Thursday, April 2, 2020

Amy Parkes : [Say the devil’s name three times & he’ll come]

Say the devil’s name three times & he’ll come
          out to smoke on the porch with you.

                     Ice melts in your clay cup, hot southern summer
night hums up your legs, & one freckle

of sweat tells a secret to your wrist. The man
in the rocking chair nods at the dust

                     because he knew the devil was there, invited him
inside. You watch him age one hundred years

                     on each cigarette in front of your eyes like folk lore.
Something winged dies against the overhead light,

hushed scorch sways the air like the devil’s name
& he reappears bigger. Fills the storm door,

climbs inside your mouth, & out through the back
of your throat. His blond head lopes down

                     the walk, hard in your sight as a hurricane lamp.
          Broad stroke: blade of his shoulders cut

the street’s dark skirt, long Appaloosa stride scaring
          the garden’s cacophony to wet quiet. Old man

on the porch says, He’s bad. & you remember arson,
want to drag the devil back, light another fire, & unfold

the ritual one last time. The devil sings to you, Bah-bye,
soft as gulf-side sand. You used to fuck him, slipping

eyes on the huge print of Venus watching from her shell
on the wall. Sometimes you traded bodies—

Hers the one slick & giving in the devil’s lilac bed,
yours standing naked behind that heavy rope of hair.

Not yet noosed from his rafters, said the curltongue
of braid at your knees. Not yet.

Amy Parkes is a queer Nova Scotia poet living with mental illness. Parkes holds an English BAH from Acadia and a poetry MFA from UNC Greensboro. Her poetry appears in the Bacopa Literary Review and Barrelhouse Magazine, among others. Other poems are forthcoming with the North Carolina Literary Review and Grist Journal, both as prize finalists. Parkes' first piece of creative nonfiction appears in Studies in Canadian Literature.

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