One of my good friends, Newt Smith, of the WCU English Department, spends his last day as a WCU employee today, too. I was asked to write a retirement poem for him, so I'm posting it today, one of my last "assignments," one that I enjoyed to the max! Newt and I worked together for a number of years in the English Department. The "cubicle" I mention in the poem does not refer to the laureateship! It refers to the tiny, tiny office I occupied for years as Poet-in-Residence at WCU. "Retard" is a play on how folks in the mountains pronounce certain words like stairs and retired. I have always thought "climbing the stars" sounded so much more poetic than climbing the stairs!
The doris in the poem is my friend doris davenport, whose work has been featured on both my blogs. Look her up.
As for Ghost Dogs, I didn't make that up. There are books about these manifestations, several of which have been published by Blair Publishers in Winston-Salem. Here is a brief description of Ghost Dogs of the South. (Blair)
Dog ghosts (dogs that have become ghosts), ghost dogs (humans who return as ghosts in the shape of dogs), dogs that see ghosts, dogs that are afraid of ghosts--all make an appearance in these twenty stories that illuminate the shadow side of man's best friend.
So, you can see this last occasional poem pulled in a lot of material. Why shouldn't a poem cast as wide a net as it wants? Spread its roots as deeply as it needs to spread them?
(Yellow Retro Roots, by Cindy Davis)
Once I heard a woman,
when asked in downtown Sylva
how her husband was doing,
say, “Why, honey, he’s
retard.” I knew what she meant
and your neighbor Mildred when she said,
“I’m going to climb up the stars.”
That’s called climbing the Retard Track,
not the Tenure Track. Just imagine,
Newt, now you too can
climb up the stars. Or
spend all day doing
The Dawg, as our friend doris
calls it. I saw her do it
at Wordfest, at the Smoky Mountains
Bookfair, after Obama
won. (She sent me a jpg.) If you had
to think every day about tenure,
you wouldn’t be caught dead
Doin’ the Dawg. But now, dearest
Newt, you can do it
till the proverbial cows come
home, if your back doesn’t
give up the Ghost Dog and bring
you down. Just do The Dawg long
enough to feel like you’re really
and truly Retard, and then sit yourself
down, have a beer, look at the sky.
Listen to birds. Did we ever believe
they were out there when we had to work
in our cubicles? Don’t get get me
started on clouds. How they keep moving
on to another place, sort of like being
Retard. The sky’s a big dance floor.
The clouds like it like that!
They said to tell you,
my friend, that you’ll like it too.