Christian Collins CC
southern apocrypha with rumor of a rodeo clown
heard it said (secondhand, maybe) if you drive a buick lesabre seventy-miles-an-hour toward the cliff of the ravine, blasting dolly parton’s “jolene,” you’ll float like the voice of a friend when telling you for the last time “i love you” before he dies & you’ll land clean safe on the other side on the outskirts of a carnival— no no, you heard from your cousin this was a rodeo, or at least a monster truck rally— loud & bright enough to make you forget how the body feels falling or how it might feel slapping the surface of a shallow creek, least that’s what’s been said: you promiseland a perfect jump like that & don’t end up dead or twisted, only garlanded with salt-rotten popcorn & you look down at the dirt ring of the rodeo (second rodeo, i swear) & you see not the bucking bull who resembles every future boyfriend you’ll kiss until you don’t but instead a paint-slick fool family-familiar, almost kin (& memory, it wavers gin-drunk like that one night you watched brokeback mountain at three in the morning & sobbed because it always hurts when someone dies, no matter how many crooked elegies you scribble in your head, & still after you dreamed of kissing heath ledger’s beautiful dead face)— you swear, you recognize yourself down there a ghost.
no one told you, before you painted yourself a harlequin twin, that grief was a clown car we could all fit inside.
Derek Berry is a non-binary writer, podcast host, and educator. They are the author of the novel Heathens and Liars of Lickskillet County and the poetry chapbooks Glitter Husk and Buggery. They work as a museum educator in South Carolina.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.