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
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.