365 Degrees

Tom Johnson
Poetry Editor


A Photo of Flagler Chapel Taken from Highway 44

divided in half by a rough line of low hills
this picture paints a sky
near white, then light blue,
then high sapphire
where it vaults clear up
and out of sight.

the earth itself seems shocked
at all its autumn.
to the right
a cornfield hides from crows.
goldenrod poses in the foreground.
trees shout
as loud a yellow as they can
and still remain
inside all natural law.

one bare maple
reaches up and to the left,
scrawling the word "winter"
with its scraggly limbs.
it has settled down
without its leaves
already as grey
as it knows the sky will turn,
content to be partly soil
and partly cloud,
yet very much its own agriculture,
its own weather.

in the distance, Flagler Chapel
small, white, angular
in a flurry of curves.

if you don't look closely,
you will miss it altogether

Flower -Handed People
Petroglyphs at the Tsankawi Anasazi Site, New Mexico

out of the womb, the flower my daughter,
and out of her two hands,
as fat as peonies.

and now,
from my girl's little hand,
a bloom bent around a pink crayon,
come the flower-handed people,
their hands each a circle
with five petals.
the flower-handed people smile and wave
out of the childish paper.

I lift the page
and see behind it
ash cliffs of Tsankawi
where the hard basalt tools of Anasazi mind
have cut the rock face
into horned snake and forked fire.

here too are flower-handed people,
and their hands
are exactly those my daughter draws.
the flower-handed people
wave out of the stone.

my daughter climbs the cliff,
her bare feet firm in a path worn deep
in another millennium;
with a pink finger
she traces the petroglyphs scored in the rock,

and for the moment they fuse
my girl child the Ancient Ones,
the flowers, their hands,
and always the flower-handed people,

a pattern cut into the common blood
growing blossoms, rich blossoms
out of the dry desert stone.

Love in Horry County

the wine of kudzu bloom,
is wet on the whippoorwill's tongue.

down sand roads,
the country young steam the windows,
groan to sow a crop of seed
to grow the folks
who groan to seed the soil anew.

in swamps, the yin of honeysuckle flower,
yang of grinnel milt,
soggy mense of amphibian jelly
load the air
with all the smelly elements
that pass for Horry County myrrh.

fly mounts fly.
nightmoth sucks
the sweetpea's vulvic frankincense.
bounty of egg and pod and belly.
the county's oozing succulence.

nightbroth swells to fruit,
and then to creature,
miles from any court of law,
any preacher.

Paul Rice is professor of English at Coastal Carolina University, where he specializes in modern and contemporary British and American poetry. His work has won numerous awards and has appeared in such journals as Poetry, Kansas Quarterly, Poet Lore, Bitterroot, The Georgia Review, Negative Capability and Tar River Poetry. He is the 1995 96 recipient of the poetry fellowship awarded by the S.C. Arts Commission.

© Copyright by POINT, 1996
Last modified 2/15/95