Dulcet Tones in the Shower
I can’t get a song out of my head.
I’m a cave and the song echoes
throughout me, a honky tonk song
by Gary Stewart, “Ten Years of This,”
about a bad relationship. Like the one
I had with… well, someone,
vaguely human. It lasted ten years
in ten seconds. When we kissed lavender
frogs popped out of our mouths.
We named them Hoppy and Happy.
I kept leaning on the everlasting
arms of now. Someone said forever.
Forever has a large room.
When I entered it, red drapes
caught on fire. Someone pulled me
out just in time. I said thank you,
preferring now more—
it smelled like baking bread.
Someone said oh and walked away.
That was a song too. Sometimes
I sing it in the shower. By the time I’m dry,
I’ve forgotten it.
Kenneth Pobo has a new book coming out from Assure Press called Uneven Steven. Also forthcoming is a chapbook from the Poetry Society of Alabama called Your Place Or Mine. His work has appeared in: The Queer South Anthology, Nimrod, Hawaii Review, Brittle Star, and elsewhere.
The heat at night in Houston. The ceiling fan hardly put a dent in it. I slept under a sheet. The smell of cut grass wafted through the screen. Outside, the whirr of cicadas like a low roar. On the bedside table, a glass of ice water. From the bathroom, the smell of my Auntie’s Hot Mentholatum Deep Heating Rub. Her arthritis was acting up.
Grandfather mowed the lawn, and it was ninety degrees in the shade. That was at nine o’clock in the morning. I brought him a pitcher of iced tea and his salt tablets. His white t-shirt wet with sweat.
My great-grandmother and my great-great aunt sat in the cool of the living room. They wore house dresses and slippers, and watched Oral Roberts on the television. Granny knitted a blanket. On the screen, Oral entreated his audience to open their wallets. Reach out, he said, extending his hand. Reach out. Auntie touched the screen of the television. Praise Him. She looked at me. “Get my pocketbook, baby doll.” I ran to fetch it, a square black leather purse with a kiss lock closure. My warm hand brushed her bony, cold one. Granny shook her head and muttered something about a great shame, only when she said “great” it sounded like “gret.” She said Oral Roberts was a slick rogue and he wouldn’t be getting any of her money. Auntie said well, Georgie, if you won’t send money, you should knit Oral’s wife an afghan. She’s been sick, you know.
Later, Grandmother took me to the grocery store in her powder-blue Oldsmobile diesel. Lighting her cigarette, the click and flame of the lighter. The smoke was like air for her. I watched the ash get longer and longer, until at last she tapped it into the ashtray. The air conditioner was on full blast, my arms were covered in goose bumps. I wished I’d brought a sweater. Then the slap of wet heat as we opened the car doors and crossed the parking lot. The doors whooshed open then, and we walked into the arctic chill of the grocery store, just as cold as the car.
Dylan Brie Ducey‘s nonfiction (an essay and a blog post) appeared recently in Superstition Review. Her fiction has been published in Four Way Review, Split Lip, Gargoyle, and other places. She received the Carlisle Family Scholarship to the Squaw Valley Writers Workshop, and her MFA from San Francisco State University. She’s online at https://www.dylanbrieducey.com.
Emails for an Empty Room
For a while we led the ghost
life, wanking all day
to Bruce Lee movies
or laughing out loud at old YouTube clips
of Tommy Cooper dropping
dead on stage.
We were sleepwalking
through the winter;
through January-weight-loss shows;
through DNA-my-father shows.
We were sleepwalking.
It was 18:57 and everything
looked pretend, like Lego.
I took your photograph
as you stared at the shadows
of diagonal trees.
Michael McGill is a poet from Edinburgh, Scotland who has recently had work published by 24 Unread Messages, The Cabinet of Heed, Funhouse Magazine, The Haiku Quarterly and detritus. His overheard comments and photostory projects regularly appear on Twitter and Instagram. He has also performed his work on the Lies, Dreaming podcast.