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MacPh elan Reese Katy Vine “Writer’s what, honey?” Reese asked. “Writer’s block,” the visitor repeated. “Wriwhat? I don’t know what you’re saying.” “When you can’t think of something to write. Has that ever happened to you?” Reese seemed stunned by the proposition. “No. I can always think of something to write, even if it’s about not being able to write.” Impressed, the visitor asked him if he could come up with a poem on the spot. He stared contemplatively at a stretch of floor tile for about 30 seconds, then looked up and said, “Take this down: Necessarily undressed… is seldom caressed.” As if to say, “there it came,” he bugged out his eyes, sucked in his cheeks, and leaned back in his chair. In the early afternoon, Reese was brought up into the Congressional Record stacks of the library, where his old friends had convened in his honor. This being a Rayburn-proud community, the majority of the company consisted of old Fannin County Democrats. The hostthe lanky and energetic H.G. Dulaney, who had worked for Rayburn during the speaker’s last ten 10 years in Washington, had gathered the press, neighbors, friends, local ex-politicians, Dulaney’s coauthor of Rayburn books, and a man who had worked as a runner for Rayburn during World War II, among others. Reese greeted each one with comments such as, “What do you say, there,” and “Hello, Queen Elizabeth.” Some visitorslike the man wearing a baseball hat backwards, emblazoned with “OSAN Korea” received a salute. One woman hugged Reese, inspiring him to howl and bark like a dog. With everybody in place, Dulaney passed out Cherry 7-Up punch and chocolate cake while Reese drew applause by blowing out the candle that had been sculpted into a “96.” Three men from Denton dressed in white wigs and American Revolution attire impressed the crowd with a color guard exchange. “My goodness,” they said to each other when conversation ran out, “The Sons of the American Revolution. How about that?” Reese was overheard whispering to a visitor, “I didn’t really know anybody in the American Revolution.” For the remainder of the afternoon, while old stories about Rayburn were swapped \(as they usually are in the photocopies of his poems. One by one, he led his guests to the piles stacked on Dulaney’s desk, saying,”Take these.Take as many as you want.You’ve already got that one? Well take it again. Here.” Pity the plight of the baffled buffoon Who laughs too late or laughs too soon; Ration your pity, to pity more, The scrounging Scrooge, the humorless bore Who stints and stunts his inisered praise For fear, wage slave, you’ll beg for a raise; Your begging, your pleading meet foregone defeat He pays you with praise, then demands a receipt. Look at his shoes, and after you’ve seen them, You’ll see a third “heel” midway between them. “CorntitO’S Enigma” The dullest of dullards At last may discover His loyal wife Takes Love as her lover, His faithful wife, Provocative, prim, In love with Love But not with him. “Provocation” The love she accepted as a girl, as a woman she now incites With a diamond’s fire and the glow of a pearl In her taunting, half-whispered “goodnights.” “Untitled” By whose command, or whose request, I served “Our Way” with zeal and zest That porcine gods, at last impressed, Might one day grunt, “Come be our jest.” After Reese fulfilled book-signing requests and the crowd thinned out, a visitor asked if he would be spending the rest of the day with his family. Reese looked up from a mound of birthday cards and replied, “No, I’ve got to get home and do some writing.” “Really?” the visitor asked. “Yes. I’m working on a new book. A book of gag poems.” “What are you going to call it?” “Sweat Cetera.” He began to giggle to himself. “Is it coming out soon?” the visitor asked. Reese paused and raised his eyebrows. Then in a high, sing-song voice he replied, “If I’m lucky.” Katy Vine is a writer at Texas Monthly. 4126102 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11