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manlin 5d
content warning: sexism, racism, homophobia, ableist slurs, ****** assault, alt-right political commentary, abuse, prostitution

The okra stalks
now wilted
bend beneath
the winds of America’s plains.

As I’ve occupied myself with
a Yankee college’s schoolwork,
my means of feeding myself diminish
as I don’t have the time or energy to

**** the bad bugs,
retie the plants to their rightful stalks,
and finally clean myself off.

Although my family qualifies for “government handouts”
as my momma calls them,
she sends it back every time.
The price?

Hunger gnawing at my stomach,
basic needs left unmet,
my “liberal” professors failing to grasp
what their own students face.

But women don’t deserve an actual education,
because in America’s Bible Belt
the woman’s future is confined
to a Southern home full of sweat and pregnancies.

I can always tell when my momma
runs a deficit on bills.
I can hear it,
although I try not to—

“Thank you for the tip, honey.”
She drawls,
and I know her bedroom door
is locked.

Before I knew what she was doing
when I was too young to know—
I caught glimpses of the different men
as they’d leave.

I don’t know why,
but I hated them all.
One would smoke cigarettes on the porch,
and later I’d kick around the used butts.

Now that she’s older,
she has resulted to
pimping me and my little sister out
against our will—

whether she intended for it to happen or not.
I’ve come to understand that
at least in America’s South,
virginity doesn’t exist.

A woman’s only purity
lies within having the right skin color;
some STDs can be overlooked
as long as they can still populate the Southern landscapes.

For the first time I had seen my momma
in over two weeks,
I greet her with a happy smile while washing dishes.
Her look of disgust remains unchanged.

“You need to register to vote!”
She says, yet I don’t have my driver’s license.
I remain silent.
I can hear the political commentary over the radio:

“String ‘em up,
shoot ‘em down!
Stop being so autistic,
and abide by the Party doctrine!”

Being in the South,
I know what the Southern gentleman meant
over the radio,
yet I still find its charged language alarming.

String ‘em up: Hang the Yankee professors who help me
Shoot ‘em down: Put down the “rioters” and “looters”
Autism refers to following rules of governance,
and the Party…

When my little sister registered
as a lesbian liberal,
momma never raised that much Hell.
She went off with a man for a few days to cool off.

I remember crying,
kneeling before my nativity set and the cross in my room,
hands clasped in prayer,
begging God to inform me on what to do.

I’ve tried to be a good Southern girl my whole life,
despite not being white,
being born into a single parent household,
and living in poverty.

I tried to be educated as a means of providing for my family.
However, my grandma tells me that’s unnatural.
My momma tells me to stop being stuck in my books
and to get some fresh Southern air.

I am left to ask, pleading for God to tell me
as humanity itself has failed to help me:
How can I be redeemed
from the sin of being born?
In cake the light  

A southern star
Rough Yet bright
Twinkles of dreams yet untold
What an unexpected sight like a full blood moon calling to something deeper more primal such vigueur
Such tenacity
An allure creature
you bring to life uncertainty with mystery in an unusual fashion
In should I am mesmerised
Left in awe

Steer deep and gaze brazenly into eyes of Gold
Skin soft to the touch
Pressures pearl
            Such Clarity
        Such Ope..
    Such Lo..
Such ..
I felt you in a space that no one else can find,
Expressed things that weigh beautifully upon my mind,
Touched by your thoughts I can barely comprehend,
I find myself exposed to a brand new kind of friend,
My mind silenced by the sound of my heart beginning to beat,
I felt lost and yet found while attempting to find my feet,
And as you revived the parts of me I never knew,
Or maybe even forgotten waiting on something true,
How can I express what I've never known,
Or begin in what I've never been shown?
Without question the answers sought never to be found,
Without words you gave me something more profound,
Wonderfully written upon my heart I find them everyday,
Yet still I search for the right words to say,
Now I reflect in the wonder of how I could be so small,
Realizing you showed me how I need not words at all,
Without question... One day I opened my eyes and began to see,
Your heart was beautiful enough to finally find me.....  
  For the love of my life ... Feb. 2 2017
Southern Icarus
by Michael R. Burch

Windborne, lover of heights,
unspooled from the truck’s wildly lurching embrace
you climb, skittish kite ...

What do you know of the world’s despair,
gliding in vast solitariness there
so that all that remains is to

Only a little longer the wind invests its sighs;
you stall
spread-eagled as the canvas snaps

and ***** its white rebellious wings,
and all
the houses watch with baffled eyes.

Originally published by Poetry Porch. Keywords/Tags: Icarus, flight, flying, hang-gliding, kite, glider, wind, canvas, South, southern, truck, unspooled
Not Elves, Exactly
by Michael R. Burch

(after Robert Frost's "Mending Wall")

Something there is that likes a wall,
that likes it spiked and likes it tall,

that likes its pikes’ sharp rows of teeth
and doesn’t mind its victims’ grief

(wherever they come from, far or wide)
as long as they fall on the other side.

Keywords/Tags: Robert Frost, mending, wall, fences, good, neighbors, southern, border, spikes, pikes, barbed, wire, electrical
Love has a Southern flavor: honeydew,
ripe cantaloupe, the honeysuckle’s spout
we tilt to basking faces to breathe out
the ordinary, and inhale perfume ...

Love’s Dixieland-rambunctious: tangled vines,
wild clematis, the gold-brocaded leaves
that will not keep their order in the trees,
unmentionables that peek from dancing lines ...

Love cannot be contained, like Southern nights:
the constellations’ dying mysteries,
the fireflies that hum to light, each tree’s
resplendent autumn cape, a genteel sight ...

Love also is as wild, as sprawling-sweet,
as decadent as the wet leaves at our feet.

"Love Has a Southern Flavor" has been published by The Lyric, Contemporary Sonnet, The Eclectic Muse, Better Than Starbucks, The Chained Muse, Setu (India), Victorian Violet Press and Trinacria
Colm Sep 2019
So you think my storm is done at last?
Just watch and wait till summers end.
When, with a quiet rumble I return.
As a single jar of lightning left.
To speak the words of thankfulness.
And to spark one more glorious storm to pass.
Nothing lasts forever. But for one more year. I'm just a notherner bringing one final southern storm to pass. God give me the strength and focus to do my best.
Jon Hanlan Aug 2019
Extractor of those awfully embedded times
That traveling memory, hidden in the back of worn suitcases
Brown leather and ties, like no remorse
Those breaths imparted, w/ lasting glare
The smoky windows in beat up wagons
Split lips from the boys on back loan
Wartimes, dragging utter sadness from the porch swing
Lost a tooth, and that made it smooth
Soothe the pain, w/ pints of tipsy water
We watch the sunset, in the field next door
Kissed & dangled, our bust behind us
Tumbled in the meadow, w/ no one else around
The boy I brought home is the same I fought
Every night, we tossed and paddled
Had I known, he would stay w/ me, forever
The girls from Seventh Ave. tickled me
W/ their stunty eyes and elongated dresses
Wishing, for a moment, we were out: the kids, picnic party w/ the club
Pa saw it in my eyes, the mailman and I
Even at the table with the shipped ashes and ol’ rummy
Playing hard to get with nothing but straight chaser
The mirror became such ferment to my frame
I began perturbing every milking like a daily lashing
And soon protruded my perimeters into giant horned gnats
Ground crackling and separated with ceaseless dust storms
Divided, on the fence back in the meadows watching it rain afar
In the familiar fields I laid, now a barbaric, decoded passing
I walk to the cellars every now and again, with my badges
Discreetly pacing the acreage, for a taste of interim regression
Now with no bandages nor luggage to carry my born chores
Jenny dance
in front
of eyes
that candy
is sweet
not butter
in sleeves
of her
patriot but
her belligerence
in trees
as she
stares the
ligament in
his ribs
in back
of Cajun
a sleeve in despair
William Jun 2019
Aspen of Appalachia, away,
Bereft from bleating, brooding bovine.
Clay County contrives conspiracy
Doomed, darkened, deceitful. Directed
Eastward at Eastaboga’s emp’ror
Full of most fitting flight, fleeing from
God. Those good graces known given up,
Heartily, exchanged happenstance his
Immortal soul for idolatry.
Jeered at Jehovah, jested Jesus,
Kingdom keeping the kicked knaves knowing
Lowly that the Lord lash little at
Men who make ****** and mudwork made
Nightly. Nefarious no-goods now,
Open but not ostracized. Oh, old
People praise the past per penchant but
Quickly they quit; queerly quell their quest,
Running from redemption and rambling
So he stopped searching, got set soulless,  
Turned to the tantric, tuned to the tumult,
Unburdened with useless unknowns. Up
Verily and vivaciously, vet  
Words which will warrant wonder. Why not
*******, excellent, exuberant?
Yet, ye of yellow faith, yon Yahweh
Zeros the zest of zig-zagged zetas.
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