Monday, July 13, 2009

Monday's Poetry: "The Studs of McDonald County"

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

Today’s poem recognizes and illustrates the talent of Joan Yeagley, a poet from my home, McDonald County, Missouri. While Joan and I lived for a time just a few miles apart, I have only met her once, and that was briefly.

The following selection, The Studs of McDonald County, is from her 1987 collection of poetry of the same name. Studs was published by BkMk Press at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. The volume contains many poetic vignettes of rural Ozark life. I particularly like The Studs of McDonald County because it succinctly captures the struggle of male youth as they leap from the nest in full glory, only to be tamed by their women and brought back to the sensible world of local and mundane expectations. It also gives a nostalgic view of summer afternoons in the beautiful creeks and rivers of McDonald County.

Our dreams are funny things. If one doesn’t pay attention every minute, they tend to slip away. Several years ago I visited with one of my former foster kids in the Vernon County (Missouri) jail. He was enroute to the Missouri penitentiary. As our emotional visit was coming to an end, the young man got up and hugged me. And then he said, “Rocky, I never intended for this to happen to me.” He was a McDonald County stud whose dreams had been dashed.

The Studs of McDonald County
by Joan Yeagley

Summer boys down from haying,
Wheeze red dust,
Spit the raw stink of mown grass
And take the beach,
Capsizing with obscenities
A gentle generation of grandmothers
Porked in their inner-tubes.
Unzipping with the cheek of young Zeus,
They peel marble white legs of its skin of jeans,
Stow boots in the crotch of a tree.
Male grace
In the bronze loop of neck, shoulder, arm;
Civil War in the thigh;
They plunge.
From their beachhead on the granite buttes,
They pepper the girls with propositions,
Woo them with breakneck leaps
Then strafe the beach with insults.
The girls are cooler,
Will marry them down
And live in Carthage or Joplin.

1 comment:

Bruce Arnold said...

That was actually kinda depressing, mostly since I can see some truth in it. Though they don't all move away... I think those arrogant "studs" are the ones that eventually run the McDonald County Republican party. :)