A Valdosta Pastoral
by Harold Whit Williams
Colbert County, Alabama 1980
We stroll these tracks beside the Memphis road.
We laugh and toss some clods against an oak
That stood when Davis donned a dress and stowed
Away from Union troops. Then Thomas croaks
Some Beatles songs – Across The Universe
And – When I’m Sixty-Four. I place some dimes
Upon a rail that’s hot and shout a curse,
My fingers burnt. We step down into vines
Where hobos sleep. They hide and wait for rides
Or so our daddies say. Someday we’ll be
That old, I state and Thomas swears he tried
To find some quarters in his dirty laundry.
A whistle cries from somewhere down the line
As Thomas says, I’ll aim for fifty-nine.
Harold Whit Williams is a native Alabamian working in library cataloging at the University of Texas at Austin. In his spare time, he serves as guitarist for the critically acclaimed rock band Cotton Mather. His first chapbook, Waiting for the Fire to Go Out, is available from Finishing Line Press, and his poems have appeared in Atlanta Review, The Oxford American, Oklahoma Review, Slipstream and Tulane Review, among others. He was also a finalist for the New Letters Prize for Poetry 2012.