Paducah. It is 7 a.m. on the morning of May the 15th 1924.
Delicious odor of fried hominy grits drenched in molasses.
Lightly in the gutter lies the grey-green dust of poplars.
10 a.m. The sun catches the mandolins
hung in the pawnbroker’s window
A voiceless riot
of fifes oboes saxophones broken down trumpets cornets
telescopes binoculars dried cathers mitts.
A collection of gold watches
glows . . . their dumb cases shut.
From behind a cotton bale . . . a song rinses its hair
in the still air . . .
We the hearers invisible . . .
We walk down Lotophagoi street at high noon
without casting a shadow
& enter the postal telegraph office where my father
sends this message:
DEEPLY REGRET CANNOT ATTEND FESTIVITIES.
GREETINGS ALL FAMILY ESPECIALLY TO AUNT
CAROLINE ON HER NINETHIETH BIRTHDAY. DE-
TAINED HERE UNFORTUNATELY SOME WEEKS DUE
TO URGENT BUSINESS.
The whole city is asleep.
That afternoon we watched a dead dog floating
downstream from Cincinnati, its paws upright.
Caught the 8:05
and by dark were rattling through Cairo
–from Slow Newsreel of Man Riding Train, by Robert Nichols (City Lights Books, 1962)