Literary Yard

Search for meaning

‘Scag Ballet’ and ‘Dirty Dishes’

By: Shelby Stephenson


My son covers his face streaking with grunge.
He edges the leaning pole with the Scag.
The lime and vines fall good and hard with sludge
when he hits the clean path, a surprise packed

into stretches of ragged, unmowed ground
before heading for space to zero-turn,
the Kohler engine loudly bulging sound
like a million cows bellowing at once.

No shadows wave with heat to stroke the tiers
to swirl his head, a chandelier for Jake,
whirls of his catch of cats for quaffs of beer,
his luck after fishing in Jordan Lake.

His Tiger Cat bounces in loose soil
where moles and voles have mulched the green.
The fire-ants, too, make plentiful hills
in sweeps, curse words floating the Fairy Glen.

Jake’s allergic to fire-ants; his sandals
shine when he mows without goggles or muffs.
Rapport keeps merging with grass like vandals
out to make him more aware of dust.

The sound stops. Gas is out; he’s gone it seems.
His wife fills in; she wears a high-cupped bra,
she says because she wants to be a queen
while making the big machine dance and sway.

Jake gets lost in time: he has no wings
to fly around to let us know in time
to call Bojangles’ for famous biscuits,
a hit with us trying to remove slime

and crud, sweat and smudge from our daily clothes.
Why all week long the atmosphere tarries,
showering hours of appreciation’s
living, gunging courses mowing carries.



Dirty dishes, dirty dishes, dishes,
I cry, if I don’t clean these dishes I
Think I will die; if the oceans were whiskey
And my luck was up, I would dive
To the bottom and turn into mire.
Neither dishes nor oceans make whiskey
Their song, I’ll whoosh to the bye and bye
And keep on singing my dish-washer’s plea.

In the white house and black house and between,
Where colors make music to mend tragedy,
I’m talking about rancor among the races,
You see, please see, what this song means to me.
It is not a joke; it’s filled with wishes
All the day long, the darkness, literally
Upon you and me; this kitchen’s extreme,
I’ll keep on singing my dish-washer’s plea.

My dreams run deep and I smell the dishes.
My longing wants done the course of my being;
The mould that spawns scales all kinds of fishes,
Some channel cats, for sure, and pumpkinseed.
The slaves? They come out all night and live.
They are free of shackles and chains; I decry evil.
All the way back before Adam and Eve,
I’ll keep on singing my dish-washer’s plea.

More scrubbing with Brillo, I’ll rub for hygiene,
To let messages in neon star the blues.
Love is the answer to cleanse us for life.
I’ll keep on singing my dishwasher’s plea.

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