What Progress Left Us

Used to be a mountain

back yonder, behind the house

rose up like mornin sun

jest as purdy as ye please.

T’aint there no more,

some men with money

came up here and blew it

to smittereens. All’s left

is that nasty hole o’ black

water, iffen ye kin call it thet.

More like the slush

in the bottom o’ pap’s

outhouse.

To learn more about the cost of mountain top removal visit any of these links:

http://www.christiansforthemountains.org/index.html

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/blog/2007/09/mountaintop_ministry.html#more

http://www.grist.org/news/maindish/2006/02/16/reece/

http://www.hugg.com/node/1202

http://www.bookrenter.com/products/details/9780976881711/Coal_A_Poetry_Anthology/?utm_source=googlebase&utm_medium=cpc [I have work in this book]

http://www.blairmtp.com/CoalAnthology.htm

“I’m honored to be here with you. We’re an endangered species, we hillbillies. Massey Energy is terrorizing us in Appalachia. Little old ladies in their 70s can’t even sit on their porches. They have to cut their grass wearing respirators. That’s how these people have to live. The coal companies are the real terrorists in America. And we’re going to expose them for the murdering, lying thieves that they are.”

—Julia Bonds

The World’s Two Great Evils

Plastic and politics are the devil.
Plastic multiplies like flies
or roaches,
filling up cupboards
and cracks between
refrigerators and walls,
just waiting for its lord,
lord of the flies.

Politics are laden with lies
and lie with liars
then get up feeding lies
to gullible masses
who stand like
baby birds, mouths open,
waiting for their father,
father of lies.

__________________

*for those who understand and those who don’t wouldn’t even if I explained it.

Panthers

When I am alone in their woods,
(which may be any woods at all)
I walk softly
with iron backbone
and steel eyes.

Jaguars walk these hills
dressed in cougar skin,
calling their catamount
calls among bear caves
and beaver dams;

they say I am kin
though breath catches
in my throat at sight
of their tracks and
hair stands
frozen.

A Novelist’s Gift

“It’s not right for me,”

said the big New York agent

about my story.

 He wanted an exclusive.

I waited two months while

he looked,

two months after two

years of waiting

on the one with enthusiasm.

“I can sell it!”

she said.

She didn’t.

So I write again,

not query letters,

just poetry, just stories

and I give them

to hearts that need

to hear, like Holy Spirit

gifts and God-love,

not for sale.

Too priceless for tags,

but if someone offers,

maybe…I’ll consider.

Four

Four jobs in my life

that shape self:

a daycare for elderly, where I

played checkers with Buel

as he fought World War II

for the thousandth time.

 

A marina dockhand

where I pulled condoms

from air-conditioner vents

and scrubbed toilets for snotty

rich women who were

so much better than I.

 

A farmhand in endless sun

which made college colleagues ask

“Are you from India?”

 

A teacher, a teacher, a teacher

always a teacher. It is my heart.

 

Four places I lived,

that grew inside me 

never letting go:

Gradyville

where I rode my first bike,

purple with hard tires,

 

Sparksville where I learned

we were poor,

 

Milltown, where I learned

we were richly blessed,

 

Garlin, where I learned
I was grown.

 

Four places I’d rather

be right now if my heart

were not content in this

classroom:

Hiking along the Cumberland

where moss covers gray boulders

and water crashes with thunder,

 

walking along the Floridian beach

after afternoon thunderstorms,

 

eating lunch with Rachel

anywhere on earth or beyond

 

sleeping in my hammock

beneath shade trees.

 

Four of my favorite foods

that are not poetic 

just good:

fruit

avocados

tomatoes

fish, fish, fish.

 

Testimony

Passion flowers smell chocolate
in white dust
along tobacco patch edges
while Caribbean skies
lie over Appalachia,
like a lover,

speaking sweetness
to her in valley cane
and swamp marshes
where dragonflies
glint blue above
brackish dog day water.

This world belongs
to mountain children
where the South rises
with every oak, every pine,
every hundred year old pear,
rises from death
rich earth

to testify.

I Want to Know

Should I feel guilty for porch
afternoons beneath mimosa fragrance
and magnolia blooms

for hummingbird whizzing
and wind chime songs?

Should I have shame for my beneath-
the-bush lazy cat and red geranium
pot swan, for shady side streets
swept by westerly breezes?

When Iran and Iraq are bombing,
when a hundred other places fight
and California is hot? When England
is flooded and bees die?

Should I dig a hole, hide
and wait for trumpets,
or just teach a child to read,
then give thanks for my corner
while it still exists?