James King: Poetry: Jan 2022


Southern Legitimacy Statement: I was born and raised one block south of the southern shore of Lake Erie, not far from the Cuyahoga River, which back then was redder than the reddest red clay of Georgia. We didn’t brag about it, though. Did the red clay of Georgia ever catch fire the way the red waters of the Cuyahoga once (okay, more than a dozen times) spontaneously and spectacularly combusted? Didn’t think so. We’re talking water. On fire. Beat that. Anyway, now I live south of the Canadian border in the general area of the country often associated with Robert Frost, who inspired this little piece of doggerel, Good Fences.

Good Fences

Here in the land of good fences
neighbors war with trees
and old stone walls. Brush
is set to flame, lit with a sneer
and a shrug at ordinances
so that we can ignore
each other
without obstruction.

A diesel dawn
brings the first wave.
Patterns and shadows
in green signal
submission; leaves
are blown all the way
to St. Helena.
The titans leave
their desks at dusk,
carried by rail
to inspect freshly
flattened fields.

A red-yellow sun begins
its slow descent and
one by one the fronts
and flanks quiet.
A breeze carries
the sweet hint of grass
as the last gasp is heard.
Darkness brings a truce
with stars.

But there is always tomorrow.
And the tomorrow after that.
And always, alas, miles to go.