Laid to rest under Patterson’s needle

a: wide white pine, grayed
generations – scuffed mountain folk,
boots, torn shirts darned, steel
needles hand-sewn, cushioned rocker
taps – fiddle echoed whistle,
coal, mills on the Ohio

b: home from war, late nights
oil and candles flicker,
foot treadle machine, wedding gift
grandmother needles sharp – memory sharper still
mother’s bridal gown

c: midwife attends labor, needles flash
front parlor – stoic cries
banished third shift father
women gather
booties, caps and shawls
men at pool hall

d: Bing Crosby plays phonograph
needle rides Andrews Sisters
vinyl grooves – 33 1/3 – corporate
congratulations
Christmas raffle – union strike

e: family plot, black lung scourge
all in white, laid off, seam played out,
IV – blood draw – inject needle
#radical
#mother works #music #free love
rips apart teenager
#mason jar
lost father

f: guardrail crumpled, no match for
Detroit muscle, speedometer needle
per sheriff, touched ninety

g: DOA at ER, six kids + one, just kids
driver high, vehicle in, needles found

h: grandparents embraced/entombed Cynthia,
fifteen,
cedar saved booties,
clothes, her unborn in coffin,
half-completed needlepoint
Bless Our H

Authors note: The d’Verse prompt is to select an object, write about it from different perspectives and link together contrasting poems in a Cubist fashion. When I woke this morning, ‘needle’ was my first thought and the Appalachian coal country was the setting. Whether this linear story fits the prompt I’m not sure, but my Muse needled me until I wrote it all.

Having read this far, “pen, {de:constructed}” this poem by De Jackson (Whimsy Gizmo) is incredible.

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54 thoughts on “Laid to rest under Patterson’s needle

  1. I like the way you gave each stanza a letter rather than a number and laid it out a bit like a patchwork. It’s a very visual poem and as I read it I could envisage colours for each part, getting darker as it progressed – a kind of tie-dye.. I tried reading it aloud too, and it sounds beautiful.

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  2. Oh, Brian. This gave me chills, near tears, and other emotions and reactions I cannot even describe. Just stunning. I honestly don’t know much about cubism in poetry, but this seems to me to be a perfect example. Goodness.

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  3. This really got to me. The sense of time and place is so strong and corresponds to much of my experience. I’ve sewed on a treadle machine, lived in Scranton, nursed black lung, was deeply affected by WWII (my dad was KIA when I was 3 mos old)–this just oozes with the pain of that era and setting. Brilliant, Brian.

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    • Thank you Victoria. I have not lived there but did work for Rite Aid back in the late ’90s and spent time in PA in small coal towns. The poverty and drug use that has devastated large swaths of Appalachia since the mills closed and the mines slowed production continues to haunt today. I have the deepest respect for those who made do with what they made and harvested. There have always been generational disconnects, but today’s wired history has made it worse. But through all the pain, we are still here and still telling our stories in the rocking chair.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You brought to mind a memory. I did undergrad work in Scranton and one summer took a chem class where we had to separate out and identify elements using things like weight and color and odor. There was a huge “mountain” of smoldering coal from a defunct mine nearby and it was so hard because everything smelled like sulfur. In the lab and outside. Those poor mining towns.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Grace. Both you and Bjorn pointed out the implied pine needles. I have to admit, I never even thought of that. Nor, I just realized, that the coffin would have been pine as well. I’m glad my inner poet is working.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The grandmother making the bride’s wedding gown on a treadle sewing machine…lovely. the whole poem, all together and part by part, one of your best I have read so far. So much emotion in this. Excellent.

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  6. For whatever reason, I consider this piece very Cubist, saucing of e.e. cummings, rife with fractures & shards of moments, decades captured in half sentences, so much covered, yet so much left implied. For me it was Steinbeckish, covering the coal country fro the late 40’s to the present; felt the tug of the 60’s in the Free Love stanza. An excellent ride & read.

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    • Thanks Glenn. This prompt was so interesting for all the angst it generated among the participants. We all wanted to write to the prompt but it was so unique there were really no prior benchmarks. I think between all of us, Björn has succeeded in forcing us to create a new style of Cubist poetry. This poem has gotten under my skin in a good way. I am proud of this and am awed at all the amazing talent in the d’Verse group. Thank you for your supportive critique, I will at the last accept this as Cubist.

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  7. Dude.

    That’s what I say when I’m overwhelmed by the brilliance of a writer to the point where I struggle to find the right words. Just… Dude.

    To weave a narrative of this magnitude and to have it continue to build upon itself all the way to the gutpunch ending… Dude.

    This. Is. Amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. d: Bing Crosby plays phonograph
    needle rides Andrews Sisters
    vinyl grooves – 33 1/3

    Wonderful of you Brian to have attested to the functionality of different types of needles. Couldn’t forget the phonograph needles which needed to be replaced every now and then.

    Hank

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  9. “Oh my gosh” my words just said aloud after reading this. So powerful – so many stories-lives told in these “cubes” of words. This is so powerful and covers generations — eras of time – emotions in so many details. Wonderfully written!!!

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