Feed the Dream: The Palmetto Poets' Place
Meta Marie Griffin


We spiderlings are orphaned
after the first thaw
our patterns were programmed
before our legs were formed
we stall and disperse
and balloon by thousands
we create carpets of silk
covering shrugs and fields
we climb through foliage then drop
over and under limbs our bodies drift
down on the thread arm
that catches the breeze
we crawl on blades of grass
and find direction in a future gust
we scuttle across terrestrial plains
and temperate grasslands
we sun loving silent creatures
investigate open fields
meadows and temperate grasslands
we watch from flowers and trees
in towns divided by highway and river
we create what is delicate
and stronger than steel
we weave empty spaces into design
and collect light from stars
we move in and out of another moment
we ascend and descend
till we disappear then we
shade the spent center
as we're alive and here
we silent creatures spin
another unseen miracle
that sustains us in our place in time.

Clairvoyance : Carolina River

The thucks and bubbles take you
swirling in the river's spiral
your voice becomes wet branches against the sky
calling out to what is not immediately seen.

It shoulders into any indentation
past conquered territories and boundaries.
Then bulks into waves that hit the spindrift
sand at the inducement of concurrent zephyr.

Calligraphic images are formed
and washed away.

Birds and squirrels chatter from angles.
Turtles sit on a log and dive.
A chipmunk stumbles into the water.
Blood root springs up from
crevasses of lichen-covered rocks.
A water snake zig- zags in russets.
Leaves deepen their pleats.

An ancient mood is altered
by shards of light through branches.

Visions assay a body's
future of regret and destination.

The relic ebullient current
is alive with the spirits
of Indian hunters spearing shoals;
the splashes of children ;
the cackles of ancestors;
and the voices of the unborn.

And you will answer in time.

The Picture you wanted to paint: Sullivans Island

Months before you heard a door slam
the last time in that thin yellow
hospital room, you described the picture
you were going to paint for me.

Now images weave themselves together
in grainy water colors.
Memory circles above
me in the shape of gulls.
I see a couple watch
the ocean retreat and hurls itself
at the sand creating
a sound of mourning
for sailors lost at sea
and Osecola's cries
from his prison cell.

Flames from centuries underground
rise against their skin.
They follow a circle of white sand,
a figure eight of eternity
that weaves over them.

You are somewhere in the blue
dim tapestry of night
adding color to this work in progress.

Light and shadow call
across long reaches of desire.

Your Mama

Your mama woke up
at first light and cooked
biscuits, bacon and gravy
before she trooped
off to the telephone
company where she listened
to everyone's conversations
Your mama knew all about
the preacher's love affairs
and all your cousin's boyfriends.
Your mama wore underwear made
out of potato sacks and created
toys out of corn stalks.

Your mama played all
kinds of songs on the piano
even though she never had a lesson.
She told Grandpaw
he sat around all day
like a big ole turnip
turning up nothing but trouble.

Your Mama beat up your Daddy's
girlfriend and pushed her into the ditch.
Your Mama woke you up
with a switch and said you
shouldn't be messing around with
such trash while your best friend
was in the bathroom listening.

Now your mama forgets what you
said a few minutes ago.
She can't remember to take her pills.
or keep up with the bills.

But even though she doesn't understand
the nightly news, she still gets
the punch line. The gleam
still returns to her eyes.
returns to her blue eyes
during those moments
when she returns to a place
beyond memory.

Approaching Afterlife

Often the decline begins
after the most climatic moment
as spring suicides
straight into fall.

For years you have walked
over your husband's bones
waiting for something to grow again.
Though magnolia's still
explode along the fence
no one works the garden
at your old house anymore.

The crab apple where
the children played old black spider,
now pierces a bruised sky-
a reminder of how thorns
tangled in honeysuckles
will define a living pain
when pierced into skin.

Now the lawn is bare of children
from dawn to twighlight.
Your children have left you
at the nursing home. You
refuse to take the pink pills.
You gaze out the window
at the constellations
and believe even they have
lost faith in each other.

One day after you have
searched long enough
on those pink purplish evenings,
you will return
to the pond where you kissed
underneath smirking stars.


Peeping Dean

We met when I was ten,
and saw your ashen face
against the screen. For years you parked
a white pick up at Croft State Park
and walked many miles all night
to watch women in thin gowns
and scared girls tiptoeing out of their beds
to turn on the light. Dogs barked.
But you were as quiet as a curtain falling.
Some folks speculated
you lived from window to window
because your parents were blind.

Stories about your magic tricks
and ladder changed with the seasons.
When the wind shook the pine trees,
the branches became your arms
and the moon became your head
emerging from behind the azalea bushes.
Mother almost shot sister's hamster,
when he escaped and thinking he was you.

I must confess, I still envy
your knowledge of secrets:
lost legacies, lover's betrayal,
and the many saints and miscreants
handcuffed to the night.

On summer nights friends dared
each other to climb out of our windows.
We stayed out all night and spied on you.

Even years after your conviction
and recognition among SC sex offenders
we still fussed with the curtains
and cautiously glanced outside
to see if your shadow still follows you
down the moonlit driveway.
Did we still fear your eyes
inhaling the details of warmth
you could never have: good night kisses,
creme kitchen tiles, and rooms full of pictures.
Maybe we took discomfort in the idea
that anyone of us could be standing on the other side
of the window wanting to see, feel and breathe
through young bodies sound asleep so
full of sweet, fragile dreams.


Your Mama

Your mama woke up
at first light and cooked
biscuits, bacon and gravy
before she trooped off to the telephone
company where she
listened in on conversations
and enjoyed gossip during lunch break.

Your mama said when she was
younger she wore underwear made
out of potato sacks and created
you toys out of corn stalks.
And though times were often hard,
things never got too bad
because everybody knew the neighbors
and everyone helped out.

Your mama sewed quilts at night.
She fixed fatback lots of fatback
and beans and whatever she could find.

Sometimes she swore
at Grandpa and said
he sat around all day
like a big floppy turnip
turning up trouble all the time.

But even when her voice
was hoarse she found reasons to laugh.

Now your mama forgets what you
said a few minutes ago and
can't remember to take her pills.
But even though she doesn't understand
the nightly news, she still gets
the punch line from time to time.
And every once in a while
the familiar mischievous gleam
returns to her eyes. And
during those moments,
a narrative is woven together
somewhere in the deep silence beyond memory.


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