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.