📬 Want some Southern goodness in your inbox every Friday?

Get Scalawag's latest stories and a run down of what's happening across the South with our weekly newsletter.

Your Heart's in the Right Place, But Your Soul Isn't

And all I hear is
Aching apocalypse
Wintery inferno
We left each other
Next to the potted plants
And the photo of the white woman
That you pluck from my wallet
Or it is another manic morning
Where the coffee pot screams
From the counter like a mild threat
And the sight of Taylor Swift shaking
It off feels like a sort of dark omen
Why is it a sport, how we tell white lies
On our resumes and lose
Track of who we are
Or I am uncomfortable with
The way bad credit grows into
The soft parts of life
Like some indisputable law of nature
A new year, and I realize
The only person I speak to less
Than you is my mother
Is the bill collector
In scratchy voice mails
I hear a desperation and thirst
In his voice I can match
To hers, to your ow

Your Heart's in the Right Place, But Your Soul Isn't

Which is why you constantly perform
A sweet song for Jesus
Falsetto pinched between two hot lungs
And a picture of who you think I am
Perched on a warm mantle
Which is easy to mistake for something like love
Because on the mantle this is what we see:
Denzel Washington stroking
A hot gun
Or Mama on her knees, praying
To the police
Or crooked teeth,
Or a desert we can't make bloom
Watering roots, we smile
Acid rain seeping into us like thick soup
And we constantly
Make love in a country
Where kindness feels like failure
Where a white light feels like kindness
Where your palm pressed in mine feels like
Jesus, or a dream bubbling wide
And cracking open, a bold color
Which is to say not white, but real

Kory Oliver

Kory Oliver currently lives in Atlanta, GA. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Coconut Poetry, Fanzine, and Everyday Genius among other publications. He is currently completing his first collection of poetry, forthcoming from Publishing Genius in 2017.