📬 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.
Satan, you tear-filled jamboree,
I can't help but see you everywhere.
Every movie is a movie about Satan.
Even the one where a blind man in overalls sees
the world through his only unbroken banjo string.
Satan sits on a throne of film canisters and cries.
The sun has a particular way of cutting
through the blinds and lighting up
the cat's spine. That sunlight is all Satan.
And so I must make peace with two hells cooking me
at once: the hell below me and the one above
this ball of light and its army of swirling moons. Now I hate birds.
I got dizzy at breakfast when I thought too hard
about the defiance of my stovetop. How the tiny buds of flame
flicker like spurts of lust,
a dance that pleases Satan. My wife,
I love her to death, and that's just what Satan wants.
So I am beginning to deprive her of even common courtesy.
The little girl with bottle-rotted teeth who lived just up the street
from the Dollar General got her head chewed up by a big old Chow.
Its gray tongue a half-pound steak of evil.
There used to be a fawn the next town over
that would hop up to the barb wire fence and suck on your pinky.
Satan must love animals, too.
Years ago, a grip of people left my uncle's church
when a black man and white woman decided
they wanted to get married. Their neighbors were convinced
God ain't in that, so I suppose their new home
was seeped through with Satan. Just take a crowbar to the wall
and you'd let him into your lungs like wiry threads of asbestos.
In fact, I dare you to do it. Unless you're too Satan, that is.
Somebody did break in once, and took their most
expensive things. They found it all later at the pawn shop.
The owner with half a front tooth was compelled
by Satan to give it back. Wasn't much. A few rings.
A record player with a bent needle. A VCR.
Each time the woman went to the grocery store, everyone
saw her with a buggy piled up full of Satan. She'd drive
her Civic home and cook her man up a pot
full of hot Satan. He'd eat it by the bowlful and kiss her
neck at the sink, then carry her off to the bedroom
at the back of the house to do Satan's work.
Outside, the moon looks so thin I think
it is flapping in the breeze, hung up like a chore.
Except Satan is the clothes and the line. There's a rumor that tomorrow,
Satan is going to fill up all the evil cracks
in the world with red buckets of love.
What in the devil are we gonna do then?
Leaving & Cleaving
Today I am the deer's body
I am the ground under my grandfather's spade
I am the tree trunk divided by the fervor
of a hatchet found in the shed
by a boy in the heat of July
has a saying about leaving and
that it's what two
do when God brings them together
I want to find a way
to be split open on either side of you
without feeling like a wound