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Bounty Everlasting: Poetry from 25 years of Southern Cultures

A collection of poems from the archives that brings news of the personal, the political, the painful, and the joyful

“Bounty Everlasting” seems a perfect way to describe poetry from twenty-five years of Southern Cultures. From its earliest days, the journal has featured poets whose ability to encapsulate and transform human experience is both quintessentially southern and a testament to their ability to make the most wide-ranging subjects feel deeply familiar and local to the reader. We feature four poems every year, so the accumulation of poems feels more like a conversation than a clamor of voices. And yet, the range of poetics and experiences speaks to the journal’s deep understanding that poetry, like the South itself, is constantly evolving and opening outward even as it looks back to the hardest and most painful stories and utterances. This collection, also available in print, was edited by Gabrielle Calvocoressi and Marina Greenfeld and features illustrations by Amy S. Hoppe.

beep Poetry

Ethel’s Sestina

by Patricia Smith
Ethel Freeman’s body sat for days in her wheelchair outside the New Orleans Convention Center. Her son Herbert, who had assured his mother that help was on the way, was forced to leave her there once she died. Gon’ be obedient in this here chair,gon’ bide my time, fanning against this sun.I ask my boy, »
beep Poetry

Semantic Relations

by Adrian Blevins
Though naturally I love them they are a monstrosity, acute and unruly,already pig-headed on the way from the airport to come and infect me with what kind of mayonnaise is better than Hellmann’s and which of usgot the new bike versus who crashed the old and who’s drinking too much versus who ought to get »
beep Poetry

Elegy for the Native Guards

by Natasha Trethewey
                              Now that the salt of their blood Stiffens the saltier oblivion of the sea . . . —Allen Tate We leave Gulfport at noon; gulls overheadtrailing the boat—streamers, noisy fanfare—all the way to Ship Island. What we seefirst is the fort, its roof of grass, a lee—half reminder of the men who served there—a weathered »
beep Poetry

Autumn’s Sidereal, November’s a Ball and Chain

by Charles Wright
Autumn’s Sidereal, November’s a Ball and Chain After the leaves have fallen, the sky turns blue again,Blue as a new translation of Longinus on the sublime.We wink and work back from its edges.                                                               We walk aroundUnder its sequence of metaphors,Looking immaculately up for the overlooked.Or looking not so immaculately down for the same thing.If there’s nothing »
beep Poetry


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. So. In the beginning. And »
beep Poetry

“My Aunt Smokes Another Lucky”

by Michael McFee
She slips it out of its leatherette case,an immaculate cartridgeshe clenches between the red bow of her lipswhile flicking her butane lighter,sucking deeply until the tipstarts to crackle and glow like a fuse. She snaps the lighter shut and blows smokethrough pursed lips over her shoulder,lifting the Lucky between two rednail fingerslike somebody about to »
beep Poetry

Is for, to Hold

by Bob Hicok
I didn’t tell the water it was a pitchfork.I believe the water believed it was a tridenton account of the family resemblance.The road had disappeared, the field,the sundial was about to go under, meaning shadowswould have been unable to stay on schedule.When I touched the water with the pitchfork,it stopped rising, and for a week, »
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Praying with George Herbert in Late Winter

by Tom Andrews
                              1In fits and starts, Lord,   our words workthe other side of language where you lie if you can be said   to lie. Mercy uponthe priest who calls on you to nurture and to terrorize   him, for you oblige.Mercy upon you, breath’s engine returning what is to what is.   Outside, light swarmsand particularizes the snow; tree limbs crack with ice   and »
beep Poetry

Crowd Crush

by Emilia Phillips
I need to start being honestwith my constituents—the mirror and hemlock, the just barely partedblinds and, behind them, my naked body in its easy laborsof making coffee and sighing heavily.I dare someone to accidentally glimpse my nudepantomime of minding my own business. Sometimes I’ve got to be angry to be inthe mood for being angry. »
beep Poetry

Threads, End of Another Day

by Michael Chitwood
Threads would cling to them,pants, purses, yokes of dresses,as they walked or trotted across the parking lot, releasedby the four o’clock bell. In the building at my backI could feel the throb of second shiftworking the fine strandsthat, which was it?, held them upor held them back from better lives. Country tunes trailed them out »
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first meeting

by Délana R. A. Dameron
Some women suffer themselves foolstrying to hold a man who floats between them like driftwood;whose happy tongue slicks his catfish back; who constrictshis lover’s bones as if a black rat snakewhile holding out magnolia blossom & eucalyptus branch offerings—except for Annie who is strong as a water oak; evergreen as pine. Bounty Everlasting: Poetry from »
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Goldsboro narrative #11

by Forrest Hamer
I sorely do love her, I thought said.Actually, he said he loved her surely,but Southerners mix words up sometimesand I have often taken them at face value. So as this Southern man was talking aboutthe Southern woman he would marry, it seemed to me grownups tangled their feelingsunnecessarily, and especially love. And,since we were in »
beep Music


by Al Maginnes
Because I know her name fromrock and roll biographiesand the legendary deathof her first husband, becauseI grew up hearing her voiceon my father’s folk records,because I love the mythsthat accompany musicalmost as much as I lovemusic, I should have goneto see her when she was bookedintro the coffeehouse runby a church whose articlesof faith have »
beep Poetry

American Honey

by Joy Priest
It’s easier than you thought—leaving.Only one night spent sleeping on your ownin a motel parking lot beneath the starsof a summer Muskogee. Your long-built dreaddispersing like gas into a brilliantly blackOzark sky. For once, you are a girl unmolested. You could do this: be a girlwithout a home. Always gone. Perpetually leavingbehind Strip Mall, U.S.A »
beep Music

The Rime of Nina Simone

by Tiana Clark
Argument How a Slave Ship was driven by capitalism and racism inside the triangle of the transatlantic slave trade; and of the strange things that befell; and in what manner Nina Simone came back from the dead to her own Country to stop a graduate student on the way to workshop. * * * I »
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A List of Waters

by Tyree Daye
1The scar that flows from my aunt’s thighto the boulder of her swollen ankle is a mapof the Haw River,each toe a Blue Heron. 2My mama’s water               is all water, I’m every river rockinside her being smoothed over. 3The palms of my uncle’s handsare the Deep River when he is holding a gutted trout.Always somethingis bleeding. »
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