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