Every night we finish September dinner in 1955 Comanche, Texas. Stand slow with gravy gut, hobble to the parlor for a song. My wife is graced across the circle, luminous with lunar health, voice and verses hopped up on Royal Davids.
Driving home in the pickup, she asks: What ails you? Why not take the cure at the Uranium Sitting Pavilion, just up the road? $2 for a foot-mounding, somewhat more for full-body. Let the loaded soil cover you, two feet deep in death, head angled to the air so you can breathe. Low-geiger farmboy birthright shovels-full, they say it cures asthma to cancer, gout to great depression, same for pilgrim butchers as stuck-pig bankers’ sons like you, can’t carry a tune ‘cept in your digestive midnight privates.
Did you hear the one about Enoch with the diabetes, left foot long gone, whiskey-soured the right? Last month he coughed two bits for a cure, joined the line of penitents’ toes in the trough, scanned obits in the Comanche Chief, then pulled out his rounded stump and cried: Lordy, where’s it wormed off to? Save your sordid piggies ‘fore it’s too late!
So I think: my dear, that’s a thought. Make an appointment for 11:30 next Thursday, neighbors say you don’t feel nothing, not even a tingle, maybe an ankle itch you can’t scratch. Could I pay extra to feel a few clumps cross nose and throat? Chest heaves as usual in the underneath. The man in the stall next-door snores, while Joe threads between patients in his white overalls, comforting as a soda-jerk in a Philco Television Playhouse bridge-scene.
And here’s Perry now, crouched to say: Time to flip you over, friend. Grain-fed sliced American won’t grease no grief.
James Miller won the Connecticut Poet Award in 2020. His poems have appeared in Cold Mountain Review, The Maine Review, Lunch Ticket, Meat for Tea, Main Street Rag, Plainsongs, The Atlanta Review, Sheila-Na-Gig, Rogue Agent, Sweet Tree Review, Thin Air, Ethel Zine, Panoply, Typehouse and elsewhere.