A History of Viola Jones Taylor

by Madelyn Taylor

Derived from “History of Viola Jones Taylor,” written by Viola’s sister, Ruth Jones Lang, after Viola’s death

Madelyn Taylor is an English major at Brigham Young University. She grew up in an Air Force family and moved around most of her life. Her interests include the history of oral poetry in the United States, radio broadcasting, and terrible adaptations of Sherlock Holmes. Viola Jones Taylor is her grandmother.

Detroit

by Carl Boon

When our nightflesh wasn’t enough
we put on Bob Seger Mitch Ryder
and sometimes Smokey Robinson
to remember America
when it was Cadillacs and soul
and we were the center of it all.

The old guys in the back of the bar
reminisced about Al Kaline
and Hank Greenberg and beer
five cents a pint and the night
Henry Ford waved at them
on Gratiot Avenue from a car
that looked like an aeroplane.

And the women they wore
such dresses such bangles
to their elbows you’d have thought
Egypt or Babylon and one day
F. Scott Fitzgerald rented two suites
at the Hotel Charlevoix.

I wanted to be an American then
a chrome American
playing cards at the Eddystone
a dagger in my vest a blonde
in my pocket and the jazz
Mississippi pushed north
tilting the ceiling so we’d dance.

I walk down Vermont
of soap on the windows
shuttered doorways and whores
passing cigarettes back and forth.
I’d die for a drink at Jacoby’s
a Bricktown bratwurst and time.

Carl Boon is the author of the full-length collection Places & Names: Poems (The Nasiona Press, 2019). His poems have appeared in many journals and magazines, including Prairie Schooner, Posit, and The Maine Review. He received his Ph.D. in Twentieth-Century American Literature from Ohio University in 2007, and currently lives in Izmir, Turkey, where he teaches courses in American culture and literature at Dokuz Eylül University.

Lexington Avenue

by Carl Boon

I shall speak of blue flowers, Blake,
and graceless boys.

I shall watch you behind the glass
of a bar on Lexington

and pummel you with half-rhymes
and the certitude of God.

You’ll fall and I’ll make sure you rise
again, for you must

in this metropol of dragons and chance.
I am the chosen one,

your private savior, superstitious
and lean, lingering where

saints touch men and men cannot
believe. Look at me

and my enjambment, my glass-eyed
superpower. I’m fond of you—

I kiss your breasts as if they were
my own and tell you:

things grow, that’s the only miracle
there is on earth.

Carl Boon is the author of the full-length collection Places & Names: Poems (The Nasiona Press, 2019). His poems have appeared in many journals and magazines, including Prairie Schooner, Posit, and The Maine Review. He received his Ph.D. in Twentieth-Century American Literature from Ohio University in 2007, and currently lives in Izmir, Turkey, where he teaches courses in American culture and literature at Dokuz Eylül University.

The Dark We’ve Grown Used To

by Carl Boon

1.

I sit on the steps in the dark
we’ve grown used to and braid
Ingrid’s hair. There’s milk tonight,
and Rote Grütze—Grandfather shielded
the berries all July barehanded
as the bombs dropped east and west
of Dresden. It seems a paradise,
this unusual fruit, a pair of fireflies
at the window. Father listens to the radio
where Goebbels speaks of dragons,
mythology, and what is right.

I’ve only seen the Führer once, and wept.

2.

I’ve taught my fingers to move in the dark,
to know what’s there and what could leap
from thresholds, Prager Strasse,
the blanket between my mother’s thighs.
I’ve been taught to forsake demons,
the Soviets, the secret Jews
down the block who hide their Talmud
in the trash among potato skins
and tins of powdered milk.
I fear nothing but Ingrid’s breathing
when she wakes before curfew

wanting coloring books and solitude.

3.

Her hair recalls to me American cornfields
I’d seen in movies: Ohio, Nebraska…
I don’t remember, except the boys
wore purple shorts and played
trombones while their aproned mothers
waited at windows. Someday
I’ll take Ingrid there and see Errol Flynn
in California and touch his hair
when the war’s forgotten.
Sometimes I forget who the enemy is
and wear Mother’s mascara, remembering

Klaus who never kissed me.

4.

How are we to know the difference
between the raven and the songbird,
the Kaiser’s world and ours? I comb
Ingrid’s bangs then stroll through Edeka
for cooking oil and raisins, flour
and oatmeal. I watch a woman in yellow
who could’ve been a bride
tear the flesh of her neck
with her fingernails and cry.
The metal shelves wink at us all
in triangles of sun, and nobody speaks.

The wind stirs forth its ghastliness.

5.

We’re drinking tea and waiting for
a thunderstorm to swallow the blasts
swirling down from Chemnitz.
Ingrid keeps her dolls arrayed
on the living room floor and Father irons
his Reichmarks, pretending they’re enough
till winter. He says the war will end
when Stalin gives up Leningrad;
he says the Americans won’t die
for what they cannot have. I scrub
errant berries from Ingrid’s favorite dress

and draw black x’s on my notebook.

6.

Each one’s a woman I might’ve been,
each a fury and a wish. Ingrid believes
in magic, but I know we’re going to die here
among stacks of old Christmas cards
and the Führer’s face on the calendar,
among the smells of enamel and cement
as the city redefines itself. Ingrid
sits at the kitchen table now,
a saint who’s lost the knowledge
of light and dark—she sits like a girl
in a postcard in the shadows of the valley
where the Elbe curves

south.

Carl Boon is the author of the full-length collection Places & Names: Poems (The Nasiona Press, 2019). His poems have appeared in many journals and magazines, including Prairie Schooner, Posit, and The Maine Review. He received his Ph.D. in Twentieth-Century American Literature from Ohio University in 2007, and currently lives in Izmir, Turkey, where he teaches courses in American culture and literature at Dokuz Eylül University.