A bit like a mushroom factory around here,
where all in the brochure is covered in mold, and
after the rains manure has softened in a mound,
the jewel weed exploding like a jungle, never
to be stopped, no matter what. We have grown used to
fat clouds drifting overhead, so when Uncle Bob
says no one knows the Bible Belt better than the devil,
meaning shimmers about where the belt begins
and ends, or whether the devil exists at all.
Nonetheless in Memory, Missouri on the outskirts
of the Ozarks, community routinely is built and believed,
and nearly everyone attends the district fair where
Joey Chitwood in his custom Camaro roars round
the track, ready to jump one two three cars, and slither
on two wheels. After the blink the dead and living
gather before the grandstand where George Jones
waits to play, a decade before his wildness takes
its toll, and he is reduced to playing small.
Still, like primordial memory, everyone knows
his piano player comes home as local hero, and
out back in the shed barns, like every year,
rabbits, chickens, sheep, pigs are scrubbed clean,
awaiting ribbons. Still vibrant are the gypsy conmen
directing cigarette games, sending plastic ducks
bumping in their circle, poking alive a freaky
frog boy and two headed calves, all the other
oddities gone formaldehyde stale.
So small town and laughable, the excitement is
seedy small, too local to be depraved, even when
the girls appear outside their tent nearly naked as
a teaser thrusting twats to us rubes amazed the wild
exists, imported without judgment, not so different
from amazing church tent messages so eagerly
given away. In Memory, Missouri someone always
is responsible for teaching evil’s tentacles to the young,
eager like dogs sensing the rabbit about to leap.
Unsure who is what, or why, maybe later,
in another season, the newest travelers will label
roads wandered amidst ancient dust, and document
how the devil responded to magnetic pull.