Love in Middle America

Love in Middle America
By Anna Owens


Welcome, visitor, to the Heartland
Get rid of your progressive ideas beforehand,
Here cows and corn outnumber humans
But there is also a more dangerous version:
The land of suburbs and Christian subversion


A white picket fence
And manicured lawn
Are the worst offender’s defense
Against the neighbors


They met on a park bench
He was the corporate executive
She was the beauty queen
Who never got to be on the silver screen,
Ideal to quench his desire
For all things dainty and decorative


After the wedding day,
The marriage is made
Of futile prayers
“I love you”
Is bitter, lethal,
Deadly nightshade


The sufferer is always
The trophy wife
Outside, she sparkles
But inside, in the dark,
He makes her talk with
The point of her own butcher knife


There is one use for her body,
And it is not living
There is one use for her mouth,
And it is not speaking


Jesus watches blankly from the wall
Nothing slips past the husband’s calculating eye
He sees all:
What she eats, when she speaks
Limbs limp and splayed,
Destroying her is child’s play


She wears his bruises like a necklace
Left breathless by his hands


Dark circles beneath her eyes
A tremor in her hands


She can barely stand
Scratches line her thighs


He wears a suit to church,
Shaking hands and lining collection plates
She sits beside him, narrow, delicate


At a party, she serves him dinner,
Her blood, sweat, and tears,
While she grows thinner
He’s drunk, but it doesn’t matter:
He doesn’t need to be sober
To decide her skull needs to be shattered


He drives home, swerving
Again, it’s dark and she conserves
Her breath for later
Again, he unlocks the door
And knocks her down,
Whiskey spilling on her evening gown


His vision swims, but he still sees all
Jesus watches blankly from the wall
But tonight she is the crucifix
Yielding to his relentless kicks


It is her blood
That floods and pools on the floor
She implores him,
Only to be met with his relentless roar


She sneaks out with a bag,
Gets on the bus
There’s no more trust
For a man who makes her
Wipe her blood off the floor with a rag


He finds a new park bench
And a pretty brunette
She doesn’t know what she’s in for yet


He supports her as she stumbles
Latches the fence and locks the door,
He sheds his suit coat
And becomes a carnivore


He has a third eye,
So nothing slips by
But her worthless pleas


He makes her talk
With the threat
Of the old butcher knife


There is one use for her body,
And it is not living
There is one use for her mouth,
And it is not speaking
His blows echo through the hall
Jesus tumbles from the wall,
Hands heavenward in a spiraling fall


Holy porcelain explodes on the floor
This one wasn’t lucky enough
To get to the door