Myth and Religion #1
by J. Clayton L. Jones
In the first grade my town's water supply
got polluted with carpet dye
run down river from Dalton:
the water fountain a run-down R-2 Unit.
If I can't recall the taste of it, I can still feel it.
After recess we were always thirsty, but this wasn't
typical horseplay. I remember Joe Lee:
black boy three years older than us retarded standing
his back against the fence snot running down the tears catching up
to what I do not know as I am grown now cut off from
the motivations weak and strong that cause
boys to strike other boys without anger violence
and suffering a long recess high on the monkey bars.
Jody Hamilton was a Jehovah's Witness.
He drew a picture of himself on an index card.
So did I. Mine was smiling.
His had five spikes for hair.
His Momma picked him up early.
It was Valentine’s Day.
I've never known a Jedi to weep, at least not the way
our bodies do: our minds and feelings too much
for us sometimes—most times. I guess
this why people just react to people—send arrows
into each other’s hearts, the outcome expected
is celebratory—a damned union or atonement even.
Later that year my best friend died of cancer.
They (you know who I mean) called it Leukemia.
Leukemia: eyes watering, anger growing, the water fountain
of chemical memory tastes of religion that's gone bone dry.
My Master told me Death is a natural part of life, told me
to rejoice for everyone around me—but not with those expectations.
J. Clayton L. Jones has published poems, articles, and essays in The Cortland Review, The Albatross, GSU Review, The Rome Unseen, and Vini Vidi Vici. He moonlights as a singer/songerwriter and perform with his bluegrass/Americana group, The Groundhawgs.