Lodestar Quarterly

Lodestar Quarterly
Figure reaching for a star Issue 1 • Spring 2002 • Poetry

Fran Varian's Grandmother

Buddy Wakefield

As a very much in-the-closet kid growin' up in Texas, baptized Episcopalion, jugglin' Southern Baptist and Nazerene, goin' to Penticostal church camp, Christian Student Union in high school, and -- admittedly -- for one year in college, the President of the Christian Cowboys Friends & Fellowship Association...

There are 3 things you gotta know about this poem:

  1. I leave it boxed up with invisible escape routes; just like the feelin' I had growin' up, as if there's somethin' wrong with bein' human.
  2. I don't care about the name or worth you project for whatever god you've chosen, at NO point is there anything wrong with being human.
  3. I'm not comin' to you in words. I'm comin' through thoughts & feelins. And I'm comin' outta years of healin', so I'm-a ask ya to listen close...

Fran Varian's Grandmother

Fran Varian's grandmother told us she caught a letter from Heaven that said
the children of her children's generation would be devils walking the
and when I hear this,
it somehow feels right.
It feels familiar,
like the ghost story about the travelling young couple who breakdown near a
town where a lunatic's on the loose --
Boy runs for help, remember, Girl hides (covers up on the floorboard).
An hour later there's a single knock on the car top,
then another,
all night long.
And when day breaks,
Girl finds Boy...
hangin' upside down where the wind blows,
knockin' his knuckles on the window,
and on every dream I had the night I heard that ghost story.

Her words barge in & outta me now
but I don't know if that's twice a day or once a week because each time
still feels like the first...
"Devils," she told us, "walking the earth."
When I hear this, I can't move and I can't breathe because it feels so much
like ghost stories and bad dreams; makes me desperate to hold the hand of
Fran Varian's grandmother, not too hard, not as tight as I'd really like to.
I'd keep it calm, so I don't seem desperate, but I do, y'all, I get so
desperate --
desperate to know if she caught a second letter saying anything from
anywhere up above that could've mighta maybe mentioned others, not devils,
but others...
With halos shaped like rollercoasters you'd stand in line to ride twice.
who don't know how to tell ya, and still remain humble,
that it's been a long time since anyone's called'm beautiful,
and it's been even longer since they heard they were bright.

But Fran Varian's grandmother doesn't remember catching any other letters.
Just the one sayin' that the children of her children's generation would be
devils walking the earth...
When I hear this, Mom, it hurts
from my chest --
like the dream with the fear of the man, forever, his fatness, all hate, he
straddles (like whiskers) my stomach, and grins --
through my face --
the weight of his head so blood-red, raked-up, crusted and thick - - Spit - -
Eyes full-out like a choke hold.
Teeth: split.
Ears: twisted, balled-off, deaf now "Boy, god-damn, would ya keep it still!"
And I do.
I get scared so still I feel like statues and wind left in a garden behind
some old white house in a dead wheat field where if ANYONE would just yell
"MERCY" maybe
These lungs could finally fill.
But Fran Varian's grandmother caught a letter from Heaven sayin' that said
the children of her children's generation would be devils walking the
And as I gasp and pull for a full breath of air, like air is the only way
out --
Her words barge through me again
As if somehow
They're true.

Buddy Wakefield is a traveling poet in the midst of the two-year Some They Can't Contain Tour, dedicated to the art of spoken word, touring colleges (including the glbt orgs), festivals, slam venues and high schools throughout America and Canada. He is a tested and proven, highly competent, quality Gemini with zero defeats in milk chugging. He has skydiving, bull riding, river rafting, guitar playing, public speaking, team leading, two dozen ropes courses, uncommon memorizational skills, The National College Dean's List, a full-length CD, one novel, one chapbook, and dozens of first place Poetry Slams under his belt. He holds a degree in English with minors in General Business Administrations and Creative Writing. Buddy is well versed in most genres of music, books, movies, theology and in working with all grade levels. Jobs Buddy has worked to get here include: street sweeping, house cleaning, security guarding, resident assisting, redelivering, fast fooding, bartending, and teaching (where he realized the importance of Show-Not-Tell). Buddy Wakefield pretends that -- inside his skin -- he's got a friend who's willing to give him everything he ever wanted in exchange for all he's ever been.

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