In Memory of Brother Dave Gardner

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In Memory of Brother Dave Gardner

by Henry Taylor
Southern Cultures, Vol. 8, No. 3: Fall 2002

". . . if you wasn't already prepared to stop, beloved, you shouldn't ahve started."

But you know, friends-
blessed children of the all-encompassing spirituality-
good advice is where you find it. Yes!
I remember one time down in North Carolina-
well, it can’t be helped, that’s where I was-
standin on the edge of a sidewalk
lookin along that striped place,
peedestrian crossin, watchin for
that little round-headed dude up yonder
to turn from red to white-you know
he’d spent his life waitin to do that.
Course, them cats don’t live
morn about forty-five seconds!
Anyhow, I turned to the lamppost
next to me, and there, about
shoulder height, I seen this little
bitty sign, said walk with light.
There you go, beloved. Try that awhile
and see if you don’t feel better.

You know these places where the road
narrows down, and they have it all torn up,
with barriers and cones and what-all
along the way, and fellows
leanin on shovels, lookin at you?
Down at the end, there’s a sign
that says end construction, and yes!
They ought to do that. Well,
it’s a way of thinkin.
And at the start of pretty near
every one of these torn-up stretches,
they will have a big orange sign
that says be prepared to stop.
Now, that is weird. I mean,
if you wasn’t already prepared to stop,
beloved, you shouldn’t have started.

Did you ever
find yourself in a restroom
in a strange building—I mean,
one you never been in before—
and you’re standin there,
partakin of blessed relief
at the—
well, at the urinal—
and have the thought cross your mind
God I hope this aint the ladies room?
Aint that weird?
I mean, they don’t have
urinals in ladies’ rooms, friends,
but at such moments, reason slumbers.

The world is full, these days,
of motivational speakers.
People, you know, who’ll tell you
how to make a whole lot of money,
soon as you give them some first.
These folks like to say
Aint nothin impossible.
They do. They will lay that on you,
so you’ll go out and try anything.
All right, then, here you go:
At the intermission,
you go out front of this theater
and stand under the marquee there,
and when you see a feller wearin a hairpiece,
you contrive a compliment upon it
that he’ll be glad to hear.

Now, here’s a weird thing.
Remember back a year or so
when Senator Dole come on the tv
and talked about impertence?
Yeah! Like it was a fit topic!
Cocked that old bad shoulder,
looked out just as serious,
said “I want to talk to you
about erectile dysfunction
or E. D.”
I don’t know
how many of you all’s as weird
as I am, but when I heard that
I thought to myself, “E. D. Hm.
That stands for Elizabeth Dole.”
Bless her heart.
She’s gettin ready to run for the Senate
down here in North Carolina.
Got herself some extraordinary shoes to fill.
Old Jesse said he didn’t have the health for it no more.
He’ll still surprise you, though.
Other day an aide walked in on him
and he was up on his tippy-toes
twirlin around like a little old ballerina!
Aide said, “You okay, boss?
What’re you doin?”
Said “I’m practicin for turnin over in my grave.”

You can hear it said I’m a racist.
I don’t want to get into that
with you now, friends,
I don’t mind tellin you.
But I will tell you about a realm
right here in the human sphere
where the races are flat equal,
and I’m not takin no cheap route like death, neither.
White, black, red, yellow, brown,
they’re all the same
when you get out on the highway
and you see a just less than midsize car
with the driver’s head about five inches
higher than the steerin wheel
and wearin a baseball cap. I don’t care
what color they are, friends,
them little dudes’ll hurt you.
I was drivin down an old two-lane highway,
had a solid stripe down the middle,
and one of them people blasted up behind me,
got about two inches off my rear bumper
and stayed right there
till I pulled over and let him on by.
“Go with God!” I thought to him-
well, he was gone, I couldn’t
talk to him, so I thought to him,
“I was born with one asshole behind me!”
That’s right! I haven’t needed none other one!