has a new look

Go to the new

Poetry by CL Bledsoe 

CL Bledsoe, lyrically enough, lives in Glencoe, Maryland.  He is the author of _____(Want/Need), Anthem, Riceland and Texas (forthcoming), and Goodbye To Noise, which is available online.  He also is an editor for Ghoti Magazine.



© 2009 CL Bledsoe





House Keeping


Dad built the red-brick house with his own hands

which meant it was someone else’s job

to keep it clean. Mom taught school until

she retired early, while a succession

of house keepers and nurses dumped bleach

in the toilet in the blackening bathroom, loaded

and unloaded the dishwasher, ducked the cobwebs.

Ms. Crossin lived with her forty-five year old

son, believed the Earth was flat, and the moon

landing was filmed in Arizona. She was older

than Dad, but that didn’t stop her from putting

in her teeth to flirt.


She smelled of copper and sweat, deep-fried

hotdogs split down the middle and stuffed

with cheese for lunch or sent me on my bike to buy

barbecue downtown. She threw out all of Mom’s papers

she could find one day, said we were too old

to still be thinking about that, and climbed into my bed

if I lingered in the mornings. She asked questions

I couldn’t answer or understand. Once, she wore nothing

but a raincoat to work. I hid in my bedroom until Dad

came home late that night. The morning after I was caught

stealing from the IGA store she found me sulking

in my room, backed me into a corner, and yelled,

“Do you think nobody loves you?” with greedy eyes

that hovered around my face like gnats.





The City with a Smile


On highway 64 between Helena and Jonesboro,

a giant cross forced on the sprawl of hills dotted

with churches and fast-food eateries; gas stations


and strip malls slowly succumb to vacancy

and horizon. Ranch-style houses splinter in all

directions. Trash and car washes. Train cars rust


in the shimmering heat, waiting for the freight

to come back, their tracks more wall than line.

Teenagers cruise from the bowling alley to Sonic


and back, park by Wal-Mart to neck or drive out

to Big Eddie Bridge to smoke pot and complain

while lightning bugs dance in the trees. There is


high-school football and judging others. There is

Jonesboro, Memphis, Little Rock, if you can drive.

Summer fairs and satellite TV. Further out,


there are rice fields, a handful of dwindling factories

with their bags already packed for Korea. Wynne,

this sleepover town near enough but not Memphis,


founded on the spot where a train derailed. We thought

we were tough because we spent one dry-eyed year

in the run-down Junior High across the tracks


before moving to the new one in the middle of town.

We were wiser than Solomon in our packs,

more concerned with the price of each others’ shoes


than the usage, already learning to turn up our noses

at the secrecies of the heart. We were killing time until graduation

or sixteen and old enough to drop out without losing


our licenses. Vo-Tech meant half days today, but Honors

meant a future. Teachers whispered to the few of us who’d listen:

study hard and you can go to college and never come back.








All work is property of CL Bledsoe.




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