John Warner Smith


She could have been his
baby girl if, thirty years ago,
he had met her mama
serving sake at a Karaoke bar.
Her satin lips, glossy
against her pale, long cheeks,
rock him like a wind chime,
strumming a concerto
that only he can hear
in the backwoods of Alabama.
He sits bobbing on a carousel
while liquor talks to his head
like the prattle of her costume
jewelry and Little Dippers
painted on her nails.
Staring down a highball,
he recalls a day long ago
when he found thumb-size photos
of nude Asian women
in his daddy’s bottom drawer,
and ghosts he saw
when he held the old Kodak
negatives to a light. Looking up
now, he sees only stars
clinging to a bulging blouse,
and words he can’t read.