Friday, November 22, 2013

Poultry Science

A Friday, I’d just begun the job;
college most of my life so far,
and womanless now
Irene Castenada had vanished.
Love stripped like paint
from my youth.

I tried to read Flaubert.
It took me years,
L’Education sentimentale
and his letters
my only writing school,
albeit in translation.

I could speak Spanish
where I had to,
in orchards and fields,
but not when asked
for translation in the city
by those pointing at words.

So it was 
that when I was working
in the halls of Poultry Science,
among roosters and mostly hens
as we awaited a new building
where we’d all have offices,

I heard the news
JFK was shot and killed
in Dallas this Friday
in the Year of Our Lord 1963.
Then the long weekend,
the Mafia’s Ruby slaying Oswald.

When my teacher had died
five months before,
the radio obituary said he worked
in a pickle factory
before writing Pulitzer Prize
poetry. He got me the job.

Thanksgiving, the country
went on as before the murder.
I was on my way to Mexico
to look for Irene Castenada,
finding those who knew her
and hear she never appeared.

America always remembers
the young president mourned
by those who loathe
Nixon. Reagan.
The Bush family.
I too revere John Kennedy . . .

who thought on his feet
and loved all the women
who wished to love him.
He had a bad back, better
after the orgasm, superb
if she too was  happy.

I wrote in a Kennedy rocker
before the picture window
above the highway into town,
meditating on the grain elevator.
My luck, not my back, was bad:
saying Betty, sleeping with Paula.

Years later the scholars exposed
his need for women not his wife.
The nation was hungry to hear
what never required thought.
And those who took degrees
were anointed as intellectuals.

Fifty years and the intelligentsia
weary with conspiracy theory:
the single bullet, a second shot,
the inexplicable demise of those
on the Grassy Knoll . . . Believe
nothing under the spell of time.

(22 November 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

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