“Bubba Country” by Michael Jones

Michael Jones


Nineteen and drivin my fly ass whip
to Malvern to visit my grandparents.
Could taste freshly killed bird and home
fries cooked in a skillet cast in 1914.
Sugar, honey, baby, swirled in the air
I breathed. And that foul goat Rocky,
who chased me when I was eleven, 
that bastard still had the run of the farm
but now had tennis balls on his horns. 
Drove on I-20 stereo bumpin
stopped at the Blue Monkey Lounge
for a leak and caffeine. I knew I was in bubba 
country when nigger this nigger 
that slurred from a man in Carhartt overalls
slobbering drunk and staggering my way. 
The crowd drifted back but the nigger
shit didn’t faze me after living in the south.
I wasn’t going to run from a fist fight. 
The asshole pulled a pussy gun,
a twenty-two that spat a bullet
eight millimeters into my shin. Blood 
gushed over my boot as I ran. Bullet
wound flamed when I put in the clutch. 
Tongue felt heavy, face weighted and drained. 
Stopped in front of the police station, world 
dark in my vision. Lay my fist on the horn.
Pissed off cop came out to see what was wrong.  
Dude was six seven six eight and called me 
son. Carried me like a baby into the station, 
asked a few questions, dispatched    
a car to the bar. Felt like a forklift
when he hoisted me back up against his body 
armor. I slumped in the rear of his vehicle. 
The doc at the hospital called me
sir. Plucked that bullet with a pair of blue
plastic forceps. Filled the hole with bone putty.
Hurt like a motherfucker. Called Grandma.
She blessed me out for not calling sooner. 
Grandpa wanted to off the guy.  
The asshole at the bar was still tossing
back shots when the cops arrived. 
Got three hots and a cot for two years.  
If I had walked into the bar and shot 
that redneck for fun, I would have been
drug behind a truck or hung. 

from Rattle #83, Spring 2024


Michael Jones: “I am the middle child of 12 siblings from three marriages. I grew up in gang-infested neighborhoods around military bases in Southern California. After high school, I broke the cycle of young black men perpetuating street violence and enlisted in the Army. This career would show me the world in many spectrums: The beauty of different cultures, the splendor of nature, and the horrors of combat. After the service I attended 2 HBUs, Bowie State and Howard. Though experienced in life, I learned my history through academia and gained a greater sense of pride in my past and more hope for my future.”

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