Mama says I have wicked
etched onto my face,
that the lines were spidered on
by Devil hands tracing lust over the contours
leeching away warmth,
turning the set of my jaw so cold
that when I smile
people are afraid.

I have only seen a true smile
from a distance
when folks don't know I am there.
I have never been close
to anyone's happiness.
I only know pleasure
in a bottle,
cherryed-open girls
in the roll of cash
inside someone's pocket
that will be mine
in the dark of an alley.

Mama says I have switchblade eyes. Careful you don't cut yourself son.
Careful you don't go off
into the deep of barroom smoke
and find your only way out
is through blood.
You see it coming don't you,
the rise of red in the morning
that shadows you into night,
casts a stain on your hands
that will not wash away.
You are my son,
but I say these things without guilt.
Someone else has a son too, a child
you will meet one night,
take to darkness
and leave there as a shade,
a shade who will trail you,
find you by the beacon of crimson
that grows bright on your hands.

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About Sheri L. Wright

1 1
Sheri L. Wright is the author of five books of poetry. The most recent, The Slow Talk Of Stones, explores the lives of the exploited in Appalachia, focussing on the issue of Mountain Top Removal. Her often work pries open our masks into wounds we don't know how to heal, including her own. Ms. Wright is more the host of the literary radio show, From The inkwell, live-streaming at, interviewing writers, publishers, educators and anyone involved with words who willing to get up at 2am to scribble something because they just can't help it.
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