LoveSong—The Beach Poems, Day Nine

rhyme and reason
The Beach Poems, Day Nine

In the fall of 1980, my freshman class
at UGA eclipsed

the population of my small town—
we had four stop-

lights back then, now a lonely
two. Being

the first in a dirt-rich family
to attend college

felt like working under the heat-
stroked sun too long,

so I scorched my tongue with cheap
bourbon on the fringe

of frat parties, where no one
sang to me, till

I found Skoal-toting boys who dipped
and knew the words

to Freebird by heart. But even
from them, I

hid my craving for books—drunk
on the smell

of new pages like brightleaf
cured in a barn.

Later, white lightning—and a politic
patient etherized

upon a table. Dazed and determined,
I stayed by his side,

in ragged want, but woke—and took
my waking slow—full

of sweet love for a cautious bird
I could not change.


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