Pine Level Poem

(in honor of National Poetry Month, April 2015)

sweet potatoes
Photos courtesy of

Pine Level is
tall pines towering
and level fields growing soy beans
and sweet potatoes
in the gray, sandy soil.

Pine Level is
a dot on the rail line
Laid out 161 years ago
from New Bern to Raleigh.
One town’s brick buildings abutting track
Mirrors the next.

Pine Level is
one stoplight for two thousand people
I’m one of them now
I moved in the brown of winter
Buying a bed and table from the furniture store,
Meat from the Town Market
And gas from a corner shop
Where I am trusted to pump first, then pay.

Pine Level is
a fire station, town hall and post office
Where so many hands have pushed the door open
The painted wood is a bas relief of fingertips.
Deer leap across 70A in the dusk
Like carousel animals, up and down
And clouds of pollen hang in the spring air
Until a thunderstorm pushing north
Brings them down to yellow puddles
And lemon lines in pavement cracks.

Pine Level is
rooted with people and stories
Waiting to be turned and tilled.
They should know that along with
cotton, tobacco and greenhouse orchids
They are growing poems here.

The nearby annual Ham and Yam Festival in Smithfield, NC is May 2, 2015. More information at


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