Nancy Hartney: Three Poems

Southern Legitimacy Statement: My family and I come from Georgia, and while they have mostly died off or moved further south, I still say I hail from Atlanta. Great-great grandfather wore grey and fought in The War while my granddaddy was a used car salesman. My daddy was a dirt farmer and Mama a school teacher. Growing up years happened in that strip along the south Georgia-north Florida line on a hard scrabble tobacco farm. We raised hogs, corn and, for a time, cotton. I have lived in California, Georgia, Florida, Arkansas, and Texas. Sweet tea is my beverage of choice for summer days. Bourbon and branch suit me any evening.

I’ve got two collections of short stories published, both set in the South: Washed in the Water and If the Creek Don’t Rise. My stories say it all.

Three Poems

Monster Truck Rally and Tractor Pull

A former virgin
Ruby Jewel Dollar,
dressed in yards and yards of white satin,
flashed a coy smile at the church guests,
curled her shoulder at the wedding photographer
and said in a slow drawl,
My new husband wants a honeymoon
in Missouri
at the Monster Truck Rally and Tractor Pull.
Camera flash blinded guests,
but not before they watched
Ruby Jewel kiss her man—
an open-mouth,
get-to-the-real-business kiss.

The Things We Collect

Photos, yellow and curled,
around the edges,
packed in shoe boxes stacked in the attic.
Candlelight wedding and four-tier cake.
Quonset hut, jeeps and smiling fatigue-clad buddies.
Once, a size 8 cocktail dress, black sequins,
Now limp, hanging at Goodwill with red stiletto heels.
Family portraits, babies, school pictures.
A red velveteen horse, threadbare.
Cracked baseball bat with catcher’s mitt,
and tricycle with pink handle ribbons.
Her mind scabs over covering the dishwasher hum
Reading again, Oh the Places You’ll Go to the kids.
His mind closes around beer and smokes and final scores
already turning to Tuesday and the workday, year seventeen.
Objects acquired, dream-encrusted thoughts held close
until finally, without acknowledging the years,
we morph into the things we’ve collected.

 If You Walk Long Enough (with apologies to Alice, from Wonderland)

Where shall I go from here?
asks the dog.
Why bother? It is perfectly fine here in the sun,
replies the cat.
I don’t think it matters if you have a good wallow first,
answers the pig.
Keep walking, pull your share of the load,
says the horse.
All roads lead somewhere,
states the cow and chews her cud.
The world is a marvelous place,
declares the spider.
Come, sit beside me, here in the parlor,
and I shall tell you.