Salvation Strip Mall

We drive away from St. Louis to a quiet retreat in the Arkansas hills, the promise of tree houses and greenery the carrot daring me to drive down the highway alongside rednecks, grandmothers, and truckers.

Ross points out his favorite truck stops, places where he’s delivered, and I drive hands clenched, eyes straight ahead, calculating my next pee break, worrying how long I can drive without panicking.

We take turns selecting music; my David Bowie, his Rolling Stones.

Billboard after billboard selling cave tours, Ozark baskets, guilt for pregnant women who don’t want babies, and salvation, until far out beyond the city and the suburbs, far out in-between rest stops, the adult store billboards start luring truckers to pull over, yield to their road weariness, their loneliness, their lust.

Miles more of cows and bluffs and hills and hawks, then churches, triple X stores, churches, and more churches, and cows and fields and hills and hawks, until finally, in what looks like suburban sprawl in the middle of infinity, is a strip mall full of churches only fingertips beyond the last XXX store in Missouri.

Bowie sings about the man who sold the world, while Ross blurts out, "Last chance for redemption at the salvation strip mall."

Trump Didn't Lie

On his campaign trail

Cheeto Jesus, Orange Hitler

spewed vile bile rhetoric

to the cheers and jeers

of cowards HEIL HEIL


“Get ‘em out of here!”

After hypnotizing his crowds

with fairytales of unborn babies

ripped from wombs, torn limb from limb,

of guns snatched from their cradling arms,

of brown rapists, terrorists, and thieves

crossing borders to spoil their purity

he promised to build a wall.

he didn't lie, he didn't lie

his wall

fear brick after fear brick after fear brick

lock us out as we stand watching

in disbelief as white power morons,

the newest rage in Brown Shirts,

keep us in check

he didn't lie, he didn't lie

his wall

fear brick after fear brick after fear brick

and here we stand in the after mess

of our pin-pricked diversity,

love, and progress bubble,

frozen, stuck to where we're standing

Our Dear Leader’s special brand of wall

loaded heavy with signs:

no fags, no dykes, no twisted trannies,

no monkeys -- American or desert,

no femi-nazis, no bitches, no bleeders,

no retards, no beaners, no crying babies,

no fatties, no book worms, no free press,

no sissies, no losers, no war heroes.

Trump didn’t lie. 

He said he’d build a wall.


oh my god,

as we stand against him, we are the wall

and together, we’re huge.

Elva Maxine Beach, author of Neurotica,(2008 New Belleville Press, Austin, TX), received her Master of Fine Arts, Creative Writing at Louisiana State University. Her short story "Green Beans" is part of anthology about setting published by the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography. Her essay "Immersion, Ascetics, and the Aesthete: Cleaning the House" appears in Ritual and Healing, an anthology of stories of transformation. Beach's poems and stories also appear in,,, Toad Suck Review and other publications. Beach is currently working on a series of flash fictions set in a Midwestern 1970s junior high and high school (think Ramones, Led Zepplin and pocket combs). She’s also mad as hell.