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.




Monday, May 31, 2010

MEMORIAL DAY


Precious Little

“... the passageway down which they had just gone was bright as the eye of a needle.”

Eudora Welty, Losing Battles



So we’d gathered to talk about writing,

remembering great ones who’d recently gone

from our midst and the various ways

they had followed each voice through


the needle’s eye into the clearing of art,

when a novelist slouched

on the front row opined

that the only real subject is battle


and how men survive it.

I seethed while my student poets,

all of them women, sat waiting for someone

to challenge his vision of literature,


belligerent canon

where warring tribes battle it out

in their epics and blood-spattered novels.

“Miss Welty,” I countered, “stayed


clear of the battlefield, if you recall.

She sat down every day at the same desk

and made language raise the world up

from the grave of our common amnesia.”

He barely acknowledged

my comment. He wanted to flirt.

with my students. He shrugged at me,

stood up and showed off the fit


of his tight jeans. My god,

what a chasm he opened up right there

between us: we stared like combatants

across the trench, loading our weapons,


his now on full frontal display,

along with a first novel already lobbed

to reviewers by Random House. As for me,

middle-aged poet, what were mine?


Precious little. The shot I recalled

having seen months ago of a woman my age

holding up to the camera a photo of daughter

or sister or good friend who’d disappeared


into the rubble of felled towers, the same woman

I had seen sifting through ruins in Fallujah

or Kabul, even now cringing

when she hears the gunfire in Baghdad,


a woman who stares back at me

when I’m dusting my daughter’s face

framed on the shelf,

smiling out at a day that’s been gone


for so long I can barely remember it,

nothing much going on, no bombs,

no fireworks, just late summer afternoon

and the dogs asleep under the oak tree.



(from COMING TO REST, LSU Press, 2005)

11 comments:

Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow said...

If this be "Precious little", oh middle-aged poet, then precious little is certainly enough for me. I love the lines "and made language raise the world up/ from the grave of our common amnesia". Beautifully apropos for Memorial Day.

willow said...

Brilliant. I love how you expertly spin your experiences into poetry, Kay.

Hope you and yours are enjoying the day.

DeadMule said...

Great poem for memorial Day, Kay. Thank you.

Charlotte said...

So much anger in this poem, a bright and burning thing, Kay. Blazing.

Jingle said...

awesome poem for awesome people...
Happy Memorial Monday!

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Thank you, Lorenzo and Willow, my Magpie Tales friends. I hope to be joining you there soon.
Helen, I hope you are doing well. I've been out of the loop lately.
And Charlotte, this is an old poem but I'm glad the anger in it has not abated.

nina said...

incredible, kay. incredible.
and i'd love to punch that egotistical jerk. reading this was as close to a punch as i'll get. i thank you for that.
xo

Vicki Lane said...

I love this poem. Your precious little is infinitely precious, dear Kay!

Brian Miller said...

amazing verse...perfect for the day...

Jingle said...

awesome poem!

Joan Ellen Gage said...

I, too loved the lines in the poem about raising the world up. There is an incredible need for this, today.