by Erren Geraud Kelly
there's nothing sadder
than looking at the paper
and seeing a picture of brown pelicans
covered in progress
this summer, kids will collect tar balls
like they collect seashells
the flood that came to new orleans
came to nashville, too
but it was just god's tears
he cried in anger
as he exacted his revenge on us
karma is a bitch
and she always wins
so, taste this toxic gumbo
and enjoy it
we won't care if
the headphones from
our cell phones give us
cancer in a few years
it's just a small price to pay
for keeping up with the joneses
isn't that what cancer is
anyway, a growth that doesn't
enjoy your oyster po-boy
while you can
A year after the oil spill, is Gulf seafood really safe to eat, and can we trust the people, like celebrity Chef Alton Brown, who tell us it is?
by Erin Z. Bass On April 20 of last year, news broke that more than 3 million barrels of crude oil were leaking into the Gulf of Mexico after an explosion on a BP rig offshore. On April 24, the Coast Guard announced that oil was leaking from two locations at a rate of 42,000 gallons a day. On April 25, that estimate was increased to 210,000 gallons, and BP announced that a third leak had been found. By April 29, the oil spill stretched 120 miles and had become a threat to the Louisiana coast, as well as the coasts of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.
Ten days later, only the smallest leak had been stopped, and engineers seriously discussed stopping the leak by stuffing in trash. Meanwhile, nearly 46,000 miles of Gulf waters became closed to fishing. By May 27, more than a month after the initial spill, the disaster was declared the largest spill in U.S. history and surpassed Exxon Valdez from 1989, which leaked about 11 million gallons into the Gulf.
by Nicholas Ward
for Mark Edmundson and the Homeric heroes
At the University they call it narcissism.
But pride tastes like metal
And blood. Smells like gun powder
And gasoline. Sounds like hounds
On a scent. Granddad said
He could listen to dogs run
Forever and die a happy man.
It looks like nothing, eyes
Closed kissing. Feels like
Sweat burn, true grit, victorious.
And I won’t even mention
That where I’m from, they
Can’t even spell narcissism,
Or care to. Neither could
Achilles. Nature only cares
For strength and beauty,
And some can’t spell beauty
Either. But they know pretty
And they howl righteously,
Free from chains and shame, collars
Gnawed off, wolves not yet forgotten.
A native of Greene County, Virginia, Nicholas Ward currently lives in Charlottesville, where he is finishing his undergraduate studies at the University of Virginia. His experiences in rural central Virginia influence his work, and he is interested in bridging the gap between the world of academia at Mr. Jefferson’s University and the nearby rustic foothills of the Blue Ridge.
Southerners and fans of Kathryn Stockett's bestseller "The Help" received exciting news last night when the trailer for the movie version of the book was released. While movie details have sort of been kept hush hush, a release date is scheduled for August 12, and excitement seems to be building. We'll keep y'all updated as more details are released and premiers planned across the South. And in case you missed it a while back, we do have a story about the movie filming in Jackson with lots of photos!
by N. A’Yara Stein
One night on the crunchy sand of Biloxi
my mother lay with my father and i
became I. The stars, she said, whispered;
her husband was a distant silken conspirator.
Afterwards, they returned to their sparring
and to the delta with its raped cotton plants
in reddened soil. They toiled, oiled the machines
almost ferverishly as the doomed do.
Don't you? Haven't you? Never? I have
want of luxury but not fury.
Easy promises slipped bee-like from tongues
and children's ears grew numb with fear
of the way things fall apart and people disappear.
N. A’Yara Stein is a Romani-American poet and writer living on a chicory farm and has been nominated twice for the 2010 Pushcart Prize. Born in Memphis, she holds an MFA from the University of Arkansas and has been published in The New Orleans Review, The Birmingham Poetry Review, The Oxford American, California Quarterly, Chiron Review, Crossroads: a Journal of Southern Culture, Great Midwestern Quarterly, and Poetry Motel. She currently lives near Chicago with her sons and is looking for a book publisher.
by Darryl Willis
Pedestals are designed for urns
and figurines but not for priests and parsons.
Stained glass and sacred art cannot
hide a heart stained by greed and pride.
And I so long ago seemed far too strong
to fall victim to the lesser sins
of lust and rage and drunkenness. My flock
held me in respect (and I confess,
not without a little awe). And when
I walked into a room they turned to me
and gave a smile and nod of deference.
When the parish built for me a brand
new parsonage to honor my long years
of service I could not see what
was plain as the pious look pasted
on my face: how I manipulated
and cajoled to get what I thought I
deserved. Now as I gaze into my
avaricious eyes (as in a mirror
darkly) I can see all so clearly
now: my glass house is filled with stones.
Darryl Willis lives in Texas, and this poem was originally published in Eclectic Flash Literary Journal, Volume 1, September 2010. More of his work can be found on his blog at www.poema2009.blogspot.com.
by Tracy Sopko
As summer painted
the night with thunder,
Time collapsed down
on the grass, his legs
akimbo, his white hair
mussed about his head
like the stuffing pulled
from a too-loved teddy bear.
Soft flashes of fairy light
danced in and out
of the subtly bruised clouds.
Death grew roots
out of his walking shoes,
buried his toes into the dirt,
dropped his hood
and made the decision to
take the night off.
The stillness of the Southern
night was complete.
Tracy Sopko was born and raised in small Florida town, hovering, like the state itself, on the fringes of Southern culture. She currently lives in Jacksonville and attends the University of North Florida.
Harlan D. Whatley
I park the blue Chevy ragtop
Down by the old Coast Guard station.
There are lots of cars in the parking lot
Which means the beach is really crowded today.
As I stroll down the sandy beach
I think about how I got here
And how relaxing St. Simons Island is
Compared to the big city where I used to live.
The people here are as friendly as can be
And nobody is in a big hurry.
The seafood and local cuisine is delicious
And the sunsets are beautiful to watch.
So when I feel a little blue
I go down to the pier in the village
Or sometimes I go to see old Harry
Who serves me a most palatable vintage.
Harlan D. Whatley is a native of North Louisiana whose poetry has been published in the Birmingham Arts Journal, Heavy Hands Ink, Papercut and Poets for Living Waters. He currently teaches English in Zhengzhou, China.
by Lydia Ondrusek
He takes the hatband off,
unspools a Mississippi of black grosgrain;
too long alone in the dim back room, he talks.
Tells about learning to make hats, shape them to fit
people to whom it was important, a good hat.
A sign of who and what you were.
Tells how gents wore boaters once,
all summer, cool and shady.
“Punched the tops out when the season ended!”
I put my boater on, with its new black ribbon;
tip it to my grandfather,
watching from the past’s dusty mirror.
He raises his own black-banded boater
in salute to summer, and to me.
A good hat is important.
Lydia Ondrusek lives in Richardson, Texas, and often writes about Southern experiences and locations. She has had fiction and poetry published online and in print since 2008 in a diverse range of publications that include Flash Fiction Online and Falling Star Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @littlefluffycat.
by Timothy Perior
My wife and I began in Maryland and ended up
in a small town in Georgia. The house is one of
those large, almost mansion things on a couple
of acres, built pre-civil war. It is great for writing.
We love it. This morning I was rummaging about
in the attic. In an obscure corner I came across an
old disintegrating cloth wrapped package. Between
the darkness and the dust I almost missed it.
I unwrapped the remains of a shawl to find a
brittle leather portfolio. Inside I found a quarter inch
of family financial records; among them a hand
written sheet of aged, fine stationery.
This is what it said.
Oh my darling may I write
Of the worry and the care tonight;
For in the wind a rumor swirls
And twists the soul of all the girls.
For no man is here to save;
No strength of army brave.
What color will we look and see?
Not gray with red striped lovely.
Will the coats of color blue
Come to wreak the devil's due;
To march into our happy home
And cast us to forever roam?
Oh, gallant love, this verse is better
Than if I penned a fretful letter.
My breaking heart could stop this time
If I don't fight my mind for rhyme.
I think of you that storm inside
Of those that