Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Rita Riddle Book Release

It's not often that I get to moonlight as the poet and writer afficionado, but this week I get a chance to read other's work as well as my own.

This coming Thursday the 24th there will be a tribute reading of Rita Sizemore Riddle's posthumously published collection of poetry All There Is To Keep, at Radford University, Radford, Virginia. The event will be held in the Flossie Martin Art Gallery at 7:00 pm. The Southern Appalachian Writer's Cooperative (SAWC) donated funds to publish this book, Iris Press worked diligently in putting it together, and all proceeds from the sale of her poetry book will go to a scholarship for an RU creative writing student. Rita passed away in 2006, but left her mark on the world through her personal, unapologetic, and touching poetry. A small group of her friends and fellow writers will read select poems from her book. Speakers are: Dana Wildsmith, Felicia Mitchell, Jim Webb, Beto Cumming, Ron Houchin, Jack Higgs, David Owens, and myself.

On Thursday, April 25 of this week, in conjunction with the Riddle reading, some of us, including others that couldn't make the Radford University engagement, will read some from our own work from 3:30-5 at the Floyd Country Store in nearby Floyd, Virginia, with writers from that neck of the woods as well as from other stretches of the Appalachians. I'm excited not just to be sharing my poetry with others, but that their famous Friday Night Jamboree follows our reading from 6:30 until 10 or 11. I'm looking forward to listening to some good Ole Time and Bluegrass music I grew up on living around Galax, Virginia.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Jesus In My Heart

My daughter came in from running around in the yard the other day and exclaimed, "I know that Jesus is in my heart. I can feel him jiggle when I run!" After cautiously listening to her chest and ruling out a heart murmer or some other ailment, I replied, "Yep. That's him all right."

Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and be a child again, when I understood the ways of the world in simple terms. Up was up and down was down. Right was right and wrong was wrong. Then you get older and and more intelligent and things get complicated. Suddenly answers to questions became less simple and more convoluted. It took a while for me to come to grips that, although there will always be absolute answers to some things, sometimes I just had to admit that I just didn't have an answer, accept that I might never know the answer, and have faith that God knew what was what and he'd handle it.

Jesus said to his disciples after they tried turning some children away from him, gathering the little ones in his arms, "Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs." (Mark 10:13-16) Like my daughter looks to my wife and me for guidance and care, sometimes I forget that I have someone to rely on as well.

To be a child again! Maybe I need to get out and go running in the yard more often.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

A Poem by Jim Wayne Miller

Why Rosalie Did It

Because talk in the town
had the galvanized taste
of tap water standing
too long in pipes

because dogs ran loose
sniffing each other's rear-ends
while people walked
their personal devils on a leash
or carried them, like cobras
in a laundry basket

because all the talk
the telling and recollecting
enlarged, clarified nothing
but wore memory away
so when Mrs. Curry was killed
crossing the road to her mailbox
she became no more
than a dead dog on the interstate
run over and over (in the telling)
until nothing was left but
a scrap of hair in a bloody spot

because they refused to interpret
("that's just his way")
("well, he was a Meadors")
("them Jacksons is like that")
because the 40-watt bulbs
at the head of stairs
were one with their little economies
of word, of thought

because, stopped on the street
in front of the hardware store, talking,
they were like horses standing
side by side, head to tail,
swishing flies off one another

because they knew
about everybody

knew when her Daddy died
choked on a piece of beef
at Purcell's Family Restaurant
after church
he had a polaroid of Roma Strickland, naked,
in his wallet

because they knew
or thought they knew
about everybody

because you were naked here anyway
Rosalie came up from under the bridge
at the end of town

--her jeans and shirt and underwear already
floating downriver—and
ran buck naked down Main
at 4:30 in the afternoon
blonde hair flying
tan all over
(they didn't know that, for instance)
no white skin where she'd worn
any two-piece bathing suit

because at least for the two minutes
it took to jog past the Dollar General,
past Western Auto, All Star
Realty and Auction, and on out
to where she'd parked her Datsun
by the picnic tables
the boys from the Job Corps built

nobody moved
nobody spoke

nobody knew what to say or think.
There wasn't a sound
except her bare feet touching lightly
on the astonished sidewalk
nothing moved
except her reflection running with her
in store windows.

(from Brier, His Book. Frankfort, Kentucky: Gnomon Press, 1988.)