Last Testimony of Greasy Voice

       After my defeat,
       I smell like the roads
       cutting through the peanut fields.

       My dance steps
       sound like the emptiness of barns.

       The janitor of hell sweeps up
       the coffin nails
       and bouquets of dead horseflies
       after me.

       A dazed underworld hero
       fleshed and rubbed down
       with my own tongue and brains.
       The grease of me
       bubbling like an enchanted lake.

       I don’t even have ashes of dead saints
       to rub in my eyes.
       Mud-clown face
       With laughter and grease spraying out.
       Following the hairy tail of a balding star constellation.

       I carry the power lines of hell
       around my neck.
       My only wing
       hanging on an empty wall.


KJV

       I only remember the bible,
       not the man, my grandfather.
       When he read from it, the bible sounded
       bird-broken as it slammed down
       scaring away the ghosts
       licking the filth in the corners
       Of our kitchen.

       Grandfather was buried
       With this favorite bible,
       Thick brochure on Heaven and Hell
       expected to be read in the dark
       of the casket
       as the pounds of dirt settle softly like sleep.
       The rainwater prying open
       the hieroglyphics of my grandfather’s bones.
       His soul, a label with directions
       on how to clean with the heat
       of a cold-spoken, biblical word.

       And his bible is, at least, a century old by now.
       It will have grown legs
       to kick in the darkness.
       A mouth to eat through the upholstery and dirt
       as it digs free,
       a long protruding tongue
       to flick at the moon.
       The bible will scurry away like a tarantula before the first rain.
       It will realize its own hot war and cold god.
       It will both curse and pray.


Six Fingers

       They say the snake is the severed tail
       of a vast dangerous creature of filth and fog.
       I can relate to that.
       I am the cut-off,
       the stump.
       My life, at best, is a severed hand with six fingers.
       A skinny cardinal for a wedding ring.
       My blood trail disappears up
       into the trees,
       into the next world,
       into the next sky.
       Starry hand of dawn,
       all six fingers pointing in six different directions,
       fingering good bye.
       Undecided I sit here, long enough,
       to become an altar
       where the abandoned monsters come to pray.
       My temple of 100 wildernesses,
       shiny like the edges of a viper’s eyes.
       The offerings—dead mice, hummingbirds,
       and crispy, sun soaked leaves raked out of cemetery lawns.


Sy Hoahwah is Yappituka Comanche and Southern Arapaho. He has published two collections: Night Cradle (USPOCO, 2011), and Velroy and the Madischie Mafia (West End Press, 2009). Sy’s poetry has appeared in the Florida Review, Indiana Review, and Shenandoah. He was also a featured writer for Poetry Foundation’s Harriet, and is a recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship.
BACK