Richard George :: Poetry ::


Southern Legitimacy Statement: I attended Tulane University and lived and worked in New Orleans upon completion of my studies. From an apartment by the Fairgrounds, in the middle 1990s, I published the avant-garde literary magazine, Mystery Itch. Mentally, I never left the city.



“The Whip”

I had a dream that I was in a house that was spinning like…what’s the name of that amusement park ride? I inquired because I may have been the owner of the property, however temporary, and I didn’t want to take ownership. I inquired because I knew the answer though hoped to hear that answer from another mouth so to make a connection. I decided I populated my dreams with new people because I wanted to meet new people and because doing so in the real world was becoming increasingly more difficult. It made sense to ask questions, something people were also doing less. I inquired because I thought it was strange. The other houses in the neighborhood were stationary. I learned that the house rested on shifting plates, which made me think of the San Andreas in Burning California. The house would hit that point when it seemed that it would break free and cease to be a house, but abruptly would draw back, hit its center, and then radiate to another exterior point only to be drawn back to center by some mechanized pull. The process repeated itself. Luckily, it didn’t do this all day. That would have been too much. Even blind nature needs a break. I asked about the house across the street, a brown colonial: “That’s the computer house,” which very sentence triggered an image of a computer in every room and this writer’s resolve to stay away from such a house for as long as he drew breath.


“Watering Gardens 1,2,3”

I turned the hose on the ghosts of three ex-lovers standing in my doorway. I had no dogs to sic upon them, though I mimicked one’s growls for kicks. I did none of this out of malice. My equanimity was unsurpassed; I was playful; I had had to be. I switched up the nozzle patterns. Flood, alas, failed, though succeeded in getting the front of my pjs and slippers wet. Mist lacked, like Flood, the necessary velocity, the range and the punctuation I sought. I tried Jet, but Jet made me think of needles and needles’ place in the past year, and I feared would goad the retreat that would all too soon come before I had had my fill and my fun. I clicked on Cone. I aimed high, lintel high, to simulate rain. I liked Cone and waxed nostalgic about watering gardens while the ghosts got dowsed in earthly water and ran for cover. With the trio adjourned and the sunshine returned, I went to investigate the wreckage: the artwork that never made it to the walls, the framed black and white photographs of kindergartners in Brooklyn Heights in 1974, of whom I was one, the books that had no business being on the floor in the first place, none, specifically, the Mexico City Blues and Living at the Movies copies scored at the Maple Street Bookstore in Uptown New Orleans in 1988. I told myself, as I had done so before, “It’s just stuff. It’s just stuff.” “It’s just stuff. It’s just stuff,” echoed the departing ghosts, as everything went its separate ways.

I went to the mall. I was super bored. I had lost weight and required a new suit I had procrastinated getting. I needed dark roast first. As I made my way for that, my intuition told me at least one of the three who had darkened my doorway earlier would be on that line. My mood blackened, but only briefly, for I heard familiar notes in the air, ones I could pick like apples from the past: Segovia’s Spanish guitar. When had live music become a part of the shopping mall experience? I was all for it, and I wished I had thought of it first. Before, I’d come armed with a song in my head. And when that song got old, I’d put on the flip side, the B-side, the side you never bought the record for though you might grow to like if you gave it half a chance. I stopped and followed the hands on that guitar. It made me excited to buy new clothes again.

When she asked, “How old are you,” my response was, “You mean how young am I?” “Yeah, that works.” “Old enough to appreciate you. Young enough to be the best time you’ll ever have.”



I tried helping you acclimate in your new digs by removing first the license plate above your front door. It seemed that our connection, tenuous at best, was maintained and sustained by driving, specifically, my driving, and that a reconnection was necessary…using other conduits. I blew it though.  I had overlooked the fact that the plate was a decal and that there was a second “plate” beneath the first. How could I have known? As soon as I put down the wrench and got to peeling with my one long nail, I saw the colors of another state, and it got me to wondering: How many had the one before driven? Tossed off without so much as a thought? Even if you tally the tonnage, the sheer tonnage, it can make the loving soul want to raise the covers of his bed like a sarcophagus lid, climb right in and be gone. I’m on my fifth car at last count; I’m not proud to say. I’d still be driving my first, were it remotely possible, but an ex wrecked it, like she wrecked so much…while I was away…in the Land of the Lost & Found. I’d’ve preferred a horseshoe above, and I’d’ve left it alone, said it would bring luck, and surely you could’ve done with some of that, we all could’ve done, but preferences are hard commodities to come by now. I weighed removing the second plate, but I got spooked. Intuition said a third lurked beneath that one and a fourth beneath the third. A fifth and so on. It got so I needed a fifth! And so, a fifth I found. And down the hatch. My last girlfriend fancied herself a student of the Russian language. I tried to interest her in that country’s film and literature and song, hoping I’d bring something to her and out in her, but she had no passion for anything save fueling her rage in the end. Ineluctably, I loved her, and when we parted a pantheon of Russian dolls manufactured in the factory of my plague-addled brain knocked at all hours on my grey, blind door, proffered a ripped, cancelled stub, obtained admission to my throttled psyche, unleashed a Cossack fury upon it, and took not a single prisoner as bounty.