Learning the Craft of the Land by Randy Smith

My first caesura
          was a clay gully
in a corn field,
          a place to pause

and breathe in
          metered green
heat. The first
          stanza I worked

with my own
          hands—a yellow-
leafed quatrain
          of tobacco rows,

moving straight
          as destiny toward
the blackberry-
          spangled fence

and tractor turn. I bore
          doves, quails,
fish, frogs, melons,
          and beans home

like a personal
          lexicon of flesh
for body
          and soul,

gathered flint,
          scrapers, points,
and pottery shards
          to build

a metaphor for being
but never ceasing
          to be.

Randy Smith founded and directs the BFA program in creative writing at Belhaven University in Jackson, MS. Program alum, Angie Thomas (2011), was nominated for the 2017 National Book Award for her debut novel, The Hate U Give, a project she started as her senior creative thesis at Belhaven. Randy has published poetry previously in Ruminate, Rock & Sling, and The Best of Sandhills. Six of his poems are included in the anthology Open Hands: The Tupelo Press 30/30 Project: February 2016 (Tupelo Press, 2017).