George Jones Goes Underground
to Listen to Lefty

She prays for my soul but won't
touch me in this world without gloves.
She barred the door to the house
after I fucked her church friends.
So I'm left to die like a drunken mole.
Time and money've run out on me.
Sold my Nudies to pay the creditors;
my tour bus for her breast reduction.
Those damn squirrels in Nashville
stored my nuts away—the same
whose families will eat a T-bone
everyday from my royalties, while
I live on canned laughter and soup.
A few fans still milk me, bring
vodka, think I got money somewhere,
or a song left in my cells,
but I'm drier than salt.
Drink up, Georgie! Toast the fallen
court composer from the time
when country was king. Drink
to the jester of broken hearts
and honky tonks. This seat here,
my throne, came from my twin
engine jet. Here I sit and spit
out my teeth one at a time
and wash them like dirty windows.


The king rose before noon,
styled his pompadour, then set
out to buy Josie, one
of his sweethearts, a used Chevy.
Josie purred about town
proud as a peacock in full display,
burning little hearts
into the interior with Luckies.
I bought her real cheap
after Elvis joined the army.
She broke down once a week.
I couldn't handle it and suggested professional help.
We weren't breaking our axles for a good time,
just looking to each other for stability.
Frustrated, I gave her to this loser
for a hundred bucks. He loved her simply
because Elvis once drove her.
He was courting the automobile.
Rather, the impractical, perfect idea of a car--
Plato used to wheel her around Athens.
Remembering her in her prime, when huge tails
were still the delight of young men, I grieve
and clutch my Yugo toward Graceland.

When My Friend Lost His Faith

for Gordon Osing

When my friend lost his faith
he snuck the remaining loan money
from his wife's checkbook, crept
past her and his sleeping children,
spidered down the gothic hall
of the seminary where he was
studying under a rainclould
of doubt to be a priest. Guilt
cleansed his vision like wiper blades.

He slid down the laundry chute
and landed, two weeks later,
into a grease-splotched trailer
flipping burgers in a traveling
carnival. After hours he served
doubles with cheese and onions
to hoarse singers with names
like Stringbean, Ernest, and Lefty.
When my friend lost his faith
he traded his halo for a paper hat;
his good eye for a wink that sticks;
his past for History; communion
wine for blended whiskey; his
grandmother's backrash for a poem
about an ear of corn. After a pie
tasting contest, he signed
the necessary papers and switched
his permanent residence
from heaven to Mississippi.