Celia Bland



Nantahala Lake was created by Duke Power as part of the New Deal’s

electrification project.  It flooded the Cherokee town of Aquone, first

mapped by conquistador Hernando De Soto in 1540. 

Tobacco clots before it’s combed.

Call it cash crop and cuss its shag

clotted, combed, carded, and shredded

like Carolina barbeque.

Its stink delectable earth and the truffle

of silver coin, Ka-ga-la.

Every seed a Cherokee child

rising from seed-beds and soaring

glossy green and wavering in the lake’s depth.

Tso-la the scent of nighttime,

water black as kale &

scented with truffle of coin.

Door jams fill as Cheoah floods

with uga, wall-eyed trout & crappie

striking cedar-shingled cabins &


slick with underwater.

Tobacco weeps.

We grow kale black.

We root in dam-maw as hardpack

unpacks under hard feet, as

Duke Power dims the stars.

Kilowatts against the dark.


My Mother Dreams

a clapboard house, white

as smoke over the road

when wet leaves burning.

Like a Tarot telling her:


She buys a trailer through the Want

ads and tows it to some

where squishes underneath.

Digs trenches, a French drain but the

earth suppurates.


“Then,” –sponging G’s

from my iPhone, she’s still telling

her dream – “the Chevy hovered at that Nano-

prick before the stick

breaks over your knee –

and boom.”

A hood crimped like crust, head

lights, windshield bead-

ing the wipers

with frost. “The tree bowed

with impact.”

she breathes.  Combusted.

My mother in her trailer is

a dog white as the pads of my

fingers and as sensitive.

Minus oxygen, fire burns like


iPhone leaps in my hand

crystal when the clock chimes.

Like fish in the paws of a white dog

the jaw of my mother’s steel door

opens. It’s her,


15-That Dirt Sticks-3

That Dirt Sticks

He was always haunted by the emptiness that followed

an assault, the rage giving way to avid fluorescence and uniformed aggression, to arrest.

He was, by the time they rolled each fingertip over ink,

a ghostly revenant of the vengeance wreaked on some kid

brave enough to test him.

In his head this emptiness filled with the metallic click

of a hinge and the snick of flint and flame. His brain’s sucking

intake, its silent exhalation.

Again, a click as the lighter’s lid snapped back, inviolate

in his palm, his pocket.  His hands were tipped with black,

but he saw red.

Celia Bland’s third collection of poetry, Cherokee Road Kill, was published in 2018.  The title poem was awarded the 2015 Raynes Prize, judged by L.S. Asekoff.  Selected prints of the Madonna Comix, an image and poetry collaboration created with artist Dianne Kornberg, were exhibited at New York City’s Lesley Heller Gallery, at Bard College at Simon’s Rock as part of the Berkshire Women Writers Festival and published by William James Books with an introduction by Luc Sante. Her work has recently appeared in Copper Nickel, Big, Big Wednesday, Gulf Coast & Yale Letters, among other small magazines.

The accompanying pen and ink drawings are by Japanese artist Kyoko Miyabe. A graduate of Cambridge University, she is a faculty member at the School of Visual Arts in NYC, and her work has appeared at the Woodmere Art Museum and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, among other venues. These images appeared in Celia Bland’s poetry collection, Cherokee Road Kill (Dr. Cicero, 2019).

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