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    Battelle Tompkins, Room 237

    Rangel-Mullin, Rebecca
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Jay Melder Excerpt, 2010 Fall


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.