Skip to content
Vol. 22, No. 3: 21c Fiction Issue


by Atsuro Riley

It starts with the lamp that lamped our night our dirt.

Cause of this (wear-balded) red-mud ring going glow.

The old ever-voice (with the tear through it) intonation, riveting.

Souls and appetites (from holler, brink, and gully) lured and drawn.

The story-man encircling us binding us by lard-torch and ditty.


In the beginning.

And it came to pass.

Wait’ll I tell you.

Tale-flicker from his crackling throat; blackening (kerosened) cattail held high:

Some say what she’d gripped right then wadn’t vine but bull snake.

Hadn’t they clung tooth and claw to branch and bark.

When the creekbend child got beat got hided fresh his mama broke her switch.

Damned if dog-daisies beanstalks didn’t fank up in the spokes.

Our pulse.

Our (crescendo-tembrous) amphi-glade of bug-chirk, burgeon.

Well was it green as this ever.

Bright breath of the lamp that lamps our night.

(Our dirt).

Bounty Everlasting: Poetry from 25 Years of Southern Cultures

This poem is featured in Bounty Everlasting. Read all 25 for free.

Atsuro Riley is the author of Romey’s Order, winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, the Whiting Award, the Believer Poetry Award, and the Witter Bynner Award from the Library of Congress. He lives in San Francisco.

Subscribe today!

One South, a world of stories. Delivered in four print issues a year.