Devil’s Tramping Ground

IMG-20181220-WA0011

You’d suppose you’d be alarmed.
If shadowy figures stood around you when you opened your eyes
you’d suppose you’d be alarmed. Not us, headin’ back East. Dusk
lulls us by its familiar mass, stern and menacing tribute of
richness, the black from the obscurity placed in our eyes at birth,
our eyes we close against the prowling, our causes are in surplus,
our encounters in excess, and this discomforts us, seeing our
impulses toward reverent rest here.

In midst of shadow. Dark inexpressive forest,
it is them, encircled, I mean, they’re there but we’ve never seen
nor decrypted a face among them. Sleep of the sacrifice, stroke
us in the cradle of the residence, gingerly loving like a thing
worth dropping into the dismal abyss, viscerally worth smothering,
feed the predatory night the domesticating suffocation of babies,
whose seconds’ horror sight of mothers, a lifetime of recognition
that what took it was what takes and takes again when the statures
grow over you, place hands upon

the dead or merely sleeping. What
totems, what fetishes, dropped into the treeline long ago and far
beyond recovery, depth of awe, unknowing of echoes, cannot bring
us into us. Cannot bring us into us. Cannot bring us into us. Us,
are we decent? Are we a pleasant surprise of the halfway awaited
decents? Stern, the silent trees. Are we as unheeding advice of
the watershed where even the decent may cause incalculable harm
if shadowy figures stood around you when you opened your eyes?
You’d suppose you’d be alarmed.

Slightly blushing, from humidity, as well,
we understand we are one in the same the creatures that dreamed
enveloped in treelines on continents of undersides where hands
were bred to cover vision for practice and take life to save it
and in Chatham County, North Carolina, there is a place called
the Devil’s Tramping Ground where nothing will grow but you
could cut through the darkness to go right to the light with
the Devil’s walking stick. There.

What plans might y’all roast
when the treetops have faces.
But you turn away from them.
And observing your sleep, evil
treads ’round in a circle in
the dark, dark forests we left
to guard us from ourselves.

Tactile Afterlife

Originally published in Heron Clan VI

I was at the age to guard the way the creek flowed like
it was some penmanship of larger men into the brown Carolina
and since waited on the country road and backwoods bridge

to become the compassionate elder viewing young catastrophes
and stepping panic stricken out into the power line clearing
as into the incisions of the black bear through hickory bark.

Then the dogwood blossoms fell before you knew it,
and with a vomit of flora the pessimism echo was muffled
as only I now recall how one or the other will first die.

Though in that green fury I am elated that it may be me.
The revolutionist’s preference is to explode like spring spores.
To collapse like the winter buck is the blackest rot.

Such interest in the produce of minds, you know, but
Carolina grows and grows again out of the cavities of
unevacuated chests – it may only be so.

Good News Crackles

Originally published in Heron Clan VI

Driving through the Carolina forests late
at night and the radio moves from music with
advice to music with recipes. Then come the
Jesus stations – all 20 or so. One, then
another. Eventually one reaches out to you,
between the trees and through your headlights,
out of the products and pop songs, splitting
apart the comfortable and the beautiful and
the meaningful people like storm clouds overhead,
and it grabs you by the lapels. It’s been

looking for You, has a message for You. It
has a job. For You. An audio exit opens in
the highway and you’re on it. Exit 81.7 FM,
downtown Jerusalem, Edge of Empire, USA. When
it’s all over you keep it like a psalm in the
glove box, unfolding it for a second in the
parking lot before work, or you read it out
loud in the break room. Because Carolina has
some comfortable, beautiful, meaningful, dark
clouds hovering over it. Good news crackles

on the airwaves, and somewhere sometime it’s
got to rip. Prosperity will rain down on the
forests and the forest people will become
woodland titans. Pulled teeth will resprout.
Lost jobs will be found. We might even buy
back the farm. So think the dry bones
on the Carolina highways at night.