Saturday, February 16, 2008

North Carolina, here I come

I bought a plane ticket to North Carolina today. I'm going down there to accompany my sister Laura as she moves back to Michigan. In with me and Stacy, in fact. Emma is coming, too. She will hopefully teach Henri some manners. Or at least mellow him out a little.

I'll also get to hang with the great Laurie Capps who I am quite fond of. She lives in North Carolina so we're going to meet up and see if we like each other in person. Hopefully it works out, though I suspect it will.

In any case, I thought I would post a couple North Carolina poems - or, rather, Carolina poems, as these don't mention North specifically. So here are "Carolina Journal" by Nicole Pekarske and "Cowgirl" by R. T. Smith. "Carolina Journal" has a couple lines that aren't properly formatted here, so if you'd like to see it correctly read it at Poetry's site.

Carolina Journal

Smoketrees line the roadside, still-bare beech and poplar
bouqueted with redbud and something rusty I can't name,
March's odd autumnals —

One-church towns I'm glad
not to be from, split-log strip mall with a porch
where Claire's beauty shop shares a sign with "Antigues," where you study grace
in magazines, and when dad dies you rename the family diner

New York New York. Love is a means of travel, so you dye
the linens pink and swan-fold napkins, holding peony
in your mouth. Sundays drive out to watch the ferry
drag its lace.

Coastward, Easter-colored clapboard,
the last generation's shanties hovering on narrow stilts
above the velour drift of tide plain (mink from a distance,

muskrat up close), a drowsy instrumental music,
flooded at dusk. Beside the bridge, smooth brow of pewter.
Island of saplings blackened like a framed-up house.

(From the November 2007 issue of Poetry.)


In Stetson and calico vest, spandex
and Calvin jeans, she was the best
at the bar. Does Gucci make range boots?
Hers were snakeskin with heels
like railroad spikes. The rest you could
guess: eyes the blue of West Texas yonder,
complexion like hot coffee with cream.
All night I gave her slack but kept
my dally-knot tight, hoping she’d like
the stories I could tell—drunk Indian
twins fighting with icepicks in Cheyenne,
Carolina moonshine, deer breaking open
watermelons out of crazy hunger.
Regular as breath she’d say, “Damn!” or
“Yes!” and stomp a heel through sawdust
to the pine floor. I nearly had the rest
of my life planned out, downing Coors
and forking out for God-knows-whose,
till a dude in a Brooks Brothers suit
moved in, flashing a wad of Andrew
Jacksons like cold cash grew on trees,
and she said to me—she fairly spat it—
“Get lost!” So I did, prostrate all night
in a roadside hay field, watching the sky
sleek as a coal-black stallion’s flank.
Damn if every star wasn’t a spur
burning its wheels into my foolish eyes.

(R. T. Smith from The Hollow Log Lounge, 2003 University of Illinois Press.)

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