What to do with thread in Texas or the meaning of string
String: A cord or thread
twisted fiber like nerves in terror, twisted
as in hair, neck, heart
a string tied around a door knob to warn of incursion, to warn of repression, to warn of drugs placed by police in an apartment to make an arrest.
a masquerade of legality, a violation. Lee Otis Johnson, Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, arrested, evidence of drugs, one joint, one marijuana cigarette, thirty years in the joint, in and out and in again, violence in the cells, beat, beat, beaten,
like my heartbeat at two a.m., coming home to find the thin thread on my door knob broken. Too tired to NOT open the door.
Waiting to be arrested. Waiting.
Night work in Texas
I could tell you the story of a job
driving a donut truck at night
down into the ghetto, a bluesman singing
with washtub and strings of alcohol fumes
mixing with fat-fry grease and sticky donut goo,
and a lost dog, and how the shop man threw
the singer out and how across town
at the same moment a Quick-Stop clerk
was being robbed by a man with a rifle,
and so the clerk pulled a handgun on him
and how I heard the 7-11 guy laugh
when the Quick-Stop clerk was fired,
and then the 7-11 guy showed me
his guns and told me his other job — hit man,
and then he asked me
if there was anything I needed.
W.T. Talks Hard Time in the House
“I don’t care about your miserable shit life!”
A punch in the arm to me and she was spinning,
eyes flashing, body flouncing, door slammin’
pure D love a pass/fail stompin’ up the stairs,
Lady Discord throwing that proverbial
golden apple around the house,
but there ain’t no prize with this one,
no Helen waiting around to be hauled off to some
Troy, no ship in the harbor looking to sail,
but it sure feels like war,
and her guns aren’t on safety.
So I’m talking war in the household,
and let me tell you, parenting ain’t no
fruit bowl full of pick and choose.
So y’all, this is an American song,
and it’s about a daughter with disabilities
hitting a parent who’s just about had it,
and, God bless, there ain’t no real guns here.
Martha Jackson Kaplan is a Pushcart nominated poet and flash fiction writer who lives in Madison, Wisconsin. She has a passion for history, a sense of place, and language itself. She has published both in print and online and has won awards from Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. You can find her flash fiction at Bending Genres II, an essay in Bramble V (online and in print), and is thrilled to be published again with Unlikely Stories Mark V. More about her can be found at MarthaKaplanPoet.com.