an online showcase curated by Maya Kóvskaya



by Roy Bentley



In the land where coal is king and queen there is a bar,
a big room where miners fight for something to do. Inside
is a framed image of Franklin Delano Roosevelt—
by the Men’s Room where discerning Republicans spit,
though never at the face in the frame. Which is what I do.
Because he died, the President, and left me at the head
of a column of miners, striking miners, who faced down
an army that Harry S. Truman called out by executive order.
And so of course there’s someone takes issue with my politics.
Someone “built like a brick shithouse,” as they say. A giant.
The giant is just some unlucky miner who I don’t see coming,
who has made his way past the barstools and two rows of tables
to land a first you’ll-feel-that-tomorrow punch. Which I answer.
I’m holding my own until I hear pop! and then hear myself say,
Sonofabitch shot me! and That damn Johnny Belcher shot me!
Simple miracles, and most family myths, are made of walking
alone at night like this, and to a hospital where a pretty nurse
you went to high school with won’t ask since she knows you,
knows the sort of man you are: how the Potters have done
their share of bar-fighting and dying in eastern Kentucky.
It’s no miracle a man like me wants to live. Enough so
that he drags himself to assistance. Walks in, bleeding.
And I don’t know when I collapse, but I’m on the floor
looking up into lights that pass for Heaven’s gate and
then seeing the nurse hovering, her breasts like hills,
small white hills, the maybe-last-thing I’ll likely see
as a consequence of hawking up and letting fly one
huge you-guessed-it in a dead president’s direction.
I’d have preferred being shot over the pretty nurse
who asks for my next of kin as I whisper Mary.





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