a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
fence on the highway, your crushed cans,
whiskey breath, buck teeth, barrel of a metal
gun. I’ll be your trailer park bar crawls. I’ll be
your three-legged dog taking a piss in a corn
field, your faded signs, your cocked fists, red
clay, rusted barn siding. I’ll be the hammers
on their hooks, the pocked apple trees, your rough-
necks yelling at the game, shooting range
on Sunday. I’ll be your black church, your white
city councils, your howling music and button-down
shirts, your road-side cantinas, your glass green-
houses. I’ll be the mountain’s bruised toes jutting out.
I’ll be Carolina. I’ll be the whole damn South.
We woke to black birds shattering
the sky with black wings
on their way south. Ecru houses
uncovered in a winter mountain.
I know I can’t be alone
in my wandering mind without wine
or excuses. Today, he graded the land
and from the icy driveway
I watched, tending to the hens, broody
but barely laying, as mud unfroze
from morning frost. Walking in the hollow,
I dug firmly in deer tracks
as if I was looking to be skinned
and dragged home. By the creek:
a grizzled cat, pile of blue-
brown glass, two busted lighters, Ball jars,
and what looked like limestone.
The wind tasted metal
in my mouth. Later, lights off, I sprawl
on the wood floor, pass the ruby
bottle back to him, and I understand
this partial darkness well: stars flashing
blinded windows, wildfire flames
somewhere in the high country, hunters
on our land edging closer
with shotgun-gleam in their eyes.
Nicole Stockburger is a second-year MFA in Creative Writing candidate at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her poems appear in, or are forthcoming from, Comestible and Appalachian Heritage. Splitting her time between Greensboro and Mount Airy, she market-farms an acre of organic vegetables with her partner.