The Chimney

My father built the log cabin in which I grew up. It was built beside a Civil War–era farmhouse in the Virginia piedmont. That old farmhouse was in such disrepair that it had to be torn down, but the chimney remained along with portions of the foundation. We re-used many of the building materials and artifacts in our home and work shed.

The presence of the chimney caused me often to wonder about the lives that had gone on before us. It stood there in the evenings, stolidly manning its station as if its owners might return, or were in fact just then going about their lives. I wondered if their lives and dreams somehow became intermingled with our own. Perhaps it is so.


The Chimney

What’s in a chimney
long after the house is gone?
There is a length of rusted stove pipe
fallen into what must have been a kitchen
around which children
might have been dressed
after their bath
in the washtub.

One raises walls here in the forest
for a warm place to sleep, a future.
To sit with Mary after sunset,
the lantern setting off her straight jaw
and the lace against her neck
on the blue calico dress she made.
Maybe children.
Maybe tonight.


from the collection Dancing the Haw

West End Poetry Festival 2012

The 2012 West End Poetry Festival was a complete and rousing success. Alan Shapiro, our headlining poet, got nominated for a National Book Award (probably because they heard he was at our festival). Dorianne Laux, Joe Millar, Rachel Richardson, Stephanie Levin, and Florence Nash read at Flyleaf Books on Friday night. A thousand thanks go out to Jamie Fiocco for her tremendous assistance (please support Flyleaf Books).

On Saturday we heard from:

  • Jo Taylor
  • Andrea Selch
  • Rob Greene
  • Joe Millar
  • Dorianne Laux
  • Lou Lipsitz
  • Jaki Shelton Green
  • Alan Shapiro
  • Celisa Steele
  • Susan Spalt
  • Tyler Johnson
  • Jay Bryan

A special thanks to Catherine DeVine for inspiration, hard work, and a dream that we could all follow. And deep appreciations go to Rah Trost and the Carrboro Recreation Department for their support.

A wonderful open mic featured readings by some truly fabulous local poets. I heard old friends and discovered new talent. (apologies if we didn’t get everyone’s name right. Please let me know and I can correct it.)

Thanks to sponsors, including Logan Carter – Realtor, Carolina Wren Press, Raleigh Review, and Amante’s Pizza.

And of course, the Carrboro Poets Council: Jay Bryan, Susan Spalt, Celisa Steele, Catherine DeVine, and Tyler Johnson.

See you next year.