When I read Carolyn Hembree, I am reminded of a ball of heat lightning that shot through our house one summer when I was young. That charge stayed in the air and made us feel like we had snapped suddenly awake. Skinny wakes us with that blue coil, "fast under a low ceiling," shooting from sideboard to curtain rod to screendoor in one brilliant flash, electrifying everything. It sounds like bottle-rockets are going off, and I feel the thrill and terror of living inside each explosive line. –D.A. Powell
Old Sweetheart Slams White Russians and Mudslides on Ditmars Blvd., Astoria
First words out of my mouth he say: My, my you're not from around here.
Every bone cry hie you hence but in uniform he's out of this world.
Brass chicken hawk on brick wall exposed read fifty degrees.
Truly, I want a shortcut to the innermost workings of one other.
Says: You take your chances running night operations. I say goddamn.
Bird's eye view of his fingers spread out on his crown, flesh
wound. Through three shot glasses the waitress' fingers loop.
Clappin' off the beat he guffaw: You dance like a country girl. Flush.
To the beaten path of his hand in the pile of my skirt go
towards the southernmost row houses, turn at the spicy restaurant
its awning ruffling—there one woman lends another her rabbit fur.
Dream a man at the N station at the crack of dawn to sing and flaunt.
Now whether to sing or tell it other ways.
Leastways, atop the gratings a man dance with a puppet life-size
its arms to his waist tied. Hot little number, he say and has it
say caramba while the train skates in and speakers crackle live.
My sheets snapped flat and train-case crammed,
I never answered you (losin' your mind, scramblin' in the grass down)
asking me years hence: Why don't you sound now like where you're from?
No, you just looking hard at me—the voice is from elsewhere thrown.