Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

A Story My Uncle Ford Might Have Told

Thomas Reynolds

Would be told with belt loosened
After a large Sunday meal.

Would be redolent with strong scents,
Wild onions or the meadow after a soaking rain.

Would frequently take place in Arkansas,
In the middle of a dusty road at midnight.

When no one but a coon hunter passed
Beneath a three-quarter moon without crossing himself.

Someone like Cousin Joe always hobbled through,
Carrying a bag of walnuts or a fistful of possums,

Mentioning, even if the story didn’t require it,
That his new red hat was once stolen from his head by a jay.

“Flew up in a tree. Got out my new slingshot and a rock.
Hit the son of a gun in the head. Got hat back.”

Such a story should echo with voices
Crusty with red clay mud and scabrous like tree bark.

Should flow like spring water down a muddy creek bank
And roll in the mouth like a salty rock pebble.

Should hinge on stunning reversals or audacious dirty tricks,
Conducted while riding a hunched, persistently dogged mule

Down some Ozark mountain trimmed with scraggly pines,
Beyond a sawmill belching smoke or paint-deprived outhouse.

Should remind you in some tangible way of where you came from,
Like soaking up to the neck for hours in steaming hot springs,

knuckles withered like walnuts, craggy like Pawnee Bluffs.
Should make you listen for those coursing through your blood,

Ducking their heads from behind rust-splattered tin sheds,
Calling out to black hawks circling in the orange sky.


Thomas Reynolds teaches at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, and has published poems in various print and online journals, including New Delta Review, Alabama Literary Review, Aethlon-The Journal of Sport Literature, The MacGuffin, Flint Hills Review, Midwest Poetry Review, Potpourri, Ariga, Strange Horizons, Combat, American Western Magazine, The Pedestal Magazine, Ash Canyon Review, and Orphan Leaf Review. He contributed two poems to Muscadine Lines: A Southern Anthology.

© Thomas Reynolds

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