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
Today is Pulitzer Prize-winning author Eudora Welty's birthday. She would have been 102. For 75 years, Eudora lived and wrote at 1119 Pinehurst St. in Jackson, Mississippi. Restored after her death in 2001 and now a National Historic Landmark, the home is open for tours by reservation and displays her book collection (it's been said that family and friends had to move books if they wanted to sit down), old desk and typewriter and charming Southern garden, noted for its roses and camellias. Photos aren't allowed inside the home, but when we toured last year, we were able to get shots of her garden, exterior of the house and the playhouse where a young Eudora spent time making up plays and hanging out with her friends.
To schedule a tour of the Eudora Welty House, call 601-353-7762. Tours are given at 9 and 11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and cost $5 for adults and $3 for students. Children under 6 get in free.
by Kevin Heaton
Levitating apparitions hover in misty
vapor, troubling the face of cypress
waters; suspended between rapture
and mortality, concealing wispy souls
of southern sons not yet at peace.
They seek their general, mounted
on a ghost stallion snorting humid
gunpowder haze, charging at victory;
his sword casting lunar reflections
into Yankee eyes. Troop remnants mark
cadence on gator, and snapper backs;
scouting front lines long ago fallen,
and battles; long since lost.
Kevin Heaton lives and writes in South Carolina. His latest chapbook, "Measured Days," was recently released from Heavy Hands Ink Press, and his work has appeared in Foliate Oak, Elimae, Hanging Moss Journal, Pirene's Fountain and many others. He is listed as a notable poet at KansasPoets.com. To read more of his work, click here.
by Erin Z. Bass
Since last year's oil spill, the safety of eating seafood from the Gulf has been in question. I personally have never stopped eating it. Shrimp, crabs and on special occasions, oysters, are a huge part of my diet here in South Louisiana, and I don't think I could live without them. But I realize that many of you have concerns about seafood coming from waters contaminated with oil, and I don't blame you. Maybe I should be more concerned, but those barbecued shrimp I had for dinner the other night were sooo good.
Many of you followed along last month with our trip to Dauphin Island, Alabama. A potential annual celebration for the island that combines seafood, science and celebrity, the weekend was heavy on the seafood. From a shrimp and crawfish boil on the dock at Bellingrath Gardens Friday night to plenty of seafood gumbo entries at the Gumbo Cookoff on Saturday and a bash that filled the rooms of the island's estuarium with everything from stuffed crabs to freshly shucked oysters and the aforementioned barbecued shrimp that night, I basically consumed as much seafood as one person possibly can in a weekend. As did celebrity Chef
by Michael Gebelein
It’s always been
hard for me to
things that are unknown.
To feel the embrace
from a different plane
of existence or consciousness
I’ve made a show
of tolerance and acceptance
so hopefully actions
really do tell more
to the world than words.
Leaning in closer
to see the world
with eyes like
a fortune teller on Miami Beach,
or a Baptist preacher in a small Southern town,
a gas station attendant in Cleveland.
Maybe they’ve got it figured out,
but for now I’ll just
lay in this bed with this piece of paper
on a Monday morning with the snow coming in from outside
and a ring of cigarette smoke over the end table.
Letting the world have a short glimpse
before throwing the curtains wide.
Michael Gebelein is a writer living in Asheville, North Carolina.