Lea Banks

                My air is flung with souls which will not stop
                and among them hangs a soul that has not died
                and refuses to come home.

                                                        −John Berryman

Give her a jar of bourbon
and she’ll hit the town winking,
squinting and sipping hallelujah
from a paper cup. She’s staggering
under the righteous reverence of the eye
lashed salesclerk at the Piggly Wiggly.

Swaggering and impatient; hapless firefly.
From the weeping willow at the side
of the road, a palmetto bug sweeps
into her sugary hair. Bright tight red
lips — a little aimless, always fearless.
Her desire scorpions in.

He spies this crooked girl swinging
her hips down the whole holy highway.
Stalking, pulling slowly up
beside her, offering a drink
if she’ll just come — ride— with him.

Flipping her cigarette on gravelly ground,
she thinks one last time about the boy
who smeared her makeup, left her without
shoes, without sense enough in her stockyard
life not to climb in this man’s car.

He chainsaws over the Carolina border— pushes
her down to his lap. Tells her to whisper
that she is his Madonna, Whore
of his God-given life. She sings it greedily.

The moon rises above the shadowy
thorns, carnival-bright and spinning.
Floating like a drowned girl,
treeless. A worn up God, unjarred.

Originally included in the limited editon chapbook All of Me (Booksmyth Press)

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