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Saturday, August 01, 2009


by John F. Buckley

Our town had been beset by addictions,
pillaged by parasitic benedictions,
each desired prayer biting away at our essential natures
until shoulders could no longer stand the touch of wheels
and the teeth of our saws did not contact the wood.
We ourselves
barely survived
because we could not hear the chanting clearly.

And then Mama Rowan came into the picture.
She was provincial. She never left Michigan.
Based on discussions of sex, safety, and travel,
she thought that analingus was the national
airline of Ireland and that using Aeroflot
would prevent one from sinking in water.
But we once took her to a Salvadoran place
for pupusas and she liked them. She said, orange hair
in coils like a happy Medusa, “Oh, cheesy
pockets with cold slaws. I can make this!” She could have.

The other ones, they left the baby with her,
because although their wits were endless,
they knew their collective common sense wore
shoes two sizes too small, brogans that pinched.
And the baby grew without unreasonable terrors and wants.
It learned to cook and reel and chuckle healthily.
It left before the songs of the exalted fell
crashing down upon its shoulders,
before the pulsing meditations met its eardrums.

Mama Rowan stayed
until she was found by forces that sit outside sympathy,
in the wash of dark weedy tissues that eventually rinsed her through,
filled her liver and lungs with filaments,
brought her coughing her cheer into the inside crooks of elbows.
She fell from canopy to roots on a Saturday.

During rain like Robert Lowell’s,
a summer rinse of rot and recompense,
we wait to see her carried away,
our eyes red, mouths in rictuses.
What has she earned us?

Raised in the Detroit area, John F. Buckley has lived in California since 1992. He teaches English at Orange Coast College and does some writing and editing on the side. Please get on his bandwagon now, while he's meek and humble, before success rots his character and he explodes in a maelstrom of pie-hurling and self-aggrandizement.