by Jane Simpson
I’ll call upon God; the Lord shall save me.
I fidget with those words like they’re rosary
beads, skin tags on the neck, straws in soda.
They’re words that seldom convey what I want.
They’re urgent care words, antiseptics to
heal infections rooted deep—like gangrene—
bone-coated and skin-tinged. Forced removals.
I’d rather the words said Save me from me
when I believe everything I think.
Like when I never learned to be alpha
to a dog because I couldn’t crate it,
or when I thought the old homeless woman
in front of my house needed my blanket.
When I thought words were just for ears and books.
25 My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word.
Journey proud is Southern say for the nerves
that twist in bed sheets on nights before trips.
It’s when travelers awake before wasp-
needled alarms to pack, re-check, foot tap
with tension, scratch the anxiety itch
that crawled the dark like bed bugs on the skin.
My grandfather didn’t suffer journey
proud—he tilled, toiled the earth, and loathed the road.
When others went to Table Rock he stayed
home, settled with his Coke and recliner.
At home, he knew the exchange rate—that when
he turned soil in his garden woodlice crawled
on grit, rolled beyond the loose toss of dirt.
He knew corn planted in spring stalked the fall.
JANE SIMPSON was named a 2018 Georgia Author of the Year for her first chapbook, On the Porch, Under the Eave, which was published by FutureCycle Press. Her full-length book, Blessings of the Beasts, will be published this fall. Her poems have appeared in Atlanta Review, BorderSenses, The Chattahoochee Review, Main Street Rag, POEM, The Penwood Review, Poet Lore (Honorable Mention, Ratner-Ferber-Poet Lore Prize), Sojourner’s Magazine, Allegro Poetry Review, and elsewhere. She was nominated for a 2015 Pushcart Prize. In addition, she is the Chief Development Officer for a non-profit organization and lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
Photo: “It is a long way” by Massimo Valiani