November 22-28, 1999: Christine Crockett and James Lineberger

Week of November 22-28, 1999

Christine Crockett and James Lineberger

Christine Crockett

Bio (auto)

I have been writing poetry for over 20 years now, some periods more productive than others For me, poetry (both reading and writing of it) is an intimacy with the world”at large” and a way of wringing sense from the chaos I suppose the only true sense is the connection it makes with others Christine is from San Mateo, California.

The following work is Copyright © 1999, and owned by Christine Crockett and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

The Desertion


This is where he lets me off, 
The miles of field
stretching out like sand
into four invisible oceans
And the wind, blue
and free of dust, 
spiraling through the wheat
And the only road
is the one he drives away on

My belly shifts
with a new weight, which twists
on its side, like a sneer
And we are all he has left
alive, and my shoes
are the end of his story


I squat low into the weight
of myself and rock you, 
unborn child I tell you
how little there is
to fear, that the dark
will be gentler
than a womb And a moon
will float out of the wheat
like a god, so that when
we are born into separate lives
we won’t be afraid
of the light


This morning the sky
was an echo
I’ve walked away from it
into more wind, 
into this landscape filled
with nothing, not even
silence And as the blank
face of the sun begins
to flatten over this field, 
I am still walking
away form it, still moving out
of the world


This is what we are whispering
to ourselves: Moon Wheat Wind
And my feet are the hollows
I’ve left in this field
And you, child, are the skin
of a man I loved
And my face is a glass
in which you would know yourself
even if you were broken
And this wind is a memory which
never comes back
And my eyes are the close
of our story.

From The Porch

Evening settles with such stillness
that we miss the first small stars Luminous night moths, flickering
around their temple of light,
throw fistfuls of shadow
across our faces Alone
on this porch, we watch the horses
move through thier blackening field But we place no bets tonight Growing into our weaknesses,
supple as skin, we invent
no last chances at glory Tired now, we can give away
these questions we toss like
pebbles to the stars They are too
honest, too rough in our fists,
to have any answers waiting.

James Lineberger

Bio (auto)

I live in Concord, North Carolina I am a professional playwright and screenwriter My poems have appeared previously in the following: Afternoon; Berkeley Poetry Review; The Centennial Review; Coal City Review; Djinni; Exquisite Corpse; Hanging Loose; Hayden’s Ferry Review; Mediphors; New York Quarterly; Ontario Review; Oxford Magazine; Pembroke Magazine; Poetrynow; Prairie Schooner; Rag Mag; Snake Nation Review; Sonora Review; Unlikely Stories; and Verse

The following work is Copyright © 1999, and owned by James Lineberger and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

A Brief History of the Old South

The class behind us
the one whose English teacher married
our English teacher that
bunch always thought they were better than us some-
how like they every one
of them had been born in the National
Society and the Key Club and could read Chaucer without a pony
younger than us just
like their teacher was younger than ours never
realizing then that he got his power
from them that they owned him balls to soul a man who
could never get out
of their clutches once he was in but spent his whole career imagining he was
the one in charge thinking first he
would steal our teacher away then cause her to get pregnant then
tired then restless then
bored then finally coerced into retire-
ment locked
up in the house with their only child Steven that
would later become a concert pianist and travel all over the world playing
to beat the band
and whenever one of us tried
to go visit the boy’s mama they would spirit her off
to do rubbings from the head-
stones at Salem or make her tag along to the apartment of one
of her husband’s former students the one at MIT or in the Peace Corps or USC take
your pick a woman that used to could
scream Out, damned spot! and make the hairs stand up
like static on your arms
but now when you saw her at Food Town or JC Penny’s you would hardly think it
was the same person this little hunched over
lady in black shades and flip flops hair in scraggles wearing a print
dress that all
she had to do was pull it over her head like a sack staring
at her list and mumbling to herself and if one of us dared to speak she
would duck
away to another aisle or just abandon her buggy groceries and what all
and head for the exit
where one of the ones from the class behind us would be waiting behind
the wheel of the Hudson Hornet she paid for with surplus retirement checks
and traded in every other
year for a new model that pretty much resembled the one before but so
what her husband explained in a voice as dead as the dead
fountains of Versailles if I hadn’t stolen you away you’d still be riding
around in Chevrolets
and then as if we had never
seen her she was gone altogether murdered we surmised
covered up with lime in the basement of that house he bought out past Watts
Cross Roads leaving behind an un-
contested estate of nothing but a closetful of those sack dresses and three
uncashed checks
smelling like the sachet in her underwear drawer
and when we asked one of the ones that came after us what had happened he
just gave
this tiny smile like he was in
on it from the beginning rubbing his hands together like
he couldn’t get the blood off them and all
we could do was wait until they came for us in Jeeps and locked us
up in the armory for a whole
weekend with MP’s with loaded M1’s until they could get the paperwork done
and every man jack in the Old Hickory Division processed and shot
for typhus and tetanus
and pack us off to the Chosin Reservoir to see the elephant until we were
bleeding Technicolor red on the tread-
marked snow until we couldn’t even remember our teacher’s
name or call her up in our dying prayers people screaming everywhere Out Jesus
Mary Motherfucker get me
outa here clawing and scrubbing their hands every which way dead ones and
live ones piled
together like Romeos and Juliets until faraway in the distance
like a chorus
of muted trumpets we could hear the faint
cries of the ones that came after us moving among the trees the stunted
black trees in Birnham Wood
cursing cajoling slapping at them with their swords telling them to get up and walk
like men


I could stand it too couldn’t you if
all I had to do was wait
three days till I was back upstairs again
with him dabbing
a wet washcloth to my forehead and whispering
there now didn’t I tell you
it’d be all right which sure why wouldn’t it
be but you have to wonder
what kind of daddy
would ever try a damn fool
stunt like that even
if he thought he knew exactly how it would
turn out I mean
what is the use for somebody to cause
his only begotten son
to get crucified and die and be buried under
a pile of bricks in somebody’s
garden just so
he can sneak in like Karloff and carry the body off
claiming whosoever believeth
in him can disappear the very same
way sort of

My exact relationship to Harvard

is I came close to
seeing it
one time on the choir
tour when we got as far as MIT and stopped
off at that chapel
where the light bubbles down like water
only by then
everybody was starved so we went to this restaurant off the Common
which somebody highly recommended to
our director who has been to Harvard Square and everywhere else up there more times
than you can imagine and who
suggested I might better play it safe with some less adventurous fare
but not me I went for the lobster
because lobster is what you always hear about the native people eating in places
like Harvard or Maine
except all that butter didn’t mix too good with the tequila
and beer chasers not to mention looking my lobster
in the eye before they boiled him Jesus it wasn’t just that I got sick and threw
up in their park it was the terrible
recurring dream after we got back home this family
of lobsters sitting
in a booth overlooking the beach at the old Riverbend Pavilion
holding claws and singing Blessed
Assurance as the preacher takes my hand and pulls me out into the steaming waters
to meet my Savior

Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Them Goodbye

All right then
What say we do away
With all that
Stuff about losing it or killing it
Or calling it romance
And no more
Caterwauling about God or the ?
Icosahedron where we drank and danced
In Muskegon,

No more songs to our old saddle pals
The women we loved or didn’t love
The children we gave up to the knife
The cats and dogs and Vietnamese Pot-
Pigs we’ve carried over the Great Divide
The barracks
And howling orphans at Midnapore, or anything
That has funny words in it
Like Rutabaga Philip
Morris Garde
Du Corps
No more harrangues against marriage,
Against divorce,
About greed or acid rain or getting
Fucked or forgot, you know
What I mean
All that preaching about this and that
giving tit for tat
Telling us where it’s not
Or where it’s at,

No more
Essays concerning hands or feet or bums getting
Holy in the streets,
Christ, no, let’s just shuck it all, make it
Against the law
Turn the damn things into kindling or little what-
Nots with bubbles of shellac, and when
The Peacemakers and the Pure In Heart and all
The rest of them ask us what
We will leave behind, what then?
We will break open our rucksacks and bring out the goods,
Only bread, brother
Only salt
Only the charred bouquet of our
red red wine

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