August 9, 2021

Edison Jennings

COLD SPRING MORNING AND THE GRADE SCHOOL

Cold spring morning and the grade-school 
kitchen ladies pack quick-fix meals for poor kids 
because the rona’s on a killing spree while they bitch 
about the parents because most are probably tweekers, 
dopers, drunks, or immigrants ripping off America
because we give too much away while a holy DJ shills 
Jesus love for dollars, hawking heaven for donations  
so Christ the Risen Lord can feed the poor and hungry,
because their pay is lousy and arthritis spikes 
their bones and the grandkids’ dad’s not married 
to the grandkids’ mom, so they sneak out quick-fix meals 
and no one says a thing because that would be so wrong, 
because they have to feed the kids now that daddy’s gone to jail 
and who knows where the mom is? maybe she’s detoxing, 
but the Jesus shilling DJ is off the air at last and Dolly’s singing 
Coat Of Many Colors and now Aretha raises rafters 
with You’ll Never Walk Alone, and someone mutters amen 
and another sing it sister and then as if on cue 
someone drops a stack of trays and someone laughs 
and then a couple more because the righteous racket 
is bouncing off the floor, clattering like cymbals 
that set the kitchen ringing and making joyful noise.  

from Rattle #72, Summer 2021
Tribute to Appalachian Poets

__________

Edison Jennings: “I live in Virginia at the pointy end where it slides like a scalpel into the interstices of Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina, with West Virginia nuzzling all cozy to the north, which is to say, I live in Appalachia, coal country, hill country, MAGA country—bigotry, fundamentalism, meth labs, and guns (lots of guns). It’s also beautiful, and its people are tough and weathered victims of predatory capitalism who have suffered scorn and ridicule. I write about it because, as Maurice Manning put it, ‘aesthetic value is not simply the stuff of high art, but a feature of all human vitality—even the commonest among us has an idea of art, because … it is always a human expression.’” (web)

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