If you were at the party on the boat
that cut the humid vapor
on the Big Muddy
that buggy Summer night
you would have seen Jim
who doesn’t drink now but said
Huck’ll bury a few shots for him.
And if you joined us in the smoke
on the deck that held the cricket’s counsel
when the calliope took a rest
you might have caught me
whispering to The Judge
that I heard
Tom saw your daughter
Becky thatch her roof
in nothing but a nightie.
But the Judge just sustained his stomach’s
minor objection to the drink,
belched a gassy pardon
and said he didn’t like to think
of that boy wearing girls’ clothes.
In October the wind came at its worst
and the rain became confused
from knowing how to fall
just plain down
The boy said the rain is going sideways.
His sister used one hand
to put up her hood
then casually closed her umbrella
because she knew
it wouldn’t help anymore.
The boy said hey we need that.
But his sister just put the furled umbrella
(a rainbow colored rebuttal)
under an arm
and used one hand
to help him put up his hood too.
The breath of Autumn
inhaled ’til the next handshake.
Summer sneaks back in.
It takes no thought to lace me up
or to walk in me towards home
where you abuse me.
But I’ll take your little beatings.
The casual wooden raps knocking loose
A few burdensome clumps of clay
to prepare for the run you hope to make
Then you drive my cleats into the ground
and that dirty friction of hard earth
stirs up hints of my own scented body –
plastic, leather, steel.
A strikingly visceral lineup.
If only I were you instead of your shoe
so your twisted beginnings could be batted from me
like the packed dirt underfoot.
A few practiced taps in just the right spot
and with each one, another old scandal
cascades to earth,
lost among the swept remnants
of the others like it.
But let it not be a mere swap.
Shame for shame
crime for crime
regret for heavy, stuck regret.
Let it be a breaking loose of aged burdens
so we may steal a faultless moment
when we strike out for home again.