“The Whole Kit II” by Matthew S. Parsons

Matthew S. Parsons


There’s something about a brick
against a broad window
that seems to make everything break.

Who knows where he got it from—
there’s lots of them 
just lying on the ground, half buried.

Jared had this feeling, like sickness.
He was in the throws.
He had to pick up that stone to shake it.

He had to pick up that stone, yes,
and he had to grin
at the weight of the sin he carried.

Bootle’s boss had a daughter, Tasha—
pretty as a new window—
but she was smudged by southern fingers.

The feller responsible was one of those
lean boys with bad dads
who had to beat their demons out of folks.

He muddied the girl’s glass like water
deep, dark, and blue
and scratched it where his hands lingered.

Her brother Jared picked up an ancient brick
and chucked it at the feller.
It killed him, and then everything broke.

The liquor business went dry as the county
and that era cracked through.
The good times splintered into all these pieces.

Like the broad window where Bootle sold beer;
that too, was shattered,
and I never saw him or any of them again.

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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