Southern Chores – David Lohrey

—–Dedicated to Anna Mae Bullock


Poking the Sky


Well, I am not sure about this, 
I’m not, but I will say this: 
Heaven, or whatever you people call it,
…some call it paradise…
How do you know it’s called that?
Because that is what I choose to believe. 
What do you choose to believe?

A spam sandwich with mayo.
That it?
Yeah, I’m just sayin’…
I notice that everything gets a wow.
She wants to soak in a bath of milk. Oh, yes, she do.
She as proud as Mary rolling on the river, that proud.
…Owning the spotlight.

How can basmati rice be called Southern? 
Have people gone mad?
Just git over here and give me some sugar.
If it entails Coca Cola, you can forget it. 
I am not putting soda pop in the soup.
I’m over the moon.
You would be. You can afford to be stupid. You young.

I feel like dancing with the stars.
You feel like you are dancing with the what?
No, not that am dancing but that I would like to be.
Oh, I see. 
You standing there like you are, you know…
Why don’t you put on some panties?
As you are, standing there, pant-less, you could kill rattle snakes.

Daddy used to say mamma could make badgers and wolverines cry.
I believe she could.
Well, you going or you fixing to stand around all day?
I’m going.
You look as sweet as cotton candy. How you getting carfare?
Never you mind.
Bring a stool sample, you hear.

Try listening to Porgy and Bess and then tell me life is shit.
Go on!
Just because you don’t know shit don’t mean everything is shit.
Now get over here and give me some sugar. Come on!
Unless you need an attitude correction, ‘cause we can do that.
All right then.
Bring that stool sample, now, you gots to go to the clinic tomorrow.


So Long


Crawdaddy Baby liked to fuck in the mud.
Crawdaddy had a bent dick.
Craw knew a thing or two about making a woman
Happy. Not by the Wi-Fi but Hi-Fi, you know.
Daddy-O was my Pa.

Happy she was, too.
He seen to that.
She want a glass o’ water,
He brung her one, right quick.
Pa was a humdinger, that’s what she say.

He liked to do her on the porch on a summer
Night. He done tol’ her he’d do the washing up.
She hiked up her skirt and showed him her twat.
He always say the same darn thang, he say,
“Shoo, wee, ma, let’s go again!”

Being this the anniversary of his death, long ago,
I thought I’d say something nice about him. He had
Long hairs growing out his ears. Long hairs they
Was, growin’ every which way, and they was black,
Not gray, like the hairs on his head and lower back.

When he got news of the tumor, he say that’d be all right.
He had had just about enough. He got his shotgun
Out and blew Ma’s brains out, put the barrel into his
Mouth, run his lips around it, and was heard to say,
“No wonder she always say No.” Them was his final words.


A Love Poem by America’s First Pregnant Trans Woman, 
Miss Theodora Divine, II.


“What the hell did you expect?” That’s what
he said, my father, who sat right there in my house
and called me a slut.

“Hey, whoa, hey, slow down there, gramps. Let’s 
show some respect for your daughter there, sir. Just
show the bitch some respect!” 

This here is my husband, Derby, talking. He knows 
whereof he speaks.  He better. He has himself a fine
brand-new Cadillac CVS sedan which he bought
on his winnings from last year’s darn Tupelo poker 
championship, so don’t tell me, just don’t you dare
try telling me, you hear?

We met at the Magnolia Nights Formal-Wear Annual Party
held at Ole Miss this year on April 8th, in the Bellevue 
Towers dance hall over on Shake N’ Bake Lane. Afterwards, 
I won’t lie, he swept me off my feet and I’ve been off them 
ever since. 

Mind you, he took right away to slapping my ass. I told him, 
I told him right then and there that I would not have him
hitting me like that. I didn’t like it. I don’t want men
slapping my bare bottom unless he’s fixing to fuck me.
Then, it’s all right, when he’s good and stiff and in me real
nice. That’s what I’m saying. I’ve always been that way.

My mamma told me my daddy liked to haul off and slap her
real good, too, and she wouldn’t have it, not any of that slapping
crap, so she grabbed a skillet and whomped him over the head.  
Just lay into that fucker, I mean it, and he learned to cut that out. 
Wham! It just ‘bout tore a hole in his head.

But, see, that’s how folks are. That is how it is. A woman’s 
got to stand up for herself or men will try to be on her twenty-four
hours a day, I kid you not. They want to fuck you in the ass,
in the coochie cooch, shit, guys would be fucking you in your ears
if gals didn’t stand up for themselves. That’s just the way it is. 

“You don’t need no Nobel in literature to know the ways of men.”
That’s what my mamma used to say. She knew William Faulkner’s
cleaning ladies, ‘cause they shopped at the Kroger’s outside Oxford. 
They knew. They knew. That is all I’ll be saying on that subject.
But see, the thing of it is, pecans do grow on trees, see? Oh, yes, they do!
And so, that’s why a woman like me’s got to put out. Otherwise, she
going to be left behind. The guy’s ‘round here will just dump your ass.

That is exactly what Jed McFadden done to my mamma. He was fixin’ 
to stop the car, had his dick out and all. He was driving one of those big 
ole’ Mercury 500s and she told him in no uncertain terms she wasn’t about
to hand over her virtue, no sir. And he said, girlee, you are not leaving me
with no blue balls after I spent thirteen dollars feeding your fucking
face with catfish, so he up and done it. He put her out of his car and drove 
off. He said, “You gonna give me some, or you are can take your damn 
self back.” How’s that?


Chesapeake Bay Is Sinking


The big city is on fire but not here.
Why must we live like bears when 
we could be as proud as peacocks?
We sleep too much. We play dead.
Hibernating is for the birds. Paris is 
on fire but here in Baltimore, people 
are asleep. You can tell from their toenails 
and their eyelids the bourgeoisie is dead. 

They prefer pomegranate gelatin to potatoes 
and gravy. They pay to hear Jingle Bells in 
underground bunkers. They stopped going 
to the theatre after “Oh! Calcutta!” Wives crave 
the pirouette; husbands: hullaballoo. They adore 
the Can-Can in Las Vegas. They miss Molly Brown. 
They’ve never been to Kansas, but they look down 
on women who wear kitchen curtains that don’t fit. 

Sophistication means appearing to be French. 
They are ashamed to be American. In Paris, 
everybody wants to belong. They are ready to burn.
Social climbers tear out the shag and replace it with 
hard wood. As we know from Broadway, they give jam 
as gifts. Husbands invest in mouthwash; big brothers 
build bombs. Their children cry in the dark. The maid 
drinks. It’s a winter wonderland but they can’t be happy. 

Think of T.S. Eliot in his panama hat. In the name of 
transparency, boys’ flies remain open. The New York Times 
announces it is utopia time. Macy’s is having a sale. 
You can buy anything including a neutered python. 
Race relations have been abolished. Boys can now be girls. 
Alcatraz houses teachers who refuse to call him, her. Now 
they say Mary was raped. In future, no one will have genitals.
Ken and Barbie are exactly the same south of the border.

Jingle Bells. The President watches the Rockettes all day. 
It’s a very Merry Christmas on TV. White trash dines at KFC. 
The upper-classes prefer their minced meat from England. 
The Flower Drum Song has replaced Rudolph the RedNosed 
Reindeer. The new production of West Side Story has no Puerto
Ricans. Everyone has a gun. Standing beneath mistletoe 
is against the law. In their bunkers, people wear camouflage. 
Strangers mistake them for rats.


A Good Paddling


Yes, it was better back then, far better to be alive.
They put the groceries on a conveyer belt at the A & P,
which carried them far below. They were taken outside 
to a spot in the parking lot. One didn’t push one’s cart across 
the gravel back then. It was called civilization, this; what is it
called now?

The angry man called me a motherfucker when I brushed up
against him in the subway. Of course, I had never laid eyes 
on this man ever before. He was a fool. I could scarcely care, 
I wanted to say, but I said sorry. I’m terribly, terribly sorry, 
my dear, for touching your tender shoulder. 

No, we weren’t rebellious at all. We obeyed. It was all about
Yes, sir, and knowing when to stop. Although there were those
among us, like Matt, who had a well-cushioned ass. He provoked
the flat-topped coach to strike; he grabbed his polished paddle 
and swept it across Matt’s backside. It made him laugh. 

We said Ma’am? not What? If we wanted to thrive, we had to submit.
There were rules in my day, not chaos. We had no rights. Our parents
stood with the school against us. What? was thought rude. It was not
permitted. They called it respect, but we all knew it was obedience.
The men were just back from the war. They were fighters. They were
prepared to knock our teeth out.

It was a tough time and we were expected to take our clothes off. No
if ands or buts. Get your pants off, strip. We took showers together
in the nude. Modesty was a sign of femininity. No blushing, no hard-ons.
Get your ass into the pool. Boys in those days were expected to be men;
we were in training to kill. 

Those were the good old days, and don’t forget it. I was there. Kids 
didn’t tell their teachers to fuck off. Not back then. Adults ran the world.
Our lockers didn’t lock. Mom and dad left the doors wide open. Mother
let the car run when she dashed in for milk. Kids stayed in the car. Some 
people believe in progress. Things are always getting better. I laugh.


Beside the Red Barn

Beside the red barn
at an intersection
between today and tomorrow,

                                                 a man from Alabama
                                                 plays the banjo
                                                 on his knee;

             he whistles Dixie
             and wears a Confederate cap
             with shoes by Nike.

                                    Roy Rogers, his uncle,
                                    stands stark naked

                                    on his bed
                                    eating a Milky Way,
                                    with a red bow on his penis;
                                    His second wife Maybelline
                                    won’t quit laughing.
Daniel Boone and
Davy Crockett

                                  embrace with affection.

The mayor of San Antonio cries quietly at attention.
It’s Thursday afternoon at 3.


A Love Supreme


Do you know it? The love or the music? 
One rarely gets both, but some do. You’ve 
seen them. You’ve gotten nothing and they
have both. Love and music. Throw in some
money and, we could say, they have it all.

I do not. Not that I have not tried.
I have been on that bench unlacing my skates.
I have received the low scores that broke Tonya’s 
heart. Tonya Harding had a tough life. Tonya
never knew privilege. 

You know you are not on the receiving end
when people start spitting in your mouth.
Many know sadness. If you have not, you should
consider yourself lucky. Some are foolish enough 
to take all the credit for their well-being. 

These people are delusional. These people
are semi-conductors. They do not stand before
the symphony at rehearsal. They stand at the side.
They are in the hive but not beside the queen.
The thrum of life keeps them going. 

There is no time to waste. The bees follow each other
into the box. They crawl. They chomp at the bit.
They fall. My name is Miss Derby and we are in
Kentucky. Stand on the scale. Lower your britches.
How many years have you been racing?

John Coltrane built statues. He worked in bronze.
He made the Taj Mahal. He installed dishwashers.
Coltrane sang in braille. Everything he shipped, went 
First Class. Remember that. Air Mail, not bulk. One
note at a time, sent to each and every one of us.

The buzz blocks the music. The hive thrives on silence.
Coltrane played a music that lulled the bees. He composed.
He annulled. He excavated. He killed. Then he rested.
Everyone who has listened knows the terms of his contract. 
Like His Master, he bowed to none.