POEMS By Ken Fontenot SHE OF THE BLACK CAJUNS Her arms were sticks. No watch would fit them. She let me place my thumb and middle finger around her arm, the tips touching easily. She let me put on her fingernail polish. ‘ She let me cup my hands fully around her waist. Her hands felt as if they were always in dishwater.. She was no good at marbles. She was no good at pulling a trigger. Her mother canned figs. Her mother let me hide under her huge dress. Once we were playing with matches. Somehow the barn burned down. We never said a word, not even in confession. When the grown-ups said they just couldn’t figure out what happened, we glanced at each other, and felt little twinges inside our bellies. AGAIN I THINK OF MARIA McGEE, DAUGHTER OF VALENTINE AND LILLY The trees are the wind’s interpreters. Either they whisper or they sing in the language of wind. The owls know the tree has said take care of yourself. Goodbye. Goodbye. The mouse prays in the owl’s beak, having run its last mile. I can’t sleep without Tofranil. Nine years now since my mind ran farther than my feet, and the, attendants, cigarettes lit in their mouths, released my wrists and ankles from the cuffs. Somehow, some of us go wrong. It’s not seasonal, like Spring maddening the animals. It’s not common as the heartbeat, the blood pulling in all directions. It’s not like the flu, ephemeral and beneficent. It’s the ticking, ticking of a clock, always there. I dream of my mother rocking me. The Trailways bus to Eunice, Louisiana. Momma, I have to tee tee. No bathroom. She unzips my khaki pants, short and starched. She takes the cellophane wrapper of her Lucky’s. Go ahead, cher. She guides my baby bird carefully, so as not to spill. She dumps it out the window. Where have you gone, o woman of my joys? The rain fell all night, and you closed each of my eyes with a kiss. A SHRIMP BOAT IN ARANSAS The boats return with their shrimp. Dreams get wasted. Money goes fast. Gasoline is high. Prices are low. How can anyone make a living? I come from Louisiana but now I feel like a Texan. Think of all the people who have to leave their homes, and go to other states for work! The old man sits in his boat. Aransas. A pipe. A son. Three dogs. Chickens. He works on his own nets. Fixes his own motor. His wife knits. If he is not happy then she is. If he has lost his cat, she has gained her son. She prays. He does not. If the Lord wants me, he says, I’ll be right here. My aunt was a shrimper from Grande Isle, Louisiana. I think I was 10. In her small boat a gnat flew in my ear. It hurt. I told her. She took a long draw on her Camel and blew smoke in my ear. Oh, Aunt Bessie, that got the gnat out. Ken Fontenot lives in Austin, where he is in the UT PhD program in German. A Cajun native of New Orleans, Fontenot last year won the Academy of American Poets Prize from UT AFTERWORD Port Neches AT OUR LOCAL shopping mall there is a half-moon of brick, a stage for toddlers. It caps a blue tile waterfall. Benches wide enough Regina Segovia is now a freelance writer living in Port Neches. for grandma’s backside, mothers, strollers and shopping bags form a gallery. It was Tuesday, 10 a.m.; I had joined the audience, but I felt like an imposter. A reporter in mother’s clothing. As I watched the show I thought about my job. Just one month before, I would have been sitting at my desk, facing a blank Video Display Terminal, trying to create a budget. In the years I had worked, as a reporter my son had grown from a soft and gurgling baby into a complicated and demanding 4 year old. A day had not passed that he hadn’t asked me to stay home with him. I had missed so much ‘. His first sentence. His hurts and happiness had been played out to a series of strangers. So one day when he asked, I gave him an answer that surprised us both. I said yes. I quit my job. Confessions of a Yuppie Dropout By Regina Segovia 30 MARCH 22, 1985
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