Two Poems by Harold Whit Williams
Ottis Williams on WJBB Radio
Haleyville, Alabama 1962
It’s time to rise and shine, old Haleyville!
The morning jockey yelps into a mike
That twangs his tinny tenor to the hills
And hollers deep. In town and farm alike
The folks tune in to hear him slurp his joe
And crack those silly jokes about the game
They lost the other night. We made a go
Of it the second half, he purrs, then blames
The numerology of Fridays past.
His hog and cotton prices sound like prayer
Or poetry on air. This rain won’t last
I tell you all, he says. Tomorrow’s clear
For Anne McNutt to wake up ninety-three –
I know you’re ninety-four, don’t lie to me!
Charlie Tidwell On Gobbler’s Knob, Tossing Rocks at Passing Automobiles On Highway 43
Bear Creek, Alabama 1948
Just look at all them fancies from afar
In shiny cars and whatnot. Hollis here
Don’t smell so good but gets me to the store
In town. I gee and haw and he will steer
Away from ruts and bogs. Another thing,
He won’t cut wind in front of womenfolk.
That’s more than I can say for brother Henry,
Who sometimes brings his gun. He’ll sit and break
A hunk of chaw for us to split and spot
Them Fords below. They come from Tupelo
And Birmingham. We throw the stones to hit
The newer ones, them wagons we let go.
I have, at times, made contact with some glass,
And slid behind a pine to hide my ass.
Harold Whit Williams is the recipient of this year’s Mississippi Review Poetry Prize, and his newest collection, Backmasking, is winner of the 2013 Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prize, forthcoming from Texas Review Press. His first collection, Waiting For The Fire To Go Out, is available from Finishing Line Press. His poems have also appeared in numerous literary journals, including Deep South in April 2013. In his spare time, Williams is the guitarist for the critically acclaimed rock band Cotton Mather, whose fans include the Gallagher brothers of Oasis, R.E.M.’s Pete Buck and Williams’ grandmother.