I am today very much eager to write of my MFA ex-
perience. I was not before, as I had no idea that the
subject was of a nature that required defense against
slaught, if it be on or off.
All discussion aimed now at the MFA endeavor seems
to rest on attack and defend, even in those cases where
the attacker is moderate and effacing self; and in those
cases where the defender’s shield has been designed to
deflect more than structured to take strikes full, head on.
I take a position 'between' the attacker and the defender
of MFA poetry programs-- as the unknown maid who
was forced to lie naked between Maximilian and his new
bride, Mary of Burgundy, on their wedding night-- and
for many nights after--- ostensibly the girl was placed
there to inflame the bride, who hitherto had for years
bravely defended her virginity and was well known from
border to border, throughout the land, for being quite
frozen along the loin.
To carry my analogy full to heavy fruit, I may want to
impress upon my readers my supposition that Mary of
Burgundy’s defensive posture, at the facing of manly
Maximilian down upon her body, and 'across' the ful-
some and terrified servant girl, surely must have thawed
and loosed her passions so that she took the groom
full, head on-- once he had bounded over the squeal-
ing impediment between.
And Max himself, considering Mary’s change of heart,
must have moderated his savage attack upon the body
of his bride-- perhaps a kind of tenderness rarely seen
in central Europe.
Students in heraldry will recall Maximilian’s blazoned
motto embroidered on his dressing gowns-- I translate
Latin into English-
"Over the Between."
So this unknown girl, perhaps a farmer’s daughter, has
pulled a gunny sack full of rotten catfish back and forth
along the path I began to walk-- to discuss my median
position regarding MFA programs and my experience
with them. Without knowing directly that I have, I have
followed this girl and her gunny sack; and doing so, I
have drifted into talk about Royal marriage at the end
of the Middle Ages, mottos on gowns, and talk about
a poor girl who found herself playing the role of Aphro-
disia as a warm flesh and blood New England bund-
I started this discussion as a comment on MFA poetry
programs. How odd that I am so easily drawn off-track.
So drawn away that I have lost all interest in what I
would have said about my MFA experience ---
that must be the value I place on its discussion.
It is a matter of embarrassment that I will not load this ac-
count with many details— only those necessary few.
I was chosen to take the Oath of Guerkier after I had flown
my F-86 down into the Black Canyon of the Gunnison to the
qualifying, initiating depth of 75 feet, as measured from a
yellow ribbon tied to a boulder lodged at the edge of the
steep’s north side. I was the thirteenth pilot out of class 68-K
to try the stunt-- eleven survived it.
Melville Guerinker didn’t.
Guerinker was my roommate at Bainbridge Air Base in Bain-
bridge, Georgia that year of ‘67, and it was in his honor the
ceremony and oath taking was held to recognize a fool’s ex-
treme test of his own hardiness, bravery, dash, and every man’s
propensity to make, at least once in his lifetime, a significant,
definitive mistake— in Guernkier’s case, a fatal one.
On what seemed to others an ordinary evening, just last Sun-
day on the putting green just outside the officer’s club at Lack-
land Air Force Base, I raised my hand before the twelve extant
Guernkiers and began my recitation of the words that would put
me into select company, in word as in deed.
I would take the Guerinker Oath.
At the eighth word, my tongue slipped and I said, "pussy" for
"purity" and, at once, by the falling of Colonel’s Goings’ arm,
the oath was rendered null — the Oath of Guernkier being a
sacred, formal thing—a sacred thing sullied by the word "pussy."
One by one, my fellow pilots backed away, turned and headed
toward the entrance to the Pilot’s bar, shaking their heads. Cap-
tain Goss said, "Imagine the idiot saying ‘pussy’ for ‘purity.’ "
That’s why I sit this New Year’s Eve, alone, in the shadowy smoke
of the Loser’s Lounge, back of the poker room in the Riverside
Casino, Laughlin, Nevada. I look around and on the walls I see
photographs and drawings -- photographs and drawings--- yes
photographs and drawings of ‘losers’ -- losers, losers, like me.
Adlai Stevenson and Thomas Dewey, Hubert Humphrey, Dan
Qualye, teary Muskie. Prime Minister Chamberlain, Bismark in
a steel pointy helmet. Hitler is up there on the porch of a chalet
petting a dog, Himmler, Mussolini hanging upside down, Jayne
Mansfield right side out sitting on a ‘56 Chevy convertible with
There’s bow-legged Bill Buckner and Micky Owen, a team pic-
ture of the Chicago Cubs, loser Judge Ito with Marcia Clark,
Falstaff, the Shropshire lad, Charles I and Puritan Oliver Crom-
well, Henry VI, and the Hunchback of Notre Dame (as played by
Dr Frankenstein is there by the men’s head and the melting,
wicked witch of Oz set in a blue steel picture frame hung by
the entrance to the women’s toilet. Tons of losers. Some of
the losers I recognize by name but can’t recall their faces;
some I know by faces but not names; some I know neither by
names nor faces-- but they are up there, framed on the walls
of the Loser’s Lounge yards west of the Colorado River.
They’re hanging there for a reason— they’re losers.
Losers, like me.
I expect one of those girl photographers to come around and
ask to take my picture. I belong up there-- on the walls with
the other losers.. One tongue-slipped word— one, word, but
enough for disqualification, enough to make me a loser.
I knew the Geuernkier rules.
"I see you are looking at the photographs and drawings .. so
intent. Are you a loser?" I hear a girl’s voice and turn to see a
girl I judge to be nearing a ripe twenty-two years of age—
maybe a riper 23. She pulls out a varnished cherry wood chair
and sits down. She’s got two long-necked Michelobs between
the fingers of her right hand and on a leather thong around her
neck a newsman’s camera with large flash pan and bulb—
one step techno-better than one of those old Brownies.
"I was thinking, just as you asked if I was a loser—yes, I be-
long on those walls, in a nice 9 X 12 glossy."
"I’m Veruska.. We’re all losers here. It’s New Year’s Eve, 1999,
and we’re losing more all the time. It’s the Second Law ..."
"of ... thermodynamics," Veruska blurted out. It’s one big melt-
down. Sooner or later it’s got us all. See that woman over
there? She looks old, doesn’t she? But she was Miss Neva-
da in 1992 and modeled underwear for several Playboy
"The hell! You’re kidding. That old woman?"
"God’s truth. That’s Marsha Mitty. Say, do you want your picture
taken for the wall? Boss says I can hang one more this year.
We have about 45 minutes until midnight. I’ll develop, hang it
over the doorway to the storage room in a nice metal frame,
right next to Spiro Agnew— maybe a 5 by 7."
She shifted her ass on the chair and her tits bounced. "But,
maybe you’re not a loser."
"I’m a loser, alright. Go ahead, take it. I’m staying for the mid-
night Lingerie Show—I hear there’s open bidding for worn
garments. I'd like to take back to the room with me a pair of
used, perhaps soiled panties. But I"ll probably lose the bid-
ding -- I'm a loser"
I looked over toward the old woman sucking on the top of
Michelob Light. I sit up, tilted my head slightly to the rightand
waited for the flash of the camera.
"What a nice pose. I’ll be back in a few minutes. I’ll leave these
beers. That’ll be $28.50— and $125 for the photo, $30 for the
I licked my lips, cleared my throat, swallowed, took a breath …and.
I whispered to myself— the word, you pussy, was ‘purity.’
When the girl came back with the photograph in a nice black steel
frame with wires attached for hanging, I said, "Do you know ‘Mich-
elob’ in the Mohawk language means "Hiawatha? "
But she was busy hanging my photograph on the wall to my right,
above a photograph of Richard Nixon saying goodby at the door-
way of Air Force One.
Copyright © 2009 Don Taylor
From a fishing camp in Canada to a doctorate in English (Drake University) 1976, to owner of a construction business to retirement -- to Tryst, complete with all the common family blessing and some uncommon.ones. Remember -- my need for love is enormous.