Stirring : A Literary Collection

Walt McDonald


Fifth grade was a gang
of sopranos learning to cuss,
before our voices changed,
before we thought we'd ever
grow hair down there.  

Earl stole a bottle of oil
from bald Uncle Bob,
squeezed out a glob
in each of our fists--all of us
like Stan Laurel with jock itch,

rubbing to make hair grow.  
If girls saw us crouched
behind the slide, they believed
we did what mothers said boys do.  
Sniffing his greasy fist,

John growled when he grew up
he'd be a mountain climber.  
We laughed and called him Freak
but wished we'd thought of it.  
Carl wanted to be a priest.  Jesus,

Roy scoffed, you've never even
done it.  I said, I'm gonna fly --
Air Force or Navy.  Arms crossed,
my best friend Bob slapped my scalp.  
Right, Peter Pan, he said,

spitting black tobacco.  
I shoved him back.  You watch,
I dared, not dreaming
we'd both end up in Vietnam,
and he'd be a dead Marine.

Walt McDonald
Photo by: Arte Limmer
Date of Birth: July 18
Location: Lubbock, Texas
Publications: American Poetry Review, The Atlantic Monthly, London Review of Books, New York Review of Books, Poetry, etc.
Books: Eighteen collections of poems and a book of fiction, including All Occasions (University of Notre Dame Press, 2000), Blessings the Body Gave (Ohio State, 1998), Counting Survivors (Pittsburgh, 1995), Night Landings (Harper & Row, 1989), and After the Noise of Saigon (Massachusetts, 1988)
Awards: Texas Poet Laureate for 2001; the Juniper Prize (University of Massachusetts Press); George Elliston Poetry Prize for The Flying Dutchman (Ohio State University Press and University of Cincinnati); four Western Heritage Awards from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame; six awards from the Texas Institute of Letters, including the Lon Tinkle Memorial Award for Excellence Sustained Throughout a Career; two NEA fellowships

Stirring : A Literary Collection

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