by Frederick Shiels

The baking Mississippi summer I turned eighteen
was also the summer I discovered “Switched on Bach”
on the Moog Synthesizer. That summer my high school days
were over and college hung like an abstracted fog
covering  the better part of a mountain, of which there were none,
in the pine-fragrant forested low hills of red clay—and
the constant threat of boredom, which

I escaped by plotting a life for myself,
away from this too predictable burg
with next-to-no snow, country and evangelical radio,
girls who saw me as a nice boy—the kiss of death—
more like  “too nice of a boy” for my practical purposes.
So it was really fine to feel my head explode in slow motion as
I return to the Bach, those electrified Brandenburg concertos,

and the speed reading course, the amberlit leave taking of friends,
most headed for the same uncertainties, the same fear of
the faintly known, but it had to be better to go than stay,
the promises to “keep in touch” (pre-email? I don’t think so!),
“see you at Thanksgiving” as August rolled in,
and the summer reading—ravenous, and a great way
to escape touch football or whatever the hell they were doing
outside in that ungodly heat.


Frederick Shiels has taught history for a number of years, but his greatest satisfaction comes from the reading and writing of poetry and literary criticism. He spent his boyhood in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and has traveled extensively in all of the Southern states (except Arkansas). Follow him on Facebook

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