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Songs about the Pisgah National Forest

Courtesy of artist

Jon Grier's piece Pisgah Songs captures the beauty of the NC National forests. The poets kindly allowed their poems to be posted below.


Looking Glass (Keller Cushing Freeman)

I send you winter love:

ice crystals glittering like mica

in the stiff red clay; the caught breath

of a silent creek, turned glass

by last night's cold; the oldest stars

shivering light from distances

re-marked in years; lines

a severe wind drew and then erased,

tracks a-cross the landscape of a face,

a bare December heart,

wreathed with all the lost green

seasons it remembers.

Black Mountain (Marian Willard Blackwell)

In the eggshell light of winter dusk

awash behind a tracery of limbs,

I am suffused with apprehension:

everything I love in this deep world is fragile.

Long after our footprints (Jan Bailey)

folded into leaf and the sprig

of holly you snapped and stuck

in the lapel of your loose coat

curried and browned; and long

after we stopped speaking

of the vexed hawk which shrieked

as we dawdled on the parkway

path, reluctant to take up

the suitcase of departure;

and long after the surly creek

burst into glee and chickadees

were upstaged by warblers

and the poplars shimmered

and the pines brooded, we stored our

springtime hearts beneath the bed

in gray plastic boxes, air tight

and perfectly trussed in mothballs,

like guests we’d grown weary of

and buried, lest they break into song.

No Straight Path (Marian Willard Blackwell)

No straight path will get you to the peak.

The steepest trail will loop, at times descend

to the faint gurgle of a creek.

No straight path will get you to the peak.

With any shortcut that you think you seek

you miss the look-out right around the bend.

No straight path will get you to the peak.

The steepest trail will loop, at times descend.

The Grammar of Spring (Marian Willard Blackwell)

Dwarf irises are out.

I see, he sees.

We pass without speaking.

In pluperfect purple syntax

a golden understanding

we had found without seeking.

Laurel Creek (Sue Lile Inman)

A turn in the path, a winding down

into a sea of ferns and old tree trunks

draped in moss.  A tangle of laurels

lean and twist above the creek.

Their shadows create moving patterns,

antique mystery.  Along the edge where

springs feed a clear deep pool, dark

oak leaves give off sharp spice.  Stones,

like guardians, space themselves.  Pebbles,

smooth or jagged, make way for her bare

feet.  She sings as she sheds her clothes.

At the Cabin, One Last Time (Sue Lile Inman)

So what can I do

in the time left here?

Sit on the porch,

watch twilight change

gold sky to yellow cream,

watch color drain

from flame azalea.

Hemlocks deepen;

the greens, so varied in daylight,

of poplar, oak, pine, willow,

blue spruce blend, their distinct hues

swallowed by night shade.

From the eaves, bats take off.

Birds subside.

The woods are dark,

and now the porch.

The sky’s still light;

night travels from the ground up.

The stream splashes on

like distant steady rain.

One lone bird calls out:

I’m here.  I’m here.

Blue Mountain Breakdown (Keller Cushing Freeman)

Here, no silent spring.

Instead, the numbing shrill

of sawteeth gnawing into wood,

the chill knife-slice on skin

too shocked to bleed,

the wrenching cry of dry limbs

torn away from sky,

the fall, relentless as a battle-beat of drums.

When the March wind comes

it makes a hissing sound,

scouring the ground to granite bone.

Gone are the mitigating trees,

the brambled underbrush,

that might have hushed the onslaught.

Unchecked, the merciless rain

devours centuries of soil,

sluicing all sustenance

down thousands of dark veins.

Such happenings, unheard,

will haunt our children’s dreams.

About the Your Compositions segement of On the Keys:

This part of the show features newer works (since 2000) for the piano and sometimes accompanying instruments. Want your piece featured? Send David Kiser an email at Keys@scpublicradio.org

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