Purging the Soul

Ever up from the forest time wailing,

The she wolf lost further back in his head.

The guardian hides still beyond seeing

With pools to wash in when his sins are paid.

He clings and slides and steps while he grovels.

But prayers from below still lighten his breast.

Standing even in his latex envies,

Luis had eased the painting in his chest.

He brought it forward and up, heaving with

The strengthening of the wind on his back.

Hands and feet sticky with the wet clay earth,

He rests from his climb, sliding slowly back.

Panting with effort and knowing his worth.

He rests from his climb, sliding slowly back.

Hurston’s Novel People

Henson and the girl. She was a young child,

The little sop. She was there for the blues

Part. And he knew the common terms. Him with

Blues language, mules and men and passion in

The name of English. She knew the language,

The elements of self-threatening blues.

He, the atrium soaring with stout trees.

He knew the big blues structure. She knew things.

The most about the new boyfriend sweet tea:

How he knew to pour on the sugar and

Let it steep in the window fluorescing

In the sun’s beams. They worked in the brown glow

Projected through the tea driving out the

Grinding blues rhythms and its soulful sounds.

That Old Southern Need

Sat outside under the tin porch roof, back

Up against the door of the raised shed, her


Rump on the two cinder blocks that had been

Placed there years ago in temporary


Measure until the steps were built. With one

Half full and two unopened hard packs of


Cigarettes in her coat pocket, huddled

With her phone in front of her face reading


Fantasy books syphoned from her mother’s

Digital account. The shed blocks her view


From cars passing on the old country road

And the neighbors who watch through their bedroom


Windows or front porches in the scant few

Houses separated by pine scrub and


A good country distance. Nestled neatly

Between the lawn equipment, a pile


Of scrap lumber, two table saws, and her

Pile of old cigarette boxes and ash


That swirls in the breeze leaving spiraled piles,

The neighbors wouldn’t see her if they cared.


And they do care—with that old southern need.

The kindness that hides a deeper meanness


Evident in the way your name whispers

Between the trees, swirled and settled, spiraled


In piles like the ash from trash wood and brush

They are constantly pruning from their yards.

The Jellyroll and Sugar of Death

Doomed as we are to walk through the thin light

Of shrinking lost souls peopled in the black

Cloak of mourning with their eyes the glossy

Gleam of morning pastries. With tears like the

Sticky sweet frosting on the sides of a

Hot dipped Krispy Kreme. And pain like the smell

Of freshly fried dough. Their cake knows how the

Blue eyes take their exploration of death.

The wafting smell of fried dough is language

In the depth of pain. Only delicate,

Delight of guttural sounds can escape

Between the happy bouts of bites and buns.

Bring the pastries, the tea, or the coffee:

Everything human in the jellyroll and sugar of death.

The Mirror

The girl. I knew her a little. She was

There for a while. She had a young child

With autism, a boyfriend (not his dad).

She was there. She was gone. She had been sick

And dropped out of school. But I had known her

Enough, or she had known me. She had read

My writing in class. She could recognize

My characters when they moved one story to another,

When my stories were bad and no one cared.

I never had heard what happened to her.

I never cared. If she had finished school.

Or if she had nothing to show but bills.

I may never think of her (or her me)

Except for a moment in the mirror.