this off my ches cause I'm guilty of murder let's see I counted
 my fingers but I thought Rufus say watch that statue of lamentations wait seven
 foe you open you mouf so I shat up and said right now I can't talk too much
 on account of they is looking for me cause I sent a handwritten letter to the
 Govnuh a challenging him to a duel and they is sent out the State boys after me
 wait a minute I thought I almost told him though seven year is up
 by now for sure hold on I kilt that white man when I was nigh on six
 so I got another year to go on that statue I almost told him
 go ahead and tell him I was thinking go head on no I says best try to remember
 the dusty mirror in the school teacher's mansion in Snow Lake I sho did curry
 to her I got up in front of it and says if they won't believe you can read
 minds shoot some craps and they'll see show them how you can take everthang
 in they pockets they might be fraid you can pick they headbone like a buuard
 Baby Gauge said be nice he said go slow and take it easy
 and those books on his shelf like living things roosting in the night
 I recognized the name Saxo Grammaticus and the one called Volsunga Saga
 and of course Beowulf and Snorri Sturluson and Kalevala and Codex Regius
 and the last one on a shelf by itself with a vase of orchids under a mounted fish
 Caedmon and the shot of bourbon made me reel and careen and I went up the steps
 with the lawyer to their mirador with things I had to get off my chest
 because it was like I was toting a sandbag up the levee when we had that big rain
 and I got a hernia that time too and the skiff knocked me in the head and I
 dreamed I was in Nifiheim but I weren't nowhere but three miles from the
 Mississippi line so that lawyer knew I was the one
 he knew I traveled around with the Niger Hypnotist like that damn sunday paper
 said taking in fiJlks we had gone and cut up that orange and black Sir Walter
 Raleigh bacca sign with some tin shears and made us a checkerboard
 on a hollow cutting block and I got inside with a magnet and moved them
 soda water bottlecaps around and we made two bits a head doing it and it say
 on the sign come on in one and all and play a game a checkers with death
 and it wasn't to gyp nobody I promise it wasn't the hypnotist said it was worth
 two bits for everybody to beat death you see I always lost on purpose
 we never did intend to break no law but what I don't get is how them murderers
 don't get the law on them and all the time that baldheaded shyster from New
 Orleans saying the nigra had no business listening to the music of Richard Wagner
 anyways he role that to the jury but they never knew who that fellow was nohow
 and so even before morning when I finally finished telling him part of it
 he would put his hand on my shoulder like he was hearing someone out in his
 garden him with the white pipe in his teeth and say wait then after a little
 silence proceed and I told it till dawn the mirabile dictu but I left lots
 of things out so he wouldn't think I had it in for them that done us in
 I could of told him bout the Parvenew Real Estate Association swindling me
 and the hypnotist out of some land we found out the world's smallest man had left
 us but I didn't cause they done built a university with indoor toilets there
 and you be a baptist and have connections to go there I just tale about the
 important things but the chinese water is gone knock it out of my head I know it
 IS
 doodles in the river
 Melvin writ me a letter said them mens found Mr. Rufus change
 in the buckets
 had the National Guard come in with Mine Sweepers and dug it up
 one of these days I reckon they'll claim Abraham's Knife
 VICO sleeping like a log he's got that paramnesia and that's bad on a man can't
 talk I read a log once when I was a stowaway I found out what a thumb line was
 I never did find no paw though
 maybe I'd have better luck if I stick to looking for my brother
 I had the run of the convent but I only desired one
 outside the confessional I supplied innuendo inside the subaudition
 canard and tumor soon grew into this monk behind that tapestry
 even the Latin was spoken as if the Inquisition was in session and at the silence
 of the dinner tables ranks began to form the abbot alone in the center
 I poisoned the host that one priest placed in the mouth of another's novice
 and this triggered a chain of violent murders
 torture was the order of the day
 I confessed to have had seen the abbot visit the soprano from Palermo
 who had just newly taken his first vows
 this caused such a fit of jealousy among the priors that no one under sixteen was
 safe while all along I was searching through official records for the name
 of that bishop or abbot whatever and whoever he was who came to my village
 when I was but an infant and castrated myself and the others
 and I found such a person who passed through on December 28th of that year
 though I was able to bring the monastery to its knees in so much sin it elected
 me abbot and in turn begged forgiveness never was I able to confirm
 the true identity of this obese figure of horror
 until years later when Mussolini was strung up just put chance I strolled
 through a garden of a most meretricious nature so grown as to suggest
 profundity in the art of cultivation but at a closer look actually not more than
 a glance I was able to make out the artificialiry in fact the neurosis
 which plagued this garden like a destroying bug
 in a matter of minutes I reached the end of the flowers and saw perhaps a dozen
 youngsters stoning a fat man dressed as a cardinal
 I could have stayed and watched the youth I never had murdered the source of all
 my misery but I chose not to you see for the first time in a very long time
 I was filled with the spirit of brotherhood the community of language
 which was jumping out of my throat like a frog from the jaws of a snake
 I recalled the plan of putting the viper behind the curtains of the tabernacle
 and laughed I remembered the slab of marble swirled in blood and the old witch
 who held us by the foot as if we were just new into the world
 but it was a tragic spanking we received to force out first words out
 they laid me on the table I remember the huddle of black hoods
 around me as if some consecration was to take place
 to this day the memory of the fiash of the dagger in the candlelight
 burns like the wax on the blue blade they sealed me with
 just as if he cut the core from a peach the anonymous monk
 lifted the pitted seed from my thighs and threw it
 against the rocky ground where a chicken caught it before I
 knew it I was tossed into the straw in the back of the wagon
 and a hired whore midwife licked us between the legs
 a few of us died on the journey and as the ones who lived became
 of age they wished they had too
 there is not much I can say unless it is something of a musical nature
 true I was proficient in Bach before the age of reason
 but nothing of me will last excepting a few unoriginal experiences from
 the past I will pass out of this life remembered as and wanted as a bank robber
 with never a mention of the miracle of one nut
 I imagined I heard children his own age yelling Vico Vico
 as if flagging down the train of his childhood he never rode
 once the monks and I gambled for a novice in the convent and when it came time
 for me to show my card I pulled a piece of stiff paper I had fashioned
 myself out of my sleeve and it read in Latin DEATH and I won the game
 and I won the virgin but never did I win my freedom that is why I ride this bus
 in hopes of helping others gain theirs I Vico
 who has led a life no man could trace
 saw in my past when I waved the card a beautifiil woman somewhere in Paris
 or Zurich in the loges waving a fan at the opera
 I hoisted the host and I looked up and saw the moon
 here cndeth the tale of Vico
 the bus took a rest stop and everyone stretched
 my friend Vico woke up and said in my dream I had an encounter with reality my
 son I saw how just as some men look down on others because of the color of their
 skin then so it is that some men the arbitrators of taste the self
 appointed men of the easy life which holds no danger will always want to select
 your flavor am I right tell me you is certainly right I said to Vico just
 the other day this man in the drug store told me I shouldn't eat strawberries
 and he said I Vico tell you to live a life of strawberries
 1 sho wished he and Harpo Marx could of met up but it's too late
 but what is this he is singing Und rings die Hande vor schmemnsgewalt
 Mir graut es wenn ich sein Antlitz sehe Der Mond zeigt mir meine
 eigne Gestalt Du Doppelganger du bleicher Geselle
 lch stand in dunkeln Traumen Auf einen Totenacker Hat mich mein Weg gebracht
 Habe ja doch nichts begangen Was vermeid ich denn die Wege
 A stranger I come a stranger I leave Hart ich tausend Arme zu ruhren
 he was in a happy mood at last and the kid winked cause he knew that meant pop
 the air brakes sounded like a thousand dollar tire going down
 and the door opened like a trick passage in a pin ball machine
 come to think of it maybe I need somebody to travel around with me
 to translate for me maybe then I could get it across
 it's like I was foreigner and don't nobody know what I'm saying
 when a Chinaman tries to speak our tongue you laugh at him
 I don't think it's so funny
 for every stretch of land there is a way to say it
 and with me it is like I live in an unknown part of the woods
 a geography way away deep in the water and dark forest
 like when you feel wild and run through the rain
 but some people come they come to take something away like those towheads
 took Mr. Rufus' buckets of change away I wonder what his soul is thinking
 yes it is like somebody left me something but you can't remember what
 just like when you wake up and so I am the proprietor of a strange hotel
 I own a part of a plantation where everyman is his own boss
 like I said sometimes the others come but they only stay one night
 and when me and Baby Gauge go to clean up the room something is missing
 what is gone was just as much hissen and Dark's as it was mine
 even my blood kin Sleep has got his X writ on it but it is gone
 and if I ever wake him up shit is gone hit the fan maybe he'll be able
 to make them understand the others the tourists who take pictures and doorknobs
 we know so do I
 it wasn't really the driver's fault he was trying to be nice he parked
 the bus on the wrong side of the road so The Wonder Bread truckman could
 back into the cafe there was a whole lot of red and blue circles
 and it said Helps Build Strong Bodies Twelve Ways
 the bus driver was all choked up and saying I was only trying to be nice
 if I hadn't a been playing deaf so long maybe my instinct
 could a smelt it out maybe I'd a knowed it was more than just loud pipes
 who knows when a kid is gone get run down they got off first the ladies
 were talking to the preacher but before the doors opened and they
 stepped down the steps where it says watch it VICO sang to the kid
 Ich komme vom Gebirge lch wandle still bin wenig froh Und immer fragt der Seuf'ler
 wo Die Sonne dunks mich hiet so kalt Ich bin ein Fremdling uberall W0 bist du
 mein geliebtes Land Gesucht geahnt und nie gekannt Das Land das Land so
 hoffnungsgrun Das Land wo meine Rosen bluck W0 meine Freunde wandelnd gehn
 W0 meine Toten auferstehn Das Land das meine Sprache spricht 0 Land
 wo bist du Ida wandle still bin wenig froh Und immer fragt der Seufzer wo
 Im Geisterhaud'i tont's mir zuruck Dort wo du nicht bist dort ist das Cluck
 the boy had his hand full of change and he said he's sumpum ain't he
 Vico had enough life left in him to give me the hand signal for
 move out in the open so they can't get a good shot
 he fiexed the muscles in his arm like that one on the sign with the mallet
 and he motioned as if drawing ofi- his dirty glove
 Das Leben ist ein Traum
 I remembered Franz J. Haydn became a choristet in Vienna at the age of eight
 another tale not the binding of the wolf by the dwarfs has it
 that some of these men were great individualists which was at once their
 strength and weakness now as it goes these men resented any
 fittters that would tame their freedom of action
 nevertheless they were most capable of a strange and considerable self
 discipline and could accept most adversities cheerfiilly without whining or self
 pity fi-om what I hear a man who was about to die
 was held in honor if his cause was just be he friend or foe
 and won a lasting love if he could die with a jest on his lips
 but anymore it is hard for me to think I bide my time
 his ring sounds like a hammer or a ship that looks like a cathedral
 good men have not been given their due the morning is unable to ride because
 of its thirst in every dream I hear the cool night all is past
 he give up the death breath with
 something about some road or rode as in riding I couldn't tell the tenses
 it all happened so fast like a fine blooded horse passing
 by your window at midnight
 but it was dawn and I hepped the preacher and the bodyguard
 pick up the body of the Negro boy a man who had just gone to the field came out
 of the field again and hepped us nobody noticed the time of year
 but the hand had a cottonsack which weren't right if you know what I mean
 but that is what we put the kid in never did catch his name
 but his Mamma membered it to me
 she was getting consoled by the sisters
 he must have been drunk that field hand the bus driver kept on a saying did you
 get the license number anybody get it until the bodyguard tole him hush
 but the swap was done
 like we said it was I sent the pitcher's glove through the Air Mail
 the man tole me there wasn't no point in that seeing as to how the Mississippi
 line was just on the other side but that's the way I promised so I did it
 I still had his address wrote on myself and I heard tell his older brother
 is getting signed by the Major leagues and that catcher's mitt well I'm sitting
 on it right now and it makes a man a good saddle cause Dark's old mule
 hits got a heap of back bone and
 the sun was getting warm and feeling nice and I seen my shadow as dark
 as the blood on the white line in the middle of the highway
 so the water goes on like the mule
 and a big congregation of white folks had gathered around the preacher
 some of them with song books some with bottles of whiskey
 still others had
 guns and I said uhoh Tang now Jimmy and Charlie B. done gone
 and done it
 wheah that baldheaded man going to Tang said I think
 he's heading into the concession stand they must have another one them
 mictaphones in there call tention Tang says and I grabbed the piece
 of silver outten the booth and the old man says evahbody stay put y'all heah me
 I'm calling the shots ain't nobody going nowheahs till my wife's bless her
 soul face is off the screen y'all heah that how you turn this
 goddamn thang ofi' boy just fiip the switch I said but before Tang
 had a chance to do that the equipment we had gone and went dead as hell
 they got a master switch up there I says to him well what you
 waiting for son let's go guard it the owners of the Drive Inn had slipped
 away somewheres I don't know but the preachers was at the other microphone
 now telling the folks to shut they mouths cause here it was
 Easter morning and everybody was drunk and fighting and fomicating
 and he didn't know if he's gone preach no sermon or
 not but the main thang at hand he said was to get them two fools ofibn
 that bulldozer afore somebody gets killed that's what he said
 in the background coming in over the system you could
 hear one of his ugly kids yelling it's them daddy its the same ones
 that done it and one of them's a nigger look at him
 whatever he was going to say it was too late he got his chance to see
 iffen it was the same two alright though and it was
 he was just yelling where'd my wife go honey come take care these kids
 and Tang said about his wife I reckon she's gone now we can go home
 Jimmy and Charlie B. kept a backing up and running into the frame
 that held the screen up I couldn't hear what it was they was yelling
 cause of the noise but Tang's show was still on but he didn't want to
 look at it no more he was passing out and they was bringing it
 down now the whole thing was fiat as a piece of paper and they got the
 bulldozer on it in the middle and spun around and around a tearing it to shreds
 the sprinkle was getting to be a hard rain and it was mostly sunrise
 the moom pitchu Hallelujah was showing on the rain and the trees in the woods
 and as far as I could see and the two drunks was passed out on the machine
 going this way and that far away and instead of being afraid of getting
 killed I just felt awful lonesome for some reason so I got the ice tongs
 and got hold of my tongue and tried to pull it out but it wouldn't budge so
 I drew my pocket knife and was a going to cut my tongue out and had it
 started pretty good but Tang he sees me and does he ever whup the fire out
 of me he beat me black and blue all the time saying what wrong with you
 boy what wrong he shook me good and says let's get out of here foe some
 body shoots us what you say he leaned back with one eye open his head on
 the back of my seat and says heah put this handchercuf in yo mouf it'll stop
 the blood it sho was hard to shift the gears well Tang said drive on
 drive on so that is what I did
 I am telling you what I saw what I see what I will see
 what you saw what you see what you will see
 the sun is a stolen mare and the moon is my screen
 I am the children chained down in Plato's cave my shadows are like
 movies of the dead who come back to watch themselves
 listening to the nigger looking at the fire in my boat
 my history on the river father son holy ghost and all that smoke
 I vanished to sing a blue yodel of that low born bastard
 brought up by the finest of families I locked myself in the outhouse
 when I wasn't but six and wrote a novel dedicated to my sidekick
 the night I got drunk and wrote suicide notes to my blonde headed
 teacher so I wouldn't fail and every moment I wasn't asleep
 Xanadu was in danger I tell you I sold my soul to the devil
 for a lettersweater and ten minutes with a tightrope walker's daughter
 every fall my corsage died in the ice box I whistled down the wind
 afterbirth of the rose was my favorite tune there isn't a boy
 who doesn't know what I mean I put together the moon like a raft
 for that final journey there wasn't anything else to do anything
 I hadn't done already so I hauled rocks for the devil and made him
 a grotto where I couldn't look anyone's daddy in the eye
 baby I rode out of town like a saint I sang blue yodel of her evening
 those sundown eyes and at that the schoolgirl lit out on a dilferent
 road she put me up to stealing lemons she was so goodlooking I had to
 bite leather you won't see me trying to hide it I did it look
 at the fine-spun blood on my jacket I admit I am in collusion
 with the evening herself there was a rundown church she called
 her home it careened like a ship since I was touched in the head
 she let me sleep it off every night on the charred piano she kept
 in her garden with those green eyes of sleep I knew how to unhook
 any speedometer I defiowered the darkness of the backroads
 leaving it to the thieves who let my blood on the hour for years
 I send them along with two or three good words and a pat on the back
 I'm so far off the rocker they say I spit seeds in John Law's eye
 she was so goodlooking she had the body of a colt you cannot
 purchase when she got off the schoolbus I'd plow the same row
 twice nobody could get any work out of me I got to dreaming
 that sorghum patch of mine was a river that ran for a goddess
 my mule helped lead them out of the promised land nothing was
 the way it should be wherever I went I left a wake
 the blade of my plow shined like a garnbler's knife I talked out
 of my head like a dancing Greek and had those circles
 of dark violet under my eyes while I wasn't looking she hit me
 in the temple with a rock and I went to dreaming again my hand
 was a hawk that could throw its voice and ponies a dead man
 left me would gallop into my shack and lick my hair every morning
 she was so beautiful the buckberries were late I'm done for
 I know it they say I'm a paramnesiac so the night birds came
 there in her garden of climbing buckwheat weeds and mystery
 at dawn the birds when I was fourteen damn if I didn't sell it again
 I go to the dances alone I always get beat-up blue yodel of the
 buddyfucker and the bloody boutonniere I stood up the first strings'
 girl friends like bottles on a fence and practiced my draw
 I walk through the garden with my arm in a sling I practice my bows
 in front of a mirror in the school teacher's hall she was the only
 one who would take me in to this day I can see her wetting her lips
 with her tongue in my palm I would wake up beside her in the middle
 of the night kissing my list but that's just another blue
 yodel of young ladies of time past I locked myself in the outhouse
 for her sake I put a quarter on the arm of the record player
 so it wouldn't skip I played the magic fiute by the light of the moon
 they say I was lucky because I had the power I could read minds
 the man who put out my eye he left me a uncleared quarter
 on a mountain a bootlegger wouldn't be caught on it came in handy
 when I started breaking the law I'd hide out for days at a time
 it all happened so fast I came home one evening my folks were
 dead and gone all I said was good now I can be alone I called it
 blue yodel come the long night I forgot who they were I dreamed
 I was a star or something like that I got drunk every night I was
 sinking down I love sweet water there was lavender and yearlings
 and the hangnail moon it was something to behold every evening
 it hung on the black hem of something was something I gave some
 thought to the ones I took home after school and forgot the snow
 on the dark roads the sail making her bed in the harbor everywhere
 the night everywhere like a blue yodel a ballad you better not
 sing on account of the blues everywhere everyone asleep
 the drunk in the garden calling out brother in his sleep
 the cowboy saddling his roan the orphans who weep because it is
 the first of the week again are fast asleep and the lovers
 swimming to their early deaths are asleep everything is dreaming it is
 asleep and safe the soldiers on dope with their boots on the throats
 of whores the grandpappy dying at night in another's bed the hunters
 getting their jeep out of the mud are asleep and their dogs are still
 dead to the world and dreaming they are mad as foxfire again
 the gauze which bears witness to the shadow in the shape of a nail
 is moaning on the wharf where the somnambulist fishermen
 feather their cars and a storm passes over like a pose
 after someone I use to know goodnight horse marine so long
 ballerina of the high wire and the unicorns coupling in the dark
 waters of your tent I remember your fingers that smell like honey
 the down on your calves like dust on a guitar which keeps
 a window open the moon through the screen on your belly a comb
 your hair too thick to be brushed by a soul one strand makes me
 think of an island not on the maps the way you sipped wine
 like a tight ship that never takes in a drop of water and you
 not even sixteen and me I was crazy I wanted to ride over a cliff
 the designs of your blouse roads that could lead anywhere
 your fingernails were like pirates coming aboard and my back
 that took a flogging like Mr. Christian I dreamed you put a spell
 on me that I had a wife a daughter that bled to death on their pillow
 and you signed their death certificate with a quill you stole
 from a blind fighting cock when I was in port your accent as I rode
 up to the Inn and you greeted me my capitan my capitan
 the first time I saw you I was hunting wild hogs with a rifle
 with a scope I took out the shell and kept you in the cross-hairs
 until you fell off of that bow line you had your daddy string
 across the creek I went crazy right there I had to keep a lookout
 in my drawers one of the old gypsies in your troupe went down
 so the priest came down the river to give her last rites and the wind
 blew the host out of his hands and 1 came down on that too like
 a ticket stub I heard you kneel down beside the water with the Father
 it was like a picture show what you told him your knees
 in repose of the dead snake doctor the gloom of your navel
 and your mirror giving a faraway look to a bareback rider
 the night before graduation I screwed you in the back of my truck
 and I became wonderful at saying so long now I am sleeping
 in that water where your children will come when it is dry
 and dig fish bait I remember before the old woman died she read my palm
 her old finger like a minnow that would catch anything I yodel
 the throats fioating in the cherry the tuft of your cunt
 like moss on the keel of a dark boat I was so lonesome when you
 put out strange bird I woke up on in the outhouse the rain did it
 on the tin roof wonder bread help build your body twelve ways it said
 a shower coming down like you passing water on the side of a hill
 I wanted a silk shirt and black gloves that fit I wanted to knock
 on the door of your wagon with a gold studded cane that disguised
 a cutlass I wanted to try to wipe the beauty mark off of your chin
 I didn't want to below bred and touched I got tired of the old men
 hiring boys to do their dirty work on me I wanted to slap the shit
 out of somebody to get a letter to not have that second degree
 manslaughter trailing me like a bloodhound if I was going to be
 low born why couldn't I been a frenchman who talks love through his
 nose in a blue and white striped boat-neck shirt why couldn't a
 midget play the concertina for us all night but you fell down and broke
 your neck if I was to find out where you were probably in some convent
 you couldn't feel it anyway they took you away in a wheelchair
 they said I was a banding a rascal and scoundrel a no count liar
 so what I didn't say I wasn't I didn't say nothing I yodeled
 a dream where I got an invitation to the ball of the ravished
 the beautifitl I put on a mask and hid under a cape I sneaked
 around like Romeo only I was really fourteen you circled around
 like a she wolf when you touched me with your wand I can't look
 my raft is breaking up on the shores of night and there are search
 lights up ahead and the owl is so much like an angel it hurts
 he struts along like an emperor white cape and all and you
 asleep in the pool of your gown and I visit the honky tanks
 to drink milk in the corner alone in hopes of seeing the ladies who travel
 by night come in from the rain that comes down over the valley
 where everyone must go it alone I yodel the devil only knows
 what you are thinking of me when there is a dead calm you can hear
 the horsehooves in the water on the beach along the pier
 up the catwalk aboard the ship on deck on the plank galloping
 into the water the candle I saw in your port hole an imaginary light
 this log I am keeping for you like a prom held for the departed
 I pay my last respects to my mouth it's weary as a prince
 without a kingdom the road 1 go down with the wind my tutor
 has so many ruts it looks like the broken neck of a mandolin
 I follow the strings the stalks that hold the fish eyes the blood
 in the air the mirrors they grind for the bees and their keeper
 you are lazy like the rose you do nothing but take off your clothes
 your step-ins take on the l of the sleeper when there is no I
 they have the musk of a spot I found in the woods two years ago
 they are like silent children dozing in a cave who have gone unwashed
 for years I have seen you take the slack out of your panties
 like a sail crossing the mountains somehow your elixir
 runs in me like a river through me like a dagger no one will take out
 the sexual milk that must make a noise like a shoal two mussels
 being done in swallon whole by a wildcat whose mate has
 been mounted by a bird stufi'er your new love the wheelchair
 has two negro women tied to the spokes who haven't given up
 the days of sandbagging the levee with cocaine dipping their
 snufi' like minnows out of the belly of the moon any good lad
 has held in his hand and the gentlemen of the road take refitge
 under the bulldozer my father's best friend the bohemian
 has paid 03' the foreman to read his hand of cards there
 a thousand miles from nowhere two gentlemen of the white race
 are partners with a Sambo who sings out his sambas like a stone
 in the blue hole and a convict who goes by Dark the ringleader
 but somewhere the shutter beats during the thunderstorm and that same
 fine looking lad is weeping like a silent boat that must be bearing
 away his childhood leaving before the good dog star of dawn is done
 barking its sleep lovely bear beowulf his father burnt up and sunk
 in the sword of first snow he cried so long for the ferocious seeds
 holding the bridle of the thicket growing over the grave of his pony
 the roots dissolve brother worm so weary of brother shove]
 the sound of the rigor mortis of parachutes like umbrellas in a cemetery
 my hair is mussed underground where the gypsies had a picnic
 and l smooth your wood out with my hands like lathes
 and Edgar Allan Poe my cousin fills his wife's pillow with shavings
 and your bed disappears in the spring when the water is high
 and I throw horseshoes at the wandering fins
 and the boiling crawdads come apart in a colored man's mouth
 to the music of that lure that looks so much like a spider god
 that makes your back its lair and your voice the pine trees
 in the portrait of dead women I associate with your gown
 the ghost of the animal soaked to the bone which leaps
 on my back every evening in the woods where the children
 are smoking out their horses with feathers and pocketknives and master
 spurs believe me the dark of night is so much the same as that quarrel
 your legs keep up leaning on the shadow of a head of water like an angel
 keeping two schoolboys from one another's throats is the job
 of a snake whose small heart beats like a dancer's bloody shoe
 it is the job of the stranger with a twitch in his lip
 who can talk about flying saucers and dirty playing cards
 in my sleep I mumble a dream I yodel about the hard scent of the dragon's sex
 and you live off that beggar the days just around the corner
 staying awake all night long wondering what went wrong
 why didn't I turn into a criminal and become your lover
 why did I have to knock that cheerleader up when all along I wanted
 to throw you over my horse crippled and all and ride off
 with you like they do in the movies I wanted to take that nail
 our of your dress where the orchid had been tenured for so long
 I entered three minds at once like a drunken prowler I am found out
 leaving the sanctuary with the sacred chalice a fish bone in my throat
 I turn to the bottle already an old friend and pay my last respects
 once again to my partner the long legged evening
 little more than a shadowy legend remains of that guitar
 I saw drifting down the river they say the dead swim
 good morning captain I told the mule that couldn't see
 I think like a picture show my lover is Camille the loner
 I peel apples by the water the pallbearers the star
 gamers the sweettooth didn't you cry when The Champ
 beat his fist into the wall somebody made a fool
 out of me this is what there is my heart a bequest
 giving out rambling through the tanks all I can
 chunk is snake eyes I am beyond time my sleep is
 condemned the wise and foolish virgins one tree
 takes the hand of another's only daughter I use
 to watch her bathe under the pump sounded like a jackass
 there is a dead swan and someone leaning over a fire
 and the places the children know there is memory
 who loses its river there is doubt the priest's
 only son there is someone walking on the catwalk
 in wet shoes or boots full of blood there is the shepherd
 scratching himself under the cover and he hits me in
 the ribs with his elbow and thinks I'm beating my meat
 but the dog has none of the fears of a man asleep
 but he still dreams of the ships where he was buried
 with his master the place in the field where she got
 sick forgiveness some eggs some berries some legs an odor
 between us a bruise some more blood some feathers
 I heard how they cut a good horse out of the herd
 and your hands made to turn bowls
 I believe at that moment exactly when the paramour's bride
 dressed in yellow takes off her long glove and walks
 towards the motionless arm of the pocketwatch on the wall
 the black dove has been known to fiy out of the numbers
 of the sobbing clock and lights on the jilted widow's
 damp fingers it has been known to come around its throat
 the fist of the hours at this moment a thirsty orphan
 is murdered in her sleep is sold into bondage is made
 to distobe in the company of merchants and bureaucrats
 the politicians of lice
 and there is a stillborn child a sputnik
 suffocated with the pillow at the moment it is known
 another orphan tears her dress and tends the wounded monk
 in white in the field Van Gogh is fainting and yet another
 orphan hangs herself in the attic with the belt of her lover
 and good whoever it is leaps from that dark window at this very
 moment the gypsy boy of questionable lineage takes the bull
 and falls into delirium himself over that crushed bird
 that sipped from the wound that drank like a fish
 a Zen Lieutenant prepares before he takes his mistress
 and his life there is the moon Gabriel took under his
 cloak of bad news the moon I wasted so many cartridges on
 the knight funambule I wanted to be in league with our Lady
 of Death I wanted Enid almost as bad as I wanted Clare
 a long life and solitude by my lord's house on the sea
 my brother should have poisoned me by now all of my prayers
 should have been chewed and swallowed I kept dying like Chatterton
 giving a shiteating grin like Burt Lancaster when the Lord
 slapped some sense into me eleven white horses chewing the plumage
 of my grave it is certainly so that you wrote like a child in your
 soap you remember the mirror that smelled like seaweed revolving
 between your legs Clare you remember slitting our wrists with
 a blade of grass and your gown begging for air in the water
 Clare your breasts like homing pigeons with deadly nightshade your sex
 another stigmata your youth lost climbing the hill your suffering
 ears that have come to the wolf for revenge your hips
 the holy the terrible the ravished and your censure a madrigal of clover
 your steps down the path to my cave in secret the pure at heart
 the victim I wanted your mouth with its invisible moss
 I wanted the silence that rustled under your dress when
 you let it fall a cloud that never can unwrap itself from the moon
 in Assisi you and I could fuck in peace we could pray between your knees
 I dreamed I was James Dean and Marlon Brando at the same time
 I knew it was Rosebud all the time so I slept under the bed of the river
 and you smelled like Elizabeth Siddal's sheets and the dark hair
 of Gabriel's best friend's wife and the water you made a spy's link
 a holy shroud The Wedding of St George and the Princess Sabra
 a holy and terrible sail Ecce Ancilla Domini
 a most holy and ravished canvas Paolo and Francesca
 my god in those days beside the lonesome wind of Carlisle Wall
 a man and a woman
 could make love listening to the solitary sparks
 of the naked garden
 and the motion of their own blood mystic
 a star with no light
 could make love dressed in white saying goodbye
 way into the night into the dark snow and do the lord's work
 there is our brother the sun there is our sister the moon
 and that is all I can say because I love you Astarte Syriaca
 I woke up the dear eyes of the lamb in the barn
 I woke up the drowsy snake
 I told the melancholy to guide me
 1 startled the beautifirl things which had disappeared
 I died like a gambler
 I dreamed of sonnets of naked farm girls and black mares
 not a one of them rhymed
 I watched fountains come back that had gone dry from the elaborate
 I brooded in the valley the dusk quick as large eyes
 I looked at the sun on the bottom
 I was so simple it killed me
 I believed in hay
 I loved the night anyway
 I took the route of the petal apparent and not
 I forgot I was I
 I dreamed of a boy going back and forth like a hen feeding the earth
 I went insane with the mariner and this one I am
 I almost played poker with a cricket
 I was sudden and impure
 I had faith in all things
 I was genuine dust and just as silent
 l was interrogated by the Judge of Shadows
 time is the batr pit I drown in time is the wolf who dreams me
 time is the ice which melts in the bourbon I dreamed I sipped
 I was the charcoal I was the yellow butterfiy
 l was dreamed celestial triumphant and dead the prayer by Alighieri the sad
 I dreamed the orgasm of nothingness in another galaxy
 I dreamed infants born in the black space of an endless sphere
 I dreamed Robert Burns was a merman a Beowulf with gills in Loch Ness
 I suspected this life
 I sang what I dreamed to the monks of Hild
 I knew the great memory of pensive women and the orphan's bouquet
 I am unlimited and protoplasmic and you
 I survive the time of the grass on fire
 I feel and I am
 with you
 I foresee the task the twilight and the holy spirit who fingers the muse
 I know nothing like Keats
 I fought a duel against die rules
 I foresee the lad in gabardine rags singing his heart out
 I revel in pain with the wanderer's instinct
 I came close to the bone
 my past is simultaneous with my present
 I'm fiill of words like curve sod hair voyage smoke spear dtench figs fish
 I play bad piano for Eve Mary and Magdalene
 I'm part Indian so I dream of bird-like bridges and circular waters
 but no land
 I dream of long boats in the desert
 I dream of spawn and figureheads
 I swerve and I accept like a blue snake with feathers
 I am a path
 I contain the logic of the blood-sea the cosmos the full beauty of the loin
 I want to become and lured away alone at once
 I want to live with animals in the temple of Isis
 I chant the gentle the sweeping the cunt of the soul
 my eyes are wicked and dark
 I'm quick like a horse
 I take more wives than a kangaroo
 I rove through the thunder of the blood the lightning of the skin
 I cluster grand and mad like grapes
 I ache like the mast in fantasia's ship
 I have the general force of the frescoes of wrestlers and panting dancers
 I love the ignorant ponds I see the fields gashed and made into levees
 I am stout and burned not too tall and give off a strange aromatic shadow
 I abandon myself to the excitement of farmers and water
 I quiver now and the wrong phoenix below
 I come out of nowhere 1 merge with death in the weeds
 I go to the extreme
 I loaf in the black fiowers of the red moon
 rising like cornbread cooked over a bayou
 I live in the cello and the fiute that signal farewell to all good things
 I fiow with the films the fluttering strangers
 I learn from the incarnate
 I am the young bull in the snow
 I go mistaken for fair weather
 I call to the downtrodden
 I grew up early I compose the great poem of death and these States
 I dream the body hovering
 and surrounded by myself on the verge of Lady Chatterlcy's Lover
 I am the countryman the caul of the unborn
 I give you fair warning I have made a little ship
 I who was to come have come dark and in love
 I not too old not too bad looking omnisexual and sly keeping up with
 the grave
 I calm and low and sinking
 I with the expressive forest under me I leave the impression
 of the spun moon a band momentary for all time
 I two brothers in the brotherhood of grief
 I with the sprouts and children with hammers a sound a balance of journey work
 I know the message of toes in the water
 all and all I planted the mustardsced
 I with the songs the gross and the blended vision
 with the order of roots and blood of desire
 with myself fulfilled in the common and plunged hawk
 who wears the trees
 I solitary leaving land to die
 I who go slow in the heat
 I the sweet worm and sinew in every girl's dream sheet
 I felt hypnotic a dance in the good dirt behind the barn
 I who penciled in whoever you are
 holding me now in hand
 I crafisman and boy of bordellos and orbits
 indicted and convicted
 a sanctus beseiged
 saturated with night simultaneous and balanced as doom busting my gut
 indigenous transcendent alive for awhile
 I ascend from the big water of silence
 I ascend in the branch of the entered again
 men
 with no name holy in the compost
 I fioat through the bedrooms like an uprooted tree
 vital and in streams of bark and sloughs shed under a comet
 and the tabernacle of the fiag of the doe
 I come to a close before reason opens my wound again
 I grow in crescents and condensation
 I slide in the eyes of the crab
 I nobody else offspring of stars
 my dreams of dust that will settle in the serge and firr of myself
 in reality unsaintly in the shape of the sun Dionysian debris
 I hewn in mud lovely as women brushing their hair
 I grind the mirrors of the nighttime
 I make your refiection as simple as mine and yet
 I stump the pastors and teachers the men of war selling themselves to Class
 I swear the phoenix eats the bullhead's heart on my wrist
 l compress the language of the earth listen
 I hinge on the lips
 I heed the words of the new bosoms
 I dream dictionaries and principals that won't make mementos out of the wild
 flowers I am one
 who believes nothing is cheap
 I would rather go unknown inward without effect
 I stand at case like a cloud or a burning child
 I travel the road of the germ beware
 as I am easy and swift you will not touch me
 as I am authentic moving slow as black water you are afraid to dive
 as I am clown sometimes clairvoyant and blood brother of the fuse
 to cover up my tracks the countryside wounded
 you will laugh and be afraid to lace up your boots if you wear them
 I read the good book of the kindhearted devil
 along with Alice and Saint Francis leaving like air
 I dream weeds on fire I sorrow in stride with thorns unknown as I am
 only known down by the lakes and river
 only known by the swelled up virgins hiding things at night
 I renounce the illusions of the looking glass I stand in the sun
 I unfolding the dark gown of my bride oblivion soothing my living death
 I in the land of the darkly bound for the lamp of ashes your soul and sex
 I kiss the black of the piano like Scriabin
 I have fears that I may cease to be
 come
 I am the svvanboy that moves the cool slow thighs
 I prolong the moment of contemplation
 I suck up the dew and spit in the direction of Demeter
 I owe Alain Chartier a great deal
 I missed my chance with one of the lords of life
 hush
 suddenly I am on the deck I am born
 innocent and ungrammatical as a thirsty snake
 I make the perfect bed
 I wink in my sleep I am the dark bridegroom
 I belong to the loom
 I belong to poor Clare's suspended fingers
 I fuse the first-born and the has-been
 I warn the harbinger
 I devote time to nothing but air
 I buck up the plums to give to my invisible bride a lady always
 I ferry the nameless
 I lose my accent to the roots who can undo the tourniquet
 I keel over in the vision with its lingo of divided violins
 I am confined to the asylums of the dead masters
 I talk to myself and whistle in the honky tonks like Robert Schumann
 I run the long distances with the neutrons and climbing buckwheat
 I meander through the night sweats
 I am known as a braggart and a dreamer
 Dichterliebe
 I feel well with the moon
 I went to the garden of love in a cradle met like a hearse
 I stole
 My spirit was too weak I had no name
 I dedicated my powers to the fish and the nimbus in dejecrion
 I loved my life in the dark eyebrows
 I spread the word to the stunned
 I tossed coins with the martyrs
 I loafed in the bedrooms of the older sisters
 I vanished like the piper
 I etched out a living I slouched in the wands I knew the loins' Introduction
 I perished in the shipwrecked thorns I was a joy to hear
 I wrote the book of the thousand and one girls with no guitars all night
 I listened to Ieda's heart beat like a fish
 knowing how it rains in every country
 I met the crop dusters downed by gin I chauffeured the widows
 through the delta shifting down like the angel of death told me
 I slid OE the road in linking rhyme
 I cast lots with the dank underclothes of the backseat
 that made the windows tablets for the wicked's skeleton keys
 that made me leap prince of the bullfrogs
 from pond to pond from wheels to wheels
 with a voice deep as a fatal wound I followed the odors coming
 from underneath
 l sentenced the dice to be hung from the neck on the rear view mirror
 I waited for my love of the ages
 the Negroes and hypnotists who died in the ice boxes
 before the age of reason and I stood guard with combs and old radios
 while the poets slept
 we kept the iron warm for the sister women's hair
 we kept the whereabouts of the innocent to ourselves
 while the poets slept
 we stood sentry to the snake doctors who drowned in their breath
 rising in the desert like the wisdom of Atum
 we took the longest patrols
 and ended up with rat bite fever and syphilis in the seraglio
 we all thought was some kind of wine
 while the poets slept we cleaned the repetends of feathers from our boots
 and buried John Webster who drank the pure darkness
 while the poets dreamt of being
 captain of the drill team and quarterback at the same time
 all of us became quite lonesome
 watching the same movies all during the week
 watching the guests slam the door on the tips of out fishing rods
 watching the crippled geometry teacher fall
 in love with the bright girl too poor to buy notebook paper
 and class pictures
 watching for that other playmaker Christopher Marlowe
 defenestrating the other world this one
 watching Danae burn incense in to the coop with the blue fox
 while the poets slept
 the breathtaking Mamas washed us in Job and coal oil and the soap of odes
 and sorrows
 while the poets dreamt of possessing the stealth of my blood brother
 portentous and sudden
 my brother master of mud and woo and whistles
 who is night and like the night and the wind
 who was to rescue Christabel
 and slink away with the moon with child in his spit
 we divulged the lore of the enemy river
 we went through the particqu fate of the cataclysmic womb
 we shot marbles with Adonis according to his mystic-martial rules
 we solaced the schoolgirls forbidden to raise lavender
 who had to weave their long socks locked in the loft
 who were frostbitten by the english horn
 who were ultimately french kissed in the back of the sehoolbus
 coming back from the football game in the mountains
 O the water
 was cold as a casket left by the window to swell
 and my prick lifted its head like a lost loon
 like a man who has rowed out for good
 like a cardsharp who has cancer
 0 the mad V
 of pricks the wing of fioating aces an alcove of consummate luck
 we knew whatever we were
 we slept in the shade and listened
 to oblivion's shadow arabesque
 the plums and firecrackers going bad in our pockets
 while the poets slept we were fast asleep
 like a clipper full of horses off course
 we seethed where the light never penetrated
 we stunk like the lemon
 we became cruel and nautical at once
 meanwhile the ramps delivered their soliloquies in the hallways
 like caverns where seabcasts grazed unbeknown
 O we waited so long in the waves
 to make a pass at the new one who wanders and parts her hair with
 ivy solitude and murder
 the dogs howl so quietly some frost comes up on your ring
 like the abandoned arteries of a star
 as if a sleazy fifteen year old was reading over my shoulder
 nudging like a colt a generative unicorn with a dense red mane
 while the poets slept in one another's joekstrap
 I was driving Miss Nevus down a lowroad
 in the dead of winter
 the haze rising out of the kiln of her blouse
 like breath in a meadow
 the small animals crossing the road at night
 swooning in the headlights of the black car a V-8 mudfish
 that rode low to the ground like a nasty pair of bluejcans
 the song on the radio was something
 the Prince of darkness could swallow
 I wanted to grind charcoal into fine powder like a lens maker
 I wanted the soot that looked purple at night
 to pry into the flesh of the snow apples
 I thought about setting fire to the cold fields
 I wanted her tongue to stick to the mirror
 and the owl buried deep in the head with an odor of blood
 lisps like a female prisoner speaking in her sleep
 taboo
 something fiying up to the side
 an invisible horse that reared up on the other side of the fence
 a little cyclone of mystery
 crazy like a girl looking at the moon in the water
 with thoughts of tangerines and a fading light
 a girl with the cold-blooded eyes of a lizard
 that goes for the fingers in the crevice of the cliff
 a girl with a streak of meanness
 like the dark lateral line of fish
 who can feel death through the water
 and maneuver by the sound of dust settling on land
 there are vibrations in the weeds before dawn
 like a rattling of dishes in the widow's parlor
 like a crust of bread which gives away a visitor
 there are faraway voices that come from beyond
 the constellations we have not named
 strange noises of light that quiver like tropical slime
 that arrive through the bedroom window
 when the sons and daughters are into the woods of one another
 there comes a knowledge of the deaf who dream of tentacles and beaks
 a sediment which forms around the tracks
 where the dead have often ridden together
 really I think of simple things
 of ordinary acts and nights
 that take place in the desolate minds of the very common
 words like water or a pile of branches
 gestures with the rhythm of plankton
 and the heartbeat of birds and hooves
 the steady growl of the wildcat about to pounce
 and smooth running cars
 hitting on all cylinders
 with rearseats that an sound like Tarzan's monkey
 I think of the intimate steps the dancer can make
 bold as the letters of the stonecutter's inscriptions
 that beautiful weapon the knife an instrument of peace
 the calligraphy of the seed and feed lists
 the crow on the horizon you see in the eyes of the Trappist
 who has gone so long without sleep
 broken glass perseverant lips the apostrophes of the man in the fire tower
 the woman who will drown herself
 touching the inscrutable fragment not the statue
 I think of the simple things of the spirit
 the last rites of the snow
 and the lovers who go to bed with a child in mind
 and when they wake it is so
 should she plait her hair with warnings
 I will forget my vagueness in the midst of the rose
 should she remember my ugly face which brought her to ruin
 I will live in the old bell like a vine and a burden
 I will envision the deserts laments
 when the going gets rough I'll take my eyes ofi- the road
 I'll look at the body of my passenger like a small ship underway
 the crazy one with eyelids of semblances
 who can camoufiage herself with shivers and the iridescence of fish
 who can utter milt and seaweed
 I think of the simple girls from the country
 who can get out of their clothes as Fast as a thoroughbred
 and a sailfish
 I go down the road dreaming drunk as a coat
 when she says to slow down boy I think of a throat under siege
 and the motto of a horn
 I think of a pyramid and an hourglass a voice that gives oifi its own light
 my life I love it
 in the dark
 under the water of my shadow music
 my form
 and substance lonely and blue as ever
 I give away my deluded clothes
 I fall by the wayside
 only the stones for throwing
 across the river
 and the girl who transfigures the predator
 know how I listen
 for that boat full of melons and sorrow
 alas was the word
 they used in the old days
 they had been friends in youth
 I wandered through the hamlets
 barefoot at times
 a two-bit troubadour
 going very deep in debt to the canebrakes
 they called me fisherman then
 and my pockets were full of blackbirds
 I dipped the good mug of the delta
 with its boiled coffee and crawdads
 the sailmaker sewed me tight pants
 for my bandy legs
 the gravedigger broke ground for my arbor
 I took roses to the pand'ter
 twice a week I came in heat
 I dragged a cottonsack fill] of books
 up and down the levee
 like a litter the Indians used for the sick
 and wounded
 oh well the cook mammas jingled
 their cans full of fishhooks
 they picked buckshot out of the churchhouse door
 with carving knives
 and used it
 to sink their lines
 and concocted bait
 deep into everyman's blue hole
 I am the ones who have arrived I am
 delivered by the dark light of a thousand glowworms
 that stand fast in the tree
 suffering I know the spinning wheel the Negroes turn
 I who take money from no one
 with the touch of the Virgin's crucifix
 in the palm of the dispossessed werewolf
 the query of firebirds blackberries and female tigers
 creedless and risking my ship I go quite phallic
 starting with the backwater of your corpus
 I discover myself beyond the laws
 aware of the ribald the sublime and the reckless
 taking holy water leaks in the big river of unconsciousness
 which fiows elemental under my shack
 taking my hounds and roosters all over again
 I exist in the natural musk of the farmgirl seer
 I exist in the miracles of the nebulous clitoris
 I exist beyond symbols and two-bit concepts
 beyond shadroe never accepted by the high class
 I assume the skill of evangelical beasts the good and the bad as well
 I fadeaway in my quivering limbs I fade away black
 and lighthearted on the wild seas of what I want you to do
 I utter in sad blossoms I admit the visitors with tears
 I wait for the schoolgirl who waits for me
 clear and strange I plot my garden is yours
 I live in the sung root
 of good-fortune and death on cue with the fodder
 I as fierce as the dust on the rose
 I loom in the hours where the dragon swims
 I jump from the barns of wasps and castrated ponies
 I dress like the holy spirit and smell just as bad
 I stink with the night of the snake
 I sleep with my arm around whoever is sleeping
 I motley boy on the loose with the mad and the rabbits
 I am taken for you at my age
 I suffered and earned twelve dollars a day being a guide
 I pivot like the runaway who sees his girl
 I stride through the grass not nearly as good as you
 I ride an old horse in the creek
 I marry the unknown in the poolroom I make out the great thighs of the shark
 I undo my pants looking for trouble
 I interpret dreams like Daniel I focus the bee
 I tarnish
 the mirror with slang and redeal the cards
 like a sonneteer of chalk and sapphires
 I glow with the venom of the lover
 moving forever and ever shall be without antidote
 I am the fair lead of the air's noose
 I invade the gutter and Louvre
 I strike deep in the drunken paws I link the naked
 I atone for nothing but her pink plectrum the moon
 I smile in the blackstrap syrup I blow like secret wind
 it is as simple as that
 sexual and frank
 I tinge the bold juice naive and delirious I welcome strangers
 I go down easy and solid like whiskey and found knives the Indians traded
 I appear insane and on fire
 I died in prison like Reich
 I wear an ancient cape that trails like a maze without cause
 I the hunted
 I the mocked
 I who carry the stones from one cemetery to another
 I who was most certainly mad
 once upon a time by contemporary standards
 I a shadow among shadows
 your chapters of faults in the valleys of death my stead
 I a fake and a starfish
 I who can hold the wounded hawk to my eye
 without fear of losing it
 I who bed down with your daughters and beg for their aims
 I the liar
 whose only curse is the sadness tying your lips
 I who was the richest poet in town I who was always the only
 I who never set foot in a city see what I mean
 I whitde wings and whore with the beluga
 I who know there is nothing for me beyond this world
 I with enough friends to bury me
 I who will go unread by the warrior caste
 I who keep silent with the feather and no furd'ier retinue
 I who deny the most noble trudas because I dreamed them singular
 I eat with the hogs and contend with the ages
 I drink with the mighty clouds of joy out of Tishmingo
 with a physique of pure lava
 I side with the daffodils and the foetus
 with a physique of a catch in tragic winter a keeshond on board
 I say with a lava physique I pass bastard of frankincense
 O stutter again friend of the axe
 O draw a branch across your arm
 0 jelly of hell seldom on duty
 0 paradise riding a mule
 O poets who sleep I write never never windswept and incredible
 O orchards for now
 0 pasture in unison with a dozen naked women from Lemuria
 O wreckage of milk and tiger lilies
 O moon smooth as ever in the bull
 the unworldly which is worldly and rain
 the sadness habitual
 I pass out in the wagon of cotton
 I live for the day
 wida bruises in the lighthouse and the very scent of honey
 steeped in blood
 I say let this be a movie and you will live forever
 in the beginning there was the sound of the word
 and I spoke nothing of myself how long sister
 say I told you
 when you are gathered together
 let each one take a line to himself
 or herself or both
 let no one read me alone
 say I like the beautiful coal in the pulpit swamp
 say I like the king snake
 say I going round to your friend
 say it again
 0 the man said heaven
 you say it now
 was a state twice as big as Mississippi
 with the grace of a monkey woman from Clarksdale
 with a rhinestone ice pick in her slipper
 and the devil in the spout
 say I seen through the glass darkly you say it for now
 you take the song
 and dip your hand in the creek
 the spice bush is ready
 it cost two dollars to enter the horse show
 say I Auntie Covoe say I
 seen him in the fog
 eating easter jonquils on the hill
 seen him cold as fury
 rising in the bloom
 sing I everybody don't let me down
 promise the egg
 you'll wander in your stocking feet
 that you'll be known
 as I am known
 you know how the leaves smile at midnight
 say I like the inevitable breeze
 rumbling through where two or one
 or more are gathered in me like a basket
 of snow in the meeting place
 skim the red stuff the marsh
 whittle down the locked antlers
 lament the mole of the Episcopal vicar's wife
 say it's curtains for the wisp and the lumberjack
 say I pass me around
 like whiskey bank robbers drink
 before they pull off a job
 pass me around
 like straws to see who's to ride for help
 sing each line of dark hair and melons
 say I to the face of the one you want
 whether they're free or not
 shut your big eyes and lift
 up your dress to the youthful
 wind the sash around the hill
 and rupture yourself carrying forsythia to the groom
 appear like a mare at an angle of release
 go through a small hurricane saying I
 to the disappeared
 meet me out badt when I'm dreaming
 say you will I will be there on time splashing the pool
 appear in a form
 of life from outer space
 stepping over the elbow of the mad
 violinist of night
 be waiting in the bedroom
 with sprigs of lavender or some such
 say I in slender fingers
 not knowing the vial
 I want to kiss you like a glassblower
 I want to heat your bathwater with prongs
 say I in episodes and lockets
 if you dream
 you will say I to the uninvited
 who go through their own kind of blemished death
 sit next to me with grey eyes
 and unfurl the flag of your breath
 if you cannot dream die
 with an emphasis on the disfigured
 dwindle down to the residue of lakewater
 and the bee's bad luck
 I go downstream in your throat
 I leave in your reverie saying I
 nuzzle the lowdown statuary of cypress knees
 cross the state-line and murder the bell
 will you sing the deep I of dust
 will you ripple in the stumps bringing pink
 I you say and the shovels whine under the bed
 rising up like an oven of dark loaves
 some dirt under the nails passed around to the drunks
 let the shrimp live alone in your bosom
 let the lobo sniff the ewer
 and foxfire thrive in the piano
 say I as you cover the
 and let the cabalistical testicles roam the range
 of your pale palm like satellites
 moan nothing but the sound of the drowned
 I said around the grave of slugs on the table
 salt the last supper the wake of the lace dress
 hoisted over my ship full of earth
 and sign-language for a bad girl in pursuit of the sweet mountain
 pass me around like a dirty photograph
 of a merlin falcon
 taken out of mid-air on a topwater lure
 let your lover say I
 to your face the small watch
 which slithets off in the dark
 pass me around outside the church
 like a wishbone
 in the sleepy-eyed chauffeur's
 stolen cadillac
 say I when your turn comes
 sing the part ofa child ofAdarn
 wear a dress printed with beasts
 0 dark night of the eyelids pumice
 0 dark night of sonatas and torrents
 while the poets sleep say I
 21nd return the salute of the President's son
 join the MFDI' saying I heel and toe
 in the passive night of my father
 four years old and stalking
 a wounded bear with a slingshot
 and Edouard Dujardin was finishing
 his book of the night
 of sense dancing and carefree
 black fiag of destiny
 in the writhing sepulcher
 our middle fingers grew
 calluses giving the phoenix
 the bird of the dark
 beloved of the machete
 O assassinated leper wise liat
 O remarkable friend of the empty
 0 church house of die elders of dusk
 return where form is
 in question like a kept woman
 beyond now and ever
 will be goodness
 and mercy follows me like a mad dog
 we swipe fi'om the dead
 having rapport with the poem Montezuma's wounds written by us
 she writes the night and the Aztec's wounded sex
 when the astronomers are meeting in secret
 I suppose it is impossible
 but she was also in Peru with an orange
 in her lap like a woodwind section
 she swam the Bay of Pisco and tread the Plain of Nazca
 with La Forza del Destino eyes
 she lives under foot in the country churches
 she's good and Lilith and all that
 she says I to the poets and turns on the grey beard in his old age
 she fucks a blue streak women as well as men
 she knows what to plant under what moon she cuckholded
 Modigliani and Chagall the same night
 she beat Isadora and the devil and Lauren Bacall
 she lit George Sand's cigar with a whip calling her Aurore
 her tongue and her spelling are marvelous
 she is in the splashed water and Canada Lee's shoe
 she is a tango sealed tight
 she lives in the where's hotel the vibes and the shotguns
 of those who must kill for a living
 she's not all that bad she has nothing
 to do with the so-called sport of the men from the city
 with their accounts numerous downpayments and rifies
 she is a Russian Jew who smells to high heaven
 she is Hilda Doolittle she is the elephant's lover
 and the child prodigy
 who lip sings the bell canto for the actress
 who lets the shawl fall from her shoulders
 so another can do away with the blackheads on the small of her back
 she is Etchwer's wife calling for Wulf her man through the ages
 who began revolutions with a boy yawning from her window
 who snores for the harp
 and the lad with the wheelbarrow of highhcels and lipstick
 none go hungry when she is around
 she dishes out light like a bread line
 she sops blood fi-orn the stars only ancient shepherds knew
 she makes ploughboys immortal for awhile
 she sets their songs to music in the barn she is the good schoolmatm
 one in a thousand she gives her breast to the wolfiing she makes
 the lofty struggles come true she is a woman she is
 telling you to get lost like Greta Garbo
 she is dodo's rubies and dedicated misfortune
 she is the ultimate mare
 without her man goes to his death on one foot
 her thighs are christs of the lowlands
 her heart is another woman a sip of velvet and torn gardens
 she vibrates like a dynamiter's pillow
 the goddess of okra and coffee
 when she thinks of her sex
 an albatross loses its way over 'I'ierra del Fuego
 as well as a feather
 she's like a cold book on your lap at night
 a spillway and a travois of exact worms
 a swordfish and lamp oil drunk by a baby
 a fire reclining like a vegetable or a keel
 she's a soundtrack of someone you intend to kill
 a blackboard of ravines for prospectors and insomniacs
 a deer fiy's larnbrequin
 she's a woman preacher with a log chain an incubus of mandolins
 she saves string to measure death's goiter
 she draws a dildo on the window of the stagecoach with frogspit
 I don't want to have anything to do with her for a couple of seconds
 she's aloof like a dagger I don't know what makes her tick
 she refuses to bring towels to her lover's vomit
 when the wild geese circle
 the pond to keep it
 from turning to ice
 and why wasn't a woman nailed down she wants to know
 why ask me I'm holding on to the waterlogged gallows
 who is it to say
 what man can say it was not a woman's blood
 which fiowed warming the cross like a gulfstream
 but she lives like Brenda Lee
 in her first couple of songs
 Robert Johnson never forgot her even in the grave
 she can get around with those fingers
 like the sonar system of a bat
 with the inner ear of Jules Renard's mistress
 she makes love like a porpoise and sleeps like Beauty
 her cunt is a karabiner in the high altitudes and I have a cowboy's rope
 I'll tell you where she dwells
 in the untrodden pathways of ambergris
 and she ravishes the pronoun
 her absence creates an ellipsis
 she runs a rare book store with a casino of dream literature in the back
 her best dress is like bloody marys after the services
 she is like a spanish Friend
 a dulcimer of black lashes and boots that take forever to lace up
 her only order other than Goethe and absinthe
 is the sloe-eyed moon
 she comes like the tide just thinking about it
 she writes bequests to Master Francois Villon at the age of nine
 she gave her blue panties to Elvis Presley
 thinking he I and another were Montcorbier reincarnated
 she gets dreadful action on the side she is dread
 she is the long lost sister of the Pleiades
 she has the silent sex of the caesura
 her loins are affiicted with paraphia and open work hose
 I have no idea what we'd do without her
 she lays with the gleeman of the backwoods
 although she drives a sports car rancid with moths
 she is without tradition or taste she is a woman
 turning sixteen like runes in ultima thule
 she lives in a room of her own without entrance
 she prepares you pears and smells like Mountain Melissa
 she sweats like a cortontail
 she winds through the willows of my raft like a snake and a Hula dancer
 she is ridiculed as a recluse at once she is dark
 like a board refiecting moonlight
 she's not but twelve at the most and you could get in trouble
 hanging around waiting for her to get out of school
 she is a framer a gangbang a solitary divorcee
 a honkytonk angel a backseat sidekick a fencer with a drawn heart
 she skindives for the loot of the passing shadow
 she can give the hearse a new set of points and plugs
 she is the shanty man's burnt christ before she had a son
 she makes a blister come up on the fife she is electronic music and all kinds
 of disease and slow rivers which come to spend the night
 I live on her island her mount of ashes the lunatic's zone
 skinning rabbis for Delius and Sweet William like deep cuts of love
 perch on the porch for spawning their lines of yellow fate
 like a rusty axe in the back of a fiatbed truck
 itwillbeused all in goodtimelikeafisselikeafiiselikeafiise
 help me Dark
 she is liniment as dipped up in a gourd by a girl from the backcountry
 who runs olf with a wandering no count
 she belongs wherever she is no strings attached
 I went on down the road
 I had to keep going back to get my lip
 my ear was a butterfiy yes it was
 I dreamt a pair of chinese handculTs
 so I could sleep
 the people in my grade in Memphis saved up and sent me a guitar
 strung with barbed wire
 I wore a panama hat with the brim turned down
 you tell me if I didn't
 I heard it
 I also had on a dark tan doublebreasted raincoat with epaulets
 the devil was whipping his wife
 and I was waving so long to my childhood sweetheart
 who was leaving on a train going north
 for good
 I thought about where I come from murder
 and miracles occur without headlines
 my past is a field of sleepwalking majorettes
 too poor to buy white boots
 a field of schoolgirls chewing clover
 learning how to baitcast live bait
 look at them sucking their thumbs
 as if honeybees were in the backlash
 I saw a big jet fiy over
 they say the war boys ask the pilots to refuel
 over nowhere places like this
 the gasoline puts out the lizard's eyes
 and does away with a few cedars
 they say I sing songs to myself and the eagles
 a feather in my lake like a canoe in Tokyo Bay
 that is the name of my prison sing song
 I mosey into town again sometimes
 don't you be turning up around here again they say
 what the heel doing down there not the toe
 what the hell am I anyway some kind of dream fiend
 I dream myself to sleep but every bit
 and pony of it is real
 the only thing I got is curly hair and a copy of Deaths and Entrances
 I cross my heart and hope to die
 I wear a black patch
 the field is my basilica and my name is mud
 I am the unknown minstrel but don't you go thinking I'm one of those
 skunks putting grease on my face
 no I mean the old times kind who goes fi'om place to place
 who don't never put down
 kill me Jimmy
 help me out I'm limping down the lowroad on ice skates in July
 I read every book in the library twice
 look where it gets me
 once to myself and once to the blind man I read them
 the pope is that peacock over there for all I care
 he got a dog called Pope
 if I had one of those Bells and Howell
 I'd go down in history if I lived that long
 the farms accuse me of rape
 I whittle grave ships to set them afire
 there is a German called Rilke he weren't no Nazi
 he wrote about a loony like me
 he dedicated it to this young girl who died on him
 he was crazy about her she must of been awful sweet
 when cold weather comes I go down to the cove
 amidst the gladiator crawdads and drunken crows
 I cut me a branch and a willow switch
 I whup myself and write what I can recall in the mud
 when I dream
 Lord Byron is there he gets down and kisses my sore foot
 and he really means it
 I tell you all of them are with me
 they are like seeds and lice of philosophy
 when it gets below zero the German's poems fill up with ice
 I am the ignoble savage messiah of the tango
 I am a word that dances way into morning
 I am the word dice in the poem and the dice rolling in the movie
 first snake eyes is bad luck then it is a symbol
 if I say fish you might think a bullhead in the shade
 when I'm thinking of a bluegill
 a word in a song is like an image in a moom pitchu
 Hank Williams he said there wasn't no light that's cause
 he never heard of St. John of the Cross
 he heard of the one who went to prepare the way for him
 but that was another John I call him talking John
 he saw the light but it was dark
 Gene Autrey got a song about Jimmy Rodgers
 and one about dreaming
 I dream yodel
 Hank \Villiams told my daddy he didn't have long
 this was in Jigger Louisiana
 it was some high water and all the roads was out
 he told Charlie B. Lemon and Forrest City Joe
 that he had a new song he got drunk and scribbled it
 on his guitar one morning in the dew
 he was in some bayou and he called it The Plot Of Life
 my daddy and them stayed up all night singing spirituals
 Not Too Long and Passing Through
 it took forever
 they were cracking hard boiled eggs on the counter
 and pricing this man's saddle
 the song ain't too long Hank said
 neither is the Plot my daddy said
 Greaser he was a big man now he stood up and said for you
 about six foot long and spread out his arms like an albatross
 they don't have none of them kind of birds down there
 they got black panthers and fisnny looking women and chinese bandits
 but not any of them birds
 quit talking like that
 the one that was coming he carried that long black rake
 look like a plow
 don't give me none of that
 two of them hung in a tree
 he said life was a county you wasn't allowed to set your foot in
 he said if you really understood everything you'd be willing
 to let bygones be bygones
 did you ever see Moulin Rouge I did with a telescope on the levee
 we saw a lot of good ones The Big Sleep Tarnished Angels The Rose
 Tattoo To Have And To Have Not Splendor In The Grass Tarzan The Ape Man
 Saratoga The Member Of The Wedding Scarface All Quiet On The Western Front
 and those ones about boxers all of them Bear The Devil African Queen
 never paid a dime either we could see them though
 we put a lot of holes in the screen with rifies
 Tang and Charlie B. and 0.2. and Baby Gauge was all the time
 getting perturbed at somebody up there
 I read that book The Moon
 And Six Pence to everybody in camp when the hard rains came
 Jimmy say he want to see the movie
 I even sent off and got some pictures by Gauguin
 Baby Gauge and Melvin thought they was high yellows eating watermelons
 but I said his name and said the name of his pictures
 Tahitian Women Eating Mango Blossoms
 Spirit Of The Dead and so on
 Ray Baby thought his name was ah go on again
 Marlon Brando married one of those women
 that's a fact
 the one he married was the same gal who used to date Clark Gable
 in the second Mutiny On The Bounty
 ships really send me
 I know a man you know the astronomer well he's got some pictures
 by somebody I forgot his name but they are like my dreams
 they are like what I see everyday
 lovers ride masters and white ponies eat fiddles
 snake doctors and bulls and angels and blood fiy through the air
 like we all really do like a song
 they remind me of Sweet Willy's Jesus when his mamma tells
 talking John to shut up he's got a dragonfiy or something in his palm
 it ain't bleeding
 if you are gonna dream then you might as well see galaxies and
 fiights of birds like jug bands and philharmonics underwater
 is what I say
 you take Ray Charles you know he can dream
 you can hear what his dreams see
 I had the opportunity to shake hands with him not too long ago
 now and then I drop him a line like I do Charlie Chaplin
 yea I told them about the Black Angel and Dark
 and how ah go on again married a 13 year old woman in Tahiti sho he did
 I was out in the boat listening to a song by Kitty Wells
 Your Wild Life's Gonna Let You Down
 and reading a story by Rudyard Kipling
 I had the radio on Memphis and a turtle on my line
 Ray Baby was yelling something to me
 it might of been time to go to town
 everything was pretty sweet
 I guess
 it was all like a cooing dove
 but what I really wanted to be was Lord Byron
 I was just itching to be him
 he's better than Jimmy and Dark put together
 and he said I rattle and strike at the whatnor's
 of verse on the shelf
 in a dream John Milton came to me like a serial
 until seventy times seven times
 telling me in my eat what to dream
 it was him and me and a man named Dark
 and she was the sound you here where west is east
 the story of the ninth light
 where we had to go to so much trouble to make the boat fioat
 I could of made it short and the end words connecting up
 but it was too long and pain ain't like that
 and she was Rita and Lucy if you don't sleep
 well my shadow will slow down
 while part of the wasp bleeds in my collar
 we can't remember we been tending plantation I so long
 like two lazy horses father and son
 after we come in from work the supper table is like an admiral
 or a poet
 the women they sing about trouble and love
 the blue fuse to dynamite in those days
 they talk for awhile
 until the stars have moved
 and Eadwacer's wife brings new straw to the barn
 for Dead Forrest City Joe
 until his teeth are asleep like fine tatifia
 and blistered fingers that have held down guitar strings all night
 like branded bullcalves
 with the arhwoolies and stomp virgins with no gasoline and first hand insomnia
 the sweet ice thaws in my mouth
 now you talk he says it's your time
 tell me about the two girls or are there daree
 you sing to in the fields what do you holler
 how do you stomp
 tell your father Dark about Rita about Melissa
 and that Judy with the shadows under her nails
 so I tell him about Rita
 how she make a hoe lose its warp and the water bucket dry
 and her ramose hair when there is sweat on the back of her dress
 then I tell him about Melissa
 the sun break his leg running after her
 she dark as a dixie cup full of berries
 when she goes through the lunchline with her quarter
 tied up in a knot in her pink handkerchief
 so she won't lose it I forget to get my milk and cookies
 I steady dreaming
 she always doing things with no call
 she like a dream panther
 she like cherries and figs that is wild as black
 snakes waking up the day after Easter
 she waves goodbye and gauges the overcast sky
 where she use the toilet like a lichgate
 give me relapse fever
 make me run Jimmy's truck off into a swamp
 John Milton got a good jack and logchain get me out
 dreaming was like the talcum dust covering the casket I grew fiowers in
 when it got cold and they all went to prison and the rest died
 I cheat out death three ways
 I ran way fiom home to become a bullfighter and master francois villon
 I forget so I could say I was deaf
 I took people who couldn't read a lick to silent movies
 they got it anyway
 I stowaway on ships and boats going down for years
 thinking I was a samurai and EA P
 you all should seen me coming up the way in my bathrobe kimono
 and sycamore sword Dark carved with a guitar knife
 I swaggered
 night was a tango
 schooldays was shit
 Weber was the one I listened to when the astronomer was out of town
 I who torture myself with movies De Quincey and easy living
 I who was called to a captain's mast on Buddha's ship
 I who signed my name Arasmas in the libraries with a mirror
 I with a bowl of contempt in hand asking for more
 I with the darkest kimono of all as white as yours
 I with a zenith of honey and a nadir of bees and bears
 I the cloud
 and the poet who wrote it who fiutters under a boy's belljar
 I who utter Gabby Hayes Buddha Amitayus for the sake of the knife
 I who must cut your firewood
 so the suicidal lovers may fisck one another's eyes out
 I who realize the monk chewing his quill
 I who write in the waterfall Om manipadme hum with lemon
 and your grandfather's bleeding thumb
 I with my Dojo the night
 I who celebrate the horse gypsy's lotus via Saint Matthew Passion
 I who have wandered farther than NASA will go
 I who was beat to death with a chitarrone
 and learned how to swim and sing dark songs from Beowulf
 when your mother made her first confession
 I who pay my respects to Napoleon Job and Jack of the green bean cross
 I who am one with a woman with enough hands
 like eight pallbearers who will dance on my faulted grave
 I who insinuated the sects of the banished
 I who yodel like Tarzan of the spirits
 I who whispered in Thomas D'Urfey's mask
 I who made a living at death
 I who made poetry alone
 possessed of a darkly lady in deep sadness on a dunghill altar
 I who vanished to become my father
 I who clothe the urchins of the holy ghost
 I who am followed by many
 eyes red as milk
 I who bought all the blue dresses of the delta
 for Isis to take off herself
 I who was betrothed to my mothers twice Mary Magdalene and I of the darkest tower
 I who was a gag in the mouth of a colored hostage
 I who learned how to beg and multiply seven times seventy so many times
 I who was so good at putting down the first number last and fine line
 between genius and madness
 I with no title at all other than the lament
 I who have dipped odes and sonatas from the cold waters
 like two different minnows from the mouths of the same fish
 I who will be dead before one word is read a suicide note which is sung too late
 I who will receive the homage of all the sick women who fucked over St. Francis
 I who will kiss the ground they hobble on I who have fondled the Virgin's breasts
 while she recited her own mysteries I more primitive than night more alone
 as wise as the blues I who couldn't hold a candle to the run of the mill
 I who fingered Elizabeth Ridgely while she stood there
 and told her Avt Tace Avt Loquere Meliora Silentio and meant every word
 I who hum to the blind and justify the fugue I who speak the language of
 the snake and love him I who will be buried alive in the clavier and the little
 Ace harp I who am obviously nothing to you when you are the Jen and the Yi to me
 I who saw half of them die for friendship that ran all blockades I who know
 my quiet is lost forever like big trees rustling I who will be the widower
 bridegroom for my infants now I who carve lure stops I who seek nothing but you
 and your understanding of peace and the moon's warble I who have plucked
 the driftwood from your bloodshot eye and taken a drink from your ear
 I who can say no more to the midnight mass of your hair without leaving my lair
 I who listen to the meadow undoing its ribbons I who can boast like Sir
 Richard Burton with my love in the wing and hear the blues of three men at once
 I who spit the sweet tobacco like a grasshopper I who was made low by the highest
 all the better for you to eat me with the mysterious pony who chewed Robert Burns'
 locks I ask you friends to pay the hermit a call 1 want you to pull the rabbits
 from the solitude of the damned I ask you to come see me alive and well spitting
 learning to use a bad axe I who ask to lose your way so I can find you I who ask you
 to drink wind and wind and save dead lunas in Ecclesiastes I ask you to come down
 to earth between the toes of Selene I who am familiar with most of the techniques
 have become personal with the rose is
 I who tend the plots of a garden whore no one is clever
 where no one wins
 I who know the clouds will be rain will be in the eyes of the youth
 looking up at the lightning in his boat
 I who will be forgotten like you and this and yours
 I who lace my feet with weeds
 I who have become the water the virgin has passed under her bridge
 I who have nothing on the tip of my tongue
 I who have swallowed the color black nobody showed me
 1 a common thief and giver
 I not I
 this is the way it was
 my nose was bleeding and I had some cobwebs in it to take the slack
 out of the running and a nickel in between my teeth to make it quit
 I just came out of the barber shop and here was a awful sight
 the horse was strung up to the hitching post by a ring in his nose
 a man who looked like I don't know what a crop duster or what
 but not really was whipping the daylights out of him with a bullwhip
 if I had a been the horse I would of torn my nose in two for sure
 he had a. safari hat on and black gloves and a long stogy cigar
 in his mouth his moustache was white and with some slobber on it
 cracking the whip it hadn't rained and the steed was
 kicking up some dust and I had to yell something so I yell hold
 and the man with his high lace boots and tan raincoat and pistol
 and african hunting hat on grabbed a hold of his wrists saying damn
 arthritis like his joints had give out and I had my hand
 cupped underneath my nose wishing the spiderwebs would work
 saying who do you think you are a beating a horse like that
 and a Muscovie duck fiew out beneath somebody's building and he
 popped his whip and took off the duck's big white wing right there
 and I called a madman here a nut for sure get a hold of him
 and he let me have a right smart lash directly across my shins
 I'm glad I had long pants on blue denims and l tells him Mr.
 you made a wrong move there and now some people was coming out
 of the saloon and the tailor come out with pins in his mouth
 the rising he made was like a worm and I saw one of those fioating
 spiders come across the street towards us and he took that
 out of the air just like that some men was pointing at us
 drinking sips of whiskey on the sly and I called for aid
 the town was like it was asleep it being noon and on a weekday
 and dreary with no sun the wind taking slips of paper out between
 cracks like they was butterfiies just that quick morning wfiee
 still brewing supper thawing out dogs in the shade dreaming
 and that man with his bull whip and the bleeding horse
 you think you can I says but you really can't not here
 you can't beat on anything like that and he fiicked his wrist
 and the Indian head nickel in my mouth come out like a loose tooth
 I knew where a pistol was but it wasn't loaded but Last Time
 was cutting grass with a sling and I told him throw me your
 cutting blade and he did I was ready for the man with the bullwhip
 the man tried to pick it out the air but he missed getting some gnats
 you know how those russian dancers crawl all over the fioor
 the duck was doing that one wing out in the middle of the road
 like something spilled and the man cracked it again and feathers
 rose up this way and that and I had Last Time's weed cutter
 waiting on him to hit me again I could take the leather right off
 his whip come ahead on you son of a bitch I was thinking bound to
 have been telling him something of the same with that nasty
 cigar in his mouth and all come on you so and so he had his
 big left hand resting on the butt of his pistol in the holster
 chewing the leaves the moustache almost brown from spit
 I raised the scythe across my shoulder like I was standing at
 home plate come on and he chewed and studied and then it got
 real slow and I couldn't think or tell nothing and I waited like this
 shitfire
 my nose was bleeding
 the spiderwebs did some good
 he drew the whip back it took forever
 he looked like this
 khaki trousers with the cuffs stuffed in the top of long boots
 mean looking
 smart alec smile across his lips
 he hit the tethered horse
 I dreamed I could see the capillaries in its nose
 that's how it was held by a new bristle rope
 he beat him in the fiank and withers
 I thought he aimed to take an eye out of the steed
 he drew back again
 somebody looking who wouldn't help spit a piece of roast beef
 out from their teeth
 a baby cried
 and he laid one on the big dudt
 it was like a tongue of fire that could lick seven coats of paint off
 nobody does that when I'm around Last Time says to the man
 he slings the whip across his neck
 but Last Time unwinds it rolling it up around his fist
 alright Jack let's see you fight now
 oils and gasoline spots was all over Last Time's gray shirt
 it was a school hour do you think I cared
 I looked in the bloody quarterhorse's eye like a medium
 looks in a crystal ball and I saw everything
 the women said my eyes
 were beautiful
 they were tarring the roof
 it smelled
 a man on a ladder got bit and fell off
 a jet was leaving a trail
 the dark ones were stretched out under the saloon eating leftover
 easter eggs
 the latch was brass the crook picked
 I lived in the galaxy and couldn't forget
 why do you treat me this away
 all of them were pretty but not goodlooking
 they waited out in front of the drug store with a handful of pennies
 to see how fat they were and how much they weighed
 I don't know when it was we got the land but we did
 we got an island or sort of an island on the river
 but neither state would claim it
 the deed said Abraham's Knife
 but what do them surveyors know nothing
 Last Time said how come you kill the duck
 he wrapped the bullwhip around his arm
 I thought there was an egg in my ass and the vinegar and bay leaves
 were in the jar in the saloon
 those ventilators turning around on the top of the roof like a genie's turban
 I took nineteen vitamins and came back into the shoe store
 I forgot to say the sun was bright so when I went in I couldn't see
 shit
 the cobbler spit on a record and wiped the dust off with sweat
 under his arm
 he had polish on the blue apron
 he put it on a Victrola and said how about that
 Last Time was a card
 he fixed shoes like a elf
 he had a picture on the wall looked like gold of a Woman
 with big legs raised up over a couch
 it looked like Leda and the Swan but there wasn't any swan
 there was a box of chocolates on the counter and some of those cream jiggers
 he poured salt out of a shaker onto a pocketwatch
 he still had hold of the record player under his arm
 he was going to give me some white shoelaces to put up the side of my jeans
 if you want an oyster I got one in one of those shoes
 Last Time told me
 I said they make me sick this early in the day let me have some candy
 he give me some and said he about could electrocute himself
 licking his fingers
 he had salt and fish and polish and milk chocolate on his hands
 I wanted to clean some cellophane wrappers
 I smelled a lot of the shoes sitting on the counters
 I said what happened to all your goldfish
 and the record began to play
 I was dancing
 with my sweetheart
 at the Tennessee waltz
 he took out some lipstick and put it on the welt the crazy man drew
 he put some on my lips and kissed me and I said you smell like vodka
 the bugs got in the duck's white wing
 I spread it out like a geisha fan and cooled myself
 I felt Last Time's nose like he'd been tethered there
 wouldn't that hurt you I asked him
 you take your vitamins today he said
 I said that's the Tennessee Waltz
 the lasts look like a printing press where they tell about auctions
 he said he had a white majorette boot with a tassel he was fixing
 you want to smell it he said
 somebody took a picture with a brownie automatic and a fiash
 people come out of the store where they was painting
 and barn red paint dripped in their hair them not knowing it
 they was counting dollar bills
 I wish I had some new T-shirrs I told him
 just passing the time of day
 I'm going to open up a tattooing parlor for colored folks he said
 the woman had great big tits
 when an old friend just happened to
 did you see her daughter twirling the baton
 I said no
 they put handcufi's on the man with the bullwhip and took him olf
 we ought to roast that duck you know that
 it was the Tennessee Waltz
 maybe it was a Tennessee Walking horse
 I doubt that very seriously
 that Buster Keaton's a fiash ain't he
 I painted my boot gold like a chocolate box and Gustav Klimt
 maybe I can't say his name
 he said he might tattoo a waltz on my belly
 wouldn't that be a gas
 I spit at his electric fan
 I kept thinking about the horse with the sore nose
 I got a spoon and dipped up duck blood and mud and put it in my wallet
 with the famous painting and Jimmy's fucking rubber and the ace
 he could make money polishing silver
 I could see him in a white jacket
 I asked him why he run off from Atlanta
 he said he use to work in The Panorama
 it was a wax museum depicting the famous incidents in the civil war
 how about that
 don't hit me don't hit me
 he lit coal oil lamps and melted them all down
 he ruined the museum and cooked hotcakes in a restaurant for awhile
 he stole rich women's fiir coats when they came to eat breakfast
 before the football games
 1 got to tell you about this job 1 had he told me
 he had him alots of employment in Atlanta but he kept getting fired
 he even had a job working on government radar
 when everybody was wearing Davy Crockett hats
 he went around at night stealing coon tails off car antennas
 I could fill up a crate of Big Chief tablets telling about him
 one of those Georgia Tech fools paid him to spike the water bottles
 at time-outs
 they knew he was doing some traveling cause he carried a spare
 roped down on the top of his station wagon any fool knows that
 he slipped out in the third quarter
 Georgia whipped them anyhow
 one of the backfield coaches was suspicious
 he paid somebody to switch water hordes
 he drunk his own bad pisswater
 Last Time put nails in the pancakes
 I was fanning him with the duck wing and he was telling me
 and we was listening to the Tennessee Waltz and the horse was snorting
 he had a hat on that said Country Club from somewhere
 I asked him if he knew Roundtree
 and then all hell broke loose his sunglasses cracked like it was a bullet
 I ate the potato chips I didn't care if they were stale
 the woman had a peahen in her backyard
 she was a friend of Last Time's
 she was a friend of Hank Williams and Kitty Wells too
 it's a small world isn't it
 she'd swing and shell peas in a dishpan
 when she got tired of that she shelled pecans and walnuts with some pliers
 I seen her kill a fiy with those pliers
 she saved men's neckties and sold gypsy skirts
 she got them from widow women
 Last Time would court her with me around
 that goddamn peahen of hers could catch lightning bugs at twilight
 no joke
 he'd have his arm around her smooching and she'd start to breathing
 and he'd slide back the hat on his head and wink at me
 they got killed in a car wreck the same night Forrest City Joe got his
 it beats the hell out of me why anyone would want to live in
 the steeple of an old church and shoot buzzards with a deer rifie
 you tell me
 Big Mamma said it was bad magic what I done so I had to do spool
 I had to stand out in the middle of a field until a web caught
 in my eyes
 you ought to hear them tell me how beautifiil my eyes are
 they are green like a lake before a bad storm
 you heard of china seas
 well they call mine china green
 my eyes look like olives
 I take off my shoe and pick my toes in downtown Memphis
 prices are going up
 I smell like the last tango
 beat a monkey if he didn't let the blood go to his head
 hanging by his foot on the bellrope
 people were giving directions with hammers and socks
 I squeezed a half dozen lemons all over my hair
 I ate a coconut in a boat
 the old woman sat on the steps shooing flies with a red dress on
 she had a cameo on her bosom
 the sun went down and the horse's nose was tender like a new mother's womb
 and wild geese came over about then
 and we fried the salt pork and eels on some Wonder Bread tin
 Jimmy put seven dozen shiner minnows in my bed
 and beat me in the head with an alarm clock
 the bastard
 I'll teach you he said
 he broke paper bags and stomped on the radio tubes
 he kept spitting on me I couldn't see him it was dark
 he said he was going to take me to the ice house
 and freeze me with a dead dog
 he put his tennis shoe in my drinking water
 and told me he was going to sell me into bondage with the carnival
 I said like hell
 and he broke the fin off my mounted bass
 he buried all my baseball cards they got soggy as noodles
 he took a dead man's ear and sewed it up in my pillow
 I didn't know the difference
 she said it was because he got mad and let the other boy cut
 off her spit curls
 I said hell jimmy spit curls are a dime a dozen
 they even got girls wearing eye glasses got spit curls
 he was insane if you ask me
 I was standing at home plate with the black angel's scythe
 the bases were loaded
 the man was on the mound with a bullwhip
 I had liniment in my eyes like Cassius Clay did just before he knocked out
 Sonny Liston
 girls wrap they sweaters around their ass and walk on by
 I had to eat rubber hands
 he drew back the whip and Last Time was playing off second
 and he caught it and the duck fiew away
 it was terrible it was beautiful
 an Indian said old old Hind legs had to sell his headdress
 he had to send his wife to the city to get her teeth fixed
 a white man bought it for plenty
 he was sad as Shelly about it
 Jimmy was throwing light bulbs at me telling me what old Hind Legs
 wanted us to do
 he wanted us to burn his war feathers when the new moon come in
 he told us how to dance and what to say and where to cut ourselves
 he said he'd never forget it
 I didn't have nothing but a sheet on we burned the headdress in the fog
 when we checked in the hotel the man said to Jimmy no girls
 we had us a room on the sixth floor
 I forget how we signed in Jimmy kept trying to get half rates on me
 but the man said I was too old
 I bet if he'd known a rattlesnake and a nigger
 was going to sleep in our room
 he wouldn't a let us in
 soon as we got in the door and the man left out
 Jimmy opened the window and sent a paper airplane
 made out of hotel stationary
 sailing out over the street
 that was the signal for Charlie B. Lemon
 to sneak up the back way with his black suit on
 carrying our bags that didn't have nothing in them but their
 bourbon and tuxedoes
 he had written room 666 and come on up on the left wing
 how was he to know a perfect stranger would get the note
 the first thing he did was jump on the bed
 and turn on all the lights and see how many channels
 would come in on the television
 he told me to get the gideon bible away from him it made him sick
 he cussed me for not packing his bow tie in my pocket
 I usually carry a bowtie around for him just in case
 he runs into a hot little number you know what I mean
 the rattlesnake had been operated on and I aimed to sell
 it to a pet store for plenty
 Jimmy said remind me to steal all the towels and soap when we leave
 I said what the hell for he said for his girl friends collection
 Jimmy got on the phone and said I want some room service
 he told them he wanted three medium rare steaks and plenty of shrimps
 and hot rolls sent up and to put it on the tab
 we going to do it right he told me
 when we come in the door everybody looked at me like they knew me
 that was fiowing like a stream in the back of my mind
 I told Jimmy hadn't I been here before
 and he said sure you have you been here hundreds of times
 but I couldn't remember I felt like I was a counter espionage spy
 the other side was stringing along
 I didn't know if I was the enemy or they were
 you know how they tricked those spies into cutting their own throats
 I didn't like the way the desk man stared at me when Jimmy signed
 there was a wadded up piece of paper behind the door
 it read keep death before your eyes
 I heard somebody walking down the corridor
 they stopped outside our door
 listen well I says to Jimmy
 oh why don't you go peek through keyholes or something
 I'm going to ring me up some poontang
 you better not be talking like that I said
 they might have this place wired fbr sound
 he frogged me in the arm oh get out of here he said
 we were expecting Charlie B.
 I says to whoever it was outside the door
 by God whoever it is listening is about to get a shiv
 the footsteps started up again
 you hear that I says to him
 go on get out of here he tells me
 I took out my water pistol and filled it up with hot soapy water
 and athlete's foot lotion
 the first character that tries to look in our keyhole
 is going to get it 1 says
 I heard someone playing the harp
 I pulled back the spread on my bed and a little seahorse wiggled
 let me out of here I yelled
 I had the holster on and the earring and black mask
 I walked out into the hall
 the stairs going up to the next fioor were tied OH with a barge rope
 you know how they have a purple velvet cord in movie theaters
 before they let you in just like they have in front of a casket
 in a Funeral home
 there was a little black satchel on the seventh step up
 it was dark
 the moon you couldn't see but a chunk of it was catching
 in the long crack in the window I could make out above
 the wallpaper was naked women with gray hair playing croquet
 I went under the rope and took off my shoes
 no one had dusted the banister in a long time
 I crept up the stairs to the next fioor
 the harp music seemed to be coming from the room at the end
 I smelled perfume
 I followed the trail until I could feel the fingers on the strings
 I peeped through the keyhole
 low and behold
 I'm not going to say all I saw
 I'm just going to say some of it
 near the window next to a tall green plant in the light
 of one of those stainedglass fioorlamps
 looking out the window putting lotion on her hands
 was a pregnant girl who couldn't a been over twelve year old
 she was sitting in a high back chair
 there was a marble pedestal next to her
 a tiny hollow stem glass was full of some kind of sparkling wine
 her strawberry hair was done up in a bun
 she looked like one of those paintings that followed
 you wherever you went she moved so slowly
 her lips barely moved her hands just worked the lotion
 into her fingers like she was kneading dough
 I could see pink cream she missed in between the soft skin of her fingers
 she had a big black ring on one of them
 I thought my heart was a bird that was going to come
 out of my throat into the keyhole and give me away
 she reached around the back of her hair with one hand
 and pulled out a long pin with a pearl on the end
 her hair fell down over her shoulders like the evening
 when it comes upon you like a panther
 her skirt was the color of autumn in the hills
 it smelled like gas was coming from the room
 I thought she was going to stick herself in the belly with the pin
 her blouse was silk the color of a makeup puiT in a compact
 she kind of had buckteeth
 strange looking people with sharp teeth I always hold up a mirror
 to and make sure they not no vampire
 I held my mirror up to the keyhole I saw her good as ever
 it was like looking into the future
 the look on her face was like sorrowful Ceres
 all you could see were someone's hands on the harp
 besides I'm not going to tell you what else I saw anyways I promised
 somebody said the lemon meringue pic was ready
 but that it was too hot to cut
 the girl in trouble got up and left
 she came back in a few minutes with the pie
 the meringue stood up like a bird with its feather out
 did I ever want a slice of that pie
 my mouth started watering
 she had a butcher knife to cut it with but the other one said wait
 until it cools or you'll ruin it
 she dipped her hand into the meringue
 the one on the harp lit a match and you could just see his face
 I wanted to tell them they were going to blow up bound to
 she licked all the topping OE her fingers
 I wanted to tell her didn't it taste like hand lotion
 I was itching for some of that pie
 just a piece
 she picked the pin off the marble table and pulled the light chain
 you couldn't see anything
 I heard a whimpet and a sound like a balloon busting underwater
 there was a fioritura on the harp
 Jimmy pinched me in the ass
 what the hell you doing up here spying on people
 you want to get us kicked out of here
 I said Jimmy there is something awful strange going on in there
 like what he says
 we got to come to the rescue I told him
 we got to eat supper and find out where Charlie B. is he said
 there is a girl in there who stuck a pin in her belly
 and a crazy something playing the harp
 she is fixing to have a baby and the gas is seeping
 let's go back to the room before you get a floorwalker on us
 he grabbed me by the collar and was leading me away
 I turned back towards the door it was dark brown almost burgundy
 I was going to leave my mark with the water pistol
 when I swear I seen an eye staring out the keyhole at me
 I swallowed a deep swallow and wished I had spoken up
 when we were going down the steps I heard a door come open
 and remembered I left one of my shoes up there
 or was it a golden boot I can't remember
 the Indian's headdress was like a steamboat full of cotton and gamblers
 on fire it was the Eleusinian Mysteries
 he socked me one and I picked up the note on the floor with my toes
 I read it to Jimmy
 if you want a real good time come to room 777 loaded with cash
 it was just some whore he said
 they do all sorts of acts for these traveling salesmen and scientists
 one of the things you going to have to learn is there are
 some mighty depraved people making a living on filth
 he let a sweet potato fart and said pokes before I did and hit me again
 I wish I knew where that Charlie B. is he said
 him and our supper better be getting here or I'm going to complain
 I turned around and looked him in the face and said you goddamn hypocrite
 here you is talking about filth and you making a living off rubber machines
 I put the fish in the guitar and poured sorghum on it
 it was cold weather and I was telling Jimmy
 I'd been walking for ever so long thirteen miles I bet
 I's heading to Snatch's for chicory coffee
 it was a saloon and short order cafe on the side of the state highway
 the big trucks fiill of cotton and folks
 who were moving fiirniture back
 they turned me around like a top
 I found a broken drill bit
 the sky was the color of a working man's shirt
 in between Semi's I did around the world with my yoyo
 1 had cardboard in my soles
 the blue vapor light outside Snatch's place couldn't make up its mind
 a 52 black ford with sun visor and halfmoon fender skirts
 pulled off the road beside me
 where you going one of them said
 tave my coffee I said
 up there at Snatch's they asked where else I said
 you won't believe your eyes when you get there they said
 I believe anything I said
 you better be with your eyes when you open the door they said
 I see through them says I
 they peeled off
 and one of them called back he's big
 the only car sitting in front of the place
 except for the dead man's station wagon
 was Snatch's rig wine fiashed blue and GOOD
 EATS flashed yellow Jax Beer IS SOLD HERE
 Premium Prices GOOD RIVER CAT TOO
 usually folks was there eating that time a evening
 it wasn't that bad a cold wave
 my throat was kindly sore
 a little lemon and queen bee honey in my coffee
 would do it good
 it sho wasn't going to snow
 Snatch's wasn't one of those rolling kind of places
 just a few drinks and pin balls and eats
 a lot of truck drivers and family men went there
 I was drinking they might of had some action
 a fight to run folks off maybe the state boys closed him down
 Snatch was outside by his car down on one knee
 with the door open listening to the radio shaking his head
 he had on a day glow furlined cap
 and was smoking the last part of his cigar
 what's up Snatch says I
 he let me call him Snatch instead
 of Mr. Snatch because I's good on Big Leaguer Pin Ball
 he didn't answer
 like a man who gets served a grease white eg
 when he wanted the thing done with lace
 down in you side I asked
 he still didn't answer
 come on be a sport I says
 why he never lifted his face from the ground
 just shaking his head slow back and forth
 well I know you got some coEee on
 a cold day like this
 I'm going to get me a cup
 I'm going to make me some hot chocolate
 if you got any marshmallows by god
 the bells jingled on the door when I opened it
 but there was something keeping it from opening
 you got this thing latched from the inside Snatch
 how come you done that
 it was getting dark I had to go around to the window
 what I saw I thought I didn't see
 I turned around five times and spit
 on my floor with both hands over my eyes
 I cleaned my fingernails
 and turned on the hydrant to slick back my hair
 I needed sleep
 I ran back and forth jumping up in front
 of the window like a deer
 I tried looking with one eye
 thinking of dreams where the wagon comes unhitched
 I looked for cotter pins and washers
 and tried to get Snatch to talk
 what's he doing here I was studying
 shadow boxing with blackbirds I
 this is how he looked
 he was a big black monk all dressed in white
 the way the hood on his sweatshirt was
 I could just see some of his chin
 with black hairs under his bottom lip
 like he was the stock of a shotgun
 pouting over who was shooting him
 there was a crack in the window
 Snatch was losing money on heat
 says I to myself mosey on around to the other
 window and take a good look
 the air was slipping out or in I don't know
 which of the crack like someone who doesn't
 know how to play a woodwind
 I got me a sawhorse and rest it upside
 Snatch's quick stop
 I nearly caught his attention I made so much
 noise dragging it over to the other window
 everytime a mac truck went by
 I like to lost my balance
 he was an awful big man
 sitting at the round wooden table all by his self
 he looked like a knight come back
 empty-handed and beat from the crusades
 lions and gnats wouldn't have bothered him
 the moon was down and out on the other side of the building
 I could see it coming through the glass
 on the other side in mine
 I breathed on it and it turned to oil
 I smiled at him but it was like he didn't see me
 that made me afraid
 you know how I am I thought maybe a artist was
 drawing his picture he was so still
 like a bear taking deep breaths under ground
 in his sleep his hand was a dark squid
 wrapping around the quart of Stag
 thumb reaching clear back over to his knuckles
 there was two empty Falstafi's beside him
 and a big mug with a see through bottom
 that's how I saw Sonny Liston crying in a short order café
 steam was rising OE of him like a ridden horse
 he made his own kind of fog
 the way a destroyer dies when it leaves a enemy harbor
 his running togs were grey
 he had a white towel around his neck for an ascot
 sweat was hanging off his forehead
 it was little loads of buckshot on his brow
 I thought about women coming home fi'om church
 a few sundays after Easter wearing the same clothes
 he had honey in his beer
 about nine plastic wrappers off those containers
 were scattered all over the table
 that stuff ain't no good he should of asked Snatch
 for some real honey on the comb
 there was the smell of dressed game soaking in water
 his eyes seemed to be fioating
 Sonny Liston belched
 I bet I could drop a window weight on his chest
 when he was sleeping and he wouldn't feel a thing
 I raised up the window
 it didn't make a sound
 I could smell Sonny Liston
 he was in his sock feet
 his black tennis shoes was on a chair to themselves
 like guests
 steam rose out of them too
 like genies from lamps
 a trickle of blood ran fi'om his left nostril
 some of it dropped into one of the honey cartons
 his eyes were half shut
 you been running too hard Sonny I thinks
 I looked at my white knuckles
 the first move he made I missed
 when he picked a bugger from his nose
 he seen his blood then
 wiping it on the side of his sweat pants
 moving his toes
 I lost my balance
 and almost fell through the window
 I jumped OE and ran around to Snatch's smoke house
 where he kept his jars of honey
 I couldn't open the lid
 I told him I was going to get some
 of his bee honey so you couldn't exactly say
 I was a thief
 was on my way to take
 Sonny Liston the jar of apple blossom honey
 and on my way says I to Snatch
 you got a real guest in there don't you
 Snatch he don't say a word just shake his head
 and fiddle with the radio
 its getting colder and darker now
 and I still hadn't had no coffee
 here goes is what I tell him
 he turn around at me and beat some of
 his ash offgritting his gold teeth
 I climb through the window
 and take hold the lid again but I can't
 open it Mr. Liston I say I'm bringing you
 some good honey here see if you can
 take the lid off try the comb
 you know how he take it off
 no hot water or knife handle
 I just barely could look him in the eye
 he was so mean looking
 you mind if I sit with you
 the blood wasn't running anymore
 he didn't answer
 what brings you training down this way
 Mr. Liston how many miles did you jog
 I wished I'd a known you was
 a coming I'd a had somebody fix you
 a proper training supper
 not no beer and hot sausage
 Mr. Liston look like he didn't hear me
 well I reckon you too tired to talk
 so I went I drew my coffee
 and got the can of pet milk out of the
 bowl on the bottom of the beer cooler
 it was good coffee
 I told him boxers ain't supposed to drink
 no coffee or beer are they Mr. Liston
 you was bleeding while ago
 there your blood is on the table
 he was still evaporating
 he was like a fire
 until he got the chills
 shaking all over he taken his false teeth
 out and set them down
 and reach in the honey jar and take
 the comb and bring it to his mouth
 holding his head under it
 like a platter
 honey dripping down his chin like tears
 he sucked some off it
 how you like it Mr. Liston
 he kind of smiled
 told me one word energy
 I went and got the bedspread
 off the couch where Snatch took his naps
 there was a big Flamenco dancer on it
 I threw it over his shoulders
 telling him best not to get too cold after a run
 a few things I said to him
 the coffee scorched my lips
 while he wasn't looking
 I got the little empty honey carton with his blood in it
 maybe I should have told him I had it
 he was chewing on the comb
 I pulled the ace out of my bade pocket
 and poured apple blossom on it
 I had me a comb too
 the coffee was doing me in
 I looked at the dirt on the fioor
 he dropped the honey on it
 I kept making little circles of pet milk on the table
 Sonny Liston stood up and yelled
 at the top of his lungs
 a four pound shell cracker hanging on the wall
 fell ofi" in back of the counter
 the chandelier rattled over his head
 he looked like a king
 who'd just lost his kingdom
 I had some slide pictures in the back
 I thought if I brought them out Mr. Liston
 wouldn't be so down in the mouth
 a champion ain't supposed to be like that
 these slides was taken in Paris back during the war
 I ask him you ever fight in Paris
 I got the slide show and set it on the table
 this is what I figured
 if he wanted to see them he could
 I didn't have no money for the jukebox
 it was silent and good as it was
 I asked him how about a massage Mr. Liston
 he kind of give me the eye over that
 I said I'll give you one no charge
 you been running up and down the levee ain't you
 I tried to get my fingers into his back muscles
 but they was hard as a barked tree
 I nearly broke my thumb trying to rub him down
 the cofiie kept me crazy as a loon
 I began to dream that Sonny Liston was dying in my arms
 Rudyard Kipling had hauled off and shot him
 I mean assassinated him from the galleries
 just when Sonny was about to knock the other
 knight off his horse with the jousting stick
 it was made out of white pine
 with all the rough spots lathed over
 the grounds was getting bitter in my mouth
 he seemed to be going asleep
 snoozing like
 I got him in a head lock
 not to tell nobody I got Sonny Liston
 in a hold but just so's I'd know it
 like a handshake like we was friends
 I wasn't going to tell no one
 besides it was getting rid of the pain
 in his neck I was applying a gentle pressure
 1 know Snatch wasn't looking and he was asleep
 so I kissed Sonny Liston on his black neck
 I let him sleep
 Snatch said he paid him one hundred dollars
 to let him have the place to himself
 for a few hours that evening
 I felt like toothpicks were holding up my eyes
 my hair was full of honey
 I sucked my comb
 I was heading for Sue Lady's place
 when I found a letter on the side of the road
 something has got to give is all it said
 I couldn't make out the address
 moisture had run it over
 if I had a slow motion camera like they do
 blooming flower and eggs with
 I'd take picture of ink mnning
 and that no eyed boy who was born over in
 the gulch and how he memorized verses
 from the bible he smells
 like boiled eggs in vinegar
 then he drunk that left over green pepper oil
 just cause he didn't have no eyes
 it didn't mean he couldn't wash his teeth
 Sue Lady wasn't there
 I waited on her front porch with the pet buzzard Equinox
 under my arm her dalmatian
 had worms because it kept pawing its ears
 the warm turkey buzrard and the sound it was
 making put me to sleep
 so I dreamed
 I run a kind of gallantry show
 Sonny Liston got in a fight with a snake doctor
 he throw a left and the fly get out from under it
 Hank Williams told Sue Lady his foot hurt
 he poured a halfpint down his boot
 it was like a circus for the sake
 a Cajun picnic with pork and accordions
 the snakes come out to listen with feathers
 in their lips like they was
 choking on too many cornbread crumbs
 and the shadow walked the line
 there was a clock with fifty-five gallon drums
 rumbling under it
 and a man sitting in a white wrought-iron chair
 with along cane pole in his hand
 I don't know if he was talking
 to himself or someone else or myself
 but I could tell what he was saying
 every three or four minutes he would snatch
 a small fish from the water
 unlodging it from the tiny gold hook
 without even touching it with his fingers
 as if there was a certain kind of motion
 to snag one and another kind
 to unhook one and let it fiop
 not worrying over it eventually
 working its way back into the water
 at all as each one could not
 negotiate high high wall of tires
 around the dock and him not even
 looking back over his shoulder when he
 jerked them loose like a weeping
 willow with one switch or some
 cane the tractor did not mow
 all alone with the wind taking him
 one way very quickly now
 and then just as sudden the other then
 he was dreaming about a wild hog
 and a panther how the razorback
 will run away from the wildest
 most of the time not because it is
 scared but because the hog with
 the long sharp tuslts knows it can
 kill the other animal and also be
 killed as is usually the case if
 you have run across the remains
 not a football field apart in the
 woods the root hog
 or die animal knowing this just as
 a beautiful pair of geese know when
 to fiy towards the north and back again to the south
 the next time I seen him he come into town on a mule
 and hitched it to a parking meter
 on the square
 the meter man did not like it that he had to
 come by with his brush and dust pan
 to clean up after the animal
 but after all all he had to do was to
 write down license tags and give tickets
 and snatch pennies and dimes now
 and then from the meters there being
 no way his salary being so low
 his wife could not even buy
 a new bottle of calamine lotion
 if she wished to
 the old man had his cane and list
 and walked into the store
 tipping his hat at the mens seated there
 in the front porch one of them drinking
 buttermilk the other munching ham
 with his mind on the infamous wolf
 of the quarter moon in Sue Lady's
 well-hoed garden
 I seemed to hear the hog beater
 even before I saw him coming
 I followed him
 I stepped on the back of his cut down
 cowboy boots I followed him so close
 he reach around and grab me
 and tells me how he stole the hog back
 how no one would know
 cause the evidence was not
 there the marked ears were buried
 in a stump and the hog was shot
 through the nose with a pistol
 so no one could tell
 it just dropped dead on his place
 by the water and he skin him
 and in court they couldn't put it on him
 and lord jesus christ I seen it all
 and I'm seeing it all somebody get me off this river there's going to be
 a WAR I see it the high temperture bullets is going through me clean
 up into the sky like the stars the little nailheads in the coffins it's a place
 called VIETNAM goodbye mammy wind blowing through dead arnerican hair
 0 these cosmologies sadder than the sea
 and the long presidential horseshit
 and the moon say get up you want some more so I open my eyes think see tell
 the old man was wrapped in a plaid blanket with doves about his shoulders
 he was looking outside under his pear tree with my house in the top limbs
 and his black and tan swapping at the poisonous snake
 he did not read
 he was going to die he knew that but I didn't
 what he wanted was to get it over quick it wasn't the suffering that mattered
 he'd suffered like the clouds all his green life
 his days of waving fire like weed
 and blown-out fuses
 he did not want to be lifted around by them anymore
 I had gotten a hernia from carrying him to the water
 no longer could he stand to fidget when the mandolin
 fell from the corner of his shanty
 when the new blue stove pipe came loose
 from the paper plate on the soiled wallpaper
 and the room grew smokey and his feet
 like jars of fig preserves grew in the vacuum
 with his wife's paisley scarf on who had been
 dead for forty-eight years and then
 some he wanted to roll his wicker chair
 out into the water like what had been told
 of the chinaman's daughter or the chinaman
 himself he was swatting at things that were not there
 he was like the night that works so long for the next
 day he was thinking of cold weather he wanted it to collect him
 an icicle hanging OE a CMfi where he could sit
 and wait for the sun to melt and then
 the great wing of bright ice would break
 loose like a door ofi- a hinge in flood time
 the great buoyancy of wood tearing the screws
 out of the wood and come down on him
 the power and the glory like bulldozer
 the blue plate was chipped like a vertebra
 and the angel Gabriel or somebody
 would invest him with the cold sword
 you could breathe and write your real name on the metal
 growing up with condensation like green onions
 the blood hound was coming across the bayou
 alter the coon or an alligator was after him
 he was in the Hotel Spud on the seventh fiight
 of creaking stairs listening to the man
 play his bugle watching the feathers
 drift up outside now it was like an earthquake
 seasick to his stomach and he didn't know
 nothing or a thing
 sing beautiful dreamer lady
 of spain I adore you at the Tennessee Waltz
 and the green peacock was in the water
 and the yankee bought the yard feathers
 for 15¢ apiece or two for a quarter
 and you know that's bad luck
 it wasn't spud it was something the weather
 beaten sign told him not like it
 really was it was the hotel where the harp
 was being plucked
 and the easel he'd seen three years before
 with the kudzu about it like green fiies
 where the mosquitoes swarmed in the
 ditch every evening laying their eggs
 sour and all
 they got a team of mules and called long distance
 drug the car back over on its wheels
 upright off the hood they could of pushed it
 over if it had a hung there but no
 it didn't a big semi come by
 and blew it over on the both of them
 they would of lived cause he had a hold
 of her jugular vein with his fingers
 pinching it off he was a good guitar
 picker so he held her blood in her
 her heart kept beating like a dusty quilt
 the coon was long gone Last Time spit up
 the moon was swimming around in the hubcap
 like a white tadpole some gin
 in a paper sack was in the glove compartment
 crushed paper alcohol glass and all
 like his ribs and blood and fancy shirt
 I was a go-between for rumps and melons
 the night was counting its money on seven fingers
 there was coal oil on the honeysuckle
 and people asleep when it thundered
 a girl played the saxophone in the gazebo
 an owl took care of her very well
 there were lures at the foot of my bed
 strange are the ways of love
 her hem was let up like a cloudbutst at three in the afternoon
 the moon was wealthy as people travelling on ships
 under blankets on the first class decks on lounges reading novels
 there was nothing to it
 each wave was like someone saying rack in a pool hall
 I took it all down Dante in the auricular delta
 like somnambulist's coitus
 like dark sleepwalker's tango
 like mournful feelers and countless fedoras
 cumbrous brilliantine and enough time to buy another six-pack
 I put minnows in my brother's wfiu pot
 I called the fog like a wild turkey
 there was nothing to do
 except pleat the water weeds in a grey shark-skin suit
 every weekend there was a death
 every other there was a funeral
 I knew them well
 like cousins who go to Greenville to buy shoes for a dance
 I sunk pocketfuls of tacks into soggy logs
 I waited with the others on the levee
 or another
 I exist with a target in my palm like a vaginal wound
 refusing the routine of the wicked
 and so my existence is denied by lawyers and teachers
 and police who moonlight selling monuments and ofiice supplies
 I was pillaged by ink and prepared to die
 Billy opened the dusty book of Blake
 the fiies foil off the rim of the old sleeper's jar of buttermilk
 and I fought hand-to-hand combat with the fioodwater of the lovely
 I had to graft my skin to the levees
 already breaking under the roundtable of midsummer like wishbone:
 when it was only April Fool's
 there were Negro whores from New Orleans
 and ever so beautiful
 with high lace boots kind organdy dresses
 their hair shined like constellations
 they wore cameos of spiked ginger around their necks
 they put cinnamon in their slippers and ate gravy after work
 lemons were in their bedside tables in the tents
 along with pictures of their families
 they day-dreamt of Chrysanthemums and rocking horses
 they walked through camp with a little white midget strewing leafiets
 and doing bows and barking through a megaphone
 even when the water was high and the weather was threatening
 they were selling oysters and dice
 they were palming off fish hooks of Iapis lazuli
 stockings to fetch back Jesus and sonnets to dolphins
 my seaweed rocking chair became haunted I took a splinter
 from the silent medium's wood
 I learned I could say the most by keeping silent
 I moved around the cable I swung from the beams in my chair
 like a keepsake
 Leda's moltings dashed themselves against the volumes
 3 man was eating cornbread dipped in mountain blackberry wine
 another tacked up the saw from the sawfish's body
 there was always a Victrola of bumble bees
 I saw the covey of dark swords and transparent ladies in waiting
 it was a good thing
 that I had an assifitady bag and my father's drafting instruments
 in had never beat my meat ifI was pure at heart
 certainly I would have been called
 into the heaven of animals and did their bests
 delusions dreams facts real as a preacher who makes a living picking roots
 to say the least two fifty an hour back then wasn't bad
 when 1 turned to the drawing of dragon women
 there was goggle-eyed St. John the kid
 with muuleloading eyes
 with a luna moth ruptured in his lunatic fingers
 and the virgin told him
 to be quiet certaintly when I passed through the Divine Comedies
 of Ms. Chagall I fiew off too
 half-cocked at the mourning star
 a bleeding wingnut I let out of a beanfiip when I killed the mirror
 in the lobby with the ferns and ceiling fitn
 like circle on a shade you pull down for shadows
 foretelling of dead infants and smashed chapels
 devoted to adoration and goodbye
 at that moment I had a seaboard of thousands of kilometers
 and slow country miles with clover in my hair as the phoenix fiies
 to its well spent life in my heart
 I knew I was a very bad legend
 than I slept with terror and ponds no one had fished in
 I was very sudden with my eyes half opened
 and mysterious in my realness and deserted at dusk
 carried by sailfish of towns as seen from far off
 carried by shellfish of fire thinking I will
 come out of this very well
 I hang pictures of dead men in the woods
 I do minuets with the sounds coming from the deer licks
 I wished I had photograph of that German
 sometimes the frames aren't water tight
 and the daguerreotypes rust like sardine cans
 there are headlocks and drafts of effiuvium
 synonyms and compendiums of death after life
 once I saw a tadpole disappw in George Sand's hair
 I go out at night and catch the dust unawares
 I leave tracks on the harpsichord
 I the only thing I have to my name
 is a field
 where your love of the night has been turned under
 even Demeter carries a shovel
 you can dig for bait for death or give me an odd bottlecap
 or a picture ofH. Bosch
 you might turn up spines of swindled Indians or plantation letters
 I'm not picky take what you find
 see the twenty-seven whores kindhearted doing the snake dance
 in the east forty
 my field is full of gasping fish who took hooks in the guts
 it is a baseball field they're going to dig up for a stock pond
 there is nothing but the mound and home plate
 a buddhist monk winds up and delivers a knuckle ball
 I've been catching him since I was six like wingnuts in a beautiful scarf
 I buried my teeth in a wild plum jelly jar with the runover boy
 when I'm not hoeing cotton I sell shiner minnows
 to virgins to hold on to and suffocate
 I'm not a bad sort of guy for a common thieve
 I'm tired of using P
 I smell like a horse after you take the saddle off
 I am the Don juan of your spirit the Dante of your body
 it you would try to number everything I see
 you would end up in a daze like Einstein
 you could leave the Milky Way looking at movies through all time
 and when you returned you'd be younger than your son
 at that the gypsy women come around
 waking me up knocking on my pane with gritty fingers
 full of cheap and mysterious rings
 stolen of course
 asking to borrow my dream horse
 will I lend him out for free strange are the ways of love
 it is like a meditation to the east
 the way I clasp my hands and hoist the pungent sails
 their souls in the old days
 I let them mount my horse
 and they trill themselves riding bareback
 like drowning birds
 it is good they wear alot of skirts there is so much
 moisture generated between their lags
 like cheese and summer dew
 they gallop over my field with the grasshopper's blood
 and I get shuteye with the coastal winds that blow
 in for nights at a time
 like a wrecked ship the sequences of night
 and the learned go on thinking they are
 and why I cast my lot
 with these who listened to the sermon from Mound Bayou
 and wonder as I wonder how come some stars is dead
 and moving you see them slow and long and good so by so long amen
 before I write I wish to die I pray the night my soul to take
 epitaphs on the backsides of stones
 I go through the atmosphere
 I scethe inside the unopened melon and my lovers are fronded with sorrow
 and the water's full fill of the moment and breath under the eye shadow's
 quick mud
 I take on all comers I give you full warning
 I exist for the night's tight cinch
 I fioat around your envy like lord bullfrog
 waiting to be kissed
 I turn up at the dances very tormented
 and am ignored by the ones who went there for that sole purpose
 I'm stiff like the amused wilderness
 I write librettos on papersacks at the bootlegger's
 I wake up dark
 I scrub myself with the Lava of lonely music
 I hang around all day to say goodnight several times
 my corsage is alive a crashed truck of goats
 I lack nothing but you
 if you'd just give me
 another biscuit and a loft to lay my head I'd shut up
 I'd have your field plowed by noon
 I'd take care of your hogs and your daughter
 I only asked that one of you bring me cold water four times a day
 I ask you to put me to work and let me sleep
 I ask you to put me out of my misery
 that nigger over there shining shoes is Jesus Christ what about it
 he talks like a dancer who is a priest
 I bring extra ordinary news and so many fish
 I drink boat water and whisper to the lariat
 one of your daughters has the genitalia of a junta
 she comes here to save you from the rest like the rest
 I am read in the womb I liberate the night you made war on like so many
 children
 to tell you the truth
 she fucks like brown sugar and Indian summer
 she fucks over your sadness and the mining disasters
 Jimmy told me all about her
 she fiacks fearing no evil
 she holds up a lamb at midnight
 when she says bye-bye it is like a tongue job during benediction
 I say to you give alLyour money away
 give your poems to the ignorant only they will understand them
 find out why a pile of stones has an accent
 and you wonder about children and mediums burning pines in a field
 and you wonder your eye on the end of a twig
 and you know I know I will be read dead by these unborn
 who break the necks of the loaves
 who spit with the fish on the mountain
 they say I'm doomed to the hushed voyages with no immediate future
 that there are very many parakeets and poets asleep in their cages
 like ten thousand Americana Porlooks catching lightning with keypunchers
 and I walk around the worst accountant in America and glad of it
 because I know the thunder in the figures
 because I do not add books but read them
 because I use the encyclopedia instead of making one
 I go around with a wooden bowl begging for others
 I stroll through stands of timber and paragraphs you never heard of regularly
 old sailors with heart ailments and chinamen's marks
 they see that I go well into the black
 the landlubbing schoolteachers persistent police and local authorities
 who weren't born here are constantly telling me shape up or ship out
 when 1 nova every other year like a change of taste
 from turnips to seafood I tell them I have a sister I can live with
 she is half-blooded ritual and not really kin
 she lives in a shotgun shack made out of shells
 and when she gets the gypsy blues we are like double-yolk eggs
 she admitted me to the sorority of haybaling women
 milk maids who know how to clean fouled sparkplugs
 great great grandmothers of mystery turncoat soldiers robinhood planters
 and cocks of all walks they have never been across the state line
 and yet they shine in New York City the red hot vacuum
 I only glow like a wounded animal's ventricle a fish gill of watermelon moon
 0 yes I was shanghaied by a lady pirate on a ship of night full crewed women
 I learned the ways of the cooktent and lovetent reading Aftersong from
 High Mountains 0 Sancta Simplicitas I looked up dresses and listened
 to the ingenuous in the old stores as their hair was set with hot irons
 and I was able to pass the sixth grade in the city
 I take a pick axe to the wooden coffins of the south
 so the Indians can have firewood so the dark soldiers of Fortune
 can have Foxholes I wonder through a time wandering where colored ladies
 have to climb trees to use the bathroom where they have to wait on their
 husbands like a million Odysseys who are trying to make out in Chicago
 they will be coming back one day we will be brothers again when they come
 back I won't be a slave to the house of I any longer I hitch my wagon
 and head on down the mud from each cabin I hear people saying come home
 and so I look to the nordi and the east and west and I wrote love
 letters in butter and buckshot and wine and lemon and fishblood and more mud
 wrote it I tell you with apple stems and cotter pins to the dead and unborn
 and am held in custody and contempt by the living and I wrote that too
 I study Lady Poverty's maps
 I want the same destination as Clare
 the same islands no one has seen
 I want the moon at the head of our bread
 and the sun at the foot
 ofour bed I want to be Free of the cells of my body and the words of mind
 I want to step on chains and wear serpents
 I want my soul to yodel a blue streak
 I want the illicit interludes of the savagechrist like a clown and dream
 a lion and lute I want to hear
 the blues and ballads like two singers singing as one
 I see everything out of perspective
 for example the phoenix melting in my cave
 I want things to be revealed so I can stop bleeding or bleed some more
 I want to die like the fiower in the west wind
 I want to be a bird and a ship Forever I want these chants to lead you out
 of the darkness of the white water that runs between words
 I want to tip the scales in the favor of the children of goodness
 I want the knife to be an instrument of peace
 I want the quill to be able to fiy and the paper to go back to bark
 I want to point out directions to air and picture shows
 I want to eat tangerines and play the piano where you dream you have been
 with the Lord and a woman and alone I want to look at the body of Clare
 use)
 I want you to know these
 are Lady Poverty's maps I don't want you launching a boat in her maps
 you will drown I want this to be a strange direction to someplace unknown
 I want to reveal how much water there is between each word each island
 I want these maps to move like the stars
 like you want them to
 I want them to get you there
 follow me in the name of yourself
 and Lady Poverty's maps will take you to a picture show
 where the holy ghost will give you a ticket
 you will see moving pictures like dreams
 King Kong will be an archangel Dracula says Mass and Buster Keaton is
 a Faith healer you will come out of the darkness for the better
 this is a map that no one can follow
 it is a map I can't even read
 it tells the way to the show house of the spirit
 it makes boys become poets after so many poems
 it fioats over the water it is the only one on earth you sit up in
 the balcony and dream
 you are in a loft of a barn that lists like a ship you go wandering like fog
 a vessel of death a gospel ship
 you say goodbye Mama Covoe without spilling a tear
 brothers and sisters I tell you this
 when I hear the wind I bleed
 no lie
 you must forgive poor Francis down there by the water
 writing his poem because he is so melancholy and afraid
 one of his girl friends is pregnant for he knows not what
 he does neither did his namesake I let them read the minds
 of the earth so that they might know me I used them
 I have come here again into this poem as the Lord I have
 used these two boys but if you could only know the joy
 they have given me no matter their sins I love a sinner
 who knows who has sinned that is why I wish every one
 could see what little Francis the rich boy has been getting to
 what he's been stalking like a wolf I wish it was a moving
 picture him on the river and all as he says we could get something
 a cross I am glad I am doing the talking not Francis not my father not
 the holy ghost all of their styles must fiow into mine they will
 bring you pleasure and like lovers you will dissolve in me
 this is the voice of the Lord as surely as Matthew is
 I am speaking help me Mr. Rufus help through this child who is writing
 his little saga on account of his miserable loneliness his love of
 his own death like a brother and the bleeding Francis is whispering
 poems in his oar while he sleeps he goes on writing his
 name in the water his prayers to women and the living
 not knowing it will never be read although knowing he can
 go in peace because he will always be unknown at least that
 is what he thinks now but I am the Lord I tell you this
 is the only second coming you are going to get and he thinks
 he is writing his poem good going down his wrist like blood into the black
 feather but I have taken possession of him as if he were some musician
 playing his sleep but this is the sleep of the Lord of the dream
 of oblivion his brother knows the twin the Negro who he calls his death
 and Francis the saint knows and the wolf knows and the river does too
 but Francis does not know now but this is the Lord and I say unto you as I
 said unto you when Lawrence Gauge was alive I say I love you not in any
 strange way as the holy ghost would put it not as Saint Francis
 would feel it or Francis would write it or two would sense it
 I love you not like a father not like a brother I love you like a husband
 loves his woman 1 put all these thoughts about Clare in Francis' head
 he didn't think them up he read my mind I love her I love you we're going to
 lose these battles so we can walk on this ground I am the Lord
 listen let Francis go his way like a boat on the high seas let him say
 my brother sun sister moon so he will think he is in command the fool
 I don't know who he was but his name was Oakum
 he might a been dead already
 I know he as real cause the grave man come around saying
 he owed two dimes for two months he didn't pay
 he might a been somebody that changed in a dream
 every morning when I first woke up
 before I walked down the long line of tents like a sheik
 eating a morning peach in the delta
 before so many women dark and light
 come out from behind their flaps with tablespoons
 full of blackstrap and bitter water
 each one like a slow witch of knowledge
 liquid for my eyes and bowels
 I would think I knew Oaktun like the lay of the land
 folks they do change
 maybe it was a dream
 he did so many things
 he might a run a tonk a parlor a hotel a carnival a church a schoolhouse
 I couldn't get it straight
 you know what I mean
 sometimes I thought him and Vico and Sylvester was the same
 sometimes I thought the astronomer was a butler or a man who took ticket.
 you live in the mansions and you live in the shacks
 you live where the river crests like the moon
 you live and are reported missing for several months
 dancers and outlaws decide your life
 Oakum could a been the Prince of Wales
 he sang like a fish in a kingfisher's beak
 he could have been that English Negro who sold oranges in Florida
 the one that took Delius alligator hunting when he made up his tunes
 anyway he said my saga was like a levee
 he said they'd find it one day when I was dead
 I stowed away in the ship of death on the river of no return
 I saw my guardians walk away from knife fights and ask for a drink
 1 was always in the are of things real as dreamt
 I saw my father come into the barge bars and smelting clubs
 with a buck deer over his shoulder
 I saw a dark man bring my father in over his gut shot and singing a duet
 I did so much without any notice the black monks would be at it for years
 I'm going to tell you this story
 nobody has done this before
 when she died I took her hair
 I fashioned a guitar which would break if you strummed it
 she raised the best hogs
 she died like mud
 someone is coming
 to tell my story
 it won't be long
 the willows on the banks are like John Milton's daughters
 I have a vision and pain in my guts
 I keep a distance from my suffering like a house in the country
 the wind takes my spit to the wild strawberry
 I inherit the dogwoods the love affairs of old unsettled to this day
 ruins of chimneys where rabbits go to die
 when evenings get snakebit in the moon's kudzu
 when cocksmen tuck tail
 and messages are taken across plantations by boys
 when the old ones drop dead in the courtyard
 and I dance with my Aunt
 when field hands tote two-bys and veal calves hold their blood
 like a dog holds a pup bastard black and tan
 when men go on writing books ruining the soil
 I boil the misery from my socks to strain corn whiskey
 I ricochet watermelon seeds and win neckties at the fair
 this is what I did to
 one of them
 I rode into the museum on a white horse at night
 when the guards were looking in their bosses' drawers
 and my saddlebags were leaking java and dust
 I lived on brown eggs and a bootstring
 and never liked Ike
 as the sun chewed its tongue like a yolk
 and the rainwater stood up like an enemy
 I got the holy ghost to pay Sylvester's light bill
 I got a summer job in the library where there were no boolu
 they were being moved like the poor folks
 there was a projector and a cold water fountain
 my dreams and galantry show
 you'll have to get me to tell you
 sometime I feel like a Beowulfiess child
 we buried the foot of the ladder six foot in the sand barr
 we got it olf a firetruck Coldblooded Margaret stole
 she was with us on this one like blackpatched Joan swim crosst the river
 to Arkansas when she tied her blouse in a knot
 I was making signals on the wall dreaming what Oakum said
 I was on one side the water and him another
 Baby Gauge was rowing a boat back and forth telling the news
 the bride walked out of the church and someone shot her
 I climbed the ladder right behind Coldblooded Margaret
 she smelled like butter in a skillet before you put the cornbread in
 her blindeye was white as batter
 I had a dream about her making Shish Kebab out of bullfrog and adam's apples
 she carried a lid jar of drinking water on a piece of yellow ski rope
 and wore a buckskin dress like a Creek
 she had a scar from her left ear plumb down to her bosom
 where her daddy tried to cut her throat when she was a baby
 she didn't have no colored blood so it didn't grown
 she let me put baby powder on her bosom and fanny after she bathed
 I'd dream she'd ride a tractor up in front of our place when nobody
 was home not even Jimmy and say the atom bomb was falling
 we better make hay while we can
 and we would
 I was crazy
 about her
 1 use to smash my nails and tie my fingers to redbuds with fishing cord
 we hid in shacks when it rained
 with the snakes and spiders in the bales
 she carried a dried up minnow around in her compact
 and boy did she ever drink lemon juice straight out the bottle like it was wine
 at communion
 she put curry powder and ginger on her eggs even if they was fried
 she was strange
 like these women who modeled for painters
 she was ahead of me on the ladder
 and I was thinking about signals in the library
 and who Oakum was and who left us all the farm
 on Abraham's Knife
 it was Mr. Rufus's old place and neither state would claim it
 so we lived in no man's land like Straddlers
 a church house is rising in the delta
 everyone and no one is building it
 there is so much hammering at night the men work in the fields in the day
 they are all anonymous
 theirselves are spectacles like symbiotic nails and sorghum
 it was long ago
 they keep burning it down and they keep building it
 Oakum must have been the preacher
 as the night distills its musk like a stout mule
 I reach into the sweet bucket for the three cents
 about five of us was up on the ladder on the sand batr
 the wind was blowing
 Coldblooded Margaret kept saying I want the moon I want
 the boy with the peg leg was walking around the ladder in circles
 saying to himself y'all better come down
 we saw the barge with the widow go down
 um
 I live in the country where even the steam goes down
 I dreamed I was playing chess with Oakum in an abandoned fire tower
 then there was a mallard duck and it was a steeple
 then there was St. Elmo's fire and it was a crow's nest
 then it was a windmill and I had a camera
 but really we all got the malaria and our daily bread on the Abraham's Knife
 but I wasn't there or in the Library or the museum on horseback
 or in jail or the picture show or bed
 I was up on the ladder like the kid in Blake with a bucket
 we all were and the breeze swaying us with carbide lights on our heads
 in a dream or a moving picture you cover alot of ground
 the hours are trees and thick books the Russians wrote
 in the lofts when they watched the peasants dance
 I did go I did
 and Oakum came over the batr pit road in highwater time
 on the blue tractor like the moon
 a thirsty pirate sees on the western horizon
 backwards like a mirror where you dip minnows
 he must of been the preacher
 the people was waiting at the levee to be dipped
 and me a getting bit the last time I got baptized
 Coldblooded Margaret was on the top wrung
 I like the word W like the old english poets
 she had her list balled up and it was lightning to beat hell we wasn't scared
 there was twelve race of people living on the bend
 it was hoeing time and we needed lots of ice
 we made the run from the island to one or other of the states
 of a morning usually but this time it was evening
 Tang was driving the truck
 him and Jimmy and Charlie B. Lemon and 0.2.
 was talking but you had to read their lips through the back cap window
 if you was a wanting to know what all was said
 Abraham's knife was a big island with good land
 Mr. Rufus was kind to leave it all to us like he did
 lots of folks come back from Chicago and Harlem and out west
 when they got their share of the deed
 Tang said it better not be no communism or no notci living
 he said it better be like the Indians
 it was like a tribe on the Farm just like the tents on the levee camps
 were I use to dream when l was real little
 also
 that the tents were that way us sitting on Indian land and all
 everybody had red blood in them anyway
 the truck was hitting these big chug holes I mean
 the sawdust and tadpoles on the ice like cello music
 and the leaves like chinese writing
 it's good for the sun to be going down and going home
 Baby Gauge says to me on the bed of the truck ain't it nice to be going
 yea says I
 I'm going to eat tonight he says
 so is I I says
 tell me if this canvas ain't cold
 I will I says
 dust was on his face
 you evah see a man crushed by ice he asked me
 not that I recall
 neither have I he says
 wonder what it looks like
 it looks bad I can tell you that
 thought you said you never seen it
 I seen a lady dead like that
 where at
 right heah on this rivuh
 go on
 I did I tell you says he
 we was crossing the ferry just like awhile ago and a hundred pound block
 of ice slid out the back end of a truck onto the hood of her car
 went clean through the windshield and smushed her to death
 the two of us were like dead sailors about to be commended to the deep
 we had crossed the ferry and watched the no-fingered man at the wheel
 spit brown mule chewing tobacco into the water and seen the tame fish
 swallow it like medicine you take every morning for tired blood
 we went passed the schoolmistress's house and heard a symphony by Mahler
 we went passed the pilot's home and heard one by somebody else
 the wild horses were eating their oats from the hands of Melvin and Ray
 little did I know then what it is like to see a stable of racehorses burn
 our pockets were full of firecrackers
 we wanted tea to drink
 the farm camp was sleepy
 a notice about how neither state would claim responsibility
 for us was nailed onto the coke box which didn't work
 everyone lived to themselves and worked together
 an Italian man was clearing ofi: some the ditches
 and making a restaurant where you eat outside
 he said he was going to put up different colored bug lights
 and hire cajuns to soup up their boats like gondolas
 people would drive for miles to eat
 we couldn't get no electricity unless we had a business
 so we all voted that a cafe was the best idea
 what we couldn't raise we could catch or kill
 there was plenty of everything but the farming was hard
 Abraham's Knife wasn't always an island it was a bend in the beginning
 people use to hide out there and no one would come looking
 until they found out it was good land
 Oakum the preacher stole a dragline every night and worked
 he changed the course of things
 he changed the course of the river that's a fact
 one day it was fiowing one way and the next day it was changed forever
 nobody could do nothing about it
 here he come on the dragline the water fiowing around us on all sides
 just like he coming on the blue tractor now
 and baptized the first baby born there with a dirt bucket big as a bulldozer
 he could write his name with the claws on the bucket
 I forget how many yards of dirt it held
 he said it was a art
 to it it was an art to everything
 that's what Oakum did alright he carved us out an island and now they leave
 us alone not no state or nobody will claim us a natural Fact
 the foals unfold like two night suns
 we put the dark dead one in a cello case lined with red velvet
 I was in the outhouse like a shadow
 with the blue butterfiy
 it lit in my asshole and a moccasin died with a goose egg in its mouth
 Dark was riding along side of Oakum on the river road
 a dung beetle was rolling something down the dust
 it was a lump of buckshot with a cameo in it
 Oakum was down on his elbows and knees big butt in the air
 and Dark was playing the accordion telling him I bet you I bet you
 the sun glint oil" the chrome on the instrument
 a bird did the same thing
 it came and it went
 in Cherokee language I told about how the painters of Venice lived and worked
 on the bare library wall
 I had to take books to the place otherwise there would have been none
 I took the Paideia by Jaeger
 the astronomer gave it to me
 and Akutagawa Ryunosuke stories
 the lawn mower was running
 there was a canister with some part of some moving picture in another language
 I put it on when my fingers cramped
 Coldblooded Margaret wouldn't go into the forest when her period was nigh
 the panthers and wild dogs would get her
 they smelled her blood like blackberry cobbler
 I didn't have time to recount the whole legend
 one day the river went this way the next day that way
 there was going to be a duel
 it was to take place in a swamp
 some place not near here
 Jerry Lee Lewis sent a challenge to Fats Domino
 play till you drop
 invitations was sent out in the mail
 the only way we got to go was I took John Lee Hooker Potatoes Chantilly
 and ice mint tea every evening when he was playing at the local joint
 it was called Club Ebony
 I already told you howl could smell his thick feet
 Fats Domino arrived on a Trailways bus
 he pulled the rug out fi'om under Jerry Lee by starting 03' with Stranger
 In Paradise
 his eyes had seen too much
 he knew he like the rest of us would all die unrecorded
 as I held his head in my lap him dying like the last hot month
 us listening to the two sweating men duel at the church house pianos
 how long
 well I wouldn't say
 I have a grace if you get hungry
 let it lay
 the water was like a black rooster in an Ash
 or a pistol on your throat
 the stool was empty
 someone was praying must of been
 a buddy and a doe
 we are lonesome travelers
 drowned herself
 Miss Osiba say Pharaoh had him by the toe
 now I was on the train then going over the trestle
 and the water near about touching the tracks
 and the vagabonds and dancers and old priests of the night like Picasso
 drawing my picture with Charlie Chaplin when I was asleep
 my lap was wet from the fever of the old man's brow
 him telling me what to and not to feed his dogs
 and what beards needed replacing on his place
 and what to smell and see in the sky when the river was going to come up
 he said if I intended to keep reading the books
 for me to go through the lines with my mind like a finger reading a palm
 his dreams like a lagoon
 everything was glazed then painted with egg yolk so I did
 the fiowers hand hold by the knocker like an old friend
 death with hind legs like a racehorse and big league catcher
 who can shoot a silver dollar out the air
 the immemorial darkness crumbled like drop biscuits
 leaving prints in the stock pen
 a buzaard fiew over the bridge one night when it should a been roosting
 I saw it by the moon lord to god
 it was death and water in a jar with March fiowers
 when I swallowed these shoe tacks Oakum got them out my belly with a magnet
 and I dreamed Rufus saying easy with me goddamnit his voice in a boat
 and I was dreaming still the gnawed steps and worn thumbs
 and the shack going down the river like an ark full of sunup
 we had a regular continent where the blues got to coming down
 like just a little rain not these mean buzzards that made debris
 out of foot planks and woe have mercy in the sky
 of course I had leeches all over me
 but Oakrun burned them ofi' with his tolled smoke
 I would be standing there on the island with the Scandinavian
 mending his nets the one they called Gunnar Bull
 wanting to shut my eyes to the bloodsucking pain
 that died like a fiute marching over the hill
 the land like a wandering ship and moon a dolphin
 swimming away with a cottontail in its strange lips
 and I was thinking of the hour of the moan the hour purporting the wiseblood
 the hour seven like a quadroon
 and I tried spitting in my own circles of hell
 and I wore black on a mound
 and I wanted to tell as much as I could so I was silent
 women were mending a fence women were weeping
 it was like I was overheating things and they quit when they seen
 me and if they didn't see me then they left before I understood
 what they said but I knew so I went to school with crawdads in my pockets
 I carried a fish heart in a pix
 I had a bird on the end of my cane pole
 one morning all the cones in the end of the mud had their tips in the water
 there were sounds
 put the monk in a trance
 it was ordinary and inimitable
 hunting became epigraphy
 what was common was fabulous
 I wrote my death warrant like an opera based on a koan
 what I wanted to do was get invited and then not show up
 well I wanted to arrive and midnight and make you stay there until dawn
 I almost discovered the bioscope of the eat
 when that king tried to get a crop out of dragon teeth the alphabet grew
 and the soldiers took over so the beautiful images chewed us to death
 instead of sleeping in peace
 I come on to this that summer in the Library with no books when I was
 looking down into the projector it was like another dimension and I saw the
 star and I thought how it was all moving and how what it all means when it
 moves like how much black you really see in a movie and don't know it
 sight was over here and sound was over there the sequential is not causative
 natural and logical don't mean lineal I learned from the Chinaman when he
 danced every morning and his daughter give me the tattoos of intuition
 I read these books the astronomer give me the ones by Hume and Kant and then
 I knew I could fish where I wanted to goddamn the fish and the birds can
 still do things we ain't thought about yet and was doing them way back then
 the narrative no longer just contains it involves
 Nietzsche has said I mean Vico did when you understand you stop
 action like when Charlie Chaplin can walk funny because he learned
 to die like a swan from a ballerina and how you got to have a good
 reach even if you can't always get a hold you grab hold the rough lumber
 what you see and then you build a big church meeting place
 how you think Yeats done it he listened he said the visible
 world is no longer a reality and the unseen world is no longer a dteam
 was
 that is why the stacks of books now is like the Tower of Babel
 the typewriter is a dull shovel when you need a plow
 the astronomer told me people composed graves cause they know
 there was already these to fit in the holes they dug
 he said people ought to plant crops and work and wait
 the use of the typewriter is a disease that aEects you for life he said
 and Vico said about James so I know now how in the beginning
 it was all like jazz you composed and performed at the same time
 but I ain't doing it that way I ain't doing it that way at all
 it's like a movie I done wrote the idea for and I'm following that
 it's like the blues you can't change like the Caves in Passage To India
 VICO said he saw it done in the early days he said it was all shot to hell now
 because there was too many texts and not enough themes
 I got melody in my left eye and harmony in the right I got 20-20 vision
 goddamn it they can get Charlie in these books I can get Stymie in too
 why hadn't they ever heard of The Count or Thomas Mann with the cold blood
 and warm blood I am Lord Byron Pierrot Metaphysical Melancholy
 Jimmy hit me with a switch untie him Charlie B. Lemon said I'm talking about
 the other Charlie goddamnit leave me alone I figured it out
 it come to me in a dream
 when they discovered the wheel they done the wrong thing with it
 like they do with alot of them discoveries they quit thinking too early
 all it was was a spool for a moom pitchu
 the black angel thinks he knows everything
 it is like an essence you can smell
 Plato stole my covers one night and told me in expected to become one of
 these madmen I'd have to get cold as fire
 he give me a dime to go to the show but I needed two bits for Baby Gauge
 and Melvin and I got kicked out for breaking a mirror under the rope in
 the lobby cause they give me a sack ofjawbreakers that really broke my jaw
 and I holleted out right in the middle of the water light a spume
 upon the ghostly paradigm of things that is the real world you don't say
 I dreamed there was ticks on me and there was
 I live on when I sleep
 I tell you what I will and don't ask me why
 death means nothing to me
 I think life is a dream
 and what you dream I live
 because none of you know what you want follow me
 because I'm not going anywhere
 I'll just bleed so the stars can have something dark
 to shine in
 look at my legs I am the Njinsky of dreams
 my new daddy is going to be CC. and he done what he done cause he was
 Miss Pavlova's best friend how else you think he done it
 the gesture is better than the period
 he said that because Oakum says how the Lord works his pole
 the way we think is like a movie Bergson was wrote down in some of
 the astronomet's calculations in his observatory Henri like Rousseau
 he said I was a boy who believed in intervals not connections
 and I do I really do
 look here
 once I had a white bird
 there was a girl
 from another county
 who called it Synesthesia
 the left side of my body was a cloud
 rain was my hair
 I dare you little son of a bitch
 don't let me down
 from where we was sitting we could see the water coming up just when we
 thought it was going to quit and it was going to go back down again but by
 damn if it didn't do what we thought it just kept coming up and the post
 man he come in a boat the next few days and he say I had a letter from
 Jimmy for you come all the way from the prison camp but a moccasin go in
 my bag 50's I couldn't deliver none of that mail I'm sho sorry it happened
 what I was going to do was one of two things fly me a kite in with a message
 tolling who to get even with to make confess or I was going to get Auntie
 to make him a pie with a file in it but I can't get started about none of
 that now cause there is more important things to tend to unless I die
 and I don't figure on doing none of that not just yet not even if I get
 electrocuted by the high wire but the electricity is off and I'll walk it
 all of this
 is magic against death
 all of this ends
 with to be continued
 I wave so long with a handkerchief
 to the horses on the range of my dreams
 every scene is sculptured from wood with splintered fingers
 like a monk who can only speak when he chews the fiesh of christ
 like a cloud piercing the moon
 when a whore rides by on a mule
 and the barge ballast shifts without notice
 I go by
 your house every evening
 listening to the carpenters adding on to your den
 to the plumbers routing your dew
 I lift my head into the eye of the storm several hours away
 like a dog on a porch
 I carry a papersack under my arm
 in it hard tack and clown clothes and black cape
 my shoulders are bad galleries
 where the blind only can hang their work
 instructions and warning on poison jars
 latinisms and neurosis of blue-lined notebook
 paper with 90 degree corners
 planted pines from the preserve struck by lightning
 and cellars with drops of water slow as dreams
 afternoons where the girl is left in the middle of the street
 thumbnails where the eyes are approached
 I offer you no supper the blind earth a dish of salt water
 something bleeding quietly on the table
 a neck-yoke and the hereabouts of those who will pass on
 with their only obituary the thunder
 Mrs. Gillespie saying durn gal of mine won't never come home
 and the durn young lady of hers taking off her slip in the sugar cane
 endless night with its bloodhounds and bibles
 barns giving way like old men's stout backs
 one lick with a sledge hatnmer on a pillow once in a blue moon
 leading a horse with a spade over my shoulder
 and the old foreboding
 a chinaman in a wicket wheelchair mourning his daughter on the docks
 the everlasting and eternal grace and salvation
 was the theme of Oakum's sermon
 except there wasn't nobody in the church house listening to it
 not a soul just some critters
 and there might be a heaven of animals I don't know
 there was barnfowl and fieldteams as well as deer and snakes and coons
 everybody else around his parts had already cleared out
 and gone to the levee or come to the island
 but I reckon most folks forgot about him
 seeing as how he didn't have no regular congregation
 all of the children were gathered together on the island
 and I was telling the story of Daphnis so they wouldn't be afraid
 of the water that was rising night and day
 it was sort of a play we was giving to take our mind off things
 the getup we was using was tow sacks and fiour sacks
 we made wreaths for our hair
 for a stage we used the fioor foundation of the house that got blowed
 away in the cyclone
 it was a good a stage as you'd ever need
 had a chimney and all
 the vines was kindly bad but it made it look reel
 had wired up an old juke box to play my records
 what was playing when me and Baby Gauge who was in my lap
 heard Oakum's voice coming across the fiooded land
 was Pavane Pour Uno Infante Defunte
 hyar Baby Gauge says somebody done forget to tell Deacon Oakum
 he better not be out there in the water
 what's that mean I says
 that mean we got to go get him afoe the rivet does
 they ain't no spare boats left says I
 they using them at the levee
 well we'll have to get one those gondolas the Italian fixed up
 for his eating place
 won't no pole reach bottom I says
 don't need no pole I'll got my team of ponies
 I got when the circus stopped here and died
 I could still remember the fiames near the water when he said that
 go head on and do the epilogue Baby Gauge says
 I finished it up real quick and just had time to put on another record
 0 Great Mystery
 that was the name on the front of the album
 it wasn't the name of the music on the back
 I'll sing some of it like the record like Vico taught me
 O magnum mysterium et admirable sacramentum ut animatia viderent
 Dominum natum Jacentem in praesepio
 Domino audivi auditum tuum et timul consideravi opera tua et expavi in medici
 duorum animatium and then Soyez experts des oreilles et yeux ou autrement
 il vaudrait mieux vous taire et je vous que veux soyez soigneux de ne chante
 que vous n'avez s boire then it went
 Selig sind die Toten die in dem Herren sterben von nun an
 Mein Schifllein lief im wilden Meet geschlagen von Sturmwinden
 Das Segel war sehr zerrissen kein Ruder konnt ich finden
 and you know how he was and I don't really want to think about Vico
 and burying him like I did singing that tacky Lady of Spain I adore you
 and nailing that picture by Picasso on his box
 and the further we got from the island the less and less of the juke box
 you could hear and what you heard was Oakum
 dead drunk preaching to the varmints
 and the water almost high enough to lift his shack off the stilts
 and take it away with a peahen up in the steeple
 and the moon was like it was when we joined up with these Spanish revolutionists
 down south that's the way the black angel said it
 I didn't know if he was on the raft with me and l was reading his mind
 and the moom pitchus coming out his eyes or if he was reading what I was
 thinking but near bout synchronized it was and talking and all
 and then I figured I
 must be becoming dead and confessing my sins and he was seeing it
 and I had the power
 (((it was John Barrymore
 in Beloved Rogue)))
 absolutely absolutely absolutely Oakum was hollering like a waiter
 in a dive twirling a tray around on his finger
 don't get me wrong Oakum was smart he was just born with it
 he was strickly natural
 Baby Gauge say boy you bettuh start looking out ahead fah me
 get these eyes looking
 and the Requiem by Gabriel Faure got stuck
 and he was preaching hell or high water
 it was so dark when it passed the stars got mud on their boots
 Baby Gauge say listen
 it went like I thought I dreamed it would
 a few days after the water went down and me and Baby Gauge got Oakum
 out safe and the peahen went in the gondola with us
 and he ate two black bowls of tomato soup under the fill] moon
 and he come to the island and his mind got alright
 we stole a couple packs of firecrackers and rode olf on bicycles
 and got run-OH" the bridge by a man in a long pink convertible
 with his left back tire hanging off the side
 he had cold cream and Nestle's quick on his face and said he come
 down here to research and I shook my head at Baby Gauge
 he had the firecrackers in his mouth
 like I did when we met that one that got snake bit
 and he give us a ride in his big car into town for telling him stories
 and bought us all the banana splits we could eat
 and Baby Gauge said he didn't know what the hell he was doing
 but let him handle things and we was for sure going to become famous
 like you know who and by god we struck it lucky and hit it rich
 and it all was owing to bringing back Oakum that night when the water was up
 somebody out there must a heard what the fool in the pink convertible
 had to say about us and how Baby Gauge was a wanting us to get knowed
 like Huck and Tom and them was so he wrote me a letter saying
 he intended to make a moving picture out of what all I said
 and sent us both checks for an undisclosed amount and there was some more
 on the way and right now we is reaping the benefits of that
 sailing first class to the east Japan in particular on the luxury liner
 Giotto all we do is take sun on the upper deck gamble with people who don't
 talk english and listen to sweet music and lovers whisper and jump
 over the side and 50's we won't get into any trouble we is travelling
 what you call incognito all we do when we see one another is give one another
 the high sign yea well I knew somebody was going to make a movie out of it
 I ain't seen it yet they say they won't play it in the Unity States on
 account of it not being of questionable morality but they was going to
 show it in Paris and I figure I'll get to see it there hell Baby Gauge
 claims they is making it now he says a man with a camera follows him
 around said he ain't dreaming but I sho do like the sunlight under the
 blanket on this lounge and I'll have to tell you about my new friend
 I met him strolling the deck praying him and a Chinaman a baldheaded
 one in a orange robe I thought they was talking across at one another
 but they wasn't they was talking about a painter what you call Rousseau
 I met them that night but I didn't introduce myself until the next morning
 when we was all drinking tea and bloody marys and orange juice
 Baby Gauge he even disclosed himself he had a cigar and derby and sat down
 near a good looking lady from Tahiti he kept giving me the send off with
 his hand and I listened to the Chinaman who didn't say nothing like Harpo
 and the monk in the white robe who said his name was Thomas Merton
 he told me The Douanicr was the officer on duty for the customs of dreams
 his art remained in shadow like the dark part of the moon
 Thomas Merton who I called Father said Picasso gave a banquet for him
 the food did not arrive and so they drank the Spaniards wine
 and ate sardines until the painter arrived with his violin
 he played a waltz of his own composition
 and hot wax from a Chinese lantern dripped on his head like a caul
 and The Douanicr went to sleep and dreamed The Unpleasant
 Surprise and The Snake Charmer again and the scared bear recited the poem
 le malheur s'acharne contre ta progeniture tu petds tes enfants et tes
 femmes aussi et tu le te remarias avec que la pointure pour faire les tableaux
 enfants de ton esprit the monk in white looked off into the sea
 and the Chinaman snoozed and Baby Gauge smiled at his young lady
 and I thought about the big roll of paper for the supper table
 on Abraham's Knife and what all I drew on it before I went on the voyage
 on the Giotto and the sun was stuck in the sky like Deacon Oakum's legs
 in the mud when he held the peahen and I lay back on the lounge
 and watched a beautifirl girl catch her own badminton
 and the monk said how the painter went to the World's Fair and watched
 the balloonist ascend and the dolphins and sharks swam near the ship
 he said eventually the oil rots the canvas it is a process
 like something opening up in the earth and then closing again
 I guess he was talking about the man because armed guards were transporting
 the painting WAR by him and all the folks aboard was inspecting it
 it passes by frightening leaving behind despair tears and ruin everywhere
 the soft-spoken monk went on like a fiute he makes an art out of eluding
 us with his imagination as if he were a clairvoyant of what we dreamt
 he begins with the usual the very real and we conclude we are
 seeing ghosts acknowledging the gods we all fall prey to
 his form is like a snake under sway to a boy with music
 his serenity is an indefatigable shadow hovering over us as we sleep
 he was instinctually conscious of his hands like wings facing the stars
 his foreground was a horse drinking water faraway at night
 he inspected silence like a nude letting her get away with murder and love
 his visions were real observations his imagination formal his dreams
 determined his form like night follows day his power passes over under
 standing what he intends is left behind like a past full of strange music
 reality is his relief he gives the world a unity again
 I wish somebody would give me a light Baby Gauge said to the monk
 and Father Merton passed a wooden match to the Chinaman and I passed it
 to Baby Gauge and be lit his smoke and the girl threw it into the sea
 and he told me about the letter he wrote to his hometown mayor in behalf
 of himself how it said There Is the Effect of Moonlight very poetic
 and the first time he used the telephone he yelled the reason being
 so he said because my friend is so very far away and if you think I'm going
 to tell you what else I saw you're crazy as hell 

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