Elegies for Small Game by Shelby Stephenson
"In these poems Shelby Stephenson continues his celebration of place, family, and memory. But here there is a new eloquence and authority of rhyme and ballad form, with laments for those who have gone on, and odes to hunting dogs, songs for game like possums and rabbits, a gallery of portraits of people and loved pets, and even imaginary pets of childhood. In poem after poem Stephenson catches the exuberance of childhood, the romance of hot-rods, the delight of barnyard basketball, and the poignant poetry of birdlife in the countryside. In dialogue and hymn, this singer and laureate meditates on issues of race, history, and the bonds of abiding love."
—Robert Morgan, North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee and author of Dark Energy
Beaver Damn Swamp
I will get up and walk out to the plankhouse,
And take in the health and sickness of the past
And turn my craft to verse for the mouse
Scrambling toward the crack in the window-sash.
Peace shall come and sit down for a long spell
On the porch where my father’s hunter-stool sits,
Empty, his gun in the modern house, well
In the corner-closet, silent in the clock-ticks.
I will stand on the high plank-porch and see as far as I can
Into sacrifices my ancestors made for the road,
Their low way through and round, the traces, the land—
Oh the faces on the wall—voices—my tongue’s load.
Shelby Stephenson has published many collections of poems, plus the poetic documentary Plankhouse (with photos by Roger Manley). Shelby is former editor of Pembroke Magazine. His Family Matters: Homage to July, the Slave Girl won the 2008 Bellday Poetry Prize, judged by Allen Grossman. He is the current North Carolina Poet Laureate, and a 2014 inductee of the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame. Shelby's website is www.shelbystephenson.com.