by Louie Crew
standing before the enamel stove and sink,
you smelled of fried chicken,
were smooth and warm to touch again
as I surprised you with my big boy kiss.
You squealed as once I had done long before
when, having led me to the top of the hill,
you pushed when I asked you to,
and my racer spun down the black street.
“Lawzy mercy!” you said,
“Mister Billy, you show is growed!”
“Why are you calling me mister?”
“Does they feed you well at that school?
I show do like that uniform.”
I felt again your oily fingers at my neck.
Your happy squeal became a chubby giggle,
muffled in mounds of warm fat.
Then I saw Mother at the door,
knowing that I had just transplanted her kiss,
I feared incest in our idle joy.
Victoria! I was greedy. I wanted many mothers.
Louie Crew has edited special issues of College English and Margins, and
has written four poetry volumes: Sunspots (Lotus Press, Detroit, 1976),
Midnight Lessons (Samisdat, 1987), Lutibelle’s Pew (Dragon Disks, 1990),
and Queers! for Christ’s Sake! (Dragon Disks, 2004). Crew also maintains
an online page of poetry resources.
On “Ah, Eula”:
In 1963 I was teaching at St. Andrew’s, a boys’ prep school in
Middletown, Delaware, later the locale for the film The Dead Poets Society.
Several of us English teachers met with students who were writing short
stories and poems. The students circulated their materials anonymously at
first so that all would respond to the work, not to what we thought of the
person who wrote it. Teachers did not write for the group, but I decided to
write “Ah, Eula” and slip it into the mix as if a student had written it. I was
tickled pink that everyone liked it. I did have to own up to it afterwards
when others told which manuscripts they had written.
I did not begin to circulate any of my poems to publishers until eight
Eula was a real character, Mrs. Eula Jackson, a household servant in
my family in Alabama, to whom I was much closer than to my own Mother
when I was a child. In 1974, eleven years after I wrote the poem, and had
long ago left St. Andrew’s, I married Ernest Clay, an African American.
I first told Mrs. Jackson about him by showing her his picture on a visit home.
“Lawsy mercy!” she replied; “I brung you up right.” She did.
May the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace, and may light
perpetual shine upon them.
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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary
Volume 1, Number 1
Copyright © 2006
by Leah Browning, Editor.
All future rights to material
published in the Apple
Valley Review are retained
by the individual authors