James R. Brown

The green spade’s edge cuts through
the granite, sparkle interwoven
through Georgia field dirt.
It cuts through the oak root
to a blue vein that winces
against the sun, and hears what I now pray,
what I curse in the grease-sweat noon.

The variant pines mark the field’s edge
as a map. They lean their heads
left and right in the wind, discerning.

Last spring I killed a copperhead, wrist thick,
with this green spade, which I took
from my father’s shed five springs past

long past his funeral, in the thinning
of his goods among his friends and me—
often too drunk to be a son.

Father, you, hatless, mouth brimmed of roots,
earth-stopped and dreaming.
Take the iron of this dirt.
Speak through my stutter.
Bless, please, this work.


James R BrownJames R. Brown was born abroad. He was educated in the South at Armstrong State University and the University of Tennessee. He has worked as a teacher and general laborer for over 25 years. Today he lives and works when he can in Dock Junction, GA. His poems appear in Apple Valley Review, Blue Collar Review, Shotglass Journal, Literary Mama, some others.