Greta Cabrel: Four Poems

Southern Legitimacy Statement:  I’d like to tell you about the poorly shrouded frost-burnt parrot carcass stashed in a friend’s grandmother’s freezer, but it’s not my story to share. I do tell on my housemates’ haints all the time, though, because somebody’s gotta thumb-wrestle all them tales into line; not having musician-bartender hands to protect, I can poke into unlabeled pies. As my smartest Southern sisters can tell you, you miss out on a lot if you expect a name for everything or everything to make sense, but it’s not just people not from here who don’t realize that.

Loveliness and Glory

They’re at it again,

the friends from San Francisco

carping about Nashville

not being San Francisco:

the sorry sushi

and Bible as bludgeon

just the start

of how this city

isn’t San Francisco

in too many ways to forgive.

Even in a Sunday dress,

I’m not myself immune to wanting

more dim sum joints, more liberals in the lege,

more oh-la-la in the galleries.

Even so, this city is my home

but when I tell the friends from San Francisco

their sneering at the South is tiresome

they quickly protest, “You know we don’t mean you!”

and then rage on about how Nashville

isn’t San Francisco. They miss its beat,

its breadth, its brine. They miss miss miss

until all I think

between sips of bourbon

is Bless your hearts where you left them.


Pouring a Dirty Mother into the Sink

As the cocktail puddles

over the old, slow drain,

the memories bubble up: you do not miss

Memphis. You certainly do not miss

how, when you lived there, everything was tight—

money, and schedules, and everyone after a show,

and some of your dresses, clinging to your ass

at least with more sass than how you clung

to assholes with their smoke-and-mirror scraps

of maybes masked as yeses. How you believed

that fate was a matter of trying hard enough.

How your lover scoffed at that, urging

another drink into you. You did eventually learn

enough to agree. Enough to leave.

You should say all this to the friend you’ve outgrown

who mixed you the drink as an ode to old times

but just like its dregs, resisting disappearance,

the tendrils between you remain dark and sweet.


Prime Time

Whenever she sings, ohhh,
between my hips, mmmm,
gardens start to riot, yesss,
and skyscrapers stretch, wheeeee,
to dippers full of kisses, ooooh,
as her pearls-melting-back-into-oysters odes
to smoke-feathered nights, and the brush of their fronds
against the chime-laced rainy days—oh,
when she sings to the very core of me,
a fist unclenches around green petals
too tiny to be crushable. See
how they wait—

for shivers, for water—
ready for every kind of caress.

Thanksgiving in New Orleans
twirling a toe

in the shallows

of a mainstream,

I stitch up turducken

with a thread

thrust through

the tooth

of a tarasque