August 20, 2021

Matthew S. Parsons

THE WHOLE KIT

Bootle

Used to been you could buy beer
up at Bootle’s bootleg liquor store.

You could get what you needed
and it come with a raffle ticket.

You’d come back on Friday
and if you won you got a whole case.

He lived and bootlegged out
of the defunct Clark Hill Elementary.

It had a drive-thru window for convenience
and we all piled up in the big blue truck

and drove up there on the weekend.
He’d be in there watching a porno,

selling a buck a beer, and wearing
a “What Would Jesus Do?” bracelet.

He bought the short bus, if you can believe it.
Painted it all black and booked it on the backroads.

Filled it up with beer he bought on discount
off the back of some city slicker’s truck.

He was making money hand over fist.
We were seventeen years old.

from Rattle #72, Summer 2021
Tribute to Appalachian Poets

__________

Matthew S. Parsons: “Being Appalachian is an identity that I associate strongly with voice. I tried so hard to change my voice when I was coming of age that I have difficulty telling when I think my voice sounds ‘real’ to me. Sometimes, even the most familiar phrases and inflections feel foreign in my mouth. In the end, Poppy’s stories about ‘Uncle Noey’ and his hateful, whiskey-wielding wife just didn’t sound right with an affected northern ‘cleanness’ to the narrator’s voice. I couldn’t help but tell those stories, and I’m telling even more now. True to my voice, as best I can tell.” (web)

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