Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Sydney Lea: Hole

“I’ll be quick,” he says, and he is.
To speak to our group you’re required to qualify
so he begins: “We found the bottom of stupid and 
     dug us a hole.”
 
He says at the end he was runnin on empty.
He says even in the joint they didn’t have no trouble 
     gettin product
and once when they couldn’t, why, a bunch of them 
     shot up whatever, fools 
 
that they all was -- even lighter fluid, skim off 
     of boiled mayonnaise.
And then some died, or started floppin around “like 
     chickens 
after you axe them.” (He was raised a farm kid,
 
never mind the crude blue stupid tattoos).
Just like he was sayin,
the bottom of stupid. The bottom: that was it,
 
and the hole we dug below it. The hole we all dug.
“They did that partly because they loved the spike.
It’s crazy: they loved the drug first, true, 
 
but also the spike.” There is stupid and stupid 
of course, he says, because in some ways they wasn’t 
     stupid.
Like they learnt how you could go to the rec room 
     and when the screw
 
was noddin or readin or talkin to someone else 
you yanked out a wire from the beat-ass piano.
Now if you could get a Walkman motor and a bottle cap,
 
you could put the motor in the cap and fill the cap 
     with ink
and take that plastic tube from a ballpoint
and run the wire through it down in the ink. That 
     was that,
 
your tattoo kit: start the motor, the wire’s your 
     needle, slicker’n shit.
He has Truth on his left forearm for some reason.
He has 1% on his right. 
 
He says Charlene’s on a buttock, but of course 
     he doesn’t show us.
He says he don’t know what God is and truth is,
he don’t care: somehow or another he’s right
 
here with us, “And meantime a lot of them’s dead or 
     crazy or still in stir --
so why me? Why any of us?” He thanks God.
He remembers how he read about the wise man’s 
     knowledge 
 
turnin out to be foolish. Read it in solitary 
     (for the tattoos). In the hole.
And the fool’s foolishness the other way around.
He was both a wise-ass and a fool -- no high school, 
     let alone college --
 
so if he has any wisdom he’s here to prove a fool 
     can get it.
There’s a lot of appreciative laughing, but some of us
feel more than a little uncomfortable with the God stuff 
     so we stay silent.
 
Some of us don’t really want him to read
what he reads, which is Psalm 28, including the part 
     that says
O Lord my rock be not silent to me lest if thou be 
     silent
 
I become like those who go down in the pit.
He’s a Bible nut someone whispers.
But then again we are all of us alive.
 
 
A lot of people aren’t. That mayonnaise stunt. 
     The lighter fluid.
The time when one of us drove through the bridge
across the river and we hung till we got saved.
 
The time one of us came to in our bathroom
with the toilet seat all bashed to bits
in the mess of puke on the floor and we stood up 
     and didn’t know ourselves 
 
and fell again and stood up again
and the blood was like a brown mask on our face 
     in the mirror. 
We didn’t know our own face but we didn’t die.
 
Down in the pit. Down in the bottom of stupid.
“Someone, I don’t know what it would be...   or 
     something,”
he claims -- “Something could hear me cry.”

Sydney Lea’s books include Here (Four Way, 2019).

Copyright 2020 Sydney Lea

2 comments on “Sydney Lea: Hole

  1. Daniel L. Smith
    November 15, 2020

    Kinda duz. 33 years, five months, three days, a few hours Thanks Syd you’ve always been an inspiration, all the way back to 1977. William Meredith and Jack Bridgeman mixing bloody mary’s at Treman. You showed me a better way.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Vincent Spina
    November 15, 2020

    …went to the bottom of stupid and dug a hole…. Kinda puts there, right in the hole

    Liked by 1 person

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