Table of Contents - Vol. VII, No. 2
S. Thomas Summers
The Peach Orchard
We steamed up through this orchard of peach trees.
It was as hot as a pan sizzling ham, and them peaches,
strange enough, made me think of Christmas –
each one hanging like a pretty bell. But I couldn’t hear
no music. Only clanging my ears was able to capture
was musket pop and a whole lot of screaming.
Screaming turned to cheering once Gen. Barksdale
spurred his horse and bolted out before our charge
like a mongrel after a piece of meat. He cut
the air above his head with his sword, swinging it
like he meant to slice the noggins’ off the whole Billy army.
And the way that hair of his trailed behind him,
just like Santa’s locks when he scoots in that sleigh of his,
made me think us Southern folk has a chance to do some damage.
Artillery blasts tremble man to heart,
stone to core – as if Jehovah leapt
from Zion, landed in the flats
behind the ridge that rises before us
and started thrashing through the wood
out to whoop Satan for smoking cigars,
using the Good Book to catch ashes.
Yanks think we was Satan.
I reckon old Abe hid horns under
that chimney he called a hat and his wife
kept his pitchfork stashed under their bed.
Rest in Peace
Night came on, so hell seeped back
into earth for a time. Dragged all the hoot
and holler with it, all the pop and bang,
but the air – it was still slicked
with Satan’s stench: ash and death.
For the first time, I envied the dead.
They no longer needed to wonder –
would a Yankee cuss plant some lead
in their chubby bellies or what Heaven is like.
Flies still buzzed around some. The hum –
like ma hushing me to sleep
when I still feared the dark. Funny –
I spent a whole night snoring
next to dead men. Purest
moments of peace I ever had.
© S. Thomas Summers