Roads to
Forgotten Texas

Joyce Pounds Hardy (Poems)
Tommy LaVergne (Photographs)
(Texas Review Press)
The photographs are a love; in fact, they look like something stirred up by your post-mortem dream state, what's left of your mental lens at 3 A.M., heavily coated as it often is with Vaseline.

But some of us are suckers for this appeal to the romantic: an old trestle at the border of Jefferson and Marion Counties, the kind we used to leap from as kids, yelling, on a dare, jumping into the icy waters from twenty feet above.

Or the ruins of the Courthouse Cafe in McMullen County. Or the simple, elegantly simple frame house in Matagorda County ... set up on four-by-fours to elevate it above the monsoons (and the hungry mosquitoes).

There's the Romanesque, anonymous bank in Kleberg County, with "1910" painted over the flaking brick. Sunset in Lubbock County, the bright railroad tracks going off to the horizon, attended by six or seven stark, out-of-kilter telephone poles. The shack with its black galvanized roof, the broken windows, the sullen porch, the discarded two-by-fours, the old crates off to the side ... oh my heart, oh my youth.

It only gets to be a bit much when we get to the icy shores on Sabine Lake in Orange County (no, not that Orange County; the more prim one, in north Texas). It's ice, or rime, but all the same, too much streaking, too much fiddling with the negatives in the darkroom.

And the poetry. Oy, the poetry.

I guess it's poetry, although it just may be end-stopped lines of dribble set out there with what the printers call "justified center" so that Sabine Lake comes out like some kind of spasm,

With your best girl by your side, you
throttle up and head for The Pines: the
sun now reddening the horizon and
sparkling on the wind-whipped waves.
You're tempted to follow the gulls
but flounder are what you love
to challenge. Shrimp-tipped curly tails
fly on your spinning reel and
hum into the marshy grasses
to be walked along the bottom, hopefully
bobbing on the nose of some flatfish.

What's to be said? Especially about running into that abominable "hopefully," lurching around out there like that old drunk Willie who survives (how does he do it?) down on Third Avenue when he would be far better off passed out in The Shelter, anywhere rather than in the middle of an homage to Sabine Lake, there along with the flounders and the marshy grasses.

Not to worry. The wet photographs are fun and the poetry hurts no one. Except the "shrimp-tailed curly tails" and possibly the memory of the three exquisite poets of yore hidden there, somehow, in the writer's first, middle, and last name.

--- Lolita Lark
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