Discover more from Juke
A backwoods highway stomp from poet Matt Layne, read aloud with musical accompaniment by Ned Mudd
The winding back road is swathed in pine-tree-smoke. I stop near a couple in camo who swear it’s under control as the flames spread wide and high. Not wanting to argue a point, I turn back to my car and the road, when the man says, you know, it’s all a big hoax, and his wife laughs at the joke, and he hums Dixie, and she Christ-proclaims. I take my leave as a white pine bursts to flame.
Matt Layne writes…
This poem, like so many of my pieces, was borne of experience. I was on my way to a writing retreat in the backwoods of Alabama when I encountered a "controlled burn" of a pine forest. Two folks on an ATV stood and watched. It brought a few different ideas to mind: first and most obviously, the often self-immolating politics of division and derision. Secondly, the love and loathing I experience from living in arguably the most biologically diverse state in our union that so often seems hell-bent on the destruction of diversity. Lastly, I couldn't help but hear the echo of native son Hank Williams Sr singing "tonight we're setting the woods on fire."
Ned Mudd's righteous accompaniment invoked memories of our improvisational collaborations as Kevorkian Skull Poets in the 1990s, but that's a story for another day.
“Alabama 50” appears in Miracle Strip, released August 31, 2022.
Miracle Strip, a poetry collection by Matt Layne, is a unique hybrid of the written and spoken word. Each piece of the collection has an end-stop embellishment QR code which, when scanned, transforms the reader into a listener. Layne has recorded each poem, often with the accompaniment of musician and poet, Ned Mudd. The first line of the book invites the reader to “tell me your story, and I will tell you mine,” in the campfire tradition. In Miracle Strip, the reader and poet embark on an experiential journey of memories and the ghosts who haunt us.
Poet, librarian, raconteur; Matt Layne has been poking hornet's nests and looking under rocks for lizards and snakes since he was knee-high to a peanut peg. A founding member of the 1990s improvisational poetry collective, The Kevorkian Skull poets, Layne believes in the radical transformative power found in the intersection of poetry and art, and he wants you to write your truth and share it out loud. A multiple Hackney Award winning writer, he has also been recognized by the National Society of Arts and Letters and been featured in Peek Magazine, Birmingham Arts Journal, Steel Toe Review, B-Metro, and elsewhere. Look for him at your local library.
We hope you’re enjoying Juke. Subscribe for free to receive new posts by email. To receive special member-only posts and benefits, please consider supporting our writers with a monthly or yearly paid subscription.