Marshall Anderson

Rumblings of Black and White

Marshall Anderson

The town square lights were not black and white, but beamed a radiant shade of lonely.

It seemed the best of days had passed and at last the thought of moving so fast had fainted like an under-fed field hand.

 So then the time stood like a rhyme, like the buildings full of people. For a friend there was the wind blowing soft beneath the steeple.

Off in the distance the simmer of persistence was cooking on the stove. Its a sadder tale than the whine and wail of engines being drove

Late into a vast of emptiness, a gate swung wide but its the howling hiss that will never kiss or hold till the dawn, its a wander lust that’s always gone.

Never close, never real, like a rose the seasons heal. Its red, or yellow, never black and white, never here nor there, not worth the fight.

Never wrong or right, besides, who hides their face in a far off place just to say they got the last word?

Not a man alive could merely survive and be able to fly like a bird.

But to long for more than really exists is the same as Judas and why he kissed Jesus.

So come down from there and please us. Won’t you my sweet love? Noah waited on his little white dove.

So when you see that sign come down and hear that whistle blow in an old train town, then you can live in a spectrum of light, that far surpasses what the tired masses measure in black and white.

Joe Andrews

Marshall Anderson

(In the smallest hours of the morning, the sun rose faint and vibrant.
A trace of peach magnolia stretched across the Eastern horizon.
Dank manure blew heavy in the breeze as he walked to the barn.
He fed the five mares two trash cans full of hay.
Drank his coffee, smoked a cigarette and began his day.
He imagined he would die this way.
His name was Andrews, and on Sundays he attended a church of forty-two.
He’d been a member twenty years.
One day Andrews got to feeling pretty blue,
Like his train of thought had burnt through all its gears.)

Leroy the Hustler: Pass the collection plate kid.
Andrews: Passes the plate slow like molasses,
Can’t concentrate, adjusts his glasses.
Leroy the Hustler: I got to go man, give it. I got to get on my knees.
I’m gonna drop this tithe loud, so everybody sees.
Andrews: Better make sure you ain’t giving too much,
It’d be time better spent outside in the sun
Without a crutch, or any reason to run,
Or be unkind, and if you don’t mind have a little fun.
Leroy the Hustler: I understand what you are saying.
It’s just sometimes I don’t know whose law I’m obeying.
What’s your name anyways buddy?
Andrews: Joe, Joe Andrews.
Leroy the Hustler: I was taking a drag across the street at the grocery store
When the urge took me to meet a lady standing at the back door,
She was so fine, I never felt that way before.
So I wanted her to know that I got a little dough,
And I ain’t afraid to lay it on the line.
Andrews: Listen Leroy, you gonna be just alright. Mind your intentions and live in the light,
And don’t ever make decisions out of spite. Sometimes you’ll want to daydream
Other times you’ll want to fight. When it’s time to move you gots to move,
When the animals need feeding you better provide.
Or else each morning more and more will have died.
There is nothing to prove, ‘less its etched in your heart,
And even then, to say you improve,
Is to take for granted where we all must start.

(The collection plate was passed with smiles on each face. The silver metal ring reflecting color stained beams onto the ceiling of the old wooden church house. Hands dropped their offerings, slowly covering the purple felt which lined the plate’s inner bottom. Deacon’s moved down the aisles until they reached the last and then the preacher began to pray aloud. Leroy quietly rose and passed through the space between the pew and Andrew’s knees.)

Indian Reservation Blues

Marshall Anderson

I rode outta town for just a rumor of wages. Board was promise enough to move me from Texas. Truth be told I needed the space, the action. Left the nicest gal I ever had. Fate schemes that way. I knew it from a dream. The rest was hard fact. No accident. I read Grapes of Wrath complete and went to a party. Met this old boy and he claimed to have a family farm in California, and I being broke, possibly wanted, recently evicted, and too far down a long line of broken nights to turn down a free home, shook his hand on the deal. On my last night in Texas  a friend of mine took me to Herbert’s Mexican joint then I drove off through the West Texas desert before the beans went down, before I got a chance to really clearly perceive starless nights, when the wind slammed my shutters and it rained without cease, and I could take a gander at any number of beasts for whom to blame for having spewn my garbage ‘cross the side of a mountain.

It’s flooding now, at the Requa, where the Klamath River meets the Pacific Ocean. Spilling over the banks onto a field and the highway. I’m highland on McMillan Road watching the county workers out my front window. Salmon seasons in a week and they’ll be strong against the current, dodging black bears and eagles and hooks of all sizes. It’s invisible and dense, formless as time the great spirits dancing here at the edge of America. The ancient Oregos weathered and mounted, guiding the salmon to the Yurok backwoods, where tributaries drain off the river.