Monday Jun 24

KimbrellJames James Kimbrell was born in Jackson, Mississippi in 1967. He is the author of two volumes of poetry, The Gatehouse Heaven (1998) and My Psychic (2006), both from Sarabande. He has been the recepient of a Whiting Award, the “Discovery” / The Nation Award, a Ruth Lilly Fellowship, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and recently served as the Renee and John Grisham Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi. He taught at Westminster (Missouri) and Kenyon Colleges before moving to Tallahassee, Florida, where he is an associate professor of English at Florida State University.

Take Me As I Am

Let me take the Trailways far from the barracks at Fort McClellan
To my father’s corner of the ramshackle fourplex with its carpet
That smells like oil and beer, Aqua Velva, cigars and critter piss,
Like the armpit of dilapidated Jackson itself, and when
I arrive to no running water, let me shuck my Class A’s
And walk beside my father with a bar of soap—in our cut-offs
And flip flops, let us stroll with a total absence of stealth
Up the street to the Bel Aire with its lovely unguarded swimming pool
Where we will set our beers down by the lawn chairs
And swim a lap for appearance’s sake, big orange August moon
Hanging over the rooftops like a busted bicycle reflector.
Let me stay there for a sudsy moment with my old man—
Miles from marching, let me forget how to lock and load
My twenty round clip and shoot the green pop-up targets
Shaped like humans with no arms. And when people
Who actually live in the Bel Aire walk by the pool and we wave
To them, let them say hi like they would to any swimmers
Because we do look like rent-paying neighbors
In the second before they register the underwater light
Like a train’s beam shining through the shallow end,
And the two men, the son and his father again, up
To their chests in a widening nest of soap bubbles.