By: D. E. Fulford
on tuesdays after lunch some of us are pulled into a separate room/they call us a.g./we put on a
play about pompeii pen letters in freshly-honed cursive wobbles to corporate america and take
home lists of companies to boycott because they clear-cut the precious rainforest/a catholic
family of eight moves across the street/at megan’s birthday i accidentally smack another girl
instead of the piñata/papa’s tender breadth soaks my tears/at lunch shannon sucks a hickey into
her arm blames the vacuum/we get caught stealing red hots from food lion/confess to cashier all
her stiff hair and blue eyes she says oh honey/this is not a punishment i am only scared of yelling
no matter how much i don’t want to move i can’t walk away fast enough/decisions made in anger
change everything/for two weeks i explore the country with papa in his eighteen-wheeler/my
entire life is playing pinball in truck stops/we listen to rush limbaugh because my father likes to
laugh/i am bored and count the letter “d” on billboards/i run for school president because my
opponent chad whispers yesss to himself when he gets a good grade/it annoys me/i win the
election even though i only just moved to the school/a lady tells mama i am going to be a news
anchor in life/for north carolina this is high praise/chad’s buck teeth or brown curls ask me to be
his girlfriend/it is now i learn defiance is my power/i’ll attract my flies with vinegar—not honey
we are all products of what we eat/everyone knows conforming will make or break you/i start
erecting my fortress when mama snaps off the t.v. in scowl/tears are not always wet/i gnaw past
cuticles until blood splashes out/xmas lights painting the window render my honey-face
palpable/she won’t know i lie to the girls in class/before the internet middle school was different
pain/teenagers disparage the unfamiliar/half gallon of breyer’s melts soft globs the pyrenes licks
away/ghosts visit in the night through the mirror above my bed/maybe one of them will be my
boyfriend/i never fought harder to keep anyone/but she feeds me milk each night/and i still break
D. E. Fulford is a writer and English instructor at Colorado State University. She holds master's degrees in both Creative Writing and Education, and is currently in her second year of her Doctor of Education. Her poems can be found in Indolent Books, Literati Magazine, Dreamers Magazine, Crosswinds Poetry Journal, Sunspot Literary Journal, Inklette Magazine, and others. She resides on the front range of the Rocky Mountains with her partner Levi and their chocolate Labrador, The Walrus. In her spare time, she can be found riding her Triumph Street Twin motorbike.
"The poems 7, 10, and 12 are from a chapbook called Southern Atheist: Oh, Honey which offers one poem per year for the first thirty years of my life. While I do not admit to retaining memories more than snippets from my first couple of years, the early poems are based on images taken from the time and stories my mother told me over the years in conjunction with the snippets of recollection.
I wrote the chapbook over the span of about two weeks, put it down for a couple more, and returned to see how much I still liked what I had originally written. It is thus the only body of work I’ve produced about which I still felt as passionately pleased after stepping back, then rejoining the work for a reread and editing session.
For the first thirteen years of my life, I lived in the western Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. My family—more specifically, my mother and by extension the rest of us—never practiced a definable religion; this can be quite challenging to traverse when coming-of-age in the bible belt region of the nation. For Southern Atheist, I dove without caution into the memories and emotions still lingering from growing up an outcast, moving across the country to Colorado, navigating school and love, substance abuse, depression, and growth beyond the destruction.
7, 10, and 12 are from those years of my existence. "