Oyster Boy Review 07  
  September 1997
» Cover

» Feature
» Art
» Poetry
» Fiction
» Essays
» Reviews
» Contributors

» Oyster Boy Review
» Levee 67

For Joe Bolton

Kentucky Words

Laila Halaby

For Joe Bolton

You are back again.
This time it was James Wright
who bit into the memory section
of my insides
and reminded me
that my poem about you
is not through,
though Wright was 53
when he died
and you were just more
than half that age
when you splattered
Kentucky summers against your living room wall.

I wish this poem could end,
just as you wished
your life could end,
just as James Wright
talks about the end . . .
and oh how you used
to make fun of Wright's titles,
though you said that
they were brilliant.

. . . and did I say yet
that we drove through
Cadiz and tromped through
graveyard after graveyard,
and though I never
found you, I talked to you
a lot when my mother
was out of earshot.
It was summertime
and smelled of grass
because on Saturday
everyone mows their lawns
in Kentucky.
The yellow ribbons
and American flags
though discolored,
were everywhere.

And you know,
for months you have not
haunted me the way
you insisted on doing
a year ago, but then
out of the blue
James Wright had to go
and say:
"I have wasted my life"
in a poem
that has one of those
titles you called brilliant,
and bang,
it's summertime
and your Kentucky drawl
teaches me to paint
the pictures in my head
with words,
and I miss you,
and I am sad
for my hero
who was wrong
if he felt
that he wasted his life
in a poem.