Yesterday I walked a portion of the Tennessee Riverpark that parallels South Broad Street. I began at the Wheland Foundry entry point and continued well toward before returning to my starting point. I saw no road marker at the turnaround point. The walkway begins at Chickamauga Dam.
On past occasions, I have walked from Curtain Pole Road to Amnicola Marsh and back, from Amnicola Marsh to Lost Mound Road, and from the Hubert Fry area to Lost Mound Road. I intend to walk all sections before the end of this year.
My photos of the walkway and surrounding area document a former industrial area somewhat reclaimed by public art and nature.
The Southern Festival of Books opens tonight with a focus on fiction. At 7:30 pm, Ann Patchett, author of Dutch House: A Novel, will be in conversation with Yaa Gyasi, author of Transcendent Kingdom. You can view all the festival programs through the web page or through their app for mobile devices.
As this Nashville festival opens, I think of the Magazine, 2nd, and Church, which began publication in 2012 and went on hiatus after eight issues. All issues are still available on their web site. The publisher, Roy Burkhead, and his writers published a wide spectrum of writing between its covers.
My work appeared in three issues of 2nd and Church. The editors were kind enough to include two of my poems, my review of the Rick Steve’s book Travel as a Political Act, and my interview with Jim Pfitzer, a native of East Ridge who was, at the time, crossing the continent with his living history presentation depicting conservationist Aldo Leopold. Leopold is noted among conservationists for his book A Sand County Almanac.
The lifespan of Literary magazines is a tenuous business. The North American Review claims to be America’s oldest, with publication since 1815. Some last for only an issue or two, For a few years, Nashville was home to one of the best.
One of my surrealist poems which 2nd and Church printed was titled, “Salvador Dali Meets Gertrude Stein.”
Salvador Dali Meets Gertrude Stein
Nebulous nebulae nebulae nebulae nebulous
Negotiate nebulous nebulae, oversee
weather cloudy and serene. Serene sirens
negotiate nebulous nebulae with squad cars
of intergalactic police as we negotiate
a tapestry of weather symbols and barrel staves
in water inhabited by golden goldfish and
copper piranhas. Copper cop car piranhas
eat us out of house and home, house
and home house house home house home.
Ascend cirrus cloud cloud cloud cirrus stairs.
Find no piranhas here and chum for sharks.
Catch any sharks, chum? Chum chum chum
for tiger tiger burning bright, tiger sharks
pursue us on this journey with no destination
to love but the question itself of who
ate the last shark steak in the refrigerator.
Shark steak steak steak shark steak shark.
Man-eating shark has a stake in this tale and
has a tail to tell it with like Ferlinghetti's dog,
if indeed it is the shark that eats the man and.
not the man eating the shark stake, the SOB
took the last one. Gnash your teeth you
sharkless humans and humanless sharks.
Gnash gnash teeth teeth gnash human
teeth gnash on shark flesh irony.
,Rayz Reviewz Volume 1 Number 24
The Southern Festival of Books returns with a virtual festival this year I will miss the live event in Nashville which I first attended in 2007 to read my prize-winning poem, Glen Falls Trail which appears below. It was just ten days after my Coronary Bypass Surgery, and the neighbor who drove to the festival thought the trip ill advised. Still medicated, I delivered an "unusual" performance. The pace of my reading was irregular at best.
My reading took place under a canopy on Legislative Plaza as part of the awards ceremony of the Tennessee Writer's Alliance. It was not as well attended as the indoor presentations by notable authors, but I will never forget the experience, and I am grateful for the doors opening to opportunities as a result. I have attended several times since, reading on two of those occasions, and I have always enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect with authors from across Tennessee and beyond.
One year, I heard local Nashville poets perform on one of the outdoor stages. That evening I read with some of them at Poetry in the Brew, an open mic at Portland Brew East, a coffee shop on Nashville's East side. They went on with their regularly scheduled program despite the festival. Covid-19 has brought a change to Poetry in the Brew and I have reconnected with some creative poets through their weekly virtual open mic. I had hoped to read with them again, but I did not suspect it would happen in this way.
This year, I will be content to participate in the Southern Festival of Books as a member of the online audience. Some old friends are on the program, as well as a few famous authors. I will, no doubt, offer thanks and congratulations to those with whom I am acquainted and enjoy the presentations of the rest. One evening though, my internet connection will be tuned in to an open mic still hosted by a Nashville poet but now with an international array of presenters.
Festival and event information
Humanities Tennessee is the moving force behind the Southern Festival of Books. Their website has a schedule of events, author biographies, and information on how to access the streaming events from your computer or though the app on your mobile device. https://www.humanitiestennessee.org/sfb2020-main/
Parnassus Books is the official book vendor of the Southern Festival of Books. Historically they have created a popup bookstore on the plaza. This year, they offer sales at their store. They also have a preview of the event on their web page. https://parnassusmusing.net/2020/09/30/southern-festival-of-books-2020-preview-its-almost-here/
Poetry in the Brew streams the open mic through their Facebook Page.
The Poem I read at the Festival
Glen Falls Trail
I climb the limestone stairs
through an arch in rock,
into the earth’s womb,
pass through to a surprise:
George loves Lisa painted on a wall.
I wonder, did he ever tell her?
Did she ever know or think of him,
raise a brood of screaming children?
Did they kiss near wild ginger above the stony apse?
Did lady’s slipper orchids
adorn their meeting place
where deer drink from rocky cisterns?
Did their love wither
like maidenhair fern,
delicate as English Lace?
The symbols have outlived the moment.
There is only today,
only the murmur of water underground,
my finding one trickle into a pool.
I never knew this George or Lisa.
The rock bears their names in silence,
names the stream forgot long ago.
A few years ago, Tornadoes ripped through Northwest George and Southeast Tennessee. Trenton, Georgia was hit especially hard, my neighborhood in Chattanooga barely at all. I worte these during the following days. The Nashville Writers Meetup published them in their book, Soundtrack Not Included.
dropped one off
at elementary school
another at high school.
She saw the funnel,
a convenience store,
which daughter she
should go to first.
Flowers among rocks
Campfires and whiskey
Candles in the wind
Dedication of the Peace Grove
Officials give impressive speeches
Little boy rides by on tricycle
Brmm Brmm Brmm
Blah Blah Blah
The dance is not linear.
Forward and back
the dancers move.
heal the wounds
by non-linear winds,
their greatest power.
Tai Chi master
plays wooden flute.
Guitar strings vibrate.
with energy of peace
stronger than solid earth
which cracks beneath
a nuke plant.
Tsunami wipes out
Homeless man stands
before the dancers;
backs across bridge;
seems to preside.
The Plug Poetry Project, Episode 2, produced by Christian Collier, features Poets Carrie Meadows and Earl Braggs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixfSMBMB-Wg
'In this issue you can read my musings about Amnicola Marsh, find a link to Christian Colliers exciting docuseries, "The Plug Poetry Project," and discover a chance to participate in a new program on Native American Culture at Audubon Acres.
In the changing seasons of the marsh, the landscape transitions from an open pond in winter to a summer wetland covered with the enormous laves of American Lotus. In the pleasantly cool weather of spring and fall the paved walkway along one side is a thoroughfare for joggers, walkers, and cyclists. Birdwatchers may visit the shore to observe or photograph the transitory populations of ducks and shorebirds.
The marsh is a mere remnant of a once great wetland. It bordered two large farms which are also long gone. Amnicola Highway forms a boundary on one side. Along this artery, trucks serve a busy industrial zone. Speeding automobiles deliver commuters on their daily run from the northern suburbs to downtown and back again. This is no bucolic scene to be painted by an impressionist artist.
The Marsh itself though is a wetland filled with life. One New Years Day, I stood on its banks and counted thirty-four hooded mergansers. The following year it was 37, and the year after that there were none. For those willing to brave the chilly days of autumn and winter, it is possible to view blue-winged teal, northern shovelers, and other waterfowl. One spring I watched a clutch of young killdeer chase their mother around the margins of the pond. One, a juvenile wood stork appeared and drew bird watchers from across the region. The bird remained a while and departed for other regions.
Amnicola Marsh, remnant that it is, is a treasure that almost disappeared. Years ago, a few citizens held a symposium on the value of the marsh. Against the odds, they convinced the community of the value of the land as a natural area. In a world of escalating real estate prices, protection of natural areas will become more costly and politically difficult with each passing year. I am glad some concerned citizens acted on behalf of this natural area in a timely manner.
The Plug Poetry Project
Chattanooga Poet Christian Coller devleoped this docuseries. In each episode two poets present their work; They also discuss craft and the world of poetry. Episode 1 includes Olivia Bradley an Marcus Ellsworth. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYTVbKrxv-o&t=273s
HISTORIC WALK THROUGH NATIVE AMERICAN LIFE
DATE: Saturday October 24, 2020
WHERE: Audubon Acres, 900 N. Sanctuary Rd, Chattanooga, TN 37421
COST: $10 per person. Limited number of tickets will be sold
WHAT: Join us for an immersive Native American program spanning a timeline of 1400-1800 where you will learn the facets of daily tasks of Native American life. Learn how the Native Americans sustained themselves within these Americas benefiting from the natural use of remnants from animals (deer, turkey, snake and more) that were used as their daily tools. Learn how the commonality of the tribes helped them to customize their daily tasks making each tribal culture its own.
The program is a joint presentation of the Spirit of the Veteran & Warrior Board and the Chattanooga Audubon Society. Featuring Gina "Tyhiska" Torres, James "Bo Standing Oak" Ellison, Kathy "Sparrow/Hawk" Ellison, DaWoud Mujahid, and Michelle Neubel as Native American Presenters.
The event will feature various sessions to include:
Flints: creating hunting materials from deer leg;
The importance of Basket weaving for food storage;
Blow dart, long spears, netting for fishing;
Canning - kitchen preparations - creating natural stain from boiled macerated acorns and use dried ground acorns for flour to make flat bread;·
Clothing - Regalia designs and what and where the location of decoration meant for the women's phase of life;
Instruments - use of squash gourd as a drum;
Trading - beading characteristics, European settlers, furs;
Jewelry - glass beads – French;
Foods - Foraging, growth of the original indigenous permaculture, farming - Cherokees, berries, the three sisters - corn, squash, and beans, creation of the outdoor kitchen;
Herbs - inhalation - Mullein example, maintain immunity, sour grass, et cetera.
The Chattanooga Audubon Society at Audubon Acres is a Certified Historic Site on the Trail of Tears. We pay homage to the Native Americans who farmed here and were forced off their land. This unique event links our history with the Native Americans who once dwelled on this land.
The Chattanooga Audubon Society (CAS) is the first land trust established in Hamilton county. CAS’ 130-acre sanctuary property in East Brainerd, Audubon Acres, houses a small museum in its Visitor’s Center, is home to a historic cabin built in the late 1700’s, is the site of an UT archeological dig, and houses the CE Blevins Avian Jewels (replica bird egg) Collection. With over 5 miles of walking trails, and access to South Chickamauga Creek for canoe, kayak, and tubing activities, it is truly a sanctuary in a very busy area of Chattanooga. A lovely, peaceful place for the entire family.
The Chattanooga Audubon Society is a non-profit recognized by the State of Tennessee. All donations are tax-deductible.
Previously published in Number One, Gallatin, Tennessee, Volunteer State Community College
When the grandpa I never knew abandoned you and all his family,
your mother parted ways with reality,
ended her days in the loving arms of madness.
At the orphanage you held your sister’s hand
when she wouldn’t stop crying.
You eased her nightly tears until sleep came.
When you discovered she was gone, you had to ask where.
Oh, “She was adopted,” was the caretaker’s offhand reply,
Perhaps they thought goodbyes would make things worse.
You were a hard man forged by hard times, and silent.
Sometimes you were as silent as your missing sister.
I remember visiting mom’s youngest sister.
My cousins took turns riding their horse.
I took a turn and couldn’t stay on.
You made that old nag trot like a thoroughbred.
Everyone said, “that man can really sit a horse”.
In your senile years you liked to go for Sunday drives.
Every time you spied horses you pleaded with me to
get you a job there. “I could still work horses,” your said.
Once you leaned against a rail and whinnied like a horse.
They trotted to you as if coming to one of their own,
like mares to a stallion.
Thirteen Ways of looking at a Wall
This poem was previously published in Number One, Gallatin, Tennessee.
1.Robert frost and his neighbor repair their stone wall boundary.
The neighbor declares the results good.
Frost contemplates a new poem.
2. Migrating Red-winged Blackbirds impale themselves
on slats erected along the U.S – Mexico border.
The Department of Homeland Security
declares the nation safe -- from blackbirds.
3. Manchu invaders encounter the Great Wall of China;
proceed with their war of conquest.
4. Thanks to the popular band, Pink Floyd,
we are all just bricks in the wall.
5. President Ronald Reagan stands on Berlin Soil,
says, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”
6. President Thomas Jefferson assures
the Baptist committee of Danbury, Connecticut
that they will be free to worship as they see fit
and not subject to regulation by the Calvinist majority.
He proclaims a wall of separation between church and state.
7. Presidential candidate Donald Trump promises
to build a wall along the Mexican border,
fails to mention that construction began years ago.
8. Three Little Pigs build walls of straw, sticks, and brick.
Big Bad Wolf holds barbeque.
The third pig declines the invitation.
9. The Speaker of the House refuses to let the President
address the nation from the house chambers,
There must be a wall enforcing the separation of powers.
10. Jesus extols the value of building walls on rock foundations
advises against building on sand.
11. The descendants of Isaac gather at the Western Wall,
offer prayers and lamentations:
hope for the rebuilding of the Temple.
12. Followers of Mohammed gather within the walls
of the Dome of the Rock,
Pray for preservation of the mosque.
13. Hacker interface penetrates firewalls at will,
takes down fortune 500 web sites.
The Plug Poetry Project Episode 1. Two poets share poets and insights about craft and life.
For the Last Carolina Parakeet
Previously Published in Number One, Gallatin, Tennessee
I imagine the loneliness of your aviary
there at the Cincinnati Zoo where your
predecessor, the last Passenger Pigeon
flew off to oblivion just a few years earlier.
One voice is not a choir.
You were part of a social species,
descending by the thousands,
on fields to consume cockleburs,
or orchards for luscious fruits.
One voice is not a choir.
Some labelled you a pest
and pursued with shotguns.
Audubon noticed your species
in decline even in his bygone days.
One voice is not a choir.
No welcoming song of your fellows
greeted your waning days. Does your
skin adorn a museum, just as your
ancestors’ feathers adorned lady’s hats?
On voice is not a choir.
It saddens me to think my adopted home
of Tennessee once knew the calls and colors
of a native parrot. One scientist titled
an article about your kin, “Forever Gone.”
No voices remain in the choir.
An image of the Carolina Parakeet, once Native to Tennessee and the Carolinas, appears here. Painting by John James Audubon. https://www.audubon.org/birds-of-america/carolina-parrot
Published in the Srping 2002 iss ue of The Avocet
When I was young and sad
I carried a rod of finest cane
to a Kansas farm pond.
I popped blue gill with
a deer hair popper.
At the next pond up
I tried a Domino Nymph.
Black and white it shone.
I don’t know what insect
it was meant to imitate.
You dove deep with that fly,
as I kept the rod tip high; then
you tail walked across the pond.
You broke line and were gone,
bigger than any bass I had ever caught.
From that day since
Nature has been my solace,
perhaps from even before,
but you cemented my naturalist persona
and I knew I would always be a fisherman.
To learn more about fish and fish watching visit the North Amerman Native Fishes Association.