a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
Fix your face. I’m tired
of hearing you whine. Pinching
your lips, then bitching it stinks
like rotten eggs. You’re too old
to be told how money smells.
Listen up, Missy, ‘cause I am
only telling you once. I thank God
every day for the oil field. And you
better start. Before you get cut
down a notch. All the sudden
you think you’re too good for us
because some college boy told you
our money is dirty. He don’t know
honest work. I seen his hands.
and the fine particles from chutes and conveyors rise and remain
in the atmosphere. Fibers suspended in orbit dim the lights
of tractors, combines, and module trucks that flash in the dark
along calcite paths and county roads to highway 180, where shift
crews in big metal buildings sleep on cots in the back room to save
money on gas. Even the office ladies pound out trucker logs and time
cards and cost reports and payroll checks ninety hours a week so men
who flop in motels and fifth wheels can follow the harvest, up from
the Rio across the South, and get cash. Three or four or five
thousand dollars stashed into secret compartments in their jackets.
Rolls of hundreds, taped tight, will pay their bills, until next year,
when the part-time teller girls, who come in after school, become
full-time teller girls who put in extra time on Saturdays to keep
the lines moving so the farmers, foremen, and hands can get back
to the fields where every single hour of every single day they strip
and pack and load and haul mountains of cotton that is not white,
but dingy. Gray, like diesel exhaust or the sky, ginned at night,
or the dust upon dust upon dust swept from every corner and crack.
like this—arm stretched
real far out, but you gotta
make it level. Right now,
you’re gonna feel nothin’
but wait a few seconds—
it’ll start workin’. If you feel it
pushin’ back at you, the energy
is positive, which is good, but if
it’s pullin’ away from you,
the energy is negative—that’s real
bad and you shouldn’t even
think about drinking it.
Abigail Carl-Klassen’s work has appeared in ZYZZYVA, Catapult, Cimarron Review, Willow Springs, Guernica, Aster(ix) and Kweli, among others. She is a staff writer for Poets Reading the News and her chapbook Shelter Management will be released in late 2017 with dancing girl press. She earned an MFA from the University of Texas El Paso’s Bilingual Creative Writing Program and taught at El Paso Community College and the University of Texas El Paso.