Simeon Berry

Miss Raylene’s house

is hexagonal

like a hive

She says the hippies

woke up the huge ferns

that flank the porch

to watch over it

All I feel is the cut breath

of the quarry

close by

I bring an algebra headache

and the fishhook

in my brain

from Mom’s insomnia

She moans

all night    Blames

the whippoorwills

The birds that sang

in the shocked dark

when the gates

to Eden were shut

She says

there’s always at least

one person in the Old Testament

to despise

Til Jesus wiped the blood clean

with the rag of his body

Miss Raylene’s parlor

is masked

in black and white


Old timey people flinching


under stiff hair

Gamblers   Scoundrels

looking waterlogged

and suspicious

I thumb the glass face

of one

while Miss Raylene

gets ready for a date

She glides up behind me

Whisper soft

in painful stilettos

Before I taught

I used to know all

the hands and cards

Two Pips

Little Slick

The Man with the Axe

A whole book

of charming wrongs

about the author