The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Speak, My Tongue by Carrie Meadows

my grandfather explains

The gun says, You don’t have to take that, you
earned the money in your pocket losing
half a finger like your daddy’s left leg
to the cutter. The gun says, Your daddy
thumped his love hard into your head—what more
do your boys need than to feel their scalps sting?
Your girl will fare fine. She has her mamma’s eyes.
The gun says, Turn your check to booze though
you want cheekbones high and blushed, your wife’s
before she held your babies and not you
through the night. The gun says, Four Roses
will do until you come home and she turns
your pockets inside out but won’t look at you.
I never knew my fists could become bombs.

I never knew my fists could become bombs
busting plaster and flesh. The gun whispers,
Keep me in the dresser for nights your knees
lock and, hammer cocked, you start to believe
in the end of punch cards, in the cheekbones
you’d want to kiss if only you could find
your way back to that whippoorwill night
she held your chin and fed you pecan pie.
The gun says, The bar is open for you.
Go to the back room where you can fade
into the silver ball skating its maze
of red, blue and yellow lights shouting bell
and storm as you slip quietly between
the flippers like rain dodging wiper blades.

This selection comes from the collection Speak, My Tongue, available from Calypso Editions. Order your copy here. Our curator for December is Krista Cox.

Carrie Meadows grew up around leather workers, doll makers, quilters, and tall-tale tellers who taught her the importance of straight stitches and good stories. She teaches creative and professional writing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Krista Cox is a paralegal and poet living in northern Indiana. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pittsburgh Poetry Review, The Indianola Review, Whale Road Review, and Pirene’s Fountain, among other places in print and online. She twice received the Lester M. Wolfson Student Award in Poetry, and has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. In her abundant spare time, Krista parents, paints, and plans community events as the Program Director of Lit Literary Collective. Learn more than you ever wanted to know about her at


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