by Lynnel Jones
Big Richard pokers the coals, toasts
heart and liver, sips the moon,
considers The Club, fine as any white man’s:
blues, barbecue and booze
up the back mountain.
No drugs, no back-room whores,
no revenue stamps, no income tax —
there’s the rub. He took the fall.
The deal? His partner cut it
with the Feds. They beat him down,
squeezed until he was as dry as ham in salt
but still he owes. The coals light up in bars
along the grain of the oak; five years
he counted them; he almost broke.
He taps his poker to the steady beat
of whip-poor-wills, savors the question
called by an owl. He’ll hunker there all night,
feed slivers of green pecan and peach
to the oak, tending the cure.
Lynnel Jones’s poetry is steeped in the joys and struggles of Minnesota’s immigrant mining community and the lives of the people of rural southern Virginia and Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. A people-watcher since childhood, above all she aspires to write poems accessible to the ordinary folks she writes about — and to do that with sensitivity, originality and gratitude.