In Memory

In honor of the fact we're at the beach, and in honor of my sobriety, and--most importantly, in honor of my wild and beautiful sister, who would have been 41 today, and for whom the 80's go on without end, an old poem from Karaoke Funeral:


I know you are here, Kelly, for as sure
as sway-backed rednecks and big-boned
girls in string bikinis haunt these bars,
I can feel you in the wasted air.
These were your stomping grounds, this gulf
a potion making you so dissolute
you had to rise from wave-foam,
pull yourself together just to make a ghost.
Whose idea, anyway, to throw you to the fish,
when it was beautiful dumb boys you liked best?
We should have scattered your gold flecks of bone
on the Spinnaker dance floor, where you’d’ve
out-mingled the sand and hopeful dust, gone
home on some blonde lifeguard’s boot heels
to whoop it up and sleep it off.
So what kind of guardian angel can you be?
We never got along. I despised the simple
vocabulary of your friends--the man
and coowul, GED and DUI, your culture
of drugstore haircolor and cat fights.
I paid a fortune for my red hair, my friends
went to colleges nowhere near the woods
of West Georgia, and that made me better than you.
We went to Destin, Sandestin, where
my then-husband could loll on the golf course,
return smelling of sweet grass and nonchalance.
And now, the years turned inside out
like an air-brushed t-shirt, it’s me in Panama City
because suddenly I can’t stand my kids or the boyfriend
who felt fit to announce after eight months,
I’m not in love with you. But it might change.
I’m the woman whose roots are showing
like an oil-based stain that can’t be covered.
What have you done with him—Tad the Frat Boy,
twenty-three year-old I picked up at the Barefoot Bar
just to prove, at thirty-three, I could?
What’s happened to him, turned hostile at no,
since he put me out in the street—trashed
and stumbling down the strip as well as ever
staggered any tattooed girl named Tammy?
And from where did you send it, the white stretch limo
I didn’t call, too drunk to dial a phone,
the one whose driver knew my name
and where to take me home?


M. Ru Pere said...

I love this poem - actually I envy the way the whole of that book has a united feel . . . it also reminds me of S'peare's "Shall i compare thee . . " - how at the end he says that as long as people read his poem "you" will be alive, and that's kinda the way it is w your Sis and your PC Beach poem . . .

minus five said...

i like it best when you read that one. you're the best reader of anything. and i'm completely serious, for once.


God that poem is powerful...I feel every word of it. Having lived in Mobile, AL and spent a lot of time in Pensacola, Destin and everywhere in between, I can imagine the people, the places, the feeling of that time and place.

Collin said...

One of my faves from "KF." Have fun at the beach...you know your sister would want you to.

nolapoet said...

There is the ghost of meter here, as well, Tania. (Have you read Aniie Finch's _The Ghost of Meter_?)

Got poems and an interview I'd like to talk to you about when you get back.


Bjorn said...

Beatiful, Tania. I need to do some serious writing myself. Art keeps you honest, doesn't it?

Tania Rochelle said...

Thanks, y'all! Call me, Robin.

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