Still Literary Contest Judge's Selection: Christopher Martin
Christopher Martin is the author of the poetry chapbook A Conference of Birds (New Native Press 2012), and his poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Shambhala Sun, Ruminate Magazine, Thrush Poetry Journal, drafthorse, Buddhist Poetry Review, Poecology, Town Creek Poetry, and the Southern Poetry Anthology Vol. V: Georgia, among other places. Chris is the founder and editor-in-chief of the online literary magazine Flycatcher and is a contributing editor at New Southerner, where he writes the monthly blog "Kairos and Crisis" about race, religion, and social justice in the South. Chris is studying creative writing at Kennesaw State University, and lives with his wife and their two young children in the northwest Georgia piedmont, between the Allatoona Range and Kennesaw Mountain.
Parable of the Carolina Chickadee
You can’t sit still in this place, breathe for a moment,
without consuming spirits. High on Little Kennesaw’s rocks,
sprawled as a dead man, gneiss cool against my back, I swig
whiskey from a flask, flick ladybugs from my shirt, creatures
gathered on this summit like a benevolent plague.
Chickadees chatter from stunted oaks not yet in leaves,
though red flowering weeds in the path foretell the green
to come. One bird descends to a boulder, shaggy with moss,
and disappears. I rise, specters already flowing my bloodstream
from the strenuous hike, stagger to stone, find a foothold,
lift myself to see water droplets fuming from fissure,
the chickadee wallowing, beating wings in a leaf-strewn pool,
drinking the reckoning of rock and a season of rain.
When the bird spots me, spooked, it flees, reoccupies
its post, banters my presence from a nearby branch.
I cup my hands like a camped Rebel, immerse them,
break the leaf mould surface, salvage water from silt,
set the freshness to my lips. I return to my lookout,
form my pack to a pillow with one last sour mash sip,
lie down to sleep, the last lights flickering, dusk diffusing
over interstate, strip malls, and munitions plants,
the Shermans of the world below making their plans.