Archive for July, 2007

Entry for July 31, 2007

July 31, 2007

Since things are so flakey with my housing situation, I went out to Newport to look at another place. I had hoped to be living in Blacksburg. Sigh. However, the house is so lovely it will be like living in a $10/day Bed and Breakfast.

Mark has loaned me his truck for the move. I’ll be sharing the house with the owner, Victoria, and one or two other women. Victoria say I can move my stuff early. She also has storage room for whatever I might want out there, but not need to use daily.

She says that there is a guest room if I have a friend coming through and that I’m welcome to invite friends for dinner. She even has a spare laptop with a wireless connection that I can use and Mom can call me on the land line, since I won’t be able to get cell service. There are also folks riding into town to Blacksburg regularly with whom I can catch a ride, especially when the weather turns bad.

Page View Statistics (visitor count no longer available from yahoo.)

July 2007: 15,351
2007 YTD: 92,386
2006 TOTAL: 61,308
Total since 1/1/06: 153,351

BZA meeting today voted to reverse zoning administrator on Fairmount appeal. Next step is court, but without the town’s decsion in our favor.

In national news, check out: “Tancredo fans flames on children’s insurance: He claims the House expansion plan would let illegal immigrants get the health coverage” by Anne C. Mulkern , Denver Post, July 31, 2007.



July 31, 2007

Photo of flyrock damage accompanies Jerry’s (no last name listed) article on mountaintop removal at Kentuckians for the Commonwealth’s Canary Project. (email)

Appalachian NightmareFor Mary Ellen Kelley (c. 2007 by the author. All rights reserved.)

The dream comes over
and over, facts off, not how
it happened, when at

seventeen, I stood
on crutches, not able to
run, not just crippled

but doomed, transfixed by
some subliminal signal
understood too late:

a half-ton boulder
hurled towards our cabin’s kitchen.
Then, otherworldly,

the flyrock stopped short,
rived by a sharp stone standing
sentry in the yard.


Each time I dream, though,
the huge boulder plunders on.
How can I feel cold

while fear smolders? The
flyrock navigates a path,
careens through some hole,

comes to rest beside
a small bed. In a flashlight’s
beam, a toddler’s dead.

This makes no sense since
it was daytime, I survived,
I was seventeen.

For months I try to
cipher hole, light, bed. Nights I
lie awake—this lacks

logic, but I think
if I can avoid sleep I’ll
somehow save the child:

if I can keep out
dreams, I’ll invalidate fate,
somehow stop the stone.

I finally drag
to my doctor for drugged rest
then referral to

a shrink who tells me
I’m not at all crazy: real
life alters in dreams.

I can’t help wonder
why details would be so wrong–
why now, after years?

I stare up behind
our homes: A&G plans mines
stolen with faked maps.

I can’t help but think
the nightmare’s not my past; it’s
other folks’ future.


Author’s note: Since participating in the West Virginia Writers Mountaintop Removal Tour, readers of this blog know I’ve been doing a lot on that issue and the related one of liquid coal (a bad idea.) Bob Henry Baber and I have been in contact, and he’s informed me that a WV lowku should have anything but 17 syllables. (He sent me a book with one of his lowkus, which is actually longer than I remembered.)

Despite this, I’m still working on meta-lowkus which I guess qualify because they have 17 squared syllables: 5-7-5 stanzas of 5-7-5 syllable lines. My concept is to do a whole manuscript which will be a meta-meta lowku: 5 on this series about Jeremy Davidson’s slaughter in Wise County, VA. This first one is about my friend’s recurring nightmare that predicted Jeremy’s death, a nightmare everyone thought reflected PTSD from her own near- miss from a flyrock, Another will be about the mining that cause the death, one about the actual death, one about the town’s reaction and one set two or possibly three years later which would be now.

If I finish this, there will be seven on deep mining, including the Pittston strike, the Battle of Blair Mountain, and disasters including Sago and Buffalo Creek. The last section is five poems on Coal River Valley in WV, including the poem I already posted, which has now been published in the Summer 2007 issue of Appalachian Voices.

Comments welcomed!


Spent today at the New Media Center learning how to upload pictures and manipulate them in Adobe Photoshop. There’s now an online bio and picture (Greg Moneyhun took of my before we tore down the NRFP office) at Campaign Trail’s wiki.

Mary Hill and I met to go over poems at lunch.

Finished the above poem and then didn’t save it correctly, so ended up at Mike’s to rewrite it from my last saved draft.

Entry for July 29, 2007

July 31, 2007

Lily invited all of us to spend the night. Spent today hanging out with her and Sandy, Ralph and Paula.

Entry for July 28, 2007

July 28, 2007

Here’s a picture of our hostess for International Folkdancing, Lily McEAchern with her new drum, a present from her friends at SUUSI.

Am writing this from Salem, Virginia. I only have an hour on the computer, since I spent the day helping to pack up the Free Press office and dropping books off for the next BURG book sale. I want to use some of that time to work on my poem for the July Verbal Events, which Jean Connor is publishing.

The issues of Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel and Appalachian Heritage which had published my poems both came there. They are both lovely and I”m really proud to be included in the later, which is dedicated to Al Stewart, the magazine’s first editor (and the first one to publish my poems.

Got to talk to Dale from the Coalition for Justice who has been writing Presente all these years.

Afterwards, called up Tonya from OVEC and talked a while.

Tonight is the inernational folkdance potluck at Lily’s.

Entry for July 27, 2007

July 28, 2007

Tonight was the farewell party for the New River Free Press. Sigh. More later including pictures when I learn how to post digital photos from the Cannon the new media cente loaned me.

Guess what, I know how to post pictures, but I didn’t know how to use the camera. It turns out you have to hold the shutter down for a long time. Thus, all the photos of folks I knew were not actually taken. Only two turned out from the party later in the Cellar, and two taken by others. This show someone selecting books to take home from the Library for Social Change. The books left after the giveaway went to BURG for its fundraiser and to the YMCA Thrift Shop.

Entry for July 26, 2007

July 28, 2007

BURG fundraising committee tomight with Kay Kay, Margaret, Renae, and Marian. More later.

Entry for July 25, 2007

July 25, 2007

Waiting to hear what happened at the BZA. In Roanoke for book group. I’ll expand on this as the Roanoke College library is closing.

Entry for July 24, 2007

July 24, 2007

And now you, too, can live like a Katrina victim, in one of FEMA’s infamous trailers.

The agengcy was criticized yet again in Congress the other day, this time for auctioning off 17,000 of its formaldahide-ridden trailers. so here’s my question, what do they do in the next disaster, buy new ones? Seems like a good way to lose money for the government, or rather, yet another way to transfer it to the private sector. The trailers cost $60,000 to !00,000 to purchase.

And rather than invest in permanent housing in decent neighborhoods, according to the Urban Institute’s Margery Austin-Turner, our government is still housing thousands in FEMA’s trailer parks, each with hundreds of tiny trailers lined up in rows in huge, fenced-in fields, miles from schools, jobs, grocery stores, playgrounds, or doctors offices. Kind of reminds you of an interment camp, huh.

Consider instead Marianne Cusato’s traditional-style cottages

300-square-foot structures that can be constructed faster than a FEMA trailer for less than $35,000…. The houses are built with fiber-cement siding and crimped metal roofs. They are more attractive alternatives to the sterile FEMA trailers, and can ultimately be incorporated into long-term plans as guest houses or studios.

Cusato’s cottage is one of several models that came out of the 2005 Missippi Renewal Forum in Biloxi, where New Urbanist architect-planner Andrés Duany charged his design team

to come up with an alternative to the FEMA trailer that could become a building block to a real neighborhood. Why not use taxpayers’ enormous investment in temporary disaster housing to add value to recovering communities instead of future eyesores?

The alternative had to be safe, capable of life in a storm zone. It had to be practical for long-term living. And it had to be so appealing that communities would welcome them into existing neighborhoods instead of zoning then out for fear of pulling down property values.

Entry for July 23, 2007

July 23, 2007

“Shall We Gather” by Darcy Meeker, who has her annual “Look and Load party before she departs for the big show in Colorado. I’m headed over there right now.

Entry for July 22, 2007

July 23, 2007

Dinner at Thai restaurant with Mark and Marian and Daniel and Margaret and then we watched Lumumba. The above is the poster from the 1992 film by Raoul Peck. French w/ subtitles.

More later.