Poetry from Stripmine

NOTE: This is a poem from Stripmine, a book of poetry and essays I’m publishing online and in print. I’m doing some limited-edition books–each one is one-of-a-kind, unique, hand-lettered titles, heavy paper, textured inserts, signed and numbered, etc. They are available for $50. Email gregorypurvis@live.com for details. “Blur” is written “in character” and relates a conversation I had in 1987 in Tuscaloosa, though it is set in a haunted area of southeast Atlanta, near East Point, where I was born in 1969.


(copied verbatim from the remains of another fugue-state/unknown date.)

Some conjure woman my mee-maw knowd                                                                                                                                                        On the East Point BlueBird                                                                                                                                                                                          She say to catch me a black cat and kill it quick n clean                                                                                                                             And do it four more time                                                                                                                                                                                          and four more still til that cat hiss he last                                                                                                                                                         Kill him one more to make it nine life gone                                                                                                                                                    And then she say:                                                                                                                                                                                                      take the long bone and wrap it round tight                                                                                                                                                    With bright red ribbon                                                                                                                                                                                              like pretty women wear in they hats                                                                                                                                                                     So I sit in front of the old pharmacy over to Peachtree,                                                                                                                               Closed up like a tick for ten years                                                                                                                                                                       And it rains and rains and Lord God we pray                                                                                                                                                 you stop Before 40 days pass this time                                                                                                                                                                   I hold that bone close                                                                                                                                                                                                and keep the rain off best I can                                                                                                                                                                     Waiting for a ghost— And some do pass by                                                                                                                                                      But they the wrong kinds:                                                                                                                                                                                   Gaunt-gray predators with brown teeth                                                                                                                                                           like crooked caramels                                                                                                                                                                                                   A nondescript nobody:                                                                                                                                                                                              mind up there on the high shelf                                                                                                                                                                              With the crystallized methamphetamine                                                                                                                                                      Some tall Spaniard girl/boy in hotpants                                                                                                                                                            Them lips painted cotton-candy pink                                                                                                                                                                Tan that come from an aerosol can                                                                                                                                                                 Pouts and smiles at all them wrinkled cadavers                                                                                                                                               In they scuffed shoes and gravemoss on they sleeves,                                                                                                                        driving them big old DeSoto’s                                                                                                                                                                                  In their last loop-de-loops                                                                                                                                                                                  Them smiles never slip                                                                                                                                                                                               So which the ghost I’m waiting for?                                                                                                                                                                      The rainy night dissolve like                                                                                                                                                                                       a still in a hot stop-bath                                                                                                                                                                                   Pictures thin-out nice in monochrome                                                                                                                                                            Like moon on old concrete                                                                                                                                                                                    Still waiting                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Still Waiting still                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Maybe I’ll shake this old bone                                                                                                                                                                                  At this fading old street                                                                                                                                                                                               See what new ghosts turn up


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