The poems in this collection speak of the need to belong somewhere and of the essential loneliness or alone-ness of one's journey and quest. Yes, I be longing to fit into some landscape, to find some place to stand. Palo Dura Canyon, a jewel of a place, attracts with both its beauty and its complexity, but it's not quite a place to which one can belong. Cajun Louisiana, with its unique traditions and groundedness in land, food, people and language, also provides a place I've always wanted to own. Yet, like the mythical Palo Dura Canyon, its charms are elusive, residing perhaps only in imagination--and in longing. "Now the long nights begin," reflects that ultimate sense of being shut out--the necessity of leaving, the fearfulness of being alone in the universe: the stars and the sky and the dark all out there, the house/ home/ comfort behind, the porch finite, the future unknown but inevitable. Finally, "We Grew Old Together," is a poem about relationship and a shared journey, about being in another kind of place, a lovely place without geography or dimension, yet nonetheless real, full of hope and solace and substance. We look for such places where we can, hoping to connect, to feel less alone, to belong.

               –Cordelia Hanemann

Heady fragrance of gardenia, flower of death,
my mother loved to wear in her hair, conjures
old farm-houses I have entered, always a stranger,
wanting, not just to recall, but to savor,
only I have always been elsewhere and cannot
come back as daughter to this place
of barbed wire fencing, the fascinating
forbiddenness of cows—large, clumsy,
chewing, twitching, lowing beasts—
the sinewy leather of brown farmer-uncles’
faces, their rough humor, tobacco and work-
stained hands, smoky aura, smell of work,
sweat, Louisiana heat; daunting demeanor
of large old ladies, the purposeful busy-ness
of women accustomed to work, grind of raw
knuckles on scrub-boards, sizzling aromas
of onions, peppers, garlic, the persistent
jabber of gossip about people I have not
known; the intrigue of the outhouse, its polished
seats, those holes and the puddling piss and shit
and paper stewing in that unearthly bowel;
alien Cajun summer, alien Aunts and cousins,
strangled Franglish wafting from the kitchen
across bare gray boards of the porch
and out over the chicken yard. My mother’s home.


Its red hills are part of the flat lands
where the grass has burned off:

small slit in a spare landscape,
ruby-jewel in a desert
cauldron of bubbling fire colors.

Weather goes over it.
Wind scores chasm walls
            flutes through dry pinon
                        —ancient, wizened, and gnarled—
            makes eerie music.

Cowpaths wind round
            sharp, high ledges,
            steep earth banks,
            a careless dry well
            with no bottom
            littered with cow carcasses:
                        hollow bones
                        vacant eye-sockets
                        laughing teeth
                        mocking holes
            where red ants crawl,
            flowers creep—

Badlands roll on and on,
            rumbling darkly in
                        reds, ochres, black,
            crimson canyon that promises
                        pigments for paints,
                        clay for vessels,
                        searing heat.



We grew old together
as we grew young together
and sad joyous lonely
connected angry amiable
lethargic and energized
we have seen the sun rise
and seen it fall
we have seen the moon wax
and seen it wane
we have driven through snows
and deserts, blinding rains
and glorious sunshine
and sun of all kinds
breezes have blown us
and hurricanes
and we have been inundated
and parched by droughts
we have suffocated in sultry
summers with no air at all
we have celebrated birthdays
anniversaries, mourned losses, death days
we have touched each other
we have spoken in whispers over wine
we have said what is in our hearts
and we have not said what is in our hearts
we have said what is on our minds
and our minds have been right and wrong
we have drifted in and out
of each others lives
we have shared meals and sleep
nights with no sleep
traditions and travels
and the journey has enriched us
and worn us out
we have prayed together
tried to stay together
we have had our children
together and they have driven
us apart we have loved and
we have failed to love
and I am here and you are gone
and I think about what we
have been and done together
and I miss you.







Wan sunlight weaving through dried weeds.
Trees, ragged with ravaged leaves, darkening
against the purple night; barn torn by lightning;
the stillborn calf, its mother lost in her lowing.

This porch, last plank of the known world.
Behind it, lights in the window,
the closing door, hearth, bed, closet,
Mother, home of childhood, its map.

Pull the last branch from the fire;
brandish its wavering spark through the stilly
dark or count stars in the indigo sky:
staving off visions of cold, fears
of crashing off the end of the plank
into night's steelly shadow.








WHAT'S IN A NAME          

Cordelia, four-syllabled appellation,
          toted about like a load of books or rocks
          by the 8-year-old girl who insisted
          her name was too big and begged
          to be called Rose Red instead,
          but settled for the moniker, Corky.

Cordelia, favored daughter of old King Lear,
          youngest darling—kind, dutiful, sweet-tempered,
          no doubt beautiful—banished, barred,
          refused—tragic and dramatic
          for the snaggle-toothed tomboy with scabby
          knees and frizzy hair who used to read
          under the covers with a flashlight
          in the forbidden hours after bedtime.

Cordelia, the grandmother she hardly knew—
          the always old lady laboring with her hot-house
          plants and flowers, married at seventeen
          to the sweet, gentle Ben; two children,
          four or five failed farms, the grocery store
          which fed the Depression, and, at last,
          the flower shop where CordeliaCordy
          ran the show: baby’s breath for showers,
          pink carnations for homecomings, orchids
          for proms; graduations, weddings, ladies
          luncheons, profusions of horse-shoe wreaths
          for every funeral in West Helena, Arkansas.

Cordelia, the budding Corky, who at thirteen
          in a flourish changed her name to Korki
          to be captivating K, to dot her i with a heart,
          all the rage; then went on to get a PhD
          in literature and loved being the tragic,
          dramatic favored daughter of Shakespeare
          in the English department.

Cordelia, her beautiful really old grandmother—
          wizened and leathery, Cordelia
          who at 80 grew prize roses
          and 5-foot tall amaranth, tilled the vegetable
          garden with a hand plow and hauled
          in a hand barrow, soupy compost
          from the creek bed behind her house.

Cordelia, Korki, young wife and mother
          who grew 5-foot tall bok choy
          and three-pound melons, canned tomatoes,
          steeped her grandmother’s famous
          bread-and-butter pickles, and
          named her boy Ben, favored son.

Cordelia, retired from Shakespeare and all
          the tragedy and drama, who places
          home-grown heirloom roses
          on her grandmother’s grave,
          now secretly hopes her son
          and daughter-in-law will name
          their new baby daughter, Cordelia.



Professor emerita with a PhD in English from LSU, Cordelia Hanemann has published widely in numerous journals, among which are Southwest Review and Third Wednesday Magazine; anthologies, most recently The Well-Versed Reader and upcoming, Heron Clan IV; and in her own chapbook, Through a Glass Darkly. Recently the featured poet for Negative Capability Press, she is working on a novel about her roots in Cajun Louisiana. She is also an artist active in writing and artistic circles in Raleigh, NC.