Two Epigraphs from the 1960s

Gilbert Allen

                          “I’m not white—I’m grayish pink!”
                          “Try taking a piss in Mississippi!”

45 years ago who’d’ve guessed
a man would be judged not
by the color of his skin, but by
the content of his portfolio?

You know the economy’s bad
when they turn off the gas
for The Eternal Flame
and The Terminator starts
handing out IOUs in California.

Meanwhile, in Arkansas, deacons
sue for their constitutional
right to pack and pray
on Sundays.

Every other morning American men
my own age, dumb enough
to smoke bananas, driving
motorized barstools after their third
DUI, buy round-trip tickets

to the Rapture.

Straight as telephone poles
we’re Republican as Ford F-150s.
We bareback in Subaru Outbacks.
We come in every color
and go in every bathroom we can find.

Please help us as we dodder off to death.


Gilbert Allen lives in Travelers Rest, South Carolina, from where he frequently proceeds south (and north) on I-85.  He’s the author of five collections of poems, including Driving to Distraction (Orchises, 2003), which was featured on The Writer’s Almanac and Verse Daily.  Since 1977, he’s taught at Furman University, where he’s currently the Bennette E. Geer Professor of Literature.