Tennessee

In 1999, Tennessee established a state poet laureate position, which is currently held by Margaret Britton Vaughn. Vaughn is the author of several poetry collections, including Acres That Grow Stones (Iris Press, 1996).

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A January Dandelion

All Nashville is a chill. And everywhere
Like desert sand, when the winds blow,
There is each moment sifted through the air,
A powdered blast of January snow.
O! thoughtless Dandelion, to be misled
By a few warm days to leave thy natural bed,
Was folly growth and blooming over soon.
And yet, thou blasted yellow-coated gem,
Full many a heart has but a common boon
With thee, now freezing on thy slender stem.
When the heart has bloomed by the touch of love’s warm breath
Then left and chilling snow is sifted in,
It still may beat but there is blast and death
To all that blooming life that might have been.

Anecdote of the Jar

I placed a jar in Tennessee,
And round it was, upon a hill.
It made the slovenly wilderness
Surround that hill.

The wilderness rose up to it,
And sprawled around, no longer wild.
The jar was round upon the ground
And tall and of a port in air.

It took dominion everywhere.
The jar was gray and bare.
It did not give of bird or bush,
Like nothing else in Tennessee.

In Tennessee I Found a Firefly

Flashing in the grass; the mouth of a spider clung
     to the dark of it: the legs of the spider
held the tucked wings close,
     held the abdomen still in the midst of calling
with thrusts of phosphorescent light--

When I am tired of being human, I try to remember
     the two stuck together like burrs. I try to place them
central in my mind where everything else must
     surround them, must see the burr and the barb of them.
There is courtship, and there is hunger. I suppose
     there are grips from which even angels cannot fly.
Even imagined ones. Luciferin, luciferase.
     When I am tired of only touching,
I have my mouth to try to tell you
     what, in your arms, is not erased.