Poetry: Musing and Reading

On Thursday, August 19, I will be reading and reflecting on my poetry  at 10:30 am for the “Coffee with the Poets” group at City Lights Bookstore, Sylva, NC. The poet’s group is just one of several under the umbrella of the Netwest Mountain Writers, affiliated with the North Carolina Writers Network. (Check out netwestwriters.blogspot.com.)

We are convened by Kay Byer, a former NC Poet Laureate, who has graciously encouraged me to reflect on my thirty years of often hidden poetry writing. As I have been reflecting on this welcome task, two poems popped up that I thought I’d share with you. They both involve the quirky, unexpected way that poems elude our normal patterns of perception and expression. I thought you might enjoy them.

I Love That Poetry

Do you like poetry? I asked.

Oh yes, he said. Last year I went to see a poet

Maya Angelou and she was beautiful.

The curtain opened and the spotlight lit upon her hair,

not white, but lustrous gray.

She wore a long crushed velvet dress, much like a kaftan,

bell shaped sleeves descending to wide cuffs

embroidered with a band that looked like kinte cloth.

A long string of pearls draped down from her broad shoulders,

picking up the highlights in her hair.

She was surrounded by a bank of ferns that reached up to her waist

as she sat down among them.

The ferns were like extensions of the dress. They billowed like her hair.

Oh, it was gorgeous. I just love that poetry.

I’m glad you liked it, passed my lips. Perhaps you might cut off a little more

above my ears. I want to look my best tomorrow night.

Riding Her Out

You get on


saddle cinched,

bridle set just right, the teeth full forward,

reins in hand, fingers gripping left

then right.

The trail lies slant crooked cross the field where the old barn leans

with bulging hay and sentiments of harvest.

Today you’re going to take the Love Lost Trail,

the one that wanders past the precipice where the fated lovers fell in Indian tales.

She steps out walking,

then a trot and canter,

but suddenly she takes the gate into the Devil’s Britches Trail,

up the stony steps and down the creek beside the ancient hemlocks to the jagged Z,

the switchback where the Devil lost his pants.

Adjusted to the steeper climb, the aromatic pungency,

the moisture oozing from the rocks, the slower pace, the torpid rhythm of her shoes,

you settle back to see the view until

you come upon a gushing rivulet,

dismount, and cup a shimmering icy drink from falling waters,

a place where you had never been.

Then back on, your knees and hands in firm command,

you find the gap out to the bald.

Skimming over grasses at a smoother, breezy pace,

you wind back down the mountain past the cut-off to Persimmon Grove,

emerge flush breathless right beside the leaning barn.

It wasn’t what you’d planned but it’s a good poem anyway.