SEMI-LOST IN CAROLINA
No snow yet but the ground white with leftovers of the cotton harvest. Tornado of blackbirds in the low sky, I drive deserted US 13 south to ol’ T-Bone’s in Greenville. Cops stop me: there’s a chemical spill near Ahoskie, have to backtrack through Ghostville on 32, sunblind across the Chowan River Bridge. Seep into back country afternoon. Bear clawed pine trees. Stone crosses in cut fields. Time piled on itself like six-foot tractor tires in a horse stall. Vine pall over tall tobacco barn. Never seen so many hunters, guns strapped to their blaze-orange backs, hip boots, beer pockets, spitting wad juice at hounds whooping from pick-up truck cages, hoping winter will waste away with bourbon, venison and deer jerky. I slow for a spotted-head farmer limping the long gravel to the dented mailbox. Antebellum antiques store, closed. Bojangle’s next to a shoebox post office. Dogs chasing along white, three-plank fences. There's a thirty-acre field in the lost n found at the rotary club. Bingo at the fire house on Thursday. Smoke from chimneys missing bricks. Pick up speed to pass the chainsmoking gastanker driver desperate for the truckstop of existence. I’m way out of my way, two hours late, grateful to the swamp and the cypress and the light tufts of cotton blowing across the road into deep ditches and rugs of moss.
RESURRECTION SATURDAY IN LOW COUNTRY
Prayers pipe down here long before Lent
'cause spring floods rise already like first sun and young seeds.
Roads half underwater reintroduce
boathouses' bottoms--rusty, jagged, anxious--to the tide.
Dead baby gars and needlefish line the roads near the marsh.
No Trespassing, they try
to tell the future, but Easter comes tomorrow.
Crows in reeds recite the psalm of invincibility.
Reborn rivers climb cypress. Regal cones
of wysteria wave in wind, question faith of black clouds.
Daniel Pravda is a teacher, musician and beachcomber. His work has recently appeared in American Dissident, Aji, Apricity, Cedar Creek Review, Dead Mule, Hamilton Stone Review, Jazz Cigarette, Poetica, and Vine Leaves. He teaches at Tidewater Community College in Chesapeake, VA and also fronts a band called The Dunes (www.thedunes.us).