Welcome to where I am, where my kitchen's always messy, a pot's (or a poet) always about to boil over, a dog is always begging to be fed. Drafts of poems on the counter. Windows filled with leaves. Wind. Clouds moving over the mountains. If you like poetry, books, and music--especially dog howls when a siren unwinds down the hill-- you'll like it here.


MY NEW AUTHOR'S SITE, KATHRYNSTRIPLINGBYER.COM, THAT I MYSELF SET UP THROUGH WEEBLY.COM, IS NOW UP. I HAD FUN CREATING THIS SITE AND WOULD RECOMMEND WEEBLY.COM TO ANYONE INTERESTED IN SETTING UP A WEBSITE. I INVITE YOU TO VISIT MY NEW SITE TO KEEP UP WITH EVENTS RELATED TO MY NEW BOOK.


MY NC POET LAUREATE BLOG, MY LAUREATE'S LASSO, WILL REMAIN UP AS AN ARCHIVE OF NC POETS, GRADES K-INFINITY! I INVITE YOU TO VISIT WHEN YOU FEEL THE NEED TO READ SOME GOOD POEMS.

VISIT MY NEW BLOG, MOUNTAIN WOMAN, WHERE YOU WILL FIND UPDATES ON WHAT'S HAPPENING IN MY KITCHEN, IN THE ENVIRONMENT, IN MY IMAGINATION, IN MY GARDEN, AND AMONG MY MOUNTAIN WOMEN FRIENDS.




Friday, August 29, 2014

Black Work






Published in The Georgia Review, Summer 2014





Black Work

She stood at the window and watched me.
How long she had waited for me to wake up
I dared not ask, nor could she have answered,
her jaws woven shut by the undertaker’s twine,
a trade she knew well, having taught herself
black work by night in the attic,
bodies laid down like her quilts lifted
out of the chest come the first killing frost,
dry ice tucked under their torsos to keep their corruption
from drifting downstairs to the breakfast nook
where she'd have set out a plate for my father,
her only child, knowing he rose early.

Last summer I found the quilts,
gnawed to batting by rats.
I sat awhile at her Singer that stitched
gowns and frocks during Hoover days,
the treadle still singing its rusty toil under
the soles of my feet as I pedaled it briefly.
Side-stepping chamberpots, I turned
the key left behind in her book case
where I might have rummaged through Latin
and palmistry volumes, ignored those
that detailed with stark illustration the inexorable
death of the tissues that swaddle
our bones, the journey of blood
that keeps trying to push its way down to the toes
before giving up. To give up the ghost

as the Bible describes the last breath--
how those words used to frighten me,
sleepless for fear I could hear her still
stitching and snipping, the body upon
which she lavished her skill not protesting
one last knot to pull its smile tighter,
so the bereaved might exclaim, as in life
they had never, “So pretty!
Look at her smiling for Jesus.”



Monday, June 23, 2014

WHO SPEAKS FOR OUR MOUNTAINS? WHO SINGS THEIR SONGS? POEM #4

This morning I decided to take an early morning walk down by the Cullowhee Community Garden, along the side road where my daughter and I used to stroll when she was a child.  There was a rusted swing set that we liked to visit, with a mountain meadow rising up behind it.  A few years ago we saw a fox,  all flaming elegance, running up toward tree line.  "Running" comes nowhere close to how the fox flowed through the twilight, disappearing into the trees at the meadow's edge.  Yes, this morning the wire was fresh and the critters were skittering, mostly rabbits.   Two hefty black Labs came charging out of the tall wet grass to investigate me, a stranger on their turf.  They were wet and shiny from the heavy dew.  All sorts of birds were making a racket, the most vociferous being, of course, the crows.  The Queen Anne's Lace was in full bloom.   As I turned back toward home, someone had pulled into the Community Garden parking lot, ready to till her plot in the fresh morning air. 








Mountain air


By Skyler Sutton---Cullowhee Valley


Fresh air in the morning

Critters running

Tall trees

With small leaves

Slimy fish in cold water

Little birds

Blue green yellow

Plowing fields

In the

Mountains

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Singing the Mountains on Summer Solstice





Beauty Surrounds Me



By Rebecca Pechman--Cullowhee Valley School



Wind

Whispers

Sings and calls

Creeks rush and race

Barred owls dance and hoot

Flowers burst and blossom

Stars sparkle, twinkle, and twirl

Crickets are chirping and calling

And the moonlight does a little jig,


Casting shadows on the mountains above me

The sun peeks out from behind the mountains

The first rays of sunlight hit the slopes

As if the sun is calling them,

Worms wiggle and bluebirds chirp

Salamanders scurry

Clouds drift to and fro

Butterflies dance

And beauty

Surrounds

Me






Friday, June 20, 2014

Who Speaks for Our Mountains? Who Sings Their Songs: Poem 2


To reach the summit at last, to lie down in the grass, in spite of icky bugs, and breathe in the sky itself, all that blue, all those clouds swimming overhead, the wind  wrapping you inside its blanket, yes, that's what "up the trail" means, what 3rd grader Blaine Steely wants us to see and feel in this poem.  






UP


Many trees to climb

On top of the world

Up so high you can touch the sky

Narrow paths you can fall off of

Tricky trails to walk up

Alone time by yourself

Icky bugs you step on

Nice and quiet place

Sunsets at night   sunrise in the morning




by: Blaine Steely, 3rd grade
      Smoky Mountain Elementary School
 Cherokee Language class


J

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Who Speaks for Our Mountains? Who Sings Their Songs?







During April,  City Lights Bookstore in Sylva, NC and I sponsored a poetry contest for Jackson County school students to help them--and all of us--- join in our annual Greening up the Mountains celebration.  Over the next few weeks I will be sharing the poems by some of these students.  These are the voices we should be heeding as we meet the challenges--- environmental and cultural--- that confront us here in our mountains.
                                                                       


Maia Wilde, who attends Cullowhee Valley School, 
 weaves a tapestry of images that invites us to enter the natural world, the wild home where she lives.   I particularly like the rocks "like wise old men and women," their presence being the bedrock of these ancient mountains. That the smell of pine sap gives her courage gives me hope that our children will grow into adulthood looking to the natural world for the strength  to take care of the places they love.  







Wild Home


By Maia Wilde--Cullowhee Valley School

Sun rays like stars at night

Dew shining

Wild flowers blooming

Twittering birds say hello to me

Snow falling

Wind like a warm

Blanket

Mountains cast a shadow on the valley

Rocks like wise old men and women

The sun is like fire at night

The smell of sap and pine gives me courage
              
The mountains I live in are vast and tricky
    
Get lost

     
Good luck




Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Another 9/ll Anniversary

Burned out village in MyLai, Vietnam
  • I am writing this on the anniversary of September 11 because I am still trying to answer the question raised by a young Pakistani girl in an article years ago, "Why is an Afghan’s life worth any less than an American’s?"  The easy answer is, of course, that the life any member of the more powerful group is always perceived as worth more than that of a less powerful group.  Growing up in the deep South taught  me that.   Still, I can’t stop asking why, as Americans , we cannot seem to come to terms with the suffering of other groups besides Americans and Israelis. Why, as this anniversary has come and gone for a decade, are we not also recognizing the horrible toll in suffering and death both the Taliban and our own bombs have taken on a poor and oppressed people?  These people too are victims of 9/11.  Many have had their villages destroyed, parents and children killed or maimed by our response to Al Quaeda’s terrorism.  Our government’s acknowledgement of their suffering has been minimal.  "War is hell," W.T. Sherman said or was it Donald Rumsfield, John McCain, and any number of others who are all too ready to engage in that hell?      
    As an answer to the young Pakistani woman’s question, I would like to ask another, Is an Afghan’s life really worth less than an American’s?  Are the members of the Afghan wedding party killed by American bombs worth less than the innocent people killed in the Word Trade Center Attacks?  We all know the answer, don’t we?    

    Well, don’t we?  And if we do, what better way to answer that accusatory question than by memorializing the innocent Afghan civilians killed in the War on Terror, civilians who had nothing to do with Osama bin Laden, mothers, fathers, children, trying to live as best they could, going about their daily routines and celebrations, much like the janitors, and the secretaries, and the stock brokers, the passengers on that clear, sunny morning of Sept. 11, 2001.