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

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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 Uncategorized

I’m not poor.

I’m a lower-middle-class American, but I breached the middle class. I’m behind on my bills and I usually can’t afford to add guacamole to my dinner, but I have what I need. I had a decent enough high school education and earned myself small scholarships to get me through two years of college, with additional help from financial aid, because I was poor.

I worked full-time while going to college full-time, to enter adulthood where I then worked two jobs amounting to nearly 60 hours a week for five or so years, so I would not be poor. It’s very hard in this country to not be poor.

I was lucky. Not everyone has had the same breaks as me, not that I’ve had it easy. But I was able to find work and take care of myself. Jobs aren’t always available to everyone who looks for one. I had to settle and work jobs I had no interest in, but still…I had work.

We, the lower and middle class citizens, support those above us, which does not make sense. It also keeps us from advancing. The top one-tenth percent own about as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. Why are we responsible for keeping them afloat, when we’re largely ignored or ridiculed by them for our positions in society? Contrary to what some believe, not everyone on government assistance is a bum; they’re often forced to get assistance because they were forced out of what they had or could have had by a rigged system.

Last night I attended the Bernie Sanders rally in Birmingham, Alabama. I went to support a candidate who is tired of the haves taking advantage of the have-nots. He spoke and we listened. I drove home with my palms tingling; they felt raw against my steering wheel – from clapping. I couldn’t sleep last night. His words were bouncing around in my head and I suddenly felt more pride in being American than I ever have. We’re part of a political revolution; we’re part of a historic time in this country – a time in which one man is gradually convincing more and more of us that this is our country, that we have a say. He’s asking us to join him in this revolution. I’m in.

Be part of history.
Take back your country.
#FeelTheBern

https://berniesanders.com

 

Posted in poetry

Kathryn

1200 miles from home on the southeast side of Vermont,
I sat at a table outfitted with strawberry rhubarb pie
and sweet tea good enough for any southerner. Below,
a blind mare bumped into the side of the barn-turned-home
of a woman who had invited me into her way of life long before
I left Alabama to settle myself in her kitchen. I watched
as she chose her words: hardly as pared down as her poetry,
but just as precise. She eyed me when she spoke; it made me nervous
for reasons she couldn’t understand, and warm in a way
I couldn’t word. This woman, whose writing had made me want
to taste words and run inside them, conversed with me
earnestly, without hinging on a thing other than finer details
of my phrasing. After finishing off my third glass of tea,
I found my way to her living room and sat myself down on the floor
next to her dogs. With my hand on the belly of her youngest,
who had wallowed her way up to my lap, I spied Kathryn looking
at me as if I were more than some silly kid that took a shine
to her. It sent a batch of shivers over me to see her see me
as someone that meant something, whatever the adjectives
for me were in her head. I’d only looked at one other person
with so much adoration in my whole life, and I had buried her
less than a year before my trek north. I needed someone
with a careful eye and a simple threading of words to speak
to me – to fit me back together the way my grandmother
had kept me whole. Kathryn showed me her kindness; the grace
of her poetry became a second thought, only after the tenderness
of her reach. I came back home to Alabama with dog hair all over
my dress and a story I wish I could have told my grandmother.

 

This poem is dedicated to Kathryn King, who has no idea
what kind of effect she’s had on me.

 

Originally published in Issue 6 of Bop Dead City,
where it was the winner of the ‘Home’ poetry contest.
A print copy of the magazine may be purchased here.