Gleah Powers: "My dead relatives have rolled out of their graves this afternoon...." (from "Drinking at Mabel Murphy's")
- The scent of my father, the smoke from his cigarettes
- embedded in the leather band of his Timex watch,
- the smell of morphine and cancer as he died
- at the Soldiers and Sailors home in Quincy, Illinois.
- I was thinking of the soul.
- That methane star snowflake
- pelting down from the cosmos,
- landing in Chicago on a muggy day in June.
Drinking at Mabel Murphy’s
- My dead relatives have rolled out of their graves
- this afternoon, to sit at Mabel Murphy’s bar in Scottsdale,
- where I mix drinks wearing western pants, a purple shirt
- with snaps down the front and a cheap cowboy hat.
- Straight shots of Ancient Age for Ida and Buddy
- Vodka Gimlets for Gail, rum and coke for Kay
- Still a full blown hoodlum. Is that a switchblade on the bar?
- This is not the right job for the granddaughter
- of a 33rd degree Mason from Chicago, cremated
- in a ceremonial apron, black tasseled red hat,
- sickle and hammer ring. Where is Milton anyway?
- Aunt Clara wears an early 20th century church hat
- fastened to her head with bobby pins.
- “I’ll have a Virgin Mary,” she says.
- The tall ghosts of the Smith family are the most forgiving.
- Aunt Marge, her husband Monk, Royal Sr. and Marie.
- Christian Scientists all. My father Buddy is at the end of the bar,
- slumped down humming post war love songs, hoping I don’t recognize him.
- His legs dangle out onto the parquet dance floor, cigarette ashes
- caught in the creases of his black pants.
- “You should have been around,” I say. He writes on a napkin,
- pushes it across the bar with his long bony fingers
- “I made some bad choices.”
- It’s seven o’clock. They’re getting noisy, telling tales,
- arguing about the way it really was and who did what
- to who. “Whom,” says Gail. “Another round,” says Ida
- As a slivered moon rises over Camelback mountain.
There Wasn’t a Wing in the Sky
- Black tree limbs crusted with ice. Inside, we breathed into our scapulas,
- unfreezing them from twelve hours at the computer. Ripples of fluid
- began to move through our backs. Our arms grew longer, lighter, dropping
- out of hunched up necks. Our heads turned freely like lighted globes
- from childhood, traveling the spaces between continents. We didn’t mean
- to entice them back, but there they were at the window, four bony bluebirds
- with rusty colored throats, balancing on a tree branch, their feet making
- indentations in the ice. Maybe they were injured, couldn’t make
- their usual trip, faced a winter downtown in the raft of a warm building.
- Pecking at the window in some kind of coded message, they watched, amused.
Gleah Powers is the author of the novella Edna and Luna, published by Vine Leaves Press and named a finalist in the Novella category of the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. A recipient of an award from the Barbara Deming Memorial fund and a Pushcart Prize nominee, Powers’s work has appeared in print and online in Longridge Review, Permafrost Magazine, Southwestern American Literature, Prime Number Magazine, Red Savina Review, New Delta Review and many other literary journals. She completed her formal art training at the California Institute of the Arts and has worked professionally as a painter, actor, and dancer in New York, Los Angeles, and Mexico City. Currently, she is at work on a short-story collection and a memoir.