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Volume 26, Number 7 — July 2019

POETRY by Warren Meredith Harris

Warren Meredith Harris
Warren Meredith Harris

Second Thoughts on the Creeper Trail

By Warren Meredith Harris | March 25, 2008

Second Thoughts on the Creeper Trail
Washington County, Va.

Between Green Spring Road and Watauga, I ran
onto one of the trestles. A thick loop of copperhead
rippled at the edge of the boardwalk, then fled
through the crisscrossed timbers below to its dark den.

* * *

Beauty deceives. Stream-worn gorge, whitetail
framed in a vista, bluebirds, and tapering fern
inflected with mint-you front for a story more stern,
written in the cinders and the gouged faces of shale.

The Lima Shay, a rolling iron inferno,
lugged in flatcars the trunks of poplar and pine
with their bark still on them, leaving along the line
a swath of stumps for a grim photographic tableau.

The Will to Timber exalted this ravine,
brought low a shortcut through the mountains, and made
the rough places plain to a maximum three-degree grade,
White Top to Abingdon, with thirty-four miles between.

Pictures of men in fedoras and overalls tell
of backs abused in the incessant wrestle with rocks.
Some prisoners labored at the prodding of shotgun stocks.
A few died-and were stuffed in the earth where they fell.

In the 'Twenties the profit sagged and then gave.
The rails went for scrap. Sometimes a spike
works from the sooty soil. Somewhere a bike
adorns with its tread-marks the dome of a careless grave.# # #

Warren Harris grew up in Richmond, Va. but now lives in Abingdon. Since 1981 he has been a Professor of English at Southwest Virginia Community College in Richlands. He also edits The Clinch Mountain Review, an annual of regional writing.

His poems have appeared most recently or are forthcoming in the U.S. in Pembroke Magazine, Ekphrasis, The Penwood Review, The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, The Powhatan Review, The Anglican Theological Review, The Bluestone Review, Poem, freefall, Mobius, Ship of Fools, Bibliophilos, and Edgz. In Wales in The David Jones Journal; in England in Other Poetry and Candelabrum Poetry Magazine; and in Ireland in Flaming Arrows.

# # #

Why He Jumped from the Board Room Window

by Warren Meredith Harris

It had taken half a term
of Speech 13 to sink his
nasal twang to the sub-sub-
basement of Archimedes
Hall. Pin-striped colleagues in oak
paneled rooms spoke with caution
until he called from his chest
his best baritone inflection

of ambiguous phrases.
His stone-faced all-purpose quips
they took for wisdom, never
terror that unguarded lips
might let high, piping squeaks pass
and set off laughs. He thought best
stay with sentences pre-shaped
in tape recorders. Such waste:

Unemployed ideas loitered unsaid,
up to no good inside his head.

# # #

Middle-aged Neighbor

by Warren Meredith Harris

In a large, old house, she lived
alone, giving way to fears.
Every night noise-mice behind
the baseboards, trucks' whining gears,

jumpy radiator pipes,
swifts flying down the chimney,
attic boxes shifting-made
her skin red and pimply

for a sleepless hour or two.
God-only-knows-who might just
do God-only-knows-what
, she said,
and me in my bed, defenseless.

She moved to a bungalow
with no odd sounds, only four
rooms. I asked if she felt
better and held my tongue, or

else I would have mentioned
Freud when she, with a straight face,
let out that she never latched
her doors at either place.

# # #


Meet the poets featured in the April issue of A! MAGAZINE FOR THE ARTS and read their poetry by following the links below:

David Winship
Henry McCarthy
Lena Cantrell McNicholas
Samuel Miller, M.D.
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Jane Hicks
Felicia Mitchell
Delilah O'Haynes
Neva Bryan
Rees Shearer
Gretchen McCroskey
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