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Little Boy - For Ocoee: A Poem

Little Boy - For Ocoee: A Poem

Watts Bar Nuclear Plant. By TVA Web Team via Wikimedia Commons.

I woke up last Friday to find a poem in my inbox. It came from Casey LaFrance, who was raised in North Georgia and now teaches in Illinois. On a recent drive, he passed the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant, and something about the sight of the facility's massive cooling towers lit up his brain.

"Saw the reactors and thought of Oak Ridge in WWII," he told me, "And then little boy...and then..."

And then the words came tumbling out. Casey actually pulled over on the side of I-24 to pen this powerhouse of a poem—proof that inspiration can strike anywhere.

Little Boy - For Ocoee

by Casey LaFrance

The bridge over Watts Bar
Reminded me of the
You reigned down
And that little boy’s
Sonogram. I wanted
him to listen to the
Dragging screech of fiddles
And watch the mountain tops
Hug the Cumberland Gap.
I wanted to show him how
Poor kids play baseball
With sticks and gravel chunks
Left from some mining disaster.
I wanted momma on her lithium
And not the Tinder Pharmacist’s
Seedy cocktail. And I wanted
A family. And I wanted a home.
And I wanted to push a buggy
And buy too many toys.
Diane Fischer told us turpentine and
Sugar water would suffice,
You chose to take the vacuum
And let him listen to me pray
And play Allison Krauss,
Baby Mine,
On the drive to Fayetteville.
Only other time I heard of
That part of North Carolina
Is when the Iron Sheik
Got popped for dope.
Hell ain’t so much a place
As a feeling.
But, God himself knows the power
Of the blood and creek water
And momma’s cornbread
Dressing. And he sent me to see
Her to shake off this shiner.
It hit harder than the lean boy
Behind the Waffle House and
Faster than the dam letting out.
Sarah was beside me, at least
On the phone . Blair
Dahlonega or Coy,
I thought for sure it was a boy,
Watched daddy reconstruct
Find beauty again,
Revisit old friends. Jane and Stephen
Never changed. Lona is a lion. And by-god
Amy Daniel told me to wash my face,
Catch trout, and get my ass back