I got home last night after four days on the road and three readings with the human poetry-machine, Adam Clay. The first was in Oxford, MS where I had never been before. It was hot and humid and just about the most quintessential Southern town I'd ever been to. A cheer squad was preparing for the Ole Miss pep rally, the air smelled thick and sweet, and everyone around was in school colors. We ate at Ajax Diner (squash casserole & red beans and rice) and read at a house reading with an excellent and warm crowd that I felt very close to immediately. There was the most magical white dog recovering from a car accident named Atticus. I fell madly in love with him and wished I could have brought him home. Adam was brave enough to steal him for me, but we thought he was loved where he was. So hard to leave tender souls in the great unknown.
In the morning, Adam and I worked at a cafe, then visited Square Books and Rowan Oak where Faulkner lived, and Faulkner's grave where he does not live. The night before, driving home from the reading we saw a huge buck come out from the cemetery. It was massive and athletic and both of us were a little in awe. Animals in the moonbeams & headlights. If I had to choose a team to root for, it would be a team of deer in the wee hours offering secrets in the dark. I would wear those colors.
Then, we were off to Memphis, TN where I had also never been before. We played Aretha Franklin as we drove in, and bought an Elvis CD at Shangri-La Records. As per Adam's insistence we ate a the BBQ Shop, and I had maybe the best BBQ sandwich of my life. Then, off to the inaugural reading of Impossible Language hosted by Ashley Roach-Freiman. The reading was at a great gallery space called, Crossroads (and I traded books for an amazing painting by John Garland. It's now hanging in my office and I love it). A large crowd, free wine and beer, and good people.
Those good people followed us to the Lamplighter Lounge where there was yet another reading and we all got to know one another and talk about art and life and music.
On the way out of town I pushed Elvis's intercom button at Graceland, but he didn't answer. I saw Sun Records and Stax Records and... oh Memphis I shall return.
And now I am home for one brief moment (a few short hours), before Sonoma, California calls and I settle in for a week in the West.
I am lucky & I am working hard. As they say in Memphis, Work Hard & Be Nice.