It takes more than good intentions to transform the South. It takes money.
What the hell is a Scalawag?
Fat Sherri at Versailles
No swan so awkward out of water
as I was, squatly 14, heaped on the bank
like a parcel clumsily packed. My father
snaps the canal, which smells dank
like my pits in this sweater. Mom's in a frenzy
to pose next to places (she's fanny-packed
and toothy) that look old. I envy
the statues for their faces, burlap-sacked.
With a myopic shuffle I double,
again double in the hall made of glass.
Like a pop can flung in the Seine, I trouble
its surface, acne-flecked, middle-class.
A rush of feather and swan-stink:
The yellowed bird flaps in mud,
contorts its neck—throwing itself, I think,
at the fountain's gold-painted lead sun god.
Sherri Behind the Bar
By the dart board, the rum ad's pin-up
kicks up red heels, simpers sweet as vermouth.
Splayed in a huge martini glass, her party mouth
puckers at her own dainty cup
in which, I wonder, does an identical babe
cheers a cocktail with its itty-bitty kissy-
faced homunculus, etc.? Last call and infinity
yawns again, night guttering out, the same
lumpy men in plastic sandals, alone,
circling the room like tired lions
to pick off lingering girls, their seductions
weak, one-sided, but better than going home.
Over a steel-string twang, girls screech orders
("Surprise me"—OK, pink fizz, ice, gin,
a dash of spit: surprise!!). Heroin-thin
in mini dresses, they're a Jacob's ladder,
forever streaming in, out, and 21, while here
I stand, legs swollen with darkening veins,
and the dart board radiates an unchanged
universe's quilled neon spheres.
Death of Sherri
Every kiss ends in cremation, but now I am pretty
forever, a diamond squeezed out of my ashes,
blue as a blacklight, travel-sized sarcophagus.
"What's that jewel?" they ask at the funeral—"It's Sherri."
I outlast even my grudges. Or it's a tie.
Honey-fat hive of dolled-up queen bees,
my mourners popping hips through LBDs.
No bride-bling on their satin hands outshines mine.
Prismatic with grievances, not grief, I'll remember
your wet mascara trails, weepy on Shiva wine.
Your hell won't glitter. Now veil the mirrors
to hide the solemn faces you don't mean.