Census records, crumbling sepia,
yielding farmers, railroad workers.
One great-grand uncle locked up
in Eastern State, 1910. I don’t need
blue bloods, nuclear physicists, only
legends, ballads, stories too good
to be true. Give me Louisiana rednecks
and recipes for Cajun catfish baked
on a shingle. More uncles, backsliding
Baptists, one-eyed oil riggers. Something
to tell the foster grandkids, account for
the restlessness in my bones. Nights
that taste of moonshine and Tabasco,
alligators in washtubs, joy, unfettered,
unlettered. The Gospel according to
Muddy Waters. Leech me of the tepid genes
of plain folk, Pennsylvanian, the disappointment
of chicken corn soup on the tongue,
the dust of laughs unspent.
Karla Keffer is in her third year of a Ph.D. program in creative writing/fiction at the University of Southern Mississippi. Her poems and fiction have been published in Smartish Pace, Moon City Review, and Rappahanock Review. She is also the creator of the perzine The Real Ramona and the forthcoming semiautobiographical comic Charm City. Karla lives in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.