Vicksburg (Seconds Inside my Head)

If a man harbors any sort of fear, it percolates through all his thinking, damages his personality, makes him landlord to a ghost”. – Lloyd Douglas

I had crossed on over, with the darkness rolling in, and the Stateline of Mississippi, made me pause to think of him, maybe it was thirty years ago, but it seems like yesterday, just seconds really to watch a story in display.

He says the sun it sets in ragged pieces floating humid from the sky, tearing soft red hazy parts of heaven hanging them low above Vicksburg to dry. He says you might not really know me, and I would not look too far back into my eyes. You might see a little more than Mississippi lightning, in the places my tears have gone to dry. The dark birds seem to float down by the river, guarding old men fishing last meals and telling tall lies; a young man stands and sticks a needle in his arm, and curses the flies who are passing by.

He says the night it falls upon the water, I hear her begging to be fed. He turns and motions to the Yazoo, to fill the river brown than red. He says the soil above us holds a dead nation of those dumb farm boys how they bled. One hundred years and fifty-five more, all those ghosts are crazy. A million carrion in my head. The old man sniffs and looks on over at the young man lying dead. The needle sticks up like a steeple, sending signals that no one read.

The low clouds light up a candle, a low light that bask in need. Curtains of mist hang over Vicksburg, magnolias bend to receive. The old man haunts the shadows, the grave markers sink beyond retrieve. Antebellum meets the future, of deluded thought and greed. For one old man walks past burial, one young man dies in need. The past is like the present, for the hungry no food is received. The old and new look to the low hung sky, and wonder of their deeds, their many hidden deeds.

He says the seconds slow in Vicksburg, like the cliffs overhead, their lives a hundred different caverns holding the past and present dead. He says each it has it’s story, an unspoken bit of cred, that, that makes its footprint in the lineage of coming heads. A bit of South filled Gothic that’s often read but never said. He turns as if he’s ninety, no doubt he’s already dead, and he motions up from the river, to the lights dim overhead. He says the witches they are coming, in the dimness up ahead. And I know he’s kind of crazy, with the liquor that he’s had, but I can’t help but think he comes from somewhere in the seconds inside my head.

He says the sun it sets in ragged pieces floating humid from the sky, tearing soft red hazy parts of heaven hanging them low above Vicksburg to dry. – 08.28.2018 – דָנִיֵּאל


The Harrowing of Hattie Killabrew

O’ terrible willow bent willow, born shady in back, taint not one star found you, by here near this shack. no sunlight, established or daemons begat, your seed from beginning, the hollow is black. The chorus of the sparrows has died by the crows, what used to be feathers has whitewashed to bones. The spell of the valley is from what this witch mourned. Her time born in living by mankind is scorned.

A great ream of pavement has woven its way, round the township of Pindall toward the valley it strays, it brings standing water that spills from the hills, and swamps Hattie’s back yard in the hallow so still. She thought herself dead, when the tractor came by, asleep sitting up in the year of Azrael, in 1925. She folded her cold fingers round her churn by the door, and pulled herself upward from where she sat so straight back, her bones so sore. A new U.S. Highway called 65, to Hattie its changing her life, comes her anger, its changing her life.

Round circles, embedded in oaks to the sky. O’ terrible willow bent willow, tattered and tried. The new moon brings darkness darker than before. Old woman seen, striding, then gliding cross the frost filled hollow floor. She hisses, “I’m harrowed” as she passes each grave, the ones in the clearing, filled by eons of age. The road crew from Harrison their fires burning bright, the smell of their lightning, tells something not right.

“Come Shemyaza”, “come Azazyel”, “come Amazarek”, with sight, bring “Akibeel”, “o host, taint a star fall, this hollow this night”. The stillness is closing the clamor and din, of faces round moving, the arrival of wind. The dirt dug grows closer, where men sing their songs, all wide eyed and laughing within. The one that leans forward and studies the flame. Sees in it his childhood, his lifetime of pain. “Come Danel”, “come Jazele”, “come hazeel” with pain, bring “slipknot”, “o host let blind eyes see shame”.

A great chasm opens from which comes the roar. The hollow grows wider all flames nothings warm, the road crew from Harrison gleans wisdom not born, the waking of nature, the eye of the storm. The twisting of tractors, of steel into earth, the hallow comes forward, and takes of its worth. The defect of ignorance has brought men, no more, the highway transitioned a mile from this lore. An old woman turns and walks backwards her feet tired her back sore.

O’ terrible willow bent willow, born shady in back, taint not one star found you, by here near this shack. – 10.25.2017 – דָּנִיֵּאל

Gethsemane (1867)

It could be I saw her, or maybe, I just wanted too.  It might be I whispered her name, a time or two, and that’s the way she rose, like a young lady, with “lace in her soul”.


She rises in swaddling cotton from reeds, with lace in her soul she follows the river, and somewhere close by she senses the bay, the place wicked boys come to play wicked games.  For what she remembers so cloudy in mind, the syllables of her name seem to rhyme.  It could be under the bridge, or maybe only due south through the gate in the mist, but somehow she only knows.  Her whispered name on a rose.  The one her daddy gave her in play, a garden for Christ he always would say.  For unto who is given so much, here by the swamp, now fare thee by luck.  The preacher would laugh, as he stayed, inside her forever, his large belly naked and grey, oh he played with a wicked game.  He taunted with a wicked game.


Her body fills wet from the surge of the bay, the suns almost up, and she must go away, but in her mind she prays.  The places at sixteen a girl could go, riding her horse with her bonnet to show.  Through Bagdad to Milton, the county boys know, she is a lovely tow, with the garden of Christ, on your arm. There you go, a smile upon your face.  The dear farmer’s daughter, with lace in her soul.  The humid hot sunshine, the streets all aglow.  Please make a way, her thoughts from the past begging how to know.  The place that she entered and what sin did sew, in all a wicked game.  In all it was a wicked game.


As she slips through the dawn, the mud cools her toes, her restless spirit, makes her a ghost.  She died under the waning Gibbous his hands on her throat, her nakedness displayed, white under the moon, she strayed.  And over and over the water it flows, a Sunday night missing, while they seek her by boat.  The preacher looking, the scratches hidden under his cloak.  He’s laid her all away.  In swaddling cotton, in reeds by the bay.  The garden of Christ, with lace in her soul, she gathered herself, refusing to play, those wicked, wicked games.  Those wicked games.


Gethsemane Simmons, was murdered, and hidden away near the East Bay, close to Bagdad, Florida, on Sunday, August 18, 1867.  There was a waning gibbous moon. – 08.18.2016 – דָּנִיֵּאל

The Picnic (Gaither 1909)

“Everything begins and ends at exactly the right place” – Joan Lindsay, Picnic at Hanging Rock

Oh the hills could they sing, bring the gathering to a ring, for the food that families eat is a sacrifice to where history sleeps.

“The full moon has just left us”, said Mr. Dalton with a sigh, his eyes searching for spirits as they ran increasingly by. It’s the fourth of June in 1909, in a circle near Gaither with the Ozarks marking time, the spell for memory is nigh. It was what begins a family or a friend, a neighbor wanting closure on a funeral that’s just been, a picnic in the meadow, near a grave or two or ten, and the woods of twilight’s future watches all over them. It’s the Dalton’s, with the chicken, and the Miller’s with the pies, someone whispered lightning’s there in Crooked Creek, by where little Ably Watkins drowned and died, like Lazarus he just went to sleep.  He won’t wake up and we don’t know why.

Daisy said, “the picnic brings us one under sky, the Fullerton’s a yonder I haven’t seen them, in week’s gone by.  And all of us together at Gaither, how time does fly”. All the woods around them whispering legends of epochs and by gone lies.  And the children run together, two by two they look for lore, until Ethel calls them forward unto lunch on the grass floor. And each ear she does whisper, “play and feel your own sweet worth, but keep wares that you see each others face where spirits might lurk”. “And you should not go where your unawares, for keepers will stay you there”.

Now it could be that no one looks to notice what is there, in the shady trees of Gaither round the mountain a specters lair, for it comes from layers deep, bringing questions when it speaks. Be it witches or be it spells, from the time that legends dwell. Oh the hills could they sing, bring the gathering to a ring, for the food that families eat, is a sacrifice to where history sleeps.

“The sun is setting soon”, said Joe Sylvie to his sister Zella, where she stood, “and I think I do declare, this days ending without a dare”. And they laugh and turn away, for they know they cannot say, what is family, what is faith, in the history of this place. For what begins and ends in rest, all around the circle crest, hats and bonnets, beards and bows, an eternal spirit glows. And the picture shows it best, fading faces all are blessed, at Gaither, where in coven, the families make the right place a nest.

Oh the hills could they sing, bring the gathering to a ring, for the food that families eat is a sacrifice to where history sleeps. – 04.28.2016 – דָּנִיֵּאל

Emory’s Barn

We watched him for hours as summer roamed on, a young boy devoured by legend of old, we led him on purpose to Emory’s barn to detail a wonder and fulfill his hours. A young man may venture and find a wild home, through doorways where hay stands, and omens do roam, and find leather saddles and tack that smells old, a medicine cabinet with salve, nails and comb. Look further young spirit toward rafters above with spiders and sparrows and may be a dove. The wooden floor opens towards shadows of old, his mind all a wonder a secret unfolds. We watched his gaze falter right there by the chair, is it really rocking, is some ghost still there. What now his eye’s flashing, ablaze with gay light, he’s seen the shell casing, so large with its might, from World War glory and Argonne blight, the smell of dark powder, his Papa’s barn this day will bring him new sight.

We are like a council, a grey flock in black, that tenders a young mind to always look back, but it not about us, so quietly defined, it’s more what this young boy in summer did find. We possessed him to wander in Emory’s barn to find a large bullet to hear such a yarn, but there his mind rambled and it did see more, we lost him in Verdun where he did see war, with trench’s and bayonets and blood flowing gore, in Marne we are ready, to fight all the more. What then he moved quicker across the barn floor and there he did find it a blade for a sword. What claymore of Scotland with blood on its rack that spoke of a time entered a Bosch to his back. A edge that saw action near Somme on a bank, when Rawlinson did order attack with the tanks, and one million perished on Ancre soil, their blood spilling over as G-d did recoil.

In Emory’s barn we hosted control, we lost it in summertime, from what he did sow, a young man with vision that entered a ditch,in faraway journeys with freedoms intent. We watched something happen as vision did whirl, a young boy found greatness as image unfurled. Come down now dark Eden, we’ve watched you birth boy, alone in his kingdom while summertime broils, we’ve watched him look distant and see us enflamed, the warriors of Mon’s, retreat with disdain, and yes those light footprints that start from the hay are worlds from lost shadows, now anchoring this boys new day. – 08.24.2014 – דָּנִיֵּאל

Many a happy summer did find me investigating my Papa Emory’s barn which rested itself in the Arkansas Ozarks. Among the many beautiful trophy’s I did investigate and find were shell casings, a claymore blade, and many other spoils of war that my grandfather had gathered in France as he served with Pershing’s “Dogs of War” that had returned to favor Lafayette in payment of war debt for his kind service toward America some one hundred and forty five years previously. There in that barn on the upper level alone in the Arkansas heat, my mind did see many things. J

Burnt Corn


Harsh red clay, it moves a little when touched.  The contact to earth renders a heat, somewhat like a mercury field poisoning the finger.  The ground wasp burrowed in the mixture of sand and soil look to sting, no mercy given.  The brown tipped pine needles are shadowed for just a moment by a moving flat bed truck and then the low slung haze descends into the afternoon of Burnt Corn, Alabama.

Conecuh County 5 overlays the Federal road that snakes one end to the other Southwest to Northeast.  Two lane shoulder less broken blacktop burying the past of tree root whiskey and Creek troubled ghost.  Tokens of history undeterred by other worlds of progress rising in the still heat to speak of the end of days as they have seen.  Blood feuds between strangers and The Mvskoke settled by generals who go forth in record to rule a land.

Crossroads that speak spirit to more than memoirs.  Here by in this graveside some witch did speak, some Sabbat was given!  Utterances that spun the moon, and broke the ground, and gave silence no option in this new world.  Legacy and pain, and color upon shade, here in this kiln of the Alabama territory did Burnt Corn rise upon a colonial fire.  Here did these Red Sticks die and let their breath mate with one daemon after another.

Late July while fortune watches, water moves no more in crimson history from near Brantley’s Store.  Heavy hot air reaches ripe tentacles across the ground and stagnates against the cinder blocks that support the tin roofed building.  The promising sign of a past marketing age gives oath that the glass bottle that holds the soft drink inside will refresh the will of the empty traveler.  Time moves here for no spirit that bears flesh.

The ash taste, of the maize, the residue lingering on the pallet for hours, it is similar to the metallic taste of bad mash left unattended in the rusty can inside the grist mill.  Both acrid filled metaphors for the homesteaders burning the Red Sticks and their fields of corn.  Whispers cradled by strangers, pictures that no museum would seek to retrieve, are here now in the late July heat.

Rumor retreats until it lives.  It is in the story that legend is born.  If possible for words to be unyielding and reveal uncommon life it will be natural here.  Something has come to fruition in the Longleaf Pine and Black Walnut trees that surround the Old Bethany Baptist Church.  Cain has returned to hunt Abel, and it is here while intellect moves, that words will genesis reality. – DS 11/30/13

Burnt Corn, Alabama is a rural farming community in Southwest Alabama.  It is filled with colorful history, and is very worthy of being the setting for an Americana Gothic novel.  It is my intention and destiny to write it.  The characters and their history are still a work in progress, be assured their basis and magic will be sourced from accrued reality. – DS 11/30/2013