All matter of dead and decaying things lie just below the surface.
All the memories of my summers lie
Shaded by Spanish Moss and propped on Cypress Knees.
I explored the marsh and swamp without a care
Unhindered by anything except my dad's decrees.
Just up the road Melvin had a package store.
Catty-corner was Uncle Billie's gas station.
I learned from the one of the butcher's gore
And from the other the dancing mechanic's gyration.
At that time grandpa lived in a small one room shack
Backed up to the swamp — wasn't much, but it was his home.
He spoke of WWI and flying through some awful flak.
My grandpa never did learn English and was all alone.
Once in a while Johnnie, the bachelor uncle, would come to call
And he stayed with dad a while. He and I fished often
All along the bayou for crappie long into the fall.
When he talked of WWII his voice would always soften.
One winter's day I woke up and rolled out of bed
And I found Johnnie at a fishing spot all cold and dead.
And later in 'nam I heard how Billie
raped his own daughter in the back of one of his cars
just the week before his son got exploded in a helicopter
not 50 miles from me; he died without no doctor.
I have news clippings from all these events that I have kept:
Johnnie exposed on the bayou
Robbie laid to rest in parts
Billie's trial that tore us all asunder.
They are locked up in a box that I never open much anymore.