--After “The Beautiful” by Michelle Tea
Belly up, back down
on scratch grass growing
in cracked black soil,
my childhood fingers slipped inside
the cracked handles of the earth.
High winds pushed woolly clouds
and twined the tether thinner
that held me to that Texas plain,
where riding, I hung on
for dear life, until
I grew up
and made my getaway.
You were a bad daddy, Texas.
Every man is not a Godhead
created in His image, and girls
did not eat sin apples. You tried
to make us swallow
our tongues, but we hid them
in the butter dish
for later. “I is,” as they say,
“we are,” in case you forget.
Thirty years ago, this woman left you,
though I have looked back,
and not turned into a pillar of salt.
I came back to see you, Texas,
there are so many songs about you,
all hail the mighty, beautiful and great,
George Strait’s exes who got stuck with you,
you were as close to heaven
as Tanya Tucker could get
back in the day
is hot as hell
and mean as a barbed wire fence.
Too bad you’re the Devil,
Texas. Ain’t nobody multiplying
loaves and fishes to feed the needy.
You won’t even give a cup of water
to a thirsty child dying in the desert.
Ain’t nobody Golden Ruling,
no soup kitchens in your
bad apple rotten cities,
no beds for the weary and heavy-laden.
We don’t want your leftover coat-hangers
rusty and sharpened to draw blood,
all your God talk about walking
with Jesus. Mother of God. In your mouth
love is a four-letter word.
What happened to you, Texas?
We used to fish for crawdads.
We used to two-step at the Lone Star
and eat Frito pies at the county fair,
I could write a song about you
but you don’t deserve it.
You’re fucked up, Texas. You’re
a pyramid scheme for Madoff men,
god-talkers, bad daddies
(I could tell you all about mine).
You’ve crossed a line, Texas.
You’re nothing but a Venn diagram
of evil circling freedom, strangling
free living people with your hired guns
and legal trapeze work,
you’re the golden calf
shitting and pissing on your people.
Shame, shame on you, Texas.
I don’t want to be seen with you,
not even speak to you, Texas.
Next time I see you coming,
I’ll cross the widest street
just to get to the other side.