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STRAND (poem) - Atsuro Riley - USA - Poetry International
 
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Strand
Alphabet, sluice the porch.


Bind (and try to braid) our river-wrack and leavings.


Used to, it was cackle-berries and cat-heads with him when
he dry-docked home.


Daddy: Mama, don’t cook all the running out them yellows!
Me: And raise them biscuits big, for sopping!


Other egg-names of ours I’ve kept are hen-drops, and coop-mines
(and -moons), and chicken-lights, and dumpties.

Here is the fillingstation-shirt he got from when he
pump-monkeyed for money. The name-eggs (red-stitched
and patched to where his chest would go) say Eugene on one
side and Esso on the other. Happy Motoring! is tiger-tailed in
script across its back.


Gas-smell’s the main meat. Grass-sweat. Gnat lotion,
neckwise. Ghost-whiffs of GOOP for gunky hands.


His hands (and mine, hammering) made this hutch. I reckon
your rabbit could use her a cabin or someplace. Chicken-wire’s right
airy, and cleans. Let’s drive some stilt-legs down to set her up, so
dogs don’t help theirself to supper.


(Instinct—they can't hardly help it—makes them try.)


Jim Beam & Jim Crow drive him through, like Jesus does
some others.


Sure I'm evergreen for Wallace but I'm not no KKK.


Leaf. Leave. Leaves. Leaving. Left.


Have I said yet how mudworms (and flickery mind-minnows)
live off leaf-chaff and blown bark-slough and home-grounds
and gravel? Son, rearing you some is easy: they durn nearabout feed
theirselves!


Time was—or truer, nights were—he’d porch-beach finally,
or suddenly yard-founder, from nowhere.


One time I kerosened an ancient oak to lure him home.


Polaroid
The charcoal-stump of it.
The hole.

The rain-pond, ringed with turpentiney-smelling pines
(and understory-birds) and stinging vines.


My quail-call was too sissy-high by half but strong as his.


But his (El Camino, Evinrude) rooster-tail was taller.


—Across to the Sand-Bar, right regular. L.J.’s, up by, Eight-Mile.
The Dock (On Tuesdays, 2 for 1). Smokey’s Darts & Gristle.


There was the trestle that carried the train that trusted the
trestle that bridged the river that cooled the fish that fed the
boy that watched the trestle that slow-cankered and -rusted
and fell.


Wadn’t that your deddy we seen—hunching like a stray, Sunday
last—
underneath the Upriver Overpass?


‘Daddy’ Eugene Hutto = verb.


(Plus, how to hammer, wire, and jerry homely words.)


Ex-anchored, for example.


Yesterdaddy.


Zags.