Kentucky Stone-shoe Breakdown by Todd Mercer

Blooms are on the roadside bushes, winter’s beaten.
Colts stretch their limbs in fenced pastures. It’s solace
for the seasonally affected to see it. And for me. It helps.
I’m walking in the Bluegrass, hobbled by a pebble
in my shoe that won’t shake loose. There’s worse places
to limp into the leading edge of spring.
That stone seems smaller when a woman
at a register refers to me as “Honey,” like we went back
years, at least as friends. Then she gives the same endearment
to the stranger next in line. As if I hadn’t already
limped in missing home. The stone’s point
blood-lets my still-got-it delusion.
Sweet talk is Appalachian standard. Nice words.
No locals take it as signifier. Now I remember.
It’s the same as “Hi,” here. Hello dear.
I catch honey twice more this day,
as do the schmoes before me and the schmucks
sure to follow. Nothing special, it’s only April
when you’re bound to read into flora and fauna.
Darlings. Look, I took the long route down here
with a pebble in my instep and more weight
than I meant to pack around.


Todd Mercer won the Dyer-Ives Kent County Prize for Poetry in 2016, the National Writers Series Poetry Prize for 2016, the Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts Flash Fiction Award for 2015 and the first Woodstock Writers Festival Flash Fiction contest. He served as a five-time judge of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards, a four-time judge of Independent Publisher’s Poetry Books of the Year contest, and as a juror for Poet’s Night Out and the ISLAND Writers-in-Residence program. His digital chapbook, Life-wish Maintenance, appeared at Right Hand Pointing. Mercer’s poetry and fiction appear in: 11 Word Story, Bartleby Snopes, Blast Furnace, Cheap Pop, Eunoia Review, The Fib Review, Flash Frontier Magazine, Fried Chicken and Coffee, Gravel, Kentucky Review, The Lake, Literary Orphans, The Magnolia Review, Midwestern Gothic, Main Street Rag Anthologies, One Sentence Poems, Postcard Shorts, Softblow Journal, Star 82 Review and Two Cities Review.

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