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Have Mercy - Jessie Scrimager Galloway

My crooked pinky has two stories:

The time it broke,

I dove to catch a foul ball

in wet grass,

bent it backward

in three-leaf clover

just before the fence

The time of stitches is known

as my chest shoved back

from the family threshold,

mother screaming

not in this house,

door slamming on me punching

to sever tendons.

The enemies are known as

the devil in me

and mother wielding fists.

My great aunt Flossy said,

God heals if you believe.

Naked but bent fingers all scars.

I dip skillet cornbread in buttermilk,

each mother calls it

their mother’s recipe.

Take off

and put back on

my engagement ring,

spread my fingers

into crook-neck dandelions.


To reap the roots,

name the mother who loose’d the soil,

who held the spade and said

this is for your own good.

You better call out,

have mercy with the lord’s name

for a reason, Goddamnit.


Jessie Scrimager Galloway is a queer poet with an MFA from Pacific University. A 2014 Lambda Literary Fellow, she’s the author of the chapbook Liminal: A Life of Cleavage published by Lost Horse Press. She directs and teaches poetry for Litquake’s Elder Writing Project and serves as the Development Director for Foglifter Press. In her spare time, she enjoys riveting conversations with her best editor: a wily, polydactyl, orange cat, named Snacks.



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