Sample Poems             

 

From Gods of Four Mile Creek                                                                                                                                

(Forthcoming from Golden Antelope Press in 2020)

 

Three Field Stones in a Hill Cemetery

Immediately inside the main gate 
on the left are three field stones leading 
a line of grave markers up the north slope.
Nothing is known of these stones; 
church records make no mention,
and the county’s cemetery census 
lists these residents as “field stones.”
Perhaps nothing can be known, but location
suggests they were among the first,
and the oldest dated stones surround them. 
Perhaps, since side by side, they were siblings 
who died close together in an epidemic, 
or strangers in an accident, 
or the last three of a fading family. 
Obviously they were poor,
but even the poor can afford a flat
or striking stone from a creek bed.
Chances are no one was left who loved them,
for these are non-descript field stones, 
abundant on the surface of this hillside 
and often turned up while plowing corn 
or digging even the shallowest of graves.  

 

A Fence in Woods

A rusted woven wire fence
topped with a strand of barbed
runs through this rocky, dry ridge
of timber, and a hand-dug pond
deep in the woods holds a puddle
during wet seasons. Someone
may have tried to raise hogs here,
hoping to fatten them on acorns, roots,
and copperheads, but now that fence
rises and falls, occasionally rearing 
from leaf fodder to where it has grown
into the thin rings of a black jack,
and then falling again into leaf bed,
much like these hills rise and fall
until they lie quiet in a prairie
or plain, or like this farm rose
and fell with hope and despair
until it failed, or like a family name
that struggled to rise until it left
this place or was buried under it.

 

The Grade A Milk Barn

Unlike her older sister, the loft barn,
she will never be pretty or picturesque,
and memories will not soften her lines,
for no one shared hay-laden loft days 
or manger nights with her, and she 
offered no shelter from storms 
nor comfort in birth or death.
She was a small factory built
of cinder blocks and concrete
with metal window frames
and store-bought door latches.
She was obsessed with cleanliness,
and her walls were always damp,
her floors wet, and the chill of extraction 
was always in her touch.

 

 

From The History of Trees Roots                                                                                                                                                      

(Golden Antelope Press 2015)

 

A Shelf of Old Hammers

They had their heads knocked 
hard for too many years
as they spent life giving
and receiving pain;
with every blow they landed,
one was taken,
and now they have scarred, 
blunted faces; 
some hold their heads
slightly askew as though
still reeling from a hit,
and others have splintered 
limbs wrapped in tape
worn thin and shabby;
and though beaten and maimed,
the ball-peen hammers
still flaunt their heft of pride,
and the claw hammers still pin
their ears back in anger.

 

Sage Bush

Started from the plant
Mother grew from her father’s,
my sage bush was the sole survivor
in my garden during the recent drought.
Grasshoppers, having no choice
in the burnt fields, chewed
the edges of its evergreen leaves,
but now, revived by fall rains,
it steps forward in ragged pride,
with holes in the elbows of its work shirt
and patches on its knees. 

 

The History of Tree Roots

My ancestors settled on these banks 
perhaps by accident, delivered here
by high winds or high water,
and they put down roots so deep
that they became the identity of this place—
but few locals now know the name 
of this stream, and its seasonal rise
wears away the course of the past;
yet I remain, misshapen by my seeking
of fissures, by my grasping of stones,
becoming the contours of resistance,
the contortions of my resilience,
holding in place what little remains
of a soil that once held me secure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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