John Nettles : Deployment : Poetry : May 2019

Southern Legitimacy Statement: Contributed a couple of pieces to The Dead Mule about 20 years ago. Born in central Florida, moved to north Georgia. Southern legitimacy? Family reunions always ended with my Uncle Clyde passing out shine to the men while the women gathered in Aunt Annie Mae’s spare bedroom to sew sequins onto Cousin Billy’s Elvis jumpsuits. Every word of that is true.


Watching the grey clouds struggle
to hold the line against the rude sun
hammering their flanks to part them
and start another of these damn days
as the Salvation Army bus winds
through the parking lot to stop
in front of Hobby Lobby to deploy
one of God’s soldiers in the field,
the driver helping the holy dogface,
wounded in the lifewar and limping,
with her bucket and her bell before
climbing back into the troop carrier
and giving his comrade a jaunty wave,
and already she is moving, swinging
and ringing her weapon like a warrior
until the bus makes its way to the light
and rumbles off to other deployments
and then her arm falls limp at her side,
the bell tinkling defeat, and she leans
against the wall of Hobby Lobby, done
with the wars of God and His angels,
as the clouds concede the morning
to the merciless sun and break ranks
and scatter for yet another damn day.