LETTER TO A STRANGER: WACO, TEXAS
BY TODD HEARON
You were a toothless whore named Cookie. We—that other Todd and I—picked you up one forlorn Texas night, and in some beer-eyed, quixotic, fatally misguided notion of knight-errantry offered to take you home. Cookie, you had no home. And no desire to answer our half-baked questions on “the world’s oldest profession,” nor to lend our cock-eyed poetry a sense of “hard experience.” Nor to be a symbol (“What is a toothless whore named Cookie, standing in puke-green light outside a 7-Eleven, juking to an AM transistor radio, a symbol of, James Joyce?”)—with your bog queen’s face like an exhumed prune straight out of a Heaney poem, and your cracked-up voice between us in the Jeep’s front seats, steering us down and around those moonless country roads into all the places we two could go fuck yo’selves as it dawned on you that what we’d meant by “take home” wasn’t our home but the buck you weren’t making for a double blow of white college boys, and your voice switchbladed Ywheeeeeeee! and damn, Cookie, if you didn’t grab that wheel—
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Todd Hearon's two collections of poems are Strange Land and No Other Gods (2015). His American oratorio "for broken voices," Crows in Eden, appeared this summer in The Kenyon Review. He'd talk friends out of visiting Waco, where he almost died in 1991.