This poem by Lee Carroll won first prize in 2009 for the West Virginia Poetry Society Award, and was subsequently published in the 2009 edition of Encore, the anthology of prize-winning poems.

A Painting Of Things In Relation

Hills in the near distance,
at the end of this little valley,
sunlight from the hills, shadows,
an oak here and there in the pasture,
timothy, wild thyme, Johnson grass,
long low sunlight over the valley,
long shadows from the hills, close,
but not yet up to the cattle
knee deep in grass, those burly cattle
with ruddy coats, shy white faces,
quiet eyes—no shadows yet to those,
and none to those drowsy cattle, belly-down,
here and there in sunlight under the oaks.
Above the cattle, birds, birds in the trees,
in the blue-gray air around the trees,
birds on fence rails, on cedar posts,
in and out of sunlight over the pasture,
bird song everywhere, evening song,
like light from under evening’s wing,
all the way along the valley pasture,
all along the dusty road to my place.
My yard, red and white chickens,
kernels of dry corn all over the yard,
corn in cracks of the sidewalk, corn
over by the yellow rose bush, corn
by the trumpet vine, even in with the black ants
in that patch of goatheads near the fence,
corn, corn, and those stinky chinaberries
on the bare ground under that low dark tree,
back in there around my bloodhound,
that wrinkled lump under the tree in the cool.
No one else here, just me, in this old
chair, this rickety wooden rocker
here on the front porch,
and these cranky chickens all over the yard…
the dog, those cattle in the pasture,
and from there to here, choirs
of birds with evensong. And now, almost
supper time. Pleasant evening, swallows, high up.
Soon, sun below the hills, the gray-white light.

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President: Steve Sanders
Vicepresident: Mike Baldwin
Secretary: Susan Maxwel Campbell
Treasurer: Anne Jones
Historian and Webmaster: Hilda Oralia Mendoza

First Place: Marilyn Gilbert Komechak
Second Place: Susan Maxwell Campbell
Third Place: Roberta Pipes Bowman

The Inheritance and NOTES
Silent days have whitewashed the snow drifting
over Thursday’s grey crust and Friday’s slush
frozen again in the rutted dirt roads.1
In Josie’s old house, tall windows and bare
wood floors leak the immovable winter

of March. You’d say this sky looks ironed, criss-crossed
by iced branches of apricot trees. You—
the third angle between Josie and me—
you’d feel these lions too, waiting for dark
to seep from her dresser mirror, waiting2
to stalk the slanted truth of heart and bed.
In the dusk, I still see the chicken hawk
nailed to the barn door—and other black forms.
Cold comfort is mine:3 old house and worn-out
land, all this she’d promised you from the first,

but we’re all jilted, and our knotted hearts4
long—I long for spring: mesquite, scissortails,
bluebonnets—space for her ashes, a grave
for lying. Banish the mice in the walls.
Burn shriveled canna leaves, fern fronds, stickered

rose canes.5 I’ll take a toddy to her white
painted bed, spread her last quilt—Wedding Ring—
and lie counting the board creaks and window
rattles. I’ll leave the lights on all night long
and hope not to shiver or dream at dawn.

NOTES ON THE POEM The Inheritance

1 It was a sheaf of papers,
impaled on a mesquite fence post
along 287 near Childress.
December sleet had stiffened it,
and once unfolded, smoothed, dried,
the untidy writing was urgent,
but nothing was too blurred
if you held it close to your lantern.

2 The kitchen light pools
onto the formica table, and
squinting, you’re troubled by the metaphor
of lions in the bedroom, and there’s gun-
powder whiff in the banal triangle, but
shouldn’t all this mean more
than blue ink and notebook paper—
scrawl and scribble and cross-out?

3 Like sailing cold and starless in an unfinished ship,
whatever this is, wanting to be a poem—
it dreams—it dreams of cyclones and tsunamis
where an unfathering sea breaks reader and poet.

4 Of course all this is indirect, only

edging toward its subject. Every day
you want what you call real: reloading shotgun shells,
breaking new snow, watching for enemy
birds over your bantams. Always this cudgled memory
is too blunt: Josie in her cotton nightgown
clutching a good serving spoon—under the crusted
drifts behind the hen coop. Here: crows,
knowing what crows know—

5 And these lines want to walk you barefoot
over ice and packed snow and chilled melt.
Read them again. Look what crawls
from under the red rusted pickup, now
upright, a paw in a pocket of matchsticks—
wild fire, frost fire, sky fire. Bone fire.

TheFort Worth Poetry Society cordially invites you to its spring
meeting Thursday, May 10, 2012, 7 O’clock at Benbrook Public
Library. Desserts will be preceded by a short business
meeting and installation of new officers. Winners of this year’s members
contest will be announced.There will be a Read-Around.

Books ‘n Authors ‘n All That Jazz” was held at Weatherford College on
Saturday, April 28. Marilyn Komechak received one of the top three
fiction writing awards for her short story, “Barney’s Sweet Revenge,”
in the Canis Latran Writing Contest.

Letter from the War Zone
By Roberta Pipes Bowman

The plains are calling me from far away.
This tent is hot and dust is here to stay.
Again I feel a breeze upon my face
while rounding up the heard. How is our bay-
has any rider dare to take my place?
Remember when that feisty horse would race?
Tomorrow, troops will strike their deadly blow,
I send my love no distance can efface.

My gear is packed, honor bids me go.
I shall not fail but give my best to show
that freedom lives as long as people try.
And should my life be taken now you know
I shall be sailing at a point on high
Astride my shiny steed across the sky.

Susan Maxwell Campbell in Mansfield Now Magazine

Click here to see the March edition of Mansfield Now Magazine featuring Susan Maxwell Campbell