Monday, September 5, 2011


a little extra from the old boy
languishing in memory’s garden:

he was teaching Heart of Darkness
and Camus’s Caligula . . .

reading aloud “Do Not Go Gentle”
and hearing it echo through the hall

among other texts with names
no one, not even he, had heard before:

Julie Jackson, his most dedicated student
but quiet until she had something to say

(and walking Central past the Frontier
with a friend was coaxed into a ride

with a young man their age who drove
to the Manzanos and stabbed her to death

though her friend clawed her way down
the mountain and later identified him,

who told a jury his mother tried to flush
his head down the toilet in his childhood

and last we heard he was spared death
for what may be worse, life without parole),

and one whose name he will not remember,
who asked to see him after class one day

and told him how Catholic school ruined
her life–“that nunnery!”–and confided

she was getting wet listening to him . . .
Stunned, he told her he was a happy man

with a woman not only beautiful
but brilliant, while she was alluring

certainly but would be happy someday
with a man who thrilled her far more,

and that year Kurtz murmured, as ever,
“The horror!” of his own mad enterprise,

in time for Coppola’s Apocalypse Now
to reach Albuquerque, the first version,

and Caligula, after so many defilements
of all Rome, ended with his agonized

“And still I live!” though wretched,
having hoped to include himself in his toll.

And “into that Good Night” his father
went first, then his mother, eventually . . .

The Rio Grande flowed under a bridge
Irish Cathleen drove to the South Valley

where so many lived who suffered daily
and frequently also smiled sincerely . . .

In New Orleans she saw so many faces
she compared with those in Paris

and never forgot the barrio Barelas,
where she was the only Anglo lover

(5 September 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

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