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I feel we should have altered

Course mapped the stars

Fingers on water burning a way 

Home somewhere south

Of Lawrenceburg near the river

Roadside crosses mark

Our drive plastic flowers

Grass black heavy with night

Why wont you wake up

Tell me where to turn




TVA dammed the river

Flooded the unmarked 

Graves the bones

Of outlaws and farmers


Bleached lie in the shade

Haints talk to their souls

Field beans grow wrap

In coils listen to limestone


Songs sung by the woman

Of the river her children

And mine laid out dried

Tears cool dust in the shade




She read my lifeline

Told my fortune

Told me I would live

Sick before finding

Love but that was

The hand I was given

Not the one shaped


By a yellow cat

In Anderson Creek

Took me to church

Taught me not to pull

Hard or break the line

As the bank falls at my

Feet not to prey


With a surgical steel hook

My grandmother knew

Liars I must be a preacher

Forced a cake of lye

To bleach my tongue

Taste of purity eroded

In vomit and dry heaves


No truth no future rapturous

Rage filled with silence

A home with all deaf

The soothsayer chastised

By a self-appointed god

Wrote her apology on the wall

Shit from the toilet her voice

Gregory Vance Smith is from rural, northern Alabama. He writes about a landscape that cannot be seen from the road and things we just don’t talk about in polite company. He teaches Communication in Texas.

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