Saturday, April 20, 2024

Primeval and Promiscuous

 —Poetry by Kimberly Bolton, Jefferson City, MO
—Photos Courtesy of Public Domain 


Trees lush with summer green.
Old barns crippled with broken bones.

A tractor rusted to a stop in tall weeds.
An empty silo.

Shadows of clouds passing low over pastures
and dense green hills.

Black snake sleepy in a square of sunlight
near a long-abandoned chicken coop.

Peony bush drops its petals beside the back 
kitchen door,
counting its many lost loves.

The farmhouse stares out at the view with
perfectly lifeless eyes,
while inside, the walls are willing and ready
to talk.


Hey you, whoever you are, reading this,
I am glad you are here along with me,
each of us uniquely placed on this earth,
under the stars, leaving our footprints in the sand.

Primeval and promiscuous beings that we are,
the divinity of the human spirit unites us all.
Naked, we are shapely in our beatific ugliness.

However you have lived,
however I have done so,
we are connected by a lived life,
and the echoes of our voices are heard ‘round
the world.

Some of us came out on top.
Others remain at the bottom.
Most of us are stuck somewhere in the middle.

We are not forgotten,
nor are we unforgiven for trying our best.
The rivers rise.
The winds blow.
Still we stand side by side.

This is the story of us,
and what a short story it is!
We come and we go.
Books and arms remain open.
The world ain’t done with us yet.



Summer drops a dead weight on our shoulders,
a pulsing aureate of heat, haze, humidity,
the Holy Trinity of a Missouri summer season,
that starts as soon as the winds and rains of March
finally run out of steam.

The sky is as steel-blue as God’s breath.
Not a whisk or wriggle of wind
to make the day tolerable.
Even the soprano pitch of cicadas,
the full-throated basso of frogs,
and insects down in the grass engaging in small talk
are vexing.

Lush green of trees garnish the landscape.
Clouds, thin as whispers, don’t linger long
before they hasten on their way to elsewhere.
Cows swish their tails at the flies,
thinking their carefully considered cow thoughts,
as they gaze over the fence pondering the state of
things as they are.
As we all do from time to time.

There’s no relief in sight from the slow burn of
the day.
The scald of summer has us in a holding pattern.
Shadows stain the green ground here and there,
but this is the season of light.
Everything is held together by light alone.
Shade and shadow are kept to a minimum.

The red roses on the trellis along the side of the
are blood-red syllables of this poem,
and a metaphor for the bleeding heart of the
person writing it.


Driving past field after field of broad, green-leaf
drooping under the weight of a July sun.

Dust devil churning behind the car on the gravel
The distance we’re going measured not in miles,
but in memories flashing past the side windows 
in a near-sighted blur.

We pull up to the rusted gate of the cemetery
out here in the middle of nowhere.

Out here in the middle of nowhere, where my
decided over a hundred years ago that this was
as good a place
as any to settle down.

The cemetery is, for the most part, abandoned now,
even by the dead.
No ghosts here except what I conger in my own

Still, this place thrives with weeds and deceased 
generations planted beneath this crop of old stone:
Great-grandparents and the great—greats,
aunts, uncles, a cousin here and there.

This green place, surrounded by the peculiar beauty
of these Ozark hills.
A few family farms breathing a last gasp.
Prime country folk with their plain, broad faces,
toothy grins and stubborn ways,
cut straight out of the canvas of a Benton mural
and barely scraping by.

The past catches up with me here.
What is this nostalgic yearning for a past
I personally never knew?
Their past is not my past and their lives lie some-
a remote distance from my own.

And someday, me standing here at this moment,
will become another discarded moment in a past
that is not anyone else’s but my own,
that perhaps, God willing, I will be lucky enough
to remember,
when the future catches up with me.

The growl and purr of a tractor starts up
in a distant field.
The hot summer sun curves a heavy hand
on the nape of my neck.

Starlings, those darling little thieves,
are down in the grass along the fence line,
too busy robbing seed to pay me any nevermind,
while the cicadas sing their country dirge loud
to wake, well, everybody here.

My kinfolk.
So many of them now gone,
and have been for quite some time.
They stood here once, in the very spot
where I am standing,
inside their own here and now,
reminiscing amongst each other
about the folk from their own past that were 
no more.

I long to tell them there are so few of us left.
That the world is shrinking all around me,
as it empties out.

For Jamie & Kaitlyn

Your seven times great-grandmother
was born in 1796 in Stokes County, North Carolina.

You and your sister were born in 1983 and 1991, 
right here in good ole Missouri,

with the river running in your veins and Missouri
mud on the
soles of your feet,

all because your g- g- g- g- g- g- great-grandmother 
crossed the country in a
covered wagon hanging on to the buckboard for dear 
life, praying they’d
make it.

When they reached the edge of the Ozarks Plateau,
she and her husband
decided this was it.

This was where they’d plant roots.
You and your sister are proof positive those roots
were anchored firmly and

You both are the product of her fortitude, her 
her belief in making a better life for herself and 
her passel of children.

They created something from nothing as she
followed behind the plow
her husband drove to break the sod so she could
scatter seed.

Like the wheat they planted, you sprang from her
no-nonsense attitude,
her southern hardiness and heartiness to stand firm 
against whatever good
and ill winds blew around her.

Who knows how she really felt about any of it?
Yet, so much of what you and your sister, and
even I,

learned as women were planted in that dirt
and rooted in us long before any of us were born.

Your g-g-g-g-g-g-great-grandmother gleaned
what she needed to survive as a
woman from the land and from her mother as did
her mother and
all the grandmothers to came before.

While the men in the family railed against the
against bad luck and taxes, ill-gotten gains,
and against life itself, our women carried on,
because they had to.

Now, when I listen to you, or when you speak to
your own daughters,
I hear the echoes of generations of females in your 


Today’s LittleNip:

When you're dead, they really fix you up. I hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense enough to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you're dead? Nobody.
―J.D. Salinger,
The Catcher in the Rye


—Medusa, with many thanks to Kimberly Bolton for today’s fine poetry!


A reminder that
National Poetry Month continues
in the NorCal area with the first-ever
Blue Sky Earth Day Poetry Festival
in Cameron Park today at 4pm;
Tracks Along the Left Coast tonight
in Nevada City at 6:30pm; and
Molly Fisk and Francesca Bell
at Sacramento Poetry Center
tonight at 7pm.
For info about these and other
future poetry happenings in
Northern California and otherwheres,
click on
in the links at the top of this page—
and keep an eye on this link and on
the daily Kitchen for happenings
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…sleepy in a square of sunlight…