In the Deep South, God is a cotton king,
Trussed up in plantation whites and powdered over smooth
with a little bit of talcum from Momma’s compact.
He’s the Georgia dust that gets on everything, in everything,
Caking the soles of bare feet
sifting through cracks in church pews,
and catching in your lover’s eyelashes.
In the Deep South, the Devil is a beautiful boy
who swears and cheats at billiards on Sunday.
He is the one who reaches up your skirt,
pulls out the prayers your were saving for someday
and lights them on fire with his tongue.
He will sing hymns while feasting on your forfeit heart,
call you blessed while peeling away dignity like stockings,
then drag you out in front of the church to be stoned by the pious.
In the Deep South, the Holy Spirit is an old woman
with hands brown and gnarled as the nuts she boils
and a voice soft and dark as the Appalachian sky.
She is the swamp kingdom matriarch children are sent to
when sins need to be wished away like warts,
the presence of whom straightens to spine of wayward souls
and coaxes a “Yes Ma’am” from the devil’s own.
In the Deep South, Jesus is a mixed-race child
with drops of destiny mingled into his blood
and the names of the saints tattooed along his spine.
He has his mother’s bearing, one that wears suffering nobly,
and baleful eyes that speak of the sins of his forefathers.
The word of God flutters from his mouth like butterflies
with bodies baptized in tears and wings dipped in steel.
In the Deep South, angels drink too much.
They sashay and guffaw and forget to return calls.
They tell white lies and agonize over what to wear.
In the Deep South, angels look very much like you and it,
and they cling to each other with dustbowl desperation
and replenish their failing reserves of grace with ritual
in the hopes of remembering what they once were,
what wonders they once were capable of performing.
I. This one starts out detailing the frustration of using language to describe the feeling of love. Next is a detailed description of an intimate moment between two lovers. It is then followed by, ‘there is no word to describe that’. The reality is, there are words to describe that. They just had to be arranged in a way to communicate such a feeling, exactly. This one is boring.
II. This one is a bit sadder. Maybe it’s a breakup poem. Here is some imagery that involves blood. This one is some kind of methadone, some kind of way to take away the sharp edge of losing love. Here’s the map of personal destruction, the anatomy of separation, the hole you want to crawl into. This one is a battle scar.
III. This one emotionally undresses for you while you gaze through the keyhole. Maybe it is the freckle underneath a lover’s breast. You’d like to think you are the only one who has seen it. Maybe this one is a hunger for familiar flesh, or a manifesto of a steady fuck. There are detailed descriptions of the naked Sunday morning religion. This one is a lovesick striptease. Too bad it ends too soon.
IV. Ah, this one is a goddamn masterpiece. It is marked in permanent ink in the bathroom of a dive bar. The last bit is a handful of numbers.
V. This one tries too hard and compares love to the ocean, or maybe outer space. Love is not the ocean. Despite what you’ve been told, love isn’t all we need. Love is never enough to make a soldier lay down his weapon. Putting flowers on a bayonet is a dangerous idea. Don’t you go swimming deep into the ocean thinking there will be love down there. Love is in accident. Don’t go looking for accidents.