Little Oaths and Apologies

By the time you heard it again,
a therapy dog foiled the bank heist,
the old covered bridge was washed out in the storm,
the dictator was almost overthrown,
and Tom, he almost survived.
The man who slapped his child
came close to saying sorry.
Sorry, you can say it in just about
any situation and feel practically absolved,
better about how you’ve labored in the yard,
in a thunderstorm, yanking out ivy
that will grow back again next year.
Understand that these are Mother Nature’s intentions:
listen to the sizzle of rain on the blacktop,
bacon as it weeps in cast iron,
radio static, television applause.

For whatever it was they told you, forgive them,
because it just isn’t true—
———–mistakes were made, oversights and misunderstandings
Thank you for holding
———–your (desperate) call (for help) is being transferred and will be taken
in the order in which it was received by the next available representative

But he did complain about the back of the baby’s head,
about how it was blocking his view of her breast,
———–and the Cutlass Supreme really did fly
across the river and antiquated ruins.

And the weeks progressed, coupons
expired, milk spoiled in the dead of night—
———–substantiated, confirmed, corroded, ineffable,
and unspeakably, beautifully sorry.

Way to Go

It helps to have a liar in office,
it makes the citizens feel honest.
Opioids are useful, so are pints
of banana ice cream, so long as they come
from a pharmacy. Hypocrites have two souls:
one for what they say, for what they do, another.
(ditto for fraternal twins and multiple personalities)
You can’t believe traffic signals or crosswalks these days.
It’s why motorists run red lights, careen into those faithful pedestrians.
You could trust alternative facts: ethnic cleansing, enhanced
interrogation, extrajudicial killings, and pre-emptive strikes.
You could meet a person of interest someday. Start a family.

The disguise is so comfortable, you’ll forget
that you’re wearing it. The mask that grows right along with your face.
The decoy that forgets it’s a decoy, paddling,
falling in line with the fuzzy yellow goslings, falling
madly in love with their mother, falling
right between the crosshairs of the rifle.

All the toys in the sex shop look like ordinary objects—
squirt gun, ham sandwich, gooseneck lamp, ironing board

Oh, how was he to know?
He just wanted to be loved
and famous. No one told him
the cameras were rolling, that
the mic was still on.
No one ever said not to grope those women,
no, not in so many words.

Maybe he already knew that,
but of course, nature calls…
After all, our goal is procreation, survival—
in fact, nature could come to our rescue: avalanche,
thundersnow, clouds bursting like arteries. Deadly fork,
lightning strike, brutal pretzel obstructs windpipe.


Cindy King, while born in Cleveland, Ohio, considers herself a naturalized Southerner, having lived in Mississippi, Georgia, and Alabama (and North Florida). Her work has appeared in Callaloo, North American Review, African American Review, American Literary Review, jubilat, The Louisville Review, Sou’wester, Blackbird, River Styx, TriQuarterly, Cimarron Review, Black Warrior, The Cincinnati Review, The Pinch, and elsewhere. Though technically not the South, she currently lives in Southern Utah and teaches at Dixie State University.