Two Poems

by William Ogden Haynes

The Pink Pony Pub

 The Pink Pony Pub has been in Gulf Shores, Alabama since 1956
 and in 2016 will celebrate its sixtieth year of operation.

We bought straw cowboy hats at a western store in Foley,
Alabama in the summer of 1977 on our way to Gulf Shores.
Back then, Gulf Shores was a little town that closed up like a clam
in the winter and was a blossoming flower in the spring.
We checked into a cheap motel, the kind that has
corroded plumbing and wall to wall rugs
that are two parts carpet and one part sand.
After changing into our beach clothes we
set up shop at the Pink Pony Pub.
Jimmy Buffett and the Beach Boys sang through the
outdoor speakers while we drank beer all day with burgers,
fries and fresh oysters, sitting out on the deck
in our new hats like we owned the place.
In between libations we walked across the hot sugar sand
to swim in the warm, clear water of the Gulf of Mexico.
Nobody cared that we were in swimsuits, if we got sunburned,
how long we stayed or how much we swam, ate or drank.

That was about thirty years before Katrina and Deepwater Horizon.
It was before the topless bars, miniature golf, water
slides and fast-food franchises moved in.
Before the glut of condos that now block the
view of the beach all the way along highway 182.
We went to Gulf Shores for the final time about fifteen years ago
and stayed on the twentieth floor of a condo, which was like
going to the beach without actually being there.
As always, we stopped by the Pink Pony, but it seemed
somehow smaller and sadder, through no fault of its own.
It was dwarfed by adjacent chain hotels and condominiums.
It was squeezed by shops selling shark teeth, coffee mugs,
beach art, t-shirts, pirate shot glasses, sea shells and water toys.
And that was the day we only had one pitcher of draft beer at the
Pink Pony and vowed never again to return to Gulf Shores.

Going South

            To deteriorate or decline, as in the stock market is headed south again. 
            Among some Native Americans, the term was a euphemism for dying.

Why is it that people associate going South
with deterioration and decline?
Geography has nothing to do with
ebbing, fading and going to pot.
I moved down to Alabama from the Midwest
some forty years ago to start my career
and family, not because I had a death wish.

But lately I must admit, that since
I went south everything does seem
to have deteriorated.
That includes my old truck,
my body, my ability to remember
things and my dwindling circle of friends.
My parents and in-laws died after I
moved down here and I’ve lost more
pets than I care to think about.

I’m sitting on the deck sipping
a beer, watching the sun set through
a high curtain of southern pines.
And then I think about that untenable
geographic theory of going South.
Wouldn’t it be interesting if I merged onto
I-65 in Montgomery and headed north,
my hair beginning to turn brown again in
Tennessee, the wrinkles in my face ironing
out as I passed through Kentucky and by
the time I hit Indiana I would once again
have the physique of a twenty year old.
But then I smile, because even if it were true,
I really don’t think I’d make the trip.

WILLIAM OGDEN HAYNES is a poet and author of short fiction from Alabama who was born in Michigan and grew up a military brat.  He has published three collections of poetry, Points of Interest,  Uncommon Pursuits and Carvings, all available on  Over a hundred of his poems and short stories have appeared in literary journals and his work is frequently anthologized.


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Belle Rêve Literary Journal is a southern literary experience. Our mission is to capture everything that makes the South and its residents unique through the best contemporary literature we can find. We publish new works weekly.