Thursday, December 15, 2005

Ode to Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash was a man, my momma told me. She told me on a hot day in July, while the fan creaked and the breeze drawin’ through was only a sweet whisper of what nature could do.

So there we was, I’s picking my teeth, cussin’ about the heat, hair all matted but we didn’t care, it’s not like we was goin’ anywhere. Momma poured a cup of cheap vermouth, put it to her lips once or twice, but her eyes didn’t move. She seemed intent on not movin’ at all, but I still had some piss left in me being young some, so I turned and called,

“Momma, who’s a man? To you, I mean. not 'what’s a man', I know that, I ain’t dumb, who’s the realest man you ever seen?”

Her eyes closed and she sighed, like it were too much to think, but I knew something was turnin’ inside, with momma it always did. She thinks when she sleeps as well as awake, remembers all birthdays, weddings, wakes. So she looks over at me after a mighty long spell, wiped her brow, lowered her cup and proceeded,


“It weren’t yer daddy, he took off and ran, never paid for you kids, he wasn’t no man.”
“It wasn’t old pappy, he was whipped like a calf, did what momma always wanted, he weren’t better, that half”

“I’d say a real man stands up to his ghosts, don’t cry in the face of any old folk, is tender when needed, when healin’ a sprain, but ain’t soft in the head about it, just eases the pain. Gets up to his feet when knocked straight down, but don’t run into that fist again, just holds his ground.

Maybe he been to jail, spent time in the poke, but he learned from the slammer, it weren’t no joke, he’ll get his shit straight, be man about town, we’ll all know he’s better for it all, we’ll want him around.

He’s stared good and bad straight in the maw; he can tell the difference all right, he knows what he saw. He knows the bad ain’t worth it (cause he’s been there) and the good’s only worth it if it’s ready to share.

He’s long and lean, don’t give in to his sins, he keeps a fit mind about him, and the vessel it’s in. He keeps movin’ along, takes comments in stride, does one thing well, but handles his pride...

A voice like thunder rollin' slowly in, hands big enough to cradle a little baby in...

He don’t need no woman, but with one he’s fine, devoted 'til death, he walks the line.”

With this she laid back, issued a sigh and went back to nappin’, not aware of the impression on this young boy that happened. A real man’s an solid oak of humility, tenderness and class, a gent none other than the great Johnny Cash.

...I'm still tryin', Johnny, but it's hard.


Blogger jj said...

I love Johnny Cash. Ring of Fire was the first record that I listened to on my own. I do not think I have spent more than one minute worrying about being a woman and what that means. But I know my sons fret about what being a real man means. And I have dated men that worry and have books about being a man on their night stands, which is truly a sexual turn-off. Being a man doesn’t have anything to do with looks or height or dick size it is something else. You never looked at Johnny Cash and wondered if he was a real man. Oh, excellent writing by the way. jj

but who is to say if he knew how to roundhouse kick?

11:46 a.m.  
Blogger Blog Monkey said...

johnny didn't need to roundhouse, that voice knocked 'em down.

my grandfather could stop a man in his tracks with a stern voice and a hard look.

i think we've become so emasculated over the last 20 years, that the books are filling the void. but what better way of selling shit if society pulls the rug out from under their sexuality? look at the glamour/makeup market! now, they've found a way to do that to men. sad but true.

johnny, come back and show us how it's done!

1:35 p.m.  

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