Poems from the Drink House...



The back porch well-pump

Above the sink, streaked red and orange,

The summer sun, our sweat,

Many pails of turnips washed,

And Danny’s dark stained hat,

     bejeweled with cobwebs

From the hot upper rungs

     of the tobacco barn.

Out over the fields dizzy with heat,

Giant leaves soft green wet with sticky sap,

     full swaying breeze,

The buzzing click of grasshopper wings,

Some rabbits’ sandy burrow lined with straw.


And when summer clouds at last

     bring shade,

I hear the screen door slam again,

And prime the pump from the coffee can,

See Danny wash his face and arms,

Drink water deep from the yellow colored gourd cup.

“It’ll quench your thirst,” he’d say,

“Like nothing’ else.”


But of all the county cousins,

     uncles, aunts,

None could say for sure

     why on certain nights,

Through long hours or sweltering afternoons,

While in the back room

     of the country store,

He’d sometimes turn to whiskey.


And now, these many years on a country highway

     the long road past unending cornrows, swaying leaf,

Seeming always headed nowhere,

I hear crickets in the autumn nights again,

Feel gentle breezes in the oaks,

Walk behind him on the winding path

     back from the store,

A boy again,

     —with grandfather.


Across the field, a sea of green blooming peas,

And overhead, the Milky Way.

Our flashlight beam on the narrow trail,

     gray dusty earth,

Shines out the way back home,

This unpainted shambling farmer’s house,

     —too cold in winter,

Where fireplace bright,

High ceiling, hardwood floors,

     echo footsteps, laughter,

The tarnished keys of the piano

     for our Sunday songs.



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Drink House Moon ….      p. 7

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