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

Posted in poetry


I could drink the thunder in
some evenings,  let the roaring
of it all put a rumble in my chest—
holler out, and be heard.

Yet I lack the grace that should be
winding through my veins by way
of my great-grandmother: a woman
who was not once, but twice,
slapped down by strikes of lightning.

She was not held down, though; no,
not this woman who was made of gods,
and held their power on the very tip
of her tongue. She could spit the ugliness
of this world out like a wad of snuff
and carry on, unhindered by any of it.

Not even the sky, with all of its glory
and ill intent combined, could take
a thing from Mrs. Veatrice Guttery,
the woman who swallowed lightning
and walked on, as if it was natural.

Originally published by Up the Staircase Quarterly – February 2015

Posted in poetry

Butter Pecan

For as long as I can remember,
the chair across from the television
was where I would sink into for safety.
She was there, my grandmother, sitting
on the couch: half Indian-style, her
left foot curled under her right knee
and her other leg stretched out, hanging
off the edge of the cushions.

On commercials, she’d lean lazily
on her left elbow and look over at me
while I spoke about the things that were
breaking me. I knew better than to talk
out of turn; Survivor and Wheel of Fortune
were the things that were to be concentrated
on. Life could be handled in due time.

I laid my load down on her coffee table,
knowing I’d have to pick it back up before
I left. It felt lighter, still, for a little while.
When things were at their worst and I could not
catch my breath, she’d hop up while I was still
talking and tell me to speak louder till she got back.

When she returned, she’d be struggling
to carry four butter pecan ice cream cones,
handing two off to me; a quick fix
should come in two servings, I learned.
Part of the mess usually leaked down the sides
of her hands; she’d lick it away like a child,
and would say she forgot napkins,
but we’d make it alright.


Originally published at Stone Path Review – Spring 2014: Volume 3, Issue 10. Found here.

Posted in poetry

Olene’s Elegy


Oh January, you cannot bury
the beauty of the worth born
into your care, more than many
years ago. End all you like, but
your last day will be celebrated
evermore and everafter the end
of September attempts to steal
your glory. You see, hearts know
nothing of calendars or finality.
February will follow you with love.

Rachel Olene Woodard
[1/31/1941 – 9/28/2011]

Posted in poetry


I can hear the television blaring
and I just want silence
or chaos
or maybe
just a cup of coffee;
the kind you’d tell me
to go make a fresh pot of
when I would drop by,
without knocking, and
without an invitation
to sit in that chair,
the one with the not-hardly
but probably-once-was
tan fabric
worn on the sides
from how I’d sit:
comfortably, but not how I ought to,
you’d say.

We’d watch television
for hours on end—
that is, when we would
actually break from chit-chat
to pay attention to
all those dumb shows
with people
far worse off than you or me.

Watching television there,
in that chair
across from you,
made my going home
seem something less like


Originally published in the Winter 2014 issue of The Summerset Review

Posted in poetry


nowhere to land, now
I hum, passing time alone;
still in flight, somehow.

the air feels colder
when we are not on your porch.
the warmth left with you.

but I am here, still;
finding my way, by the light
you left in your place.