Kellogg Idaho | Poem by Alvin Knox


Kellogg, Idaho

The banks of Lead Creek are lichen green, rocky
under the concrete Division Street bridge. The laundromat
is closed. It’s the day after the county rodeo, 1966:
the day after the football toss, the three-legged race,
the greased pig scramble (my cousin actually caught one
once, and it lived collared and staked in their front yard
until one day it disappeared, like the boys who go
to Vietnam). A train, a hundred and seven cars long,
rolls slowly through town, wheels squealing like a binding saw.
The turn of the century will never come here. JFK is here.
He sits at the soda fountain in the five-and-dime, sipping
coffee with Thomas Jefferson. Martin Luther King, Jr. is not here.
There are no black people here. The people here look more
like the cast of The Milagro Beanfield War, rough and simple
and quiet, like the smelter smoke, its metallic ting ringing in your mouth
like an alarm clock. You wake to it most mornings. But now it’s
noon and the sky is lichen green, the hills dusty with only
the white-painted tires in the shape of a big K to break the steep slope.
Osbourne, the next town up the valley, has a big O.



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Protest Song | Poem by Alvin Knox


Protest Song

There’s something wrong here. Why
are so many people hiding behind their banners and signs?
Why, in their swirling colors, has the red of passion
become the red of danger, the orange become fire?
Even the yellow and green are confused with black.
And the sky all black, all black upon a gray block
swept with shadows. Something is wrong
here: the jaundiced arms, the hollow eyes, the mouths
open wide in screamed profanities that swallow
the lips where whispers and kisses have died.

Early Rising | Poem by Alvin Knox




Early Rising

(For Tom Watson)


An odd dream,

the kind from which you’re roused from REM

in the soft dark of predawn with the fleeting odor

of mint playing down a long unused synaptic corridor.

And you know it was somehow pertinent, has left you

stinging, like catching a fast ball with an oven mitt.

No.  You’ve just slept hard on your arm

and your hand has fallen asleep, the one you type with,

the one you write with, all pins and needles

in its own effort to rise.

What was it?  Something about ten long-haired midgets

squabbling over a tent in the low rent district of right field,

all shouting “Mine! Mine! Mine!”

But the sun is threatening the low hanging moon

and soon this horoscope of memory

will retreat into noon’s light.

Time now to return to reality,

to trim the trees, to pull the weeds,

to listen to a ball game and relax in the sun.

Time to contemplate the midgets

and capture, with your pen,

the giants in their shadows.



© Alvin Nash

Music by David Michael Jackson

A production of Artvilla Records

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