Thomas Macfie :: Edge-of-Water ::


Southern Legitimacy Statement: I was born and raised in Sewanee, TN, on the campus of the University of the South, an appellation instigating much debate, angst, and consternation, as well as ecstatic generational joy for some, and excruciating generational pain for others. The son of a clergy member and an academic, my story seems too rife with the often embarrasing cliches of Southern waywardness to recount in a brief statement, but suffice to say, it is a life inextricably embedded in the natural and social ecologies of southern Middle Tennessee, namely the Cumberland Plateau. After much wandering and extended stays in Montana, Arizona, New York City, and Nashville, I live again on the South Cumberland Plateau, in a small self-built cabin in the thick forests of Grundy County, about ten miles from the campus of the University of the South, and a few worlds away from its moonlight and magnolia. Maybe the stories are starting to leak out.

The poems are part of a larger sequence, a re-imagining of Richard Brautigan’s Trout Fishing in America placed in contemporary Greater Appalachia. The larger sequence includes interstitial diaristic reports recalling the ecological literature of Gilbert White, if he happened to find himself high sticking it deep in the holler.

Edge-of-Water: Dry Shave Creek
(Trout Fishing in Appalachia’s Born Again)

How small do we have to be
to be so often? Schooling out the abscess

pits of conglomerate asylum

radge after the most recent severest
drought some rainbows retch up

pooling claggy luminescent power
baits in neon corns and soy speckled hunter
oranges though the liveliest slobs amidst
stitch themselves beneath the slape algal
bloom and anchor hard to the anonymous
parney while we gut what we got and study the primitive

baptists’ christening caps dipped in

the shallow hollow water, barely
a devotion plunged. O.

So it’s already done.

Edge-of-Water: Big Fiery Gizzard
(Trout Fishing in Appalachia’s Back on the Farm)

How small do we have to be
to be so often? A syphilitic bituminous plume
the bats burped up thrust
wards from the crushed
eyelids of defeated
caves but foam
out because the white
mossy syndrome gluing
shut their sputtering nebs and swarm
at the bitter end of that curdled limestone
oxbow with the kind of family who really digs in
gets all rouge and ladgeful to the rock
face detonates
tamarack to move the shillies
about and keep the big ones
in so you can damn near gaff ‘em
but just doesn’t really get it
the generous rise
in the hooped water
table so each spring the imports jump and cross
brood with native
populations dampening the genetic
integrity and then the shooting starts
just that often, kaylied, just that exactly all
versus all and small.


I mean, we wren’t the first to throw a living Jenny
spinner, but we really blistered ‘em back then
tho that’s been a happened
world ago these days since the wooly
adelgid’s skinned the hemlock
groves they don’t swim past
the mouth where it’s already done.

Edge-of-Water: Buggytop Creek
(Trout Fishing in Appalachia Tunes in to the Everlasting Omen of What Is)

All the things we don’t believe in anymore
there in the air around us as if a made

bat trolling its sonar beside the brittle murmur
of an unfolding bone— a quorum of cicadas

the generations squealing again their spectrum
scraped through a width of leafed-out

nutted spasm, and maybe it does work
how Trout Fishing In Appalachia says it does: you just listen

in and spread the absent evenly
out where it’s already done.