Poetry from a Road Scholar Excerpt
Riding on a Wave. Written in November of 1981.
I’m riding on a wave that’s forcing blue to white seeing what this life will bring to me
Feeling like I’ve broken the patterns from which I’ve grown looking back I see I was alone
I have been a migrant a fisher of the seas surprised to find this is a life of luxury
Flowers in the desert snow upon the mountains I lay upon the soil it turns to grey
I’m sorry I cannot tell you I’ve tried and tried again I’ve spent the time allotted now I must go
It’s not the wind that’s calling me it’s not a path I follow but some restless river flowing from the moon
I’ve shaken hands with the pretender under the watchful eye of his brother laughing through a mask I wore so well
Shaken by the tremor that pulled upon my heartstrings I knew I must not choose the beaten path
The Magical Birth of Charlie Moore from My Life Before I Decided To Commit Suicide
Up to this point in my life, before moving to Nedrow, I don’t think I’d ever seen a black person. I don’t remember any in Auburn and I don’t remember any in the Valley. The black people in Nedrow all lived at the end of Roswell, Orchard, Meredith, and Dutton on the other side of Salina down by the creek. They didn’t have to live down at the end, they just did. Maybe they fished suckers out of the creek, I don’t know.
Soon I was roaming all over the streets of Nedrow. Once in awhile, I would hang out at the end of West Roswell by the creek. For being nine or ten, the end of Roswell and the creek was a ways from home. I never did see anyone fishing down there come to think of it, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t. I even fished there. You could wade into Onondaga Creek and catch big ol’ suckers with your bare hands. They would be hiding in the rocks on the edges of the creek in the weeds. It was easy.
Three-quarters of the way down Roswell there was a black boy by the name of Charlie Moore. Charlie’s brother’s name was Gimmie. We used to call him Gimmie-some-moore. Gimmie was cool. Every time I’d see him he would say, “What’s up, Bud?” I would say, “Nuffin.”
Me and Charlie used to wrestle every time we saw each other. Our bodies were the exact same size only his head was long and skinny like his mamma had trouble gettin’ his head out while he was being born, and my head was big and round like a basketball (my mom might have had trouble too!). His head was probably normal size before he was born, but his mamma got totally exhausted just as his head entered her birth canal. She passed out from a combination of summer heat and the physical beating birthing induces. All of a sudden her eyes rolled back in her head like she was under some sort of voodoo spell and that was it - she was out cold.
The Nedrow African Tribal Women with their animal skins covering all but their naked breasts were the birthing mothers for the poor black and the poor white community down by the creek. They were natural doctors trained by generations of black birthing mothers who originally were trained by Mother Nature herself a few thousand years ago along the Nile River. They were prepared for anything. In Charlie’s mom’s instance, having her son’s head stuck in her birth canal and being in a coma, the birthing mothers’ intuition directed them to pummel only yellow flowers like the buttercup, daffodil, yellow rose, dandelion, sunflower, and tulips that they gathered from around the lower-forty creek area into a medium-size rock bowl with a small hourglass-shaped rock that looked like it was the only rock that ever pummeled anything in that bowl; they fit perfectly together. It looked like a bowl Native Americans might use as well. Indian mothers and black mothers have a special relationship with Mother Nature that other cultures don’t share.
In a larger wooden bowl, they threw in at random, non-measured increments of dried sucker head, bullfrog head, salamander head, crayfish head, garden snakehead, milk snakehead, beaver head, and field mice head. These specific God’s creatures all lived a hidden or submerged life (like Charlie’s head was at the moment). The sucker hid in the tall weeds of the creek’s embankment, the bullfrog hid in the muck of the old creek, the salamander hid under rocks in streams and damp, earthy areas, the crayfish hid under rocks on the rushing creek floor, the garden snake hid in holes in the ground, the milk snake hid in the barn with the cows, the beaver hid in underwater shelters, and the field mice hid in tunnels they bored under fallen grasses from the previous fall season. The yellow herbs were mixed with fresh breast milk provided by the youngest birthing mother and placed on the nipples of the catatonic mother to be. The yellow paste was also placed on her lips, on her closed eyelids, the very tips of her eyelashes, on the tops of her ears and the edges of her fingernails and her toenails. The glossy mixture glistened and sparkled rays of light that broke through the shaded window. It was almost as if the light rays were actually coming from Charlie’s mom’s nipples themselves. She was spawning rays of fresh, golden light from her own source of natural goodness. Golden streams of light were illuminating and deflecting off the odd-shaped birthing room. Beautifully, as if the room were designed in this manner, all of the light made its way back to the birthmother’s body and she herself began to glow a golden yellow.
The women formed a distant circle around the mother so as not to block the dancing light, and held hands with their left hand facing upward and their right hand facing downward. This is the universal symbol for the give and take of nature’s way. They then slowly moved to a silent rhythm they all felt together. Every eighth measure they would raise their clasped hands upward over their heads, lean inward toward Charlie’s mom and then outward and upward toward the breaking sky to symbolize a vaginal contraction. Charlie was all out but his head. The birthing mother whose milk was used, tightly wrapped little Charlie’s body from his shoulders down in a clean white cotton cloth that was handmade by the Holy Roller Deacon’s wife and blessed by the Holy Roller Deacon (we had Holy Rollers in Nedrow too). The ground-up, dried heads that lived their life in hiding were also soaked in fresh breast milk and mixed into a brown mud. This was rubbed on the inner thighs of the entranced mother, on top of her thighs and around her vagina. Charlie’s head just sat there for a while all soft and mushy waiting patiently to be pushed out. He probably should have been dead by now, his mom too, but the radiating yellow herbs stimulated Charlie’s mom’s body like the sun stimulates the Earth. Everything takes notice when the sun comes up. She was still incoherent, but she was now warm and comfortable. You could just tell she was holding the hands of both Jesus and Mary. The sleeping, crushed-head mixture became warm to the touch from the golden light generated by the herbs. The heads began to warm and smoke like the dew rising from the early morning fields. Charlie, like all of these wondrous creatures who hide their head, had no choice but to slide his head out and greet the day.
Charlie Moore was born.
As instantly, Charlie’s mom began breathing gently and more deeply as the yellow light beams danced upon her pretty face. Her eyelashes were accented with glistening pollen. It was a beautiful, magical birth. Charlie was born and his mom was fine. The only thing was, Charlie had this long, pencil-necked head with little curly black hairs on it. He wasn’t ugly or deformed to any great degree, he just had a super elongated football-shaped head as the early Egyptians did. He was pretty cool looking. So out in the street you had a big fatheaded white kid fighting an elongated, squish-headed black kid.