Harry Humes | Underground Singing

“A lyrical yet realistic depiction of coal-town life, this collection displays admirable lucidity and accessibility, a haunting, sharp-eyed nostalgia, and vividly-evoked detail.”

–Jeff Mann, guest judge for the inaugural Keystone Chapbook Series

underground-singing-1Cover image by Ron Mohring.

Published: December 21, 2007 [125 copies]
Second printing: July, 2008 [100 copies]
19 pages, 4.625 x 6.75 inches
ISBN: 978-0-9820372-0-1

Harry Humes was born in Girardville, an Eastern Pennsylvania mining town. He is the author of several previous poetry collections, most recently The Butterfly Effect (Milkweed, 1999, selected for the National Poetry Series) and August Evening with Trumpet (University of Arkansas, 2004). The recipient of numerous awards, including several grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, Humes lives in the country near Kutztown, Pennsylvania.

My Blue Scar 

Sometimes it was an eye
looking out of my left knee, pale blue
and unblinking after all those years
since my fall on a coal bank,
dirt pushed into the wound,
the scar’s steady-as-it-goes bearing,
a whole landscape there,
gritty, a little dangerous, always
the colliery’s plume of dust and smoke,
morning or afternoon light over row homes
and faces, scrub pigeons circling, the smell of sulfur.
It was a small blue mirror,
or maybe lilacs or lavender, maple roots
pushing up through the sidewalk,
or that blue light that rises from inside new snow,
an oracle of sorts, always sighing or weeping,
a thousand or more steps to reach home that day,
leaving my first drops of blood on the ground,
and who remembers whether I cried
when the iodine splashed down, and what I did
the rest of the day, and if I limped like a soldier,
and I am still trying to remember
the name of the blue flowers my mother
grew in our house, and if she held me
with her left arm or her right, and whether
she rubbed my head, and what she whispered.

More poems online by Harry Humes:

See also:

Purchase Harry’s chapbook here.


1 thought on “Harry Humes | Underground Singing

  1. Pingback: Generous community of writers « annemichael

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