Delilah rode my ass all the way to Bethlehem,
but we still couldn’t make rent: those bankers
just don’t tip like they used to since they broke
gold’s back with their fat wallets. The smell
of their hands on my mouth trying to block
the screams, the sight of their blood in my teeth:
that’s why my tongue turned blue, but I’ll still
waggle it for a buck if you need your flower
plucked. I sing songs about sweet Andersonville,
the acrid taste of Delilah’s bit connected to the silk
rope she’s slowly slipping around my neck.
I’ll learn to dance to the song of my own breath
as it rattles the time. I’ll sleep under the stars
and use those banker’s asses for my pillow.
A Snowflake’s Chance in Arkansas
I sold my guns to pay for gas but barely got enough to make it to the mountains. I left a trail of
apple smoke and acrid oil fumes to settle over the rice fields in their leveed rows; you can taste it
in the film left on your teeth. I heard the muffler drop but kept rolling; a colony of mice moved
in once it cooled and used it as a staging ground for their war of aggression against the owls.
I ate nothing but potatoes for six years, grew my beard long enough to weave a tent to protect
tunnel children from the rain; the slow days of my youth eked out in the weft and weave of it. On
sunny days, they used it for a trampoline.
I’m not saying I’m better than someone who can’t tell the difference between a man and a
woman unless they’re married, or someone who thinks literacy is a form of enslavement. I’m
not saying time should always move forward, only that inertia is a character flaw, not a sign of
stability. Wisdom adds weight because it’s often wrapped in chocolate. But not always.
Someday I’ll roll out of these mountains and trample the mouse hordes with all the weight I’ve
gained. They’ll say I’m in it with the owls, which isn’t true; only a mouse thinks there are only
two sides to choose from.
* * *
CL Bledsoe is the author of five novels including the young adult novel Sunlight, the novels Last Stand in Zombietown and $7.50/hr Curses; four poetry collections: Riceland, _____(Want/Need), Anthem, and Leap Year; and a short story collection called Naming the Animals. A poetry chapbook, Goodbye to Noise, is available online at www.righthandpointing.com/bledsoe. Another, The Man Who Killed Himself in My Bathroom, is available at http://tenpagespress.wordpress.com/2011/08/01/the-man-who-killed-himself-in-my-bathroom-by-cl-bledsoe/. He’s been nominated for the Pushcart Prize 10 times, had 2 stories selected as Notable Stories by Story South’s Million Writers Award and 2 others nominated, and has been nominated for Best of the Net twice. He’s also had a flash story selected for the long list of Wigleaf’s 50 Best Flash Stories award. He blogs at Murder Your Darlings, http://clbledsoe.blogspot.com. Bledsoe reviews regularly for Rain Taxi, Coal Hill Review, Prick of the Spindle, Monkey Bicycle, Book Slut, The Hollins Critic, The Arkansas Review, American Book Review, The Pedestal Magazine, and elsewhere. Bledsoe lives with his wife and daughter in Maryland.