Poet's Choice: 'Madonna and Child, Perryton, Texas, 1967' by B.H. Fairchild

By B.H. Fairchild
Sunday, July 19, 2009

This poem was triggered by a visit to the Renaissance and Baroque rooms at the Metropolitan Art Museum, and in particular by my response to the paintings of Francisco de Zurbarán. The boys in the poem have been out late on a Friday night drinking and smoking weed. Afflicted by the munchies (a common term in the late '60s, though I have no idea whether it's still current), they are at the only grocery mart in town that is still open. It is not unusual for the composition of a poem to have its own rewards, and in this one I was interested to watch a rather detailed nativity scene take shape at the close of the poem, although in this case we have, instead of the three wise men, the three idiots.

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Madonna and Child, Perryton, Texas, 1967

A litter of pickups nose into Sancho's Market

south of town late Friday night rinsed in waves

of pink neon and samba music from some station

in Del Rio spilling out across the highway.

Sancho's wife dances alone behind the cash box

while her daughter, Rosa, tries to quiet her baby

whose squalls rip through the store like a weed cutter

shredding the souls of the carnal, the appetitious,

indeed the truly depraved as we in our grievous

late-night stupor and post-marijuana hunger

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