As some of you may know, I'm intrigued by constraint. I love poetry and prose that construct some kind of artificial or natural rules (or boundaries) and then play the game. Oulipo is a group of writers and mathematicians (and musicians and artists and on and on) who insist on constraint. Raymond Queneau, one of the founders of the group, defined Oulipians as rats who "build the labyrinth from which they will try to escape." Yes. Beautiful.
This week's piece is one such work. And an excellent example of how such writing can be a worthwhile challenge. Can you tell what the constraint is? Send in your own bounded works (it's so freeing) to email@example.com
South Texas Town Tail
by Don Mathis
I fell in love with Marion, oneof the daughters of Albert and Peggy Mendoza. We were on Welfare for a while but it was like Utopia. We were living on the Cheapside and didn't mind the lack of Dinero. It only Cost a Nickel for Hamon eggs at the Mineral Café so we saved a little bit of Gruene. We enjoyed each other's Comfort in our Sweet Home. She was the real McCoy and we would Smiley and Converse late into the night. I thought our Union would last forever.
Then another Pearson entered the picture. One of her Twin Sisters started coming on to me. Nell left me alone but her Sisterdale was quite the teaser. She kissed me once, she kissed me twice, and she kissed me once Seguin. I prayed to the saints not to succumb to her temptation. I called on San Antonio, San Marcus, Saint Hedwig, and the Lady of Guadalupe. I tried chanting to Buda and even lit a candle for the ghost of Henry B. Gonzales.
But it was useless when Dale removed her Shertz. And when she made like a Kirby vacuum cleaner on my Live Oak, it was Devine. She made my Pipe Creek just Luling around and I started seeing this woman almost Dilley. I kept Luckenbach for Marion but she found a way to Cibilo my excuses to Hunt me down. I had opened the box of Pandora and was heading for the cliff like a Leming.
Marion was Cross but she forgave me. I was so happy, I shouted "Geronimo!" But then I met Natalia – and she showed me her little Poteet. She was heavy but it was a Pleasanton. When we Dunlay together, I thought she would break my Devil's Backbone. Marion suspected I was cheating on her again but I told her I was drinking a Shiner with George West, an old Fischer buddy, at the West Point of the Woodlake. Then Marion's friends Charlotte and Christine told her the truth and all Helena broke out.
I told my Bebe it was Balcones Fault and I wouldn't see her any Moore (and it was Olmos the truth, just a Lytle lie). But Marion didn't believe that Bulverde and stood like a Stonewall. She swore I would Boerne in Helotes like a piece of Charco before we got back together. Then she called me a low-down Kyote and punched me Midway between the eyes.
My lies were Legion and I felt like such a Bastrop. I was lucky Marion didn't kick me with her Bigfoot right in D'Hanis or hit me over the head with a piece of Driftwood or a Concrete block. I felt like Kenedy after Oswald or Nixon after his downfall and my spirits were lower than a Coal Mine. I had lost my Center Point and now had to pay La Coste.
Don Mathis recently served as president of the Texoma Poetry Society, an affiliate of the Poetry Society of Texas in Sherman. And in 2010, 'Dionysus Don' was crowned champion of the McKinney Poetry Slam. Don is very involved in the poetry community in Bexar County. He is a founding member of the San Antonio Poetry Fair and participates regularly with Sun Poets and La Taza writers' group. His poetry has been published in anthologies ("Voices Along the River," "Trinity Review") and periodicals (T.G.I.F., In Search of Fatherhood, Sandyland Chronicle, Voices de la Luna) and has appeared on local TV and national radio.