Tuesday, July 10, 2018

These Gifts. by Michael Dwayne Smith



Was busted out in South Bend once. No car, no job,
warrants issued for my sorry ass. Was slunk down
at a bar with a suitcase and a laundry bag tucked
under my stool in the Evil Czech Brewery, spending

what little I had on cheap lager when, in a case of
mistaken identity, this old guy starts slapping me
on the back and buying rounds. He was one jovial
sonofabitch. I played along. “Mitch” I think I was

for a while, soaking up two porters, a stout, and some
unforgivable fruit beer he insisted on. Next thing,
the bartender started pouring free rye shots, laughing
with us but keeps giving me the ol’ malevolent eye.

I excused myself to piss, sensing the jig was up, then
slipped out the front door, and there it was, curbside,
waiting for me… a bent-to-shit, white-paint-flaking
1988 F-250, on monster rubber and chrome wheels.

With the windows rolled down! I opened the driver
side door, slid the bags passenger side, hotwired,
and hauled ass for Louisiana. Kept changing out plates
until I got there. Dumped it down in Central City

once I hit town, then caught the new Loyola Avenue
streetcar. From there, I asked around, found Delilah’s
apartment, rapped on her door damn near midnight.
She let me in, mad drunk, but kept a mean buck knife

trained on me. “You can stay overnight,” she said,
“so we can ride rodeo one last time, but if you’re still
here when I wake up, I’m gonna start with your hair
and cut off every hanging part of you.” Roughstock

to say the least. Got my faults, but I’m a grateful man.
Won’t ever catch me with little faith. I tease and rally
my way through life on a simple prayer: Bless these
thy gifts, O Lord, for I am always ready to receive.






Michael Dwayne Smith lives near a Mojave Desert ghost town with his family and rescued animals. His most recent book isRoadside Epiphanies (Cholla Needles Press, 2017). Nominated multiple times for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, his work haunts many literary houses--including The Cortland Review, New World Writing, Star 82 Review, Blue Fifth Review, Skidrow Penthouse, Word Riot, Rat's Ass Review, Gravel, San Pedro River Review--and has been widely anthologized. When not writing or teaching, he edits Mojave River Press & Review.

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