Jonathan Louis Duckworth

Growing Up in the Bible Belt

Hell is real. I know because I’ve seen it.
In friends who pray for friends to fall out
of love, & in a million forced buzzcuts.
In mothers who call their daughters whores,
& in the protestor outside Planned Parenthood
with his pistol like a squamous
growth under his sweat-through shirt.
God and me? We’re okay.
I don’t mess with His divine plan,
(which I assume involves basketball,
bake sales, & bad music)
& so far He hasn’t smote me yet.
A lake of fire’s probably not so bad anyway.
I mean, look at the stars—burning forever?
A guy could do that fine.

Jonathan Louis Duckworth received his MFA from Florida International University. His recent work appears in Southwest Review, New Ohio Review, Bayou, Barrelhouse, and elsewhere. He has been nominated for Best New Poets, Best of the Net, and Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy. He is a PhD student at University of North Texas.