University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The Literature Collection

Page View

Owens, Elisabeth, R. (ed.) / Encore: more of parallel press poets

Cantrell, Charles
Green fuse,   pp. 12-13

Page 12

Green Fuse 
Bored with long division, I pictured the blue bicycle 
    used, bent chain guard I could fix- 
         but my mother wouldn't buy it, 
because Dad, drunk again at work, lost his shipyard 
    pipefitting job. My mother got hired at Franklin's 
         as a seamstress. I wept, wept at my sick cat, falling 
grades, most anything. A distant station on my radio 
    broke in with a taped program of someone named Dylan 
         Thomas. Scratchy bass, not unlike Dad's whiskey-bruised 
and smoke-sanded vocal cords. 
    "Young and easy under apple boughs" escaped me, 
         but I liked the sound. Looping sentences sped me 
on a roller coaster, saying young and wild were ok, even good, 
    that green fields blossomed beans and grain, daisies and corn, 
         then died but burst again. 
I didn't know what I was hearing was poetry. 
    My mother returned to check my work. "The Force..." 
         winding down, she stood there, hands on hips, head 
cocked to one side. I was wondering what that force was that 
    drives just about everything. 
         She said, "You'll know about lovers soon enough, 
especially the trouble they cause. Turn that off." 
    The tape was over anyway. She checked my problems. 
         For a change, I got more right than wrong. 
That last poem I couldn't figure, but something told me life 
         is a whoop and a holler despite math phobia, 
         a green brain's tears, a father whose words fermented 
little more than "Don't come home with dirty clothes, you're 
    too skinny to hit a home run, just get on base, I'd take you 
         fishing, but you talk too much, ask your mother 
to help you..." I wouldn't call it love that "dripped 
    and gathered," and whoops and 
         hollers were a long way off. 
Charles Cantrell 

Go up to Top of Page