Grandfather fermented the moon
shine, taking clandestine fragments
of lover’s kisses, distilling
poetry of love into liquor.
If it smelled of frogs
writing their verses of loss into the night,
then so much the better. For regret
is always a white rose in the low sky.
Sometimes, his efforts exploded,
lightning singeing his eyebrows.
The moon shines its white grandfather’s beard,
part sour mash, part vinegar,
reams of fiddler crabs spitting plugs of tobacco,
sideways quarter-moon smirk, drunk,
fallen in stinkweed and skunk cabbage,
too saturated with excuses and bald-face lies,
sets some hooch in pan full of gun powder,
lights it, standing far as a stretched arm,
letting it flame, flannel underwear red
good stuff, if you survive to tell about it.
Grandmother searched the night forests
with her lantern of moonlight,
a white lace nightie. If she found him
in drunken stupor, urinating streams
with golden bass, she would yank him
by his potato shaped ears. If she found
his hidden still, bubbling crude whiskey,
she would shatter the night with it,
shards of black fall, white stars whorl,
steeple of crickets would hide drunken songs.
She would sample some to make sure
it was potent as a mule kick, or full of hellfire,
or it was tepid as a woman without a candle
smoldering at both ends and a man exiting
every open window. If it unbraided her hair,
set it screeching like a tormented cat,
if it was fit enough to serve notice
from the health department as hazardous waste,
if it made her blue eyes flame and spin out spiderwebs,
then it was too tame for grandpa.
Only if it spoke Swiss and grew four legs
was it ready for his consumption.
If she had a certain pride in his failures,
a peace in her face lifted as a veil
when bragging about his liquor.