“The Whole Shebang Up for Debate” by Kari Gunter-Seymour

Kari Gunter-Seymour


Today I gave a guy a ride, 
caught in a cloudburst 
jogging down East Mill Street.  
Skinny, backpacked, newspaper 
a makeshift shield, unsafe 
under any circumstances.
I don’t know what possessed me.

I make bad decisions, am forgetful, 
cling to structure and routine
like static electricity to polyester,                 
a predicament of living under 
the facade I always add to myself.

Said he needed to catch a GoBus,
shaking off droplets before climbing in. 
He gabbed about Thanksgiving plans,
his mom’s cider-basted turkey, 
grandma’s pecan-crusted pumpkin pie.

It was a quick, masked ride.
Bless you, he said, unfolding himself
from the car. No awkward goodbyes, 
no what do I owe you? Just Bless you
and a backward wave. 

At the stop sign, my fingers stroked 
the dampness where he sat minutes before. 
Sometimes life embraces you 
so unconditionally, it shifts 
your body from shadow 
into a full-flung lotus of light.

from Rattle #72, Summer 2021
Tribute to Appalachian Poets


Kari Gunter-Seymour (from the conversation): “I come from a long line of self-sufficient, resourceful, hardworking people. As far as poetry is concerned, my work is Appalachian through and through. Growing up near my grandparents’ farm in the very small village of Amesville, Ohio, I was sheltered. We all had a bit of twang in our voice; we were all kinds of colors and shapes; and we didn’t care because we all grew up together. A lot of people don’t even know that about a quarter of Ohio is in Appalachia proper, and that there are pockets of Appalachians throughout Ohio, those who out-migrated north to find work just before, during, and after World War II.” (web)

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