John Warner Smith

Memphis Soul Hour

Nights my grandpa gambled,
grandma lay awake
with her rosary beads
draped to the bed post.
Dragging heavy, crusted
feet, she’d rise to open
her door, squeaking,
and let all the bone heat
of hell fly.  Chewing clumps
of corn starch, she’d rattle
her teeth like a tin can.
On the living room couch
two daughters slump
with their lovers
while Memphis Soul crackles
softly in the blue-lit dark. 
Sultry and sweaty, they slither
like snakes between
whispers and a sex wish.
Then, a tongue spewing
holy water and fire,
a soliloquy of cuss and prayer
seething like boiling grits.
Sheetrock walls shimmy,
porch screen hinges pop,
and a breeze cools the house.