POEM: “Almost” by Marc Harshman

Braxton County WV sunset. | october2021 | Photo by WestVirgniaVille.com

"Almost" | by Marc Harshman

The sky is condensed to wind, to air,
             to a rush-roar on the ear
             as I climb
             out of the thick green
             of the Cherry River Valley
From the noise of the future
             I've traveled,
             up from Sam Black Church
             to Leivasy to Nettie to here,
             by luck and by motor,
             by foot and by grace
             I have come to here
             to hear, and see.

To see ... from kingdom come
             to forever now,
             from Black Mountain and Cranberry to Caesar Mountain.
And Caesar Augustus and all
             his warriors never saw the like of these:
             Red Lick and Viney, Cheat and Kennison.

Cloud-green and shadowed purple, the mountains drift
             across the summer afternoon,
             here and there fractured with bright, ruined castles
             of stone crags and caprocks,
             from sand shoals lapped by the Silurian oceans
             become sandstone and quartzite.

Chirrup and slow-sliding whistles, cough and scream, the birds
             are busy with gossip and discovery, with governance and lust
             blue-headed vireos, black-throated green warblers, redstarts,
             and the hawks' Olympic skating duet on the updrafts.

The others, the bobcat, bear, weasel and porcupine
             you'll not likely see unless
             you lose yourself
             in the blueberry fields, the huckleberry barrens.
Still, they'll find you more often than not.

The world will go on without me but for these few moments I am
             sitting on top of the world, a simple summer's day, away
             from the busy rush of roads, the scrolling of screens,
             almost off the map, almost heaven, almost where
             sky meets eternity, and eternity almost whispers
             its secrets in this teasing kiss of breeze.

Almost.                    Almost.                    Almost.


Marc Harshman’s “Woman in Red Anorak,” Blue Lynx Prize winner, was published in 2018 by Lynx House Press. His fourteenth children’s book, “Fallingwater. . . ,” co-author, Anna Smucker, was published by Roaring Brook/Macmillan. He is co-winner of the 2019 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award and his Thanksgiving poem, “Dispatch from the Mountain State,” was recently printed in The New York Times.  His poems have been anthologized by Kent State University, the University of Iowa, University of Georgia, and the University of Arizona.  Appointed in 2012, he is the seventh poet laureate of West Virginia. 


Q&A: “Where Sky Meets Eternity” documents an extraordinary artistic hand-off in the WV hills: nov.4.2021: The documentary “Where Sky Meets Eternity” profiles an ambitious, offbeat art project from deep in the West Virginia hills, as 12 artists bounced off each other’s work in often surprising, unexpected ways.

POETICS: The Art of Being West Virginia’s Poet Laureate: We sit down — digitally — with longtime West Virginia poet laureate Marc Harshman and quiz him about his “Dispatch From the Mountain State” in the NYTimes and the obligation of a poetry to be the sort of “political being” described by W.H. Auden.

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PARADIGM SHIFTING: Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s Life in the Trenches of Poetry: feb24.2021: Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s storied life came to a close this Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, at the remarkable age of 101. I was blessed to interview him in 1995. What this “ageless radical and true bard” had to say — not to mention his poetry — remains timely and pertinent.

POEM: “Haymaking”: feb20.2021: ‘We cut, rake, and bale / till the sun goes down and the dew settles on the fields, / then start again next morning once the dew burns off …’

POEM | “Nous Celeron” by Douglas John Imbrogno: aug14.2020: ‘Don’t you, Nous Céleron, wish to lay down your arms? Enter the Ohio’s cool darkness, or the Chinodahichetha! Sounding out each syllable as a Wyandotte might utter them …

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