From a Southern Writer

By AMY TUDOR

JAMES BAKER HALL MEMORIAL PRIZE IN POETRY WINNER

Judge: Steven R. Cope, 
poet and author of the collections
In Killdeer’s Field, Clover’s Log, and his latest, Selected Poems
“This poem pains me, conflicts me, draws something deep out of me. I want to say ‘No—don’t say it like that!’ But the poet has said it anyway, and very likely like no other poet would have or even could have done.”

 

There is a certain sort of South we like to recall,
and this is not it. Heavy thinking on the corner store
and the father on his tractor doing a fine day’s work,
the mother who loved her kids hard and wore her Bible
out. Not the black and tan dachshund in this photo
from Clearwater, stout and old and prone to snap,
how one summer he ate the oil-black berries that came
after too much rain and died on the stoop the same day.
Not how my father and uncle after night fishing threw
those nine small sharks alive on the grass, how the sounds
they were making woke me and sent me through the screen door
to the lawn where I watched their opal eyes catch the light
and listened to their singing, a symphony of pain that rose
with the air in their throats. Or how my uncle
then went to Vietnam and came home without himself,
how he lived on the streets from then on out, how he died
of infection after they found him on some stranger’s porch
with his boots grown onto his feet. No tobacco yellowing,
no fruit pies, no Spanish moss, sorry to say. Just a faded-line
parking lot around one complex or the next, places with names
like Tanglewood or Bubbling Creek or Windsor Gate,
school with the Catholics because that’s what people did
before they got rich, and a mother who could pour kerosene
and gas so that crosses her father made would burn
in colors like a rainbow of hate.

 

Amy Tudor’s first collection of poetry, A Book of Birds, won the Liam Rector First Book Prize for Poetry from Briery Creek Press and was published in 2008. She is also the author of three chapbooks, The Land of Intention (Devil’s Millhopper Press, 1996), The Professor of Bees (Finishing Line Press, 2011), and The Secret Museum (Finishing Line Press, 2014). She has also published short fiction, essays, songs, and photographs. Her honors and awards include an Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council, as well as individual artist grants from the Kentucky Foundation for Women and the Virginia Commission for the Arts. She holds both a doctorate in Interdisciplinary Humanities and a master of fine arts degree in creative writing, and she teaches at Bellarmine University in Louisville.


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