I met him in the county jail. He was someone I believed, an honesty I hadn’t heard before. He was someone who had seen a thing or two, even without money. Who had fucked a woman or two, scared people with his vile drunkenness.
His rancorous eyes.
His youthful punch.
He got me through the final ninety days of potential sleepless nights. In the dorms with a hundred other men
Lying about the girlfriends (they didn’t have) while he told the truth about his
Twenty years of Unwanted Virginity
His dreadful hangovers and domestic disputes. And every day the Inmates asked me:
“Yo, what you reading dawg?”
“Nothing don’t worry about it”
I didn’t introduce him to the others: to them, Buk was only a stranger and I wanted him all to myself. I don’t think many would understand his pain like I did.
At 5 am after we ate breakfast then returned to our bunks until the Quiet Time officially ended at 10 am
the time I got to know him the best.
Why Buk drank so much.
Why he hated his father and didn’t like his mother.
Why he wrote short stories about rape and not many people got mad or upset, not like they do when I say the Queen Mother of Dirty Words.
And after we played cards:
(Spades for me and the other county jail all-stars)
and after we worked out then watched T.V. and witnessed or partook in, sometimes, up to three fights, riots, brawls a day, (depending on the meals we were fed or not fed at all; or how bored some inmates became),
and when there were no letters for me at mail call
Buk was there.
When the lights went out and the deputies made their hourly rounds, hoping to catch one of us manchildren out of our bunk, (babysitters with handcuffs, marital problems and a can of mace),
the poet was there.
When nobody visited me or wrote me letters for
(or the simple spell of a family’s DNA that, usually anyway, cannot be diluted)
he was there.
And when I finally received mail after months and months of curious isolation, a nice yellow envelope with a stack of shiny divorce papers, and when I walked back to my bunk
Buk was there
Making me laugh and teaching me how to write with a recipe of Simple Grandeur, showing me how a real writer should
Buk, my perpetual professor of life and poetry was there.
Yes, sir … and he will forever be here … our devoted Leader of the Low and Literary Meek.
*poem by Jon Vreeland, 2015-16 from the chapbook “Laughing in Your Sleep”; the main photo was posted on my FB timeline by Landon Jackson, 3-9-2018, this photo right above and quote I got from Google Images.