I’ve decided to take part in the writing challenge offered this week by WordPress. It tasks writers to connect with their “our geographical, generational, and cultural affiliations” and produce a piece of writing. I (kinda) did just that. The poem posted below is from my book Private Hercules McGraw: Poems of the American Civil War. The poem’s speaker, Hercules, is a Confederate soldier. I hope, I think, the poem illustrates a Confederate voice.
It’s like a season passed in the blink
of an afternoon. This morning
I smiled at tall shoots of lavender
reaching above the grass and clover.
Bees hummed from bloom to bloom
like politicians knocking on doors,
mustering votes. Breeze carried scents
of earth and honey – sweetest spring day|
that ever filled my lungs. Made me wanna
touch something soft, something special –
maybe the hand of a Tennessee beauty.
But after a day of trading spit and smoke
with a regiment of Billies, this pretty spot
done shed all its pretty. Blood has a queer smell,
like a bog choked with sour fish,
but it don’t mud a patch of ground
like water does. Blood turns dirt
into syrup – walk in it too long
and you’ll get all gummed up.
And the dead are leaking blood all about.
From here it looks like a herd of fellas
decided to nap, but they ain’t waking up
no time soon. You can see their last thought
carved on each of their faces. It’s never fear or anger.
Mostly it seems like sorrow to me, like they know
they just lost memory and hope all at once.
Don’t seem like spring no more.
What season is it? It’s a season for breathing –
at least while you still can.