Sawmill Man

My daddy wears sawdust
on his gray cap
and powders himself
with timber dandruff.

At night he walks,
across the soggy bottom;
pulls his shoes off,
sits barefoot on the porch

where he smokes,
drinks instant coffee, black,
and watches us catch lightning bugs
in fruit jars.

Behind him she rises,
that old haint, Sparks Ridge.
She looks over the valley to claim
the magic of his life,

a working man’s family,
to gobble us up
and take us down,
like oak tree roots,

take us down,
down, down,
down to her belly.

*first published in Other Voices International Vol.20

What Progress Left Us

Used to be a mountain

back yonder, behind the house,

rose up like mornin sun,

jest as purdy as ye please.

T’aint there no more,

some men with money

came up here and blew it

to smittereens. All’s left

is that nasty hole o’ black

water, iffen ye kin call it thet.

More like the slush

in the bottom o’ pap’s


To learn more about the cost of mountain top removal visit any of these links: [I have work in this book]

 “I’m honored to be here with you. We’re an endangered species, we hillbillies. Massey Energy is terrorizing us in Appalachia. Little old ladies in their 70s can’t even sit on their porches. They have to cut their grass wearing respirators. That’s how these people have to live. The coal companies are the real terrorists in America. And we’re going to expose them for the murdering, lying thieves that they are.”

                                                                                                   —Julia Bonds

The World’s Two Great Evils

Plastic and politics are the devil.
Plastic multiplies like flies
or roaches,
filling up cupboards
and cracks between
refrigerators and walls,
just waiting for its lord,
lord of the flies.

Politics are laden with lies
and lie with liars
then get up feeding lies
to gullible masses
who stand like
baby birds, mouths open,
waiting for their father,
father of lies.


*for those who understand and those who don’t wouldn’t even if I explained it.


When I am alone in their woods,
(which may be any woods at all)
I walk softly
with iron backbone
and steel eyes.

Jaguars walk these hills
dressed in cougar skin,
calling their catamount
calls among bear caves
and beaver dams;

they say I am kin
though breath catches
in my throat at sight
of their tracks and
hair stands

A Novelist’s Gift

“It’s not right for me,”

said the big New York agent

about my story.

 He wanted an exclusive.

I waited two months while

he looked,

two months after two

years of waiting

on the one with enthusiasm.

“I can sell it!”

she said.

She didn’t.

So I write again,

not query letters,

just poetry, just stories

and I give them

to hearts that need

to hear, like Holy Spirit

gifts and God-love,

not for sale.

Too priceless for tags,

but if someone offers,

maybe…I’ll consider.

Four things Meme

Four jobs in my life,

four things that shape self,

a daycare for elderly, where I

played checkers with Buel

as he fought World War II

for the thousandth time,

A dockhand at the marina,

where I pulled condoms

from air-conditioner vents

and scrubbed toilets for snotty

rich vacationers who thought they

were so much better than I,

a farmhand in endless sun

which made look from India

and caused classmates to question


and a teacher, yet a teacher,

always a teacher. It is my heart.

Four places I’ve lived,

that grew inside me and

never let go,

Gradyville where I rode my first bike,

purple with hard tires,

Sparksville where I learned

we were poor,

Milltown, where I learned

we were richly blessed,

Garlin, where I learned
I was grown.

all Adair communities…I am like the trees,

my roots don’t walk.

As Sherry says, “Kentuckians

move less than those in any other

state and are more likely to come

home if they move away.

Is that good or bad? Yes.”

Four places I’d rather

be right now if my heart

were not content in this


Hiking along the Cumberland

where moss covers gray boulders

and water crashes with thunder,

walking along the beach

after afternoon thunderstorms,

eating lunch with my daughter

or sleeping in my hammock

beneath shade trees.

Four of my favorite foods

that are not poetic but

they are good.

fruit, especially bananas



buttermilk cornbread IN my glass of buttermilk

Four People I tag: