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Edison Jennings: Old Times There Are Not Forgotten

A student at Patrick Henry High, Oakum 

asserted he didn’t give a shit about Marse Robert, 

Stonewall Jackson, Beaux Beauregard, or any 

of them fancy Southern boys when queried  

by his eleventh-grade teacher regarding his opinion 

of the Southern Cause, which only compounded  

the contempt his classmates and teachers heaped 

upon him and which he indifferently shouldered 

enroute to the admin office where he waited, 

ear-phoned, AC/DC grinding his brain to mush, 

until he was granted audience with Principal Dumas 

in his chambers, a magisterial presence behind 

a dreadnaught of a desk, beckoning him forward,  

calling his attention to the Patrick Henry High 

motto, Liberty or Death! in frou-frou script 

printed on what looked to be parchment 

of recent production, framed and hanging 

close by his desk, on which he opined 

in not a few words, then, moved by the gravity 

of Oakum’s offense and his own eloquence, 

ventured upon a peroration, the gist being: 

as foul language is the preferred mode 

of discourse among louts, lunatics, and lost souls, 

Oakum’s own soul might soon be irredeemably 

corrupted unless he were to confess his sins, 

accept Jesus as lord and savior, and thereby 

receive grace, born again to everlasting life,    

the sooner the better because one just never knows. 

Wasting not a moment, Oakum nodded, 

perhaps ironically, irony being unknown 

to Principal Dumas or beyond his grasp. 

Either way, Oakum was then dismissed with a smile

and a manly handshake, whereupon he walked 

three miles home jamming out to Mötley Crüe,

foregoing further immersion in the glories 

of American History by returning to class. 

And did he fear reprisal of a physical nature 

from Patrick Henry Patriot jocks due

to his indifference in re the Southern Cause? 

That Oakum worked as a farmhand on weekends

and all summer left him a well-knit hefty youth 

given wide berth as he walked Patrick Henry halls

or smoked a blunt with Billy Winsome,

his one companion, in the parking lot in front 

of God and everyone, though on occasion

Coach Boysman Flagrante would proposition

him to try out for P. H. Patriots football 

where Boysman was sure he would excel. 

But Oakum would decline, often by simply 

not responding, in accordance with his mama’s 

wishes, making it clear she had no use 

for a boy who wasted time playing football 

when he could be working and bringing home 

some money because she didn’t make shit 

cleaning other folk’s houses and didn’t he have 

enough on his hands just staying out of trouble 

with the law and banging that slut Tiffany,

and yes, you better believe she knew

because Tiffany’s mom told her all about it

while standing in the Dollar General checkout,

followed by a silence only to be shattered 

about ten seconds later when she added,

“What you going to do when you knock her up?”

an outcome so plausible and of such magnitude 

she was compelled to shut her eyes and meditate. 

When she emerged from her reflection, 

uncharacteristically dispassionate, she told him 

if that happened, as was most likely, he damn well 

better marry her, and Mama, now true to form,

got a bit weepy remembering her own pregnancy 

and hasty hymeneal followed by the birth 

of baby Oakum, cute at the time, not so much now,

the same Oakum who replied, rather demurely, 

“She’s on the pill Mama. We aint stupid,” 

leaving Mama to recall that Tiffy was just 15,

prompting Mama to petition the heavens, 

“Sweet Lawd, she’s just a child, just a baby girl.”

Then, switching attention from the Almighty 

to Oakum, she queried how little Tiffy gets ‘em 

and was informed little Tiffy gets ‘em herself 

with money she makes after school bagging groceries 

at the Piggly Wiggly, fated to close within a year, 

starved of revenue by the new Walmart just off Exit 5.

The integration concluded, Mama prophesized 

they’d be married within a year, accurately,

as was so often the case when Mama augured.

And soon the foreseen marriage was arranged, 

a secular affair, as preferred by all parties, 

under the auspices of Randy Communion, JP, 

who sealed the deal for $25 and a bag of weed, 

some of which was rolled, fired, and shared

among the assembled celebrants, then chased 

with a toast of Sweet Bitch Moscato Rosé Bubbly, 

courtesy of Billy Winsome and Tiffy’s mama, Rose. 

Thus the banns were reviewed, approved, 

and conducted by properly vested authorities 

and later consummated at the Dollywood 

DreamMore Resort & Spa where they spent 

a three-day weekend of rollercoaster rides, 

BBQ, and disco—an artform in which Oakum 

displayed a shocking mastery—and other shameless 

pleasures, and a grand fine time it was, too.

Edison Jennings works as a Head Start bus monitor/driver in Bristol Virginia. His poetry has appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies. He holds a Virginia Commission for the Arts Fellowship. His collection of poems, Intentional Fallacies, and chapbook, Reckoning are available through Broadstone Press and Jacar Press, respectively.  

Edison Jennings

5 comments on “Edison Jennings: Old Times There Are Not Forgotten

  1. Debra J Kaufman
    January 7, 2023

    I like the near Faulnerian first sentence that sets the tone for a royal Southern skewering.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rose Mary Boehm
    January 5, 2023

    Absolutely LOVER this poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. johnlawsonpoet
    January 5, 2023

    Sounds a lot like my formative years in Richmond!

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on January 5, 2023 by in Poetry, Humor and Satire, Social Justice and tagged , , , , , , .

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