One of our state's best poets has had to be patient for many years before seeing his first full-length collection published. This spring he was able to hold that book in his hands and celebrate. Those of you who have followed this blog know that I've devoted several posts to John York's work, so type his name into the poet's slot to the right of this new post to read more about his poetry. Go to Press 53's website to order his book, read his biography, and learn more about the artist who created the cover image.
Today's GOOD NEWS is that John and his daughter Rachel will appear at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva, NC this coming Saturday evening, Sept. 1, for a reading from the book and a performance of old ballads by Rachel.
Drop by at 6:30 for this special event, have John sign some books for you, and stick around for a late supper downstairs at City Lights Cafe.
The clear horizon was fading,
and my father and I sat together
on the warm steps,
cinder blocks painted smooth,
Daddy smelling of cows
and a cigarette, glowing, fading,
when it started, a song
both monotonous and magical,
as if God were plying
a hand pump, a musical
machine that said, Make-it-Flow!
Darkness rising from a deep well
and flooding the woods, the corn field.
I pointed, wanting a name:
“It’s just a whippoorwill, Johnny.
Just a bird, saying, Whippoorwill.”
Still the song rose from the dark,
a siren’s voice, sounding
the alarm for me and my father,
ignorant of any danger,
father-son sitting close on the warm steps
and watching the farm fading into the night.
In the morning, getting ready for school,
she would say, “Look at Mr. Redbird,
such a pretty, vain creature,”
the cardinal pecking at his reflection,
dancing back and forth in the sunlight
on the car’s big bumper.
And in the evening, after milking
and dinner and the cleaning up,
Mama sat on a bed
with us and told stories, or she read
Johnny and His Mule, The Jack Tales,
a Bible story book.
I wanted to read, too,
but some words gave me trouble,
so she used flash cards:
who. . .where. . .why.
She fed me words until they made
sentence, paragraph, story.
One day, the mailman left
a flat cardboard box, a book about whales,
the blue whale dwarfing
the man who stood beside it,
and fearsome orcas breached into the living
room and roamed over
the gray carpet, where sunlight
was striped by Venetian blinds:
I turned off the TV for an hour and read
my book, while my mother grinned
to herself, as she cleared away her papers,
as she prepared the evening meal.