Oklahoma

by Dale Patterson
The Writer's Block
Second Place, May 2018
Judged by R.T. Castleberry


Near old photographs of oil fields
and dust bowl refugees
a Rock-Ola jukebox
plays Earnest Tubb.

I’m drinking shots, ready
to stop driving trucks, to start
selling cars for my brother
in East Sacramento.

The bartender pours another
and knows she is striking,
a Cherokee maiden
with masculine shoulders,
heavy eye liner
and black press on nails.

We talk about Huntington’s disease
and Guthrie’s divorce,
ribbons of highways
and Dorothea Lange.

A wagon wheel light
is a circle of fire
on the ceiling.

I confess to sorting things out,
that my wife has filed papers.

Moon Mullican is singing
‘Goodnight Irene’
a cowboy in red leather boots,
stitched on the side
with white Texas stars,
slow dances his partner
into a corner.


A beautifully created, detailed scenario of working class blues and whiskey talking over the jukebox. --R.T. Castleberry

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