January 20, 2009

a maniac barely subdued.

by Jason Floyd Williams

The house was miles away from town,
from neighbors & from the road.
Vast acres of weeds & semi-dead
vegetation surrounded the home.
It may as well been
on the moon.
Inside, there was plenty
of space.
Everything was wide & empty.
Bill’s parents sat at
an ordinary dining-room table,
The Waltons’ table, w/ 8 or 10
other folks.
That was Bill’s dad, as
I remember him—short, pudgy,
loud & myopic, like a gnome
too long among humans—but
that wasn’t Bill’s mom.
She must’ve been
the new wife.
Her face was a factory tragedy,
a steady diet of old coffee,
stale cigarettes, & cheap whiskey face—
a gaunt face of death’s
imminent arrival.
She stared at me &
through me.

Bill’s kids were in
the living-room.
They were the ages I last
remember seeing them:
Willie, 4 or 5, Vicki, 6 or 7,
Julie, 9 or 10.
No Little Rascals trouble or
enjoyment of life.
They all sat, half-naked, around
a full clothes rack.
They resembled Tarzan’s kids
around a Christmas tree.

Bill slumped over a desk,
texting someone on his cell-phone,
ignoring me.
His friend, some genetic, romantic mistake
of farmer & oxen, some hostile clump
of mean clay w/ desperate awful eyes,
a maniac barely subdued,
asked Bill: “Is this him?”
“Yeh,” said Bill, not looking up.

The madman staggered (a new-born elephant’s
hesitation, an obese stilt-walker drunk, the earth
w/ legs) across the living-room &
sat high school-make-out-session-close
to me.
He wanted to share
the wool blanket I had
over my legs.

That’s when I got up
from the couch, moved quickly
out of the house &
went to my car.

Everyone suddenly wanted me
to stay; they were trying
to convince me to stay—it was an
intervention gone sour & now they
wanted to make it up.

I drove Steve McQueen fast
down the dirt driveway & onto
the road—it was Rt. 84,
a road from my past.

Rt. 84 was now full of people,
hordes of people, throngs of people,
thousands of people.
Obstacles, really.
I had to slow down & navigate
carefully through them.

Various folks from the house
were following me close in their car—
echoing my every movement.

I had the paranoid feeling that
they’d always be following me.


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