I brushed my hair the way I
always do and dressed in clothes
I wear to church and . . . funerals.
I attended a reception for the debut
of an anthology of contemporary
Arkansas poetry. I shook hands with
people—each person present was
strikingly different from the others.
Each one had arrived into this life
in much the same way–from his or her
mother’s womb. Some had been born
again, into a spiritual life, while others,
perhaps, hadn’t accepted God’s Grace.
My elbow didn’t touch another’s elbow
and yet . . . that’s why I was there.
I signed my autograph for the first
time and for a few more times.
A heart-felt poem, created long ago,
was brought to life on page 107
to live or die within the realm
of perception. And I became a poet
“Along the River.”
I always thought Maude Henry
and her three daughters were so
pretty ridin’ their mules. They rode
them mules wherever they went. Maude
was a widder woman—had been for six
years when their four mules got stole,
right out of that shabby, old barn settin’
on the side of Brock Mountain. One of ‘em
was Maude’s bug-eyed mule, called Ned.
That critter was half-blind, I tell ya’ fer sure.
The sheriff, he nailed up a poster
down at the courthouse—a picture took
last May of Maude and her girls ridin’
them mules to a cousin’s weddin’.
Yesterday mornin’ the Henrys walked
two miles to Kill Devil Creek, where they
come to my hangin’. Them and everybody
else in Waycross County. I swore
up and down that I didn’t steal
them mules. They hung me anyway.