HomeUncategorizedAll Those Southern Ghosts

All Those Southern Ghosts

by Rose Menyon Heflin

With unbalanced rightness
my alter ego staggers forth
through foggy, hickory-smoked recollection
finding joy in the tremendous and endless possibilities
of the first casting of a fishing line
that slight tilt of shoulder
that delicate flick of wrist
that narrow arc piercing blue sky air
Myself, that murmur of revolution
at the callused, work-worn fingertips
of my hauntingly ignoble
redneck, white trailer trash, blue-collared lineage
wondering, terrified, through the dark no more
yet blinded by the brilliant, aching light
a supernova explosion of southern July sun
and of seering, rusty nail piercing grief
Milk teeth droplets of stardust out
into the universe divine
ever so luminous
a galactic tangent
born of tobacco dust
and flying gravel
spit out angrily from
the repressed, the ornery, the furious wheels
of that speeding Oldsmobile,
that Rocket engine humming
like a sated, post-coital lioness
and racing full throttle
around curvy backroads
with hills rising and falling like her cigarettes
in between shifts at the jean factory
and labor in the fields
and pesticide- and nicotine-induced rasps and rales
All the result of ceaseless,
seemingly penitent self-sacrifice
to the furious
the vengeful
the demanding gods
of tobacco
Her sleek, black hair and deep, perpetual tan
remnants of indigenous oppression generations back,
all of it still so thick and so humid that she cannot breathe,
all of it,
the lot of it,
the whole entire lot of it
now muted
in my own medium brown locks and dark brown eyes
and in my memories
The toil and the strife
and the overarching injustices
all inherited and inadvertently passed down
generation to generation
but never properly
never eloquently
never lovingly
and never adequately
never justly
never reverently
marked or memorialized
by mere stone immortal
All those gossamer and thinly-veiled ghosts,
all those starbursts of defiant, vibrant laughter
all our mysterious futures,
and all my shattered and shivering expectations
now complexly porous
and copper tasting on my tongue


Rose Menyon Heflin is a writer and artist who was born and raised in rural southern Kentucky. She now lives in Wisconsin, where the winters are unforgivingly cruel and the barbecue is blasphemously bad.  Her writing has appeared in numerous journals spanning five continents, and her poetry won a Merit Award from Arts for All Wisconsin in both 2021 and 2022. Among other venues, her poetry has recently been published or is forthcoming in After . . .CREATOPIAFahmidan JournalFathom MagazineFiery Scribe Review MagazineFireflies’ LightIsotropeLIGHTOf Rust and GlassRed Door MagazineRed WeatherThe Remnant ArchiveSalamander Ink MagazineSan Antonio ReviewSPLASH!, and Xinachtli Journal (Journal X). Read her previous poems in Deep South here.

The Fate of Winter M
The Oppressor Among