Postcard from Blood Mountain (#28 NaPoWriMo prompt: prose poem)

Blood Mountain

It’s not what you think. Carrying everything between your shoulders up a violent mountain. Beginning the ascent thinking will I be able to? and taking another step. One woodpecker drills a rhythm. The creek straining out of ice bonds, pehlunking and bloop bloop blooping before running away as I switch back. My fingers peeled free, now cradling bamboo-topped sticks, warm where just hours ago were only frozen stubs. The sun arcs up over blood. Filtering light. Slumbering trees. My breath deep and quick and strong. Almost at the top and the rhododendrons intertwine glossy, cold-curved leaves until I’m cocooned in gold-green. My steps stir  faint must of awakening earth. Emerging into voices, a dog barking, and an improbably solid stone shelter. I scramble up giant boulders, witness the smoky vista, see the world. Blood Mountain: most likely named for a battle between Native American tribes. Or the reddish lichen. Not for killing thru hikers.

And now for our prompt (optional, as always). Following the suggestion of our craft resource, we challenge you today to draft a prose poem in the form/style of a postcard. If you need some inspiration, why not check out some images of vintage postcards? I’m particularly fond of this one.

And then there were Eight

October 4, 1968
Mom counting one two . . .
Ten perfect toenails.

Chasing my brother
49 years, 5 months, 7 days later
On the Appalachian Trail.

Going up so we can go down,
Over hill and dale,
As they say.

Lifetime memories of
Snow, sleet, rain, wind,

A long section hike,
Well short of my goal.
I want more.

10 perfect Colorado toenails
In two slightly tight shoes,
And then there were eight.

(update, and now there are seven…)


Insides howling,
I’m a Grandfather clock
Wound too tight.

Checklist ticking.
Minutes ticking.
Bomb ticking.

One week, 7 days,
168 hours, 10,080 minutes.
A kid’s night before Christmas.

Phone off. Nature on.
Birds, wind, sun, rain,
Footsteps and breath.

Ready it not,
Here I come.

Preparation (Part Deux)


Planning the perfect hike.
Backpack weight plus food weight
Plus tentclothessleepingbagwaterstove
Something to read.

Inside my head a leafy tunnel, long and green.
On my computer, pictures and maps,
Narratives and testimonials,
Videos about how to hike the perfect hike.

I’m reminded of yearly dental exams
Yearly wellness exams, blood tests,
Every so many years my eyes and my ears,
All to live the perfect life.

And yet, the fillings and the implant.
The rising numbers and meds.
The reading glasses, floaters, and tinnitus.
The exams did their job?

“An ounce of prevention is worth
A pound of cure.”
But sometimes there is no preventing things.
If we’re lucky, we grow old.

Maybe I’ll sing when the rain
Batters my waterproof gear.
Maybe I’ll recognize the unplanned-for inevitable
And greet it with a smile.

The best laid plans…

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