Bench Warrant Wednesday
You’re finally back in your hometown,
only snow greets your arrival.
Court date’s in a few hours,
just time to check into some
cheap hotel and change into clothes
that say I’m a good girl, clothes
that’ll be dumped at the charity shop
after free breakfast, local bank,
and go pay the fine tomorrow.
No time for visiting or sightseeing—
you’ll see all you want from the train
on the head-out-of-town express.
Window cracked to let a thin stream of smoke out,
you breathe in the incense of pines,
catch a quick glimpse of your old house
a little more canted, a lot less yours.
All the wildflowers buried deep until spring
do nothing to coax you back,
and you leave this town that doesn’t bear repeating
once again, the stillness of dusk broken only
by wisps of winter shadows through the trees,
a jukebox song of wild horses in your mind.
The Year of No Men
Granny’s on the front porch with me
playing gin and drinking gin.
I have a Jolt Cola to keep awake.
Mama’s coming to get me soon,
take me to the monthly family day
at the corrections house just down the road.
They call it “house” so it sounds nice,
but you can’t just leave when you want.
Daddy’s there for a while and that’s all I know.
We got a one-year lease on a nice double-wide,
Granny’s a couple rows over.
Other ladies and kids mostly fill in the rest.
Mama goes over to our real house every few weeks,
waters the plants, grabs up the bills,
cleans the messages off the garage door.
I don’t get to go ‘cause those messages—
they’re not too nice most times and mama says
I’m too young to understand.
So she brings me back a lemon pie
from the gas station mini mart
and I watch Granny get stuporfied.
Took a lotta years living
before I could sift through the truth
of our time at the trailer park,
and I made a lot of promises to myself
after that: no bail, no messages
written on any garage doors cause of me,
and gin would always be cards, jelly jars
only for juice and for baking, and “house”
would mean house, with toys in the yard.
Tobi Alfier is a multiple Pushcart nominee and multiple Best of the Net nominee. “Slices of Alice & Other Character Studies” was published by Cholla Needles Press. “Symmetry: earth and sky” was published by Main Street Rag. She is co-editor of San Pedro River Review (www.bluehorsepress.com).