came and trouble
brought greasy, ungenerous things:
poke root and bladderwrack,
chalklines in bloody bedrooms
smelling of acetylene.
Trouble came and trouble sang
for I alone will break your bones
as it bedded down for winter
in a small small town,
of cabbage and tripe
where eight black chickens
wandered the street.
trouble came clouds
agitating the cows, their thick
ruminant bodies clogging up
and sang and fish turned belly-up,
house pets appeared in the well.
of oddities that the small-town
doctor could not name.
Trouble came in one hundred waves,
in sparks and hexes, with horse-breath
borders. Babies born
with clubfoots and cleft lips, babies
born with partial hearts and partial heads
just born plain dead.
Trouble is and trouble was
and trouble came and sang
shush-shush or tell-tell
small, small town.
-First published in Caffeine
a Road Trip to New Orleans
Desire changes her name to Desirée
so people will stop asking if she’s an abstraction
reality. She buys a blue Nova, spins towards New Orleans
via Texarkana where she saunters into Ricky Dell’s
for a Gibson chilled with onions that she pops
into her mouth before leaning over the
to lick the bartender. Eight days later,
he still shakes with the
wisteria scent of her hair
and the sweet acid of onions hovering over his upper lip
where his mustache singed
All the matches in the bar are black by the time
Desirée shifts into second
with the ease of a boy
switching his affections from his mother
to his first girlfriend that he finger-fucked in his Dad’s
silver Impala beneath a moon hung in the sky
like a wind chime. The
stars sounding out a song
that only those with an ocean beneath their ribs can hear.
Episcopal, Desirée decides to use the bathroom.
The choir boys are singing
when she jaunts in like a lucky horseshoe. Suddenly,
ring her name while God’s golden mallet
hammers away at their malleable, sin-soaked hearts.
Desirée arrives on the esplanades, all the boys
on the bayou gather to sing, with crooked hearts
feet we flee, down a crooked road
as we pray, Oh Desirée. She slits her skirt
up her creole thigh, strides
likes she’s late for a date
with Dante Alighieri. She’s got nowhere to go
likes the leg’s elongation, the stretch
and flex of muscle, the way the calf
up like a ball that she could spiderweb
the windows of those indifferent to her siren serenade.
knows if she practices her fastball
she’ll shatter the glass ceiling of heaven and shards
will scatter the earth
in a simulacrum of lust
as the flushed lips of sordid saints say,
Oh Desirée, Desirée, only to you we pray.
-First published in Crab Orchard Review