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Since 1866 The Place in Austin GOOD FOOD GOOD BEER 1607 San Jacinto GR 7-4171 1~~##### POLECAT MOUNTAIN IS FOREVER governor he sought higher teachers’ pay and repeal of the right-to-work law; fought for and lost bills “to soak the timber boys who don’t restore the land after they rape it of the yellow pines” and to curb the loan sharks; passed an industrial safety law, workmen’s compensation, a minimum-wage law yet \(does any Southern state have pockets”: built hospitals for the mentally ill, and “always pointed with pride” to lowrent housing projects. Cullie Blanton is not Lyndon Johnson because as far as King tells us Cullie never trimmed his sails as an economic liberal. His record in his public life would be enough to make any governor in the South matter a great deal. On racial matters, being a white politician elected by whites in a state where Negroes couldn’t and didn’t vote, Cullie was held in the vise of a social schizophrenia he could not with words, histrionics, or the governor’s power cure. In Texas we have many such good men who could not get out of this vise. They come readily to mind, Zeke Zbranek, the author of the lobby control law, Charles Hughes, father of the industrial safety act that isn’t law yet, Tony Korioth, who never tired fighting the loan sharksthey were, in the House, liberal yeomen, game for the brawl, but not on race, that was where they came from. On race Governor Cullie’s role was not heroic, it was equivocal. This is what made King’s closing drama melodrama; he had cast a fox as a lion in a situation in which no white Southern go’Vernor could he a lion. Had Cullie decided to forsake politics for this final cause in crisis, we could have had, perhaps, a tragedy, but he did not. Cullie lost in every sense both to the cool, admirable Negro integrating the state university \(in a confrontation that is whites whooping it up in the legislature and the. streets. But even here Cullie, by his lights, in his situation, had done, duplicitously, what he thought he could, and it was not enough, so he tried, still dupli 14 The Texas Observer citously, to do more than he could, and he failed. Even to fail in this way is also to matter. Who can say assuredly that to fail in a good cause is to fail, as long as the cause is good? RETREAT Listen, with bent heads we plowed the night, stalking the broad furrows of the stars into dawn and there wasn’t anyone to tell us where to go and there wasn’t any way to go back because we were -through with all that, all our earthly belongings strapped to our backs and the low moon keening its butter song in our ears. I tell you there was no way but the moon’s way to stalk the broad, bent furrows of the stars into dawn, hoping day would not burn our hopes to cinders, the flowers of the dawn put out our eyes. WOMAN She stalks the edge of the dark ravine back of the house her dogs baying behind her, dull winter Texas sky pressed down, hunch ing old woman’s shoulders earthward. A wide lope she walks, lined face strained against the wind, wide mouth moving. The dogs attendand the windher lost words: no others. Nights she sits in her small shed house watching t-v, sipping coffee, bubbling on the stove. The dogs nuzzle the back door and whimper, the wind settles down to a long, low moan. She waits the winter out. Spring, there’ll be a garden and the damp earth to receive her mumbled cadences, reflex of an eternity’s solitude, then summer’s harsh inattention, autumn’s neglect: the years brush past with a touch rough as the raw winter wind. A new dog appears from time to time, never less than five or six; lines gather like ripples of water against a log on the still face and she goes on in a dream of isolation, trudging down her days, her dogs behind her, wind tugging at her skirts as though to remind her So there is enough truth in this novel to make it worthwhile, and there is enough seeking after the right in it to make it, withal, a light in the places that need light. R.D. of somethingWhat? Whatever it was, they’ve both forgotten. MAN He didn’t know what to do about anything although he understood almost everything. What good is a guy like that? Worms lived in his beard and the moss climbed his legs and his bark was peeling and he sat in the sun nodding, his pimply eyes bright, a little helpless, and listened and nodded, occasionally saying something that synthesized or completed what you’d said and that was all. Sometimes he scratched himselfalmost anywhere: he always itched and rubbed a lean grizzled shank with a foot and stirred, asked for a cigarette and smoked it listening. In spring, there were birds above his head; in autumn, squirrels; the snow fell whitely on him winters, and he listened nodding, the lean bark of him scaling away to nothing, the bright eyes fading to a sunset, the lean shanks slowly stiffening to a sigh. LAMENT The woods are full of would-be Christs. Take any large tree anywhere: you’ll find someone nailed \(in varying degrees of There aren’t any craftsmen anymore. Listen, to wait at dawn while a small bird says his say, Somewhere behind gold leaves concealed, a secret song, is God’s own way of telling you it’s worth it just being here, even if you have to make it. the trip’s free, the view beatific, the price: all you’ve got. Everything’s higher these days. He might have rated a giant redwood hereif he’d just lasted and stretched himself beyond green mountains skyward past all billboards, t-v antennaes sunward singing his nail-pierced lamentation while the cameras rolled. Shadow. Silence. The gold cup of the moon empties slowly spilling its liquid sorrow over neon darkness. ALFRED HUFFSTICKLER Four Poems