David Earl Williams: When She Dressed Up Nice


Southern Legitimacy Statement: I grew up at Greenup County in Kentucky right near Plum Fork Holler. My grandfather was a graduate of Leavenworth in Kansas where he received his federal degree in Moonshine. Jesse Stuart came to my high school, 1967-1971, twice a year to speak. Every sentence began with “I.” And ended with a plea for educational accomplishment and racial purity, plus the wish that protesters be shot then put in the army—which seemed the wrong way round to me….I went to Morehead State University where the principal at home wanted to know if I was “making bombs” because I was a “dangerous” integrationist anti-war pacifist liberal. I played pointy shoes and funny hats Shakespheare at Central Park in Louisville. I now live happily at the north where I married a dangerous lefty woman from New York City.

When She Dressed Up Nice

When She dressed up nice
That red dress with the slit in the side
The pearl pins in her cobalt black hair
Nights out with the Emperor
Smelling of perfume and hairspray
She was
But she was just
When she was at home hangin’ out
Waiting for the mopped floor to dry
In her flip flops on the phone
Tryin’ to find work
Fortune telling sign out in the window
Hair up, smoking a cigarette
Praying for that call waiting to beep
Legs crossed, kickin’ the top foot
Like it’s in an unseen chorus

Did She like the Emperor?

A job’s a job and you got to feed the kids
You gotta feed them, she’d say
More than Snow White and poison apples
More than fairy tales—
That’s your Story, Honey, she’d say
There’s your fortune n everybody’s ever lived—

Now, pay me