Miss Lena’s Country Buffet
We decided to leave early, north out of Manning
straight up Route 301; we had half a case
of Nut Brown Ale, a hundred hours of blues.
Passing the sharecropper shacks
the beautiful Cadillacs, a sheen of something owned
by men who knew the truth of endless work.
But that day was Easter when the singing at Table Rock AME
soared to heaven like the purple feather
on Teresa Porter’s new bonnet.
On the outskirts of Fayetteville, just past the propane and
package goods store, yellow cinderblock eatery
Miss Lena’s Country Buffet. You paid your nine dollars
and then, grabbed a tray.
We sat in the back near the biscuits,
our daily bread.
The Salt and Pepper Game
I always thought I’d want to go back
To the old home town, to the good days
Of youth and first love, to long afternoons
Tossing a football in the little field
By the Parkers’ house. Those salt and pepper
Games when blacks and whites just played
Touch football behind Emily Spong School.
We never knew real names—Buckwheat,
Snaggletooth and Al Thumbin’—legendary
Players in the mists of time. Our prime
Or so it seemed, average kids with muddled
Dreams of Redskins and little Eddie LeBaron
Heaving the rock into an amazing sky.
Yellow Rose of Texas
She was a tall drink of water from Tyler
Married young to a man who became a bum
After a second chance at romance collapsed
She headed for Houston to make a fresh start.
Sometimes it’s hard to pick up the pieces
To fit everything into the box of belief.
Uhaul your own destiny down the dusty road
And somewhere just off I-10, she pulled off
To have a beer and a smoke and watch
The sun setting behind the ship channel.
And the young senorita at the taco joint
Knew a decent place that had a short-term lease
Humble, clean and close to things that matter.
Because of oil money, there were usually jobs
And college boys and working slobs
Looking to meet a tall blond pushing thirty
Who with a wink may seem flirty—go easy,
She was alone, broken and a long way
From home and all those anxious torsos in full flex
Tire themselves hoping to be next.