The Poet Prays to Her Radio for a Country Song

by Carrie Jerrell

O guardian of the well-lunged, purveyor of lies,
enabler of the back-seat horny, I am sorely afflicted.
Traveling the long tongue of highway 40,
I fear the bottomless black sky of loneliness
has hawked me from the back of its throat
and doomed me to land, wet and without notice,
in the dust-bitten spittoon of Oklahoma.

Have mercy, and do not leave me in my despair
to the size-two pop star’s manufactured vibrato
or my own heavy static. I confess I drive
a foreign make. I refuse to use home color
on my hair, and once again I’ve let heartbreak
put his hands in my back pockets. How I need
a song tonight—the kind that’s all curves,
that’s two parts sex and one part scripture,
that wears work boots to wardrobe
on opening night and when handed pink chiffon
says, Baby, you know I don’t do delicate.

Descend, you blue-jeaned honky-tonk angels,
and play my pain in 4/4 time on fiddle and red
birdseye-aproned steel guitar. Let my voice be open
as a screen door, all latchless and breeze-blown,
all invitation. May it reach like a revival choir
my man standing by the entrance, and may he tug
at his collar from the heat. Minor spirit,
I have been blinded by love’s late night hallelujahs,
and now I hear the blue notes coming. Let me testify.

Carrie Jerrell is the author of the book After the Revival, 2008 winner of the Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize. She received her MA from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University and her PhD in English from Texas Tech University, where she was honored as a Chancellor’s Fellow. Currently, she is an assistant professor of English and associate director of the MFA program at Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky.