In honor of all I'm thankful for this year: a poem I wrote fifteen Thanksgivings ago when I had just moved to New York City and was still in the habit of chasing love by taking buses down south. Incidentally, it's also the poem where I first wrote of my tenderness towards Hostess cakes. It was published in Washington Square in the Winter of 1997.
3 bags of pork rinds,
6 cans of warm Pepsi,
18 mentholated cough drops,
a couple of HoHo’s, a DingDong,
2 and a half packs of Marlboros,
and Dee from Louisville
pressing her elbow into my ribs,
talking her hysterectomy,
her 13 year old gone on birth control,
her 16 year old thrown in a Boy’s Home
south of Memphis for stripping butt naked
and flipping off God on top of the county library,
the 3 men who’ve beat her,
her 1 cup coffee maker,
and the turkey dinner
she’s packed in her suitcase, all boxed up,
so the jackasses won’t crush it.
We talk about the stars
‘cause I don’t get many where I come from,
and she teaches me a song about bumblebees.
Waking up alone’s the hard part,
we agree till Nashville rises too soon,
sticking up sore-thumb style on the horizon,
and a man without flowers awaits my arrival.
Yesterday I could almost love him,
could almost hear him breathing,
but today, I’m afraid,
my ass isn’t the only thing gone numb
above the roar of white walled, greyhound tires.
So we sit at the Waffle House,
careful not to touch for fear of nothing special—
coffee weak as rainwater,jukebox blaring Blue Christmas.