we was standin kneedeep in the riverbed shotgunnin forties when the boy waded out into the water shirtless to the sandbank, where freshwater clams washed up alongside bottle caps & deer hooves, where every stone unturned housed a crawdad or a condom, where low hanging limbs were bedazzled in rope & police tape, where bloated fish had been gutted by pairs of possum paws, where once, as a child, i found a CB radio & a duffel bag fulla minnows buried under a pile a leaves. treadin through lazy waters we watched with sunken eyes that boy standin on silt, where he stooped down & scooped up what appeared to be a long black rope, which he stretched out long in his hands so that it spanned as far as his arms could reach & then he started walkin. that boy walked that rope back across that water til he met us on the banks where with jaws dropped we saw that what we thought was a rope was actually a snake. so i reached out my arm and opened up my mouth to speak but that snake—a massive cottonmouth, all flaccid and limp—started a gaggin. he was a gaggin like a cat coughin up a hairball & we were all standin there, gawkin, that current flowin between our legs down to the dam, that breeze blowin through the branches of the pine trees overhead, that goddamn snake’s mouth hangin open with that ball a cotton swellin in the back of his throat, when all in a sudden, with one final cough, a sunfish leaped up & out of that snake’s mouth & swam downstream.
follow the mudskipper down into the cemetery, where that green water meanders through pluff mud & reeds, where from a towering live oak with sprawling branches a rubix cube spins in a clump of Spanish moss & a possum rears back to say, WE ARE ALL HAMS OF THE MIASMIC SLAUGHTER. standin on a stump leg, a bass fiddler rosins up his bow with honey, grips the frog with a clenched fist & pulls horsehair cross cat guts—but he can’t see the notes for the staff. so he props that fiddle up & wedges his toes between the f-holes to say, WE ARE ALL SALAMANDERS CRAWLING FROM FOREST FIRES. he slaps string to redwood to say: put your feet on the ground, goddammit & dance on your toes with your heels off the floor & read not just the story but the annotations & watch not just the film but the faces of the audience & listen not just to the speech but to the chatter of the crowd & YOU, he says. IN THE BACK. i ain’t no singer but i do believe i’ll be singin tonight, so gimme that tin can & thread this here string through your earholes & wax.