“Mattie’s Song”

Mattie stumbles past,

her worn-down life a shuffle

from sad loss-to-loss.*


*(Mattie – I never knew her last name – I first came to know near twenty years ago when she was introduced to me by a woman who said the ageless Black woman had worked for her as a maid and a nanny for years, over the past five or six years has been an intermittent appearance by the office – and garden – coming down the street with a two-wheel laundry/shopping cart at first and in the past five or six months a telescoping-handle small luggage bag on tiny wheels, she said she found after her cart hat been stolen.  She used to stop for some vegetables – collards and onions and tomatoes and peppers – when she said she had a small home in which to cook.  And later it came out that she lived on the front porch of someone else’s house – a relative – who let her use the kitchen.  She was waiting for ever-promised government money to move into a home of her own, but despite repeated walks of 20 or more blocks downtown to Social Security and Welfare offices, she remain a vision of a slow-walking elderly Black Lady, dressed all in black, wearing a Sunday-meeting hat (without white gloves) who sometimes stops to chat, asks for a Pepsi by name and sadly shakes her head ruefully when I tell her it’s milk, wine, beer or water – though if she walks by next month Irish whiskey as well – she always declines.  She found the wild garlic bulbs I have been growing in pots for the past three years in an open field by an elementary school a half-mile or so from me.  I now have enough to use and some to share, and when I went back to the school there was none of those wild garlics to be seen.  She will stop and talk in the shade of the oaks but declines a plastic garden chair or even the newly-refurbished white wooden rocking chair and a lunch of salad or soup and whatever is to hand.  God, damn the people who put this woman in this place…and I guess that means me too for not finding a larger place in my heart to see what more I can do.  And she shuffles past with a smile and a wave and a “Hi, Mister J.”)

“There Once Was A Town And ‘Payola’ Was Its Name”

For just a brief bit

a road-bump called Payola*

a Sanford chuckle.


*(Payola, way out 25th Street (State Road 46A) at the Banana Lake curve was for a brief time in Central Florida – especially my hometown of Sanford – the center of attention.  During the records-on-radio bribe-payments (with a suggestion television somehow was involved too) brouhaha nationwide that eventually sent unscrupulous agents, bagmen and radio disc jockeys and program managers and station managers and owners to rack and ruin and some to jail, the term was Pay-Ola – pay to play. I knew people who blushed when the name of their half-mile of street was said in polite company. We might should erect a big Victrola record player-looking streetsign announcing both entering and leaving the province of Payola!)