So What the Hell Am i Doing Here

It is about an hour before sunset, which will actually be a sunset tonight. This town, where most folks here forget is first and foremost a seaport town, has been May gloomy for almost two weeks. i like it. After all, i can feel and smell the sea in the mist that the marine layer blows inward. But the skies cleared in the late afternoon. i sit in the backyard. It is refreshing. That sea wind is blowing cool. The temperature is already hinging between the high 50’s and low 60’s. i have on a light sweater. It’s not enough. i used to have a earthen chimaera here but it cracked long ago. i’ve yet to replace it because we can’t quite figure out what we want for outdoor heating, a must of outside sitting in the Southwest corner evenings. The world is green. The agpanthea are  beginning to bloom their purple and white. The sage under the breakfast nook window is healthy and will soon attract our hummingbirds for breakfast viewing.

Maureen is watching an interesting movie in the family room.

i came out to write my Democrat column, the third from the last.

There are several other writing projects i considered.

But i sit here in the cool and reject the idea of creating. There is enough creation around me. It occurs to me that twilight is not bad in oh so many ways.

So i will just put a couple of poems i wrote in 1965 in the space remaining. Sit here in the cool, listen to Duke Ellington on my bluetooth thingie, and enjoy before giving it up and going to bed.

This was written when i was smitten by a beautiful young woman in the summer of 1965. She and i took a Southern Literature class together. Mr. Evins, the professor and a thin, bald, old man, read the antebellum novel So Red the Rose by Stark Young, through most of the classes. The young woman sat to the right and one row in front of me. i spent most of the classes surreptitiously watching her and wondering how i should introduce myself. My opportunity came when i had to wait for Jimmy Hatcher to complete a class so we could commute back to Lebanon together. i went to the student union/cafeteria and saw her in line. i went up to her as she waited with her tray and introduced myself. She recognized me and for a moment, my opportunity seemed golden. That’s when i looked down and saw her hand had an engagement ring. C’est la vie.

a furtive glance at what might have been

winsome woman
sitting there
of eyes drinking in your beauty:
don’t you know the hollow pit
which constitutes
all emotions running amok
in my soul.

your olive skin
smooth as custard
the large black pools
fools have named eyes;
the long silken hair
blacker than Poe’s dark bird
shine in the dim light
of the cramped room.

then you smile,
white teeth flash,
to splash
the pale red lips
with soft humor:
somewhere deep down
a whine of mine
begins to swell
into a moan,
then, like roaring thunder,
attempts to crash
from my lips
in a bleating, pleading frenzy
i conquer the cry,
settling back to enjoy
your tender presence
for the short while
we go our separate ways.

for you see,
i noticed your long graceful hand
know you are taken.

Murfreesboro, Tennessee
October 1965

i’ve always been drawn to irony. i wrote this on one of my thousands of trips to Nashville, most likely to Vanderbilt for another Saturday with my friends. The poem was generated by the view of the city at the base of Church Street when coming over the Shelby Street bridge from U.S. Highway 70, better known back then as “Lebanon Pike” by Nashvillians going east, and “Nashville Pike” by Lebanonites going west. i did not include the large ad painted on the side of one building which encouraged me to by “Goo Goo’s.”


Have you ever noticed
cobblestone streets
always run beside
auto dealers
dirty brick buildings
with the name of the warehouse
painted on the side?

Nashville, Tennessee


3 thoughts on “So What the Hell Am i Doing Here

  1. winsome woman sitting there…
    Jim, for me, this is your best poem. I guess it is because (well into my 70s) I am still a ridiculously youthful romantic. This poem gives me the “what could have been”…… love and romance.
    FYI: as you have probably precluded by now, when I read I project what the future might have brought into the pages.

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