Nov. 7, 2001

Rubaiyat For Sue Ella Tucker

by Miller Williams

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Poem: "Rubaiyat for Sue Ella Tucker," by Miller Williams from Some Jazz Awhile (University of Illinois Press).

Rubaiyat For Sue Ella Tucker

Sue Ella Tucker was barely in her teens.
She often minded her mother. She didn't know beans
About what boys can do. She laughed like air.
Already the word was crawling up her jeans.

Haskell Trahan took her for a ride
Upon his motorbike. The countryside
Was wet and beautiful and so were they.
He didn't think she'd let him but he tried.

They rode along the levee where they hid
To kiss a little while and then he slid
His hand inside her panties. Lord lord.
She didn't mean to let him but she did.

And then she thought that she would go to hell
For having let befall her what befell,
More for having thought it rather nice.
And she was sure that everyone could tell.

Sunday morning sitting in the pew
She prayed to know whatever she should do
If Haskell Trahan who she figured would
Should take her out again and ask her to.

For though she meant to do as she was told
His hands were warmer than the pew was cold
And she was mindful of him who construed
A new communion sweeter than the old.

Then sure enough, no matter she would try
To turn her head away and start to cry,
He had four times before the week was out
All of her clothes and all his too awry.

By then she'd come to see how she had learned
As women will a lesson often earned:
Sweet leads to sweeter. As a matter of fact,
By then she was not overly concerned.

Then in fullness of time it came to be
That she was full of child and Haskell he
Was not to be found. She took herself away
To Kansas City, Kansas. Fiddle-de-dee.

Fiddle-de-dee, she said. So this is what
My mother meant. So this is what I got
For all my love and whispers. Even now
He's lying on the levee, like as not.

She had the baby and then she went to the place
She heard he might be at. She had the grace
To whisper who she was before she blew
The satisfied expression from his face.

The baby's name was Trahan. He learned to tell
How sad his daddy's death was. She cast a spell
Telling how it happened. She left out
A large part of the story but told it well.

It's the birthday of playwright and novelist Albert Camus, born in Mondovi, Algeria (1913). Born into extreme poverty, Camus won a scholarship to the local high school in 1923, where he became interested in sports and literature and later went on the University of Algiers to study philosophy. His first two collections of essays were published in 1937 and 1938. The Wrong Side and the Right Side described the physical settings of his life in poverty, and Nuptials focused on the beauty of the Algerian countryside. Camus went to France during WWII and became editor of Combat, a left-wing periodical. His most famous novel, The Stranger (1942), was based upon the view that human life is rendered meaningless by the fact of death, and that a human being cannot make rational sense of his experience. In 1957 Camus received the Nobel Prize for Literature. Three years later he was killed in an automobile accident. Albert Camus, who said, "All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning. Great works are often born on a street corner or in a restaurant's revolving door."

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