Bio Note: I have work in such journals as Carolina Quarterly, Barrow Street, Cream City Review, and Rattle. Chax Press (Tucson) published my ninth collection, Get Serious: New and Selected Poems, which was chosen as a Southwest Best Book of 2013 by the Tucson/Pima County Public Library. Birkenstock Blues (Presa Press: Rockford, MI) is now available through my website: jeffersoncarterverse.com
When the band segues from “Cupid” to “Chain Gang,” I stop dancing. My hip hurts & I feel foolish, doing the two-step to “Hoh! Ah! Hoh! Ah,” the sound of the men working on the chain gang. You keep dancing, raising an imaginary pick ax over your head on each “Hoh!” & striking on each “Ah!” Love, for a shy girl, you don’t sweat much, meaning I love how you don’t sweat being judged. I sit down to my bottle of flat beer, dreading tonight, knowing I’ll get up between nightmares six or seven times to pee. Here comes “Mustang Sally” & I slice a forefinger across my throat, which means “I’m dead, love. Let’s go home.”
A Time-Sensitive Prayer
He’s addressing the nation on CNN. How do you know he’s lying? His lips are moving. The joke was funny, four years ago. Now, we shrug, at a loss for words. Dante damned corrupt politicians to the Eighth Circle of Hell, Stone Ditch Number Five. Even a singing cowboy, back in the imaginary day, knew he’d have to “slap leather” if someone called him a liar. Today, “liar” means something between a hobby & a vocation. Lord, shut his mouth, make him go away. We promise to be good.
The First Saltist Church of Tariq Our Lord
Whenever my mother mentions Jesus, I praise Tariq, how, 2000 years ago, his spaceship crash landed in central Utah. Tariq, the Prince of Saltus, Tariq, the 10-foot-tall alien who talks to me in my dreams, whose ship of salt dissolved in the 100-year rain. I pray twice a day, facing the Great Salt Lake. I drink a glass of salt water each night. When this world of tears ends, when Lord Tariq returns, the planet Saltus blood-red on the horizon, the faithful will be like unto salt crystals, the sweat drying on his awful brow. My proof? Look at our language. “Salt of the earth,” “salty dog,” “the unplumbed, salt, estranging sea.” And tell me this: when it rains, what pours?
Originally published in Sentimental Blue (Chax Press)
©2021 Jefferson Carter
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