Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hank Williams (1952 / 1953)

Hank Williams, a Ciara Shuttleworth sketch

Hank Williams  (1952 / 1953)

     for Tom Russell

They never tell you each road is a way
to meet shrill women who make you lonelier.
They never say the next train is short of seats.
When you bang your head on the inside of a back seat
car door, there's never a trim angel there,
just the devil disguised as radio music.
Morphined, chloraled, boozed: the snow
out on the highway is the color of watered down whiskey.
The last time you saw his star-wobbling soul in a mirror
it whispered, Every child is born to scare its momma.
At least there's no factory grindstone, no Detroit
hotel room with a bare, blinding light bulb.
As two bottles clink on the floor below your jaw,
Hank, there ain't a way to turn around.

This poem first appeared in Flyway (Volume 9.1, 2004), edited at Iowa State University by Stephen Pett, Allison Mackin, and Joe Capista.  This poem was also included in a Red Shuttleworth chapbook, Brief Lives. Subsequently this poem was included in Ghosts & Birthdays, a collection of Red Shuttleworth poems (Humanitas Media Publishing, 2012), available on Amazon.

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