There’s a cornfield beside a slim two-lane road.
On the other side a massive graveyard.
The dead siphoned into groundwater,
loamy soil enriched with organic matter.
Corpse sins crawling up cornstalks
like a swarm of armyworms and grasshoppers.
There are no saints among those buried.
It’s a hope deserted cemetery far side of a living field.
Dispiriting stalks of growth feeding want in crates
at the local roadside vegetable stall.
With every buttery crunch and squelched
mouthful, a sin eater is born.
‘the ease and rest of the soul departed,’
Life pawned in dead remorse.
Guilty usurpers consecrated past lives
laid bare in maize staked fields.
They’re familiar with purgatory, beyond fear.
Frightened only by how haunted the living truly are.
Heaven is their earth bound prison, overflowing
with ‘this can’t be all there is’ revenants.
They all take their turn in the soil, solemnly
promising to get it right the next time.
Everyone is dying to live.
We all eat the corn.
Grandma’s Wearing Fredericks of Hollywood
Seven marriages in she had a closet
full of empty chocolate heart shaped boxes.
Momma often had to fetch
grandma off a barstool after school.
In a gloating mood she’d blow smoke,
making momma tap dance across the bar.
Only girl of six with Shirley Temple curls.
Dance lessons don’t pay for themselves.
Here come grandma’s gentleman callers,
merry-go-round screen door slamming
past grandpa number, I don’t remember.
My uncles were never around, to be found.
One died in Vietnam; He loved
The Little Drummer Boy, I did too.
Uncle Terry had an ex-wife who
slept with a gun under her pillow.
Another uncle was split
in half on the railroad tracks.
Don’t bring up the remaining two.
They’re all grandpa porch sitting,
with a cigarette dangling from his lips.
Grandpa number three arrives
with petrifying porcelain dolls.
He’s trying desperately to woo
grandma away from Grandpa Slim.
I’m her favorite bartering chip.
Liquor and smokes gave her
two heart attacks, a stroke, and a scar
between her silk negligee holstered breast.
The weight piles on and grandma is fond
of licking her over medicated lips; parading
the latest slinky Fredricks of Hollywood see through
unkind to a woman’s aging sagging bits.
Tall mad hatter Grandpa Slim wrestled
marriage number seven through the door.
He’s the tootsie roll giver, even though
the wrappers smell of burnt cigarettes.
She died wearing Fredericks lacy underwear.
Grandpa Slim died a month to the day.
He’s the one who gave grandma
a closet full of heart shape boxes of chocolate.
I liked him best, she loved him best of all.
It had to be scissors for precision
There was no guarantee the string imaginary or not
would be taut enough to use a knife
Who wanted to be a laughingstock
sawing through a measly piece of twine
She had already soaked the whetstone in cold water
Practicing on multiple older pairs of shears
Five to fifteen pulls on the inner side of each blade
She was done being Yue Xia Lao’s talisman
A nothing lunar matchmaking deity with the useless ability
to create an unbreakable bond tied to pinkies
Forced bondage between lovers
Regardless of time or place Interference at it’s finest
She knew a deep cut would bleed a scarlet dripline
apply direct pressure you’re not dead
and you make a liar out of destiny
Unless love’s viscera got yanked by some demiurge
Numen gambling with her fear of being alone
siphoning her selfhood
All because some omnipotent being wanted a pawn
A daemon who tied people together out of boredom
with an invisible marriage license
She was going to save herself No more godheads
snaking a red tether around a mythical lover
Affairs of the heart left a writhing mess
entangling inamoratos and husbands
Her red string was a mass of fraying knots
Didn’t Yue Lao know if you pull a knot tight enough
it breaks She was yanking them tighter by the day
No more blasé folklores she wasn’t falling for it this time
The scissors were finally sharp enough
She cut off her little finger the one with the red thread
wrapped around it like a promise ring
Her hitching post was gone
The Hindu called it lehnu
The Chinese called it the red string of fate Love’s unfortunate
She didn’t give a damn what anyone called the twin flames
Soulmates were an archaic folly to her
Somewhere in the distance she could hear
Aphrodite and Eros laughing heartily
Ares chuckling at his little warrior cutting off her finger
Their day was coming
Sage Ravenwood is a deaf Cherokee woman residing in upstate NY with her two rescue dogs, Bjarki and Yazhi, and her one-eyed cat Max. She is an outspoken advocate against animal cruelty and domestic violence. Her work can be found in Glass Poetry – Poets Resist, The Temz Review, Contrary, trampset, Pittsburgh Poetry Journal, Pioneertown Literary, Grain, Sundress Press anthology – The Familiar Wild: On Dogs and Poetry, The Rumpus, Lit Quarterly, PØST, Massachusetts Review, Savant-Garde, ANMLY (Anomaly), River Mouth Review, Native Skin Lit, Santa Clara Review, The Normal School, KHÔRA, Pinhole Poetry, and more forthcoming.
Twitter – https://twitter.com/SageRavenwood
FB – https://www.facebook.com/sage.ravenwood
Email – email@example.com