Everette Maddox Songbook

December 5, 2008

Well, everettemaddox.org is down again. Damn.

Some small compensation: I found that the Everette Maddox Songbook is posted on Google Books.

Not all of it, mind you, but it’s something. Ah well, so here’s a poem from that book:


life death eternal significance
from now on i’m just
going to make whimsical little gifts
this one is for you
it starts off with bullshit
which is mostly just to get your attention
then trudges along
through some fairly dull
explanatory stuff
and finally comes out (if i’m lucky)
at this point which
is where a little silver cowboy
blows the head off a stuffed tiger
with a pop gun
nobody is really hurt
just me because i know
you won’t accept it

In honor of the return of www.everettemaddox.org, the poem this little outpost was named for.


I awake, three in the morning, sweating
from a dream of possums.
I put my head under the fuzzy swamp of cover.
At the foot of darkness two small eyes glitter.

Rain falls all day: I remain indoors.
For comfort I take down a favorite volume.
Inside, something slimy, like a tail, wraps around
my finger.

Hear the bells clang at the fire station:
not hoses, but the damp noses of possums issue

Passing the graveyard at night
I wish the dead would remain dead,
but there is something queer and shaggy about these

From the grey pouch of a cloud
the moon hangs by its tail.

At the cafeteria they tell me they are out of
I am furious. Who is that grey delegation
munching yellow fruit at the long table?

I reach deep into my warm pocket
to scratch my balls; but I find, instead,
another pocket there; and inside, a small possum.

My friend’s false teeth clatter in the darkness
on a glass shelf;
around them a ghostly possum forms.

At an art gallery the portraits seem to threaten me;
tails droop down out of the frames.

I screech to a stop at the red light.
Three o’clock, school’s out:
eight or ten juvenile possums fill the crosswalk.

Midnight at Pasquale’s. I lift my fork,
and the hard tails looped there
look curiously unlike spaghetti.

When I go to the closet to hang my shirt on the rack,
I have to persuade several possums to move over.

Drunk, crawling across a country road tonight,
I hear a shriek, look up, and am paralyzed
by fierce headlights and a grinning grill.
I am as good as gone!

I put on a shirt
with a couple of
gone buttons and a
pair of pants my wife
hates and walk into
the living room and
sit down in a dull
chair. In this way I
acknowledge nothing’s
going on. If I
wanted to really
suffer I could go
lie down in some shit,
but that transgresses
the fine line between
propriety and
masochism. If
I were any kind
of poet I’d go
stick up a Jiffy
Mart or, Say, the First
Bank of the Cosmic
Then I could buy a
red plaid jacket with
a rooster tie and
stumble out into
the clear autumn air
crowing “Guilty! Life,
I’m your beautiful

Rutledge has made up his mind
this is the last day he will lie
at length in his glinting hair
his eye fixed on a fig
his toes alive in the permissive mud.

Out beyond these roots in a pool
clear by day dark by night
purple eels jiggle:
that is another universe of course
but that is not where Rutledge lives
and neither is this.

Though the air is thick with bells
bizarre with flutes
Rutledge lies on his belly now
billowing like a child’s balloon
and it means nothing to him
that ultimates and ultimates buoy him up.

He will leave in the morning
by the ordinary door
and walk in the shrill gray streets
in the old soot and sunshine.
He has learned all he needed to know,
what he already knew, that he is happy.


February 9, 2008

for Charles Simic

Pick it up and hold it
to the light —
a repository of dust,
hair and lipstick.

An old cigar butt’s
capsized in the bottom.

Nonetheless, the glass
retains its shape,
like a stately matron.

Dump it out
(salvaging the butt),
rinse it, twirl it
once on a cloth,
and look! how Clarity
Rides Again.

Raise it now in a toast
to Friendship,
and observe,
deep in the amber booze,
the old bright planets

The Picture

December 30, 2007

The cream stucco
of my ex-wife’s dentist’s office
across the street

Light green budding liveoaks

A sky-blue Volvo backing up
on this side from

behind the red white and blue
Cinzano umbrellas

Dark figures in the front
of the dark bar
faces edged in TV baseball light
from Busch Stadium

And down at this end me

If I should die now

Oh if this moment
should indeed prove
to be the corner
I’ve spent thirty-five years
painting myself into

think only this of me

That one more cheap camera
has shattered
against the world’s beauty.

Welcome Home

December 30, 2007

I understand:
for years, perhaps, you have lived
underground Handling only
darkness, you you have not become
accustomed to it. You want to get out.
One day you find an object which
may be a chair; at any rate,
a surface. Standing on
this dark thing, you reach up.
Here at the top the smell is
oppressive, sweet. You almost
fall. But you push, and the top begins
to crack. Plaster, or something, falls
around you. Emerging, you know
the smell: cake. Noise, lights:
you are outside, standing giddily on the top,
swathed in ribbons. And thee
are all your friends,
dressed up, half drunk. The applause
is enormous. It is a party
for you. One of the crowd, the drunkest
and happiest, shrilling through a megaphone
“Welcome home,”
is me.

swathed in ribbons.

Just Normal

December 26, 2007

for Bob Woolf

Now I don’t care about hum-drum
order any more than
you do. I sympathize
with Huck Finn’s taste for
the mixed up. This is no
tight ship. I wouldn’t
want my moments run off on an
assembly line like toy ducks. That’s
not the point: it’s been
raining possums for a month. And now,
when I’m absolutely up to my neck in
a whole bathtub of concerns, you
walk in unannounced, wearing
an ETERNITY sweat-shirt and leading some
kind of out-of-date dog on a leash, and
shake my slippery hand and tell me
“Just normal, thanks.” Well, no
thanks. I’ve had enough. I’m going to
pull myself up over the side, and get
all the way out of my mind.

No New Tabs

December 26, 2007


(Sign in the Chukker October 25, 1971)
When the stranger swung into this dark butt-littered bar,
draped his white weird toga, or whatever, over a stool,
and ordered Miller’s Malt, no one was perturbed
(it being late, and most of us dead drunk).
But when he said “No bread,” a hush fell like a flatiron.
“No new tabs,” Mark said, and gestured.
The stranger scratched his beard,
his blue eyes slow and casual as swimming pools.
“Lookee here,” said the stranger,
“I don’t know how long it takes you necks to get the papers,
but I’m the son of God,
and I could turn this Miller into wine;
but I’m inclined to turn you and your buddies into Ovaltine.
What do you say? I’m kind of in a hurry.”
One skinny arm reached out of Mark’s white shirt,
shaking, and tore the sign down.
A row of white teeth chattered and chattered,
and said, “Here at the Chukker, if nothing else, we believe.
More to the point, you gotta make exceptions.
What about another?”
Brushing the sticky halo from his hair, he went to fetch it.


December 26, 2007


I sent my Shell card back with a small check to show my good faith
then i sent my Bank Americard back with the minimum monthly payment
then i cancelled my life insurance sent the Dallas lawyer all i had declared myself bankrupt
then i sent back my driver’s license social security card birth certificate
then i sent my old wallet flopping into the brown river
now when I lift my hand the sunlight pours right through it
now there is no one left for you not to love