Woodsmoke (2021), from Blair, is Wayne’s first foray into poetry. The main voice is that of Posey Green, an old Appalachian widower who heats his house with wood and reflects on nature and life. The secondary voice is that of Susan McFalls, a poet, who becomes his neighbor and friend.
Enjoy some selections from Woodsmoke.
You can’t get warm at all with central heat.
Can’t get but one side warm with a fireplace.
But a big cookstove and airtight heater put out heat
To make sawing and busting and stacking and toting worth it.
I mind Papa talking about how cold it was in ‘93.
That’s 1893, when he was first married
And the weather was so bad by February he’d burned
All his firewood and ever fence post on the place
And was fixing to dismantle the barn when here come a warm snap.
Don’t get that cold anymore, least not for as long at a time.
Don’t snow as much, either, heck, I remember a stretch
In the 60s, that’s 1960s,
When school was out two-three weeks at a time
And if you went anywhere it was by foot or muleback.
I miss that like you miss a month of in-laws.
I would miss wood heat, though. If I had to go to one of them
Homes, perish the thought, I’d die from cold—
And florescent light—
Lord, If it’s all the same to you
Let me die right here where I’m warm.
Firewood in Heaven
They’re bound to have firewood in heaven.
I bet it splits easy and straight, don’t splinter,
Burns without being consumed, don’t smoke up the place.
Down here, before thistles and sweat, Adam and Eve played
In Paradise naked as a pair of plucked jaybirds,
But after God set flaming swords there over east of Eden
They needed heat against what wasn’t yet known
As winter. I can hear them now, kinder like this:
What’s that I feel, Adam?
I think I’ll call it “cold.”
What to do?
More of them clothes He give us, I reckon.
Will it stay “cold”?
Don’t know. Might get colder.
I sure am ashamed.
Honey, it ain’t your fault.
I imagine right then Jesus stole a coal from heaven’s heater
And shot lightning at a gopher wood tree to give them folks
Fire—for warmth, for hot food, for revelation.
Adam and Eve were human—and I don’t know a body
Who won’t search deep inside a fire, looking for both heat
And spirit comfort. Which they sorely needed.
I got a notion our first parents’ first fire still burns,
A kind of ancestor flame, really present in anything
From my old heater to Susan’s fancy foreign stove
To them old-time Pentecost tongues of fire—
Ever lick of flame a gift from God’s fireplace.