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Oh Shenandoah


Hash is slung in the Virgin hills

where blood soaks land and

blood spirits glide 

about the night mantle 

that deepens this halt along 

the Appalachian Trail.


This is Antietam.


Ghost soldiers anchor stools at the counter.


The one that walks the back roads sits 

in an overstuffed chair watching 

with detachment the proprietress

trade porn tapes with the waitress as 

the proprietor looks on, amused and wily.


This proprietor turns his lumpy 

denim-obscured noodly crotch pole toward 

his sixteen-year-old helper’s tight ass

and rubs as he slips behind her.


She doesn’t know he did it on purpose.


She’s dreaming about Sam, 

the black boy she likes who likes her,

and agonizing the fact that her father, a lawyer, 

tossed his brief case which broke a lamp

and sent her mother into 

an apparently permanent state of vanish.


The proprietor’s nostrils flare at the delicious scent 

that rises from this child’s hair

as he passes behind her.


Strands of her chestnut burnish

brush his chest.


His eyes shine at a thought.


The ghosts watch but don’t care.


That one that looks like a farmer

    Oshkosh B’Gosh

and claims to be a farmer?

He peers at the engine of a broke down car 

that rests along the outside curb.


What kind of farmer’s never seen an engine before?


Back at the threshold, he’s plopped 

and smiles a soft, everlasting smile

at a bumpy, beaten, red plastic Coke-flourished cup 

brimming with sweet tea and 

delimited ice floes

that sits untouched 

hours and hours and hours, 

elbows shifting on cool, 

water-pooled chipped formica, 

his eyes hiking the human varietal topography

that eats, drinks, moves in and out,

and chatters in languages 

foreign to him, 

foreign to each other, 

a mass of corporeal curious 

constituents of the right here and now,

shunning the chilled region 

that occupies that particular stool 

for all time.


He settles deep with the 

spiritual heft of death. 


This is a heavy old man for a ghost. 


Sausage gravy and biscuits.

Iced tea and pie.


A frigid blast with another black eye

and a crusted cut,

Phyllis shoulder butts 

the transparent gateway agape. 


Moving through the incoherent 

chunks of human being

at respite from their shared traverse, 

she beholds her face in a mirror perched 

in one hand, and with the rigid middle finger of the other

    Fuck me, fuck you, fuck everyone

dabs beigy paint

to veil black and blue to ashen,

and stomps past the beings,

mortal and immortal,

hollering Mornin’ ya’ll.


Her days are numbered.


The ghosts know, but don’t care

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