Uncles Charlie Loves You, poem by Misty Skaggs

I remem­ber tired, washed-out women
warn­ing us young’uns
with his name -
“Uncle Charlie’s gonna come,
gonna come all the way
out here
and get you."
I remem­ber we believed it.
I remem­ber the good ol’ boys
round­ing up a posse
fueled by boredom
and Pab­st Blue Ribbon
every damn time
he went up for parole.
He might get out,
he might come home.
No-Name Maddox,
back­woods bastard,
prog­e­ny of a prostitute
with no paved streets to walk.
He could’ve been one of them,
with a Mamaw out on Mauk Ridge.
Might’ve been anoth­er nobody
puffed up on Ken­tucky windage,
bed­ding high school girls
in the bed of a beat-up
pick-up truck
saying,
“I don’t know
what some­body is.”
Or maybe

Uncle Char­lie
could’ve been a coun­try preacher,
a pow­er­ful, prim­i­tive, baptist
run­ning the church house like a family.
A short feller filled
plumb up to the brim
with rur­al route righteousness,
bri­ar-hop­ping the pulpit
instead of hitch­ing to Haight-Ashbury.
The Holy Spir­it in his wild eyes
instead of homicide.
I know

I hear Kentucky
in his voice.
Hid­ing in the space
at the end of the words
where con­so­nants drop off
and disappear.

Misty Marie Rae Skag­gs, 32, hard­ly ever leaves the holler anymore.

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