zetetic truths


Joe takes his boat out on the river
every Sunday to talk to God
to the same spot on the river where his mama
do-ed up the wash and laundry-ed thirty years
before the cancer ate her body up
and then she was buried by her two sons
right there under the Banyan tree
Joe is a dark-skinned man
and he came from the belly of a red-haired belle
and after his papa died out on the farms
and his older brother in the war
after two sisters stillborn
the freedom had come to the working men
he was skinny and he was old now
so the farmers paid him no mind
let him stay on in the back
and never paid him no money
and he never knowed what freedom was
but now he knows, now he does
freedom is a talking to with God out on the river
freedom is tired of living in old tired bones
freedom is an old red-haired belle who
sings to high heaven from the rushes
her ghost body not heavy like Joe’s old bones
not longing for nothing but a plate of fish
freedom came for mama after she went away to God
Joe felt the gradual changes deep inside
and buried them down in the dark earth
with her blank stare and her lost prayers
and right near that place there are a hundred
angleworms squirming in the mud after the rain
Joe’s callused fingers pick them up
and their falling bodies fill a soup can
one by one he gathers them up like the beginnings
of other lives he’d lost to the land and the river
and he wondered if these here worms came from the
pale belly of his mother, just like he did
but a man must eat to live no matter
how dark or light his skin is
a man has to live somehow
not like a slow-witted worm
effectually turned out of the dark earth
by the warm summer rain
under the shifting cloudy sky
Joe throws in his line and he waits
there it is, there is that splash
before he could say a word to God
or even open a match book
to light his cob pipe
up came that yellow-eyed Catfish
and it tugged the line hard
to tell him and the Catfish God
that some invasion had come
over his old Catfins and bones
and in the water was a silver pan flash
creeping through his feelers
with some disintigrating influence
he had seen that hook and that fleshy angleworm
and it thrust him forward like eager digestion
how sweet it was, that soft bite
offered him before the sting of the hook
and he recognized as he hung above the water
that it is a better thing
to be merged in this harmony of life and death
and he knew that Joe would eat him up
a longing tide of gastric juices
and to catch a fish
is a cosmic thing
and to be breaded and ate with whiskey
‘neath provident skies
is a peradventure
whether you are the fish
or the baited hook
or a man with a matchless hunger
in a month or a lifetime of Sundays
whose freedom is in the zetetic truths of
angleworms stabbed with wire-fish hooks
throbbing and pale and fleshy and
lying on the banks of that old river


Orig. Posted September 5, 2010 at 8:32pm