Friday, May 27, 2011

William Robison - Two Poems

Dog Days

In the dog days the boy lay alone
while the attic fan rumbled, sucking
in the sounds of the leaden nighttime

the lonely bark of a midnight dog
firecracker blast, far away laughter
the distant wail of a Negro choir

chilling his uncomprehending heart
even as damp heat draped a blanket
over clinging flannel sheets, steaming

as did the dry cleaner’s laundry press
whose sudden blast of pressured exhaust
spurred shoeless flight, blind panic like the

lightning that scorched the y-shaped pecan
concussive pulp wood truck tire blowout
sudden pistol shot, sharp reprimand

once at the old church camp he laughed and
splashed in the green hued pool till supper
where he ate with accustomed gusto

while a funny old man played a steel
guitar, and when he’d finished, he could
not bear to part with his empty plate

walked with the other boys to the trash
slipped past the door, stashed it in the car
thence to the box springs beneath the bed

later it was gone, but no one said
a word to him, perhaps they thought it
just a childish prank or feared what it

revealed of nascent homegrown voodoo
congealed in rancid platter fibers
concealed in dry bones, meatless, well-gnawed

Gone Pecan Done Blown a Gasket

After A. E. Houseman, ‘The Chestnut Casts His Flambeaux’
and after the hurricanes and the oil spill

Gone pecan done blown a gasket, and the sparks
fly from burning leaves in the smoke—sucker
pop like a firecracker, can’t see for cinders.
Gimme ‘nother one of them Schlitz, podnuh.

This have been one crappy freakin’ season.
Wait ‘til next year, my happy ass—if
it ain’t another damn hurricane, some
dipshit gon’ set the oilrig on fire.

Bust my daddy and granddaddy, too—
drunk up in the shed when here come Audrey,
Betsy, Katrina—everything blown
to hell and back to town. Well, fuck it, then!

Let me tell you, bud, it’s a goddamn sin
to bust our butt all day for fish bait and
government cheese when we could be dancin’
with them pretty little girls ‘fore we croak.

So hand me an Old Milwaukee, tall boy,
‘cause we just be a couple of assholes
like all the rest—go wish in one hand and shit
in the other and see which fills up first.

Some days the alligator eat you, chief,
some days that son-of-a-bitch eat Jenkins,
but it ain’t no skin off your fat rear end
if it’s the Jenks he got in his choppers.

Life is a bitch and then you die, brother.
Trouble see me comin’ and lick his jaws.
All we can do is keep on keepin’ on,
so reach me one of them Bud Lites, will you?

William Robison teaches history at Southeastern Louisiana University; writes about early modern England, including the forthcoming The Tudors in Film and Television (with Anna Sue Parrill); is a musician and filmmaker (see; and has poems accepted by Anemone Sidecar, Asinine Poetry, decomP magazinE, On Spec, and Paddlefish.

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