Al Russell :: Poetry ::


A former Carolina Girl, I am now a Carolina Person. I went Up North for Poetry School but decided it was too cold and it wasn’t enough culture there and also GOD living expenses were too high and my Mama and Daddy weren’t there either. Yes, we have some serious problems down here but we also invented Soul Food and American Music (albeit out of suffering), and they’re our problems, not yours, so stop trying to gentrify and make everything 100 times more Sandy Eggo blandly expensive, please, for the love of God.


Curled in a circle, nose tail-tucked,
she knows we know. All
she asks is that we
pay deference,
swear fealty,
save our pizza drippings and wait.
Her mouth is the mouth of the tomb,
dark stalactites cradle the forgiven.

When she smells dead things
she bows her triangular head.

When she senses density in the electric air
she bristles and her nose twitches.

When at play she becomes something frightening
arm-clamping jaws and glowing wall-eyes
four dainty steps closer to completing the millennial cycle—
when, not if . . .


For Thylias Moss

The art of obsession
the ache of memory
the round glass walls
in a big, big house.

I never met a girl like you . . .
I never met a human
poet, who was
also driven
so into themselves.

Clang of one bell,
two bells,
old, old monk playing the water glasses.

I had a dream that all the streets
in the red roofed town flooded.
I freed a still-live, gasping fish
from a tank in the market stall and threw
him down the concrete river.


The devil is an old woman on roller skates,
her struck face still, her hands out like a bird person,
toothless maw opened to reveal the eternal night.
The devil ate the cave I laid
the ass of my body down in
when I was due to be reborn as a bird
person. I smelled the sulfur on the cave walls wondering
what internal rupture of the earth
it farted forth from,
if I left the cave would the farty smoke
still dance across the magic lantern walls.
My brimstone body is fissuring.
My ass in the dead of night.
My weird horse teeth. My hands. My heart.