No Cute Pets
from Country

Lead us to the swans that stuff the journals with
Romps - points of view, agents with big biceps, from

Kansas a tall man with at least one old Yugo, some
college kids on NoDoz: you can find what I’m

talking about in Uneeda Review: Like a Hole in the Head,
edited by J. Parkhurst Schimmelpfenning

(Nick Lyons Books: New York, 1984). Consider the
F-entry as Freedom’s Gateway, letting insight,

nuance, concentration, dispersal, diversity and
unity come to be, just as my mother would make

biscuits, dumping some flour in a pan, pouring
buttermilk on top of the little mountain, balling up

her right fist and punching the tip, wallowing
out a crater where the liquid left running would

gather until she approved the consistency,
brushing her face with part of her apron, leaving

flowers of flour on her cheeks, signs she might start
humming, kneading the dough, pulling and

stretching, pinching wads of dough rolling and
pounding it into biscuits, including a Dough Man

she made for me, marking a navel and an obvious
sight between his legs, a penetrable searching for the

right place in her dough in the roll in the pan now
laced with dusts of self-rising, general purpose

flour, or, using many fewer words, the whole
thing the opening to something never before

created, the words giving way to the G-zone, the
string or rod or place wherein the Gateway Singers

feel right at home up and down the road to the
grave where the boys sing “Bury Me in My Overalls”

and the girls swoon “Kisses Sweeter than Wine” and
“Hard, Ain’t It Hard”: the lonesome road we travel

on, the row we hoe: “Ode to Billie Joe” carries a
lot of misery and mystery, surfing and swooping

waves droplets plash in rumors over the delta
blues-country, memories and melodies a

foundation grounded in the certainty of that
Song of 1967: Bobbie Gentry never needed another

one, though she sings on, her Chickasaw County,
Mississippi, childhood boon to years in California at

Palm Springs High, Hollywood, and UCLA, though
“place” for Gentry is what it is, moving on, incorporating the

past, rooms of twirling baby-hands and shuffling feet toward
desire and Fred Gerlach playing a 12-string guitar. I

almost hit a medium-sized box turtle yesterday: I
was mowing, driving the Scag, using, of course, the

KFC-looking, chicken-wing-levers-steering
wheel: I practically did a zero-turn to miss

Mr. Turtle: looked that orange-mottled, black-backed
terrapin-turtle up on the net (depends on where you

are from what you call a turtle-tortoise-terrapin) and
there it was, a photo, just like the one I saw on my

entry into Cow Mire: now my screed for 5 September 2010:
Nin’s hit “rock bottom,” she announced this

morning: I emailed Dr. B and queried whether
we should stay at 9 mg. EMSAM or alternate between

9 and 12. The female cardinal chirps hurry-up
in the choir of cypress, pines, quince, Japanese

maple, Nellie Stevens holly, sweetgum, magnolia,
cedar, dogwood, hackberry, forsythia, tiger

lilies: I didn’t realize the many trees and shrubs
up there on the highest (undozed) point on

Paul’s Hill: Gerlach rhymes with burlap: I
bet the cardinal got a sunflower seed out of the

squirrel-proof feeder, flurrying its wings in a
fan without even pitching on the non-pitch

stand: I mean a “heavy” bird will trip the thing
which makes that feeder “squirrel-proof”: Cricket’s

at my feet, looking like a small sphinx on this
terrace we now enjoy, thanks to the metal awning

overhead we put up to try to keep rain out of the
basement (didn’t work) though B-Dry works

(think Sump-Pump) and Nin and I groove out here
among the birds, the turtles, and the wind--our poem--

and cloud-wisps, blue birds, soft, sweet, pleasing with
their songs, though my real singer’s Nin: I must get her

better, the fall’s coming and I want her to rise up
and shine with me: we know many songs Don Gibson

wrote: he’s from Shelby, North Carolina, by the
way, a town of my namesake, Isaac Shelby--

General Isaac Shelby--fought at King’s Mountain,
North Carolina, originally from Shelby County,

Kentucky, became Governor of Maryland. Don Gibson!
“Sweet Dreams,” “Oh, Lonesome Me,” “I Can’t

Stop Loving You,” “Legend in My Time,” “There’s a
Big Wheel,” “Blue, Blue Day,” “Don’t Tell Me Your Troubles,”

“Give Myself a Party,” “Yes, I’m Hurting,” and
these not-too-well-known songs Gibson also

wrote: I mostly learned them off a CD-tribute
Roy Orbison did: “The Same Street,” “It’s Too Soon to

Know” (my favorite of all Gibson’s songs), “A Stranger to
Me,” “Oh, Such a Stranger.” He wrote and

sang them into his seventh decade, fighting
drug-abuse, and winning his childhood sweetheart,

Bobbie, keeping him safe until he could no more
go. His woodsy, bluesy style lays the melody

down like wagon wheels over plank-roads. Guess
who wrote “The Cry of the Wild Goose”? Terry Gilkyson.

He grew up not far from the Schuylkill River, around
Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. It didn’t hurt that the

Old Pea Picker Ernie Ford recruited that “goose”
song, making Gilkyson some money, I hope, though

it didn’t make him a star. Terry Gilkyson recorded an
album called “The Solitary Singer.” The bird, the poet, the

lilac, the singer, and the star are one and many in
“When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d.”

Gay Wilson Allen’s biography of Walt Whitman:
The Solitary Singer (Grove Press: New York, 1955).

I’ll tell you another thing: things are never the
way they were before the Glaser Brothers came along.

They could solid glaze a song: Tompall, Jim, and
Chuck, from Nebraska, getting a start on Godfrey’s

show, appearing with Marty Robbins in the late
50’s, accompanying Marty on “El Paso”: they

have that unmistakable teardrop-full feel in their
voices. Tompall and Harlan Howard wrote

“Streets of Baltimore” for Bobby Bare. Across the
field dogs in a housing development bare their teeth--

probably got their feet up on cyclone fence-wire. The
poplar leaves by the terrace rustle autumn along

down by the Austin girls’ place on Middle Creek:
Nin’s life spins in cycles: we’re together again, right

back where we started from, loving her the way I
do, her flight a reversal of normalcy, her breathing

one step above: I hitch up my Hanes, put the mule,
Henry, in the hames in a hurry and get on down the

hill, the collar taking the full force of the pull, as
“down” works Nin’s slip into a slump, the dumps

starting September 3, 2010--the 7th--now. Swing and
sway is here to stay, a form of motion for promise

Medicare will pay for her visit to the podiatrist.

Snapping Turtle
Copyright 2013,  Shelby Stephenson

Shelby Stephenson's book, Family Matters: Homage to July, the Slave Girl (Bellday Books, 2008), won the 2008 Bellday Poetry Prize, Allen Grossman, judge.

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