Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Colloquy in Black and White: Poems by Nancy Dillingham

I am honored to present Nancy Dillingham and her poetry.

Nancy has a new book of poetry out from Catawba Publishers, titled Colloquy in Black and White: Poems by Nancy Dillingham, and she is gracious enough to allow us to reprint a couple of them here.

I love Nancy's work. She's from my part of the world, and I think she allows us to view it with poignant, heartbreaking clarity.

Writer and educator Nancy Dillingham is a sixth-generation Dillingham from Big Ivy in western North Carolina. Her poems, short stories, and commentary have appeared in various literary journals and newspapers such as The Arts Journal, Bay Leaves, Asheville Poetry Review, A Carolina Literary Companion, Half Tones to Jubilee, The Lyricist, Victoria Press, Raleigh News & Observer, Asheville Citizen-Times, Mountain Xpress, Western North Carolina Woman, Weaverville Tribune, and Big Ivy News. She is the author of five books of short stories and poems: New Ground (1998); The Ambiguity of Morning (2001); First Light: Poems (2003); Thanks for the Dark but That’s Not Home: Poems and Stories (2006); and, her latest, Colloquy in Black and White: Poems. She is co-editor, along with Celia Miles of two anthologies: Christmas Presence from 45 western North Carolina women writers and Clothes Lines from 75 western North Carolina women writers. She also co-edited, with Irene Dillingham Richards and Ken Richards, The Family Named Dillingham: 375 Years in America--1630-2005. She lives in Asheville.

Clearing the Clutter

I am clearing the clutter
a real dust up
that both elevates and deflates:

just when was I size 8
and am I still in love
with graffiti, mufti, and ink?

For the life of me
I don't know why
I feel so luckless

as I come and go in my intent
measuring out my life
in cardboard boxes and lint

Am I not glad to be free
raising windows, throwing caution
and curtains to the wind?

Maybe I'll settle then
erase traces
of all paltry rebellions

adjust to my robe and scuffs
and just one comfy chair
jettisoning my load

like the lone lush peony
in the glass bowl
on the table in the hall

soft pink petals

Elvis Redux

is Elvis growing up in Tupelo
in a close-knit family with little money
attending the Assembly of God Church

music and preaching registering deeply
moving to Memphis with his parents
living in public housing and low-rent homes

roaming Beale Street for clothes
absorbing black blues and gospel
wearing his hair long

letting his sideburns grow
roaming the halls of Humes High
dreaming of singing with the Blackwood Brothers

working after graduation at Parker Machinist Shop
Precision Tool then Crown Electric Company
driving a truck and going to night school

dropping by Sun Studio
making a demo for his mother
then later cutting “Big Boy” Cruddup’s

“That’s All Right, Mama”
backed by “Blue Moon of Kentucky”
rebuffed by the Grand Ole Opry

officials suggesting he go
back to driving a truck which he does
but not before appearing on

“Louisiana Hayride,” the Opry’s rival
meeting Colonel Tom Parker, ex-carney
refusing his contract

walking into the induction center
speaking courteously
“Sorry, Sir, I’d like to serve

but my mama’s got this heart condition
and my daddy needs me”
holing up in his cab on a layover

reading the Bible
listening to pop tunes
and country music radio

seeing Ann-Margret, Swedish sex kitten
on a billboard
on a long haul to LA

lusting for a moment, then coming home
to his doe-eyed wife Pris
and daughter Lisa Marie who favors him

all full lips and limpid eyes
sometimes sermonizing
in a white frame church

on Sunday morning
singing with the quartet
letting the sweet, sweet Spirit lift him up

sitting on the front porch swing
of his doublewide
strumming his guitar

in the honeyed twilight
of grace land
hair white like Vernon’s

an ironic smile playing on his face
wondering only once in a while
what might have been

an angel hovering


Vicki Lane said...

Love the Elvis poem!! It's always fun to consider the what-if's. . .

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

I love it too, Vicki!

How's your back?!