Six Pack
"Laissez les bons temps rouler = Let the good times roll"

That's what my t-shirt says right now. Today was Election Day. It's past midnight and this thing called Six Pack is about done. This is what I wrote yesterday:

Handsome. It's November 4th, 1996, 10:50 PM. I'm listening to a two-record set, double album, Grand Funk Live that Chad Driscoll let me borrow yesterday. I didn't make it to church yesterday, but I did make it to Chad's. In return for the Grand Funk, I loaned him my two-record set, double album, Jerry Jeff Walker's A Man Must Carry On. It's mostly live, too. When we swapped albums, we were talking about this Six Pack chapbook. He said it was "handsome," and I thought that was a damn fine word. Made me think of some other words, like Southern Comfort, Gentle Man, Southern Man (Neil Young nearly always comes into the picture somehow, or Tom Petty). Hand. Some. Gentle. Man. So, Grand Funk's on; I'm on the first night's beer, and here's the somewhat short story version of this long-time-coming project you hold in your hands.

"I'd like to tell you about a song I think explains itself."
—Merle Haggard

This chapbook could easily stand on its own, but, we thought, Damon and I, why not also tell the story of how it came about. Well, that requires some other story telling, but I can do a quick run-down for you as to not take up too much time. There's this magazine called Cotton Gin that I edit & publish from my house in Greensboro, NC; there's this other magazine called Oyster Boy that Damon Sauve edits & publishes in Carrboro, NC. We met up and have been collaborating in small ways for over a year now. Well, when I was getting ready to put out a small collection of poems called Six Pack by Bill Baird, Bob Caldwell and myself after we'd had a reading together in Winston-Salem and realized there was a definite, steady stream of liquor and other fine Southern things (trucks, guns, porches) in all our poetry, I asked Damon to write an outroduction, an epilogue sort of, since I'd asked my singer/songwriter/champion beer-drinker friend Chip McKenzie to write an introduction for the whole thing.

Well, as Damon and I were planning on doing a split issue of Oyster Boy & Cotton Gin, the Six Pack idea sat idle like a devil's plaything. What would we call this joint issue? Oyster Gin/Cotton Boy? Six Pack and a Bottle? Maybe. As Damon got less and less done with the Six Pack outroduction, he began to mention including his friend Chad Driscoll, a mighty fine writer and drinker himself. Somewhere along the line all this collided and fell apart and then back together again. So Chip read the poems and scrawled out a juicy intro; Chad meanwhile moved to Greensboro from New Orleans, never touching these poems but working on his outro all the while.

Well, Damon and I decided it'd be less energy and more fun to do Six Pack as the split issue of Oyster Boy and Cotton Gin, using neither magazine's title, but using work we'd both accepted and common ideas on design and drinking. Two weeks ago from tonight I found myself on the side of I-40 with a flat tire to get this thing started, stopped and done.

Then on Halloween night, 1996, with drinks, masking tape, a Merle Haggard CD, Uncle Tupelo tape, some hardware, software and scissors, we spread a stack of poems and artwork all laid out on the floor of an office we overtook for goodness sake and this handsome thing became half-real. Tomorrow night, my sister's 23rd birthday, Election Day and all, I'll return to Damon's one last time to finish up the dirty work (and the only reason I used that damn cliche is because I thought it was a Foreigner Album title, but that's Dirty White Boy, and that's just a song, not an album, I think).

So here it is: Six Pack. Like Chip McKenzie says, "Kick back."

—Chris Stafford, editor