Honky-Tonk Heartbreak

She croons over the Karaoke boom,
voice as smoky as fresh-charred barrels of oak,
white lightning across the busy barroom,
both hot and sugary—whiskey cut with coke.

She is a rough woman weathered with age
and the seasons of dragging a heart on sleeves—
hollow-eyed, denim-thighed, veiled on the stage
with her auburn hair the shade of Autumn leaves.

She sings her Loretta Lynn like a dirge
for the Man in Black, lost deep in his cup,
her soul rising, fermented, in a surge,
dividing the hot whiskey from the syrup.