Three Poems

On Shiloh
by Cause Bewilder

Near Pittsburg Landing in southwestern Tennessee
on April 6th and April 7th, 1862,
Confederate soldiers attacked the Federal army
in hopes of driving them away, pursuing them into
the drab, forbidding swamps of Owl Creek to the west.
They wanted to prevent Grant's linking up with Buell's force.
Instead they fell into a fire-storm, the Hornet's Nest,
a wild barage of bullets, shrapnel, shells, shouts, screams, and more.
It was the Battle of Shiloh, the guns shot high and low;
and myriads dropped to the dirt, the blood flowed everywhere.
Some fled into the brush; the birds had scattered long ago;
and some cried out in pain, while others gasped for their last air.

Some Prosaic Southern Voices


1.  Antepenultimate Paragraph of Faulkner's Barn Burning
He ran on, his blood and his breath roaring,
unable to hear the galloping mare
almost upon him, in wild grief soaring
to hurl himself through th' early summer air
into the weed-choked, roadside ditch, the horse
thundering past and on, for an instance in
furious silhouette against the stars—
the fierce rider! before vanishing, and
then springing up into the road, running
again, knowing it was too late, hearing
the shots, crying out loud, "Pap! Pap!" stumbling,
the glare of the fire at his back, searing,
running among the invisible trees,
panting, sobbing, "Father! Father!" bent knees.

2. Elegy for Flannery
Everything about her was a wash,
awash in pain and peacocks. What chance did
she ever have to flourish, filled with bosh
and lupus. Gosh, her innards were rancid,
sardonic, accurate, and Catholic,
stowed with the grace and power of the South.
Cluck, cluck—she, our own, home-grown basilisk
with a receding chin and drooping mouth.
She'd pout that, since she taught a chick to walk
backwards at six, all was anticlimax.
That was her manner, how she'd write and talk:
a woman facing God's love and time's axe.
I miss her spir't, I, who never knew her,
child of her era and a Northerner.

3. Postmodern Masterpiece
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
sent thrilling goose bumps up and down my spine
back in the 1960s, verily
unsettling th' apple cartilage—my mind.
It was a creepy, Southern Gothic tale
that made me look at how, and think about,
the way we treat each other, how we fail.
In stark relief, it sailed through faith and doubt.
From Scout's account of Atticus and Boo,
to Maycombe's sheriff and Tom Robinson,
Miss Maudie, Jem, Bob, and Mayella Ew'll,
Calpurnia, and Dill, th' apart person.*                         * a picture of Truman Capote
"I think for a child's book it does all right,"
was Flannery O'Connor's green insight.

An Autumn Sunset in North Carolina

Like big, pink blobs of cotton candy are the clouds,
touched on the edges with shiny silver linings—ah,
with such sweet, gorgeous beauties is the sky endowed,
such lovely fluffiness, so fine, 't leaves me in awe.
I wish I could caress their soft shapes; but I can't,
they are so far away; and, if I could, their maw
would vanish into vapor at my touch so scant.
Perhaps, if I could lick their sugar strands, they'd taste
like dreams in cream, puffed-up mirages that enchant,
and I would float in heavenly love, pure and chaste,
then draw the silky curtains and pull off the shrouds,
while waiting on the emperor without a waist.

CAUSE BEWILDER is a poet of the American South. "I'll take my stand in diction," he once wrote, "and strive to resuscitate the art of poetry, maintain the sublime, and achieve the classical elegance of ancient Greek tragedy, while asserting Southern cultural values." Influenced by writers, such as Poe, Faulkner, and renegade Fugitives, like Ransom and Tate, he remains a stalwart New Critic crying in the present Wilderness.


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