Aron’s Defense of Burnt ChaffRascal2017-12-29T22:59:37+00:00
Aron’s Defense of Burnt Chaff
Crawfish pull a whole boiled egg into the murk of the Llano River as I watch & am made a crawfish disciple. Feasting on its gold core, thick & embryonic, they are afterlifeless. Me? I rise from the ash of a thousand pastures —smoke & wildfire. & I may know Satan. & I might be nameless. & I have been the chaff & the dried wheat also—bounty of the threshing. I’m the catfish surviving life outside water as the young men bale hay & prepare for football in the hellish July blaze certain to burn them. One has lost a whole hand in the rusty baler without even crying. That’s a lie. His scream flies like buzzards for miles. What do you seek in a Sunday sermon? What promise comforts you? The Lord is cruel here & cultivates thorns around all His roses. The night’s a racket of locust molting that confounds even me, who have spent my life here. The mayor is shit. The meth is shit. The preachers are liars. The coaches are wicked but also display, between classes, kindness. I saw one give a Down syndrome girl a hug, high five, & ice cream that made me question judging him, wonder whether the blasphemer I knew was a wraith or the real thing, the honest version. He growled each time he told me to get off his field. I don’t give a damn if you broke your ankle. You play like shit—& will still play like shit when you get off crutches. He growled the opposite to her. Joy, he said, you matter.
J. Scott Brownlee
J. Scott Brownlee is a poet-of-place from Llano, TX. His books include Highway or Belief (Button Poetry), Ascension (Texas Review Press), and Requiem for Used Ignition Cap (Orison Books), which won the 2016 Bob Bush Memorial Award for Best First Book of Poetry from the Texas Institute of Letters, and On the Occasion of the Last Old Camp Meeting in Llano County (Tree Light Books).