Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Floyce Alexander–say both names without pausing–
was a mama’s boy. His daddy hoped he’d amount
to something, be a diesel mechanic
or an occupation that paid money,
not, for God’s sake, worshiping the Devil
poetry. You have to know everything,
the big man said, lowering his mask to weld
after sparking the torch with acetylene,
talking through the shield he couldn’t see through
although his daddy said he could and that’s what counts.
Whadyameanby everything?
his daddy heard his son cry out through fire.
He tried on his daddy’s gloves, his hands ash.

In Seattle he stuck with Bobby and his friends.
He was fond of the sax player DG
with whom he wandered alleys drinking Paisano.
Floyce Alexander played clarinet like Bobby.
Once anyway. He didn’t now. He only wrote
poems. Like this one:

Squish, squish, squish
mud goes between barefoot toes.

Someone said, Seven syllables more
and presto! Haiku!
Floyce Alexander thought: Fuck you.
Nelson Bentley said, That’s not necessarily haiku,
don’t count syllables, but listen to what happens,
maybe something like:

Squish, squish, squish
goes water between toes
frogs leap through

There, Bentley said, and you have five syllables
left over. Why not say, the Haiku student asked,

salmon leap through to get upstream

and Bobby entered the fray:
You’d have to make the reader see the falls,
the fish ladders the salmon climb
and what’s at the end, where they spawn.

Floyce Alexander said, Squish
is the sound of making mud
between bare toes after a rain.
Bobby added, You don’t hear salmon,
you see them, you hear the waterfall roar.

(19 September 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

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