Friday, November 4, 2016

Jack Scott writes

Pretty Boy’s Baby

Part I

One Saturday
we went to the Gunpowder River
between Pretty Boy Dam
and the Chesapeake Bay.
We walked upstream
from the Belair Road Bridge
along a footpath
sometimes also used
by horses and dirt bikers.

Coming to a bend
we heard shots ahead
and strained to see the target.
Drifting toward us vague and distant
in the current at the edge of sight
was what looked like a rubber duck.
The gunner fired a burst
quick like diarrhea,
but he didn’t seem to hit it,
missing as often as he shot,
puncturing the water smack smack smack 
somewhere between the speed of sound
and the speed of water.

It sounded like a .22,
more than just a bee sting
should a bullet hit us.
We couldn’t see the shooter,
but hoped he could see us.
I yelled loudly,
and he must have heard
for target practice ended.
Duck hunter disappeared.

Pinkly bobbing slowly round the bend
came a naked rubber doll,
Pretty Boy’s Baby,
Roiling in the river
upside down and all around
at the mercy of the current,
taking water in
and leaking air
through a red nail-polished toe,
pedicured by bullet.
She did have hair,
a blonde tuft on top,
otherwise quite naked.
(Had she had more fun?)
Anatomically androgynous,
but definitely not a boy,
as good a guess as any
should there be an autopsy.
She’d been in the water
quite a while
from the looks of her:
dingily algaenated
girl with seaweed hair
looking mossy,
scuffed all over.
Definitely abused:
abraded, bruised,
lacerated by bouncing
against stream bottom rocks
and, most likely, broken glass.
More pinkish than pink,
without any blush of rose
impersonating youthful health,
chicken-meat white,
morgue dead.
After living in the wild
her feral days are over;
death is domestication.
Probably from a good home
with children
who would care for her
as long as they remembered to.

Common looking,
this Kewpie,
close up now, (but not too close)
looks awful to the touch,
coarse and used, disgusting
like a used, discarded condom.
Only here for now,
she’s about to overtake
and pass us
on her way toward the sea.

Once beloved,
flotsam litter, (also jetsam?) 
danse macabre upon the rapids
dividing ‘round a tear-shaped island,
becoming snagged in driftwood thicket
at the upstream end,
there lodged amidst much foul debris,
stranded by the fickle water,
still leaking from the bullet prick,
an accident on purpose.

1 comment:

  1. Prettyboy Reservoir occupies 206.5 sq km of the Hereford Zone (northern Baltimore County, Maryland), by far the most sparsely populated area in the county. The reservoir provides areas for hiking, mountain biking, road cycling, fishing, and boating; hunting is also permitted, though limited to archery only. The lake was named after a settler's horse, Pretty Boy, that drowned in a nearby creek. The Gunpowder river is a tidal inlet on the western side of Chesapeake bay, formed by the joining of two freshwater rivers, Little Gunpowder Falls and Gunpowder Falls at Joppatowne; three towns existed in the area of this unincorporated community in colonial times: The first English attempt to settle the Gunpowder river was Gunpowder, at a place known as Sim’s Point; its exact location is unknown, but it was somewhere northwest of Joppatowne. Apparently it was abandoned as a poor location choice. In 1706 Foster’s Neck was established on the eastern bank of the Gunpowder River, somewhere around Joppatowne’s southern boundary, but was abandoned the next year due to a smallpox outbreak. The colonial legislative assembly immediately began building Joppa on Rumsey island as the seat of Baltimore county, though it was ot until 1712 that the British government consented to it. The town’s "mile wide harbor" could accommodate the largest ocean-going ships of the time, making it Maryland's most important commercial center. As Maryland’s primary port-of-entry and county seat of its most populous county, Joppa was the focal point of virtually all aspects of colonial life, but by the end of the 18th century, agricultural and other land development upstream caused the Gunpowder river and Joppa's harbor to silt up, making access by large ships impossible. Baltimore (founded in 1729) then became the colony’s major port, and in 1769 the county seat was moved there; by 1814 Joppa was mostly abandoned.

    Kewpie dolls and figurines (derived from Cupid’s name) were initially conceived as comic strip characters by Rose O'Neill; they first appeared in the December 1909 “Ladies' Home Journal.” She soon began marketing illustrated paper doll versions (Kewpie Kutouts) and attracted the attention of Geo. Borgfeldt & Co. in New York in 1912, which contracted the production of bisque Kewpie dolls and figurines to the J.D. Kestner toy maker in Waltershausen, Germany. (Collectors of to antique dolls distinguish between china dolls, which are made of glazed porcelain, and bisque dolls, made of unglazed porcelain.) The dolls were released in nine different sizes, ranging from 1 to 12 inches in height, and were featured in various poses. Due to their success, by 1914 O'Neill was the highest-paid female illustrator in the US. In slogans and cartoons, she used the characters to promote women's suffrage, but she also licensed them to advertise various product brands, including Jell-O, Colgate, Kellogg's Corn Flakes, and Sears as well as household items and other memorabilia such as dishware, rattles, soap, pepper shakers, coloring books, poetry collections, and stationery. Soon after, more durable Kewpie dolls made of composition material began production in the US. In the mid-1920s, small celluloid versions appeared, which were often given out as prizes at carnivals. In 1949, Effanbee created the first hard plastic versions, and Cameo Co. and Jesco produced soft rubber and vinyl versions in the 1960s and 1990s.


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