"All of us so fragile; each breath we rattle, visible for an instant then lost to the night..."
—for Fred Hopson A breath in winter; this life so gentle drifts like steam rising from the mouth, All of us so fragile; each breath we rattle, visible for an instant then lost to the night. Voices breathe out to me, words warm as fire, “Come in from the cold before you catch your death.” And though the party is inviting, and the company, divine; I prefer to dwell upon the threshold where I can see my breath.
Matt Layne writes…
Breathing Winter is a poetry prayer.
Twenty-five plus years ago, I received one of those dreaded phone calls that a friend had been in an accident. He was clinging to life by a mere thread. I thought of him and our shared experiences: traveling to see Grateful Dead shows, camping, hanging out with friends on warm southern nights where the songs of cicadas can drown all conversation, or the winter holiday parties where we crammed into a friend's one bedroom apartment on the southside of Birmingham only to eventually flee the clouds of cigarette, sensemilla, and sativa smoke to get a breath of fresh winter air on the balcony. I thought of him out there alone, and I wrote this prayer down in hopes that he might come back inside to stay with us a bit longer.
All that first week, I'd get a phone call saying he probably wouldn't make it another day, but each morning, he was still here, and he got stronger and stronger, and before long, he woke up. I'm happy to report Fred is still in the midst of this party, and I hope you get to meet him before they turn out the lights and send us all home.
“Breathing Winter” appears in Miracle Strip, released August 31, 2022. The music is “Dzog” 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.
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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