Southern Legitimacy Statement: Stephen Hundley was raised on the Lincoln River, south of Savannah, Georgia. When the weather was right, you might have found him in a clawfoot tub on the porch. When the game warden wasn’t around, you might have found an alligator in the tub too. Stephen’s love for wildlife has inspired writing that mozies from peacocks to herons to mudfish to the dogs living in the woods behind the E-Z Fill. He has been bitten by most things that crawl, swim, or amble, but he doesn’t often bite back.
We’re working on the formatting with this post. Trying to fix the fubarred truncated text. Bear with us, or Mule With Us. Note: text formatting works on a computer. It does not work well (yet) on cellphone or tablet.
Grass a drag up to my knees and sharp eyed for something there.
Pecans chitter in the bucket. Heft it high. Winter’s clicking haul.
Spin the handle over your head and let them cling to the bottom.
Give it a shake—see them hop like bait in a cage. From the yard,
hear the vacuum chamber’s whirring and the number balls afloat.
Ginny’s voice all ice in a glass and chiming the whim of the Fates
while the sucking machine draws them out: balls 42 and 9 and on.
They may be stones in a tumbler. Hewn from a number. Set aside
Rose quartz and pecans to slide into the pockets of your coat and
blue jeans. And grandfather watching the numbers in their shute,
and hearing the stones roll knowing he’ll want something to hold
with faces smooth to the touch. And me, heaving the bucket back
to set where grandmother smokes and paints her toes a cherry red.
The three of us in the house with the counters cleared for pie pans
and the television turned to Ginny Waters and the Powerball. She
calling those beauties one at a time while we work over a bucket,
Grandma cracking two-a-hand. Tonight I know, Ginny assures us,
somebody’s life is gonna change.
There are a good many melt holes,
lurid and bright.
The yellow insulation
I’m glad for them.
The clinging film of nicotine,
the deep and foggy stink.
This one here:
A pool in the arm rest.
You must have laid that Bad Johnny down.
There must have been a flame. I bet
you like to shit.
They could be constellations.
Little stars you made
with the habits of your life.
And they all have names.
Dad’s wide belt / Copperhead meets Grandma
in the garden. See the hoe risen. See the hoe fall.
You can follow them like wormholes
with your fingers picking hard-melt plastic
in the seats. The visor.
The panel of the door.
I found channels risen
whelps and leading through the upholstery,
small enough for ants to use.
I’ll have to sell this car for parts
or else make for the highway or
wherever you are.
Behind Jimmy’s place there is a pack of dogs
come wagging from the pines / come
roaming and milling / come to eat
white rice from a trashcan lid,
fish heads from a candy dish / from oil pans
littering the ground.
Tonight they are piled at my feet / full
and hard asleep
while Jimmy and the highway house folks
the old and green shrimpers
in their first winter on the water / come to burn
what they can and to drink / while it is burning.
A mattress has been offered
alongside a computer chair / The drop-limbs
we have gathered for the stack.
Jimmy passes out liquor. / I have marshmallows
in powdered lemonade.
The people gather close.
The many children pet the many dogs,
and the cold really setting in now with
all of us watching the flames grow / edging tighter
and Jimmy, circus man, with
tiger tattoo and nameless dogs and depthless knowledge
will tell a tale from someplace warm
and throw borax laundry powder into the flames.
We all wince and cry at the emerald flash
while Jimmy laughs / says:
Look here! A genie!
But in the green light I forgot to wish.
Saw only: Jimmy in the dream flames
boiling a computer chair to nothing,
twisting the faces of the people,
flaring the noses of the dogs.