The Miracle

“Things are tight,” the man
said, tightening his
quasi-friendly grin.
“We can’t give you a
job, we can’t give you
any money, and
we don’t want these here
poems either.” He
tightened his tie. “Fact
is, the old cosmic
gravy train’s ground to
a halt. It’s the end
of the line. From now
on there’s going to
be no more nothing.”
He went on, lighting
a cigar: “We don’t
wish we could help, but
even if we did,
we couldn’t. It’s not
our fault, by God, it’s
just tight all over.”
He brought his fist down
on the burnished desk
and lo! from that tight
place there jetted forth
rivers of living water.

 

Flowing on the Bench

As I was going to sleep
on the iron bench
in the back of the bar
I felt all right
I felt I was joining something
Not the Kiwanis Club
No
I felt like one river joining another
flowing into the Ohio
Right where Jim & I
passed Cairo in the fog
Right where the book got good

 

Heaven

for my mother & Rupert Brooke

Once upon a time
about the time
the beautiful storybook
of the 19th century
was blowing shut
England’s green & pleasant land
was still a kind of heaven
to little boys & girls
entombed in Alabama

Over there in the books
they had harebells, blue bells
bar bells
foxglove & eglantine
whatever all that means
musk melon crouched
beneath every couch
sheep gnawed the knot-grass
the room shone like a shilling
in Flanders fields the poppies blew
Everybody had a rendez-vous with death
and only Joyce Kilmer had ever
seen a tree

My mother loved Rupert Brooke
as a girl
she liked to rip up
his tombstone
and paste it in her scrapbook
next to Joan Crawford
Rupert Brooke thought heaven

was for fish
Maybe he had something
besides blood poisoning
then all hell broke down
like a cheap car
Sons of bitches got hold a the
wheel
& ploughed the blue
bells under
and there was no
more England
except on BBC
and my mother died of the
late 20th century
where heaven was a hospital

Well
sleep well sweetheart
over there
on that hillside
in Alabama
by the railroad tracks
in that long dress—
you ain’t missin’ nothin’

 

Everette Maddox (1944-1989) hailed from Alabama and settled in New Orleans. He ran a well-known reading series at The Maple Leaf Bar, where his ashes are buried. The Everette C. Maddox Memorial Prose & Poetry Reading, held every Sunday in the courtyard at The Maple Leaf, is the longest running poetry reading in North America.

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