Cedars of the Little Tennessee

Written By: Brent Martin

Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars. Howl, fir tree; for the cedar is fallen; because the mighty are spoiled: howl, O ye oaks of Bashan; for the forest of the vintage is come down.” (Zechariah 11:1, 2)


Down at the Shepherd brothers’ fruit stand

was overheard the following comment:

I seen the ferryman down at Raby Bend yesterday

getting crosswise with some of the local boys.


The ferryman thinks he’s some kind of damn Solomon

lording over them cedars down there thataway.

I’d heard this story.   He caught them

down there fishing and cutting his cedars for firewood.


The others standing there say nothing, so I say,

well, he’s had just about as many wives!

That gets some laughs, but when I say

he’s more of a redneck Gilgamesh,


I get some confused glares, so I add,

I hear he’s working on a great cedar gate

that he will parade upon this mountain Euphrates.

I don’t tell them that he might be dying,


the fire in his spine smoking like burnt cedar,

baked down to coals.

They wouldn’t believe me if I did.


Look, I say, the sun is setting

upon this dwelling place of the Gods!

But there is only silence, acquiescence,

and a few suspicious nods.

Brent Martin lives is the author of three chapbook collections of poetry – Poems from Snow Hill Road (New Native Press, 2007), A Shout in the Woods (Flutter Press, 2010), and Staring the Red Earth Down (Red Bird Press, 2014). He is also a co-author of Every Breath Sings Mountains (Voices from the American Land, 2011) with authors Barbara Duncan and Thomas Rain Crowe His forthcoming non-fiction collection, Hunting for Camellias at Horseshoe Bend, will be published by Red Bird Press in 2015.

His poetry and essays have been published in the North Carolina Literary Review, Pisgah Review, Tar River Poetry, Chattahoochee Review, Eno Journal, New Southerner, Kudzu Literary Journal, Smoky Mountain News, and elsewhere. He lives in the Cowee community in western North Carolina and is currently serving as the Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet for the West