Jason Jones

I’m imagining long, sweeping pauses unpunctuated at the line ends, not silence but a riverside hum, nothing ellipses nor periods could capture—the rhythm cascading down the page, with the emphases plinking into place, the printed letters aligned¬. The influence is Oppen, Elytis, and the Harlem Renaissance; the stakes are a white boy’s soul; the subject is history’s inequities. I wrote “Hail to the Redskins” in Miami, during the summer/between semesters, while attending graduate school. There was a lot of cosmopolitan noise on campus back then, and blithe talk of a post-racial [sic] America that I did not believe existed, having visited home in southwest Virginia, traveling north on interstates 95, 26, 77, 81 to get there, stopping off for gas at the townless exits on the way, yet the talk persisted. Barack Obama was a first-term president. This was back in the good ol’ days (when thinking was dreaming). No one talks like that anymore, or maybe they do. What do I know? I’m a seasoned bartender now, and a long way from Miami, but I know Dixie Highway still runs through Dade County, meaning one thing; and Calle Ocho and Tamiami Trail, well I know they connote a different metropolis altogether. Today is Wednesday, October 18, 2017, and I am writing this correspondence having just returned home to St. Louis, Missouri from rural Virginia, from my maternal grandfather’s non-funeral; after which, at my parents’ house, I watched a football game with my cousin, a third-grader, who notated the sports section like a bookie. The Redskins outlasted the 49ers. And, as his high-pitched victory yelp squealed out—Hail to the Redskins!—I returned to an earlier scene. It was on the farm, just after Paw’s not-service: most of the family had gone to investigate an infallen barn, but I stayed back with Maw, the glad and vengeant widow, scanning the earth for hickory nuts, who told me that Paw’s mother had been given “some funny Indian name” and changed it to Lucille.