Strip Tease: An Appalachian Poetry Project


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Strip Tease: An Appalachian Poetry Project

  1. 1. STRIP TEASE<br />By RenaeBonnett<br />Appalachian Themes and Voices, <br />Marshall University<br />November 11, 2010<br />
  2. 2. Germs<br />on a microscope slide<br />scurry from the high powered light<br />and cling to the sides<br />of our Petri dish culture<br />as a despotic eyeball<br />raids and disarms us,<br />robs each stain of us<br />bare,<br />overexposes us to magnification<br />as the trespassers pass judgment<br />on germs on a microscope slide.<br />
  3. 3. I Remember <br /> <br />I remember indigo stained fingers<br />that reached into briary thickets<br />and plucked out fat blackberries <br />that hung like manna clung to thorns... <br /> <br />evenings lit with fire flies <br />that hovered low in fresh cut grass <br />and the scent of cool wintergreen alcohol<br />that soothed chigger bitten legs.<br /> <br />I remember the creak of front porch swings<br />that sang in cadence with the whippoorwills <br />and complemented tenor crickets <br />as velvet night pulled in around us…<br /> <br />cloudless days of late September<br />bathed in autumn’s lemony sunshine <br />that drenched woods from hilltop to holler<br />in hues of amber and crimson fire.<br /> <br />I remember the gray dawns of November<br />and grass covered by half-hearted frost<br />that melted on the hearth of an Indian summer<br />into an afternoon of spicy afterglow…<br /> <br />the spell cast by the first flurry,<br />and noses pressed to schoolhouse windows, <br />while December dressed for winter<br />and dawn awoke in snowy-white clothes.<br />
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  5. 5. FENCES<br />We build fences<br />to keep the outside out<br />and hold the inside in<br />with barbed toothed wires<br />that gouge our skin<br />from the outside out<br />to keep the inside in<br />
  6. 6. Spring in 51 Syllables <br />Air heavy with lilac bloom<br />Robins on the ground<br />Warm earth springs forth green<br />Peepers under newborn leafs<br />Chirp resonant notes<br />And stir sleeping souls<br />Cold rain falls in pitter-pats<br />bathing buried seeds<br />under muddy ground<br />
  7. 7. In 2002, US Attorney General, John Ashcroft, ordered the covering of the partially nude, female statue representing the “Spirit of Justice.” The statue, which adorns the Great Hall of the Department of Justice, was draped at a cost of more than $8,000. <br />
  8. 8. Remembering Mr. Ashcroft: <br />A Fashion Statement to Justice<br />Perhaps it’s all for fashion,<br />a fashion government’s decree,<br />to clothe every nude statue<br />from A to Double D.<br />The government knows a bargain,<br />only eight thousand dollars spent<br />to hedge the liberal bosom of Lady Justice<br />in a drab conservative tent,<br />lest mounds of marble femininity<br />disturb folks so weak of constitutions<br />even lifeless monoliths cause anxiety<br />and upset their rigid institutions.<br />So, we frocked her, for the sake of piety,<br />concealed her in burka–like clothes,<br />and precluded the temptation of society<br />to see an inch of Justice exposed.<br />Photo by SabbathaBonnett, 2003<br />Cloaked – the statue of Mothman before unveiling at Pt. Pleasant, WV <br />
  9. 9. A Blackberry Winter, Spring 2003<br />
  10. 10. Blackberry Winter<br />On wings stretched wide with downy plumes,<br />anemic spring denies the bramble greens<br />and drapes a white spell to cover <br />hilltop to holler in blackberry winter <br />that shatters the new born clutch of blooms.<br />In the frost-lit air of morning, the rooster throws<br />his sun-crackled salute to the day’s dim dawn<br />and ruffles the straw-lined nests of broody hens<br />who cast out the still and the bitter born<br />to the ravenous beaks of tar-plumed crows.<br />
  11. 11. Fall of Dark Angels<br />
  12. 12. Fall of Dark Angels <br />In the ice-etched morning,<br />they gather, with quills dipped deep<br />as ink well black<br />and claw feet wrapped<br />about a low hung branch<br />of a crystal coated sycamore…<br />In wings tucked tight as a widow’s shawl,<br />they loom, with scythes ready to reap<br />as the sugarcoated weeds<br />and bitter bitten seeds<br />wait for the half-lit stream <br />of the ice-crust thaw…<br />In the bone-bare trees,<br />they hold their line, heaped<br />as ruffled soldiers on glassy tracks<br />and tinny green gleaming across their backs<br />when blood-orange breaks across the black<br />of the over-night freeze…<br />In the feeble day break spell,<br />they descend, with wing beats<br />as silent as the falling snow<br />and they scratched among the wheat and oats<br />with a familiar sound caught in their throats<br />of murder, as the feathered angels fell.<br />
  13. 13. Trees in November<br />If a tree could make a sound<br />it would be an icy screech<br />like the razor-sharp rasps<br />of a witch’s fingernails<br />raked across a sheet of glass<br />
  14. 14. Memories of a Barefoot Summer<br />Before sunrise scalded through the stagnate haze, <br />a barefoot brood meandered to the dwindled creek <br />and filled knee-high buckets from the scum covered holes<br />that remained in the acrid days of summer, <br />when copperheads go blind, no cut heals, and <br />Canis Major reigns in the nocturnal sky. <br />We carried our burdens like lop sided ducks, <br />one wing stretched longer by the weight<br />that sloshed beneath the bails as we pecked our way <br />up the hillside to the draught stunted field. <br />Plant by spindly plant, we emptied green tinged water<br />on cracked ground and watched the earth <br />swallow each drink in thirsty gulps, then <br />retraced our footprints from creek to crop <br />to water every inch of our half-tassled woes.<br />Swelter poured over the far side of morning<br />and stirred a heat charged wind that at last <br />draped a stratum of darkness across the hilltops,<br />that called down jagged strikes and throbs of thunder <br />that shook the fractured earth beneath our feet. <br />We let the rain win the race back home <br />but lingered long enough to splash <br />through long forgotten puddles<br />that splattered our calves muddy. <br />Later, <br />we scrubbed our dog-tired bodies fresh,<br />then flopped face first into a cloud of feathers,<br />and listened as a melodic lindy-hop <br />poured across the rooftop,<br />content in the lullaby evening pulled down from heaven.<br />
  15. 15. Prowling<br />Capable brood, armed with flashlights and pails,<br />prowled through the drizzly dark<br />in search of night crawlers, and gave no notice<br />to unfurled tresses or dainty feet soaked inside old sneakers.<br />Heads perched on crooked necks,<br />we sloshed through the yard for hours,<br />ready to descend before the slick creatures<br />withdrew when the narrow beams caught them. <br />Fingers transformed to fleshly talons,<br />we swooped like kestrels upon our prey,<br />snatched the slimy quarry and then deposited them,<br />one by gooey one, into open-mouth pails.<br />Sandy eyed and eager, we meandered to the creek<br />and sat cross-legged, still as statues on the shoals,<br />with bamboo poles propped on forked sticks,<br />content to squint for hours at tottering orange and red bobbers.<br />We waited, loyal as Job, and held our breath<br />as lines grew taut and sank our lively, two-toned floaters.<br />Then we set our hooks with slick, quick yanks,<br />sent reels singing, and hauled in the whoppers.<br />
  16. 16. Dragline<br />Used to remove mountaintops in the extraction of coal. <br />Acid Mine Drainage from past strip mining practices.<br />Acid Mine Drainage buildup of deposits that have rendered this stream lifeless.<br />Mountaintop Removal site in WV. <br />
  17. 17. SWAGGER<br />There is the swagger, the way out west<br />Sand in the saddle, grit in the girdle<br />Down to brass tacks and level best<br />Under a 10 gallon hat and no cattle,<br />Swagger. <br />The smoke ‘em out, take ‘em out,<br />they got weapons of mass destruction,<br />gonna twist and shout, no time to doubt,<br />gotta pay for the reconstruction,<br />Swagger. <br />The “wanna buy some wood” <br />right hand red, left hand yella,<br />turn in your whole neighborhood<br />play spin the wheel of terra, <br />Swagger.<br />
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  19. 19. To Sleep / To dream <br />Halfway through the night<br />I caught a glimpse of the first quarter-<br />a sliver of silver, a scythe<br />pitched into blue-black velvet<br />that ripped the fabric of the veil<br />and let beams blow <br />to this side of the cosmos<br />as it had since the labor of creation<br />when newborn eyes first ogled<br />the puncture wounds of hollow blackness<br />like a thousand rusty nails<br />pounded through the floor of heaven<br />as I watched, distant sailor lamps flickered<br />until heavy lids closed<br />like ebony curtains draped<br />around a humming dream machine.<br />
  20. 20. Special Thanks and Acknowledgements<br />To those who provided support to this project, without whom it would not have been possible.<br />Bobby Bonnett III: Guitar (music featured in this project)<br />Ramona Asbury: Photos, “Orb and House.”<br />Bobby Bonnet Jr., Photos ( Nature: Winter, Blackberries, Bees, Wetlands, Scenery). <br />SabbathaBonnett: Photos (Barbie, Mothman) subject of “Fall of Dark Angels”<br />