Caleb Puckett

Made for You and Me

Corn, soybeans, wheat: reports of their futures poison the melody you carry with you this morning. So you drive by necessity, contemplating the immense, dull ache of duress that emanates from this heartland, this hurt land, this space where the tarnished harmonica wind vibrates across thresholds seeking a verdant gap some men might call independence. Old man, where are you steering that truck of yours now that the rich expanse of thunderclaps has given way to a grid of speed traps? Are you headed back towards some perfect refrain long passed into dust now that the tongues of folkways have become mummified by the dime-a-dozen diodes of progress? Are you bent on finding some album full of alibis for your silence on the matter of giving up the ghost of home for a guaranteed place in line outside the chain store storefront? Woody Guthrie would have something to say about this desperate journey of yours. Stand tall, plant, multiply, and collect: but a man cannot be a Communist, only a body without a choice. You are here alone, toiling for a strain of something the wild abundance once seemed to promise.

For most people, refusal can never be anything more than a secondary hobby. One vacations—does not vacate. One need only shift the weight from one community to another for a brief moment to bring back circulation. Nostalgic for all that a trick memory might be worth, you gently hum “This Land is Your Land” as the nebulous dirt road disappears into the demarcated blacktop, realizing full well the bitter bargain all creators must strike when the government grants their cry for sustenance under the condition of flag-waving passivity. The ballad of self-sufficiency becomes the ballot self-defeat, old man, under this agreement for subsidy. Yes, it is some kind of egregious, snake oil complicity. But see how the tune must change for the time? See how paybacks can operate under the pretense of altruism? See how the blood in the audience’s smile can seem to turn white when one submits to that old black magic? The wand, old man, is a bankroll. Oh, what a priceless posterity that handshake can make: the palms so honest, the intention so full of complications. Tired and tied to the wheel, you push on with little will left to meet that wind. You push back, seeking an old song composed when tradition was synonymous with respect, not some kind of bondage. It is best that you turn away or turn it all off. Forgive yourself at once for what feels like a betrayal.

Bill Monroe’s Mix-up

I walk in thunder, wiping faith from my mouth. Whirling about, I throw rocks into the river. True low. My knife became home when love became a willow. Now I'm down in this creek. The bank is a high gate. Lord, I know that cotton ball. Ringing bell of joy. And those fields above me back up my bloody mouth. Talking to myself, I poison that name, Monroe. A brand breaking money. Old breaking. Old soul bone. Broken. I fell into night, just my mouth around a rose. The rose became a rotten potato. My knees in Carolina and back in Louisiana, after all. I fought smiling. I drew my saber, sweetheart, mama, smiling cripple, down by the cabin. True low. Jesus in the land. Miles of promised wonder soon gone to stone. My needing. My shoes. Wanting a bottle, a garden and a ball in the middle. Ready the rock, girl. Talk murder, mama. I’m making wine from the cradle, running from the moon. I’m high on blue, walking out a song of thunder.

Caleb Puckett lives in Kansas. Some of his recent writing appears in Mad Hatters’ Review and With + Stand. Otoliths published his most recent prose collection, Market Street Exit, in 2011.
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Blogger bobbi said...

I walk in thunder, wiping faith from my mouth."

wow--this is some beautiful writing!!

Bobbi Lurie

4:17 AM  

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