Bio Note: My wife Renee and I live among frogs, katydids and mosquitos in lush, drenched Louisiana, a state that borders and balances out against the parched expanse of Texas. Once as I drove an untrustworthy rent-truck across that state at 55 miles an hour(!), I had time to work out a country song that had the chorus “The trouble with Texas is Texans. They’ve got ‘em all over the place. They fight with their mothers. They fight with their exes. They get up in each other’s face....”
Sabine Pass, Texas August, 1977 My fellow deck-hand, Ronnie, escaped a gang of Nashville dealers, hitched down to the Gulf to cold turkey off heroin. I’m just tying bowlines for summer bucks. On a deadbeat Saturday, Ronnie hooks us up with a local yahoo stoned out of his gourd by 4 p.m. We loll on this home-boy’s front porch. He doesn’t move or twitch for a half hour. Then two humming birds dip and join at the hip just above tridents of canna lilies. The guy throws his head back and cries out, “ Damn if that ain’t cuter than a spotted pup in a new red wagon.” The three of us end up at last call in a bar with an interior decor like an oil slick on wrenched seas. Everyone is stiff, silent, pickled until the needle drops into K23 on the juke box. Deck hands, crew-boat Captains, Ronnie, home-boy, boiler-masters and a few Debs, start to sing in unison to no one in particular – low, breathy bent into bar or table tops where brown bottles are microphones. It’s a chorus of skunked angels, without a soprano in the bunch. (“ Back in Luckenbach, Texas, ain’t nobody feeling no pain.”) We sing as if these words hold the only hope around and the song itself is what sheds light off mirror glass.
Originally published in The Rat's Ass Review
Vernon, Texas. March, 2013 Often I end up in a nondescript motel needing something. I find a quick-stop where grime multiplies under pale fluorescence. The squared-off fingers of a store owner punch the register. Large knuckles mean the man or woman is stubborn, determined, analytical which all bode well for running a business. These owners mop their own linoleum, hawk-eye riff-raff that try to palm candy bars, slide Buds into hoodie pockets or pop a Glock out of jeans. They comb customers over, calculate risks. Under their eyes, I begin to catalogue my own character flaws, the ones I’ve known since second grade when Sister Mary Cristobal first started the list.
Originally published in Brazos River Review
©2022 Ed Ruzicka
Editor's Note: If this poem(s) moves you please consider writing to the author (email address above) to say what it is about the poem you like. Writing to the author is what builds the community at Verse Virtual. It is very important. -JL