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Blue Ghosts on an April Evening
Alabama poet Matt Layne on the mysteries of blue ghost fireflies, with music by Ned Mudd.
*Before we jump into today’s edition, I want to quickly announce that our first official Juke book is available a week earlier than expected! You can check it out on Amazon HERE. The paperbacks are available now and the Kindle edition is available for pre-order (they’ll be delivered to your devices on Monday.) The book looks gorgeous, it feels great in your hand, and it’s filled with some of my favorite writing from the past year. What could be better?
I’m so excited about this book, I’m doing cartwheels! (Okay, figurative cartwheels.) Check it out when you can. But first, give today’s post a listen…—Tonya M*
Blue Ghosts on an April Evening
Maybe the lamb in the clover-pocked field prancing as if the world is nothing but an abundance of dew-dressed dense green grass while the sun sets on an Alabama afternoon, or maybe the cattle grazing, placidly gazing, or chewing their cud, or maybe the chickens taking dust baths in one spot then the next, or the boy with the just-found stick herding ducks like a Biblical hero, or maybe how you press your shoulder to mine as we climb the mountain trail to seek blue ghost fireflies in April’s early-dark, or maybe the fireflies themselves, rising around us like a thousand tiny lodestars burning blue-white in the ocean of trees, make me turn to you and say, all I need is all of this.
Matt Layne writes…
Some friends of mine owned a 50 acre farm outside of Birmingham, and early on in the lockdown, they went camping with their two sons on the highest ridge of the land. As night came on, the forest lit up with tiny blue lights all around them. The specks of sapphire light rose up from the forest floor and swirled in lazy patterns a couple of feet above the ground.
My friends had no idea what the strange phenomenon was, so the next day they did some research, and they sent a sample of one of the tiny rice-sized insects to an entomologist in Tennessee. They discovered that blue ghost fireflies lived on their land. According to their Tennessee bug expert, their sparkle of lightning bugs is the farthest south blue ghosts have been spotted.
The next year, when things weren't quite so locked down, we made the journey up the ridge with them and other friends to witness first-hand the little lights. It was like being in the midst of the woods in a fairy forest. As the evening dimmed to middling, the lights began to glow, and by the time the deep dark came on, little specks of blue whirled around us.
I don't know if I'll ever see anything quite so magical as the blue ghost fireflies. It felt even more otherworldly than the night noctiluca bloomed as we walked the beach near Panama City, but that's another story for another poem.
“Blue Ghosts on an April Evening” appears in Miracle Strip, released August 31, 2022. The music is “Gravity” by Ned Mudd.
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.
And if you’re in the Birmingham area, check out the Miracle Strip Book Release Party tomorrow (April 22nd) at the O’Neal Library:
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.
Ned Mudd resides in Alabama where he engages in interspecies communication, rock collecting, and frequent cloud watching. He is the author of The Adventures of Dink and DVD (a space age comedy). Some of Ned’s best friends are raccoons.
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