for judes jordan | Jabulile Mickle-Molefe

for judes jordan

if quarter moon in a ten cent town doesn’t set you on fire, quit this poem. pass it on to the next unstruck match of a person with an aqueous heart & a hank sr. tat on their chest. they must be the type to guzzle whiskey at sunrise and let their body fall back into bed until dusk. as a rule, they must love a weeping slide guitar as much as the next person, but not more than a wailing harmonica. give this poem to an only child who forms limerent bonds with every writer they meet. (the recipient may not be a man unless he owns stationery.) 

when you find them, they will be tired. one was out reading o’connor at the dive on the corner. if you have to clarify frank or flannery, quit this poem. you should already know that. another was up taking pregnancy tests to be sure the first three weren’t false positives. another was wishing their mama lived closer but not knowing what they would do if she did. the rest were shadowboxing the lovers who left them, their failed dissertations, their uncle who sullied the family name. even in their own imaginations, they lost.


write this poem on the back of a 2 dollar bill for good luck, then slip it suggestively into their pocket. it says:

“drop acid and speak frankly with your 8 year old self. 
call for them softly, so as not to wake the others.  
when you answer, tell yourself on behalf of all the women who’ve loved you 
that you are the divine boiled down to a drop. 
say that you must be the friends you make along the way, 
because you will die face down in takeout and be discovered by neighbors.
tell yourself you’re gonna break a lotta hearts in this lifetime 
and most of them will be your own. 
8 year old you will not know what this means
but maybe now you won’t wear jeff’s class ring in tenth grade, 
won’t make your mama cry when you drop out of school
to run away with that punk girl. 
besides emmylou sang it best and she’s right: 
you can’t let a little thing like a thirsty heart stop you; 
you must go grinning and hungry and 
fast into the beating pulp of desire, 
hands up	palms open 
must say thanks for the chance 
to be wrecked 	
in the first place.”

Jabulile Mickle-Molefe is a writer and diviner whose work is often rooted in music, myths, or philosophy. Their work has appeared in Anti-Heroin Chic, petrichor journal, and Triangle House Review and is forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review. Find them on twitter at @jmicklemolefe.

Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, prose, reviews, and interviews from marginalized creators.