What You Know Good

From the narrowest bridge across the Missouri River: “What you know good?”
“I know Cape Girardeau might look like a cape from the water.
Our fathers, too, in a much less cynical age
but those were different times
filled with the precious things that will only fit between mountains.”

Talk about being born under a bad sign!
“It don’t get much worse than them white an’ green signs sayin’ ‘Atlanta’!
Might as well be born under the devil’s billboard for Hell.”
“Rusty Glover for Alabama,” says another sign.

So I am… about as well as you’d think.
I remember hurling room service plates into the Ohio River
from the hotel rooftop while on the clock. I remember
being stuck behind a trailer emblazoned with Calvary
by fingers: “Jesus might save but he sho don’t wash trucks, do he.”

Like a river was an object of land rather than an action of water.
I remember rolling by a small town cemetery glowing with the light of
thousands of solar candles; forgotten dead yet sparkling for us.
“I never had no Mother Jones,” you said, looking upon Cairo, Illinois
from Wickliffe, Kentucky. “It’s ok,” said a hand on your shoulder.

Yeah, I don’t know if the river deserves the name anymore.
I know there’s a Little Shit Creek and there’s a Hollering Woman Branch.
And Church of Christ in the Wildwood is another name.
“I think I fell in love with a hibiscus girl there (Mississippi)
and since then I can’t get her out of my mind…”

But I’m not so in love with life. Some day they’ll find our ceramic
discuses while dredging the Ohio, along with the victim from that
eponymous ballad, and they’ll ask: “What you know good?”
“This and that,” the wry response, “This and that.”

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