Wendy Taylor Carlisle lives and writes in the Arkansas Ozarks. She is the 2020 winner of the Phillip H. McMath Post-Publication Award for The Mercy of Traffic and this spring, Doubleback Books reprinted her 2008 book, Discount Fireworks, available free at: Doubleback Books. Her website is www.wendytaylorcarlisle.com. Photo by Greg Comnes.
And aren’t you and your friends undismayed, standing there,
nose-to-helmet, pressing back American History
and the cops, dressed-for-a riot, or a high school play.
Maybe you wished for just a little hollering and shoving,
Tiffany and the Nimrod took their first night in a motel just past the truck stop, in a scarlet and white bridal suite. The motel had plastic furniture in the lobby, and “Jesus loves you,” graffitied on the condom machine in the public restroom.
How do you know when it’s done? I admit the children
were wrecked but the sad man gave me reasons to remain—
the sex was sex, his blows weren’t all that harsh and he never
shot at me but once. It’s a gift, I guess, to know how to leave,
I keep my little principality tidy. Like Genghis Kahn’s nuns, I am a part of a war nation, having no real land or location, taking pain out in ever widening circles. Shouldn’t I travel as the hordes did, living off the conquered, carrying only my broom, a war nation against my own. It doesn’t take much really. You only have to be hungry and willing to do what it takes to get fed.