Adrian Blevins



There are some facts. Such as real killers & rapists.

O & the vastly ignorant waving their flags for God

while donning white hats that look like dunce caps

& bulbous men in Evangelical hair unbuckling their belts

not knowing a vagina from a fig & what a clit even is

as they sit in the slack afterword in lawn chairs

talking among themselves in opposition to breast milk

while spewing out the real American purposes of tits

& jobs & roads & banks & saying but not saying

but still thinking & thus saying in puffed-out

little code utterances how it all belongs to them—

the women for their beds & kitchens & the jobs

for their pockets & banks & the rivers for their dioxins

& O don’t get me started on my beloved mountains

& the fracking, the cancer in the waterwells, the little

Appalachian babes making a happy racket in creeks

of coal soot & splashing around in petroleum baths

& smelling consequently like soap & Mountain Dew

& Dow Chemicals & whatever additional crazy mix

their Mama & Daddy’s on—Pabst Blue Ribbon

& McDonald’s & this or that whatever homemade med.

& those who are a little better as in at least they’re not

actual killers are just a little better—people fuck everything up

in the city & in the country in equal measure & in

different ways though mostly in the same old dumb human ways

& that’s just how it is which is why I too am sick of America

of which I too sing. Meanwhile my mother said

the worst thing she ever saw was a fieldhand with a calf.

My mother doesn’t knit, but for the sake of this pastoral

let’s say she was knitting or quilting which she used to do

when there was some baby on the way & that she

didn’t look up from her handiwork when I asked her

what I asked her. My mother gave me the truth there

when I was twelve about what she had seen when she was twelve

& it could have been far worse & yet it was not nothing

as a fieldhand with a calf is not easy for a child to see & think about

& to hear about later & to have to know about & so carry

& still I’m glad to know it & to carry it & to pass it on here

since the only thing we could do anyway was go on doing

whatever we were doing in the first place all those years ago

such as make the beds & sweep the floors & wipe the counters

down: in the rural South in the past there’s domestic work everywhere

if you are me & my mom’s my mom with her grin-and-bear-it

& gird-your-loins philosophies of suck it the fuck up, which I

hereby thank her for & pass also on. So what O unseeing child

do you object to the most? The rapes? The killings?

Dioxin crusting the Kanawha River in a melanoma silt

like a sprinkling of flour for a cake? The field hand with the calf?

The word clit? The thing clit? O you silly baby reading this

who wants to call some god or law. What god? What law?


ADRIAN BLEVINS is the author of Live from the Homesick Jamboree (Wesleyan University Press, 2009), The Brass Girl Brouhaha (Ausable Press, 2003), and two chapbooks, The Man Who Went out for Cigarettes (Bright Hill Press, 1996) and Bloodline (Hollyridge Press, 2012). She is the recipient of many awards and honors including a Kate Tufts Discovery Award for The Brass Girl Brouhaha, a Rona Jaffe Writer’s Foundation Award, a Bright Hill Press Chapbook Award, and, more recently, a pushcart prize, a Cohen Award from Ploughshares and a Zone 3 Poetry Award. A collection of essays she edited with Karen McElmurray—Walk Till the Dogs Get Mean: Meditations on the Forbidden from Contemporary Appalachia—is forthcoming from Ohio University Press in 2015. New poems are forthcoming or have been recently published in American Poetry Review, North American Review, Florida Review, and Zócalo Public Square. Blevins’s work is also being included in Best Creative Nonfiction of the South, forthcoming from Texas Review Press in 2015.


Read more by Adrian Blevins:

Poem at The Academy of American Poets
Poem at Zócalo Public Square
Poem at The Poetry Foundation