Nebraska Center for Writers

NIGHT IN THE
SHENANDOAH RIVER VALLEY

by MATT MASON

The sun yawns low and red over the valley where
Stonewall Jackson didn't care that
he was outnumbered by a sea of damp blue uniforms.
After the sun gave way to coalsmoke black, Stonewall Jackson
must have lain in his tent, wondering what surrounded him,
what birds or bugs out there make that droning song
washing in and out till dawn.

And the next morning, did he dress sharp as a saber and
stand on the Blue Ridge like a tourist,
thinking about bringing his family here, having a picnic
before getting back to the business of making the valley bleed.

Trees have come and gone since then
and farms and homesteads, too many wildflowers to count
(though the effort may not be a waste).
And I lie here listening,
wondering how many weary dreams
have laid themselves to sleep in this same place.

Copyright © 1996 by Matt Mason


ODE TO A CONFEDERATE FLAG
by MATT MASON

Stonewall Jackson kicked some ass
until his own confused men blasted away
at his shadows and flesh. That's the easy part,
letting go of your new wife
to shoulder a shoddy hunting rifle and a pack of warm cornbread
and walking to town,
that's easy.
Yes, thousands of ruptured men stiffening in pastures
is easy, blood and grey matter, the crackle of your own bone
and gristle,
the stuff of destruction;

as no matter how hard General Jackson hammered
he couldn't make one goddamned pumpkin blossom.

Copyright © 1996 by Matt Mason

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