Dirty Old John Martin
By Allison Cundiff
The winter I turned thirteen I grew seven inches
right up bean pole straight to 5’9 with no weight
to back up my bones, all knee and knob and tooth.
Then suddenly, menses, flesh filling the sallow places,
and the men, faces like it was an Ozark morning cattle trade
in the dawn cold, the light all wrong, chew in their lower lips.
I read once that crows survive by learning to tolerate people.
One had made a way high nest in the maple out back.
I set out peanuts on the blade of the snow plow.
John Martin stands around 5’7 ½, carries a glock,
drinks white wine at O’Connell’s Pub,
and is looking across a table of hamburgers at me.
You, “such a large woman,” he spits out,
his stubby fingers cupping over his sunken chest,
the big gun in his pocket. “Tall drink of water,” he nods.
The book said that crows remember the faces of those
who throw rocks at them.
They remember for their whole lives (probably).
Allison Cundiff is a beekeeper and teacher living in St. Louis. Her publications include three books of poetry, Just to See How It Feels (2018, Word Press), Otherings (2016, Golden Antelope Press), and In Short, A Memory of the Other on a Good Day, co-authored with Steven Schreiner, (2014, Golden Antelope Press). Her non-fiction is featured in The Pragmatic Buddhist, The St. Louis Post Dispatch, Feminist Teacher, and In Layman’s Terms Literary Journal; her fiction can be found at Hot Flash Fiction; her poetry is featured in The Chariton Review and OxMag. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.