Mandolin in White Wood, Curing the Wood

by J. Camp Brown

     Put up the bar-drenched mandolin,
she says. It reeks of booze, a struck chord
coughs smoke, and I’m tired of comments from strangers 

about your desirous finger dexterity.
So, useless, hung on the wall, it dries, and while
     I wait, I wander into a classroom with fluorescent dimming lights

     enter in medias res, saying: And lo!
          I swallert a lit cigarette and took not ill,
combusted neither. Praise him! All God’s people say (Amen).

Are you saved
          your place? Then take out Foucault
     and prurient, write, real hard, perineum as the tenor

     of a simile involving the smoothness
          of the petals of a flower. One writes, then raises
her hand: My perennial smells dizzying like tobacco leaves 

curing in the barn. You, I say, discourse naughty,
          darlin’, but your usage eros is striking. Say,
     how barely legal is you, anyway? Anyway, cut back on sprawl.

     Trim the bushes and your subject
          really does look bigger. After class, I’m the little
phallic shape thrust into the yonic sky that knows:—there is no cure.

A native Arkansan, J. Camp Brown now plays bluegrass mandolin and teaches English in Poughkeepsie, NY. He received his MFA from the University of Arkansas and has been the recipient of fellowships from the Arkansas Arts Council and from Phillips Exeter Academy. His poems have appeared in such journals as Black Warrior Review, Memorious, Spillway, Shenandoah, Juked, Post Road, and Crazyhorse.