V. Alan White 

43rd Psalm 

Holiness, that ancient haberdasher, is old hat. 
We have had quite enough of the ritual doff 
and even the shaved head beneath. Remove 
them both. Yarmulkes make good shoulder pads, 
or, if ironed, coasters. Faithful heads are another 
matter--best recycled, one should think. 
Emptied of illusion, a hallow-hollow head
blows the most soothing, lovely single note, 
a pure earthy hymn to what there isn't, 
and a welcoming anthem to fire, water, air. 
So, love, our old headgear is ancient history, 
that wordy, lifeless faith to one another 
of scriptural misery. We have begun again in this, 
diurnal, finite. It is only brains that can hold a kiss. 


Ransom's Sonnet 
                                  (for John) 

 Amphibolous necrophile, one could call you, 
and a pest to your romantic rooted trunk 
rotting in the fetid clay of Pulaski. 
They don't know you and never did. Oxford 
to them was, and is, footwear, or exhausting 
the complete store, a Mississippi better off 
with Faulkner and Evers quite equally dead.
Not that you strayed so far, either beyond 
Nashville or the fugitive clan of tête-à-Tate
But death at least to you was more delicious 
than a gloried rivalry laid at state. The irony is 
that in your old home town you have 
never lived to die. Mentioned there, they screw 
their jaws awry, and coo a foolish "Who?" 


Hieb's Sonnet 
                                  (Robert Hieb 1953-1992) 

 "Hhhwhyte," you slanged in that NoDak phenotype 
"Pull yer head owut!"--the "ass" left begging-- 
the first of a good thousand mirrors, all cast 
of the same clear guttural and held in that 
barb'rish angle so, yes, I at last could see the cut. 
"Narcissus to my Goldmund"--you thought that 
so small and dark a quip. But here, a generation past, 
held fast where light cannot enter (though now 
very likely reversed), it still shines on all 
those verbally polished planes you left me, 
so now, Occam stylist I've become, 
I can scissor for myself. 
Fallen from life, like hair in midlife rout, 
my Narziss: I am Goldmund within, without. 

Copyright © 1997 Mississippi Review 

V. Alan White

Randall Terry Meets His Maker

The vision blurs.  Sounds submerge under final thoughts
of baby and fetus burst forth with fecundity.
The firefighter snatches another infant from Lucifer's
flames only because their mothers did not abort them,
though they well could have.  The cancer cure pours from
fallopian tubes as surely as from pyrex in the nervous
hand of the not-unconceived to-be Laureate.
All great and good not lost because of protest,
shaming, virtual silver, and rock-solid faith.
That part containing mothers Dahmer, Bundy,
Oswald long sedimented into quite another rock,
laid deep under strata of heavy yearning and pain.
At a moment no one knows, a last synapse snaps,
and descends the dark peace of Jesus' first nap.

V. Alan White reports that he is an excellent second-class philosopher at the University of Wisconsin--Manitowoc who sings excellent second-class songs on his Internet site "Philosophy Songs".  He is dubious of all bushes--burning or otherwise.

Copyright 1995-2004 Mississippi Review, Box 5144, Hattiesburg MS 39406-5144. Tel: (601) 266-5600,
Fax: (601) 266-5757, The University of Southern Mississippi AA/EOE/ADAI.
Opinions are those of the authors.