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Wednesday, 13 February 2013 14:09

In celebration of spring, dead leaves, and an ornery epitaph

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About once a year or less, I work up the nerve to publish poems in this space. Head for cover. It’s that time of the year again.

I have been working on a new collection titled Near Horizons: Poems & Narratives from the Southern Appalachians. Several of the longer pieces were published recently, along with artwork by Elizabeth Ellison, in Flycatcher Journal (www.flycatcherjournal.org), a splendid new online journal you should visit if you’re at all interested in contemporary poetry, essays, narrative verse, etc. Kathryn Stripling Byer has work in this issue. OK … here we go with some shorter pieces from Near Horizons, including an epitaph. Hopefully you’ll find something to like.

 

Ribbons of Bark

On the eighth of April the air was radiant

as we ascended alongside the creek into a

basin carpeted with fringed phacelia and

spring beauty. But winter lingered along

the high divide so that twigs and buds

overarching the trail cast blue-gray

shadows on tan ribbons of bark

unraveling from birch trees.

 

Dead Leaves

Under leaden skies dead leaves

in an eddy this side of the creek

whorl counterclockwise above

water-rounded stones that stare

upward with blind expectation

awaiting a bright-slanted ray

of light that never arrives.

Table Mountain Pine

a bare granite ledge

timber rattler in the sun

intransigent pine

 

Springhead

freestone always wet

sphagnum mat emerald green

sundew ruby red

from Near Horizons

When the moment becomes apparent

we will pass through the trellised gate

& descend through fields of sleep into

the realm of dark angels in burning trees

who cry back & forth throughout the

endless night their raucous calls of

constant mirth & endless sorrow.

 

EVELYN Z. SMYTH

(MAY 1, 1815 - DECEMBER 3, 1909)

EVERY THING THAT COULD GO WRONG DID

AND PURSUED ME OVER THE WATER AND

INTO A FAR LAND WHERE I NOW RESIDE IN

DARK DISCONTENT UNDER THIS COLD

SLAB OF NANTAHALA BLUE MARBLE

 

George Ellison wrote the biographical introductions for the reissues of two Appalachian classics: Horace Kephart’s Our Southern Highlanders and James Mooney’s History, Myths, and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees. In June 2005, a selection of his Back Then columns was published by The History Press in Charleston as Mountain Passages: Natural and Cultural History of Western North Carolina and the Great Smoky Mountains. Readers can contact him at P.O. Box 1262, Bryson City, N.C., 28713, or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .    

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