Dark Hymns Of The Live Oak

The day was muted and muddy…
the kind of day when evil tastes the wind
to see if it has enough weight to carry omens.

Twila heard the dark hymns
singing from the live oak roots
and knew her knees couldn’t walk
through enough prayer to reach redemption.

Mama’s gift for reading the belly of the underworld
had slipped right through her womb into Twila.
No matter how many hallelujahs she coated
her tongue with, the devil could climb over them
to whisper in her ear.

Watching midnight clouds boil the sun
she knew hell was about to have church.
It wouldn’t do her any good to run,
because whichever direction she chose
would only lead to a front seat in the choir.

©Susie Clevenger 2014

At Real Toads Ella prompted us to grab three books, open them three times and see what popped out as inspiration. The following quotes and my recent trip to Louisiana to tour historical plantations inspired my poem.
“All night Rachel clings to the tree”

“ The color in each vial was muted and muddy"
The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant

“You do not have to walk on your knees / for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting”

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver ~ Good Poems ~ Garrison Kellor


Anonymous said…
Intriguing inspiration, Susie -- love the last stanza!! Glad you enjoyed your visit to my "home" state!
Anonymous said…
that is a spooky tour de force, Susie ~
Ella said…
I want more-so rich with depth. This could be a story-I am enchanted-well done! The dark hymns really whisper to me.
Kay L. Davies said…
Wow, I love this, Susie, but I can't pin down a word or a line or a stanza that's my favorite.
Kathryn Dyche said…
Such an amazing write Susie . . . I especially love the line "evil tastes the wind to see if it has enough weight to carry omens".
Sherry Blue Sky said…
This reads like an old novel of the deep South, Susie. Full of portent. Just wonderful. And the photo art is so beautiful!!!! The musical bars against the trees are just gorgeous.
Sumana Roy said…
this is amazing Susie...love the rich storyline and what a magical title...
Other Mary said…
Oh what a dark piece you've woven from the three threads. And I love that Mary Oliver line!
Anonymous said…
Something about the evil tasting the wind stuck with me. Evocative and very imaginative poem.
Anonymous said…
Really well done, Susie. It is actually like the beginning of a story as Ella said-a very strong narrative, vivid and engaging. (Meaning, we'd read more!). (Though I think this is just the right length for the poem!) Thanks. k.
Kerry O'Connor said…
This is just so atmospheric, Susie. It reads like a novel, filled with emotive details. The first two stanzas are sterling, and set up the whole poem so well.
hedgewitch said…
I just love this, Susie(well, of course!) The darkness is not just token, but intrinsic, and the witchery not so much romantic as damned, frightening, and unavoidable.Your images are just jam-packed with detail and unusual, original descriptions that bring it all uncomfortably close to home.
Kerridwen said…
Really interesting!