Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

Steve West

To Two Posters on my Wall
(Homage to the Faulkner Conference at Ole Miss 1988-1989)

Nine drink machines stand in front of the pool hall,

Sun bearing down relentlessly on the Mississippi

Dusty dirt. I imagine six men inside, probably black,

Shooting pool listlessly and idly sipping Old Milwaukee

Until the sun disappears and they can go home

To television and the window air conditioner

That makes August and their families bearable.

# # #

This church, and a gray background of winter.

Snow lines the steps;

Be careful Grandma, don’t break

Your hip again. The Good Lord might not let it heal this time.

Paint peeled and cold air mocking the wood trim

Of this building that the Baptists abandoned 20 years ago,

So we poor might assemble before an even sterner God.


Poem for Fred

Maybe we should have had a jazz funeral,

Sashay down Flower Street

With horn and drum, celebrating

Your trip to the promised land.

“Some glad morning. . .”

Maybe we missed our chance that day in January

With sunshine, like coffee and beignets

At the Café Du Monde, on our shoulders.

“When this life is over. . .”

Or maybe, by golly, we missed the boat,

Like watching the red lights of the last ferry

Across the Pontchartrain disappear at midnight.

“I’ll fly away. . .”

I’m no musician, but I could have banged

On a triangle, made the sound of the street

Car on its way to Audubon Park where a little

Old Cajun man sits under a live oak tree,

And tells you that he wrote Jole Blon,

And then tunes his guitar to sing a sad ballad

Of Evangeline in a minor key.

“To a home on God’s celestial shore. . .”

Yeah, I think we should have had a jazz funeral,

Don’t you?


Steve West teaches English at Martin Methodist College in Pulaski, Tennessee. He has poems in the most recent Number One and in Prairie Poetry, Phantasmagoria, Mount Voices, Roanoke Review, CrossRoads, and others.

© Steve West

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012