ruined entrances
nervous ashers
Sat Jan 4, 2020 12:19


There were mountain huts full of smallpox strung out
along the hillsides between Escatawpa and Morgan City, birds
boiling up and out of freestanding chimneys under the
routine advent of rainbows and chainsaws, the old sound of
cheap labor rising and falling in the weather that was like
frosted bank glass and advancing. There were heaps of
tangled sawhorses and tripwire, vacant jasper and wolframite
mines, mounds of dead Ataris and scarred desk drawer bibles
scattered across those abandoned counties that lay inert as
Hazel and Bobby lived together in an old slave shack I
used to rent out in the upper fields. They cut canadian
thistle and picked sloe berries off the blackthorn for a
living, slashing their hands and bickering all day in the
frayed heat, visiting me in the cool main house most
evenings. We'd sit in the rooms without ceilings, drinking
white hill whiskey under the recombinant stars, and Bobby,
who loved to go on about things, would reminisce about his
dead wife who'd contracted a disease from sleeping too close
to the fan. On Sundays they wouldn't move a muscle. They'd
just sit there like two piles of coins, quietly warming
through the afternoon, then slowly cooling off over the

Bobby puts on his sound jacket. Shards of hospital bed
are locked in the bass drum. Through the worn dolichoid
rafters I can see birds flying over the practice room. The
snare is stuffed with traffic tickets and out the window
there's my horse walking on the stream, the stream always
behind schedule. There's a dust mote hawk landing in slo-mo
on my guitar. Hazel's saying something about Earnest Wourlds
over in Tullahoma who'd had a dream about a cougar
sleepwalking on Polk's grave and how that was bad luck for
the region. (Those that look out the window are darkened.
All those faces passed down through the centuries that
kicks tart the rivers and grow like nerve endings in a coal
cart until they're key-cold and shoved through the
deathgate, a catafalque set free, released into the
dirtways.) "And John and his father John trap mink under the
chain lightning in the libraries they've landed in, where
all the talk about shadow dappled paths is typeset,
published and poured into a break in the earth," Hazel
murmured to no one in the room. You might think it was all
words and dark tickets as we began to play "R.M.T" in the
swarming weather chart sundown, and it was.
Outside you'd still hear the music, hear someone
singing "actors dreaming got nowhere to stay/ see my sheet
go walking run and fly", and it would sound better from far
away, like a faded sketch of a long forgotten pacer at the
Downs, all the while platinum ticks are dropping off the
trees like little Romans, onto an auburn shower curtain
half-buried in the forest floor.

Already gone were the golden days of e-z credit, the
days of approaching squat south-central skylines from
underneath the ice blue tides of the windshield, the five
cent war comets, howling saran yaps and careening school
chords. All that was left, looking like two lost eyeballs on
the field after Spotsylvania, were a couple of black plastic
knobs in the dirt, one for tone and one for rinse.
This place is like a haunted turnpike, closed down for
years, where things still happen in the little turnoffs to
the renowned teenagers that never come back.
If you come in the day and you're lucky, you might
might catch yourself a nice photograph of two sweatbees on a coke mirror. You might see my horse breaking
across a white wine colored clearing, or maybe hear the old
chords coming, for no real reason, out of sockets in the
walls. ("because there's an answering machine clogged with
ice, deep in the Courthouse Mountains where he lived and
died in the breech.")

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