A Poem by Jayne Moore Waldrop

Coming through Cumberland Gap

 

 

The well-marked trail leads straight uphill,

crossing a stream that roars and echoes

through a cave, once a shelter for travelers.

The water cuts through generations of stone,

nine generations to be exact since my people

walked this way. My thighs and lungs strain

but I push on, shod in appropriate footwear,

swathed in tick repellant, lathered in sunscreen,

energized by abundant color and surprise along

the path. Shocking pink blossoms line redbud

branches to frame electric blue skies,

and patches of wildflowers vary with shade

or sun through the woods. How hard, I think

as I climb, it must have been to head off

into the wilderness, to find the notch between

mountains for admission to a place called

Kentucky. The path wasn’t new and it wasn’t

theirs, but one long worn by others before

we claimed it and made it our own. While I

can’t change the history of loss and taking,

the road conjures those who came before. My

eight-great-grandmother came on foot

with children who were surely hungry, tired,

and with soiled pants. Was it her idea to make

the journey? Did she believe it was her way

to a better life? Were they cold, barefoot, sick,

scared, snakebit, peaked? Her risky story makes

me feel modern, fragile, and in awe

of what it took to make it through the gap.

 

 

Jayne Moore Waldrop is a Kentucky writer, attorney and former book columnist for the Louisville Courier-Journal. Her work has appeared in Appalachian Heritage, Limestone Journal, New Madrid Journal, Kudzu, Minerva Rising, Deep South Magazine, and other journals. Her stories have been named Judge’s Choice in the 2016 Still Journal Fiction Contest and as finalists in the Reynolds Price Short Fiction Award, the Tillie Olsen Fiction Prize, and the AWP Intro Journals Project. A 2014 graduate of the Murray State University MFA in Creative Writing Program, Waldrop lives in Lexington.

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A Poem by Heather Corbally Bryant

The Easterly

           For CH

 

 

The easterly, you say, will be coming in today,

This afternoon—I like the way you say easterly

With such certainty—the way you know the

 

Tides—when they will rise and when they will

Fall—when they will come in and when they will

Go out—but it is the way you say easterly that

 

Touches me—the way you know this land, this

Sea, this shore with complete certainty—the

Currents of water are etched in your mind,

 

Time after time—the sands, the winds, the rain—

The moons, the dredges, the shipwrecks, the

Ocean lives in your mind for all time—today,

 

As we cross sandy cove you look seawards and

Say yes, yes, the easterly will be coming in today.

 

 

Heather Corbally Bryant (formerly Heather Bryant Jordan) teaches in the Writing Program at Wellesley College. She received her A.B. from Harvard, and her PhD from the University of Michigan. She has given academic papers and poetry readings in Ireland throughout the United States.

She published How Will the Heart Endure: Elizabeth Bowen and the Landscape of War,” (University of Michigan Press, 1992). She also has six books of poetry either published or forthcoming: Cheap Grace, The Finishing Line Press, (2011); Lottery Ticket, The Parallel Press Poetry Series of the University of Wisconsin Libraries (2013); Compass Rose, The Finishing Line Press (2016). My Wedding Dress, her first full-length volume of poetry was published in 2017, and Thunderstorm, her second full-length volume, was published from The Finishing Line Press in 2017; later in 2017, The Finishing Line Press published her chapbook, Eve’s Lament. Her work of creative non-fiction, You Can’t Wrap Fire in Paper, will be published in early 2018, as well as her new forward to the reissue of her grandmother’s autobiography, Assigned to Adventure, originally published in 1938.

A Poem by Keith Moul

ROMANCE FADES

 

 

A Canadian Pacific train today rolls by

With protracted sounds that grind steel

On steel; these echo hello as soon goodbye.

 

These are not sounds I recall from childhood;

These sounds clarify political intentions, as

Tomorrow this train, full now, goes north empty.

 

In my town today, railroads’ romance has ended;

The whistle breathes its oath through local hills

Of grim necessity: the wheels roll out, you know,

And if only for the track, the wheels must roll back.

 

Antipathy seethes at local bars.

At home, paint peels in life-giving sun;

Paint fails its warranty.

Fruit rapidly browns too much to eat.

 

Love the idea of railroads to create towns,

To link across this broad America, here

Where the whistle wails its ironies.

Workers have dug graves along the routes.

 

 

 

 

Keith Moul’s poems and photos are published widely. Finishing Line Press released a chap called The Future as a Picnic Lunch in 2015. Aldrich Press published Naked Among Possibilities in 2016; Finishing Line Press released (1/17) Investment in Idolatry. In August, 2017, Aldrich Press released Not on Any Map, a collection of earlier poems. These poems are all from a new work about prairie life through U.S. history, including regional trials, character, and attachment to the land.

A Poem by Eric Allen Yankee

American Kings

 

No dreams anymore, right?

That’s ok, I’ll find one somewhere.

I lost my health insurance

last year. That’s ok, because

I’m an American. My bones

are held together by bootstraps.

I take iron pills to remind me

that I used to make steel.

I go to Church.

I paid taxes when I had a job.

The politicians convinced me

Welfare is bad for me

and that affordable

housing is a crutch.

Be strong and dependent on no one

they told me.

I’m an American.

I load my gun

and make the others bleed.

I’ll build the wall.

I listen to my leaders.

They know how to preserve

their wealth. Someday it will

trickle down to me, because

I’m an American. I believe

in freedom and dying.

I’m an American. I must believe

in

my king

for

his hand is always around my throat.

 

 

 

Eric Allen Yankee is a poet and freelance writer. His poems appear in publications like Crab Fat Magazine, Vanilla Sex Magazine, Yellow Chair Review, The Good Men Project, The People’s Tribune, and more. His work has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize. His chapbook RIOT is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. His second chapbook American Bullet will be out later this year through Atomic Theory Micro Press (December 2017).

Riot is available for preorder at Finishing Line Press: https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/riot-by-eric-allen-yankee/