During his lifetime, Everette Maddox was an academic, a college professor, an odd-jobber, and a barfly. But he was also one of the greatest under-sung poets of this nation, and the unofficial poet laureate of the French Quarter. Starting in 1979, he hosted poetry readings at the Maple Leaf Bar in New Orleans, and his memorial there reads simply, "He was a mess."
One of my favorite Maddox poems is a spirited riff on Wallace Stevens's "13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" called "13 Ways of Being Looked at By a Possum." Here are a few memorable stanzas:
I awake, three in the morning, sweating
from a dream of possums.
I put my head under the fuzzy swamp of cover.
At the foot of darkness two small eyes glitter.
From the grey pouch of a cloud
the moon hangs by its tail.
Drunk, crawling across a country road tonight,
I hear a shriek, look up, and am paralyzed
by fierce headlights and a grinning grill.
I am as good as gone!
The contest: Write a stanza in which you describe a 14th way of being looked at by a possum.
Post your stanza in the comments here. The winner will receive a first edition of Tennessee Williams's Memoirs, worth at least twice, and maybe three times what I paid for it. It's quite snazzy.
Here's my sample stanza:
Three small children with sticks
poke at the furry mound by the side of the road.
"Dead," says one.
"Fakin'" says another.
The third bites back a yelp
as a tiny gray eye glares at him, then winks.
All entries must be sent by 5am Pacific Time; winners will be announced in the next to last Blogathon post.