For the South

By Neal Bowers b. 1948 Neal Bowers
I hate your hills white with dogwood
or pink with redbud in spring
as if you invented hope, as if
in the middle of red clay,
limestone outcroppings,
and oak trees dead with fungus
something slight and beautiful
should make us smile.

I hate the way honeysuckle drapes
fences, blooms in the ditch   
where everyone dumps garbage;
the evening air sweet with cedar
and fields of burley;
the way irises and buttercups
mark the old dimensions of a house
destroyed a hundred years ago;
how a span of Queen Anne’s lace
rocks the whole moon, and the sumac
runs dark against the hill.

I hate the drawl, the lazy voice
saying I’ve been away so long
I sound like I’m from nowhere;
the old hand gathering snowballs or peonies
or forking up an extra dish of greens,
bitter, just the way I like them.

Neal Bowers, "For the South" from Out of the South, published by Louisiana State University Press. Copyright © 2002 by Neal Bowers.  Reprinted by permission of Neal Bowers.

Source: Out of the South (Louisiana State University Press, 2002)

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Poet Neal Bowers b. 1948

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Subjects Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Trees & Flowers, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Neal  Bowers


Neal Bowers grew up in Clarksville, Tennessee. He received a PhD from the University of Florida and taught for many years at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. He has written novels, nonfiction, and several collections of poetry, including Night Vision (1992) and Out of the South (2002), which won the Society of Midland Authors 2002-03 Poetry Prize. Set in rural Tennessee, the book captures the experience of growing up in the . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Trees & Flowers, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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