Because a fiddle can cry honey
or shapeshift into the Wabash Cannonball,
chugging its arrival
or whistling through a crossing
in some by-passed Ozark town.
Because a banjo plunks
like hail on a tin roof,
covering a barn with weathered sides.
Or like drops, fat and dull,
plopping into a zinc bucket, set below
the eaves to catch rain water.
Because a guitar can speak
with a country accent,
hum about mockingbirds and murders,
long for girls with names
like Sally Goodin, Liza Jane, Sweet Fern.
Because a mandolin quivers,
a timid soul, fluttering
like the wings of a blackbird
trapped inside a stone chimney.
Because the voices lift so high
and lonesome they drift,
suspended like Blue Ridge fog
just before fading to sun.
—Linda Neal Reising (Posey County)
This poem won First Place in the 7th Annual Writers Digest Poetry Contest.
Linda Neal Reising, a native of Oklahoma and member of the Western Cherokee Nation, has been published in numerous journals, including Nimrod and The Comstock Review. Linda’s work has also been included in a number of anthologies, including And Know This Place: Poetry of Indiana. She was named the winner of the 2012 Writer’s Digest Poetry Award. Her chapbook, Re-Writing Family History, was a finalist for the 2015 Oklahoma Book Award and the winner of the Oklahoma Writers’ Federation Poetry Book Prize.
Poetry Prompt: Why You Like or Dislike Something
Create a list poem that explains why you feel passionately about a particular thing. It could be anything—a film genre, a color, tool, sport, vegetable, bird, or person from Indiana history. Your reasons should begin with the same phrase, but each should explore a different aspect of your subject and use imagery that appeals to the senses.
Indiana Humanities is celebrating National Poetry Month by sharing a poem and prompt every day in April. Indiana Poet Laureate Shari Wagner selected these poems and wrote the prompts.