The Books of Hazard

By John F. Buckley and Martin Ott

Up in the hills, from the Jackson Purchase to the Cumberland

Plateau, bluegrass is pulped in the pagemaking stills. Our geeky

heroes Mo and Duke dodge school librarians and storefront-church

revenooers, slinging boxes of censored young-adult novels

and salacious literary classics to readeasies across Kentucky.

Their 'Vette (an orange Chevette) is bedazzled with Imprimatur

as a racing stripe across the side and a jaunty III on the door.

Their moonlight deliveries keep them a step ahead of Smokeys,

Amazonian private-security forces who ignite chemical-laden

cigarettes with copies of Bonfire of the Vanities and curse

as the boys burn asphalt and their ancient clutch, small-press

chapbooks by obscure Appalachian writers fluttering behind them.

They got plenty of teens drunk that summer on high-octane

novellas mixed with lemonade tankas, on ten-speed epics

about the burning unspoken love between a badger and his bike,

smooth enough for sipping but with spicy gunpowder stanzas

that kicked like mules with MFAs in hearty-partying heroism.

Even Mo and Duke dipped into their wares, racing chestnut

mares while reading meaty monographs on Sasquatch evolution.

Their own legend grew upon their disappearance, some assume

to grow goatees and scribe illicit prose poems in indelible ink

between the bare shoulder blades of Lady Wildcats. Others believe

that they buried their bookmobile in a deserted coal shaft, trunk

now stuffed with sacrificial canaries. Or else they squinted twice,

guffawed in their boots, and winked out in shafts of moonshine,

far too smart to read the signs of pirate ways lost, still too young

to know they would never top each glass-jawed jug upon the porch.


Raised in Michigan but now living in Southern California, John F. Buckley and Martin Ott began their ongoing games of poetic volleyball in the spring of 2009. Poetry from their collaboration Poets' Guide to America has been accepted by more than thirty publications, including Arroyo Literary Review, Confrontation, Evergreen Review, Homestead Review, The William and Mary Review, and ZYZZYVA.

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