There was Red Jaws sitting on the
couch, mom’s half-brother, while we
waited for his tale.
He took a minute, easing into the
story like a slow drink of whiskey.
I ain’t drunk today he said, still too
early but there has been many a
time when me and a buddy would
go through two cases of pabst a
day—start at 10 in the morning be
finished by 6 before dinner.
That wuz afore I got too old to
float down the river.
Jaws ain’t never been a mean
drunk mom said.
Naw, ain’t no use to fightin Jaws
said. Better to run wild wimmin
get some love. All up and down these
hollers, and the wimmin—just find a
drunk one in a beer joint, all loose as a
goose, buy her another beer or two and
when she wuz ready to go offer her a ride
End up in the woods some wheres in
Valley Creek, the stars just a staring
down at us and them panties would
come off. She forget about her ole
man real quick, there on Saturday nite,
then go lissen to the preacher on Sunday
morning still smelling of beer but so
lost in the Holy Ghost she was as pure
as a new born baby’s butt—that wuz her
salvation—whut made her a good woman.
Ralph Monday is Professor of English at Roane State Community College in Harriman, TN. He is widely published in journals. Books include All American Girl and Other Poems, 2014; Empty Houses and American Renditions, 2015; Narcissus the Sorcerer, 2015; Bergman’s Island & Other Poems, 2021; The Book of Appalachia, 2023; and a humanities text, published by Kendall/Hunt, 2018. Vol. 2 of the humanities text is expected in 2023.
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