Fireball Whiskey Kinda Night


We stood together

tips of toes just touching

covering the Burgess & Niple medallion

which I think marks where aliens

landed that night back in the winter of 1960

but you said it was just a surveyor’s marker

flush in the macadam of the Trace.

Grandaddy’s red pickup truck, forlorn

sits abandoned on the verge.

With mints clinched between our teeth we

sip Fireball whiskey – we heard it will fizzle and burn

and maybe give us a new high

as if we need one after the day we just had.

Eyes raised to the sky, we wait for a flash

a streak, a blaze across the sky.

When that happens it will be our signal to write our names

on the pavement in yellow crayon

then climb back into the truck cab

bump along down the road,

back to Natchez.

This story poem was inspired by Andra Watkins Tumblr pictorial of her day along the Natchez Trace. The images above belong to Andra Watkins and link to her Tumblr. Follow Andra’s journey to walk every one of the 444 miles of the Natchez Trace just as her character’s do in her epic novel, To Live Forever An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis.

For another found object poem, please read Song of the Moon.


Mourning Doves by Flickr User Goingslo

My bicycle wheels turn.
Roll away stress.
Soft evening. Moist breezes
Blow from the ocean across
Rivers and creeks.

Magnolia and gardenia.
incense in this chapel
cleanse my mind.

Four mourning doves
waddle in the sandy gravel.
As they fly, they voice
a plaintive song,
beat their wings,
call to mind my son.

He never could pronounce
Dub. His childhood lexicon
comprises our family vocabulary.
Speaks to my heart
as I spin into the
reason I went riding.
To release the family
that will not be.

Photo credit: flicker creative commons user Goingslo

Southern Tragedy

Mama and Daddy with the airplane-She stood by her man, perhaps too long

Today, I heard,
is the birthday of Tammy Wynette.
What does it mean,
This stand by your man stuff?
How long do I stand and where?

Do I stand where they did?
Those women of post war fantasy,
By the stove, aproned, lipsticked and coifed?
In the aisle of the Winn-Dixie,
or the waiting room of the pediatrician.
By the bed of a child?

And while I stand there
I wait for the “Atta girl”
that Bill gave to Janet.*
I thought, that if I did those things
like a paint by number;
1: committee meeting,
2: field trip,
3: shiny floors,
4: homemade birthday cakes,
that I would wake up to the trumpet calls
and blue ribbons of Gabriel and the county fair.

But I didn’t even get an honorable mention.
And I completed my picture.
And I didn’t color outside the lines.
I was a good girl.
Step by step,
I completed all the requirements.
Well, why then,
did I wake up in the Piggly Wiggly
with my soul screaming for salvation?

This poem was inspired by an announcement of the birthday of Tammy Wynette on Public Radio. This poem was written when I was trying to come to grips with my Southern upbringing, my choices, and my future.

*refers to Pres. Bill Clinton’s supportive comments to Atty. General Janet Reno following the Waco, Texas massacre of the Branch Davidians.


Folly Beach. Marsh, Birds and Morris Island Light by Wm. Smithem

Today I have watched
every cycle of the tide.
four divided by two
high and low
alternately covering
and uncovering.

With each one
I expected
to find some evidence of you
floating toward me,
or evidence of you
steadily in retreat
and I only found
the rhythm of the ritual
flood and fall.
like a woman’s body,
the marsh fills and empties.

I think I expected this water
to bring you to me like
Jesus walking;
a miracle resolving all
doubts, simply believed.

Then I imagined
that I would flow
outward and find you
connected as we are
by the water, the wind,
and the grasses
undulating in unison.

But all I saw
were the birds,
who took flight
and carried me
into the horizon.

Edisto Soul


Crossing the Edisto,
I saw my soul
Reflected on the
Black Water.
Caught like the sky
In its mirrored surface,
Like the leaves floating.
Fallen from the Source,
In Autumn.

Wind Train

Wind Train

All this early morning the wind
quakes in the arms of the lingering night,
like an unseen freight train its noise
and vibration rend the dark-quiet.

Any moment, I think, it can crack
through the walls of our room.
Our two bodies rattled from sleep,
will be gathered up in the thunderous roar
and flung back and forth in a climax of sound.


Revelations Image

We sit beside the river listening
intently to the overflowing water
sluicing down the spillway
hardly visible through tangled undergrowth,
of barren wild grapevine, and unseen
Linaria vulgaris that flourishes in these margins.
Common milkweed blooms, its leaves
food for Danaus plexippus that makes her way to Mexico,
And I wish I were like the honeymooners
on this morning’s plane, ticketed to Cancun
headed in naïve surety to relaxed
warmth and sensual delights.

This urban paradise, bordered at the heart
by pocket parks, riverine vistas and sheltering trees
brings to me an esteemed landscape architect’s words,
“Humans are most comfortable with prospect and refuge.”

From our vantage, lulled as wild rabbits
that munch grass on the bank and sleep
in a fur-lined burrow, we view a prospect
falsely offering refuge amid chaos.

Reaching out, our hands meet atop green oilcloth.
You pull back in pain, an injury of overuse
you claim, as the lights sway above our heads,
beat time to no one in particular.

Now, the yellow garden spider records
everything in the zig-zag vectors of her web.
She draws it all closer, weaves
the inevitable in the night.