7.03 / March 2012

Night of the Living Blues

She’s savvy and slender. Her mama says
she’s sassy. Her papa says she’s a sip

of wine. Her preacher proclaims she’s bathtub
hooch making all the praying men go blind.

She’s the subject of every hush and hiss
spewing from pursed lips dribbling over

countertops, bars, and bone china tea sets.
Blue-haired-horn-rimmed-glasses gab on

about her seven children and the six or seven
fathers that go along with them. The cops

have tried to link her to three murders,
and every burned-out house has her name

written in its ashes. Does she believe
in God? Whom does she love? The town folk

know of course, Jeremiah Earl, her brother,
who went dull after he was kicked in the noggin

by a horse. Way back when they were children,
she ass-whipped every boy who called her brother

something less than human. Now she works
two jobs waiting tables so he won’t end up

locked up in some mental institution. Each beau
she brings home tries to convince her to have her

brother committed. Each mac she drags back
ends up sideswiped by a skillet. And tonight

like every night’s a good night to go on living.
It’s good weather for a low-cut summer dress

and cowgirl boots cut from red leather. It’s a fine
time to shove a lime in a bottle of Corona under

a porch light with the town’s new tow truck driver.
She knows the brightness a bit of loneliness

can inspire. The moon’s nothing but dust and rocks,
but it’s still luminous when he leans in to kiss her.

She slides one hand up the heat of his thigh.
The other under her seat, fists a knife.

Joshua Michael Stewart has had poems published in Massachusetts Review, Euphony, Rattle, Cold Mountain Review, William and Mary Review, Pedestal Magazine, Evansville Review and Blueline. Pudding House Publications published his Chapbook Vintage Gray in 2007. Finishing Line Press will publish his next chapbook Sink Your Teeth into the Light in 2012 He lives in Ware, Massachusetts. Visit him at www.joshuamichaelstewart.yolasite.com
7.03 / March 2012