Robert Funderburk : Three Poems : Poetry : October 2019

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I was born by coal oil lamplight in a tin-roofed farmhouse 6 miles outside Liberty, Mississippi. I list logging, plowing with a mule, picking cotton and working in a country store in my resumé. Learned to swim in an Amite River swimming hole–no lessons. My uncle went to school with Jerry Clower. My mother’s parents ran a dairy farm near Liberty. My Papaw Funderburk was State Overseer for the Mississippi Churches of God from 1935 to 1947. Graduated from LSU (“went in dumb and come out dumb too.”) Ssgt in USAFR 1965-1971. Retired parole officer.

The Lady and the Buck

My husband bought a stand
Akin to the bicycle
In the old song “built for 2.”
I could not fathom
The atavistic urge
That would rouse him
From a warm bed in darkness
For a cold seat
In heights of a tree
To wait, be silent and wait
I squirmed, ground my teeth
To trap words in my throat
A bobcat springing
Across the bush hogged path
A wild boar, snorting
Rooting out in the briars
And ubiquitous privet
Had made the walk back
To the river mildly adventurous
But this infernal, silent
Eternal sitting

Each tiny click of my water bottle
Birthed darkness within his eyes
Beneath the shelves of bone
That surely had grown
Since yesterday. This man
My man, a troglodyte? Nah…

At noon I climbed down
Took the well worn path
Back to the truck, climbed in
And turned onto the half mile
Gravel drive that led
To the blacktop and home
Through the windshield
A vision from my husband’s
Endless hunting videos
Tall, regal, coat glistening
In sunlight, he turned
His fourteen-point rack
Anointed head and held me
With an imperial gaze
Then bounded down the ravine
Disappearing into wilderness

I smiled benignly, a tear
Glistening down my cheek
At that moment I knew
I could never have placed that +
On his shoulder

Political Harvest

Toward the east
Through back porch screen
Clouds are forming their ranks
Against the sun

A crow’s distant cawing
Gives voice to solitude
Worn like a thorny cloak
And mocks that final promise

Hope and lifeline once
Now become more lethal
Than foreign shrapnel

Pines murmured all night
In their high, strange tongue
I listened, no longer trying
To accept or understand
As dust deepens around me

Back to the kitchen I glide
Where blue flame sputters
On the cast-off stove
And brown paper bags
Are bloated
From their diet of bottles
Like the stomachs of children
Brought up on war

Light Eternal

Isaiah 60:19

The shadows in my room
Move toward evening
To the slow, inexorable
Cadence of the sun
As all mankind moves
Toward that final failing
Of the light

Darkness covers that wide, wide gate
And falls upon the narrow
Too late now to choose your fate
As the rich man begs for water

For those who chose that narrow road
And lived by faith, not sight
Are greeted by the Lamb of God
Who is their sun and moon and starlight