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Floyd County Moonshine, LLC, 720 Christiansburg Pike, Floyd, VA 24091-2440 USA

Copyright © 2008-2022 Floyd County Moonshine, LLC. All Images Copyright © Floyd County Moonshine LLC. ISSN 1946-2263

Play The Hand That Is Dealt

You cannot shovel a smell, though it floats and intrudes
with mysterious mass, a slow syncopated dance
with an after bite that sickens. You can’t bundle
stench that wafts and insists, paints a saga
that leaks history. Even the photographer

adept at freezing beauty can’t capture nuanced
odor floating free. Even the musician can’t quite
sound out the smell of decay. Once upon a time
the percussionist, Professor Bill Lightfoot, recited
lines from Robert Frost, delighted in his own phrasing,
peppering us youngsters with poker strategy
and jazz, his voice sand-papered ironic.

As our kinky whiskey blue drenched mentor we kept
quiet the foot odor that signified how much was drifting
wrong, what with diabetes and bloat, for so much
was right in the skunky smoke, with his maturity
rich and impossible to fathom. Only later when
us youngsters became kinky mentors ourselves

did events signal how inept we were at seeing
where Bill was heading—how always a timed
delay exists in seeing the obvious. In retrospect
none of this is surprising. When does the tree
become aware lichen grows patterns on the bark?

What young man sees the inevitable in the bald spot?
Who connects the first dying oak limb to the tree’s
demise? Always the questions—the stumble around
the fat answers. Where are we on the trail, and
how far to the peak? Who has time for the end when
slow-drifting threads form a rich blanket? Why
do we submit to the surgeons who carve the deep holes?

Bill once said no one can force a story alive before
its time, even though right now a real-as-rain thunderstorm
swirls, too huge to be contained. Even now the skin
tingles as if Bill lives again as the archetypal bluesman
so we sense a truth alive in the dark—the undeniable wisp
of smell that says maybe nothing significant ever dies.

So real, like art on the wall, as Bill cautions (again): just play
your cards, followed by his unmistakable rumbling guffaw.