It takes more than good intentions to transform the South. It takes money.
What the hell is a Scalawag?
All The Punks Become Libertarians
eventually. The ones that I knew, like
Ricky, who once shaved his head
& played guitar in an anarcho-
punk band but now does it only
as costume, a type of show—the bottles
smashed on the floor of a garage,
each of them part of an act.
That one night we drank
a couple of 40s
& ended up in the backyard
shooting at squirrels. Cruelty
& stupidity. Mixed
together like the various alcohols
in the various punches
at the parties where we all realized
we were becoming adults differently.
How once Ricky wanted things shattered
but now wants only to destroy—
filled with ideas about gun & land
ownership. With, too,
the physicality of the gun.
& three years later the same voices
that sung Against Me!
at bonfires now with new words:
now building semi-automatics
in their sheds, begging
their local Congressman
to keep the refugees away. How
we all move apart. Right
& left. Away from center.
In the early 90s, my grandmother rented out the home beside hers to a man with a horse & not much else. Two hundred a month—almost a good deal to live in a place that was near collapse. I'm not sure what kind of horse he had—domesticated, so not the mustang, the wild ones that emerged after the reintroduction of the horse to Texas. Not the thoroughbreds our family watched on the television every May, those horses unknowingly competing for a temporary glory that would end when they lost either the next race or the one after that. The horses we now call the mustang—no relation to the cars my father & I would test drive but never find the money to buy—no longer need to trace their roots back to the original Spanish horses in order to be called mustangs. They just need to be wild & on federal lands. It's comforting—not needing to prove a name to have it. After the Civil War, my grandfather, a few greats back, moved from New York to Texas, changed his last name from Van Houghton to Carter. While the mustang lineage gets to function like this—name attached without the documents—things are different for the race horse, each of them kept meticulous in a book, their bloodlines traced backward. An article I read tells me that all of them descend from one of three horses, though more accurately 90% of them come from only one. This, too, comforts me, reminds me of the yearly Easter parties where everyone alive & in my own bloodline, all of us attached to this made-up name, would gather in one space. Like the thoroughbred's lineage, there are no surprises.