red earth for miles – smoldering and speckled
with the markings of aggression – artillery holes
and camouflaged tents and metal instruments
of war confronting cloudlessness. Men rest
on folding chairs in white underwear and t-shirts,
stained with dirt, some of them wrap shirts around their heads
like turbans – either an ignorant joke or
a practical way of keeping close-shaved heads
from burning in the oppressive heat.
in this silence dry grit finds its way in between teeth
and nose hairs and who knows where.
they sneeze and sweat and wonder
when the mail will come, if it will come
because it will come too late – what to do
with a package addressed to a purple heart.
eventually they take out the potato chips
and the crossword puzzle books
and the preservative-filled packages
and stare at them until someone who is practical
eats it. no waste when you miss oreos this much.
laughter only comes later when they realize
opening another man’s mail is a federal offense
and that the intended recipient is laughing and cheering
them on from heaven, if they still believe. laughing like when
the goats got into the marijuana plants near the village.
chemicals released in their hot, furred bellies, stumbling
in a daze. and he told Canty to fuck around with one.
so Canty poked the animal with the end
of his gun up and down the wasteland’s lazy inclines
asking if it had the munchies. it couldn’t say that it did.
Text from my most recent poem, first-draft. Because the Grimm Brothers do it best.
Looking back on the Gold Slipper
by: Evelyn Seay
Every morning, with birds bidding me forward
I open the doors of the armoire in my bedroom
to admire my fortune: my golden slipper
fitting only my dainty foot.
I kept it, that golden slipper which doomed my sisters
to their lame gait and blind grimace. It is still
stained with their desperate mutilation.
A reminder that I am deserving.
In it, I see once beautiful faces, now scarred and caved-in
at the eye sockets. I see them sitting in darkness, surrounded
by darkness and by the dust they cannot see.
Aschenputtel. Cinderella. I haven’t touched dust in years.
By my slipper, I remember pools of blood on the parlor’s floor
and the sound of their tears because they sacrificed for nothing;
Because I sacrificed nothing and yet
I am queen, not kitchen wench. And I am not remorseful.
Every morning , I open my armoire, taking a deep breath of my palace,
heavily perfumed with pear-blossoms and remember
my sisters, and their misfortunes
and I smile.