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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."

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"During National Poetry Month, Living Above the Frost Line celebrates Debra Kaufman, a poet with a keen eye and a sharp focus on humanity." 
--Nancy Simpson

THREE POEMS by Debra Kaufman
French I

Où est la bibliothèque? Voila la bibliothèque.
Quel temps fait-il? Il fait froid aujourd’jui.
I chanted French phrases in bed like prayers,

pleased with the way the language shaped
my mouth, ma bouche: lips puckered for tu
as if playing the flute, then softened like a kiss for je.

English words sounded like hammering on wood,
but translated en français they lilted and fell
like music or small birds.

Fermez la porte means shut the door.
petit dejeuner is breakfast,
de tout mon coeur, with all my heart.

Et alors… Jean-Pierre lifted my hair,
murmured into my neck, “You’re too good.”
And for the rest of that year I didn’t know where

the library was or whether the temperature
was froid ou chaud. As the class recited
je vais, tu vas, il va…, I could see myself

in a silk slip on a picnic, tipsy with champagne,
kissing, we’d be kissing the way the French do.
What I longed for then was beyond

language as I knew it, it was pure image,
or impure, mon Dieu! and my future?
My future was present, present perfect.

from A Certrain Light, first published
in The Idependent

Summer Solstice

The steamy morning 
teems with promise.

Today is the longest day.
Today I am opening.

It’s small changes 
and the cycle of days

I mark as holy
that sustain me now.

To crave solitude like a new lover
you can never get enough of—

is this good?
Love can die and even if born again

is weakened by the wounding
and the resurrection.

But sometimes—surprise!—
joy flies in like a jay.

It squawks, tilts its defiant head
as the cat slinks near.

What is eternal but the circling?
And now the katydids begin to sing,

kiss me, kiss me.

From The Next Moment, first
published in Pembroke Literary Magazine

The sun had not risen
when I slipped into the kitchen
and saw my father at the sink,
where he never stood.
He did not order me back to bed,
but turned and gently
showed me the gold
he’d reeled in himself.
Their scales glittered like fairy wings.
He called them sunnies,
his voice a low rumble
like the night train that slowed
as it passed through town.
He too was always leaving.
He smelled of the lake and coffee,
happy and sad together.
The dome light shone on the cold linoleum
and a sifting sort of lavender
air made me shiver. A wren
chittered in the weeping cherry.
I stepped my bare feet onto his huge brown shoe
and balanced there.
Previously published in Wild Goose Poetry Review

Check out Debra Kaufman/s 
latest poetry collection, The Next Moment, from 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Announcement on the Penultimant Day of National Poetry Month

Announcement on the Penultimate Day of National Poetry Month

Three stars shine bright in the south. Southern Independent Booksellers Award recently announced three poetry finalist for the SIBA Poetry Award 2013: Kathryn Stripling Byer of Cullowhee, NC for Descent, George Ellison of Sylva, NC for Permanent Camp and Natasha Tretheway of Athens, Georgia for her collection Thrull

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Karen Paul Holmes - Featured During National Poetry Month

Karen Paul Holmes is one of my favorite rising poets. She is listed with Poets and Writers of America. Her poems have been published in Atlanta Review, Poetry East, Sow's Ear, Wild Goose Poetry Review and in several anthologies including Echoes Across the Blue Ridge and Sunrise From Blue Thunder. She is a resident of Atlanta and Hiawassee. Georgia.
Karen Paul Holmes 


Last evening, I placed fresh towels on both dog beds, 
heard scratching and rearranging in the night. 
This morning, each dog lay curled
into a circle of towel 
like a bird’s nest.

How life loves
a circle: 
the sun
cups of tea
pizza, roses, embraces
wedding rings, cathedral domes
bells with fat notes radiating like ripples from skipped stones
the egg, the womb, the round opening, downy heads
suckling mouths, breasts, full stomachs, eyes filled
with delight for bubbles and bouncing balls.

Why do we box ourselves into corners
put our babies into rectangular cribs
build square houses and boxy buildings
drive cars to perpendicular crossroads
stare at newspapers, monitors, dollars
go to our rest in hard-edged coffins,
slowly lowered into matching graves?

It’s a comfort 
to imagine our rounded bones
becoming round bits of the globe, 
our spirits rising to orbit among spiral galaxies,
joining those who completed the circle before us.

by Karen Paul Holmes
published in
Poetry East, Spring 2010
Your Daily Poem, April 10, 2010
The Best of Poetry Hickory Reading Series (Main Street Rag) 2011
Reach of Song, Georgia Poetry Society, 2012

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

National Poetry Month - Celebrating Poet Joan Ellen Gage.

It's National Poetry Month. My goal this year is to celebrate southern and Appalachian poets. I called for poems that celebrate life itself, poems that especially honor human life and the human spirit.  

Today, Here Above the Frost Line, we celebrate poet Joan Ellen Gage. She lives part of her year in Florida and the rest in the mountains of Western North Carolina. She has two collections:  Water Running Downhill and Embracing Your Inner Cheerleader.

by Joan Ellen Gage

What is a breast?
It is, by design, in its simplest form
A source of nourishment
A literal “fountain of youth”

A breast is an ornament
Of the flesh, ascetically varied,
Rounded, pillowed, or arched
An achingly beautiful sculpture of nature

A breast is a haven
For comforting small humans
Or sheltering family and friends
With arms and bodies enfolded tightly, as in prayer

A breast can also give or receive
Pleasure, with our partners
As active participants
In the mating dance of life

A breast is the epitome of the heart
Of womankind, as with our breasts
We nurture, comfort, and love.
That is why we hold them so dear

Through breast cancer, women may
Lose these deeply personal pieces
Of their flesh, that share so much
And give succor to life

But, we must remember that
Women are the origin of strength
In this world, and with or
Without breasts, we are the same!

We will still nurture
We will still comfort
And we will still love
We will do this, by design

from Water Running Downhill

For Tina and all of her sisters

The Invader Within

by Joan Ellen Gage

Was the cause environmental,
Or was it family genetics?
How did this happen?
Perhaps, it was just karma
Bringing me this dark, unwanted gift
This cancer

The alien DNA
Hidden in the structure
Of the genome
Its time bomb releasing
Microscopic invaders burrowing
Into tissue, my tissue

Facing myself in the mirror,
Today, chopping long dark hair
Shorter, and shorter still
Wondering who is this stranger
Who stares back
Stone-faced and resolute?

I begin this deeply personal
Uphill battle, or is it downhill?
Warrior stance—I am ready
“Let’s do this!” to my husband
We travel silently to chemo
Unspoken words blowing through
Our minds like autumn leaves

He holds my hand as we begin
IV dripping, we watch morning TV
Oblivious to the screen, thoughts
Still flowing, overflowing, synchronized
With the IV releasing the drug/poison
I will it to find the interloper
“Seek out the alien intruder, now!”

Many weeks have passed, now
Time has slowed to a turtle’s pace
I have sat in that recliner
Many hours, with needle piercing my flesh,
Chemo flowing, a soft cap covering the baby fuzz
Where my hair used to be
I turn my mind inward, pray and give thanks
Liquid ninja’s course through my veins
“Finish it”, I pray, “amen”.

from Embracing your Inner Cheerleader

For Sheryl and all her sisters

More about the author - click on her site.


Comments and words of encouragement that celebrate poetry
during this special time of year will be appreciated. Below.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

National Poetry Month April 2013

"...My heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the golden daffodils."
-William Wordsworth

The Daffodils
by William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
   That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
   A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
   And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
   Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
   Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A Poet could not but be gay,
   In such a jocund company:
I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
   In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
   Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

a note from Nancy Simpson --
I was assigned to learn this poem from memory for recitation in elementary school. I did commit it to memory, but I did not have full understanding of "daffodil" because I lived in Miami, Florida where there were no daffodils, only hibiscus and bougainvillea. When I moved to the mountains of western N.C. in the sixties, I saw the hill of golden daffodils and you could not shut me up from saying Wordsworth's poem over and over again. Photos here are mine. I grew the flowers and I took the pictures.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Keith Flynn will read at City Lights Book Store

Poet Keith Flynn
Asheville poet Keith Flynn will read from his new collection of poetry, Colony Collapse Disorder, on Friday, April 5th at 6:30 p.m. at City Lights Bookstore.  Flynn is the author of six books, including five collections of poetry.  From 1984-1999 he was the lyricist and lead singer for the nationally acclaimed rock band, The Crystal Zoo.  He is currently touring with a supporting combo The Holy Men, whose album, Live at the Diana Wortham Theatre, was released in 2011.  His poetry has been featured in numerous journals and he has twice been named the Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet for NC.  Flynn is the founder and managing editor of the Asheville Poetry Review which began publishing in 1994.  For more information or to reserve any of his books please call City Lights Bookstore at 828-586-9499. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Celebrating National Poetry Month APRIL 2013

I am wishing you and yours a happy National Poetry Month.My main goal for the month of April  is to celebrate your poetry and mine.

Send your poems honoring  life itself and the human spirit. There will be daily posts on this site chosen from the poems submitted. Please send already published poems and give credit
to the magazine or press who first published your poem. 

Visit often and please  tell your friends and family to visit. There is still misunderstanding about poetry by some Americans. None the less, we have National Poetry Month, and we have a brief chance to celebrate. 

For me, poetry reflects the human condition. Practicing poetry offers me and other poets an opportunity  to learn how to live in this world and sometimes even the opportunity to learn how to die.  Here is my poem, "April Rain" which was chosen by Kathryn Stripling Byer for inclusion in the anthology, LIGHTS IN THE MOUNTAINS (2003). It was also featured on 
YOUR DAILY POEM during April 2012.

APRIL RAIN by Nancy Simpson
In memory of my father
who loved to sit on a covered deck
and watch rain, I sit sheltered
and sip coffee on my covered deck
high on Cherry Mountain.
Near treetops I sing louder than
the downpour that falls inches from me.
"You like my new house?" I trill
above the spill of raindrops.
Mr. Whiskers asleep on my feet
under the wicker seat, wakes.
He thinks my song is for him.
I look deep into gray mist, eye to eye
with thin green leaves of a thousand trees
and sing welcome to white blossoms
on dogwood trees no one planted.
I am singing. I am singing to my father
who loved to sit close to rain.

This poem first appeared in Lights in the Mountains: Stories, Essays and Poems by Writers
Living In and Inspired by the Southern Appalachian Mountains 
(Winding Path Publishing, 2003).
Used on YOUR DAIY POEM with the author’s permission.

Your Daily Poem comments by readers 

Monday, April 1, 2013

April 2013, The Beginning of National Gardening Month

Today National Gardening month Begins.  April 1, 2013

Forsythia, aka "Yellow Bells" in my neighborhood

Spring is late, it seems. My flowers want to show themselves but dare not because of relentless winter. Truth is-- spring has arrived. Twenty forsytia bushes along with the last of the daffodils bloom today in my yard. It's time to plan and to plant.

Whether you grow flowers or food, it's time to give a head's up. Here in the southern Appalachian Mountains where I live,(western North Carolina) Spring has not arrived in it's glory but one leaf and sprout at a time.   

I'm off gardening restriction finally. It is slow and steady for me, but I am working 30 minutes to one hour each day.