To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
it is as if nothing happened
though those who lived it thought
that everything was happening
enough to name a world for & a time
to hold it in your hand
unlimited.......the last delusion
like the perfect mask of death

Friday, April 27, 2012

Outsider Poems, a Mini-Anthology in Progress (36): Uncle Jake Carpenter, from Deaths on Three-Mile Creek 1841-1915

please note. a list of postings after january 12, 2012 can be found here

An Anthology of Death
                                                 Photo of Uncle Jake by Lenoir Franklin

            Wm Davis       age 100.8        dide oc 5            1841

                wars old soldier in rev ware         and got his

                        thie brok in last fire at Kinge’s monte

                     he wars farmer             and made brandy

                          and never had Drunker in famly


Franky Davis his wife         age 87             dide Sep 10         1842

            she had nirve fite wolves all nite at shogar camp

                    to save her caff          throde fier chonks

                        the camp wars half mile from home

                noe she must have nirv to fite wolf all nite


  Charley Kiney             age 72           dide may 10               1852

        wars farmer live in mt on bluey rige at kiney gap

                   he had 4 wimmin cors marid to one

                                    rest live on farme

            all went to felde                work to mak grain

                        all wen to crib for ther bread

                    all went smok hous for there mete

                he cilde bote 75 to 80 hoges every yere

               and wimen never had wordes bout him

                             haven so many wimin

                        if he wod be living this times

                                 wod be hare pulde

                 thar wars 42 children blong to him

                  they all wento preching togethern

   nothing sed                des aver body go long smoth

                                    help one nother

                                  never had any foes

                        got along smoth with avery bodi

                                            I nod him

Written down by uncle jake carpenter of Three-Mile Creek, Avery County, in the western mountains of North Carolina.  The impulse to poetry in these “obituaries” – some written long after the actual deaths – may not be much different from that in Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology & other elegies.  Now known as “Uncle Jake Carpenter’s Anthology of Death,” the title by his own reference was to his “Son-of-a-Gun Book” or his “Jot-em-down- Book” – a red-backed account ledger in which he recorded the deaths of many of his fellow citizens over a seventy-year span.  The work also enters contemporary American poetry through Jonathan Williams’s poem “From Uncle Jake Carpenter’s Anthology of Death on Three-Mile Creek.”


Jesse Glass said...

I love these found poems--reminds me of a time one summer evening when I found a pile of field stones stacked between the corn fields and the woods. The sun was low in the sky and the chisled markings on each stone were visible in high relief. J. L. L. 1844, etc.--the remnants of the family that had lived on that plot of land, now thrown to the side to make way for another's plow.

Jesse Glass

FEDO said...

Teach me to make touchfull poem please