Bill Pendergraft :: Three Poems for October ::


Southern Legitimacy Statement: I am a sixth-generation North Carolinian. I was a high school English teacher in Burgaw, NC and years later an environmental writer/producer who depended on major environmental organizations for my paycheck, although Southerners were sometimes seen as the cause of the diseases they were trying to cure. I always traveled in my work and I always missed home, but I made some films in my neck of the woods for the NC Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, NC Public TV, the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, the Ace Basin National Refuge, the NC Estuarium, and others. People and place are inexorably joined, and must be if either is to survive.

Three Poems for October

The Shoes of the Fisherman’s Wife

left on the steps
in white dunes of blowing sand
the slings erect and black
she hooks them as she passes
he is in the Stream
in lazy swells of fish
he licks salt from his lips
while on her porch
a cat curls down in the red afternoon

why do they come and go she asks
her breath white vapor in the small room
he turns to her in sleep
his flotsam frame surrounds her
she turns to the sea
the cat paws first light on the wall

she awakes to his phantom touch
knowing he is gone
and opening her eyes
blinks into the dark
she hears the trucks of fish
their engines whining between gears
and closing her eyes
a tsunami of cold

Conversations at the Lowcountry Boil

is that all, she asked
watching the sun set
over 100,000 acres of Spartina
stretching to the horizon

the dog is alert
to a twig falling on the roof
ignores Hurricanes.

my friends are depressed
from Thanksgiving to the new year
a most fertile time for fictions

each morning she feigns illness
so her partner could practice caring for her in old age
this morning she is paralyzed
and he puts on her underwear and socks
this is how they make love

they collect around oysters
fire and football
venison chili and hot wings
I chat up the poet
alone in the foyer

when she returns
for the holidays
I become 30 again
wiping peas from her chin.
and she becomes 13
hoping I will leave her alone
or die painfully
I hate these dogs she says
as she freshens their water bowls
and brings them bones from the butcher

the penny candy store beyond the El
where I first fell in love with Ferlinghetti
later in Chapel Hill
he read at Memorial Hall
we wept during the applause

The Beloved

night by the firefly surf
beneath the canopy of live oaks
tide receding
revelation of oyster reef

oh if I could stay forever
remain on the edge with you
right in the muddy moment

in passion
we conceive our future
in reflection
we flow beyond understanding

there is only this island
failing light
a croaking chorus
one friend


*You can buy Bill’s e-chapbook “The Lowcountry” here: Blurb. It’s pretty damn skippy, you really should grab a copy of it.