The Mississippi Two-Step Blues
Grandpa didn't like the way his eyes rolled
after cotton picking showdowns.
Sent him up trees as a lesson in fleeing
from pointy hoods.
Water ran through creek beds
but there was never enough to clean out gutter burns.
"Baths are for rich folk, son."
Candles were lit but the shack walls had to be damp.
Penny wages won't build a new roof.
The family scraps will raise the property value.
Grandma taught him to throw logs,
aim for the forehead and never cry unless food
is given to you.
He couldn't read the bold "Whites Only."
The taste of Snickers burned his tongue.
Escaped with bloody teeth,
lost the taste for proper eye contact soon after.
He said he'd never come back.
Wrote the promise on workboots but spelled
the words wrong.
Eighteen years came.
He hopped on the fastest train to electricity
and non-regional accents.
Grandpa took the exodus out on the porch and set it on fire.
Automatic Debt Shuffle
He's back again
with those shallow eyes,
that Dolemite swagger,
shot gun blast words to make the lowly gasp.
A proud history retold with each eye contact,
A parade of men and women eaten alive for a lewd snack.
Unbelievable you had someone to call your own.
Consider the seduction square dance.
Stand back if you want your hands to remain intact.
New direction: more unsure, more deceiving than usual,
to take a break from nights bent backward.
Let's pretend to know more about each other than we do.
Wrangle enough obligation to market bashful giggles.
I'll come clean whenever it is convenient.
On his cross country search for fossilized kneecaps
he drove 135 miles out of the way to Utah for homemade bourbon.
His favorite misshaped African drum was a fair trade for the libation.
Postcards from dirt towns came to her with each season change
outlining grandiose time tables and fistfights with one armed men.
He came back 20 pounds heavier, failure walking
ten steps in front with gun shell burns on his forearms.
To distract her he dropped back issues of National Geographic at her feet.
She wept at the gesture, exhaling as her fingers found and rubbed out
the puckered flesh.
Knowing his time had nothing to do with her crow's feet
she fantasized his return would be accompanied by brass knuckles
and bent over kisses.
Rather he asked to be reacquainted with her unexposed skin.
He announced desert calligraphy was his calling.
She never really knew who he was.