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 out out into the universe divine ever so luminous luminous 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 thrumming purring 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 sepia-toned 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 eulogized 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 . . ., CREATOPIA, Fahmidan Journal, Fathom Magazine, Fiery Scribe Review Magazine, Fireflies’ Light, Isotrope, LIGHT, Of Rust and Glass, Red Door Magazine, Red Weather, The Remnant Archive, Salamander Ink Magazine, San Antonio Review, SPLASH!, and Xinachtli Journal (Journal X). Read her previous poems in Deep South here.