Virginia Literary Journal - 3

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Virginia Literary Journal 3

Virginia Literary Journal - 3 No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part without permission of the publisher. Copyright © 2017 by Virginia Literary Journal All rights reserved.

Cover Photo, “Emancipation Oak,” by Sarah Kohrs Under the branches of this Southern Live Oak, African American slaves fleeing to Fort Monroe for protection during the American Civil War, first heard the liberating words of the Emancipation Proclamation. Here, too, they learned to read and write–a privilege kept from them by Virginia state law. Hampton, VA (2015).

PUBLISHED BY Cedar Creek Publishing, Virginia, USA Linda M. Layne, Publisher Many thanks to Sara Robinson, Volume Editor for this issue of the Virginia Literary Journal ISBN 978-1-942882-06-0

CONTENTS [Photo] Dogwood by the Tracks by Dee Bowlin ............................ 1 Miles to Go by Dee Bowlin ............................................................ 2 The Blue Ridge Mountain Moon by Dee Bowlin .......................... 3 [Photo] Daydreamin’ by Dee Bowlin ............................................. 4 The Appalachian Trail by Linda Dove ............................................ 5 [Photo] Falls Ridge by Sarah Kohrs ................................................ 6 The Link Between Clutter and Depression by Nancy Taylor ......... 7 In This Thin Place by Sarah Kohrs ............................................. 8-9 An Early Birth by Trey Spencer ..................................................... 10 First Grandchild by Nancy Taylor ................................................ 11 [Photo] Cattle Pond, Pulaski, VA by Nancy Taylor ...................... 12 Cremation Society by Susan Robbins ........................................... 13 The Wild Ride by Mike Spillman .......................................... 14-15 Riparian by Daniel Pravada ........................................................... 16 [Photo] Corn’s Up, Pulaski, VA by Nancy Taylor ......................... 17 Country Neighbors by David Black .............................................. 18 It’s a Dog’s Life by Lois Holden .............................................. 19-24 [Photo] Hughlett Point Nature Preserve by William Vollrath .... 25

OUR CONTRIBUTORS ....................................................... 26-28

Dogwood blooming by railroad tracks in Roanoke, Virginia. Photo by Dee Bowlin


Miles to Go By Dee Bowlin

When I reach the end of the tracks, I know you’ll be waiting for me. Though the walk will be riddled with trials, I will hold you at last; you will see! The steel of the rails will be hot through the soles of my tattered shoes, but rays of the sun will guide my way to a life I will joyfully choose. There’ll be days I’ll dance on crossties and sing with the birds in the trees. I will celebrate our youthful days and travel the miles with great ease. But when my spirit is broken with sorrow and heartbreak or strife, the memory of us will give me strength to navigate the curves of life. My past has been far from perfect. I’ve sadly derailed many times. If only I’d stayed in your strong arms, wrapped in “first love” so sublime. All my friends are cheering me on. Some have marched down tracks of their own. My happiness is all they want, so please wait. I’m coming home.


The Blue Ridge Mountain Moon By Dee Bowlin

When eventide darkens the valley and silhouettes fade with the sun, the moon creeps over the mountain tops to reward us for a day well done. It leaves the horizon far behind to climb up the mountain’s rough slope and finally reveals its full glory by unfurling its shadowy cloak. It doles out dim splashes of moonlight on hiking trails lined with tall pines, awakens the mystical forest to untangle the thickets and vines. The moon keeps an eye on the valley, entertained by songs of the night, dancing to fiddle and banjo tunes while it tucks weary children in tight. Then night owls on earth become moonflowers and bathe in the nocturnal spell. They gather up moonbeams in journals to embellish the stories they tell. When sunlight prepares to trade places, the moon bows its head in regret, slowly sliding behind The Blue Ridge to wait for tomorrow’s sunset.


Looking out over Roanoke, Virginia From Roanoke Mountain. Photo by Dee Bowlin


The Appalachian Trail By Linda Dove

I stopped in my tracks and poked aside brittle twigs, stood upright, peered, then took off my glasses the better to listen for something beyond my ordinary senses, though I knew not what. Then I heard sunlit ribbons loosened from dusk flutter down through the trees. They pointed a path from the tip of my boots to the dark hole where once the door of the cottage had called. The path’s gold threads enticed, shimmered, like a young girl drawn to her first dance floor. But as sweat turned to ice on my skin I shivered and uncanny reverence cooled my blood. An owl hooted as the pale moon opened her eyelid. My boots felt heavy. I hesitated to enter the space between my breath and the echoes breathing around the empty rooms of the old homestead. Motionless I stood in the thicket as the magic path faded. I listened for whispers of the memories wandering through the house from stove to hearth, awaiting each other on the crumbling staircase. Then, quiet like a vole slipping out at night, I turned back on the trail, cautious not to disturb a past in which I had no part, the belonging generations back then whom I had not known.


Near the travertine cliffs of Falls Ridge Preserve, hiking trails meander through woods reminiscent of ones once traversed by Native Americans who lived in a nearby settlement upriver. The area has also been used historically for lime kilns, carding mills, and more. Blacksburg, VA, 2016. Photo by Sarah Kohrs


The Link Between Clutter and Depression By Nancy Taylor

Little by little I’m reclaiming the house First a dresser top then a kitchen counter Got a few weeds from around the roses Can’t do the closet today Or the coffee table Trickiest are the cobwebs Deep in the recesses of my mind You ashen yellow from the chemo At 28, unable to care for yourself New meds here; clinical trial there Dust upon dirt and love upon hope Little by little I see a tabletop A sparkling sink You in a dream job on the seventh floor Of a building that isn’t a hospital And still, there is cleaning Oh, so much cleaning yet to do


In This Thin Place By Sarah Kohrs

In honor of the enslaved individuals buried in Corhaven Graveyard There, in the thin place that drapes like osnaburg cloth worn down by formerly knobby knees, time distills into distinct impressions that saturate completely even when the sun shines. There, as a harrow presses earth, fingers were passing in prayers in pleas in punctuations again and again and again until the dredging slipped up more than mud and mankind's knobby knees knelt furrows into the other side (sparkling like sapphire sky), Continued‌ 8

whence a bit of sacrosanct tears dripped and froze like scales of beeswax, whose slumgum nourishes the here, among white-violeted graves in this thin place.


An Early Birth By Trey Spencer

Crossing Jefferson’s lawn, my wife winces, and ends up in the ER at UVA. Like a lone bloodroot bloom in March, new life arrives early, and is rushed to the NICU. Watching her, I remember Coleridge’s lines on the gentle breathing of a sleeping babe. Monitors dotting her chest spasm, beep. Nurses adjust the tube that runs through her nose. My wife suffers allergic reactions, a dropping platelet count. She is in and out and in and out. But her spirit holds, thick and strong as a tall southern red oak. In days, I can wheel her to visit the babe. Within a week, we occupy the hours feeding, holding: hesitant new speakers of that eternal language called parenthood. By the time our new family traverses Jefferson’s lawn – wrists finally bare of hospital bracelets – the students have gone for the summer, and the heat is a haze. We don’t mind the quiet scratch of our lone feet on the path. As eagles soaring through the Shenandoah, we, for this moment, see things as God laid them out, and are most grateful.


First Grandchild By Nancy Taylor

Cherokee hunters speak pleas of pardon at the harvesting of deer Offering thanks to the spirit taken That spirit moves in me through fresh, early grass Through cool springs and blackberry tangles Speaks to me in wind rustling Autumn’s last leaves Warms me with newborn heat, honing deep satisfaction When the world seems mad and your light dim Go Climb the Chinaberry tree Tiptoe to the sun Seek the Golden’s nest, wait for the hatching, and let that spirit nurture you


At sunset, even a common cattle pond becomes beautiful. Photo by Nancy Taylor


Cremation Society By Susan Robbins

We felt better after we joined the Cremation Society, the only club we were in. I didn’t count the little country church as a club because Fred wouldn’t go with me after a man had frozen to death less than a hundred yards from the church which was locked anyway. Fred asked what kind of club lets a man freeze outside its doors. He likes to try to make me see things his way. He grew up on a small farm in Virginia so thinks he understands how limited the heart can be. But it was a comfort knowing about the Society’s twentyfour/seven service. I had seen with my own eyes two men in nice gray suits come for my aunt and take her out of the house with great care at three-thirty that morning last year, not bumping into the walls with the gurney, and going across the yard to their van, unmarked. Much better than the three-day ordeals we were used to when people died. My Uncle Clement, for instance, who had served a brief term in the state prison in Richmond for mail fraud, had what was for us a state funeral, and gave my aunt—the one gently carried out of the house a year later—her best scenes of the heartbroken widow, her sons holding her up to walk into the church and to sit with her at the dinner that followed the long service. The minister had promised us all that we would be meeting Clement on the other side where all the rough places were smooth. The sons, Clemmie Jr and David, inspired by the injustice they felt had been visited on their father for simply using the U.S. Postal System were both attorneys for white collar cases and had never lost in court. Fred and I did not want such a funeral for ourselves. For one thing, our daughters were through with us and would never have shown up for such a “parade” they had said, knowing that I would like their use of Jane Austen’s phrase even if I was a little sorry they did not want to come to my funeral or their dad’s who was a much better dad than I was mom. Fred wants his ashes flying up from the car window as I drive on Route 6. That way he will escape at least some of the limits he lives with—he means speed limits, money limits, property lines, maybe marriage vows. 13

The Wild Ride By Mike Spillman

Whose bike it was, I did not care. I only knew that it was there. The bike and hill called out to me, steep Pollard Street, six blocks to see. A sign was there, NO BIKES ALLOWED, but I intended to stand proud. The kids would know I had the stuff; those traffic cops were not so tough. They could be beat by my young feet, and everyone at school would see’t. The bike was old and painted red with barn paint found inside a shed, the seat was loose, the fenders gone, Kamikaze madness drove me on. No traffic bumps, no lights, no cop, could slow me down or make me stop. As speed increased, I shouted loud, with hope, I guess, to draw a crowd. I passed a car as I zoomed on. The driver swore and hit his horn. The Baptist church was on my right, the corner drug came into sight. Adrenaline ran throughout my veins, peddling fast, my body strains. What’s that I hear? What’s that I see; a big blue light catching up with me? The siren’s wail, it drives me wild. That traffic cop sure wants this child. The policeman yells, I try to stop, the chain falls off, I nearly drop. What can I do but play the fool and try my best to make the school. Continued… 14

I cut across three lanes of cars creating several traffic snarls. Race up the drive and drop my ride. I will be safe once I’m inside. But who’s that standing in my way? Mr. Cathcart? Oh, woe some day. BUSTED.



By Daniel Pravda I too am but a trail of drift and debris. - Whitman 61 degree December 1 reprieve from Governor Nature the Riparian Trail a blanket of witches' knees and needles appears easy to follow to the edge of Hoeffler Creek. A red oak 200 years wide with roots like a fort wall holds the shore with a million fingers. Wind dead, creek flat, pines on the far side blur in slow tide. Current is never current. 16

In early July, the corn is up about two feet in southwest Virginia along Kent Farm Road in Pulaski County. Photo by Nancy Taylor


Country Neighbors By David Black

The new plantings were milkweed, lavender, and butterfly weed—bait for my own eyes and that was reason enough—but alluring, too, to Lepidoptera and Apis and all manner of Latinate neighbors whom I hoped to entice into front-porch visits: Oh, there you are! Come in! Sit a spell. Have a cookie and some sweet tea. And they came, by the dozens, the hundreds, lighting and leaving in haste or sitting for a second helping, and those greedy bumblebees— habitués who seemed never to leave— hefty enough to sway lavender stems almost to the ground, something there that kept them busy until nightfall. And then the faithful old-timers: shy fawns and rabbits, crazy bluejays, and the erratic swoop of pileated woodpeckers scalloping the air beneath their wings... all these taking some from spring’s first platter, more from summer’s plenty, and a few stragglers from the last pickings of fall, and I—I harvesting all I can as I write, but leaving this rich world still filled with trees and flowers and birds, bumblebees and butterflies, from which my poem takes only a few.


It’s a Dog’s Life By Lois Holden

A cold front had blown in overnight bringing freezing rain that made the grass crisp with ice. A lone light in the kitchen shone through the frosted window illuminating a small patch of brown turf. The sun had yet to rise over Horse Mountain when Homer Johnston began loading the truck. The first day of deer season always filled him with excitement and anticipation just like it did on that day long ago when his grandfather first took him hunting. He was ten and Grandpa Sam had taken over the farm when Homer’s father was drafted after Pearl Harbor. Sam taught Homer everything Sam thought Homer should know. People said Sam was a hard man and Homer learned those hard ways from him. Sam taught Homer early on that everything on the farm had to be productive. Plants, animals, people were all the same, either they pulled their weight or they were replaced. It didn’t always work so well with people but if you were a slacker, Homer soon let you know it. His wife, Peg, had once wanted a little dog as a pet. He’d told her, “Damn little yapping ankle biter! I won’t allow it on the place. And stop bringing those cats in the house. They’re supposed to be in the barn eating mice, not laying on the sofa soaking up the sun!” Peg had wanted to put in a rose garden but he put a stop to that, too. Any garden had to produce vegetables for the table, not sissy flowers that weren’t good for anything. “Colin!” Homer shouted at his grandson, “Stop lollygagging and get those dogs out of the kennel and into the cages on the truck.” Colin was ten and Homer thought he was soft, not in the head, but in body and ambition. It made Homer sick the way his daughter, Betsy, mollycoddled her son. He was determined to teach Colin the ways of manhood even if he had to beat them into him. Colin was excited to be going on his first deer hunt even though he was afraid of his grandfather. He was even more excited when Homer told him they would be going to the James River bottom land owned by his Uncle Dewey. Colin was 19

captivated by the James River and loved to read stories about the old times on the river. Grandpa Homer wouldn’t allow a computer in the house so Colin took advantage of trips to the Nelson County Memorial Library to search for stories about river life. He devoured Mark Twain’s writing even if he had to hide the books from his grandfather. He dreamed of life on the Mississippi as an escape from the farm life he hated in Virginia. One day the librarian suggested that he research commerce on the James River. Colin never knew about the traffic on the James until the librarian told him about the batteaux and the canal boats that followed them. He was delighted when he found two publications on-line. One, Canal Reminiscences by George W. Bagby, recounted first-hand experience of barge life on the James and Kanawa Canal. Colin then became infatuated with the earlier batteaux that plied the James River from Lynchburg to Richmond. He spent many hours daydreaming of poling down the river. Each year, he begged his grandfather to take him to one of the camps that re-enactors made during the James River Batteaux Festival. Last year, his Uncle Dewey took him and his cousin, Thomas, to the encampment at Howardsville. Colin was in heaven talking to the men and women who made the journey each year. He hoped one day to volunteer to make the entire seven-day trip. Today they would drive through Howardsville and over the bridge to Buckingham County and Uncle Dewey’s property. Although there’s not much left of Howardsville today—only a general store and a few houses—in its day, it was a bustling town. River floods washed away most of the town but it was still a cool place to Colin as he imagined what it had been. The second publication he found on the internet was by Alan M. Bruns, Howardsville—some history: A Child’s Eye View of Howardsville, Virginia. Colin liked that as much as he had the tale of the barge trips. He coerced one of his friends who had a computer and printer to print both Bagby’s and Brun’s publications so he could read them over and over. Homer watched as Colin tried to herd the six-month old pups. Colin named each one of every litter even though he knew that after they were trained they’d be sold. Today would be this litter’s trial run at running a deer. Suzy-Q, Homer’s best hunting beagle, was excited and eager to go. Folks fought for one of her 20

pups. She produced the best hunters around, except for every once in a while. Homer started training the pups early. He’d drag a deer carcass over a trail so they could get a good scent to follow. They would follow Suzy-Q’s lead and soon caught on to what they were supposed to be doing. When he went to feed them, he’d take trashcan lids and bang them together to get them accustomed to noise. He would also target practice and sight-in his guns by the kennel. Most puppies got used to the sounds and ignored them, except for once in a while. He had one of those pups in this litter—afraid of her own shadow. Homer had seen her during a thunderstorm once, trembling in a corner of the kennel. His disgust was almost palpable. He knew she’d never be any good as a hunting dog and he also knew what had to be done. As they passed through Howardsville, Colin asked, “Do you remember when Howardsville was a town, Grandpa?” Homer gruffly replied, “Of course I do. Things went downhill around here after Camille in ’69. Most of Nelson County was washed away. We were lucky but your Aunt Josephine’s house and barn were washed away. Thank goodness the Mennonites came to help her rebuild. They were a blessing, for sure. Howardsville used to be a real town with three stores, a service station, a couple of rooming houses and a train depot. You’d wave down the train if you wanted to ride it to Charlottesville or Lynchburg. Camille changed all that. Most of the buildings were washed away or damaged beyond repair. And then another flood in ’72 was higher than that and took what was left. The town center was over there across the tracks close to the river. The bridge used to be right there across the road. They built the new bridge over there after Camille. Don’t know why they moved it over. Now there’s just the General Store and a few houses. They even closed the post office a few years back.” Colin knew all this from reading Alan Bruns’ essay but he couldn’t believe his good luck that Homer was so talkative. “Do you remember when the James would freeze over in the winter?” “Where’d you hear about that?” 21

“Oh, I was reading a paper by a man who lived around here back in the day.” Homer’s mood changed immediately. He had a litany of grievances against the modern world. “That’s what’s wrong with folks today, especially you young ‘uns. Always got your nose in a book when you ought to be learning about farming and making a living from the soil. Folks today want to use technology to do their work for them. That’s why we’re going to hell in a hand basket.” “But Grandpa, times have changed. It’s not like when you were growing up.” As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Colin regretted them. For not the first time, Homer started a diatribe about modernization. Colin had heard this speech and many others before. Once Colin had innocently said, “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.” Well, that started a rampage on what the Bible said about what you could eat and not eat. Colin made the mistake of saying, “But grandpa, you eat catfish. That’s not allowed in the Bible.” That resulted in a slap for “sassin’ back.” It took a couple of days for the welt on his face to go down. Colin slumped down in the truck seat and was soon lost in his own thoughts, ignoring Homer. He wondered how life would have been if his father hadn’t been killed in Iraq. The move from Atlanta was hard on Colin. His mother hadn’t been able to find work and was forced to relocate to Virginia and move in with her parents. Their life was very different from that day on. When he discovered the James River history he learned to love the river and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Colin still missed his friends and the big city and he hated life on the farm. Most of all he missed his father. Colin thought about the plans he and his father had made. They wanted to see the world and experience life in foreign lands. His father was a gentle man and would often write stories and poems that he read to Colin. Of course, Homer thought his son-in-law a wimp, even though he was a Marine. Colin tried his hand at writing stories that he shared in letters to his dad. Colin’s father encouraged his son and gave him suggestions on how to improve his writing. He wanted his father to be proud so he worked very hard to improve. Colin wanted to be like Earl Hamner who grew up in Schuyler and was famous for his writing and “The Waltons” TV show. He 22

never shared his aspirations with anyone, especially Grandpa Homer. Down at the James River, the mist was rising along with the sun. As Colin stepped out of the truck, he stopped when saw a bald eagle soar overhead. Homer growled, “Stop wool gathering and let the dogs out, Colin. We’ll see if they pick up a scent.” Suzy-Q was off like an arrow with the pups bounding after her. She caught whiff of a deer and was away. One pup hung back and watched Homer and Colin load their guns. Homer grabbed her and tied a piece of rope around her neck and secured her to the truck. “What’s that for, Grandpa? Why’d you put a rope around Sophie’s neck like that?” “Never you mind. Let’s follow the pack and see if they scare up a deer.” After all morning in the field, they finally saw a deer. Colin froze and couldn’t shoot when Homer let him take the first shot. Colin wasn’t expecting the backhand that struck him in the face. As he staggered and fell, Homer spat out, “Now you stand up and pick up your gun, boy. You’d just better hope we have another chance to bag one today.” They had to track for several hours before finding another deer. Homer took this one. He tried to teach Colin how to field dress the deer but Colin wasn’t much good with the knife. Back at the truck with the deer strapped across the truck bed, Homer put all the dogs back in their cages except Sophie. “What are you going to do with Sophie?” Colin asked. “I’m not going to do anything to her. You are.” “What do you mean?” Colin was afraid to hear the answer to that question. “I mean, you’re going to shoot this dog and we’ll be rid of a parasite. I’ll not abide by anything that doesn’t pull its own weight. That includes you. You understand me, boy? I’ll make a man outta you or I’ll die trying.” “I can’t, Grandpa! That’s not right to kill a dog just because she’s afraid of the noise.” Colin dropped his rifle. Homer grabbed Colin by the collar and shook him, “Don’t argue with me, boy, or I’ll make that backhand seem like a pat on the cheek. You’re just like your father. No gumption, just weak 23

and useless. Now pick up that gun, shoot that dog and get in the truck or I’ll leave you and her down here to freeze.” Colin’s blood turned to ice when he heard the words against his father. In anger, he cried, “My dad was a great man. He was a brave soldier and he died a hero! You can’t say those things about him.” Homer just grunted, pointed to the rifle on the ground and started back to the truck. Colin wasn’t sure if his granddad meant that he would leave him. But he knew that he’d have a long walk home if he was left there and he’d probably get a beating when he got home. And what would he do with Sophie? As he stood there, Colin knew his next action would determine his path in life. After thinking a minute, he walked over and picked up his rifle. He was heartbroken and wondered what his father would do in his place and he also wondered what his mother would think when she found out. Although tears were blinding him, he took aim and slowly pulled the trigger.


Hughlett Point Nature Preserve. Northern Neck, Chesapeake Bay Shore. - Photo by William Vollrath 25

OUR CONTRIBUTORS David Black lives in Louisa, Virginia. At the University of Virginia, he worked on Plume & Sword, a literary magazine. He has published widely in regional magazines such as Now & Then, Zone 3, Tar River Poetry, and Appalachian Journal, and is the former poetry editor of English Journal. He has published two poetry collections: Some Task, Long Forgotten and Other Poems (2000, o.p.) and The Clown in the Tent (2010, Amazon). He is currently working on a third poetry collection tentatively entitled Aspects of a Crosscut Saw, and an essay collection. Dee Bowlin lives in Roanoke, Virginia, surrounded by the inspirational Blue Ridge Mountains. Her poetry has been published in Encore, Golden Words, Red Earth Revisited, Artemis, and Virginia Literary Journal. Her songs have been performed on stage, and her photographs published in Artemis and Virginia Literary Journal. Dee was honored as 2011 Poetry Society of Oklahoma Poet Laureate and is currently a member of Southwest Virginia Songwriters Association and Roanoke Valley Christian Writers. Linda Dove wrote poems as a young person in England. But life, careers in teaching, universities and, for the last 20 years, international development assistance put academic and technical writing foremost. In 2005, big changes in her life stimulated Linda’s poetic sensibilities once again. In 2009, she moved from Northern Virginia to the central Shenandoah Valley just outside Harrisonburg. She finds that poetry as a literary vehicle helps her express the inspiration she finds in the Valley’s natural beauty, its history, and its changing, diverse cultures. Linda did not have a formal training in poetry, especially American poetry, but she is an avid learner about the history of poetry, and poetic styles and forms, and she loves to experiment. In the last six years, Linda has shared her poems with her local poet friends. She formed and facilitates a monthly poetry-writing group in Harrisonburg where we share our poems and give constructive feedback. She also regularly attends writing and poetry events in Staunton and 26

Waynesboro, and occasionally in Charlottesville and Hollins University. Encouraged by fellow writers, Linda is now exploring her potential for publication in high quality magazines. Lois Holden lives on the sunrise side of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Nelson County, Virginia. She started writing poems as a child and has continued to write poetry and short stories since those early efforts. She has worked as a publisher, technical writer, book editor and newsletter editor. Her entry, “Old Sukie and Me,” won first prize in the 2013 Fralin Museum of Art (University of Virginia) Writer’s Eye competition in the university/adult prose category and her short story, "An Ordinary Day," received an honorable mention in the 2014 Writers' Eye competition. The short story “The Hearing Aide” won honorable mention in the Blue Ridge Writers Chapter 2014 writing contest; in 2015, her short story, "Target Practice," won third place in the Blue Ridge Writers contest. She is a member of the Lonesome Mountain Pros(e) Writers Workshop, the Blue Ridge Writers Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club and the Virginia Writers Club. Sarah E N Kohrs creates written and visual art that seeks a unique perspective on how surroundings kindle hope in even a disparaged heart. She has poetry published in Crosswinds Poetry Journal, From the Depths, and Poetry from the Valley of Virginia; and photography in Blueline Literary Magazine and Virginia Literary Journal. Life experiences that bolster her artistic pursuits include homeschooling three sons, creating pottery for local Empty Bowl soup suppers, managing The Sow's Ear Poetry Review, directing Corhaven Graveyard—an historical slave cemetery recently preserved—and more. SENK received a BA, with majors in Archaeology and Classical Languages, from The College of Wooster and holds a VA state teaching license, endorsed in Latin and Visual Arts. She lives in Shenandoah Valley, Virginia. Find her online at Daniel Pravda earned his MFA at George Mason University and returned home to teach at Norfolk State. His poetry has recently appeared in Vine Leaves, The American Dissident, Dos Passos Review, 27

Gihon River Review, Poetica, Asinine,, and Solo Novo. He has published one book, A Bird in the Hand Is a Dumb Bird, in 2011. He also fronts a rock band called “The Dunes.” Susan Pepper Robbins lives in rural Virginia. Her second novel was published this summer by Holland House Books in London, There Is Nothing Strange. Her collection of stories came out in 2014, Nothing But The Weather. Her first novel won the Virginia Prize and was published by Random House. She teaches writing at Hampden-Sydney College. Trey Spencer was born in Abingdon, Virginia, and currently lives in Charlottesville. Mike Spillman is a retired engineer who has resided in Roanoke County for many years. He is a blogger and an enthusiastic amateur poet. His whimsical approach to rhyming poetry reflects his rural origins. Other writings include excerpts from personal journals of his travels and life in the Middle East. Nancy Taylor writes: “Having lived in the New River Valley of southwest Virginia for 35 years, I love all that it has to offer, including living in the country side of beautiful Pulaski County. I wrote my first ‘poem’ at age nine: ‘If I Was [sic] A Mountain.’ I knew even then where I needed to be. As a Special Purpose faculty member in the English Department at Radford University, I have been teaching research, writing, and British literature for 28 years. I love everything the mountains of southwest Virginia have to offer but my favorites are hiking, mountain trail horse riding, kayaking, and camping. Wherever I travel I always have the feeling, when returning home, that this is the best place of all.” William Vollrath recently "retired" to beautiful Charlottesville following several careers in greater Chicago. He now spends his time taking photos, writing poetry, playing the baritone horn, fishing and otherwise contemplating the mysteries of life. 28

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