Sunday, March 13, 2011



Isaac McCaslin

“it was only by chance
that McCaslin, twenty
years later, heard of
him again, an old man
now and quite fat, as
the well-to-do proprietor
of a select New Orleans
—William Faulkner,
Go Down, Moses

Isaac McCaslin—
Poor Isaac has come & gone
Was I too rude, harsh?

What could I say tho?—
The Ledgers told the story
All these years later.

I had forgotten—
All those Mississippi days
Delta Bourbon nights.

Poor Ike McCaslin—
I can imagine what he’s
Gone thru all these years.

His Uncle Buddy—
Took pity on me back then
Took me under wing.

Taught me how to read—
How to write the white man way
That’s how I found out.

That’s when I read them—
Buddy showed me the Ledgers
My whole history.

Percival Brownlee

“Percavil Brownly
26yr Old. Cleark @
Bookepper. Bought
from N.B. Forest
at Cold Water
3 March 1856
$265. dolars”
—William Faulkner,
Go Down, Moses

Bedford Forrest sold—
Me to Mr. Theophilus
Back before the war.

He bought me there on—
No. 87 Adams Street in 1856
Memphis, Tennessee.

I came all the way—
From North Carolina with
Twenty-five young Negroes.

Buck was in Memphis—
Gambling, touring whore houses
And I caught his eye.

Bedford Forest smiled—
He had me take my pants off
And show Buck my junk.

He made me nervous—
The way he checked out my teeth
Felt all my muscles.

It made me get hard—
Cause Buck was one of those kind
He be a dinge queen.

He paid $250 for me—
And Mississippi became
My Plantation home.

The Ledgers

“even the tragic and
miscast Percival Brownlee
who couldn’t keep books
and couldn’t farm either…”
—William Faulkner,
Go Down, Moses

This is back then when—
Bedford Forrest was a rich
Memphis Slave-dealer.

Not yet General—
Not yet KKK Wizard
Dead at fifty-six.

The Civil Was had—
Yet to begin the nightmare
Doing Dixie in.

Things could have been worse—
I could have ended up bought
By Senator King.

His Alabama—
Plantation notorious
For kept Mandingos.

Later queer Vice-Prez—
William Rufus DeVane King
President Buchanan.

He died in Cuba—
The ultimate dead Dinge Queen
Jackson sneered, chortled.

The McCaslin Plantation

“the ledgers, new ones now
and filled rapidly, succeeding
one another rapidly and
containing more names than
old Carothers or even his
father and Uncle Buddy had
ever dreamed of…”
—William Faulkner,
Go Down, Moses

Yes, Buck McCaslin—
Be bad enough to live with
What a dinge sex fiend.

He wouldn’t let me—
Outta the fuckin’ bedroom
Each night drained me dry.

I cursed the day—
My African fathers made
Made me Mandingo.

How could I help it—
He milked my dark twelve inches
Until black & blue…

Buddy felt sorry—
But what could he do back then?
Buck had ditched Buddy.

I wanted freedom—
I’d pick cotton or plow the
Fuckin’ goddamn fields.

So Buddy taught me—
How to read & write so I
Could try to be free…

Impromptu Revival Days

“conducting impromptu
revival meetings among
negroes, preaching and
leading the singing also
in my high sweet true
soprano voice…”
—William Faulkner,
Go Down, Moses

I was the only—
Slave on the plantation who
Hadn’t been freed yet.

Buck just smirked at me—
I was gonna be his own
Sex-slave forever.

Buck McCaslin shrugged—
He’d served in Tennant’s Brigade
N. Virginia Army.

Buddy played Poker to—
Solve most of Buck’s problems
Buck was a dummy.

I’d found my true niche—
And I disappeared on foot
At top speed back then.

Not behind them but—
Ahead of a body of
Raiding Yankee horse.

Reconstruction meant—
I could finally run away
It was Freedom Land.

Jefferson Square

“and reappeared for
the third and last time
in the entourage of a
traveling Army paymaster,
the two of them passing
through Jefferson…”
—William Faulkner,
Go Down, Moses

We were passing thru—
Me & this gay paymaster
Who liked me real good.

A fancy surrey—
Me all dressed up in a suit
Pretty as can be.

It be big mistake—
At the exact moment when
Ike’s father be there.

Crossing the town square—
Buck & young Ike McCaslin
What a shock that was!!!

Buck took one look at—
Me there in that surrey with
The young Yankee boy.

He reached for his gun—
Buck be furious with me
I had betrayed him.

I jumped the surrey—
Got my black ass runnin’ fast
Runnin’ for my life!!!

The Carothers Curse

“his great-grandchildren,
seeking yet some place
to establish them to
endure even though
forever alien & unblessed
a pariah about the face
of the Western earth…”
—William Faulkner,
Go Down, Moses

And so here I am—
Me sitting here in my own
Memphis rich whore-house.

In the Big Easy—
Here in the lewd French Quarter
Pretty View Carré…

Buck long dead & gone—
His son Ike McCaslin who
Tracked me way down here.

Only to find out—
From my own concubine lips
The Ledgers were true.

Years after the War—
After Lee’s surrender and
The Proclamation.

Sitting here looking—
Thru the wrought-iron balcony
Over the rooftops.

Somehow I survived—
Despite the vice & bondage
The White Man taught me.

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