Vol. VIII, No. 3, 1995


Coonhounds

by Roland Sodowski



When toes ached despite our panting up

and stumbling down countless banks and draws,

chapped faces brush-stung on a moonless night,

we huddled at a fire near the pond,

and the men, their dogs' lean courage their own,

rolled cigarettes and groaned like heroes,

"That's old Dan; he's on it now"; "Dang Rowdy's

lost again"; "Now Bess's honoring Dan,"

while we boys yearned toward the heat

in the orange coals, dreamed of mounded quilts,

and wished the dogs would tree or die or be

struck dumb, sure once more it wasn't the night

they would bay manhood for us up the fork

of some gray and naked sycamore.

"Dopey" Ozark Champion, 1946. Courtesy of the Hob Nob Cafe, Hollister, Mo.
Roland Sodowsky is best known for his prose fiction. One of his books, Undue West, a chapter of which was published in New Yorker magazine, could well be the best and funniest antidote ever concocted to counteract Hollywood versions of the American West. "Coonhounds," part of a series poem titled "Nicholsen's Pond," measures a boy's reluctant departure from childhood against the brave ceremony of adulthood.

[17]


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