Old Dixie

28 May

the night
they drove old dixie down
I shared a spliff
with a vagrant who had travelled
from the Carpathian mountains
on a freight train
to the town of Ploesti

I was in town
to bury my mother’s father
a Renaissance man
who built his own darkroom
carved a chess set out of aspen
gathered in the nearby wood
played a violin
which he kept atop a cupboard
translated Shakespeare into my native tongue
and wrote poetry
in iambic pentameter

you know the town (Ploesti)
it was famous once upon a time
the allies bombed it in
double you
double you
two
(its oil fields fed the axis)

the night
they drove old dixie down
I wasn’t born yet

the world spun
and didn’t care
as men eviscerated one another
as they always have
over some nonsense
or another
and a man named
Matthew Brady
snapped photos
on clear glass plates
of the futile
madness

well hell
it’s on record
I don’t lie

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