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"Hold on, Sweetheart,"
Said Sam when he found Lura on the floor
barely able to breathe.
He helped her into bed
and called the boys.
"Sing to me," she whispered.

"Rock of ages cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee."

She did hang on.
Two more days
Time enough to get mad
and refuse the hospital.
say good-bye with watery
blue eyes.

Sam helped carry the casket
from the musty little Assembly of God
sanctuary to the cemetery out back.

At her house with the boys,
eatin' casseroles and cornbread
brought over by the church sisters,
Sam looked across her gardens,
the motherless kitchen,
those strappin' boys morose
on mismatched chairs.
The world can't afford to lose
many more like her.


Louise was out under the carport
waxin' her Sportster for the third time
grinnin' and steppin back gigglin' inside
she shook her head
hair floatin out with the motion
"Sure wish the rain would stop."
The phone rang
It was Dan from over in Gallatin
over by Nashville
he said, "Hey gorgeous!
You comin' to my St. Paddy party?"
Well, Dan's the best poet in Tennessee,
so "Hell yes, I'll be there!
Bring some friends of mine too.
You cookin' your corned beef?"
"You bet, my place, 6:00 Saturday."
"If the weather's good, we'll ride the bike's"

But it rained,
had to take the Camaro,
drive the whole way,
disappointment burnin' her gut
thought It'll probably rain
till next November,

When they got there, though,
it was good.
Good beer, good food
and good poetry,
some serious, some just fun.
Tall tales, jokes and more beer.
And poets
real ones.

Sam was impressed, said,
"Wish ya'll lived closer."


After Dan's party
Sam and the gang followed Vol home
crashed on the couches, floor,
or the old, full-wave waterbed,
slept like summer dogs
and didn't get up till noon.
Spent the day watchin' the Wiz
make Poet's chili.
Sun dried and crushed tomatoes,
course ground beef, a host of spices
that seemed to disappear
just as they were needed
only to turn up somewhere unexpected
everybody gettin' bug-eyed
at the magic of it all
talkin' and visitin', plannin'
Spring break together.
Went to see Lord of the Rings.
Sam said, "Where's Tom Bombadil?"
On the way back
everyone was pretty much pissed off,
but next day they had plenty to talk about.
They didn't reforge the sword..."
"The barrow wights"
"Gamgee's box of dirt!"
and " That was NOT Galadriel!"


"The trouble with summer
is it comes after the equinox,
so as the days get hotter
they get shorter, too,
promisin' with each truncated breath
the demise of shirtless days,
and soft gloaming songs in the breeze."
The trees hate winter too,
havin' to stand naked
above their downcast leaves.
Sam spent about a minute thinkin'
about all this one hot day in June,
then ducked his head under the water
and grabbed Louise by the foot,
makin' her squeal and splash.



Sam and Louise were leaning over the porch rail,
lookin' out at the flowers early one Sunday  in April;.
A little rain blew up behind a warm breeze
and sparkled in the sun,
 Sam said, half to himself,
That Chaucer knew what he was talkin' 'bout"
Joe walkd up behind, said, "Pretty, ain't it?
We need to talk."
Sam just sighed, "Kinda figured it was about that time."
Joe stood there a minute, turned to follow Sam's gaze
before goin' on,
"Irene and I were talkin'.
Her dad's been sick out there in Red River,
think we oughta go look after him awhile."
He paused as some birds on the feeder made
a little melody.
Sam asked, "Got room for some company on this little pilgramage?
my heart's been chewin' on some wanderlust lately."
"Well hell yes! He's got a two bedroom cottage
with a screened in sun deck I added on a coupla years ago.
Let's do it!"
Sam glanced over at Louise, asked, "Can you get off awhile?"
She rolled her eyes up at the clouds, said, "Dunno,
I'm single, got a house and stuff to pay for..."
Sam's right eye twinkled, he smiled a wry smile.
said that can be fixed..."
She looked at him soft and long, then after a deep breath, said,
"I think I'm ready."
Took that boy a minute, but when he figured out what she meant,
He just grabbed ahold of her and did a dance,
jumped up and down and whooped while she giggled.
Joe ran off to tell Irene the news.


Joe took Sam aside,
"You thought about what all this means?"
"Ever since the first time I saw her
stand on her tiptoes to pull off that blouse
so we could go swimmin' in the crick."
Joe smiled at that.
Sam said, " We gotta make some plans,
get with Cindy, see if she'll watch the place,
buy feed, get stuff ready for the trip..."
"Whoa there, boy! Get a grip!
You're gettin' married!
You got a lot more to think about than feed.
Sam stopped, nodded his head,
said, "Listen, Joe, the dam has broke,
and the women have been unleashed;
all we gotta do is just stay outta the way,
and do what we're told, meanwhile,
I aim to keep my feet in my boots
and my hat outta the fog.


Irene didn't know what to say,
she gave Sam and Louise a big ol' hug,
and then the two girls went inside to make plans.
Irene, all breathless said
"There's this cute little bridal shop in town.
It's called Celebrations.
Rents wedding dresses, bridesmaid gowns,
and has everything else you can think of,
even rents tuxedos!..."

They caught each other's eye
befor bustin' out laughing,
just tryin' to picture those boys decked out like that.


Two weeks later,
Sam and Louise were married
by a retired Pentecostal preacher
who had converted his garage
into "The Smokey Mountain Wedding Chapel".
Had white pews, red carpet, a decent sound system
and pretty plastic flowers on the arbor
they stood under.
Her dress was white trimmed with silver
and sparkled almost as much as the smile
Sam could see shinin' through the veil.
Irene glittered blue on one side,
and a tuxedoed Joe on the other.
It all happened just like it was supposed to,
very tidy indeed, thought Louise,
smiling while the preacher's wife
took a roll of pictures they could purchase later,
if they so desired.

Back at the house,
Cindy had a really nice dinner laid out,
and in the middle of the table
was a little one-layer wedding cake
she made herself with a Barbie and GI Joe on top.
Out in the driveway, the plywood laid out
for dancing to CDs she played from the Miata.
Just before it was all over,
she got out a bottle of Jack
for a toast.
Two or three dances were enough for Sam,
even though as word got out,
more and more folks started showin' up,
he looked around, smiled said,
"You guys can keep on partyin'
but it's time for my wife to climb my tree,
so, if you'll just pardon us,
we've got some nuptuilin' to do."
And so it began.



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