A King Dies With His Bloodhounds in the Hay
Chris Mink
	—BW's Diner

Every Sunday morning the whole place chortles 
and turns like a cartoon cotillion. 

Half bashed on Leviticus, 
			half on pocket wine. 

None of us can decipher which
			is more sanctifying.  

Even Billy Wayne doubles over sometimes 
in front of his regulars, more a hobbled merchant ship 
than a man praying, 
			though he looks close to kneeling, 

handing out his sausage and sauerkraut—
		bloodhounds in the hay. 

			Forget his Saturday night syringe of heroin. 
Let it break up the blood and breath, 
shiver off the cordite from dove season.

That he brushes the oatmeal lumps of so many elbows
without downright bumping them 
		is the only miracle I can see from the booth
			I've been shoveled into,  

though to see Billy Wayne and his splendid arms
tied tight in the dank of his maple board garage,   
one would have to figure
a riding tractor's cool seat
			sits high as any throne. 

And the copious cobwebs wait for his commands, 
and when the poked-out knobs in the walls
pull the moonlight through,
				it renders a heaven his own.

He's been too many years shooting, 

or tending to the Walkers' weekly interest 
in the Widow Jenkins, last seen
gumming down her chicken livers 
like a dying goldfish. 
		It's a quandary. Everyone in this world 
wants more butter, and he crawls 
			brave through all his children, 
the final act of a good king, 
						to oblige.
Chris Mink was born and raised in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He was a finalist for the 2014 Tupelo Press Berkshire Prize, and semi-finalist for the 2014 Saturnalia Poetry Prize. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Chattahoochee Review, Hobart, Anti-, Star 82 Review, and It Was Written: An Anthology of Poetry Inspired by Hip-Hop, among others. He currently resides in Tallahassee, Florida, where he will receive his PhD in English from Florida State University in December 2014.

more by Chris Mink:
Last Peanut Woman
Daylight as a Chainsaw
Cotton Says