Chuck Taylor’s All Stars

When the electricity blinks
In Huntsville, the town’s ear strains
For thunder in the distance.

Your lawyer, his heart ticking his eyelid
Can only sell you strategy and process
Having given up music for the law

Sold his guitar, a pre-columbian Strat
Made the year he was born
To pay for his first year at UT

And please his mother’s instinct
For a trade, something to fall back on.
Like the governor, who really wanted

To be commissioner of baseball
Kennesaw Mountain Landis or Bowie Kuhn
Twitching in his sleep

When the phone rings in Austin.
Your lawyer, who took a job after graduation
At the second biggest firm in Dallas, where he made

His bones defending a Houston insurance company
Against a refinery worker who had his fingers
Smashed and torn off in a hydraulic vise and later

Contracted the same cancer that spreads across
The Black schoolyard downwind
Of the voluntary regulations in Midland

And then quit for the Public Defender’s office
Once he’d made enough for a down payment
And learned the ropes enough to know

Where the knots are, makes the call twice each day.
His band once opened for Humble Pie
In Erie, Pennsylvania, where the governor

Has postponed all executions until further notice.
Having bought a red Telecaster knockoff
That sits in the corner of the bedroom

Of the bungalow that matches
A PD’s salary, your lawyer
Still feels those bloody, cracked fingers

In the dark or in the shower or when
He’s driving to work, but not while he blinks
Vacantly at you and explains the options

He’s exhausting on your behalf.
Looking among the visitors who come and go
Family, friends, press, movie stars and clergy

For a love that isn’t just pity
The steady treason of laces and leather
Makes it harder and harder to tie your shoes.

R. D. Girard | Mudlark No. 21
Contents | Birth Rights