Mary Eileen Ball

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Your face a walled fortress,
Shuttered eyes
A tongue tasting ash and whiskey
but remembering
the soft fragrance of avocado from the yard
and the gentle puttering of chickens.
Each night the rented kisses—
knife wounds, gashes—
leak the last of your innocence
onto the petate.
Memories woven in the palm fronds
tear your skin as you gasp,
a woman drowning in
a world that dies to be reborn.


Mount Father erupted,
cascading curses and a refusal to “chauffeur” us to church.
My mother’s mouth, piano wire
unsounded, her fingers wrapped round little brother’s
hand and black purse straps.
She didn’t drive,
but years before had promised God
if he’d give her children,
she’d take them to his house.
We scuttered across wet roadways,
huddled together, umbrellaless.
The sky gray electric. The cemetery
indifferent, where my father’s father
rested from his alcoholic binges and the minstrel highway.
Eema weathered the present, guarded the future, and winnowed the past
down to its bedrock vows.
Boundless as the continent,
bearing heirlooms for the father of an angry mountain.

“Eema,” read by Mary Eileen Ball.

Oh, the Lamb

An adultery.
A conception.
The twitching fingers of a soldier gushing lifeblood,
Heat rising from the loins to parch the throat,
The rot of sin.

The visit.
A pointing finger cloaked by a tale,
one little ewe lamb taken in by a poor man,
its down—soft as his children’s’ breath—against his neck at night,
a weary traveler, a wealthy scoundrel, the theft,
the lamb’s bloodjet thickens the dust.
Someone must pay.

You are the man!
A pointing finger, a rasping throat, the shudder.
A baby’s dying breath.
God’s great mercy.

Nathan and David.

Mary Eileen Ball lives in the Deep South with her husband and young son. She has been published in Agape Review, Calla Press, and Time of Singing. She earned a B.A. in English from the University of Mississippi. Her Facebook page is at

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Photo Credit: “Dried Whiskey” by Specious Reasons,

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