Three Poems

A. Loudermilk

New Name, Etc.

 

Hey you
in the aggravated suit: Did you ever steal
something? And I mean something. Something
too big to get away with by yourself really
and I mean all the way to a new name, etc.,
    but you did?

 

Get away, I mean. You look like you
had a previous life, that’s what I mean.

 

I once had a previous life
long ago in the day of the human eye
when whoever you were before wasn’t born yet
and people made amulets
and did not lock their car doors

 

and there were no files on anyone and psychology
wasn’t a big problem yet and people made amulets so heavy
they were bad for your back with good luck—

 

all this and an individually wrapped toothpick

 

that’s minty. You, though. Who shook
your cradle? Bet you were glad to change names, 
trade numbers. Symbolic, isn’t it? You just don’t fit

 

your new you yet. Try lowering your standards. 
I mean ditch the suit, blue as dye-bomb dye, and follow me. 

 

I know a shortcut. 

 

 

Gladyses of the World

 

It wasn’t me is all I ever say
& sorry,             it won’t happen next time—

 

               my jittering the teacups, my farsighted ladle, bad habits
               like cramming my apron into my coat pocket & leaving rind
               on the counter. I never picture myself doing what I’m doing
               & that’s why I never hear them telling me what to do when.

 

I’m no good with a tray either.
Maybe that’s why I fall for the waiters in town

 

              rumored to be truth-drug smugglers
              who look you in the eye while you tell
              what you’d like & you know what I’d like
    
—to be where rumors get started
maybe even one about me.
“Surely not her,” ladies’ll say, wondering

 

nonetheless. 

 

 

Izard County Manhunt

                               —1946

 

The sheriff don’t even twitch, shot dead 
twice. Rubert’s no kidder. I fumbled my bullets— 
deputy jags through the trees, a war cry in boots. 
Rubert’s daddy said we’d better get going,
that running is harder for a man with a wife.

 

I’m taller than Rubert but hardly act like it
and it don’t matter as he led me up the mountain
where we hide two winter months in a cave—smoke
off a low fire turning my hair dark; or in a thicket
curled like foxes with a posse close by enough
to hear the dirt they talked and Rubert was a knife
humming angry in my hands. We hide
deep, yet never escape. We get so cold we 
hurt all over. We want to surrender
almost right from the start.


 

 About the Writer
Split Lip Magazine

A. Loudermilk’s publications date back to 1994, when Mark Doty introduced him as a new voice in The James White Review. Since then his poems can be found in Tin House, Salamander, Fogged Clarity, Smartish Pace, Gargoyle, Cream City Review, and his own collection Strange Valentine.