Posted in poetry, published

A Woman in Town Tells Me

my grandfather was a native;
there’s no paperwork to prove it,
but old pictures seem to say more

than new words. Told me she lived
on the same hillside as him when
they were young, that once they were

working around the same garden—
said she never knew he was there,
not until she backed into him while

raking the land, looked up to see the sun
cowering behind him like a shadow.
He frightened her with his footsteps:

my grandfather could walk across
dry leaves without making any sound;
a white man, she said, could not.

I saw it in his face, the nativeness
that she spoke of: the cut of his jaws,
eyes which spoke bluntly without

his mouth shaping the words. I learned
gentleness by the way his tired hands,
palm-rough and cradling, gripped

my small frame, how one might
cup water before bringing it to the lips.
Most depict him with harshness,

misunderstanding more than much else.
My grandmother, on the other hand,
and on the wrong hand, married him

for his looks. His darkness, too hard
to look away from, drew her to him—

never his light.

Previously published at Forage
https://foragepoetry.com/2017/04/29/a-woman-in-town-tells-me-by-rachel-nix/

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Posted in poetry, published, Uncategorized

Rivertown

From the edge of the Tennessee River
on the Muscle Shoal’s side, we lean
into the humidity sitting atop those still waters.

The sunset hits the old railroad bridge
with all intent to steal the glory of the city
and succeeds,

rallying with it the headlights
from cars headed into the humming.

By evening’s latter end,
folky new south singers and blues bellowers
have not only taken the city back,
but have stolen the light.

 

Originally published at Hobo Camp Review – Issue 29
http://hobocampreview.blogspot.com/2016/07/rachel-nix.html

Posted in poetry, published, Uncategorized

Prayer

          for Rachel Woodard

I listened heartfully, when wisdom
asked for my attention—
our words, sparse enough,
were generally traded
with playful mischief.

In the years since I saw your face last,
photographs have come to feel
something like prayers.

I miss, most of all,
the way your smile sounded.

 

Previously published at Black Elephant – Issue 3 / September 2016

 

Posted in poetry, Uncategorized

Shut the Front Door! — Shanti Weiland

Hey, y’all. Shanti Weiland, one of my absolute favorite writers, featured me as a guest blogger on her site last week. Check it out, eh?

This week, we hear from guest-blogger, Rachel Nix, who discusses her haunting poem, “This House”! Enjoy… Shanti and I met last November when I nudged her to go with me to see Andrea Gibson perform in Birmingham. Well, that’s when we met in the normal sense. I poem-stalked her much earlier after we were published […]

via Shut the Front Door! — Shanti Weiland

Posted in poetry, published, Uncategorized

The Language We Bury Them In

for Hannah Hamilton

You wrote of comfort, crawfish boils and Port Vincent – for your father
and the South and all of the things I’ve ever loved or never knew about.

I read more and I learned you: your voice, flat on a paper, but heaving
from aches, jerking from anticipation, and then rising with syllables

slapped together to represent something more full. When I found a way
to trade words with you over coffee and curry in South Mississippi,

a middle-ground place where neither of us held reputations more than
what we’d imagined, I knew you were more than a poet, more than

a culture-fed woman on her way; wild-eyed, you described yourself
a sleepy sheepdog and I’ve yet to understand why. In our first meeting,

instinctually, I suppose, we became locked in a stare-down, allowing
ourselves to learn each other’s breed: similar in the way we claw at truths

and how reliant we are on the packs we run in. Sitting with you that day,
across from your Iranian eyes and pure Louisiana rhetoric, I swear

I eyed your words while you spoke them, realizing they held breaths
of their own: graceful with grievances and with an air of atonement.

I can see now why you write them on your skin. Words deserve more
than the language we bury them in; they’ve earned the right to live.

But Hannah, no one wears declarations the way you do. Yours reach
across the table, grab my hands, and place in my palms maps to live by.

Previously published in Paper Swans’ Chronicles of Eve anthology / Spring 2016

 

Posted in poetry, published, Uncategorized

Believer

I do not need you
to pray for me.

I am a common woman,
prideful

&

reckless,

lust-ridden

&

forbidden
by your kind:

those who point to me,
wanting to anoint me
with all things pure,
unsure
of my worth
until I feign their ways.

I am no follower
of fire and brimstone;

&

as your kind says of me:
I am too far gone.

 

Previously published in Bop Dead City – Issue 14; January 2016
https://bopdeadcity.com/buy/

Posted in poetry, Uncategorized

In the Videos

My nephew has his mother’s skin – he tans easily but is an honest color, the kind society does not question. I cannot imagine looking at him and seeing his innocence wrapped in a darker shade, knowing it could make him one of those kids you see in the videos. I exhaust myself being thankful, dreaming up adjectives which keep him safe. I exhaust myself feeling guilty for the same. I didn’t watch it, the latest video, where the white cop kills the black man because he exists on the white cop’s shift. I already know how it goes:

black man stands or moves / white cop hollers he’ll shoot / black man says, please, no / black man begs white cop not to shoot / white cop shoots / white cop shoots / white cop shoots / white cop shoots / media paints a victim / media has us choose / black men lose.