Jessica Thompson

Cataloging the Mood Ring Diaries

We lived in a time of iron lungs and Marlboro
men, where feral dogs with matted eyes

and rock-hard balls
ruled the streets of our childhood,

and rats multiplied in alleys 
behind matchbox houses, and friends

spent a year in bed with rheumatic fever,
and the dust of summer stayed all year—

it lifted like prayers
from the footfalls of barefoot children,

and some of us would die young
from eating flecks of lead-based paint

picked like flower petals from plastered
walls.  It tasted like cabbage roses

in faded wallpaper.  It tasted like communion
wafers, and we were taught to sit up straight,

to smile— to be seen, but never heard.
Years later, we wore mood rings 

to regulate our feelings,
and while our brothers ran off to war,

we ran to altars
where bridesmaids stood like saints

in dotted swiss dresses. 
We wore the white of the sacrificed, 

tied the knot, spent the rest of our lives 
keeping everything inside

prized, knotty pine cabinets. 


Jessica Thompson’s poems have appeared in journals such as Appalachian Heritage, Atlanta Review, Kudzu, and The Sow's Ear, and in Circe's Lament, an Anthology of Wild Women (Accents Publishing, 2015). She received the James Baker Hall Memorial Prize in Poetry (New Southerner, 2013) and the Kudzu Poetry Prize in 2014. Her chapbook, Bullets and Blank Bibles was published by Liquid Paper Press in 2013. 


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