Poor William’s Mind is a Terrible Thing to Follow


Poor William’s Mind

is a

Terrible Thing to Follow


Poor William and Magical Madge riding down the highway in the Mississippi Delta. Photo by Chuck Lamb

Poor William and Magical Madge riding down the highway in the Mississippi Delta. Photo by Chuck Lamb

Poor William’s Mind is a Terrible Thing to Follow:

Part of the problem with being Poor William is that he seriously lacks focus. He begins with incredible focus, but is easily distracted down little known and seldom valued “bunny trails.” In fact, this opening sentence popped into his head somewhere well into the depth of this column.

The most common buzzword for one of Poor William’s most demonstrative ailments is ADHD. As many have found out later in life, more than a few of us were likely not diagnosed as children and the consequences have hung around like barnacles on a pirate ship.

However, I ain’t so sure that is all that ails him. He is entirely too visceral and effected by most everything; it ain’t easy being Poor William, just ask his family.

I Want to Go Home! Where do I go?

This title was actually somewhat the genesis for this article. I thought this was what I would write about–feelings, love, loss, bad times and good times, the need to be rooted finally back with the “one who brung ya”–my birthplace–a physical and emotional locality grounded in reality past, but anticipative of a familiar reality present, and with the hope of a future not void of grounding goodness.

I listened to a song with the above titled lyrics tonight on Pandora Radio, in the dark, in a hot-ass bathtub big enough to be a hot tub, after working out complete with an endorphin rush, smelling scented Epson salt intended to mitigate the soreness, and sipping on a light post-teen beverage. Well, as post-teen as a beverage anywhere else could be but Nola and ClarksVegas. They start well into their teens as a rule, though “their mommas never wanted them to grow up to be cowboys.”

Poor William has had a bit of a blue week–the usual suspects–finances, missing my kids, not enough time to complete the uncompleted, recognizing cogently my limitations and frail humanity–opportunities lost or never seized.

DIGRESSION: I am amazed at the importance of grammatical placement. The first sentence in the above paragraph would have a completely different meaning if no words were changed but one comma was moved to the right two words. If the comma after “kids” was moved after “time,” it would appear that I did not miss my kids enough and that I did, in fact, have time to complete the uncompleted; neither remotely true. Grammar matters ladies and gentlemen, and not just in Mrs. Oakman’s English and Latin classrooms.

Jack Johnson is the Voice of an Era for Poor William

Jack Johnson, not the famous Delta blues man Big Jack Johnson who died last week, but the one who embodies a laidback acoustical marriage of Cali surfer and Colorado boarder is now playing on Pandora. Jack Johnson (both his first and last name are always said together) was the most listened to musical artist that Poor William and his oldest daughter Galilee listened to while they lived in Eagle, Colorado, four years ago.

Every morning on the way to work–Gypsum Creek Middle School, where Poor William taught and his daughter was in the 8th grade–riding most often in thick snow and blistering cold, Jack Johnson’s latest album was listened to for the duration of a 15-minute ride from 7,200 feet above Eagle, Colorado down into the relative valley where Gypsum Creek was nestled beneath the Rocky Mountains.

Poor William, having quite smoking cigarettes not long before after having had a 19-year hiatus from the damn things, would smoke clove cigarettes (yes, they were legal) pretending not to inhale for precious daughter’s sake. Just as a certain song or a glint of the sun on a rare Delta snow, the smell of a clove cigarette can drum up memories both pleasant and painful, due to past concentrated loneliness.

The Rambling Wreck From WhatTheHellTech

I tried to explain to my most excellent wife tonight why I don’t stay in touch with people from my past. I can’t! It is too painful. It takes too much out of me to be in so many places at one time, at least figuratively.

I remember as a kid going to Camp Alpine for a month every summer. It was located in Mentone, Alabama. When it was time to leave the camp, I would fight back tears when saying goodbye to counselors who had meant a lot to me or to other campers I would not see for a year, if ever again.

I don’t think it was just my knowing I would miss them and the experiences wrought at camp, but mostly due to my not being able to be in two places at once. It was too painful to not be able to be at camp and back home at the same time. It just plain messed with my head to move on; there were just too many options and places in life, and if one was being enjoyed then the other one wasn’t. Weird huh?

Poor William has lived in 10 states, one foreign country, and many cities within those states on several occasions. He undoubtedly is peripatetic. He has loved many things about all the places he has lived and has always been fortunate and blessed enough to have great friends, who made life better than palatable.

However, the same visceral separation anxiety he suffered when leaving camp has morphed over the years into an inability to stay in touch with people who have meant so much to him. It is a serious character flaw, similar to the ostrich sticking his big, old head in the sand.

Fat and Depressed Ain’t No Way to Go Through Life, If You Can Help it

Poor William has been back in the gym for the last two months, eats very healthy now, and has been drinking up to two gallons of Kangen, low-acid high-alkaline water daily. He had gained over 60 pounds since his mountain biking days in New Mexico. He knew he needed to do something about it; it depressed him, limited him, and kept him feeling poorly most of the time. But, it couldn’t be rectified until it could be rectified.

He had some good friends in New Mexico who used to hold him accountable to be in the gym early every morning, etc., but it was more of a coercive accountability, which will never last. Poor William has always been able to “be disciplined,” but the self-discipline has always been a bit of a problem. However, without self-discipline, real change in any area of our lives is likely not going to occur.

I don’t know shit, but I know some shit

Now, where did this thought and title come from? Poor William was laughing internally at his giving dieting and healthy-living advice in the above paragraphs. Irony never fails to amuse. And, I thought, “I don’t know shit, but I do know some shit.” Not knowing shit implies a self-deprecating humility, while knowing shit recognizes that our limited knowledge and experience in a given area is not without value. Make sense?

Two Cold Days in Hell

During the above-mentioned fugue session, Poor William thought back four years ago when he and his daughter, Galilee, were living in Eagle, Colorado. Galilee had flown to Arizona during Thanksgiving to spend time with her mom and siblings. Poor William didn’t want to be alone during Thanksgiving, so he hoped on his motorcycle (yes it was late November in Colorado) and rode through some of the coldest weather one could imagine–over 425 miles one way to Salt Lake City, Utah. He went to spend some time with old friends from New Mexico.

He was flat-busted and barely had enough money to buy gas to get there and back, and was so cold in the Utah Mountains at night he could barely grip the brakes or clutch when screaming at 80-100 miles per hour in sub-zero weather. The waterfalls near Price, Utah were frozen solid. The weekend after Thanksgiving saw the Poor One riding back to Colorado, where he ran out of gas as he coasted into a gas station in Green River, Utah, smack dab in the middle of no-damn-where. He likes cold, but that was ridiculous.

Memories of depression past also resurrected thoughts of another motorcycle journey embarked on during Easter, 2007, just four months after the last adventure. He was riding his motorcycle from the west side of the Rocky Mountains all the way to Clarksdale, Mississippi, where he was going to leave his bike and fly back for the last two months of school, prior to moving back home.

Poor William broke down in an all out blizzard in Eastern Colorado and Western Kansas on Easter Sunday, April 9, once again flat-ass broke. He didn’t even have enough money to get to Mississippi; I reckon he figured something would come up in Oklahoma or Arkansas on his way there–poor figuring. After having his motorcycle towed back to Denver, he figured he was just glad to be alive.


All of the above mental meanderings help Poor William realize: He is a bit strange, doesn’t fit in anybody’s box, loves the cold–but not in the extremes, has a hard time staying focused on anything for long, and surely prays that his friends from his past lives will forgive him for not staying in touch. He has much past, present, and future to be thankful for, including healthy kids, a loving family, great friends, and a wife who is OFF-THE CHAIN! That means she is AWESOME!



Share and Enjoy !

Friends of the Delta Bohemian®


  1. Sue Bell says:

    YEP! and AMEN!

  2. Sue Bell says:

    While I have your (short) attention, I have been trying to get in touch with you. Please email or message me.

  3. Dude, you are a paid-by-the-hour psychotherapist’s wet dream.

  4. Chill- P.W. When you lose siblings, as I have, you realize it is time to slowdown and not take all this resume building shit too seriously. You good to go Dude! Nutin wrong wit you dat the rest of us Delta Boys don’t have. I did not believe in this ADDD/ADHD Crap either until my son, Austin, was diagnosed. This condition is for real no doubt. Our Dad’s and their Dad’s before them prescribed a “Good Ass Whippin” as the cure for all such illness’s. We have come a long way. Do you recall Anyone we attended school with diagnosed with these defiencies? Hell No!

    Love Ya!

  5. William, William, William.

    Man, I thinks you gots da blues. I think the sho nuff blues and some twangy country music will help get you to the next hilltop. And some home cookin if you know what I mean.

    All of us bordering on manic depression at least have the mania to look forward to. I know folks who never get up and never get down- some people call that stable, but I say that’s what computers are for!

    Well, let me know what ditch you’re sitting in so I can crawl out of mine and bring you a beer.

    SchlepRock Hudson

  6. I agree with your analysis LilJohn. Do you think just One Cold-One would do it? Maybe as a J&B chaser!

  7. William Prentiss,

    Always be yourself because the people that matter don’t mind, and the one’s who mind, don’t matter.

    Today is Brother’s Day and My Brother, You My Brother Too: Be the kind of man that when your feet hit the floor each morning the Devil says “Oh Shit, He’s Up!”Brother, life is too short to wake up with regrets. So love the people who treat you right. Forgive the ones who don’t.Just because you can.Believe everything happens for a reason.If you happen to get a second chance,grab it with both hands.If it changes your life, let it.Take a few moments to act when you are mad.Forgive quickly. God ‘Never” said life would be easy.He just promised it would be worth it.

    Happy Brothers Day, My Brother! Love Ya brother. We all need to tell our brother’s this today. “Kin or Not Kin”.

    Last but Not least: To the cool men that have touched my life (You know who you are), Here’s to you!!! A ‘REAL’ Brother walks with you when the rest of the world , walks “ON” you.

  8. Lord Chuck says:

    Don’t worry PW. You can always get psychotherapy for free. We don’t always keep in touch with our old friends, but it does not mean we love them any less. I remember an old saying. Still waters run deep. Many of us seem quite shallow, but I believe it is our internal turmoil that keeps us Bohemian.

    • Dude, as always you write some deep shit, and in PW’s estimation, shit does not get as fine as it does when you write it! Kudos! Miss yo ass! Got to get back to NM/TX soon! Our ole ladies need to meet! 🙂

  9. Lord Chuck says:

    Good point. I bet they would get along great. Maybe we can come take a look see at the Delta someday. My wife is originally from New Orleans or norlens as she says. My sole could use some good vodka and smooth blues.

Speak Your Mind