The Porter Wagoner Show
My father always calling him, "Ole Porter,"
around our mammoth yet fuzzy Zenith,
Granny's doily on top,
the aunts in their chairs, me on the hassock
with a sudden interested in country music
since the Beatles did that Buck Owens song.
Rhinestone suits and corn pone jokes,
my introduction to camp -
bad could be good -
the rest of them lapping it up with no irony.
They'd sifted Martha White,
used a crank telephone.
They laughed at Lonzo, loved String Bean.
The weekly gospel number not a favorite until
that new girl, (what we all called her)
showed up singing church songs like she meant it.
"That one's just being herself," Granny said.
The Zenith pixels responding, their lines stacked
tighter now, cathode rays
shooting straighter when we heard the words,
"And now, Dolly."
This was my sign to scoot the hassock closer,
lean, touch the rabbit ears,
her cowgirl blouse sharpening,
its mother-of-pearl buttons straining,
heroic, reflecting studio lights,
the new girl flowing through me now.
Oh, blessed contrast! Oh, genuine smile! Oh, buttons!
And no matter how stretched or cramped
my loving arms got,
when my father yelled,
"There! Hold it right there, son,"
I was to remain her antenna throughout the number,
an intimacy I held dear,
just between us.
Plus my father had called me, "son."
Maybe she'd sing two this week.
"Papa loved this hymn," Aunt Dora sniffed.
"Sally!" My father yelled back to Mama
in the kitchen.
"Sally, quick! Ole Porter's got the new girl on again!"
Rupert Fike's (he/his) second collection of poems, Hello the House, was named one of the "Books All Georgians Should Read, 2018" by The Georgia Center for the Book. It also won the Haas Poetry Prize from Snake Nation Press. His poems and stories have appeared in The Southern Poetry Review, Scalawag Magazine, The Georgetown Review, A&U America's AIDS Magazine, The Flannery O'Connor Review, The Buddhist Poetry Review, Natural Bridge, and others. He has a poem inscribed in a downtown Atlanta plaza.