Song of the South (I Am and Am Not)

15078567_10155146149822971_8765461081427573026_n.jpgI am a song of the south, I am
I am Georgia.

You can call me G.R.I.T.
And I will not sneer, for grit is in my blood,
and on my plate.

I am made up of these parts:

Let’s start with the leaves,
always the leaves, the maple, the oak, the
cologne of the pine, the delicate pink-white of the dogwood,
the crunching the crackle the whisper of burning leaves
(my Papa burned leaves in a huge metal can
the smell will stay with me the rest of my life)

I am a song of the south, I am
I am Georgia.
I the peach, juicy and heavy with nectar,
I am roasted parched peanuts at the flea market some morning,
heady with dew, a light fall breeze
Vidalias sweeter than apples,
Co-cola in a glass bottle, crusted with ice
I am humidity
I am rock, honey, wood, bone.

(Let us not forget the buried dead, the mountains and the creeks that house their bones; they were here before)

I am a Song of the South.
I am Georgia.
The clay of our earth so orange, it permeates, it stains
It rusts, our history
You can never wash it off, it is you, it us all of us.

I am the mountains, the sea, the cobblestone street,
I am Sunday School with butter cookies and divinity,
and soft-haired ladies with softer voices.

but softness does not disguise the pain, the violence,
lest we not forget, that war was fought and lost and we were on the wrong side, the wrong wrong wrong side

152 years is not so terribly long, but is incredibly long
to still be lost

I am a Song of the South, I am.
I am Georgia.
Here is what I am not:

I am not your flag.
I am not bars, or stars, or X’s or O’s –
I am not afraid of where angels tread.

To admit privilege does not wound me,
it frees me.
I am not married to the past.
I do not value history over pain.
I am not your hoods, your crosses,
your monuments of losses.
I am not just one color, one creed, one twang.
I do not seek to raise the dead,
and bend them to my will.
I am not a torch.

I am not a gun.

I am a butterfly, orange against the dusk.
I am the mountain tree, bending to the sun.
I am the firefly, lighting against the dark.
I am the peach, giving way to sweet.

I am the song of the south, I am.

You want to know that song
(but bless your heart)
You have forgotten the words
and cannot sing.

14222305_10154952562487971_4693823446784938105_nCopyright 2017 Lillah Lawson

Poncy Poetry Thursday: Homage to a Tumor

Well, I’m all out of excuses. It’s been such a ridiculously, inexcusably long time since I updated my blog. But, alas, for the two of you that actually keep up with this thing, I did warn you.

I’ve been quite busy with my latest piece of writing, a novel that I’ll just call Monarchs for short. I wrapped up writing around February, then spent the entirety of March editing it into oblivion. I revised and re-wrote and finished the second draft a few weeks ago. Now it’s in the hands of test readers, and I’ve already started sending out a handful of pitches. The book takes place in the late 1920s/early 1930s, and focuses on two people: O.T. Lawrence, a poor cotton farmer whose sparse but idyllic family life is suddenly, tragically cut short; and Sivvy Hargrove, a touring tent revival singer who ends up in the Milledgeville Asylum with no hope of being released. That’s all I have to say about them right now. *winky face emoji*

A couple of people have asked when it’ll be “out”, and the short answer is I don’t know. This one is different. With Aroha, I decided to self-publish after a very small window of pitching (nine months or so) and Ka Kite was always intended to be self-published, as it’s a sequel to the former. Monarchs, however, I intend to pitch and try to publish the traditional route. I’ve had offers from a couple of vanity presses, but I’ve never understood those. Educate me if I’m ignorant on this, but it seems to me that if you’re going to sink your own money into the publishing of a novel, that’s essentially self-publishing. So you might as well do it yourself, and omit the costly middle man. But that’s just me.

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So yeah, “Monarchs” is floating through the wires of the interwebs, hoping to find its home with a literary agent who has a taste for a southern gothic/historical fiction hybrid. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

As for this post, I’d considered writing a think-piece of sorts about the state of things at the moment, my frustrations with the current political climate, and my thoughts on poverty and health. I have a lot to say on the subject, a lot of what I hope is wisdom and insight. I started and stopped a couple of times, but ultimately I abandoned the idea (and not just because Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was on and that’s my favorite book/movie of the series). Do we really need another think-piece? Probably not. We’re all distraught, we’re all stressed, we’re all thinking enough for the lot of us. What can I say that hasn’t been thought, felt, said already?

So let there be poetry.

I recently stumbled upon a treasure trove of old, angsty poetry from many years ago. This was one of the more recent of that lot, but it’s still a good eight years old. I always liked it, though please know that I never take myself too seriously when it comes to my prose. It’s as self-deprecating as I am.

As you might guess, it’s an ode to a shitty former lover. As you do.

 

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Fire/Wall

Hi, all.

The North Georgia sky is hazy and gray; it has been for a couple of days now. I’d be perfectly okay with this (it fits my mood this week), if it wasn’t for the fact that the mountains, my beloved North Georgia mountains, are burning. So are various mountains and ridges and forests and patches of land from Florida to Kentucky. The southeast is on fire. It seems like such an obvious symbolism that to call it a metaphor feels kind of trite, but there it is.

And Leonard Cohen has died. I’m no expert on his work, but I enjoyed him, and sought solace in the song “Hallelujah” and it’s poignant (and perfectly written) lyrics more than once. I know he was a revered musician and songwriter, but to me, he was an example of the quintessential tragic poet. Read one of his songs like a poem – the lines actually breathe. They have an energy and crackle all their own. That is real magic. He will be so very missed.

If April is the cruellest month, then 2016 is the cruellest year. Watch our best creative minds, thinkers and artists flee us, their mass exodus a warning call – this earth is not a good place anymore. That’s what it feels like, and who can blame us?

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There is still hope among the ashes, I think, but it can be hard to dig it out when the coals are hot and our eyes are burning.

This morning the fifteen year old girl who still resides behind my eyes somewhere decided to come out for a visit, and write down one of her angsty poems. I don’t claim to be the next Leonard Cohen, but I thought it was pretty indicative of the way I – and so many others – are feeling right now.

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Poncy Poetry Thursday: Zed

I promised some poetry this week, and I am happy to deliver!

Now, this piece is not new or even recent; I wrote it seven years ago. But it is relevant to where I am these days, as it is about New Zealand (which will be obvious to anyone who reads the first two lines, or who knows me at all). I count my time in that country as some of the best experiences of my life (and a few of the worst, maybe, but I chalk it all up to the good, because I learned and I GREW). I have been back in my home country for oh, almost twelve years now? And the ache for New Zealand is as strong as it ever was. I miss it like you’d miss a person – a lover who has left you, or a family member who has passed away. Sometimes the longing for my “second home” is so strong I feel it as an actual physical pain.

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East Cape, New Zealand – my favorite place on the planet.

I knew for practically a decade that I wanted to write Aroha. But I needed time, lots and lots of time, to formulate my thoughts and come to terms with who and what it would be about. It had to marinate, and I let my thoughts sit in their own juices for a very long time. During that period of reflection, I occasionally wrote other things, such as this poem. I don’t think it’ll win any awards any time soon, but it reflects my thoughts and feelings on an era of my life gone by, and definitely paved the way for the two books I would one day write.

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