Called me Hot Stuff. Called me Ragtop,
Lugnut, your Deere-in-the-Driveway Duchess.
Called forth Bad Company from the pick-up’s stereo
and, lo, I appeared with a buck knife
and a hundred-proof smile, my battered hunter’s manual
tucked in the waistband of my cutoffs.
What were we at first but two necks of the same guitar,
high on the blister of our power riff? Each night
was a stadium tour, each day an album cover
fit for collecting. How precious,
how practiced we looked those weekends at the lake,
posing in our matching hipwaders and stabbing
at the world’s swamp-stink with the gig of our love.
But forever is a black fish hiding in cattails, a fat plop
always sounding out of range. Soon, the lake iced over.
The far off smoke of forest fires stole your attention.
While I dreamt pyrotechnics for our stage duets,
you and your matchbox slid out the window.
No note. No final mix tape. No rose left thorny
on the nightstand. I searched for you in parking lots
until a passing trucker said he’d caught your show
in Denver, that you wore a silk shirt and played everything
acoustic, and the news rocked me like a last track ballad.
Oh Big Daddy, Daddy with the Long Legs,
father of a stillborn promise and my liveliest rage,
for weeks I choked on your name, stuck so deep
in my craw it took a crowbar and two months
of keg stands in Assumption, Illinois to dislodge it.
Now, I drink sweet tea in a Southern state. Now,
I am patient. Here, small likenesses of you croak to me
from their lilypadded thrones. I’d like to mistake
their bellows for green apologies, but I know better.
At night, I hunt them with a three prong. I fry them
in batter and grease. We both know what they taste like.
“Big Daddy” first appeared in Subtropics, Issue 8, Spring/Summer 2009.