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Cheryl Leverette: Weightless
Part of the PoetryCircle Showcase series.
  • Weightless
    I have one pebble left
    to skim across an ocean

    at the surface, angled
    toward the wind
    a stone slices gravity

    half-pearled, dividing circles
    ripples of rock meant for you
    fall below the waterline


    Briony starts her walk
    down the long dark road
    away from home for good,
    Uncle Tom's Cabin tucked
    under her forearm
    against her hip.

    She knows what it means
    to feel the evil presence
    of someone even when
    he's not around.

    She knows you don't
    have to be black
    to feel it and
    you don't have to be
    Harriet Beecher Stowe
    to write about it.


    Mississippi River, 1927
    In redeeming moments, we
    share plots of favorite novels.
    My brother:
      "Imagine how heavy a gallon of milk is
      when you heft it with one hand.
      Imagine billions of those gallons,
      more than twice the volume of Niagara Falls
      over fifty feet high,
      more than white men had ever seen,
      propelling through the south."

    My response:
      "Unbelievable and frightening...
      Why mention only white men?
      What about black men?"

    We weren't raised prejudiced.

    "Because history paints it that way...
      if black workers didn't drown or get shot,
      they were filling and stacking sandbags,
      or held at gun point
      forced to work levees
      at seventy-five cents a day,
      left to die on levees,
      and eventually tried to escape on barges
      with white foremen in charge
      and time ticking backward:
    'Let's put all the niggers
    on a plank of wood
    and cut it loose!'
    'No! Keep 'em here!
    We need cotton pickers!'
      from sunup to sunrise for a dollar.
      White men argued over black."

    Levees break,
    tributaries join the power
    of a river seventy miles wide,
    more than fifty feet deep,
    gushing over land
    killing and debasing.


    Pith in the Wind
    Rita says,
    you won't
    find a husband
    with the stem
    of an apple.


    The Night of Brother Harry's Deliverance
    The best way
    to get rid of the devil
    is to drown him,
    Harry tells me two nights
    before his disappearance.

    Midweek church service
    carries on as usual
    with Brother Wormword
    railing against the likes of Harry
    and his divination. Amens
    and Praise God! s echo
    throughout the halls.

    At breakfast the next morning
    Harry weeps, These eggs,
    yellow and runny--over easy!
    Eyes of the dead, they are!
    Salmon patties! Soft crunchy bones--
    teeth from the unborn!

    Harry's gone all day.
    I know better than to search for him.
    The sky's dark and rumbles
    like the intestinal flu.
    Wind gusts top 66 mph.

    After Harry doesn't come home
    the next day, the few friends
    he has, begin to circle the house
    spouting mumbo-jumbo,
    working their way back
    to the lake beyond the fence.

    I remain silent,
    even when Pastor Wormwood
    and Sister Valiant arrive
    armed with candles,
    all shapes and colors, and fire--
    by match and by torch.
    Let's have a candlelight service
    for Brother Harry!, they shout.
    And a prayer vigil!,
    the entire neighborhood chimes in.

    The murmuring crowd looks like
    an army of burning bushes
    and hungry fireflies
    as they swarm the lake
    behind our house.


    Silver Linings
    people like me don't believe
    in clouds of silver or gold
    but in the smell of wet cotton:

    dread is a cricket singing on your pillow
    after going 3 days without sleep.
  • Cheryl Leverette was born and raised in the south, graduated from the University of Central Arkansas, and now lives in Tennessee near her daughter and grandchildren.
You, Aksel Rass, Obed Ladiny and 14 others like this.
  1. Cheryl.Leverette
    Thanks, O.  What a nice thing to say.
  2. Obed Ladiny
  3. Cheryl.Leverette
    Thanks, Marian.  True isn't it?  About evil in the hearts of men.
  4. Marian Veverka
    "The evil that lives in the hearts of men..."  Can't remember where that quote came from, but you just showed me a whole set of it.  Chilling.
    Cheryl.Leverette likes this.
  5. Cheryl.Leverette
  6. Arun M Sivakrishna
    Lovely collection Cheryl !
    Cheryl.Leverette likes this.
  7. Cheryl.Leverette
    thanks Richard & marian!
  8. Marian Veverka
    Behind the cardboard mansions - a journey to the real world of endless labor, sorrow and woe!
    Cheryl.Leverette likes this.
  9. unavailable
    Really enjoyed reading these!
    Cheryl.Leverette likes this.
  10. Cheryl.Leverette
    lol  thank you Cathy, over and over again.  & thanks for letting me know about the repeat.  maybe an editor will fix it for us.  doesn't bother me, tho.
    Jay Dougherty likes this.
  11. Cathy Calkins
    All of it was obviously so southern, even the ones that don't blatantly announce their heritage. I loved all of them, especially Silver Linings and Briony (that one was dark, and scary, which I loved, but I felt bad for her.)  In all of them, the imagery was perfect, as well as the language. I would love to see a collection of these as a book.
    Cheryl.Leverette likes this.
  12. Cheryl.Leverette
    Yes!  Thank you!
    Cathy Calkins likes this.
  13. Paul.....Brookes
    You're more than welcome, Cheryl. He is a rare songwriter and novelist.
    Cheryl.Leverette likes this.
  14. Cheryl.Leverette
    Paul, what wonderful things to say.  I'm not familiar with Nick Cave.  Hope that doesn't make me look more backward than what I am.  Will certainly check him out.  Thank you so much, for the look and the comments!
    Paul Steven Laurence likes this.
  15. Paul.....Brookes
    I hear Mark Twain, Tennessee Williams, Nick Cave all in your beautiful individual distinctive voice that is evocative of landscape and feeling and works so well.
    Jenn Zed and Cheryl.Leverette like this.
  16. Linda Benninghoff
    Hi Cheryl, This is great.  Would like to see more.  I like how you tackle racism and social issues.
    CherylLeverette likes this.
  17. David Belcher
    Hi Cheryl, enjoyed this. I'll start spending more time in the Showcase. I like the variety here, something for everyone.
    CherylLeverette likes this.
  18. Michael Ashley
    Enjoying this again Cher. I love Pith in the Wind! Brilliant brilliant!
    CherylLeverette likes this.
  19. Wow, I am speechless. As usual raw, as-a-matter of factly deliverance.
    Cheryl Leverette likes this.
  20. Mel McEvoy
    love the collection
    cherylleverette likes this.