Born and raised in eastern Kentucky, Jay McCoy often draws inspiration for his writing from his vibrant family history. He co-founded the Teen Howl Poetry Series, a monthly open-mic series for Lexington-area youth to share their original poetry. Jay's poetry has appeared in several journals and anthologies.

The Church House or the Courthouse


She always was a big-boned gal, but they still called her
Little Myrtle, because she was, compared to her cousin,

Big Myrtle, who really wasn’t her cousin, but her great aunt,
her grandfather Thompson’s bachelor sister.  They may have shared

a God-given name, as people were apt to do if they were family,
in that place, at that time, but they were different as any two

kin could be – opposite as north and south, contrary
as fact and fiction.  On Sunday mornings,

little one raised her sweet voice for the Lord under that clapboard shelter
her daddy built with his rough hands on the right bank of Chloe Creek;

while on the other side of that very same waterway, big one ran
sour apple shine out her kitchen window.  Big Myrtle always stayed

at the holler’s mouth; set up house alone on a parcel of her brother’s land.
She never took a husband though plenty men offered.

Little Myrtle settled towards upper branch with that tow-headed Slone boy,
birthed thirteen children, and buried two before she passed.

Folks in that holler always did consider
one Myrtle blessed and the other one cursed –

which one you considered which
depended on which front pew you sat. 






Read Jay McCoy's previous work in Still

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