by Gregory Luce
"I remember the way the mimosa tree buttered the shade
Outside the basement bedroom, soaked in its yellow bristles."
- Charles Wright
I too remember mimosas
two of them in my grandparents’
yard the pink bottle-brush
blossoms helicoptering down
the almost-not-there scent
trailing and how I had to sweep
them off the driveway
or scrape them when
the rain glued them down
to the concrete
how hateful the labor
and how much would
I give to do it again
now as my grandfather
finishes mowing the lawn
after dinner and starts
the sprinklers and we go
inside for one last iced tea
cicadas burring the
Gregory Luce was born in Texas and still resides below the Mason-Dixon line in Washington, D.C., where he works as production specialist for the National Geographic Society. He is the author of two chapbooks, "Signs of Small Grace" and "Drinking Weather." His poems have appeared in Kansas Quarterly, Cimarron Review, Innisfree Poetry Review, If, Northern Virginia Review, Juke Jar, Praxilla, Little Patuxent Review, Buffalo Creek Review and in the anthology, "Living in Storms." To find out more, visit his blog or follow him on Twitter @dctexpoet.
by Diane Kimbrell
Othermama’s biggest fear in life was death. Her second biggest fear was that she would be buried in potter’s field—a bleak burial ground for paupers located about a mile outside our hometown of Quicksand, North Carolina. To make sure she didn’t end up there without so much as a stick to mark her grave, Othermama, my maternal grandmother, took out an insurance policy with the Quicksand Mutual Trust Agency. She had no intention of being buried in an “ole cold, pine wood box,” as she put it. Her monthly payments to Mr. Mosely, the tall, thin insurance man, ensured that she would be laid to rest in a satin-lined coffin with a lid. Although she couldn’t bear the idea of being closed inside of anything, it was preferable to being exposed to the elements and eaten by worms—worms, which by the way, were her third biggest fear.
Othermama had always lived with us. To this day, nobody in my family will admit it, but we all dreaded her death as much as she did. I never understood why she was so afraid of passing on to her final resting place. Perhaps she feared being cast into the Devil’s lake
by N. A’Yara Stein
Life. Domain. Kingdom.
The embayment alongside the alluvial plains
Is where I was born and where I grew up.
It’s a trip to see some rare November cotton:
Commissioned to collect, record, and describe,
Identify by name each rigid principal of tribe.
We get out and stand around.
No one there knows me now.
Extinct, I’m just going through the motions.
I tell you a secret even I don’t know
Showing you the succession of great-greats
On tombstones that begin to begin in 1753.
Phylum. Class. Order.
Rank is relative, restrictive to schema.
By summer’s end the boys in these towns
Will molt, farmer’s tan and all, into men.
Without the built-in checks to help
You keep the many names straight,
That rudimentary or basic knowledge
Important to survival, you talk with no one.
Family. Genus. Species.
In the antebellum kitchen we cut onions.
Developed from a common ancestral form,
Monophyletic, some places we never reach.
We eat in silence. You say you love the food.
We are both crying tears we don’t mean.
Hybrid. Variety. Aberration.
Between me and you, a distinction is to be made;
I've crunched all the numbers, culled the statistics.
A tiny mass of Latin rattles in my brain;
Words scribble like wasps on the water’s surface.
Somewhere between this moment and forever,
Somewhere between the two extremes,
There is some kind of common
by Lyn Lifshin
you know the story of
the woman in a
turret and how ivy
puts its fingers
across the moon.
And besides, no one
could hear. Ivy
that grows like
kudzu in the
deepest part of Georgia
swallowing up a
in one night. I would
have lowered my long
hair to a lover,
lured him with blood
in a bottle, each
drop a ruby with
a poem etched on it.
Or carved my initials
in the grey stone
around his heart. I’d
have talked to the
birds or waited,
slept 20 years, given
away my children.
Only I was outside
trying to get in
Lyn Lifshin lives in Virginia and has written more than 120 books of poetry, including "The Licorice Daughter: My Year With Ruffian," "Before It's Light," "Cold Comfort" and "Another Woman who Looks Like Me." Her new book, "All the Poets Who Have Touched Me, Living and Dead: All True, Especially the Lies," is receiving strong reviews. To find out more about Lyn or purchase a book, visit her website.
by Gina C. Simon
In a rural town in ’47,
A special gift was sent from Heaven.
To a loving, Catholic family
An infant named Charlene Marie.
Her family helped her learn God’s way,
And many prayers that she could pray.
The one she loved above any other,
Was the Rosary to the Blessed Mother.
One day Charlene got very sick.
No medicine would do the trick.
With Reverend Brennan at her side,
She prayed each day until she died.
Yet her special story does not end sad.
She touched many with the faith she had.
People come to Charlene’s grave to pray,
From near and far almost every day.
Through her intercession it is believed,
That favors are granted, miracles received.
Now the Cajuns proclaim her to be,
Their adopted Saint, Charlene Marie.
Gina C. Simon is a writer/songwriter who grew up in the Acadiana region of Louisiana and recently relocated to Mississippi. This poem is an excerpt from an unpublished children’s version of the true story of Charlene Marie Richard, who died at age 12 of leukemia in South Louisiana and is believed to be a saint. Her tomb, located in St. Edward Church Cemetery, has become a shrine that thousands of people visit to seek her help.
by Kevin Heaton
Grandpa was born in 1896, and could play
just about anything with strings attached.
What pulled most at his heart, was an old fiddle
that he kept on top of a china cabinet
in the corner near his rocking chair; where
he fell asleep every night listening to Georgia
Bulldog games on a Philco dial radio
He worked part-time for the highway department
setting out kerosene warning flares that looked
like bowling balls without holes.
During the 20’s, and throughout Depression Era
days, he set great store in playing that fiddle
at barn raisings, and harvest dances; where neighbors
could find brief, and welcome respite from hardship,
in simple food and fellowship. Civil War ditties
frequented the menu; passed down to him
by the same fingers that first plucked his fiddle.
When his lame shoulder wasn’t throbbing,
and I asked him just right; he’d take her down
off the china cabinet, rosin up the bow, and with
a work boot conducting: take us down dusty,
forgotten pikes lined with blue, and gray soldiers;
singing, marking cadence on the road to awakening:
Ride a Scotch horse
to Danbury cross,
see an old woman
upon a white horse.
Rings on her fingers,
and bells on her toes—
she shall have music
wherever she goes, and goes
by Jesse Peters
I feel cold today.
I want to drive
across the South
with you again,
the sun baking us
in our old black Chevy,
listening to that Hank
Williams cassette we wore out.
The warped, dragging sound
funny at first, but
eventually gone, leaving
only a blank
tape with the label
The cotton is blooming
around Oxford and the
peach trees glowing pink.
We can eat boiled crawfish
in New Orleans, sucking
the heads like Cajuns and
We can drink bourbon
on the levee, listening
to Big Daddy Kinsey’s blues
coming from the club below.
Or let's park on the
beach in Pensacola and
sleep in the back of
the Chevy, sweating as
the waves beat us to sleep.
Let's eat a breakfast of
dry cereal and Coke on
the banks of the Chattooga,
watching the sun rise
from behind the steaming
But not today
I wonder how you
spend your time,
if you still like Hank,
if you still have that
green flannel shirt.
I feel cold today—
The old black Chevy
is up on blocks, and
I know my sun is in
someone else's sky.
Jesse Peters is a professor of English at University of North Carolina at Pembroke and grew up on a farm in rural, Southern Georgia. His work has appeared in The Lullwater Review, Zone 3, The Denver Quarterly and Pembroke Magazine. About his subjects, Peters says: "I think those of us who rise up