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Jay Melder Excerpt, 2010 Fall

MEETING THE DEVIL IN DOLLYWOOD

It is Saturday night and everyone
is here buying beer,
because you can’t on Sunday’s.
Because it’s against the law to.
And there is a woman who has lost all her teeth,
but really looks as if her gums
have just overtaken them
in a battle for what might
make her sadder,
and I ask her where the whiskey is.
In Gatlinburg,
she answers—they don’t sell liquor
in Sevierville—
It’s for the Devil.
I stand behind her in line
as she gums at a leg of chicken
she has torn from the whole
rotisserie bird she’s purchasing.
She spackles the young cashier
with grease and broth and sour
words over the price of a pack of Kools,
letting what could not fly gather at the crease of her jowl.