About Me

My photo
Nancy Simpson's LIVING ABOVE THE FROST LINE, New and Selected Poems was published by Carolina Wren Press (N.C. Laureate Series, 2010.) She is the author of ACROSS WATER and NIGHT STUDENT, State Street Press, still available on WWW at Alibris and Books Again. Her poems have been published in Southern Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, The Georgia Review and other literary magazines. "Carolina Bluebirds" was published in THE POETS GUIDE TO THE BIRDS, Anhinga Press). "Grass" was reprinted in the 50th Anniversary Issue of Southern Poetry Review: DON'T LEAVE HUNGRY ( U.of Arkansas Press.) Seven poems were reprinted in the textbook, SOUTHERN APPALACHIAN POETRY,(McFarland.) Two poems were published in SOLO CAFE, Two more poems were published in SOLO NOVO."In the Nantahala Gorge" was published in Pisgah Review. "Studying Winter" was reprinted in Pirene's Fountain Anthology and "The Collection" in Collecting Life Anthology. Most recently, Southern Poetry Review Edited by James Smith, published "Our Great Depression," and The Southern Poetry Anthology Vol. VII: NORTH CAROLINA,Edited by William Wright, reprinted "Leaving in the Dead of Winter."

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


FIREFLIES by Mary Ricketson

Twinkling lights in early evening
call my name out loud. I walk
the lane to settle myself
for a long hard day of work.

A million tiny glimmers of joy
draw me farther down the gravel
road and around the curve,
past horses and houses
and gnarled locust fences.

Sparkles of the ancient insect
slip me back to a faerie ring
where magic and sacred
have been one word.

When I was four a wise old woman
took me to a child place called Fairyland
where billions of tiny lights sparkled on trees.
Magic began there for me.

A little older, I reached out,
caught a glowing lightning bug,
drawn by the spirit of its glimmer.
A hundred more quickly passed me by.

Now I am content to gaze
ito the flickinging mystery,
seeped in the ancient light potion,
softly blessed by the earth.


Dusk drops in too early.
Ater work planting puts me
in a pleasant rush.
Broccoli, collards, spincah, lettuce,
sugar snap peas
love cool, rich, dark earth
in the promise light
of still short days.

Dusk drops in too early.
Flood lights and halagen
shine on my last two rows
of persistence and patience.

Finally at nine I lay down
my shovel and my hoe.
I walk to the house
I glance back.

Good night


Sun shines on purple
phlox and chigger weed.
Ticks hide in tall bush.
Dogs collect 'em only
to occupy my idle after supper
porch-settin' time.

Rhododendron hells
and dog hobble claimed
some ancient bear dog.
He didn't make it home
one blue skied autumn hunt.
Indians, time out of mind,
called this place Hanging Dog Creek.

Water rushes
over big grey rocks
disturbs fallen sticks,
collects used up roots and time,
creates cover for young trout.
Sounds carry my mid down creek.

Full moon finally peeks
over Flea Mountain.
My thoughts hang btween
sounds of bullfrog calls
as I drift off to sleep.

Three poems by Mary Ricketson

At Amazon.com and Finishing Line Press. (2007)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Two More Poems by Ruth Moose -- Poet of the Month of March 2010


Your dog is digging a tunnel
And I can't stop her. She digs
At night, meets me each morning
With grit on her muzzle,
Sand shinning in her paws.

Where is she going?
Is she digging to China?
The West Indes?

She's not digging a hole. It's
Down and out under tree roots
Toward the fence.

She's aiming toward freedom
And I can't stop her.

Where will she go
When she gets there?
What will she do?
Who will she see?

Under the fence and out?
She could dig down forever
And never find you...floating
Spirit, laughing soul.

O, whistle her back.
Whistle her back.


My mother never talked about that winter
She had a husband in the VA hospital
Not knowing how or if or when
He'd recover, three children sick
With the big red measles and twelve
Inches of snow on the ground
For a week. She mentioned
it once, that's all I remember
And the sound of her sewing
Machine late at night.
What did she sew? Her sanity?
Her soul? I only know I woke
Suddenly, had gone from hot to cool,
My fever broken, my pillow wet.
I felt her hand on my forehead,
Her touch, her voice as I left
That darkness and came into light.

I imagine it will be as she said then,
"Oh, here you are."

by Ruth Moose

Poems from The Librarian and Other Poems

Main Street Rag
POBox 690100
Charlotte, NC 28227


Ruth Moose has been a member of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill faculty since 1996 where she teaches Creative Writing. She has published 2 collections of short stories: The Wreath Ribbon Quilt ( St. Andrews Press) and Dreaming in Color ( August House.) Four books of her poetry were published. Individual poems and stories appeared in Atlantic, Redbook, Alaska Quarterly Review, North American Review and other places. Her work has been included in several anthologies, including Stories about Teachers and Teaching.

Her poems have appeared in The Nation, Prairie Schooner, Yankee, Christian Science Monitor and other places. Her stories have been published in England, Holland,South Africa, and Denmark.

Most recently Ruth Moose was awarded a Chapman Fellowship to compile a work on North Carolina writers.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fascinated By the Worm Moon - See Moon Tonight

If you take a look at The Worm Moon tonight, on March 24, 2010, this is most likely what you will see. (photo courtesy of U.S. Naval Observatory) With diligence, you will see The Full Worm Moon on March 29, 2010.
Full Worm Moon caught in the branches, northside of Cherry Mountain, taken on March 27, 2010, by photograher Lynn Hamilton Rutherford.

This moon has a number of names, but "Worm Moon" fascinates us most. It is said that in March the ground begins to thaw and warm. Earthworm casts are seen. Robbins return in number.

In the coldest climates, native tribes called the March full moon "Full Crust Moon" because for them that described the land, thawing in the daytime, refreezing at night.

"Full Sap Moon" was a name used during Colonial America because the March full moon was the time for collecting maple sap.

"Full Crow Moon" was a name used because it was a time when the crows were first heard cawing at the end of winter.

"Lenten Moon" has been used to name this moon also because it is the last moon of winter.

The name that held strong is Full Worm Moon. Once our vision gets past images of worms to full fields of robins, it remains the favored name of the March moon.

If you live near Wasatch Mountain State Park in Utah, you might want to join the full moon hike that is planned for March 27th, 2010.

Or step outside your house one night between now and full moon - March 29th.

One warning about this moon, it will wake you in the night with its brightness, or maybe as with the faint ticking of a clock, you will wake to hear the smallest sound of earthworms turning.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Featuring Poet Mary Ricketson in March, Her Birth Month

Mary Ricketson Then and Now

Welcome to LIVING ABOVE THE FROST LINE to Ms. Mary Ricketson, of Hanging Dog, North Carolina, whose poems will be featured in March 2010, in this her birth month. (Yes, also featured this month is the poetry of N C Poet Ruth Moose. Stay posted.)

One evening I answered my phone and heard the voice of a woman asking about my creative writing class at Tri County Community College. It was Mary Ricketson. She said she had been writing and hoped she might be ready to take my class. I said, "Yes, yes." Mary took the class and I saw that she was already an accomplished writer and poet. A while later some of my students asked if I would teach a workshop on how to get a poetry book published. That was one of the highlights of my teaching career. There were six women in that class that lasted for eight weeks. It was hard work, but the program was designed to guide them in getting their poetry collection published, not self published, but to actually find a publisher who would believe in their poems and finance the publication of their book.

Mary Ricketson and the others where asked to choose a partner to work with for the eight weeks. That meant three people would proof read the proposed manuscript: the author, their partner, and myself the instructor. The poets were also asked to read their entire chapbook while it was recorded on tape. Each got comments from the group and each took their tape home with them. It worked very well for Mary Ricketson and her partner who was Glenda Barrett of Hiawassee, Georgia. A few months latere, both woman called me on the same day, both saying the same thing: "My poetry chapbook has been accepted for publication."

My body knew
before my mind
made thoughts,
before my voice
found words.

Make peace with loss.
make friends with change.

A candle flickers.
Blue light drowns
in its own flame.
Secret shards
of hope surrender.

Let me live
where crystal clear creeks
slither over small rugged rocks,
slide through the smooth,
and rain and tears are welcome
as sunlight and laughter.

Where birth and death
run the same river bed,
I run my life.

by Mary Ricketson
from I Heard the River Call My Name

Do you want to read more? If your comment
is "Yes", there will be more poems by
Mary Ricketson posted here druing the month
of March

Do you want to buy this book? I hope so.

Finishing Line Press
PO Box 1626
Georgetown, Kentucky 40324

or order on line

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Hello Felow Poets and Friends of Poetry,

Living Above the Frost Line is a site that promotes poetry, especially poems written by Southern and Appalachian poets. Some poets featured in the past (found in the archive still) are Kathryn Stripling Byer, Bettie M. Sellers, John Stone, Janice Townley Moore, Glenda Barrett, Glenda Beall, and many others.

Ruth Moose of Chappel Hill, NC is the featured poet for the month of March, 2010.

Brenda Kay Ledford will be the featured poet in her birth month--April, 2010.

The featured poet is chosen by Nancy Simpson. Most of the poets featured are members of N C Writers Network West, have a book or books published and currently have a book for sale. They may be featured at any time, but birth month is preferred. It is not too soon or too late to have a few of your poems featured with a photo and a short bio. Short stories and memoir chapters are also sometimes reprinted, such as in the recently featured work of Dana Wildsmith.

To have your poetry featured and your book announced, please contact poet Nancy Simpson at
LIVING ABOVE THE FROST LINE. www.nancysimpson.blogspot.com or through e mail
communicaton at nancy.simpson38@yahoo.com.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


I'm captured by Ruth Moose's new book of poetry titled THE LIBRARIAN and Other Poems. Yes, I enjoyed "The Librarian" and found a lot of pleasure in reading those mostly humorous poems. We all need a laugh sometimes. But it turns out to be "the other poems" that keep me turning to the back of the book again and again.

The book is divided into two parts, which is not unusual. The first part provides
a character, a librarian with a fascinating life, a fictional character, a whole collection of persona poems I suspect, although 100% believable. The librarian is ever hoping that HWLWG will return. We learn on the dedication page that HWLWG is HE WHO LEFT WITHOUT GOODBYE, all caps. This is the book's dedication, whether you are reading part one or part two, and "the other poems" are located in part two, in a section titled --Sleepwalking. The two poems below are from that section --Sleepwalking.


No easy chairs here
Only hard seats for hard nights.
In the dim lights people
Sleep shrouded shin to chin
In white blankets.

Near the ceiling
A TV comic plays. His audience
Gufffaws and applauds. Here
No one laughs. This is life
In the slow lane:
No comfort
No ease
No jokes
No cheer.

Next door
Real life is one little line.
In the great heartbeat
Of the heartbreak hotel
Gossamer souls hang
Fragile as light.

by Ruth Moose

"The first year after his death, I was just sleepwalking." E.B.

Dream # 1

You are not gone yet, but I wake to
movers, big, husking mover guys in uniforms,
tugging, hauling our furniture out. They
wrestle our sofa, your desk, floor lamps, chairs,
the glass coffee table. "Stop," I leap from bed,
crying, "Stop." Then as quickly I wake
in the living room, the men are gone. No one
is there. Our furniture is safe, still in the same
place. I calm myself with warm milk, say
it was only a dream. I don't tell you.

Dream #2

One month after your death I wake to voices
in the driveway, someone softly
opening, closing, car doors. After several tries,
they start the car, roll it quietly to the street,
disappear down the road. I dash down
the back steps calling, "No, don't." I wake,
my hand on the porch rail, the car
in the driveway. No one around it. No one
is trying to steal it. I walk out to touch the car
in the moonlight, return to my empty bed.

Dream #3

Ten weeks after your death I hear someone
in my clothes closet. Two people. One stands
with her back to me, holding things the one
in the closet hands out. I hear them disucss
my black dress, the long pleated
skirt, an aqua jumper I loved. One the ICU
nurse said were the color of your yees. I leap
from bed, hold out my hand to stop them
pilfering my closet, touch only air. No one
is in the room but me. My closet doors are closed
In the night light, I see my own shadow,
silhouette, see nothing.

Dream #4

In the first light gray hour of early
morning, just before dawn, I wake
to the sound of someone sifting through
jewelry on my dresser. They lift and look
at each piece, my mother's pearls,
the diamond earring you gave me
one Christmas, a silver bracelet,
I bought out west. They weigh
your watch, your wedding ring,
as they pocket them. Small flashes,
little sparkles hit the light. Slowly,
slowly, I sit up in bed to see who
is stealing my stuff. Who is here?
No one. Nothing. Nobody
stands at my dresser in the dark
but me.

Dream #5

Six months after your death, I am
packing for a trip. A half empty suitcase
yawns on a chair in my bedroom. I hear
someone open my dresser drawers, take
out underwear, pajamas, my blue silk robe,
walk across the room and pack them
in my suitcase. Then they click shut the lock,
heft up the suitcase, start out. I yell
"No, no, no. Bring that back. That's mine."
They stop in the doorway, drop the suitcase,
leave. I dash after them, downstairs, the kitchen.
They are just ahead of me, a flash farther
than my grasp. "Stop," I grab at their coat,
hold only air. The kitchen clock ticks loud.
The light on the microwave is samll and red.
Stove, cainets, refrigerator, solid in their whiteness.
Nothing moves but my hand, reaching, reaching.

Dream # 6

During the night a storm knocks
loud, lightning green-blue, stark white
flashes in the bedroom hall, living room.
A sharp pop and my night light goes out.
All is navy blue dark. I could crawl under
the blankets, but I hear someone in the den.
They discuss whether to take this lamp
or that? Floor or table? One or both?
In the darkness, the lamps are round and bright.
Thieves move them back and forth across
the floor. I wait. I am so tired. Let them take
the lamps, one or both. Leave. Just leave.
I hear the kitchen door open, close, then silence.
The night light blinks on. The furnace hums.
I go back to sleep. In the morning all the lamps
are in the den. They have never been moved.

Dream # 7

You have been gone eight months and I
wake with a start. My purse has been stolen.
I have lost my purse. I try to remember
where I saw it last. On a chair in the den?
Your desk? Kitchen? Mentally, I retrace
my steps. By the backdoor where I always
hang it when I come in. Yes, and after that
I locked the door, did other things and came
to bed. I go back to sleep only to be awakened
later by several people in the hall outside
my bedrom. They quietly discuss where
they are going from here, other plans. Then,
one man, someone I've never seen before,
opens wide my nearly-closed door, turns
to someone behind him, says, "We have no
other business here." Then he closes the door.
I hear them leave from the living room,
across the porch, down the walk.
I sleep like I have never slept before.

by Ruth Moose
from THE LIBRARIAN and Other Poems

What Other North Carolina Poets Say About Ruth Moose's Poems

Ruth Moose's spare lyrical language dramatizes the search for significant acts, the spark of connections made.

--Robert Morgan

If this collections does nothing else, it will forever erase our stereotype of a librarian (prim spinster always with finger to lips shushing all sound from her immaculate, silent headquarters.) This librarian is fully woman, fully alive, and not only tolerating the words of others, but speaking out herself with verve and courage. Always hovering at her shoulder is the spirit of HWLWG--He Who Left Without Goodbye. You'll weep, chuckle and cheer as this gutsy woman deals with bits of her daily life--and those bits produced in Moose's exact language, shimmer with new significance.

--Sally Buckner

Read a sample of "The Librarian" poems on previous post.

Ruth Moose's poems have always been grounded in a certainty that gives every line its profound authority--that where we live and how we live matter more than anything else, that "here" is where the mystery resides, each detail of it claiming its rightful place in the scheme of the poem, in the narrative of our lives.

--Kathryn Stripling Byer

Contact the Publisher

Main Street Rag
PO Box 690100
Charlotte, NC 28227

Crocus stand as rumors of spring here above the frost line.

Monday, March 15, 2010

March 14, 2010 PROOF OF SPRING in the Southern Appalachian Mountains

Crocus speckled by raindrops

All day we tried to take our walk. We even went so far as to put on coats and boots. I walked until I saw the purple crocus in bloom before I gave up, my hair wet, and turned back to the house.

I can verify that nothing can stop spring now. If the sun shines for two hours, there will be one thousand golden daffodils. They are only green now, but their buds are the largest I've ever seen. If the sun refuses to shine, they might just go ahead and bloom green flowers.

On my short walk, I also saw that Sedum Autumn Joy broke through the cold, hard ground. It will be a long time before Autumn Joy blooms, but the name itself brings joy and hope .
Nothing can turn back spring now.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Ruth Moose -- Poet of the Month of March 2010

Welcome Ruth Moose as POET OF THE MONTH MARCH 2010 here Above the Frost Line. The life and writing of Ruth Moose will be featured in separate posts throughout the month. Stay posted.

If I remember correctly, I first met Ruth Moose at a Winthrop College Writing Conference, in Rock Hill, South Carolina, the weekend of November 11-13, 1982. We had several classes together.

I remember Ruth was tiny and had a tiny voice. The same could have been said of me way back then. We were at the beginning of our writing careers and could hardly make a squeak. We had both come to study with the great ones already leading the way: Susan Ludvigson for one. I remember Editor Stanley W. Lindberg was on the program, talking about the Georgia Review and how to get a poem accepted. When I think of Ruth Moose and recall her beginning as a writer, I remember how quiet her voice, how timid she was. As the years went by, whenever my path crossed with Ruth Moose, always at a writing conference, I was happy to see her. I watched for her poems in magazines and bought her books. I also liked her fiction writing, and I still own both of her short story collections. During her now long career, I find Ruth Moose has become a strong spirit with a rich, deep voice and a gutsy laugh that can be heard across the room.

A few months ago, opening my Christmas cards, I found a gift from Ruth Moose, a copy of a new poetry collection --The Librarian and Other Poems. I read it cover to cover three times. I know enough about Ruth Moose to read a bit between the lines. Dedication pages are fascinating in any book, and of course when I read the dedication page, I felt I had found the key to unlock the poems. The dedication reads These Poems are dedicated to HWLWG HE WHO LEFT WITHOUT GOODBYE.

Take my word. You will want to own this book. You will like the character, the librarian, and will enjoy the this-and-that of her life: “The Librarian Comes Home Late at Night” ,“The Librarian Loves her Bath” , “The Librarian Gets Dressed” , “The

Librarian Buys a Pepper Spray,” just to name a few. of the more than fifty poems in this section. Buy this book. “The Librarian in Athens”, “The Librarian’s Panties”, “The Librarian in Istanbul,” and more.


The Librarian has a cat.
Of course. What did you expect?”
A pit bull? Though her cat, Percy
Has the personality of a pit bull.
Loves to bare his teeth, always
Takes her best
And favorite chair, refuses to move.
Hisses when she approaches.
Yesterday, she beat him to it,
Sat down to a damp and wet
Hairball, dark, fuzzy and disgusting
Which she promptly flushed,
Then aired the cushion. Meanwhile,
Percy washed his paws with a spiteful
Grin sitting on the flagstone hearth
Before her unlit gas logs. What
Did you expect here? A cozy
Little fire in her cozy little house?
Not her. Not here. She pours
Herself a glass of Jim Beam,
Never sherry. Jim is her guy
At the hell end of a hell day.

--Ruth Moose


Sometimes she flips her mind

Back to Oxford, the dear Bodleian

Of Course, and Radcliff Camera.

She studied briefly there. Remembers

Where she found her favorite

Shoes for walking cobblestones.

She loved Alice’s Garden, the Eagle

And Child, boats on the Thames,

The Bedsit she shared with HWLWG.

How they crawled the pubs ghost

Walk, Writing her papers on Jane Austen.

In real ink in the Exeter Library.

She thinks if HWLWG is anywhere

In this world, he’s there

In the darkened pub, his back

To the door and she’ll only

Have to put her arms around him

in an I-Found-You-Hug. But she knows

He’s only vanish, as the ghosts

Did, leaving not a footprint

On her path.

--Ruth Moose

How and where to buy a copy:

Main Street Rag

PO Box 690100

Charlotte, NC 28227


Friday, March 5, 2010


Mountain Perk in Hiawassee, Georgia, will host writers on the second Friday of each month beginning on April 9. Glenda Beall is the first reader of this series.

It is also being called Writers' Night Out
Second Friday of each month
7:00-8:30 p.m. With local writers reading, followed by an open mic.

Mountain Perk Coffee House is located on Main Street in Hiawassee,Georgia (across from the Post Office)

I was asked to announce this, and I am happy to do so. I do not know as yet who is sponsoring this new event. It sounds like NCWN West, but I do not know if it is or not. "Writers Night Out" is a NCWN event. The important thing is that something new is happening in our neighborhood. Sounds like it will be a new forum for poets to read their poems and maybe sell their books.

To be put on the schedule as a featured reader, email Karen Paul Holmes at Kpaulholmes@gmail.com.

Karen Paul Holmes


Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Weather in the Southern Appalachian Mountains

Snow March 2, 2010

As someone who has been in or near the Southern Appalachian Mountains since 1961, I'm as frustrated as anyone else by this particular winter. Snow in December, Snow in January, Snow in February, Snow in March. I've been snowed in so far this year more times than I can count, twice for eight days each time. I'm snowed in today from the snow that fell March 2. I have not experienced anything close to this since the winter of 1978 when people died in their cars in Buffalo, New York. That year was hard for me here in the mountains. I had to move to the valley for six weeks so that I could get to the old school house to teach. Most of the people here have jobs and have to go to work. You can't tell your boss, "Sorry, I live on the north side of the mountain, I'm iced in, I can't get to work, See you next spring."

In 1978, my sister and I left our cabins on the mountain and moved down to the valley to live with my mother for six weeks. Later, knowing we had to be better prepared, we bought our mother's house and built on to it, adding a big living room two perfectly equal bedrooms with an adjoining bath. It seemed that is what we needed to do at the time, to take care of our mother and to get ourselves to work in the wintertime.

Winters settled down. Winters came and went without even a sprinkle of snow. We were not snowed in much while living in the valley. Our house faced south and our road was one of the second roads scraped if it did snow. It might snow in December but not in January or February. It might snow in March and melt by noon. The most usual seemed to be one big snow in January, maybe. But, it hardly ever snowed. Slowly we forgot how bad a winter can be here in the Southern Appalachian Mountains.

The biggest challenge during those years was the Blizzard of 1993. That was an inland hurricane that killed over 200 people from Florida to Canada. I was living alone in the valley house at the time. I'll never forget that winter. I was without electricity for 7 days. The county did not scrape my road until the sixth day. There was no electricity. When the road was finally cleared and I got to the store, the shelves were empty. No bread. No milk. It was quite startling. I looked like a bum, wrapped in layers of clothes. I wanted a warm bath. I was looking for lamp oil in a small store and suddenly I saw shelves filled with Easter baskets. Easter Baskets!I started laughing and saying, "It's over." That day, I went by a restaurant and bought myself a huge take-out dinner and went home to a still dark house and ate. I knew the blizzard was over. I took great joy when they used phrases like , "Storm of the Century" and I told myself I would never see another one like it. Finally winter was over. The electricity came on after being out for ten days in some places.

I'm finding a need to put into perspective what it is like to live in the Southern Appalachian Mountains in winter. People are moving here in droves. There is no depressed market. Everything with a for sale sign sells. What is it? I don't know. The last frontier. Paradise. People are moving here. Some newcomers may be having second thoughts after this cold winter.

What I've learned in the long years of my life is that one winter is not like the last. You cannot say what winter will be. Old timers have ways of predicting that seem to hold true, but I remember one winter when the woolly worm was everywhere, crossing the roads in great number, and old timers said it would be a bad winter, but it was not bad at all. A lot depends on whether or not you have a warm house, back up gas logs or if you only have a small electric heater and the power goes out.

Most people go about their business, do their work, come home at night and snuggle in. I wish I could give you the record for this winter,but what I recall is that we have had sub freezing temperatures almost every night since 2010 began. I don't have the facts but I know of at least ten people who had their pipes freeze because they forgot to leave the water dripping
the third night. By the way, this would be a good night to let the water drip. It's 40 degrees at 12:46 pm but will be in the twenties tonight.

This winter is almost over. I'll be one happy woman to celebrate the precipitation of snow, to celebrate our refreshed water table, and I will be blissfully happy to see spring come once again to the mountains.

"Glad you could stop by.
Stay and have a bite to eat."

" Hi. Yeah. I'm glad I didn't have to drive that road."

March 4, 2010, Proof of Life. Rhododendron have set their buds. Jonquils are coming up.