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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."

Sunday, May 23, 2010

FOUR POEMS - Meet Appalachian Born Poet Barbara Groce

I am happy to introduce you to one of my favorite Appalachian born poets, Barbara Groce. She lived in Saint Charles, Virginia the first nine years of her life, and St. Charles lives in her heart still. She has vivid memories of the town , the simple life and most of all, the people continue to speak their stories in her poems collected in the collection APPALACHIAN GIRL.
--Nancy Simpson

Cat’s Back

A creek ran through St. Charles,

beginning in hills at road’s end.

In dry times, babbling over rocks,

flowing gently around bends, leaving town

in a leisurely kitten trot.

In rainstorms the lazy feline

evolved into a catamount,

wrathful and swollen by water

surging from each groove and hillock,

and grabbing everything around.

From our house on a hill, we had

a bird’s eye view of the prey

floating by, attached to the cat’s back-

toys, clothes, lumber, tables, chairs,

and an occasional outhouse,

one of which landed upright

near the train depot one day,

or so the story flows.

Barbara Groce


I often think of our

little yellow house

in St. Charles and the

small threads which wove

my childhood tapestry,

such as:

the aroma of yeast rolls

and donuts mother made.

gathering around the radio

on Saturday for “The Hit Parade”

the clean plate club

Daddy pulling Bobby and me

on an old wool blanket

to polish newly waxed floors

reading in the overstuffed

chair, “The Wizard of Oz”

and “Little Women” series

over and over again

Mother’s back rubs

Daddy pulling teeth by teasing

that he would slam the door

with thread tied to it,

which made any other way

acceptable to us

Mother’s shining blue-black hair

the tree I climbed, where I sat,

sang, and thought about the world

snows too deep to walk in

our canary who died

Daddy’s beehives out back

playing on our slide and swing

waving at trains, on the nearby track

hide and seek with our dog Boots

watching the town’s creek rise

during rainstorms,

our elbows on the window sill

my fall into the coal bin

the doctor removing

all except two slivers

which remain embedded today,

as a reminder of my

Appalachian roots

and the little yellow house

on the hill.

Barbara Groce

Picnic Pictures

We reached the picnic spread, Schaffer’s Ford,

by a winding dirt road several miles long,

then parked next to a split rail fence.

You could hear the rushing river,

cows lowing and occasional

soft clangor of their bells.

Wildflowers colored the place,

roses, black eyed Susans, lilies,

yarrow and Queen Anne’s lace.

We crossed the fence and pasture,

artfully dodging cow chips

while balancing food and drinks.

A resident bull once charged Uncle Abe,

so none of us ever wore red.

In the ford’s cool water, we cousins

floated, splashed each other, played games

of knighthood, sat on thrones of ancient rock,

wore daisy crowns, and bore scepters

which we made form sycamore.

Ring of horseshoes, thud of batted balls,

and known voices of aunts, uncles,

and parents were a soothing backdrop

during our afternoon of play.

Later smoke from cooking fires

wafted to us promising food

fit for all of us queens and kings...

hamburgers, baked beans, watermelon

cherry sodas and churned ice cream.

Today my inward eye sees

with clarity those picnic days.

Treasured moments

flare along the way.

If I could somehow return

to one long ago place,

it would be there.

Barbara Groce


The coal train, its whistle a haunting wail,

every car piled high with shiny black,

clickety clack, day and night chugged along the rail.

The miners streamed from carbon into gloam,

voices low, hats with lights, tin lunch pails,

tired eyes, hunching backs, faces black, trudging

on to home.

Rockers creaking, knives a’ whittling, kin folks

spun tales of old in their dialect,

and lulled the children all to peace

with the stories told.

Feet on wood floors, tapping, dancing, clogging,

set to bluegrass music, young and old’s delight,

resounded through the hollows, livened up the night.

Ever smoothing her ancient rocks, the river’s

roar filled up the soul, her peaceful pools

became the young folks’ favorite swimming holes,

back in those hills of Virginia.

In a sea of green sat the steepled church,

fresh-white, where hymns rang out, twangy, sweet,

and dinner on the ground lingered on ‘till twilight.

Fingers flew, needle and thread whished away

through myriads of cloth...a quilting bee,

where scraps emerged as masterworks of stitchery.

Nestled in the valley’s point, the farthest,

that little town, now ghost, was once alive

where plain folks led simple lives, lived them to the fullest,

way, way back in those haunting hills of Virginia.

Barbara Groce

Barbara Groce received her undergraduate degree at University of North Carolina Greensboro and her Masters in Education at East Carolina University. She lives now in Morganton, Georgia with her husband Bill.

Order your copy of Appalachian Girl at

POBox 746

Morganton, Georgia 30560

or contact the author Barbara Groce

at billg5@tds.net.


Lisa said...

Barbara's poems are wonderfully descriptive! I enjoyed them all!

Glenda C. Beall said...

Thanks, Nancy, for sharing Barbara's Appalachian poems. I want to read more of her work and hope to get my copy of her book.
Her memories of childhood take me back to some of the days when I was a child.
I enjoyed the poems you chose for this page.

Tipper said...

What wonderful poems she has written-I especially liked Threads. Thanks for sharing her with us : )

Anonymous said...

Hey Nancy, Barbara's poems pulled me in and wouldn't let go, until I'd read them all. They are so good! And your photo at the top of the page is awesome as usual!
Just wanted to stop by and check in with you. Glenda Barrett