Behind the Trees

Just like the night
you took the light
& stole away
behind the trees

just a little fight
for such a frenzied flight
you stole away
behind the trees

Behind the trees
is where they found you.
Behind the trees
is where you lay.
Behind the trees
in the heather
your hair scattered
like torn bird feathers, Mae
Behind the trees
& into the night.

With the morning light
came such an awful sight
you torn & twisted
behind the trees
Like a wayward kite
came the sheriff’s lights
& you, torn & twisted
behind the trees

Through his deputy
the sheriff, he told me
“Hey, boy. You’re looking at life.”
I said, “Oh, god, man.
You got the wrong man.
I never touched a hair
on the head of my wife.”

He said, “I guess we’ll have to wait & see
& leave it to the people of Harlan County.
Let them decide if you’re to be free.”
I said, “I ain’t got the money
for no high-class attorney, buddy.
We’ll have to wait & see.”

A Miner

She said she’d find herself a miner
& he treats her well
& he makes good money
so “you can burn in hell”
I got the lawyer on the phone
& he ain’t sayin’ much of anything
but he wrote it all down
in his yellow legal pad

he ain’t helpin’ me out
I can’t pay these bills
so what’s it gonna take
to get out?

I got my boss on my back
& he won’t quit, no not for anything
not for my sick child
or my mother in the home
& I ain’t got no time in
so I just nod my head
& make my way down
to the unemployment line

She said she’s leaving with the kids
& I can’t blame her much
but it hurts my stomach:
it feels like rocks in my guts
She said she’d find herself a miner
& he treats them well
& he makes good money
so “you can burn in hell.”

She ain’t helpin’ me out
I can’t pay these bills
I guess a bullet’s what it’s gonna take
to get out

A Ghost in the Folds

William was a man that did some walkin’
He tramped the land far & wide
He made his home in Old Widow’s Grove
& he never gave his love to another

Lay your hat down
You can stick around
Or you could go to Old Widow’s Grove
& be like William there

William, as a young man,
never could understand
that you gotta reach out & let others in
or you’ll never find much use in nothin’

Now that William’s gotten old,
he feels the sun’s grown cold
He hides himself in the thickest of clothes
but he feels like a ghost in the folds


He treats his women like he treats his cars
Spends his nights in old dive bars
Hey, Emery

The man people know & come in droves
to watch him sniff blow til his nose snows
Hey, Emery

But there’s a secret that he knows
He wraps it tight around himself against the cold
There ain’t no one there when you go
The last light’s flicker before the eternal blight
No, there ain’t no one there to take you into the night

Big Green Bitch up & kicked him out
left him with a bad taste in his mouth
Hey, Emery

“Death B4 Dishonor” reads the banner on his arm
Thinks everybody is out to do him harm
Hey, Emery

Worker Bee

I watch the crack in the pane of the window fill with snow
I watch the crack in the pane of the window fill with snow
I taped some plastic on it but I don’t think it’ll hold
I hear that mournful whistle on the wicked winter wind that blows

Spit on the shit, man, shine the bricks
Workin’ & workin’ just to make another man rich
I’m a drone, baby, yeah, a worker bee
but that’s the kind of life for the likes of you & me

I pick my check up on Friday then the weekend comes
Ciny’s got the kids, Lord knows, I got the rum
I’ll be a-screamin’ & a-singin’ like I did when I’s young
Won’t have a dime for the time I wasted ‘fore Monday comes

The socks on my feet are made of mostly holes
I feel every rock in the street & the winter’s cold
Ain’t got no money to spend; no needle of my own to hold
I hope the weather warms up ‘fore my shoes decided to go

~ ~ ~

A.S. Coomer is a writer, musician and native Kentuckian currently serving out a purgatorial existence somewhere in the arctic midwest. His work has appeared in over forty literary journals, magazines, anthologies and the like. He was nominated for the Pushcart Prize three times in 2016. His debut novel, Rush’s Deal (Hammer & Anvil Books), came out December 11th, 2016. The Fetishists, his second novel, was published March 20th, 2017 by Grindhouse Press. You can find him at He also runs Lost, Long Gone, Forgotten Records, a “record label” exclusively for poetry.