Unnatural Sounds

A Poem by Wayne Scheer

A woodpecker
tapping Morse code
on aluminum siding.

Unsent letter #14

A Prose Poem by Anon ymous

Dear ,

By now, you’re over the ocean; there’s the rustle
of pages being turned, the flicker of dim lights.
The scent of the moon has followed you, clings
to your skin. Before you close your eyes, I’ll
tell you this: there’s nothing the air cannot hold;
the soft crescendo of leaves in winter, the splash
of a fish in summer, a grass-stained knee; even
this letter folded in your pocket. I’ll find your
favorite tree. Take a twig, soft brown and brittle,
put it on the window ledge; wait for a bird to pick
it up, fly it to you.


The Kimberly A. Bolton Series of Poems






The Rest of the Conversation in the Car on the Way to the Cemetery

A Poem by Kimberly A. Bolton

Now, I dunno what it was
‘bout Corrie May an’ cows,
although cows was always
part an’ parcel of her life,
same as they was in everbody’s,
but Corrie never did take a hankerin’
to any cow that I ever heard tell of.
This here one time,
Corrie May an’ Norma Jean
Was gone fer the day,
an’ one a their cows got into
the yard, nudged open the backdoor
an’ walked right on in without a howdeedoo.
Was scairt sumbody had done broke
into the house was what Corrie May
thought when they got back home
an’ saw the backdoor standin’ wide open.
Said she stepped into the house an’
stepped right in it before she smelt it,
cow pies all over the place.
She wasn’t none too happy ‘bout it, neither,
let me tell you, havin’ to clean up all
that mess.
An’ nother time, way up in the middle-a
the night it ‘twas, an’ the chickens
all started makin’ a racket.
Corrie May just knowed someone
had got into the chicken coop an’ was
gonna steal her chickens.
Charlie was home at the time,
an ‘she sent him out there to see what
was goin’ on.
Charlie, he grabbed his shotgun an’ took off
to the chicken house.
It was so dark he couldn’t hardly see
nothin’, when all of a sudden
he saw somethin’ white floatin’ up
outta the dark, comin’ toward him,
an’ whatyaknow, if it wasn’t a durned ol’
white-faced cow what wandered into
the chicken coop scarin’ the chickens
an’ Charlie nearly to death.
No sirree, Corrie May never did take
to cows much.
I recollect it was durin’ the war,
at one them meetin’s of the Cotton Club ladies,
us women all gettin’ together fer the comp’ny,
sharin’ receipts an’ whatnot,
while most-a the men was all off fightin’
somewheres we never heerd tell of;
We’d hear the names of battles in these
places you couldn’t even pronounce an’
wonder how a body’d even know to git there.
Didn’ hardly pay fer a person to sit an’ listen
in on the radio anyhow.
The war was in full swing by then and the news,
an’ there was plenty of it, was all bad.
Don’t think there was a woman in the county who
didn’t dread the sound of a car comin’ down
the road and lookin’ out the winder,
didn’t breathe a sigh of relief
when it wasn’t from the telegraph office
from over in Clarksburg.
Well, at this here meetin’ I was talkin’ ‘bout,
One-a the ladies, Missus Davisson, just burst out cryin’
right in the middle of everythin;
Didn’t any of us know why right then, but we all understood,
if’n ya know what I mean.
The strain was hard on all of us what was left
back home never knowin’ if a son er a husband
what were kilt out in one-a them places we couldn’t
It turned out, this Missus Davisson
got word her son was a-missin’ in action.
Then ol Bridey Brewster who didn’t have
a lick-a sense nohow, she pipes up,
askin’ Missus Davisson why she was carryin’ on so?
Why everythin’ was gonna be just fine, just fine,
an’ she ought to quit makin’ such a fuss ‘bout it.
Now, they wasn’t a woman in the bunch,
my own self included, who didn’t have some member
of their family off fightin’ in that durned ol war.
Everbody ‘cept Bridey Brewster, a’ course,
an’ thank God fer that.

None-a that Brewster bunch was worth a plug nickel.
When it come to totin’ a gun they’d as soon shoot their
durn fool foot off than shoot the enemy an’ that’s a fact.
But Bridey, she just kept jabberin’ on an’ on
‘bout how’s they was no use to worry an’ how we
should git on with our meetin’ an things would work
out fer the best.
Well, an’ let me tell you what,
that just made Missus Davisson cry harder
an’ rubbed the rest-a us the wrong way to boot.
We was all getting’ madder’n wet hens,
til Corrie May spoke up an’ tol her to hush up,
how would Bridey feel if’n it was some-a her kin
gone missin’? Would be plenty to worry ‘bout then,
she reckoned.
An’ here Corrie May was with three sons in the service
her own self, an’ none-a us knowin’ if any were alive
er dead at that very minute.
But she shore shut Bridey Brewster right up; she didn’t
say ‘nother word the rest-a that day . . .

An’ lookee here, done made it to the cemetery.
Too bad we couldna buried her out at Cotton
with rest-a her folks, but it closed up all these
years ago now.
No more spaces left to put folks in the ground.
I’d figured on bein’ buried out there myself til
the new highway pert near put Cotton off the map;
a body’s likely to take a wrong turn and get
theirselves lost way out there if’n they don’t
rightly know where their goin’.
Yessirree-bob, it was a nice service,
Short an’ sweet just the way she woulda liked it
God love her.

What say we drive over to the Nic-Nac after fer
a cup a coffee an’ we’ll talk more then?

Conversation in the Car on the Way to the Cemetery

A Poem by Kimberly A. Bolton

Well, it was a right nice service
she had, wasn’t it?
All over but the buryin’ now,
I reckon.
It was good to see all the
homefolk in one place agin,
wouldna been the same without ‘em,
an’ that’s a fact.
I dun tol you didn’t I, Corrie May was
a right smart woman, an’ tough too;
had to be,
whatever she was gonna make-a
herself an’ them kids,
it was all up to her anyhow.
Harry wasn’t no help to her,
an’ James, he was always up to
no good, drinkin’ an’ gamblin’.
Why shoot, ol’ Harry, he didn’t waste
no time gittin’ Corrie May in the family way
an’ on the first try, too.
Seems like Corrie May said to me
this here one time, said, she knew
ever’ time Harry’s overalls hit the floor
beside the bed of a night, she knew
she’d be pregnant.
Wasn’t too far from the truth, neither,
as I recollect.
Raised a bunch-a turkeys that year she
was carryin’ her firstborn just so’s she
could sell ‘em an’ buy herself a
rocker to rock that baby to sleep of
a night.
Yup, the very same rocker she was in
that night last March when she tol’
us all the story of the day they’d come
home from church an’ found Harry dead in
the back room-a the house.
That was the first stick-a furniture
she an’ Harry every owned outright, no thanks
to Harry,
an’ course, when the baby was born,
Harry was out in the field that day;
Doc had to go out lookin’ fer him
Just to tell him he had a son what was borned
an’ he ought to get hisself back to the house
to see after his wife an’ baby.
But ol Harry he wouldn’t budge from
that field fer love ner money.
Stayed out there til the day’s work was done.
Harry, he didn’ have a clue to what all
us women went through to have a baby er
what men called women’s work back in
those days. James neither, fer that matter.
Corrie May, she had her own garden an’
canned all she could when it come time.
Made her own lye soap, too, like most
ever other woman in those parts.
We used lye soap to warsh all kinds of things,
hair, clothes, scrubbed our skins raw in the tub
with a bar of it ever Saturdee night by the
Corrie May, she pitched right in to help
the neighbors at butcherin’ time an’
cooked up those big thrashin’ dinners.
She wasn’t afraid-a hard work an’
that’s a fact.
Saw that youngun through the measles
an’ pneumonia an’ the polio;
saw them three boys of her’n off to the war.
Went through more’n what one woman should
have to in a lifetime, I reckon.

This here one time, they was two men
what had been up in the hills a-drinkin’
white lightnin’ an’ they stopped right out
at Corrie May’s front gate, talkin’ long
an’ loud, actin’ up an’ a-braggin’ ‘bout
how’s they gonna come on inside the house.
It was after dark a’ready an’ Corrie May,
She didn’ know ‘em from Adam.
It ware just her and Norma Jean in the house.
Harry was long dead by that time an’ the boys
all growed an’ gone, hadn’t met James yet.
Well, like I said, she heard ‘em out by the gate
an’ she figured if’n they was gonna git in
her house, it’d be over her dead body.
Tol’ Norma Jean to stay put,
went in the back room an’ got the shotgun,
walked out the door to meet ‘em.
Now I didn’t even know Corrie May
knew how to shoot,
ya coulda knocked me over
with a feather when she tol’
us all ‘bout it later;
but she pointed that gun straight at
their feet to let ‘em know she meant
Corrie May, she says to me after,
said she knew what she was a-doin’.
She’d had three older brothers what’d
taught her to shoot.
Said the men skedaddled an’ never
bothered ‘em agin after that.
Ain’t nothin’ scares a man more’n
a woman with a shotgun, determined
to protect her own, an’ that’s a fact.

Eulogy for a Country Woman

A Poem by Kimberly A. Bolton

She shore looks good don’t she,
all laid out in her Sundee best,
hands folded together an’ at rest
fer the first time in years,
leastways ever since I can remember.
Those hands of her’n were never idle an’
that’s a fact.
Why she was still warshin’ clothes
on the scrub board up until a few years ago,
bent over that ol tin tub, suds up to her
elbows, hands all rough an’ red from the heat.
She always used to say warsh for wash an’
receipts when she was atalkin’ ‘bout recipes.
Speakin-a which, that woman could shore
fry up a pan a chicken that’d make yore
mouth water.
She used that big cast-iron skillet of her’n,
even baked biscuits in it on top-a the stove
I’m missin’ her cookin’ a’ready just thinkin’
‘bout it.
Corrie May’d cook up those big thrashin’ dinners
fer all the farmhands way back when, ‘member?
An’ the men, they didn’t waste no time gettin’
to the table neither.
Her chicken an’ biscuits couldn’t be beat, an’ if
you was late to the table that was just too durn bad.

She looks so natural layin’ there don’t she?
Fixed her hair up right nice, just the way
she always wore it.
She grayed early, you know, when she was
in her twenties;
Such a shame, an’ she was a looker to boot.
They said folks in her family all grayed early
‘bout every other generation.
But me, I reckon it was that was durned ol husband
of her’n.
Harry went an’ kilt hisself back in ‘thirty-nine,

I reckon it was, on accounta losin’ the farm to the bank. .
Just up an’ put a shotgun in his mouth an’ pulled
the trigger.
God-awful mess it was.
Her an’ them kids comin’ home from church
that Sundee n’ findin’ him in the back room
like that.
Harry made her a widder way too early,
an’ leavin’ them kids without a Pa.
‘Course, the boys was old enough by then
to help out their Ma, but that lil un,
Norma Jean, she didn’t know whut was goin’ on,
whut with her Pa dead an’ them havin’ to pack up
everythin’ an’ move clean out to Cotton.
The insurance man, he felt sorry fer Corrie May
an’ the fix she was in.
He fudged on that claim doncha know,
we all knowed it, but didn’t nobody pay no mind.
It was the Depression-
onliest ones to have money back then was bankers
an’ the insurance company.
Why should they keep all that money?
They shorely didn’t need it, not as bad as Corrie May
an’ her brood did-
wrote down it was a accidental death er some such.
She got six hun’red dollars to buy that ol’ farmhouse
an’ a Jersey cow an’ a course they had them chickens
what Charlie done raised an’ the bank fergot
to collect with the rest-a the stock. . .

Oh, an’ that reminds me of a funny she tol’ one time-
when she was a young ‘un at home an’ before all this
here happened.
Her Ma sent her out to the chicken yard onc’t
to fetch a chicken an’ wring its neck fer supper.
Said she went out there to catch the damn bird,
an’ it was a-squawkin’ an’ a-floppin’, beatin’ her all to hell
with its wings, an’ she tryin’ to get a hand ‘round its neck.
First time she ever wrung a chicken’s neck, she said.
Corrie May finally got a-holt of it to where she could twist
its neck ‘round, when it up an’ flopped outta her hands an’
onto the ground, started chasin’ her ‘round the yard with
its head all twisted backards, slappin’’ its wings an’
screechin’ like a banshee, an’ Corrie May scairt so bad
she’s a-runnin’ an’ screamin’ with that chicken after her,
til her Ma come out to see what all the ruckus was ‘bout.
Granny Patterson, that was her Ma, took one look
an’ started laughin’, couldn’t help herself, it was too
durn funny.
She stepped off the porch an’ reached down an’ got
a-holt of that chicken to finish what Corrie May
started, an’ Corrie May still screamin’ an’ carryin’ on til her Ma
Tol’ her to hush, or she’d cut a switch an’ give her somethin’ to scream ‘bout.

She remarried, ya know, a few years after they put
Harry in the ground.
‘Course all the boys was growed an’ gone by then,
Norma Jean was the onliest one left at home.
Ol Jim, he was a decent ‘nough feller, but he liked
his cards an’ his likker.
They lived in Cotton fer a good many years,
stayed in that ol farmhouse of her’n,
kept a cow er two fer the extry money it brung in
what with the butter an’ cream.
I ‘member Jim before he died, tol’ me onc’t
how Corrie May went out to the barn this here
one time to milk the cow.
Got herself a nice bucketful, when that cow done
raised its tail an’ pissed right in that bucket-a milk.
Jim said he never heard such caterwaulin’ as what
come outta that barn that day.
Hoo-whee! Said he didn’t know that woman could
cuss like she did.
She come stormin’ outta that barn, face redder’n- a
pickled beet an’ madder n’ a wet hen.
pointed a finger back at the barn, said that damn cow
done pissed right in a good bucket-a milk.
Jim tol me he laughed so hard he thought he’d pee
hisself right then an’ there.
Well, that only made Corrie May madder’n hell.
I tell you, that was one woman what could holt a grudge.
She stayed mad at Jim an’ that cow fer days,
wouldn’t have nothin’ to do with either one of ‘em.

Ol Jim, he died long before she did, God rest his soul.
Good thing, too, she wasn’t the easiest woman
to live with from what I heard tell.
An’ Corrie May never married again after that.
Figured two husbands was enough fer one woman’s
lifetime, I reckon.
She moved into town an’ did a lil housekeepin’ fer folks
an’ fer that no account priest over to the Holy Mary,
Mother of God Church.
She had a lil house all to herself. Liked her soaps on
the tv, did a lil quiltin’ now an’ then.
Charlie’d come over an’ mow her grass an’ help tend
her garden. Norma Jean’d help her with the grocery
shoppin’ ever Fridee,an’ the grandkids all gotta kick
stayin’ with her on the weekends.
She went on like that fer years until the fam’ly started
noticin’ she was fergettin’ things like turnin’ the
burner off’n the stove or lettin’ the bathtub water
run over onto the floor.
They’s ascairt she’d set the house on fire or drowned
herself in the tub or some such.
So, the boys an’ Norma Jean they packed her off
to the nursin’ home.
Twas the onliest thing they knew to do.
Two-a the boys lived clean outta state an’
neither one in too a good-a health theirselves.
Charlie’s wife had the cancer an’ Norma Jean
still had younguns at home an’ no room fer her
The nursin’ home was all that was left.
I reckon it’s a blessin’ she didn’t last very long
in there anyhow.
Corrie May woulda hated to know she was in a
nursin’ home.
Cain’t say as I blame her either.

Well, they’re tellin’ us it’s time to sit ourselves.
I see Corrie May’s kin is a’ready to close up
the casket.
God rest her soul, she lived a long life.
I ‘m gonna miss havin’ her ‘round to jaw with.