Once in awhile, I get lucky: After losing ALL of my unpublished work in The Great Expansion Drive Crash of 2013, I thought I'd go and at least copy my published work off the internet, to help get my bearings and start rebuilding my portfolio. Unfortunately, a couple of the literary journal websites had closed, leaving no archives behind, and that published work was lost forever. I understand, though--I know that editing a literary journal is tough and often thankless work, and being an editor is not something I could ever do. Sites close down all the time. I've seen journals pop up and then disappear within a month, even. It's not a business for the faint of heart, for sure. Anyway, the editor of one of the longer-standing journals, the respected Hobble Creek Review, made the decision to close its doors recently, as well. HCR held the only copy of my poem, "Chinese Pastoral", but I didn't get to it in time before the site went dark. My expansion drive crash had wiped out all my written work--now, the site with the only copy of the poem was closed, as well (ouch!). But, it's not the editor's job to make sure writers have copies, or to keep archives active, or even to notify writers a site is closing, so I just resigned myself to the fact that the poem was gone. That's why I was so surprised when HCR editor Justin Evans was able to retrieve it, and I'm so grateful to him for going out of his way to get it to me. A spot of good luck! Who'd have thought, after all that? I'm posting the poem here, which originally appeared in the July, 2012 issue of HCR. I'd also like to thank Justin and wish him the best in his future endeavors--I'll certainly miss HCR.
Long-haired Zhuang women are
singing, clapping, stomping feet to the
drumbeat in the wooden village house,
bells of their silver headdresses,
Stopping, they raise hands in
unison, driving it up, past the
corn-draped rafters, up, into the hoary skies, their
spells cast far, to the fickle ears of
Their men don't interfere, but
watch and smoke, as brown as the rice
terraces ribboning the hills, weathered, as the dormant fields of dragonfruit.
The drum sounds again; again the
women pound the boards, their
wool-wrapped legs jumping, voices ringing over all
of Guangxi, as they conjure the planting
season into being. ii. Jiangsu
tea fields sparkle in neat rows. Women in
straw hats bend in a ballet, spry as the
bushes they scratch around, the happy animals of
their bodies, moving in sunshine.
up bamboo stakes, the pinch of manure
and soil baking in the nostrils, play of
tomatoes, herbs, and birdsong, names of
every plant on the tongue.
rumble by, and whistling men with
shovels, who stop to urinate in the
woods. Often, a violent burst of
afternoon clouds, rain tamping dust.
They laugh during tea breaks. They work long and hard. They work long and hard. Their young have left for the cities, forgetting the songs, the land, but sending money.
leaving for the upper pastures, the women
are tossing flour to the wind, toasting
skies with strong barley beer, chanting prayers,
singing for the crops.
readying the mills, fixing carts, slapping
backs, and singing their own kinds of
songs. The mules stamp and snort,
game for their bundles.
and wives bicker, shoot glances and
mutter curses, their hands raw with
work, a cruel sun pushing them to move fast.
All day, the loads roll in. Tomorrow,
the next day, and the next; these
shining meadows of sunrise, awaiting
the songs, the caress of hands in the
soil, with all the loyalty of a lover.
Awesome sauce--Mobli, a social photo and video sharing website, featured my photostream on their blog today, as part of their #WhoIFollow series. Each week, they choose a different user, then feature ten photos from the account.
I really like using Mobli, way more so than Instagram. Users are quite active on Mobli, so it's nice to get some activity on all these travel photos I shoot. Anyway, thanks, Mobli! You can check out the feature at the link below, and follow the links there to get to my full photostream, if you're interested: