Page 1

PHOENIX Fine Arts Magazine

Voi 23/Fall1980


Marjorie Horne


PHOENIX Fine Arts Magazine

Vol 23/FaM1980

Freedom is but fora Little While

Carousel Man by Wynne Brow

by Ron Schaaf p.

1

P-4

p.2

AKT

Rendered by the Light by Judy Katzel

p.12

p.7

POETRY

Ch 'K'

Tennessee Williams

*

PH O TO G R APH Y * t

i

by David Duncan

p.14

p. 19

p. 22

By the Wind Grieved by Jerry Whittle

Last Giance

p.32

Dane Swindell Judy Katzel Guy Reel T. Kevin Birch Susan Eaddy Reid Leitner Thomas Killian Betty Allen

p. 26 Editor & Design Director ______ Managing Editor ______ Associate Editor Photography Editor ____________Art Editor _________ Poetry Editor _____ Editorial Assistant Production

yve will consider unsolicited articles, manuscripts, art and photos at the beginning of each quarter. ŠCopyright 1980 by the University m Tennessee. All rights retained by the individual contributors. Send to Phoenix, 5 Communications Building, 1340 Circle Park Drive, Knoxville, TN 37916.


Freedom is but fora Little While Ron Schaaf Though only 6, he felt pretty grown up. Probably not many of his friends were trusted enough to be alone for an hour till their mothers got home from work. He played the last of the stream along the sides of the toilet bowl and smiled to himself before yanking up his zipper. “Ouch! Ooooh.. .” Frozen into a funny stooped position, he looked down at himself. He was caught, and it hurt so bad. Fighting back the tears, he tried inching the zipper downward. He couldn’t do it. It only made it hurt worse. He had to get help. Maybe Myrna next door could do something, he thought. Standing on her front porch, he hoped she heard his knock and wouid come quickly. Without a coat on, he was getting cold in addition to hurting. At last the door opened, and he lost no time teiling her the problem. She looked down at him briefly but then turned back and closed the door behind her. Maybe she didn’t hear what he said. He knocked even harder than before until hearing the inside lock click shut. The littie girl across the street peeked out from behind her snowman at him and giggied when he walked by. He figured she wouldn’t think it was so funny if she got her’s stuck. Biliy’s mom at the next house wouidn’t heip either. She even called him a funny name and told him to go home and never come back. Shivering and blinded by tears, he slipped on her icy front steps and fell. That made it burn like fire, and he lay there alone for a few minutes in the snow screaming. The cold was numbing. At last he pulled his hands away and looked. There was a spot of blood and a little piece of skin still stuck in the zipper, but he was free. He later realized why they had all treated him iike that: Friends only want you around If you don’t hurt or need their help.


CAROUSEL M AN Wynne Leverett Brown

The best time to walk around Central Park is in late April on a week-day morning. By that time, the new foliage on the oaks and maples looks as if it really belongs there and the squirrels have put on some weight after their annual fast. Even the New Yorkers have thawed out a little. Their grim faces have relaxed slightly and the warm spring sun has colored their winter-pale noses. It’s a peaceful time in the Park. A few faint shouts can be heard from a school group on its way to the Zoo. As the children straggle through the 65th Street pedestrian tunnel, each one tries to outecho the other. By the Sailboat Pond, Hans Christian Andersen’s lap is empty for once, and his shiny bronz nose and worn fingers remain unpolished by mittened hands. The Ugly Duckling at his feet looks almost forlorn without some snowsuited urchin riding its back, shouting “ Giddy-up, duck!” At the north end of

4 PHOENIX

the Pond, Alice is seated on a large toadstool and serenely surveys the bronze Tea Party while the Dormouse sleeps on. A few people are out. Nannies walking children pass grannies walking French poodles. Further on, a young girl is being taken for a walk by a large black Newfoundland. A well-dressed elderly gentleman dozes over his Wall Street Journal on a park bench. Near him, a stubbled old man sleeps against a tree, his arms wrapped affectionately around an empty bottle of cheap strawberry wine. Everyone belongs. No one Is out of place. Most of my childhood was spent in Manhattan. My parents, both determined well-educated Swedes, had immigrated to America several years before I was born. After arriving in New York, they

rented a studio in Greenwich Village, long before It was the “ in” place to live. My earliest memories are of riding a fourwheeler in Washington Square and of eluding NYU student babysitters while my parents attended drama productions. No doubt their fervent interest in the theatre accounts for my present occupation and, for that matter, my current dilemma. Later, we moved uptown. Now my school field trips took me to the Metropolitan, the Natural History Museum and to the Guggenheim while vacation and weekend rambles found me in Central Park. Here I made friends with the chimpanzee keeper at the Zoo, clambered over Hans Christian Andersen, sank my 18” schooner in the Sailboat Pond and, most of all, spent as much of my time and allowance as I could on the Carousel. Since then. New York has rarely been the center stage of my life. Instead, it’s been a junction, the point of


embarkation or the site of a brief return. In fact, I seem to spend ail my time in New York saying things like “ I’d love to, but I’m leaving in the morning” or “ I can’t fit it in this trip, but I’ll be back at Christmas.” Then it’s time to speed off to the new summer stock production here or the dinner theatre rehearsals there or the auditions somewhere else. I consider myseif fairiy good as an actress but there’s certainly room for improvement. . . as my last director put it: “ You know, Lena, you might have an easier time with these character parts if you took the time to know your own character better. How can you understand Ibsen’s people if you haven’t even caught up with yourself yet?” Now suddenly, here’s a chance to be in one place for a while, a chance to catch up. I’ve been offered a minor roie in a Broadway production and the show goes into rehearsai in two weeks. It’s a small part but it’s got room for some nice bits and wouid certainly let me have a foot in the door—both feet, in fact. I should be ecstatic. Here, at iast, is what I’ve been working toward through six years of school and another six or seven on the road. Ail those part-time jobs managing piayhouse ticket offices, waitressing in dinner theatres, the voice lessons and the countiess auditions have finaliy paid off. Yet when the producer calied this morning, I nearly turned it down. I had to ask for a few hours to think it over and I have a feeling I nearly lost the part. Johnathon Marks isn’t used to having peopie “ think over” his offers. The idea of taking a long-lasting part like that frightens me. For some reason, now that a chance for what I want is here. I’m suddenly not so sure I want it. If I take the part, it signais the end of my oid iifestyie and the beginning of a settied existence. It will be the end of packing up my duffie bag every three or four weeks, the end of short-lived musicals and month-long friendships. There won’t be any more living in cast traiiers or wondering what and where the next show wiii be. No ionger wili all my spare time be spent poring over the ads in “ Piayers Gazette” and audition-chasing. And, most important, if I take that part, I will have to learn to settle the romances and affairs myseif rather than letting the finai curtain do it for me. Yet, as much as I’ve enjoyed It all, perhaps I’m ready to move on to something more stable. After all, at 29, shouldn’t one be ready to grow up? Perhaps it’s time to own some furniture, to buy a few plants, maybe adopt a cat. Imagine, paying rent and the Con Ed bill once a month and even using the same washing machine more than twice in a row. Maybe the time has come to make some friends that last longer than summer stock. How ironic that New York should once again be a junction.

6

PHOENIX

I decided to walk across the Sheep Meadow while attempting to settle my dilemma. The Carousel was on the way and, lured by its tinny and slightly offkey tune, I stopped and leaned on the rail to watch. Although the shabby round building still smelled of damp concrete and leftover popcorn, the Carousel itself sparkled with a new coat of paint. The clowns, modelled in low relief around the central support, still cavorted and laughed in suspended animation. The attendant, a sad-looking Puerto Rican, looked incongruous against the frozen hilarity of the backdrop as he hauled the gearshift levers back and forth. The horses began to move and each was as familiar as an old friend as they passed by. My childhood favorite was still there, a tempestuous black bound to be a stallion, two rows behind the carriage. He tossed his head, rolled his eyes and slashed the air with his tail. I was glad to see that none of his spirit had diminished in the past fifteen years. To a child, the horse’s saddle augmented his already special quality; a snarling puma crouched behind the rider with its muscles tensed, ready to spring at the first enemy that dared to appear. The child now in the saddle seemed unworthy of it, fatly limp with the soft flesh of his midriff bulging above and below the safety strap. He clutched the pole desperately with one hand and waved eagerly to his father at every revolution with the other. His father, equally soft and fat, waved back while smiling vacantly. I listened as "Pop! Goes the Weasel” wore down and watched as the child rolled off the right side of the horse. Suddenly I went to the ticket window, bought three rides, and clasping the familiar yellow slips, stepped once again on to the worn wooden platform. Surprisingly perhaps, the horse was still too large for me and only gave slightly as I swung myself up into the saddle. The Carousel man came out of a door in the clown’s stomach and glanced around at the tew riders, then seemed to give a tired sign. He threw the levers and the music box creaked and groaned. Slowly the horses began to move, squeaking in the hush of the building. The first notes of the tune played and the sunlight and the rabbit-shaped Central Park balloons and waiting mothers all receded faster and faster, until they became a dappled green blur. “ You’re much prettier now that you’ve grown up.” A heavily accented voice spoke now at my knee, now at my waist as the horse moved up and down. The Carousel man held out his hand for the first of my tickets. “ Oh, come on,” I said, laughing. “ I bet you say that to every woman who comes here. And anyway, I haven’t been here for years.” He shook his head solemnly and

his earnest brown eyes became more deeply embedded in fine wrinkles. “ No, I remember you. You always rode this horse and you had a funny name for him. It was Lightning, only in a different language. Swiss or something.. . ” “ Swedish. I called him . Blixten,” I corrected him automatically, then as his words registered, “ Hey, maybe you do remember—’’but he was gone. I could see him, several horses behind me, weaving between rows with a gait wellaccustomed to the motion of the Carousel. After a few more revolutions, the gears downshifted and the horses slowed to a stop. Several children jumped off and ran to the gate clamoring for more tickets. Their mother listened smiling then ushered them down the path toward the skating rink. A small thin boy in a denim jacket and an engineer’s cap walked toward my horse, then stopped, and returned to perching on the railing. Again the box groaned, the music squeaked and the horses began to move. “ I remember another thing,” and the Carouselman had reappeared at my side. “ You used to wear a patch on one eye.” I nodded. “ I think you said you had a stigma,” he added while walking away. I probably had one of those too, I thought. But it was true, I had been astigmatic and had worn a patch and done eye exercises for several years as a child. The third time he came by, he collected my last ticket and said, “ Did you ever get good?” “ I beg your pardon?” “ I said, did you ever get good at something? I always ask the kids what they wanna be when they grow up and when they come back in a few years, I tell’em what they told me.” “ And what did I want to be?” “ You said you didn’t know yet but whatever it was, you were going to be good at it.” I said that, at 12 or whatever I was then?” “ Yup. Always remembered that one. You be sure to bring your kids down, you hear? Bye now.” “ I w ill,” I promised him. “ Bye.” As I dismounted, the boy in the engineer’s cap was standing by my horse’s head. He smiled and his light blue eyes looked directly into mine. I handed him the reins, saying gravely, “ Handle him carefully—he’s pretty spunky today.” The boy stopped smiling but there was a twinkle in the blue eyes. “ I know. It’s the spring weather—it always makes him frisky.” He paused. “ He’s a very special horse, the best one here.” “ He sure is. Take good care of him,” and I patted Blixten’s neck and left the Carousel to walk across the Sheep Meadow. Then I turned south toward Broadway to tell Mr. Marks that I would take the part.


AFT-

Lithograph 11” x 9”

“ Landscape I”

Terry Conkin-

Junior


pen & ink 15” x 20” 8 PHOENIX

Something awful that hatched one day

Ann Blount - Senior


10

PHOENIX

Mixed media 11” X 16”

So Real You Can Almost Play With Him

Cynthia Huff

Senior


Lithograph 22” X 17”

untitled

Ron Gardner-Senior


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My body. I have watched the supple, tight skin of a youth who had run effortlessly—and tripped frequently—through the woods, shrivel slowly into the bronzed form of a would-be sun tan queen. I suppose that first transformation was inevitable. I had grown older. I was fifteen. Those muscular, tom-boyish legs of a softball player had no choice but to grow longer and thinner—sandled and brown rather than cleated and sturdy. But I could take it. I rather enjoyed it. For with this transformation of body came a deepening of soul and a reaching beyond myself to others. I knew love. The second and more radical change seemed to come over me quite suddenly and, I admit, took more adjustment to than I thought I was capable of at the time. I was 21, in college and absorbed in academics. Although I suppose it was gradual—since none of my friends thought it was odd — I realized I had exchanged my sun-soaked and streamlined form for something almost ghoulish. A pale and pudgy body stared gauntly back at me from my bathroom mirror. Was it too much coffee? Too many cigarettes? Those tiny lines around my eyes that used to crinkle only when accompanied by a smile now lingered on— permanently. My once smooth legs were dimpled and pocked. I plunged deeply into memories of myself. I felt like an old whore who had somehow forgone the pleasures that should have accompanied the title. I had lost love. I had found l i f e reality. Alone. I was so alone and so self-comsumed. My body had taught me to love both myself and others but the right had been taken away. The two were never to be one or to be simply as they once were. Sitting quietly I thought first of physical desire. Who me? No, no, it couldn’t be. What was failing? Had my appearance stifled 9 II chance for emotion? I stared sullenly out the window. Then, I saw him. I was now the nude—exposed and vulnerable. He was a billowing cloud, inviting me to step out and embrace him—grab him. Could I? Look at him. He stood like a man but blushed like a little boy. He was rendered by the light, no longer a cloud but a solid form. It was only light that created those shapes and forms—simple and pure. So very real, yet hinged upon the intangible; and now I know the answer and his warmth is always present on a damp winter day. Judy Katzel

Cynthia Huff


T. Kevin Birch


Turn again, turn again, turn once again The Freaks of the Cosmic Circus, Amen We are the Cooks and Geeks of Creation Beiieve It or Not is the name of our star Each of us here thinks the other is queer But no one’s mistaken since aii of us are. “ Carousel Tune’’

The World Within the World: The Human Scenario

TENNESSEE W nU A M S David D. Duncan

The odd and eccentric, the different and unwanted, the desperate and exhausted - these are the concerns of author Tennessee Williams. Throughout a career distinguished by widespread exposure and acclaim, Williams has never sacrificed his personal intent just to sell a few copies of his work. His is a life steeped in controversy from all sides including his unconventional private tastes and disputable critical analysis of what he has written throughout the years. Born in 1911 and reared entirely in the South, Williams changed his name from Tom to Tennessee because he “ liked the sound of it.” He began writing at age 12 and won his first literary award two years later. Williams was later named multiple honors Including two Puiitzer Prizes for

A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. Prolific in a number of areas other than drama, Williams has penned unforgettable short stories, poems and observations that never overlook the environment they were written within. His concern for the trapped characters he writes about isn’t unnecessarily cruel or obscure but genuine and deeply felt. Detractors accuse him of being one­ sided, but the emotional level inherent in all of his work blinds any dissension that may be raised. As the Joseph Wood Krutch lecturer for the campus-wide 1980 Celebration of the Arts, Williams appeared at a number of informai discussions and readings. The foliowing interview was culled from tapes recorded In question and answer

sessions with Wiiliams on the 7th and 8th of May. In addition to the festivities, there was also a Tennessee Williams Film Festival sponsored by the UT Film Committee that featured screen adaptations of four of his most famous plays. Like many other figures of renown, Williams has been plagued with bouts of drug abuse, homosexuality, psychoanalysis and alcoholism. Yet the difference this makes upon his contribution to the arts is debatable. To Williams, the fire has a way of controlling itself. And as long as this caring man with a syrupy Southern drawl continues to breath and reflect the flames will be kept fanned.


Phoenix;: There has always been much emphasis on the South in your writing. Was your childhood in Mississippi impressionable upon your work? TW: I was accidentally born in Coiumbus, Mississippi. My father happened to be a native Knoxville man. He was working in a iegai capacity for the teiephone company in Coiumbus. My mother was the oniy chiid of an Episcopal clergyman there. And she was scandalizing the parish by appearing in the Mikado. She kicked up her skirts too high which was very distressing to some of the parishioners. But very pieasing to my father. So here I am. Phoenix: Is the South still unique enough to warrant its own place in American literature? TW: Yes, but I dislike the invasion of industry in the South. I ioved it when it was the agrarian South and the industriai North. Now there’s too much of the industriai North creeping into the agrarian South. But change is the thing that occurs. There’s no resisting it. Fortunateiy, there hasn’t been so much yet. And I will not live to see it changed so much that I will not recognize the difference. Phoenix: How does your present home in Key West, Fiorida differ from past areas of the South you’ve iived? TW: I think that Key West is probabiy the ieast conventional city in the United States. But that’s not why I live there. I live there because it’s an ideal climate for me. Totaiiy unpoliuted air. And wonderful swimming. Swimming is my great pleasure of a physical nature and so Key West is perfect for me. But it is a very, very unconventional place. And if I remember Knoxvilie correctiy, it is a highiy conventionai city. Phoenix: Do you have any relatives left here in Knoxville? TW: I don’t doubt that I have if there are any Seviers or Coffins or McClungs left in Tennessee. The iast time I was in Knoxviile was in the iate ‘50s when my father was buried. I went to visit the oid Williams homeplace but was told it had been turned into an orphanage for black children. That was a nice thing to happen. Phoenix: How do you feei about the mass migration of Cubans to the Keys? TW: I think that Mr. Castro decided to get rid of a iot of the scum. Peopie are victims of circumstances. It’s not their fauit they are drug addicts. I suppose it’s not even their fault if they’re criminals. But unfortunately, Mr. Castro has chosen to unload them on us. Perhaps to make room for more Russians. Phoenix: Is present-day Broadway an unacceptable outlet for your work? Your most recent play. Clothes For A Summer Hotel, closed after a total of eight-and-ahalf weeks of performances. TW: Well, the play starred Geraldine Page with an English actor named Kenneth Haigh, who hadn’t appeared on

SCENE

POUR

S te l la [coldly]: Go on and say it all, Blanche. Blanche: He acts like an animal, has an animal’s habits! Eats like one, moves like one, talks like one! There’s even some­ thing—sub-human—something not quite to the stage of humanity yet! Yes, something—ape-like about him, like one of those pictures I’ve seen in—anthropological studies! Thousands and thousands of years have passed him right by, and there he is—Stanley Kowalski—survivor of the stone age! Bearing the raw meat home from the kill in the jungle! And you— you here— waiting for him! Maybe he’ll strike you or maybe grunt and kiss you! That is, if kisses have been discovered yet! Night falls and the other apes gather! There in the front of the cave, all grunting like him, and swilling and gnawing and hulking! His poker night!— you call it—this party of apes! Somebody growls—some creature snatches at something—the fight is on! G odl May­ be we are a long way from being made in God’s image, but Stella—my sister—there has been some progress since then! Such things as art—as poetry and music—such kinds of new light have come into the world since then! In some kinds 'of people some tenderer feelings have had some little beginning! That we have got to make grow! And cling to, and hold as our flag! In this dark march toward whatever it is we’re approaching. . . . Don’t — don’t hang back with the brutes! [Another train passes outside. Stanley hesitates, licking his lips. Then suddenly he turns stealthily about and with­ draws through fro n t door. The women are still unaware o f his presence. When the train has passed he calls through the closed fro n t door.]

Stanley: Hey! Hey, Stella! S te l la [who has listened gravely to Blanche]: Stanleyl Blanche: SteU, I— T»


the stage in twenty years. And they were working in totaily opposite styies. She’s a perfect Methodist. . .(iaughs) You know, she was one of the great method actresses of America. And their styles just didn’t fit. They weren’t congruent at ali. Well, you can’t pass the buck. I guess there was something wrong with the first act of Clothes For A Summer Hotel, too. But it was a piay that had popular appeal. It was about real people: Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. It also had Hemingway in it. It’s called a ghost play because all of the characters are dead. Phoenix: What do you think of the state of American drama today? TW: There are fewer and fewer serious plays being produced. It’s become very expensive to produce serious plays. For instance, Edward Albee always says that Broadway has become like the Strip in Las Vegas. It’s almost nothing but musicals and entertainment. There are one or two good plays like Deathtrap. But I can’t think of any more. Phoenix: Do you believe that the stage is still the ultimate form of expressive drama? TW: It could be better than it is. It is a great mystery why it isn’t. I think a lot of people have been asking why and they still don’t know. I wish the critics were a little more responsible because a great deal has to do with critics. They can kill a play instantly if they wish. They’re afraid of making waves. They’re afraid of that which challenges or is not conventionally acceptable. A fool called Jack Kroll who writes drama criticism for Newsweek said that I even borrowed from A Streetcar Named Desire in my latest play. Clothes For A Summer Hotel, just because Geraldine Page in the character of Zelda Fitzgerald makes a remark referring to kindness. She says, “ Some people were so kind. And afterwards, there is a kindness that you remember. The rest is trivia, dissolved and dropped away.” Now this is lost in the text in the middle of the play. Kroll says that I was borrowing from Streetcar because Blanche DuBois refers to kindness as she makes her exit. She says, “ I am always dependent upon the kindness of strangers.” How far out can you go to attack a writer? Simply because he refers twice in two plays to kindness. Is kindness now an unacceptable subject in drama? Phoenix: Do critics just look for fault in creative efforts? TW: I don’t think that critics are free writers. I think they’re employed by newspapers that will not permit them to write certain kinds of reviews of certain kinds of writers. Yet I read all the reviews of my work. You should know what the enemy is. Where their heads are, if they have any. Phoenix: What do you think of Walter Kerr as a reviewer and a critic?


TW: I don’t think he wrote the review of Clothes For A Summer Hotel but his name was signed to it. It was badly written and almost illiterate. It had none of his eloquence. Even when he dislikes a play, he condemns it with eloquence. He is not a man who is very knowledgeable theatrically. I remember when the Pulitzer and the Drama Critics’ Prize was conferred upon Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, he was appointed for some reason to give me the Critics’ Award on stage. As we were on the steps of the stage, he said, “ I did not vote for this play.” I said, “ I know you didn’t, Mr. Kerr, but why did you choose this moment to tell me so?” He had no answer. What were the alternatives to Cat On A Hot Tin Roof? The only other choice was Bus Stop by William Inge. Did he mean that he would have preferred to have given the award to Bus Stop? Bus Stop wasn’t a bad play... Phoenix: But it wasn’t Cat On A Hot Tin Poof either. TW: The regional theatre is the great help and hope and where most of my interest is centered. What the theatre needs very badly is good new directors and there aren’t too many for the stage. There are a great many for the screen but not tor the stage. Phoenix: What is your favorite play? TW: In general, my favorite play is The Seagull by Anton Chekhov. Phoenix: Which of your own plays do you feel the most affinity toward? TW: The one most people like, and I almost bow to the majority opinion, is A Streetcar Named Desire. Phoenix: Are you satisfied with the translation of your plays to the screen? TW: Most of the films adapted from my plays during the heavy Hays Office censorship period, I always advised people to leave the films before the last five or ten minutes. Because they would often contradict the whole meaning of the play to satisfy the censors. Phoenix: What about acceptance of your work outside America?

18

PHOENIX

TW: Europe is far more liberal. At least most of it on this side of Russia. I don’t know what li’es on the other side. Phoenix: Would you rather be recognized for something other than the plays you’ve written? TW: Actually, I think my best work is in the short story form. But it isn’t known as well. It certainly hasn’t been as lucrative. Stili I rather enjoy creating characters on the stage. It’s fun and there’s no use doing anything in life if it isn’t fun. But you should try to do some good, of course. Today, I think I’d rather write for the screen because the awful bunden of censorship has been lifted. Phoenix: Are there any film directors you’d like to work with? TW: Sidney Lumet has grown into a great director. And I love Bertolucci. And Coppola. There are so many fine directors. And I like Stanley Kubrick very much. Phoenix: Do you make the lecture circuit very often? TW: I have two agents, an older one and a younger one, and neither of them realize how old I am. Tm sixty-nine years old. They don’t think about your limitations as a human mechanism. But I do get around. I did have a prepared speech. It wasn’t terribly interesting. It was about a young novelist who submited to me a very brilliant novel. And he wanted to know how he could make any money off it. I said, “ The fact that it is a brilliant novel doesn’t make it commercial.” The speech was mainly about commercialism. And the theatre. And the book world. Unfortunately, I left it in Kev West. ’ Phoenix: Are you ever completely confident with what you write? TW: No, because I love to re-write and edit. I had an exchange of letters with Brandon Gill and he said that “ Mr Williams very often does a play and then he does a second version of it which is not as good as the first.” And I said, “ But oh, Mr. Gill, you should read the third version!”

Phoenix: Are you currently involved in any writing projects? TW: My life is writing. I shall be dictating on my death bed. Right now, I’m working on a screenplay called The Loss Of A Teardrop Diamond, about magical dreams of child and light and color. Writing is a very strenuous business. Writers tire out faster than prizefighters or aerialists on the high trapeze. Writing remains my most pleasurable experience each day. I began writing at 12 years old and I’m still at it. I write because I find life inadequate. I could never write about total defeat. I just wish everything in life wasn’t so limited. Phoenix: Will you continue to present the equation of sexual powers with artistic powers? Phoenix: Your poetry is extremely sensual. TW: I m probably the most sensual writer in America. I find now that it is no longer practicable to put so much of it into bed. I can put more of it into the writing. Not that I don’t enjoy tactile contact in bed. Phoenix: Is there anything left for you to accomplish? TW: I don’t feel the need to spur to go onward. Because I find writing indispensable. And there are other outlets. I’ve been painting since 1940 but in the last five years I’ve been painting seriously. And I’m beginning to find it a profitable source. Phoenix: Do you have any other human visions of fulfillment or discontent to reveal? TW: I love people, in general. I love them. Discontent. . . I’m sorry I’m not young anymore. But I feel that the world I S headed toward a terrible crisis. Phoenix: Will you and your work ever be recognized as it once was? TW: No. Certainly not. But I think in the future it will. I think some of my work will survive. That is if writing survives.


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WARM DAY AFTER A SNOW black specked white stooping to return.

IN THE EYE OF THE STORM I. The hardware store filled with the same peoplewind people, dust people.

without a word pure, white hot burns

How’s the Ford? Wheels aligned, that did the trick. Texas stretched out, yawned, and swallowed up the comment, spit it out on the empty desert air. Desire burst out early that evening and spread its warm, sweet waters achingly, then more gently, over Silas and Mary and Harley and his woman; whispered prayers later thanked God for the beauty of that tense, ancient act and forthe ability to do it still; for the Ford whose wheels are now aligned; and for the winds blowing softly through clumps of sage and through gullies and through Arroyo Street, lying silent between the hardware store and Hamrick’s Funerai Home. Dry, dense night dropped from Cheyenne to Laredo and day died, waiting silently foranotherto fill with rakes and hoes and Fords with unbalanced wheels -they’ll be fixedto slice the big, hot Texas air.

past coal blue eyes watching the green specked ground rise to them. we too return kneeling through the dividing grass, filtering to where spring never comes and we stand tall before what rained us out whose small hands rolled our birth and whispered our name. G.A. White

New morning shimmered, bright and crystal clear. By lunchtime, though, the day was tattered, slouching toward afternoon, whipped as a guidon by battle fever. The wind roiled up quick, massive clouds, gunmetal grey, nervous in a now uneasy sky.

u

V">d It’s been a long day, the wind muttered, filled with hardware stores and denim Dairy Queens, acres of cattle land and Lone Star beer and occasional tenderness; all in all, quite a Tuesday . .. or is it Wednesday? My mind is ill-defined unless I press against an aspen, a cottonwood, or the weathered brick of Dugan’s Feed and Seed. And the tornado dipped down, too perfect for this calm day.

%

Sammy Parker

Susan Rigney

20 PHOENIX

10” x 1 8 ’


OLD MIRROR it stands diagonal its prisoming edge beveling the world into itself, twisting refractions in the magnified truthbright metal on glass G.A, White VERA ATTHE CROSSROADS Vera at the crossroads Vera in the church Taking stock of how her god Has left her in the lurch. Vera doesn’t long for love She doesn’t ask for much Vera always greets the night With a simple, dreaming touch. Vera at the crossroads Vera in the fields Reading a story she knows well — A mockingbird was killed. Vera picks another tome — “White Nights and Other Stories’’ Dostoevsky speaks to her Of twisted common glories.

BLACK WOMAN But they tell me To be strong. It’s hard To be strong and Be a woman too. I am Black and Beautiful So they tell me To be strong. It’s hard To be a woman Too.

To W.C.B AND THE ORDER OF THE WHITE MAGNOLIA Good little Southern boys Put away their Sunday toys Now don their fathers clothes Invading fraternity rows Clear cream complexions Walking khaki dreams Drunken Rebel weekends Ulterior motives Stay straight Schemes

But now I can distinguish it: Black woman Black Woman And in a world so obsessed With white man. God made me A Black Woman Black Woman.

Vera at the crossroads Vera thinks of Job She is awfully tired of it She relaxes in her robe. Sliding under homemade afghan Drinking gentle wine. Legends, falsehoods, eternal truths — You hear them all the time. Vera at the crossroads Vera knows the ancient texts She knows the modern ditch of thought She knows what’s coming next. Vera turns her gaze from this And tells her sister tales They make them up together They laugh like ringing bells. Vera at the crossroads Vera sits out on the porch At night I go to see her. Make my way with electric torch. We talk about the entire world And when t-here’s nothing left to say.... Vera’s at the crossroads I guess she’s on her way. Christopher Floyd

Jay Michel Downton

Hanna Maria Noel TO THE EDITOR somedays when the cars are piled and not outside—the crowds are/are all calling at once— I’m sitting at my desk trying to get Steve Finton on the line for Luisa, giving an old black woman directions to 514—hunting forthe xerox key in the pile of papers on the desk—papers flying down on paper being serenaded by bells and elevators and voices and feet— I’ll suddenly blank—and you and I, Beak and Pat will be dancing under the drunken, peppered lights happy and comfortable in each others company and only worrying if we have enough fora beer or vodka. pulsating — lights whirling— laughing—gossipingbasking in each others presence and in the knowledge that we know, we understand — Luisa hangs up on Steve—the black lady got the job and the papers smile back laughing—waiting, best in the new year and always love rick Richard Flowers


22 PHOENIX


PHaiDGRAPHY


T. Kevin Birch


THE VVIN D i GKJeyED Jerry W hittle The bedroom, lit only by a small lamp, seemed like the den of a dying lion. The walls of the room had a nondescript color like that of old concrete or weathered rock. No sounds could be heard outside, only the grating rattle of my father’s breathing filled the room like the crescendo of a Tchaikovsky symphony to me. All of my attention was focused on the atonal irregularity of his painful gasps. Each breath was like a death knell, like the electric seconds on a scoreboard that spelled out too clearly that time was running out, that the contest would soon be lost; but, still this knowledge did not deter one from hoping against hope that some miracle might happen. 1 sat, touching the bed since I could not touch him for fear he might wake. The bed moved with quick jerks like a canoe lurching with each stroke of the oars. I could not see my father because I was blind. I was not completely blind; however, in dim lighting, what little sight I had remaining was of no avail. So, I had to sit in the stillness of the November night and listen to him sleep like a cub listens to the pride. It was hard for me to accept that this great hulk of a man was lying in bed before me. His ebbing heart was taking away the final glory of a remarkable life. The once massive, powerful body was now emaciated. The full, square face was sunken and wracked with the pain of two years of debilitation. Too many bouts with alcohol and countless cigarettes had ^ stolen his vitality. Emphysema, two heart attacks and a light stroke within a space of two years had not claimed their victim totally. He lay like Milton’s Satan, stunned but still defiant, still proud. “ We are still

26 PHOENIX

strangers,’’ I thought. My mind was calm. Thoughts came to me so slowly as if they were afraid to wake him in their noisiness in my mind. It was as if all my body’s energies were closed down within myself to a minimum in order to allow them to flow out to him, to enter, somehow, into him. In the darkness, I knew that the once powerful frame of my father was only a battered hull. His full, animated face was now like a death mask. The bed still jumped beneath my hand like the recoiling flesh of a bare shoulder suddenly touched by icy fingers. All those years we had spent together as congenial strangers rolled across my mind. 1 thought of the jokes he liked to pull on me as I grew to maturity and the joy he took in plotting them. I thought of his great physical strength and the pride he took in it, remembering how he would turn off the faucets in the bath so tightly

that no one could take a shower without coming to him and begging him to loosen them. I thought of the gentleness of his blue eyes as he held a baby in his massive hands. All these things were only a small morsel of the whole man. Now, suddenly, I knew that these would be all that was left of him to me. Memories and too few times shared together. A sense of guilt came over me because I had not been close enough to him. I had loved him from a distance. I had loved him as only a son can love his father. Impulsively, I reached and lightly touched the back of his hand, feeling the rope-like veins beneath the surface. I could remember when their texture was like sun-dried leather. Now, they felt as soft as a moccasin. 1ran my hand ever so gently over the long index finger and down to the thick, square nail that I had often marveled to see him use like a


screwdriver to loosen or tighten screws in cabinets or kitchen appliances. 1 had always admired his fingers' size. These were the hands that had known years of sweaty toil, a farmer’s hands. These were the hands that had broken jaws and caressed his wife, the hands that had held me and guided me through the uncertainty of youth. These were the hands that would linger in my memory always. “ Kiss the hand,” I thought, but I could not bring myself to do it. He stirred and jerked me from my reverie. I rose quickly and stood above him. He opened his eyes and looked at me with childlike innocence, blinking quickly to scare away the sleep. His eyes were large and blue, the color of the summer sky. He winced slightly and groaned. “ What’s the matter. Papa? You hurting?” I turned on the overhead light. Recognition crept over his face. “ I got to piss.” His voice came in a whisper. I got his urinal and placed it beneath the sheets and waited patiently as his kidneys slowly, painfully acted. “ You through?” “ Yeah. Where’s your mama?” He started to get up, his breath snorting through the nostrils. “ Don’t get up, Papa. The doctor wants you to lie still. Okay?” I took the urinal and placed it under his bed quickly and tried to stop him from rising. He fell back on the bed coughing; his face turned a purplish red, making his eyes flash wild with the effort to breathe. I quickly turned on the green oxygen bottle beside the bed and placed the mask over his face. He held it tightly to his face, signalling for me to turn it up. It was a ritual we had gone through many times. He blinked, his blue eyes like the light atop a police car giving chase in the night to'a flagrant violator. “ That enough?” I asked. He nodded and breathed in. “ You need anything for pain?” I became more at ease as I saw the

ghastly blackness caused by too little oxygen in the blood leave his face. He shook his head from side to side, fear etched across it. Presently he removed the mask and handed it to me. I turned off the oxygen and placed the mask on top of the tank for easy access. “ You all right now?” “ Yeah.” He looked at me for a moment, almost sheepishly. “ Where’s your mama?” “ She’s lying down for a little while, resting. You need her for anything?” “ No. Help me sit on the side of the bed for a minute.” “ Papa, I can’t let__ ” “ Dammit, I want to sit up.” He held out the hand and it swallowed mine as I pulled him to a sitting position, and then I reached down and pulled each leg over the side of the bed. His breath rushed in and out suddenly with the effort. I reached for the oxygen mask and he began to fall over backwards. I grabbed his back and held him up, sitting down beside him. His shoulder blade protruded under his pajama top beneath my hand. He coughed violently and I held onto his arm, at the same time getting the mask over his face with the other hand. He sat pulling in the compressed air, his head down, staring at the floor with panic flashing in his eyes. “ You know you’re not supposed to sit up. Why don’t you try to do what the doctor tells you? You’re not going to get any better unless you do what he says.” I knew that I was only wasting my time, and I also knew that this was what had kept him alive for so long—the great will to get better, the will to rise again from the prison of a bed, and secretly I admired him for his resolve to live. He lifted the mask from his face and slowly turned to me. He had a look of slight disgust on his face. “ You’re worse than your mama. Dammit, my back gets tired. What the hell you trying to do, keep me in that bed all the time?” I rubbed his back slowly and then his shoulders. Again, his eyes fixed on me.

“ You gonna ever amount to anything, son?” His voice was quiet, earnest. His words stung. “ Yes, sir. I expect I will.” I continued to rub. I had to touch him and I needed, for the first time, to willfully draw out his great strength of character, his wisdom, but mostly, I wanted to pamper him and show him that I loved and needed him, to somehow make up for all those years wasted. “ When? When are you going to be a man?” He never lifted his gaze from my face. His eyes were like diamond drills boring into my soul. “ I thought I already was. I’m twentyone.” I fought for something more tangible than my age for proof. He had me on the defensive again. “ Hell, age’s got nothing to do with it. I’ve been a man all my life.” He said the words too quickly and began to cough. He reached down and held the mask over his face and spoke from beneath it, his voice coming as if from far away. “ You got no gumption. No job. No children.” Each word stabbed deep within me. We had had this discussion before, and I knew that he had me at a disadvantage because he knew I could not bring anything out of my past to prove my manhood. Suddenly he took the mask from his face. “ When you were born, I said, here is the next Babe Ruth. My boy is going to be a ballplayer. Well, you were a pretty good ballplayer. I watched you play with the other boys, but when your eyes got bad, I knew you would never be a ballplayer.” His eyes glistened, and he blinked back tears, coughing deeply. “ Papa...” “ Papa, hell. That was all right, all right. I understood it wasn’t to be. Well, I said, my boy’s smart. He will finish college. Get a good job and raise some grandchildren. Old man needs babies, see his blood going on. Look at you. You ain’t done none of those things.” He began to cough again, violently.


“ Lie down, daddy, before you get sick.” I almost begged him. “ Shut up. It’s time we had a talk. I’m dying, son.” He said it matter-of-factly. “ You don’t know that. You could get better. Don’t say you’re dying.” My voice rose higher as I sputtered out the words. “ Shit. Pure bull shit.” He looked at me again with those haunting blue eyes. “ Son, you’re going blind. The only chance you got is to get an education.” He became gentle and reflective and I felt less nervous. “ I know you can’t help your eyes getting bad, but don’t you see, you’ve got to get an education. What’s going to happen to you? That girl where you worked, she owns land, horses, got money. She came out here and brought you cakes and cookies. She liked you, but what did you do? You didn’t pay her any attention. What the hell’s the matter with you? What was her name?” He smiled.

“ Memories. Collect ’em like pictures for a scrap book. You got to have memories to rock that chair.’’ “ Kathy,” I said suppressing a laugh. "Yeah, Kathy. She was pretty. Big tits and everything.” I laughed. “ Son, you get a big-tittied gal with land and, hell, you can step high and spit splatter. I’ve tried everything I know to get you to date her.” He made a low whistle, pursing out his thin lips. The effort made him cough. “ Woman like that could suckle me some fine looking, strapping boys. Keep the line going. Son, it’s all left to you, now. You’re all I got to depend on. Hell, we ain’t much, but we paid our own way. Be proud of who you are.” He grinned at me devilishly. “ Titties like mushmelons. Geracious, my old blood jumps in me. She liked you, son.” He touched my knee with his hand. “ I don’t like her. Besides, she goes with somebody else. She just brought me the cookies and stuff because I was sick.” “ Shit. Don’t tell me. She likes you. What about about that girl out in the country? 01’ Sue. Now, she could butcher a hog and dress and cook it. Had big, fine hips like a Georgia mule. Built for endurance. Not as pretty as the other gal, but, in the dark.” He grinned. “ Hell, a man could do a whole lot worse. I always liked country gals. Your mama was the only town gal I ever took out. Country gals like little heifers, big brown eyes and staying power. You know what I mean?” He looked at me, a smile flickering across his thin face maliciously. I didn’t answer him, I only smiled back. “ Hell, country gals got plenty of fire. She was used to work. She would’ve made you a good wife.” “ I didn’t love her. I can’t marry somebody I don’t love. Besides, I was In

28 PHOENIX

school then. How could I support a wife?” He had hit a raw nerve, and he knew it. “ Put her butt to work. She could pay for your education. Lots of couples do it that way.” He began to cough again and his voice was getting weaker. “ Lie down and rest. You’re wearing yourself out.” I pleaded with him. He pushed away my hands. “ Don’t start. Now, I’ve got some things I want to say to you. I know when to lay down.” He coughed again and cleared his throat and breathed deeply a couple of times, staring up at the ceiling as if he were asking an unknown source for strength. I thought to myself, “ Let him alone, he’s groping for both of us.” Suddenly, he turned to me again, his finger poking at my leg for emphasis. “ You know how I met vour mama?” “ Yes, sir.” “ Your mama was the prettiest girl in Dover. I worked in a grocery store and she used to come in there all the time. I didn’t think I was good looking enough for her, so I used to watch her and finally I just up and asked her out. Well, the first time I took your mama out, me and another boy and his girl, I had a brand new Model-T Ford. Gray. Paid cash money for it. $750.00. We went up to the mountains. You remember going to the Chauga River when you was just a twig?” I nodded. “ Well, we went up there. Me and this boy, Charlie Stoker. He was a pitcher. A damn good one, too. Million-dollar arm and a five-cent head. Could throw a baseball through a brick wall. We had some moonshine, and we was sneaking and drinking. Well, your mama caught us, and she let me know right quick.” His eyes and face brightened as he remembered the day. Some of the old vitality flowed back into him, making the features less harsh. Storytelling had always been one of the great joys of his life, and more times than not, they got a little exaggerated in the telling. Yet, his stories were as important a part of me as my sinew. Indeed, the texture of his reminiscences formed an essential element in my own thought processes the way a spring shower becomes a vital part of a flower. I could remember the nights I had lain in bed and listened to my father and his friends talking of old times, of the government, of all things, their voices deep and drawling and fine. Their voices were as much a part of the night as a whipporwill’s cry. Often, long before day break, I would be awakened by the rich timbre of my father’s voice, or the electric energy of his wild laughter as he talked with the paper boy on the front porch. These sounds would rock me back into sleep. “ She was wearing a blue flowery dress and white shoes. She had long brown hair then and it was as curly as, as—hell!” He snapped his fingers for a comparison, a habit he had formed that accompanied each tale. “ As Patsy’s

when she was a baby?” I interjected. “ Yeah, that curly and she had big brown eyes.” He coughed and breathed deeply again. “ Well, your mama, she told me right quick she wouldn’t date nobody that drank. Said she wouldn’t tolerate it, wasn’t raised that way, and wanted to go home. It was in June and hot, vvheweee, damn, it was so hot you could take a piss and it would evaporate before it hit the ground. Well, we started back. Your mama was all puffed up, didn’t say a word, o r Charlie and me was feeling pretty good. Charlie worked in the cotton mill. Crackerjack weaver. We was coming down that mountain and the Modei-T started running hot. Boiling over. Your mama she was sweating iike a nigger pulling fodder and disgusted as hell. Well, we didn’t have no way of toting no water.” He began to cough, his breath coming in gasps. He held the mask to his face and talked beneath the faint rush of precious air. “ There was a creek down a bank, but we couldn’t carry no water in our hands. By this time...” He took the mask away and iaid it down. “ By. this time, your mama and Charlie’s girl were about ready to choke us. Eyes bouncing like marbies on a sidewalk. Your mama’s lip was all stuck put. You could’ve hung your coat on it.” He laughed, relishing the memory. “ Cl’ Charlie got the idea to tote water in the hub caps on the car. So we all four got us a hub cap and started down that hill. By the time we climbed back up, we didn’t have enough water to drown a tumblebug. Your mama’s dress was covered with,beggar lice, and her legs

was all scratched up from blackberry briars to beat ali hell. By this time she had took to mumbling to herself and was about ready to cry. Well, we finally got that old Ford cooled down, but your mama was still boiling when I took her home. She didn’t say a word to me. Just flashed them big, brown eyes at me. Well, I knew right then, she was the


woman for me. There wasn’t nothing that was going to stop me from marrying her. I’d found the best. So I went on about my job for a week (worked in the community store), letting her get over it, you know. Next Saturday came. I bought a big box of candy and stoie some roses from Old Lady Carrither’s garden, and I went to her house. She came out on the front porch, wheweee, she was still mad. She was wearing a red, print dress. Knowed I had her, then. I told her I was sorry and gave her the flowers and candy, and pretty soon I had her laughing. Everything was ail right, and well, we run off and got married about a month later.” He was completely exhausted, so he laid his head back on the pillow, and I picked his legs up and covered him. He hadn’t finished. “ You see, son, someday you’ll find the woman for you and I don’t give a damn what the circumstances are, you go after her and love her. A man needs a woman. If you find someone you know you could be happy with, don’t let nothing stand in your way. To hell with everything else. Money, her kinfolks, whatever, you got to have gumption to get what you want out of this life. You understand ?” “ Yes, sir.” His eyes were slightly misty. He folded his hands over his heart, the two thumbs together. I felt his forehead. It was warm and damp. “ Me and your mama, we’ve come through some rough times. Rougher than most, but I wouidn’t change nothing. We’ve been happy son. You got to be happy, too, son. You don’t laugh enough. Hell, go out and enjoy yourself. Let your hair down. Memories. Collect ’em like pictures for a scrap book. You got to have memories to rock that chair. Me and your mama, hell, we’ve fought like two littie feisty pups; but, you know what? She’s got fire. Great mercy, woman with fire’s worth her weight in gold. Find you a good woman and collect you some good times.” He blinked away a tear, his voice cracking. “ I can’t drive a car. Papa. How am I going to go anywhere? All my friends are married and gone. You can’t get by nowadays without a car.” I rubbed his dark brown hair as I talked; a lump came to my throat. “ You know it’s hard to get around when you got no car and no friends. Besides, nobody’s got time for a ...” I didn’t finish. I didn’t want him to think about my failing eyesight, but I was too late. “ To hell with ’em.” Blue lightning flashed in his eyes. “ Ain’t nothing you need in this life, son, but a good woman, a good dog, and a good gun. All the rest just falls into place. If a friend deserts you when you need him, he ain’t worth having. They’ll kiss your ass when you’re on top, but when you start falling, they fade into the woodwork. Find you a good woman, son, before it’s too late. She’s all the friend you’ll ever need. Get an education. Don’t be afraid of hard work.” He closed his eyes in exhaustion, but

kept on talking. “ Don’t let people run over you. Stand your ground. They’ll chew you up and spit you out like a ‘Simmon seed if you got no sand. People are selfish, son. They don’t mean to be. It’s just that they’re running scared and grabbing both sides. Take what’s yours and no more and fight like hell to keep it.” His voice was husky with emotion. His breath was quick and raspy. “ You rest now. Papa. You want me to get you a glass of water or anything?” I had to get out of the room for a minute to collect myself. I wanted to hold him and knew if I did, I would cry. I clamped my teeth tightly, fighting back the flood of love and sorrow I felt for him.

I wiped the tears away and sat down in the chair and stroked his face. Almost in a gasp, he began to say the prayer. “ Un-huh. Glass of juice.” His voice was suddenly humble like a smali child’s. I patted his shoulder and walked down the dark hall to the kitchen. It was midnight. I looked out the window at the black November night, breathing an in deeply and lighting a cigarette. I pulied the smoke into my aching lungs. My father’s words echoed through my mind.

Would I ever be a man? Would I have the strength to face what lay in store for me through the coming years of blindness? Would there be someone for me to love? Why, now, had fate pushed us together for the first time just as my father’s journey was almost over? Only now we had begun to communicate. I felt a deep remorse over our alienation from one another. I loved him far more than I loved myself and the utter futility of this short span called life suddenly gripped me with despair. Could I ever be the man my father insisted I become? I knew that we were different, that we went about living

on separate courses, and that 1 could never let anyone live my time for me, but I also realized that his words made sense. They always did. Would I always be alone? Alone in a self-imposed exile? And why? I heard him cough and quickly mashed out my cigarette and got his juice. When I got to the door of his room, I saw that he was sitting once again on the side of the bed. He looked at me, his reddened face glowing with triumph. He gestured with his massive right hand, the middle finger protruding in what was cailed “ shooting a bird.” “ Heh, heh, heh, you didn’t think I could get up on my own did you?” “ You are really something.” “ I’m a tough ol’ buzzard, huh?” I laughed suddenly, shaking my head. “ Yes, sir. The toughest buzzard I ever saw.” He drank the juice in three quick gulps and began to cough, spitting up the fluid that was building in his lungs from a weak pumping heart. I threw the white giob wrapped in a napkin into the basket by his bed. “ Give me a cigarette,” he said, braced for the argument, his jaw set. “ You know it’ll only make you cough.” . “ I don’t give a damn if it makes me shit, I want a cigarette.” His eyes were blue fire. “ You and your mother beat all I ever saw. You gonna deny me a cigarette while you run off in the kitchen and puff yourguts out?” “ I don’t have emphysema,” I said withthe sternest tone I could muster. “ Give me a damn cigarette, now. I’ve got to get this stuff out of my lungs and the only way I’m going to do that is to cough. So give me one.” Again, he had won as he had always done. I lit him one and handed it to him. He took a slow, worshipful drag and began to cough, his face purpling as the oxygen rushed from his blood. He spit a wad of phlegm into a waiting napkin. The basket was almost full of tissues. “ There, you see,” he rasped. “ Yeah, I see,” I said with mock sternness. I sat beside him on the bed again. I studied his features in silence. The cheekbones protruded with the rough skin pulled tightly over them. The jaw muscles worked like a heartbeat beneath the flesh. His large nose had become hawkish as his face atrophied. The neck, once iarge and fleshy, was skinny and wrinkied. His lips were thin and gentie. His bushy eyebrows and hair were the color of mahogany. The sideburns were long and slightly unkempt from lack of barbering. The eyes shone with fever and the iron will to survive. He sensed me looking at him. He stared straight ahead as his voice came, throaty with a trace of remorse. “ I’m wasting away like the earth, ain’t I, son?” His hand went to his face just under his right eye and, trembling, ran in a curve to his chin. “ No, sir. You’re not wasting away. You’ve just been sick a long time. You’ll


get your strength' back. It just takes time,” I lied. “ Here.” He held out his hand. “ Grip me.” His massive, farmer’s hand grasped mine weakiy. “ Squeeze,” he said. I squeezed siightiy as he tried to squeeze mine. “ I used to could break a man’s fingers when I gripped him. Used to like to hear their damn knuckles pop. I couldn’t bust an egg now.” His voice was sad and tired. “ You’ll get it back. You’ve still got plenty of strength in that hand.” “ Ah, hell, too many days worked hard and put up wet, son. Too many years of butt-bustin’ work. I’m worn out like an old road whore and just sitting here waiting.” His voice was gentle, almost peaceful.

“Son you get a big-tittied gal with land and, hell, you can step high and spit splatter.” “ Nah, you’ll get better. You just got to be patient and do like Dr. Prince says. He’s taking good care of you, and a bunch of people are praying for you.” I tried to reassure him, but I didn’t really believe what I was saying. “ They ain’t getting to the ceiling, all them prayers.” He smiled suddenly, chuckling to himself, the air rushing through his nostrils choppily. “ You ever know ol’ Bo Pant? Can you remember going to his ranch when you were just a boy?” “ Yes, sir.” “ Or Bo was a cowboy. Used to ride in the rodeo years ago. Went out West and won a pile of money, but they took it away from him. Or that’s what he said. Crazy bastard probably lost It in a poker game or let some old hag screw him out of it. He was tall and lanky, but tough as pig iron. Married Bess Thompson, ol’ man Clint Thompson’s girl. Never did have no children. 01’ Bo’s been about everything trying to scratch a dollar. Crackerjack carpenter, but always too damn lazy to drive a nail. You seen his house up on the Folger Highway. Got a Western town built back there behind it. Used to hold square dances out there a lot.” “ Yes, sir. I’ve seen it,” I said, watching him closely. “ Well, ol’ Bo used to think he was a boxer. Used to give anybody five dollars who could stay three rounds with him. He was pretty good, but he,couldn’t take a punch. Had what you call a glass jaw.” He laughed. ” 01’ man Wade Turnbull used to run the pool room down in Crow Alley and they had a little boxing ring in there. Bo, he was a loudmouth, you know, always trying to stir up somebody so they’d get up there in the ring with him.” He looked at me, his eyes blaring slightly. “ Yes. sir.” “ Well, one day ol'..” He snapped his

30 PHOENIX

fingers. “ Well, I’ll be damned. Can’t think of his name. Anyway, this big ol’ rawboned boy came in there. Gillespie. That was his name. ‘Red’ Gillespie. Had hair as red as a dog’s pecker. He came in there. Well, ol’ Bo started in on him with his old shit. You know. Gillespie, he weighed over two hundred pounds and hard as a pine knot. He didn’t pay much attention to Bo. You know, he was sort of an easygoing kind of fella.” He coughed suddenly and motioned for the oxygen. I turned it on and he held the mask to his face. “ Rest a while. Papa. You’re talking yourself out of breath.” Undaunted, he took the mask from his face and continued. ” 01’ Bo just kept on picking away at him. Teasing him about his red hair and freckles. You could see Gillespie getting madder and madder.”

violently again and again. “ Son, I told you this story because I want you to see that all men, no matter how meek, can be pushed into a corner at times. It’s how you handle yourself then. That’s what counts. Don’t let people walk on you, son. Be proud of your name. Life’s mean and to make it, you gotta be tough. Grow some backbone and don’t ever back down from a fight. It ain’t so damn easy to get back once you’ve walked away.” His ey^s were like patches of summer sky shining through clouds. “ I will. Papa. I’ll get tough.” “ No, you won’t. You’re too goodhearted.” The words slapped me in the face. “ Even when you were a boy, you never stood your ground. Your mama, she babied you too much.” “ Yes, sir. I know.” “ She won’t let go of you, son. She’ll hold on to you as long as you let her. Don’t let her keep you from becoming a man. She loves you too much. Your mama has seen the short end of a lot of sticks. I wanted it all for her. We worked hard, me and her, pulled in harness and we stepped mighty pretty, mighty pretty. But, ah hell, I guess I gave your mama some rough spots; but, I never pushed her over the limit. You blind, she’ll try to hold on even tighter.” His eyes were closed tightly as he talked. His voice was quiet and deep. “ She has too much love in her for just one child. When your sister died, that made her want to hold onto you even more. Don’t let her keep you from your own life. Do whatever you want with it. Nobody can live it for you, son. We tried to teach you right from wrong and give you a sense of direction, but you’ve got to find your own way and

He grinned as he recalled the story. “ His damn nostrils flared and his nose flattened out like a bull’s.” He laughed with glee. “ Gillespie come a-running out and knocked Bo right over the top rope. Didn’t take but one punch. Bo looked like a Sack of taters laying there on the floor. Broke his jaw in three places.” He laughed and coughed, grasping the oxygen mask. He laid his head back on the bed, coughing and sputtering, his eyes wracked with pain. I quickly put his legs up and covered him. “ Take it easy. Papa, you’re talking too much. Save your strength.” I rubbed his hair slowly. I could hardly bear to see him in such agony. He lay there quietly, his eyes fixed on mine, filled with a mixture of fear and pain. I realized at that moment that his time had come. It was just a matter of time and I sensed that he knew it, too. He closed his eyes, tears running down his face. He rubbed at them with his clenched hands like a child. I felt tears sting at my own eyes and fought with all my strength for selfcontrol. “ Papa, please don’t cry. Please.” He regained his composure, coughing

He coughed again and cleared his throat and breathed deeply a couple of times, staring up at the ceiling as if he were asking an unknown source for strength. it’s going to be hell. Go get it tooth and nail. Find you a good woman and get away from her, son. Love her, but get away.” His voice was distant, dream-like. “ I’m going to stay here and take care of you. Papa. I’ve got plenty of time. I’m still young.” I said it like a question, unsure of myself. “ You’re a good boy. You always were. Too good, son. Too good. Get a little streak of mean in you. Go out and knock a few heads together. You’ll find out that people In this world got no time for anybody who can’t stand on their own two feet. They’ll pass you by, boy. Just pass you by. Be proud.” “ Yes, sir, I will.” “ You ever sit and watch a sunset?” “ Sir?” “ A sunset. I’ve seen a lot of them come and go and it won’t be long before I


go to be with Patsy." His eyes opened and iooked at me. i feit heipless under his gaze. “ Yes, sir.” “ i’ve seen a iot of sunsets. They aiways remind me that ail people are going to die. I feel small in comparison to them. I’m tired, son. I’m so damn tired. Don’t let the sunsets catch up to you. Go out and enjoy life. Most people don’t know how to live. They run around telling themselves they're really living. But deep down they’re miserable. Learn how to laugh more, son. Don’t be so damn serious all the time. What are you scared of, huh?” He arched his bushy eyebrows and stared at me, his eyes narrowing. “ Nothing, Papa. I’m not scared of nothing.” “ Like hell. You’re scared to walk out to the mailbox and back. I know, I watch you every day. You walk like you’re afraid somebody’s going to sneak up on you or something.” He smiled wryly. “ That’s just the way I walk. I can’t help it.” Anger began to rise in me. “ Hell, throw your chest out and strut. Let people know you’re important. Respect yourself. You know when I’ve been the proudest?” His eyes were closed. “ The times I had sweat running down me like rain. Man felt sweat

The texture of his reminiscences formed an essential element in my own thought processes the way a spring shower becomes a vital part of a flower. running between the cheeks of his ass and into his boots, that man can stand tall as any other. Know why? Cause that’s the way this world began, with a powerful sweating and grunting. That’s the way it’ll end. People ashamed of sweat, now. We’re worshipping damn powder puffs, now. Man’s broke a good sweat has eat meat with the kings of the earth. That’s why 1got you that job in the tobacco fields when you were twelve. You remember how lean you felt the first morning you got up after that work day sore all over like you been in a fight?” His voice was a whisper and he smiled to himself. “ It was. I’ve felt that way all my life, clean. Scared, but clean.” He opened his eyes. “ Life’s good. Son, you’re not better or no worse than anybody else. Even the president has to shake his pecker after he takes a piss. “ Yes, sir.” I smiled slightly as I could picture him doing just that. “ That’s another thing. Talk more. Speak up. Argue every once in a while. When you’re right, let people know it, and when you’re wrong, learn to say •you’re sorry.” The coughing came again and he reached for a napkin. I held his head up as he spat into the paper. He fell back to the bed in exhaustion. The room was still and eerie with only his

shortened breath penetrating the silence. “ Get me another glass of juice. Wet my whistle.” His voice was a cracked whisper. I lit a cigarette and crept down the hall, opening the door to Mama’s room. Her snoring came faintly to me. I closed the door quietly and walked into the kitchen. He knew me better than I knew myself. All my faults he had zeroed in on, but could I change? Could I be the way he pictured me, and if not, why? What had made me the way I am? What elements make up a man’s character, his behavior? I had never imagined him studying a sunset and feeling small and insignificant in its grandeur. It was a side to him that he had never revealed. He had always been so confident in everything he did. Did he, at times, feel as I did, like a stranger, an outsider on this earth? He must have, but it was remarkable to me that he could ever be scared or feel lost and alone. He coughed violently and I hurried back to the room. He was sitting on the side of the bed. The accumulated fluids almost burst the buttons on his tan pajama top. He smiled at me as I handed him the juice. He reached out and felt the muscle of my arm, his thumb pressing against the bicep. “ Kinda puny, ain’t it?” He blinked a slow, devilish grin brightening his thin face. His hand moved slowly up to my shoulder. I was nervous as he touched me. “ You got a set of shoulders on you. Yes, sir. You’re mine. There ain’t no doubt about it. You’re my son.” He drank the juice like a thirsting man, gulping and gurgling it down. He smacked his lips with relish. “ Hand me the jar. I got to go.” I handed it to him. He reached up and grasped my hand. “ Help me stand up.” “ You can’t stand up. Papa. You’re too weak,” I said excitedly. “ You know what—” “ Dammit, I want to stand qp and piss. Babies piss laying down. Hell fire, what’s the harm in a man standing up to take a leak?” He began to cough wretchedly, gasping for breath. Finally, he brought up the phlegm and leaned over and spat a long, thick stream into the trash can. Again he reached for my hand. I reluctantly pulled him to his feet and held him carefully around the waist while he urinated. His tall frame reeled as I tried to keep him balanced. I took the urinal and helped him sit back on the bed. He grinned at me, proud at another great triumph. I shook my head slowly from side to side. “ You are really something, I tell you.” I looked as his sunken face, handsome in spite of the pain etched in every feature. “ Can’t keep a good man down.” Again, he coughed and spat into the trash can. I went to the bathroom and emptied the hard-earned contents into the commode. He was smoking when I came back. He was staring out the window at the dark night. His eyes were far away and

peaceful, like the sea. “ Looks like it’s cold outside.” “ Yes, sir. It’s pretty cold.” “ What day is it?” “ Tuesday, November second.” He turned to me. “ Sit down here beside me, son.” I sat beside him. He watched me closely for a long pause as I stared at the floor. He reached out and covered my hand with his. I looked at him. “ I love you, son. I never told you that before because 1 didn’t figure I had to.” His hand gripped mine tighter.

“ You’re all I’ve got, you and your mama, since Patsy died.” I fought once again for control. “ I want you to take care of your mama when I’m gone.” The cold fingers gripped mine. “ I know I’ve talked rough to you at times, but I want you to know I’m proud to call you my son. Always. . . always remember that.” Suddenly he was crying, the tears came in a flood, mixed with coughing. He lay back on the pillow and sobbed uncontrollably. I got him into bed and put the oxygen mask on him as his face turned almost black. I yelled for Mama, tears streaming down my face. She came into the room sleepily. “ What’s the matter, honey?” Her hand stroked at his hair. “ P-p-pain.” He sputtered out the words from behind the mask. “ You hurting, sugar?” she said. He nodded, his face contorted. She left the room quickly to get a pain pill. I wiped the tears away and sat down in the chair and stroked his face. Almost in a gasp, he began to say the prayer, “ Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep.” He struggled with great difficulty as the fluid in his lungs stole away his breath. I leaned forward as he tried to say something to me. His eyes, clear and calm, penetrated into mine. I knelt closer to hear what he was saying. The eyes rolled back into his head and then set toward the window of the bedroom, where the sun had so often streamed in at late afternoon.


lA S T G IA N C E E x h ib itio n s W a te rfo w l D e c o y s

M c C lu n g M u s e u m

A n r^ u a l C h r is tm a s E x h ib it

D u l i n G a ll e r y

D e c . 1 2 -J a n . 4

N e w F a c u lty E x h ib itio n s -

M c C l u n g M u s e u m A r t G a ll e r y

J a n . 6 -J a n . 2 3

L e o n a rd S h riv e r

K o s c i a n s k i,

Ted

Saupe, and

N o v .3 -F e b ,2 0

D o n a ld

A m e r ic a n F o lk A r t

D u l i n G a ll e r y

J a n . 9 - J a n . 31

S t a n to n M a c D o n a ld W r ig h t :

G a ll e r y C o n c o u r s e ( U n i v e r s i t y C e n te r )

J a n . 1 0 - J a n . 31

P r i n t s o f t h e H a ik u L i s a D i s c e p o l i L in e P a p e r a s M e d iu m â&#x20AC;&#x201D; fr o m th e S m ith s o n ia n In s titu t e

G a ll e r y C o n c o u r s e

J a n . 1 0 - J a n . 31

M c C lu n g M u s e u m

J a n . 2 9 -F e b . 26

A r t G a ll e r y

A m id a h : T h e S ile n t P ra y e r

B a rto n M u s ic L o u n g e

J a n . 3 1 - F e b . 21

P h ilip p e H a ls m a n : L if e m a g a z in e p h o t o g r a p h y

D u l i n G a ll e r y

F e b . 1 3 -M a rc h 2 9

A n n e M a r ie C o o k in g S c h o o l

D u l i n G a ll e r y

F e b . 1 6 -1 9

4 t h A n n u a l P h o t o g r a p h ic C o m p e t i t i o n

G a ll e r y C o n c o u r s e

F e b . 2 1 - M a r c h 14

4 th A n n u a l U n iv e rs ity o f T e n n e s s e e H ig h S c h o o l E x h ib it io n a n d C o m p e t it io n

M c C l u n g M u s e u m A r t G a lle r y

M a r c h 8 -2 7

K n o x v ille A r c h it e c t u r a l D e c o r a tio n s

M c C lu n g M u s e u ^

M a rc h 9 -J u n e 26

T e n n e s s e e A r t a n d A r c h ite c tu r e S p rin g T h in g (T A A S T )

G a ll e r y C o n c o u r s e

M a r c h 2 8 - A p r il 18

W o m e n A r tis ts

B a rto n M u s ic L o u n g e

M a r c h 2 8 - A p r il 18

1 0 th A n n u a l T e n n e s s e e W a t e r c o l o r S o c i e t y

D u l i n G a ll e r y

A p r il 3 -M a y 10

G r a d u a te T h e s is E x h ib itio n

M c C l u n g M u s e u m A r t G a ll e r y

A p r il 6 -1 0

G r a d u a te T h e s is E x h ib itio n

M c C l u n g M u s e u m A r t G a ll e r y

A p r i l 1 3 -1 6

G a ll e r y C o n c o u r s e

A p r il 1 8 -M a y 9

J a c k M a x w e ll A n c i e n t P e r u v ia n T e x t i l e s f r o m t h e C h r y s l e r M u s e u m a t N o r f o lk K o re a n P r in tm a k e r s

B a r t o n M u s ic L o u n g e

A p r il 1 8 -M a y 9

G r a d u a te T h e s is E x h ib it io n K e n C o r e y

M c C l u n g M u s e u m A r t G a ll e r y

A p r il 2 0 -2 4

D u lin A r t F a ir G r a d u a te T h e s is E x h ib it io n -M a rg a r e t G e o r g ia n n a n d P a u l S a s s o

D u l i n G a ll e r y

A p r il 24

M c C lu n g M u s e u m

A p r il 2 7 -M a y 1

A r t G a ll e r y

3 3 rd A n n u a l S p r in g S t u d e n t E x h ib it io n

M c C l u n g M u s e u m A r t G a ll e r y

M a y 8 -2 9

L it h o g r a p h s a n d E t c h in g s o f P h ilip P e a r ls te in

D u lin C o n c o u rs e

M a y 9 -3 0

1 5 th A n n u a l D u lin N a tio n a l

D u l i n G a ll e r y

M a y 1 5 - J u n e 21

P r i n t a n d D r a w in g C o m p e t i t i o n

T h e a tre S h a k e s p e a r e a n p la y ( t o b e a n n o u n c e d )

C la r e n c e B r o w n T h e a tre

F e b . 6 -2 8

" T h e F ifth o f J u ly "

C a ro u s e l T h e a tre

F e b . 2 0 -M a rc h 7

a n e w c o m e d y (to b e a n n o u n c e d )

C la r e n c e B r o w n T h e a tre

M a r c h 2 7 - A p r i l 18

" D r a c u la : A M u s ic a l N ig h t m a r e "

C a ro u s e l T h e a tre

A p r i l 1 0 -2 5

" A n I t a l ia n S t r a w H a t "

C a ro u s e l T h e a tre

M a y 1 5 -3 0

N e w R e p e r to ry D a n c e C o m p a n y : W in t e r C o n c e r t

C l a r e n c e B r o w n II L a b T h e a tre

D a n ce J a n . 2 2 -2 3 - 8 :0 0 p .m . J a n . 2 4 3 :0 0 p .m . a n d 8 :0 0 p .m .

H a r t f o r d B a l le t

C la r e n c e B r o w n T h e a tre

M a r c h 3 -4 - 8 : 1 5 p . m .

R o d R o d g e rs D a n c e C o m p a n y

C la r e n c e B r o w n T h e a tre

M a y 1 -2 -8 :1 5 p .m .

N e w R e p e rto ry D a n c e C o m p a n y S p rin g C o n c e r t

C la r e n c e B r o w n T h e a t re

M a y 7 -9 - 8 : 1 5 p . m .

A n n u a l M e s s ia h S i n g - I n â&#x20AC;˘ o r c h e s t r a ,

C i v ic A u d i t o r i u m

D e c . 21 - 3 : X p . m .

M u s ic s o lo is t , a n d c h o r u s e s ( s u n g b y a u d ie n c e ) S h e ld o n M o r g e n s te r n , C o n d u c t in g E u g e n e F o d o r , V io lin is t C i v ic A u d i t o r i u m

J a n . 1 5 - 8 :1 5 p .m .

E a s t e r n B r a s s Q u in t e t

w ith th e K n o x v ille S y m p h o n y O r c h e s tr a

M u s ic H a ll

J a n . 2 3 - 8 :1 5 p .m .

V ie n n a C h o ir B o y s

A lu m n i G y m

J a n . 3 0 - 8 :1 5 p .m .

V e r d iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s R e q u ie m C h e ry l S t u d e r , S o p r a n o D e l o r e s Z i e g le r , M e z z o - S p o r a n o G e o r g e B it z a s , T e n o r J e r o m e H in e s . B a s s

C i v ic A u d i t o r i u m

F e b . 5 - 8 :1 5 p .m .

K e n C o o p e r a n d B ill C r o fu t

M u s ic H a ll

F e b . 10 - 8 :1 5 p .m .

B e la B a r t o k C e n t e n n i a l

C i v ic A u d i t o r i u m

M a rc h 5 - 8 :1 5 p .m .

E l i j a h - F e li x M e n d e ls s o h n

F a r r a g u t H ig h S c h o o l

M a r c h 3 0 - 8 :1 5 p .m .

L ili K ra u s , P ia n is t

C i v ic A u d i t o r i u m

A p r il 2 -8 :1 5 p .m .

E a rl " F a t h a " H i n e s

M u s ic H a ll

A p r i l 7 â&#x20AC;˘ 8 : 0 0 p . m . a n d 1 0 :0 0 p . m .

L a S a lle Q u a r t e t

M u s i c H a ll

A p r il 2 4 - 8 :1 5 p .m .

G y o rg y S e b o k , P ia n is t

K n o x v ille C h o ra l S o c ie ty


Photograph by Michael Sanders

Phoenix - Fall 1980  
Phoenix - Fall 1980