Iron Teeth

©2001 Shirley J. Walker
Mama places rag towels
around the back of my neck.
Legs folded on pillows, I sit
between her knees waiting,
dreading the iron teeth.

I can smell the hot comb
burning, smoking, choking
from stoves medium flame;
eager to lick Vaseline
pressed thick on curly hair

shiny like the nickel I can see
under the kitchen table; it will be mine

Mama wipes hot comb on towel, quickly
drags it through hair, unaware of
the searing pain she causes; tosses bits
of my glory pulled from iron teeth.

My hair is straight, temporarily,
my head tender for days.
Stick butter covers the blisters left
by hot kisses of iron teeth,
only a nickel gained.

Percy at Piano
(Appearing at the King Bee Club)

©2001 Shirley J. Walker
Percy slaps African dominoes
as sweat specks his forehead
like connect the dots.

His face mirrors the bluesman
Muddy Waters; hair dyed, laid
to the left side, tight. Gin tight
under lights and Lucky Strikes.

He plants himself
in chords of rooted bones; harvests
melancholy from fertile fields
of being. When Percy hammers ivory,
elephants trumpet for mercy.
[click to view introduction]