January 20, 2009

the stuff of legends.

by Jason Floyd Williams

Daniel Boone—after living w/ the Shawnee Indians
5 months, first as a captured enemy, then as a stepson
to Chief Blackfish, learned of his new family’s plans
of attacking his old family back at the Fort—ran (in 4 days)
160+ miles through dense Appalachian woods,
w/ a bum ankle from a gunshot wound, to warn
the pioneers.
He fought w/ the pioneers against
his former surrogate family.

The Shawnee disagreed w/ the pioneers moving
into their Kentucky neighborhood.

My brother-in-law, Larry, never ran
160+ miles to save his kin.
I haven’t, either.
Very few of us have, in fact.

These days, Larry’s been digging more desperately—
an archeologist w/ an Easter Island mound
of gambling debt—into his past, especially
when someone mentions running into an
old classmate.

Larry’s a 1920s investigative reporter following
the moonshine drips leading to the hidden speakeasy:
Where did you see him? What time?
What else did he say besides ‘Hello’?

We each have our personal highlights;
the stuff in our personal legends.
Sometimes they just happen earlier
for others.

Larry’s was his starting position as a Kicker,
on his High School football team.
He had a solid consistency in
getting extra points & field-goals.

He even won a couple free tickets to a
Monster Truck Rally during a Browns’
half-time show: they challenged fans
to come down & kick a field goal.
Whoever got the longest field goal won.
Larry got it at 35-yards.

But now, at 37-yrs old, he’s compiling & collecting
data from his old yearbooks & newspapers clippings
surrounding that time.

His 2nd shift factory job gives him no satisfaction.

His co-workers, a crowd of Croatian women,
watch him w/ Sherlock Holmes intensity—
waiting for the moment Larry’s mind wanders
away from his machine.

Then they report him.

So, that’s all he does: dig into the past.
He wants a fuller understanding
of those moments—
He wants to give them more permanence,
more polish, more shellacking.

After all, that’s what poetry is:
scouring the past to explain the present.


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