Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Some good news

Bob Hicok called today to officially invite me to do a reading at Virginia Tech, where he now teaches. It'll be next spring and will be special: I'll be reading with my best friend Eliot Khalil Wilson, whose book, The Saint of Letting Small Fish Go, is just sickeningly good.

The last time we read together, just before both of us blew out of Tuscaloosa, John Carpenter-style, we wrote this poem together:

Goodbye Tuscaloosa
a duet with Paul Guest

Goodbye flying cockroaches you, too, were my ontology.
Goodbye Judas tree and dogwood.
Goodbye tulips. I touch your broken teeth.
Goodbye City Park pretty boys. My reading of Thoreau is changed forever
and I am forever changed.
Goodbye shitte Baptists. Look to the ninety-nine sheep still safe in your fold.
Goodbye I reckon, goodbye fixin to, goodbye might could and all other forms
of the Southern vague conditional.
Goodbye Wallace, a wall of my heart falling in when I put you in the ground.

Goodbye fraternity brothers, polyp brained, preppy rats, deaf and unweaned.
Goodbye yellowhammer and maypop.
Goodbye to every street that turned me back.
Goodbye to the last of my sweetness.
Goodbye late thunder of a summer night.
Goodbye magnolias. I will keep the memory of your shade like a secret.

Goodbye gardenia, soft as the sweet ears of an old woman.
Goodbye braless chain smoking attendant at the Cleansing Tide Laundrymat.
Your teeth are as yellow as crime scene tape, but your heart is clean as a hound’s tooth.
Goodbye Mexican roofers, burning in the sun or falling to your deaths. When I asked you
what day it was. I meant what century.
Goodbye Tuscaloosa News—how I lived your oxymoron.
Goodbye Professor Richard Rand. You were my Charleton Heston.

Goodbye electric chair in the Atmore Holman Correctional facility
and the tacky sadist who painted you spring sun-yellow.
Goodbye stumbly-wumblies.
Goodbye Denny Chimes, brick phallus, yours is the true hymn.
Goodbye Monster truck and the monthly gun and knife shows.
Goodbye helicopter, tank, and jet frozen in the moment of their suicidal attack on the mall.

Goodbye co-cola, goodbye sweet tea, you are as advertised.
Goodbye wacked zealots sandwich boarding for Jesus. Yes, God is angry at everyone but you. May a celestial wind fill your mainsail of vitriol and lift you to heaven
or some really high place.
Goodbye sorostitutes. I crunch your cell phones with my SUV, burn your black pants in effigy. “An effigy is an image or representation of a particular person."

Goodbye girls in galvanic sundresses. Yours was the true devotion.
Goodbye honeysuckle.
Goodbye darlin, suga, goodbye bless his hart.
Goodbye to the dye-haired ladies who are someone else’s doting grandmother.
Goodbye un-definable Capstone. So many times I asked and no one knew.

Goodbye balloon man, and bicycle Sam
Goodbye wisteria, perfumed Victorian, my spine is new-woven with your valentine.
Goodbye Ferguson Center Burger King employee. Meat maker. How like a god
in your near deafness and sudden anger and the way I’ve never seen your hands.
Goodbye Christian Rock and your fervent sucking.
Goodbye Jesus Christ Super Store. I’ve completed my collection of bobble-head apostles.

Goodbye to a whole state’s worth of bad road.
Goodbye Mcfarland Boulevard. I sing the body franchised and commercial.
Goodbye to fried corn, fried steak, fried okra, fried water.
Goodbye Montgomery Court House—you were a scene from Beckett.
Goodbye happiness, brief as the Tuscaloosa fall.

Goodbye teenage girls in NASCAR T-shirts. You can keep my lighter.
Goodbye Greene county and the hooked-wormed children of greyhound physiques. Remember, on a wet track, to bet on a heavy dog.
Goodbye Pepito’s Mexican Restaurant—and however one says joie de vivre in Mexican
Goodbye Stabler, goodbye Nameth.
Goodbye all discussion of football as a very thinly veiled homoerotic substitute for war.
Goodbye those five hours to New Orleans. You were my salvation.
Goodbye Shelton State Community College, students. Yours is the true devotion.
For you I am a poolside father, reluctantly away and mindful.
Goodbye the right Rev. Horton Heat and bapticisms in the courtyard of the Chukker.
Let me lie down between the bonfire and the library.
Let me lie down with Fob James and the Dubba Twins one last time.
Goodbye Y’all

Goodbye pedestrian faith healers who touched me without asking like I was pregnant.
Goodbye student health center doctors. Thanks for the barrels of codeine.
Goodbye to my reputation for bureautic disregard. It served me like a summons.
Goodbye cedar waxwings in the Foster’s holly, you good lieutenants of the sky.
Goodbye Paul Bear Bryant—drop kick me through the goal posts of life.
Goodbye Tuscaloosa. Your red clay roads do not run out.
I’ll speak to you, and you to me, together, in praise.

***

I'm thinking we'll have to write another one for this one.

2 comments:

aimee said...

*sigh.* and the poem's great too. ;)

Anonymous said...

Namath!