The Bad American
sometimes i wanna be a bad
american. everybody needs money,
everybody needs a woman’s love.
my second daddy’s walking through the refinery,
his light is like an orange fire in his mouth—
his navy blue jacket is zipped up. i see him walking with his black
work pants on. he licked his drink. momma worked three jobs. she cleaned.
she caught the train. i ate whatever
was in the cupboard. i never answered the phone.
tommy was better than me. he had a good car.
he guzzled money. girls were easy. my daddy didn’t need no gun.
he was a bullet.
momma kept one on the trains. she had a bit of a mouth.
daddys’ hands were charred black
with rubber. he used her gun.
the wind jammed the factory door wide open in the middle of winter,
his prognosis wasn’t good. he was still young
enough to remarry. sometimes i wanna shoot to eat. other times i wanna shoot to kill.
Toys We Play With
The girl with the gun in her hand—
her momma’s face shines as she brags.
She holds up the certificate which discerns
she can safely handle a gun.
His best memories were with his daddy
shooting in the woods. The boy
is under interrogation. He doesn’t know
Tommy is dead
yet. How dare
kids kill kids. Or adults.
How dare they violate
Kids always pay.
They pay for what they don’t
for what we make them do.
I manifest like an old-fashioned vase,
a body like days sagging without the core of the sun—a breakdown
feels like scratching for tin to feed a vein with heroin.
It’s almost not worth the rebirth
I promise myself. I don’t care how strong
you say you are.
I am sure no one knows how deep the body is.
Begging my mother for love
was like having sex with a prostitute.
There is nothing sweeter, nothing softer than a gun
the color of skin in my mouth—full of weevil from this bitter bread
and how they curl around each wrist or finger like a handcuff or a wedding ring.
Annie Blake has been published or is forthcoming in Gone Lawn, Futures Trading, Cat on a Leash Review, 45th Parallel, Communion Arts Journal, Borrowed Solace, Gambling the Aisle, The RavensPerch, West Texas Literary Review, Typehouse Literary Magazine, Riggwelter Press, Lady Blue Literary Arts Journal, The Hunger, The Slag Review, Sky Island Journal, Trampset, Anomaly Literary Journal, Haikuniverse, and elsewhere. A complete list of her published writing can be located at annieblakethegatherer.blogspot.com.