|Dear Honored Guest,
Presently you will be shown the process by which my people have learned to call a hive a hive, which is to say, a spade a spade. This ravaged hillside-cum-strip mall was once home
to our native possum, mascot of our All-County team, several members of which have gone
on to become great things: One a banker,
one a notable actor of pornographic B-films. This is the road
to the abandoned Tampax factory, along which you may pick up the SuperCombo
of your choice from the pock-faced boy at the drive-through. So what are your thoughts
on the Effort. Do you drink. Do you ever,
like me, harbor cravings to throttle our vast and beleaguered kind. True,
we’ve had no town hall since 1978, but many folks to consult on the matter of your personal salvation. This is the tavern where, before she was called by the church, Mary Ann Doyle swore she’d die over the taps refilling pints on Two-fer-Tuesdays. That’s what she said;
she was “called.”
Me, I’d hold up to light our supernumerary betrayals
like I’d stand up at just anyone’s shotgun wedding. These are the saplings put up
for the downtown revival whose roots refused to take, ditto the séance business
Mrs. Peters ran out of her house—the dead, deployed elsewhere,
preferring to stay dead.
Give me your tired, your bloated,
your dispossessed owners of gun racks and bad teeth, the remorseless genealogy of your old scabrous dreams, the time is close at hand for the uglification of your mortal soul.
Signs in the window: Live Bait. WIC Vouchers Accepted Here.
This is the corner where Reverend Wally Floyd and his buck-toothed congregation
petitioned the clinic going in at the light. Said they were going to burn out all the whores
and abortionists of this world. Here is the parking lot of the Fascination Basin Roller Rink
and Video Arcade where several generations of our Homecoming court have gotten knocked
up or down; this is the disused sugar orchard where the church holds its annual maple-syrup-
on-snow suppers; here are the urinous alleys, doorways,
restroom stalls with no locks for your trysts and adulterous
fumblings above which the all-night Denny’s marquee continues its ceaseless
and revelatory burning. No, we never gave much thought to the manner
in which the soul is joined to the body; we were too busy keeping the toddlers
out of the street. On my epitaph,
I’d like it to say, “Wanted to live forever. Died trying.”
The W. C. is thataway, should you require
a change of clothes. Just follow the signs to the reckoning
from whence all things harken and stir.
CAN’T SLEEP? TRY COUNTING YOUR BLESSINGS
DARTH TATER SAYS, MAY THE FORCE BE WITH Y’ALL
INCLUDES CEREMONY, BRIDAL BOUQUET, AND BOUTINERRE (RICE
WEEKEND PARKING SPECIAL: 24 HOUR IN- AND -OUT PRIVILEDGES
WE BUY UGLY HOUSES
POOR MAN’S BANK PAWN AND GUN SHOP
JESUS IS COMING, AND BOY, IS HE PISSED
SLOPPY SAM’S GENUINE BBQ PIT
YEAH, I’M LAZY, DRUNK, STONED AND IRRESPONSIBLE…BUT I’M NOT BORING!
FOR HE WHO HARMS MY BROTHER, HARMS ME TOO
DEAR JILTED BRIDE,
in one of my former lives, the psychic told me,
I danced the can-can by the name of Yvette.
If you think time’s winged Rent-A-Wreck’s done a hatchet job on my face,
you should see the like s of my immortal soul. Did you know
the octopus is smart, as far as invertebrates go. Using a laptop will nuke your sperm,
a mini-Chernobyl in your pants.
I worked at the local Vet’s before it was raided
for its stock of ketamine. Long
Long ago. Lotta acid rain under the bridge. My first time,
I’d compare to being reamed out with a pickaxe. How’s that
for posterity. What do Christmas trees
and Keith Richards have in common. They both dry out
and leave needles everywhere. Ha-ha. You see,
in my own way, I possess a certain, how do you say,
joie de vivre. When I die, scatter my ashes in the wind
by the Three Sheets Coin-Op. That way,
I’ll be three sheets to the wind. What comes to mind
when I think of love is its likeness to my horse, being they’re both huge, trusting,
and can kill you.
SKAGGS COUNTY, DEPARTMENT OF FAMILY AND SOCIAL SERVICES
Would you believe, the mud of our shores
was once renowned for its curative
powers. Like anyone short
of a nun at a dogfight,
my past contains actual bones. I don’t
type. “Other” is the box I check
from the list of occupations though I once
went door-to-door in the summer of ’85
spreading the gospel of depilation
through my little corner
of the Free world. For Halloween,
I always wanted to go as the Holy Ghost.
I think of the distance from my past lives
to where you find me now as that
of the prairie vole, who mates for life,
from the meadow vole, who does not.
If I won big at the O.T.B. I’d stay
in bed for weeks. Buy up all the pabulum
and jarred plums I could haul.
I don’t smoke. I studied accounting
by correspondence. What I hate
is sleeping in the day: Everything
hazed. I know the Lord Jesus Christ
is my Savior although He’s never
told me so personally.
My girl won’t eat wax beans.
She’s got my eyes. For her
I’d walk barefoot into a snake pit or lie down
with the dead, if they’d have me.
Dear Potential Third Party Candidate,
Let go your dead, your deserted,
the blackened parabolas of your young
airlifted hopes, the face in the smoke-stained mirror
and motel rooms paid for in cash,
all night fisticuffs of the knock-down,
variety, call off your hexes,
pending checks and impending dooms,
remedies for styes, shit luck
and impotence, call off the swaybacked goslings
crossing the penitentiary road
past The Right Stuff Taxidermy
and Memorial Preservation,
let go your poxed and gap-toothed progenitors,
your Monster Trucks and squalls, this here’s
a liquidation sale and Everything Must Go…
TRUE VINE CHURCH OF CHRIST: IT’S A GOD THING
MARY’S CURL-UP AND DYE HOUSE OF BEAUTY AND HAIR DESIGN
ASK ME ABOUT MY ETERNAL SALVATION!
NEXT LEFT, BOY SCOUTS RABIES CLINIC AND BAKE SALE
JESUS LOVES YOU: EVEYRONE ELSE THINKS YOU’RE AN ASSHOLE
VALENTINE’ES DAY SPECIAL: DIVORCES 50% OFF!
FORBIDDEN FRUITS MAKE MANY JAMS
STRAIGHT AHEAD, NRA MEETING AND PRAYER BREAKFAST
LAST SUPPER CAFE: I’MMA KEEP A PLATE WARM FOR YA JESUS ON THE STOVE
DEAR EMANCIPATED MINOR,
I will not attempt to sway you herein
from your big rancorous dreams of working
the Hooter’s off the interstate or the BK
two towns over any more than I’d turn
myself in or jump in the sack with a True Believer.
Enter botched dye jobs,
the unrepentant fuselage of your
small-town romance, the years bought on
layaway from that Rent-A-Center in the sky.
Like many of you, I’m waiting for the day
when monkeys fly out of my butt but until then, let it be said
that I’ve made the slagheap my own.
When I’m gone, batten your hatches and pat
your nearest and dearest down. Accept this gift of my
exoneration and remorse.
DEAR AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL GHOST WRITER,
The short version is thus because these words
won’t pay themselves, the past a hoarded spoil
akin to a promise ring kept in a Skoal tin.
I learned to cook exclusively from the back
of Kraft boxes, my life one long extended
stag trip to the prom. There are worse things,
I know--I never could keep the beat.
Someone has yet to accuse my father of stealing
the stars from the skies and putting them
in my eyes. Craziest way to go: Hypnotremia, actual
death by water. Myself, I’ll wind up alone in a bungalow
at the edge of the sinkhole bemoaning the extinction
of the spiral perm.
I don’t want for much—just someone
to talk at, keep warm, ask me
how I like my eggs.
For if you follow me, my brethren, and let my eyes be as yours all will henceforth
be revealed: your extortionary lust and places they never say “cuisine”: Car parts
in the river, hypergraphia (foams at the mouth) the burned-out carcass of the waste-management plant: winters with actual teeth: the old sugar orchard due west of the mill with its carpet of blunts, used condoms and six-pack rings: places they’ve still got rotary phones: our famous Old Home Day Parade with its line of antique cars and preschoolers toting posters of disembodied fetal limbs: fiery, ineluctable: auguries of wood smoke, auguries of cloud: snow chains next five miles: Imma come for you some sad day.
Dear Beloved Amnesiac,
I have nothing new to say about the lilies, rain, God’s
Ambidextrous hand, the unremitting spooge parade of our
Blessed procreation, being familiar with love and cruelty as you are
With the care and feeding of your well-coiffed aspirations beyond
The evisceration plant. Sometimes I can glean
The mummified corpse of what I’d call my formative years,
Somewhere between the death of the push-mower and the advent
Of the touch-tone phone. I mean to sally forth
Toward the damp and unalloyed muzzle of the very ends of things,
The all-abiding hinterlands of our collective desolation where the Almighty
Appears at the checkout a used-up woman with visible roots. My soul on furlough
From the Afterlife or slumming it in purgatory, or does it fall
Away from the body like skin from a rotted peach. When I think of Eternity,
I get a case of the heebie-jeebies. I know love’s both a many-fractured thing
And a man in a cut-rate suit. In the next life, I’ll be first in line
To that freeway in the sky, gripping the raised and souped-up handlebars
Of the neighbor’s custom Hog. Wait for me there between the dirt
And the night sky’s painted-on face. I’ll be the one in the crown of thorns,
robyn art's work has appeared in Conduit, Slope, The Hat, The New Delta Review, Gulf Coast, La Petite Zine, Segue, Tarpaulin Sky, and canwehaveourballback.com. She has received four nominations for the Pushcart Prize and was a Finalist for the award in 2003. She is the author of the chapbooks Degrees of Being There (Boneworld Press 2003) and No Longer A Blonde (forthcoming from Boneworld Press in 2005.) Her full-length poetry manuscript, The Stunt Double In Winter, was recently selected as a Finalist for the Sawtooth Poetry Prize and the Kore Press First Book Award.