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ADELAIDE Independent Monthly Literary Magazine / Revista Literária Independente Mensal, New York / Lisboa, Online Edition  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BUS TO SANTEE, SOUTH CAROLINA
by John Horváth

 

 

 

REVEREND TERREBONNE PREACHES TO THE DEAF AND DUMB
OF GRUNDY COUNTY

Bought hisself a brand new doublewide painted
white as angel feathers and a red cross atop so's
whomsoever might could descend to make Judgment
would know foursquare whereabout to find him an'
His. With purple sateen sheets--them slick 'uns--
He hung it all inside. And he called it Everyones
Tabernacle of Jesus ain't no Christ, ain't God, but
God's in your own Self by your own Soul its own
Salvation on this Earth. Briefly, they was called
The "Good-n-Earthy" after Terrebonne hisself.
Then late one Saturday whilst he sat watchin'
His favorite televised save-your-soul19.95 Bible-n-
Salvation salesman he got taken with a little lady in
The corner o' the tube with her fingers just a blurrin'
In the name of the Lord.

Terrebonne got inspiration;
Sent off for a booklet on how to sign
Your way thru heaven's pearly gates;
Then commenced t' study the Gospel 'cording
To St. Peter's fingers til he become THE
Deaf-mute preacher of the Deep South
With his stubby little hands just Am-
Slammin away "are ye washed in the blood
Of the lamb?" and "we'll all sing hymn
Number Sixty-nine."  Brother Terrebonne
Happy as a sow in summer mud collectin'
donations every Sunday service, every
Wednesday evenin' fellowship, same
each and every Bingo chapter and verse
'cording to the Testament Friday night
with the Good-n-Earthy ladies' auxiliary
(not to mention his special Rosie's Bar
trips to save the lost from drink Tuesday-
Thursday regular at the crossroads town
past the town just down the way
where he took off his collar--Terrebonne
careful not to offend by a man of the cloth
drinkin' sinners under the table for their good).

The Lord works in mysterious ways--
or so Terrebonne would say
in his own peculiar fingered way.

 

 


SOWEGA JEWESS

She collects rags which she weaves
into placemats, carpets, dishrags
and carpetbags that she must trade
for newer rags and victuals. Mamas
warn badly behaved babies saying,
"Gonna sell you to the raghag" who,
everyone knew, sucked baby's blood
Friday nights locked in her candle-lit
shack.

South West Georgia's first Jewess
like a rare earth element in clay
came not so very long ago, ignorant
of directions to the promised land;
and, although some hinted turnabout,
she settled into her small tintop shack
along the tracks. Some said she should
move to the other side. The other side
said let her stay put, some folk move
too much.

Childhood fears became swastikas
until one evening when the train
screamed the Jewish Question was
resolved. Old flesh on rusty rails
some swear still bleeds into gravel
and other insist the old hag groans
under the burden of diesels headed
North to the promised land of milk
and honey. Good old boys chuckle,
their red necks bright with knowing
the South will never die--'cause some
truly believe with true belief.

 

 

 

AFTER THE BLUES

He plays at the corner of Meridian and
    Main Saturdays for socialite mobs
Leaving Late Matinee fictional
    characters battling dangerous foes
Their Silverspoon fantasies left on
    the screen Off to appertif dinner
        and drinks
Or suburban sunrise Sundays when
    their bedcrust eyes ope like
        peonies to daylight
then close on remembering once
    having been something but blind
poor excuses for not having souls

And he plays there the sax
whose crisp riffs
stagger into alleyways where black
    cats tom and soft bitches hang
Their heads down into the trashbin
    hostelries of bankers' sons gone bad
rancid with failure

All around 'em his notes banging
    'gainst bottles o' rye
Cheap beer halfpiss and halfvinegarish wines
And they damn well do love
When it wraps warm misery rhythms 'round
    their can't give a damn lives
He plays all night backup to their
    memories and recalls of when they
    had
real ones until it all dies down to a long
    low note drawn out that dries
under the heat of the sun coming up.

Common playmate, corner princess Tanya
Shares the saxophonist’s territory;
Helps him count his coins at night end nightly
Before he departs to sleep where ever
He can find a bedroom cheap for sinners.
Tanya says it aint music, not atall --
Can't sing a lick of that stick – but
    that hard as metal thing he's got
under the lamplit corner of Meridian
    and Main Street after the social set
        has gone.
She comes again and again.

She's after the blues.

 

 

 

BUS TO SANTEE, SOUTH CAROLINA

(Busing East toward Santee, South Carolina--
Beulah's broad bottom like a baker's bad cake,
Earl's pale frosted cheeks, sitting five seats
apart among the drunks, loud-mouthed pimple-plus
kids, and mothers who smoke Marlboros and hold
wet diaper babies over the roaring engine.
Hear 'em all night.)
Earl's waiting for darkness
and inside lights to play mirror on his window
so he can catch sight of her reading that Book
five seats back, across the aisle from him.
It ain't like that he never been in love;
Never been in love for a while is all.
His women plump and grateful, he thinks,
wanting another; wishing he could stand,
walk the bouncing path all the way back
to the bathroom redlight but not wanting
degenerates watching him, wondering why
or what he goes to relieve; not wanting
apologetic smiles of bad breath mothers
greeting him either, only a chance to move
with a ready excuse to speak with HER--
wanting to kiss Beulah.

    Beulah's seen his lean face, sunken eyes
like a puppy's, his oversize ears and rough-cut
hair a little longer than his three day beard.
Three days ago he sat down to start his vigil,
a squint-eye peekaboo with his seat down, next
one up, pretending to sleep. But she noticed--
a man, she decided, who might have been someone
some time ago.  Something about deviants, drunks
and derelicts attracted her, forced her juices
to seep down into the sweat between her thighs.
               Bus Station
               Carrolltown
               Georgia--
She rises to leave and he stands, turning to her.
She begins to pass and he places his hand on her
               (Wanting to kiss Beulah).
She pauses to hand him her Book. "Thank you," says Earl.
She leaves and turns to look through the window;
On the wet asphalt through the window,
She alone smiles because Earl is reading:

     "Give, I pray you, loaves of bread
          unto the people that follow me;
          for they be faint, and I am pursuing.."
               Gideon 8, verse 4.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author:

John Horváth

Mississippian John Horváth (now that I’m 70, I’m dropping the ‘Jr’) publishes poetry internationally since the 1960s (recently in Burningword Literary Journal (Best of 2018), Adelaide Literary Magazine, Brave Voices (Zimbabwe), London Reader, Subterranean Blue, Ink Sweat & Tears). After Vanderbilt and Florida State universities, "Doc" Horváth taught at historically Black colleges. Since 1997, to promote contemporary international poetry, Horváth edited for 20 years, the magazine at www.poetryrepairs.com.

 

 

 

 

     
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