Posts Tagged ‘Pinesong’

[with poems from PINESONG 2023, NC Poetry Society Anthology]


Ghazal: Ghost Apples (Kent County, Michigan)


Ice-encrusted boughs from which transparent versions
of apples hang – each fragile as hand-blown glass.
Their history: fruit on the cusp of rot, winter storm trundling
down a hillside, sleet coating each apple in sudden glass.
Viscous fruit leaked from apertures until only icy shells
remained – December trees bearing quicksilver bulbs of glass.
Imagine them a vivid red or green, like cascades of apples
even humble grocery stores offer on the far side of plate glass.
If we shattered these globes, would they taste like hard cider
or the cloying sweetness of pulp, like edible versions of glass?
Soon these crystalline shells will melt to nothingness, the way
we all disappear. Beloved, step lightly upon grief’s bitter glass.
Lavonne Adams
Joanna Catherine Scott Award First Place, Pinesong 2023
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Diversity often blooms at the edge. This little trail heading out from Isaac’s Trail Head on the MST is limn upon limn . . . boundary . . . transition. The wide riparian border along Grassy Creek attracts neotropical migrants for a rest stop each spring; Louisiana Waterthrush, White-Eyed Vireo, and Common Yellowthroat stay behind to breed here. The footpath parallels a pasture fenceline, and while cows with their calves stand flank-deep in meadow grass and blackberry bramble, all manner of wildflowers hug the margin of No Grazing: Blue Toadflax, Venus’s Looking Glass, Carolina Crane’s-Bill. Leaving creekside, the trail is hemmed by a moist rising woodland: Rattlesnake Fern, Sensitive Fern, Southern Lady Fern. And by the end of summer, if the farmer hasn’t sprayed, the trail edges will fill with Blue-Curl, Cardinal Flower, Goldenrod, Wingstem.
Smaller fields and many interruptions make for many edges; diversity begets diversity. At one point along the trail a wide acreage of corn abuts a small hay field of mixed grasses. The corn field is solemn in its solitude; above the hay the air is filled with swallows, Bluebirds and Phoebes perch along the wire, and as we hike past we’re apt to flush an Indigo Bunting foraging.
But then there are Cowbirds. For centuries they followed prairie bison herds and no doubt also the woodland bison of the Carolina piedmont. Now they follow every human disturbance, common in cow pasture but just as common on suburban lawns. Cowbirds are exclusively brood parasites, known to lay their eggs in the nests of over 220 other species. To their detriment. Kirtland’s Warbler has been pushed beyond the edge of “endangered” by Cowbird predation, and most birds do not have the ability to recognize the foreign eggs which will hatch and out-compete the rightful occupants. How to resist? Escape the edges. Reverse the fragmentation. Cowbirds will not follow into deep woods – warblers nesting deep in the forest are safe.
It isn’t the Cowbird that threatens wood warblers, whip-poor-wills, vireos. It is shrinking habitat. Many species thrive at the edge. Some, though, require wide wild expanses. How much wild can we leave?
Upon which side of the boundary does poetry perch, thrive or decline? And what would it look like, that restored, invigorated poetry habitat, a definite nudge toward thriving? More fifth graders setting pen to page and seeing their lines is print, as they have in this year’s annual Pinesong anthology by the North Carolina Poetry Society? More opportunities and promptings to write – whatever one’s background, training, preferred theme, chosen form? And more readers?
That’s where we come in. This morning I broke a nice sweat hiking miles along meadow and creek, through upland forest to lakeshore and back. This afternoon with feet up I’ve covered another rewarding meander through the pages of Pinesong. Student poets, grades 4 through undergrad; dozens more of adult poets, many names entirely new to me. I’ve traveled new places, I’ve encountered the unexpected and enlightening, I’ve paused long to reflect, and I’ve even laughed out loud. As Robert Frost wrote in The Pasture: “You come, too.”
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Eleven Lines In Search of the Perfect Rhyme
Is it accidental that bereft almost rhymes with death?
Watching geese rise in a chevron formation The New River
at Grassy Creek, flying south to warmer waters, I think of how
sons and daughters grow up, how the nest – that like death
almost rhymes with bereft, – empties with their flight.
How these words fly out of my mouth like startled birds.
How we dream of loved ones who are dead. How we forget
what happened in the dream, what we did, what we said.
How there are hundreds of ways to leave, not only the 50 ways
in Paul Simon’s song, and thousands of ways to grieve, bereft.
How you can both the lover leaving and the lover left.
Beth Copeland
Carol Bessent Hayman Poetry of Love Award Honorable Mention, Pinesong 2023
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Pinesong is the annual publication of contest winning poems by the North Carolina Poetry Society, founded in 1932. Pinesong 2023 is Number 59, edited by Sherry Pedersen-Thrasher with assistance from Joan Barasovska. This year’s volume is dedicated to David Radavich, former NCPS President and steadfast supporter of poetry and the arts.
You can learn more about North Carolina Poetry Society and its contests, plus read previous years’ editions of Pinesong . . . here.
If you would like to purchase Pinesong ($12, postage included) please contact NCPS Vice President of Membership Joan Barasovska: msjoan9[at]gmail[dot]com
A free issue of Pinesong is available to all NCPS members in good standing who request ($2 mailing expense). Please contact Joan, as above.
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2020-09-08b Doughton Park Tree

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[poems by Joy Harjo, Wendell Berry, Mary Hennessy]

an offering from Debra Kaufman . . .

– Joy Harjo –

Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
are you.
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.

Remember”; Copyright ©1983 by Joy Harjo from She Had Some Horses by Joy Harjo

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There is something we want to hear that poetry speaks to us. We don’t know what it is until we feel its vibrations. How could we know? Do you only see what you know you want to see and never turn around and the redbud has burst into bloom? Do you only smell what you know you want to smell and baking shortbread never wafts you into Nana’s kitchen?

Poetry wants to say to us the thing we didn’t know we wanted to hear but deep within us we do know and do desire. Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you. / Remember language comes from this. (Joy Harjo).

Several friends have offered poems that speak to them about our Earth and which offer to gather us all in together to celebrate Earth Day! I’m posting their offerings April 21, 22, and 23. What do you see? What do you hear?

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Linda French Griffin

an offering from Catherine Carter . . .

A Purification
– Wendell Berry –

At start of spring I open a trench
in the ground. I put into it
the winter’s accumulation of paper,
pages I do not want to read
again, useless words, fragments,
errors. And I put into it
the contents of the outhouse:
light of the sun, growth of the ground,
finished with one of their journeys.
To the sky, to the wind, then,
and to the faithful trees, I confess
my sins: that I have not been happy
enough, considering my good luck;
have listened to too much noise;
have been inattentive to wonders;
have lusted after praise.
And then upon the gathered refuse
of mind and body, I close the trench,
folding shut again the dark,
the deathless earth. Beneath that seal
the old escapes into the new.

A Purification” by Wendell Berry from New Collected Poems. Counterpoint © 2012

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Plantainleaf Pussytoes; Antennaria plantaginifolia; Mountains-to-Sea Trail above Brinegar Cabin

an offering by Mary Hennessy, her poem . . .

Repeat After Me:

jettison the idea of shelter.
Say it’s like a camera,
one more thing to hold between

ourselves and the world.
In hand, an invitation by library card
to leave the room of a little life.

Move out unwashed and unredeemed.
Wear a raggedy-assed back pack
like a harness.

The smell of pressed meat
from the back of the bus,
The curve at the top of the world

visible. Something you could Braille-
the almost arc of it.
You tell me that the composer Ravel repeats

every line, I say, “so do the birds.”
Sometimes they go on repeating
until I lose count.

Without looking up you say, “the world
will be gone a long time before anyone notices.”
The world will be gone a long time.

“Repeat After Me” © Mary Hennessy, first appeared in Pinesong 2018, annual anthology of the North Carolina Poetry Society

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[original artwork by Linda French Griffin (c) 2021]

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