a poem by
MARLON HAYES | Truck Driver + Poet
JUST south of Memphis, I start receiving waves from strangers.
I’m in a different world, far removed from urban dangers.
Now I’m looking at the billboards advertising local greasepits.
And I’m hit with a sudden craving for fried catfish and grits.
I roll down the windows to catch that early morning breeze.
Now my nostrils are filled with the scent wafting from the trees.
The scars of Old Mississippi have never quite fully healed.
Too many lynchings, too many dreams and innocents killed.
I remember seeing signs and saying “Wow, that happened right here?”
And I said silent prayers for the gone victims of yesteryear.
But I fell in love with this place years ago, despite all of that.
From gold teeth to the ladies’ worship of the huge gardening hat.
At every house you visit, you’ll be offered something to eat.
They’ll offer a cold drink, as you go in to escape the roasting heat.
This is the place where people drop everything, just to go fishing.
Where having a Cadillac and A/C is everyone’s mission.
It’s not a third world place, just a simpler way to live.
Where you find good people who are always willing to give.
Maybe when I retire, I’ll find my way back down here.
And spend my days fishing, laughing and sipping cold beer.
Hey Mississippi…I see you.
© 2016 Marlon Hayes
“Hey Mississippi” was originally published in Garden Spices Magazine. Reprinted with permission.
Enjoy more of Mr. Hayes’ work at marlonhayes.wixsite.com/author
Photograph by Jake Young