Bluegrass Melody

Mountain men name the hills--
Grab-A-Nickel, Brownton Mountain, Rattler Ridge--
As if by naming, they might force friendship
And coax a livelihood from the rocky soil.

But all they coax is coal,
Hard nubs that feed outsiders
Who own the underground trails
Where men crawl like ants.
Those who work the mines
Cajole nothing but black withered lungs
To match the ore they find.
They soon reflect their land,
Craggy faces hard-etched out of stone.

Yet, when the winter snows silence even the wind,
And thin, blue smoke reaches to mingle with pewter
The hills seem a refuge: to sleep among them
Is to lay your head upon your mother's lap and rest.

*Anne C. Barnhill’s work has appeared in a number of literary magazines and anthologies including, most recently, The Antietam Review, and RACING HOME: New Stories from Award-Winning North Carolina Writers. Other publications include the story, “Washing Helen’s Hair,” from the Grammy-nominated anthology, Grow Old Along With Me, and “The Swing,” from Generation to Generation. She has received an Emerging Artist
Grant, a Regional Artist Grant and a writer’s residency at the Syvenna Foundation in Texas. She has been selected as a Blumenthal Reader twice and her stories have won several awards, including the Porter Fleming Fiction Award from the Augusta, Georgia Arts Council.

Poetry Southeast literary journal southern poetry Chris Tusa

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