David L. McNaron
A shiver of steel guitar ran up my neck, silver plinks
of banjo, the thudding bass drum
in the reefer-sweet air: it felt as though the pulse beat
of space parted the walls ó I was sixteen.
Neil Youngís voice came to me from somewhere else,
a filament from some well, inside.
Old man, look at my life, Iím a lot like
Two years later, and Suzanne seventeen. We would park
to Steely Dan. My graduation checks would go to pay
the clinic that whisked away our little mistake.
Each note was a still-spreading circle
in the unrepeatable gold room of first times.
Those days the mind just blew, possibilities
scattering like dandelions.
Some time, I donít know when, something
called "a life" took shape, began to harden.
Today the tide slubs against the seawall.
The sound it makes is water overlapping,
as if the past caught up to me.
You and I will spend this day / driving in my car
through the ruins of Sante Fe
Never mind the windís speech is rattling
pods, the reflections on the bay are long
with pine. Diamonds of many lives
make up the waterís black body. Old,
it glistens, is happy to be.
Marlboro afternoons at Lee Waterís house. Bangs flipped
like gutters, 16 in the eighth grade, he drove us to school in his SS 396.
"Time of the Season" and "Crimson and Clover" on 45ís. My adolescence and
rock Ďn rollís: the progression I felt, inside and out, I couldnít
distinguish: each week a new hit, a new emotion. Over and over in my mind
blew the crimson fields, the bloodstains on skirts Mother told me about.
It hurt when I saw the girls in the magazines at Jimmyís
News in Ft. Walton Beach ótheir cupcake curves ó othersí good loving in
between the sugar dunes of white sand. Reading "Pillow-Bed Girl," I
remember, in True Confessions while the Fifth Dimension pumped
ainít that sweet eyed blindness good to me into my veins, the horns
touching a place Iíd never been.
First time picked up at The Hub Teen Club in Birmingham:
everyone played "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" and "Sunshine of Your Love" to strobe
lights. Black mascara in dream-bursts of sunflowers flickered in
slow-motion ecstasy as we danced. Real patterns, time and people
cut into segments. The Top Hatters looked tough with their canes, but
there were badder boys: Mike Waldrop was an animal, and I mean sleek and
lethal like a panther. He was no bully, just liked to punch. I slid
between trouble on the dance floor.
When I dipped my fingers into that first girl she felt
creamy as yogurt. She plucked chickens in Pinson and bought us beer,
legal, wrote me love letters on panty-shaped stationary till my folks grew
suspicious. Lee blew perfect smoke rings to the Zombiesí breathy click . .
We drank six-packs in the mile-deep woods this side the
shopping center. Pressed to my ear in the dark, the empties sounded like
shells. That hollow humming. Sex was rising like sap in the Southern
pines. I thought time was a muddy field to run through, I thought beer
tasted bad, but drank it, I thought music would always make me dizzy like
after Yusef Komunyakaa
You keep that doll baby wrapped
So tight in the boaís great
Forearms ó and itís not feathers.
That first time I saw you at the old fairgrounds,
Your manís voice, big as Montana,
Cut through livestock aroma, Mr.
90 Pounds. Satan come calling
To Tuscaloosa: you stood ground level,
Writhing. Black lashes
Like a dying sun. Were those crosses
In your eyes or dollar signs?
You must have won at deathís carnival,
Guessed the hang manís weight. The bones
You roll. Iíve shucked down so much
Darkness here I half expect us both to rise,
Black and shiny, hoarse, like crows.
David grew up in Birmingham, AL. He received his doctorate
in philosophy from the U of Miami and teaches at Nova Southeastern Univ.
in Fort Lauderdale. Recently he has published poems in Tor House
Newsletter and Red Booth Review. He
is completing his MFA at Vermont College.