CL Bledsoe


My boss is leaving as soon
as she tells me about all 
the herbs in her garden. First,
she’s got to weed, she says.
I ask if that’s a euphemism,
and she either doesn’t hear
or doesn’t care. She’s got
I ask about rosemary. She
says it’s already done. And
tyme, she says she’s got tyme
she’s got tyme.
I laugh, but her eyes widen
like a buffalo at the cliff’s edge,
running too fast to stop.
You’ve got a choice, then. 
You can try to stop and be
pushed over, or dig in
and jump. 


The angriest woman I ever knew 
believed more in miracles than
her neighbors. The pants of the world 
offended her with their extravagance; 
all that blue that could’ve been 
brown. There was nowhere that 
couldn’t be walked to if you 
would only wear the right kind 
of shoes. She warmed herself
over the book flames and hoped
the ashes would teach the plants
a thing or two about getting real
jobs. The heat death of the universe
was better than it deserved. Tears
were good for washing the eyes.
Her eyes stayed on the outstretched 
hands, forever reaching to pull her
into their plates. Her pockets, long
since rifled. This was the kind 
of love she understood; of what value
is a thing without a price tag?  

One evening, with no one to talk to,
I sat down to capture a history 
of my loss. I began with the broad
strokes, mother, who died but lingered,
an unhappy life slowly fading 
from memory until only a body 
remained; father, who’d hidden
in his bottles until his life was set
in its grave, then taken up crossword.
The women whose bodies offered
a comfort their spirits couldn’t. Plans
whose starts I clung to but made no 
real effort to complete. So many faces
stretching back into shadow. I sat
there, feeling no benefit from my tally, 
until the day had died into night,
and realized this was one more wasted
evening I would never see again. 

Raised on a rice and catfish farm in eastern Arkansas, CL Bledsoe is the author of more than twenty-five books, including the poetry collections Riceland, Trashcans in LoveGrief Bacon, and his newest, The Bottle Episode, as well as his latest novels Goodbye, Mr. Lonely and The Saviors. Bledsoe co-writes the humor blog How to Even, with Michael Gushue located here: His own blog, Not Another TV Dad, is located here: He’s been published in hundreds of journals, newspapers, and websites that you’ve probably never heard of. Bledsoe lives in northern Virginia with his daughter.

Flights, Issue Four, April 2022