A Pocket of Resistance: big Joe Haynes and his sailor boy

As frequently happens, i wake up in the middle of the night because i am old and “doing my business,” as my mother used to call it, precludes sleeping through until morning. Also though less frequently, i go back to bed but cannot sleep because thoughts start bouncing around, uncontrolled, in my head. Often, these thoughts seem to me to be worthy of writing about. Some i ignore because i want to go back to sleep. Others just refuse to be ignored because i know they are worth recording. Around four this morning, such a sequence occurred, and i arose, went to my home office, and began pounding at the keyboard. This is my initial shot at honoring someone whom i admire very much. i have thought of adding the event where my father-in-law at the time, Col. Jimmy Lynch, and i rode out to the farm and used Joe Haynes pickup to load the the farm’s outhouse FDR’s CCC built in the 1930’s. We took the outhouse back to the colonel’s home, where he refurbished it, replaced the one-hole bench with a boat port-a-potty, and used for the bathroom for his garage poolroom, recreation area and workshop. But it has been a long day already..maybe later, or maybe another poem.

big Joe Haynes and his sailor boy

the mariner…
well, he wasn’t a mariner yet:
the seeds had been planted,
but for now,
he was more like full steam ahead,
a trackless locomotive leaving the sea behind
to head pell mell to wherever it would take him
even though he thought he had it mapped out
at the time;
big Joe Haynes called him sailor boy
for he had been at sea for three years
when they met,
but he was not a mariner yet; no, not a mariner yet,
so big Joe Haynes calling him sailor boy was just fine.

big Joe Haynes and sailor boy met in the northeast corner of texas,
february. cold.
in the middle of the night,
the sailor boy coming from a land
far west enough to be called east,
with Joe Haynes’ granddaughter of a sort;
big Joe Haynes with his bride Nanny Kat
drowsily hugged his granddaughter of a sort
escorting her to the other bedroom
before showing sailor boy
to the screened-in porch added to the side of the house
where a day bed, down mattress; soft white sheets
with the smell of drying on the line
in the sun freshened air of the northeast corner of texas
awaited sailor boy and the old english sheepdog pup
sailor boy and granddaughter of a sort
had picked up along the way from the land far away;
it was a good night for sailor boy after he and the pup
snuggled under the sun-dried sheets and quilts piled high,
falling to sleep together until the sun,
the self-same sun that gave those sheets their fresh smell,
doused the screened-in porch with morning sun rise
to let sailor boy know it was time for
the pup to be let outside to do her business.
the first morning, they ate breakfast
in the white wood spacious farmhouse kitchen,
beginning with Nanny Kat’s tomato juice
she canned from the tomatoes in the
garden just outside the back door;
eggs and bacon, of course, all from the farm
in the northeast corner of texas;
afterward, sailor boy and Joe Haynes granddaughter of a sort
wandered the farm,
the pastures where the fuzz ball of a pup and the cattle
eyed each other tentatively, cautiously, curiously;

then in the afternoon, big Joe Haynes,
announced he needed to buy some beer,
which entailed crossing the red river bridge
just up the road into oklahoma
where the liquor stores and the honky tonks
lined both sides of the highway at the foot of the bridge
on the oklahoma side, of course,
for the whole northeast corner of texas was dry, dry, dry
at the time
so northeast corner texans crossed the red river
to get their booze and visit honky tonks
like big Joe Haynes with sailor boy riding shotgun
crossed the red river
to stop at a honky tonk where Joe Haynes was famous,
or at least well known,
for he was a jocular big man, bigger than life and loving it,
claiming to be the mayor of razor, texas, population four;
the barmaid joshed with big Joe Haynes
while he and sailor boy had a beer or two
before buying the case and heading back
over the red river bridge into the northeast corner of texas
where the two told tales while drinking the case of beer into the late night;
the next morning, big Joe Haynes gently aroused his granddaughter of a sort,
proclaiming, “that sailor boy can sure drink beer.”

several years later, sailor boy returned
to the farm in the northeast corner of texas
where he and big Joe Haynes climbed into the pickup again –
the late 1950’s pickup, a ford, being big Joe Haynes’ other home
with faded grey paint and dirt and dust from farm work,
tools and broken parts of old tools,
with the bench seat with holes in the upholstery,
the back of which serving as the depository for big Joe Haynes’
bottle of vodka, which big Joe Haynes would retrieve,
casting his right arm behind the bench seat from his driver’s position,
holding the bottle against the steering wheel to unscrew the cap
before taking a full-throated swig, recapping the bottle,
returning it to his secret stash;
big Joe Haynes and sailor boy bounced across the fields
of the farm in the northeast corner of texas
to a pond
where big Joe Haynes pulled out an ten-foot long, four-foot high seine
so sailor boy could take one end and wade into the pond
while big Joe Haynes, handling the other end of the seine
directed sailor boy in sweeping arcs, waist deep in the pond
until the pond was clear of the crappie big Joe Haynes had stocked there
so the pond could be drained later
after sailor boy and big Joe Haynes returned to the farmhouse
swigging vodka as they bounced over the fields in the old pickup
before sitting on the front porch and drinking beer,
proud of their conquest;

years later, sailor boy came again after
big Joe Haynes and Nanny Kat sold the farm
because it was getting too much to handle as they grew older
big Joe Haynes did not have his farm anymore
with the cattle and hogs, vegetable garden, ponds
so he didn’t do much but sleep in the big bed in the front room
of the small house in town.

sailor boy thought big Joe Haynes,
with nothing to do since his farm was gone,
had earned the right to sleep whenever he damn well pleased.




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