Found poems

Volume 1 Number 2, May 2021--A journal from Table Rock Writers

A Message from Donna Campbell

We began the month driving east to the coast at Emerald Isle-- exhilarating after months indoors. Waves on sand made Covid seem smaller somehow, weaker, on the ropes. Now, at the end of this not-so-cruel April, we have come west to our mountains. Muir was right: the winds blow their own freshness into you and cares drop away like leaves…We know life might change in a million ways before August. There are no guarantees. But, if we’re lucky, we will come together again to read and write and laugh and cry and eat and drink too much. And there will be a Trivia contest about these Found Poems of yours. And prizes. We are smiling just thinking about it. 

A few seats left in Darnell Arnoult’s Virtual Fiction Lab

We will miss veteran fiction writer and poet Darnell Arnoult on the mountain at Wildacres in August for the annual Table Rock Writers Workshop, but she has offered to teach a virtual workshop for anyone who is interested. The lab runs Saturday mornings (4 sessions) 10 am to 1 pm, July 24 to August 14, 2021, and costs $400. For more information and to register, see our web page:

Bathanti to return to Table Rock 2021

In other TRWW news, longtime faculty member Judy Goldman has decided that she needs to stay home and keep her family safe this summer. Though she had said yes to participating in the workshop, Judy has had second thoughts about being away from her husband Henry for a week. She just decided it wasn’t in the cards for her this year. Of course, her class is full. However, Judy made the decision early to sit the workshop out, so that we’d have time to find a strong replacement. There is no replacement for Judy, but we got lucky.

We are pleased to announce that the inimitable Joseph Bathanti has agreed to teach Judy’s workshop group on memoir and essay writing at Table Rock in 2021, and he will try to bring the fewest outfits possible. Joseph has taught for us many times and knows our workshop format well. Just in case you don’t know Joseph, here’s a short bio of this remarkable and generous man, who can teach memoir while wearing a blindfold and balancing a full plate of Wildacres tuna melt on his head.

Joseph Bathanti is a former Poet Laureate of North Carolina (2012-14) and recipient of the 2016 North Carolina Award for Literature. He is the author of ten books of poetry, including This Metal, nominated for the National Book Award, and winner of the Oscar Arnold Young Award; Restoring Sacred Art, winner of the 2010 Roanoke Chowan Prize, awarded annually by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association for best book of poetry in a given year; Concertina, winner of the 2014 Roanoke Chowan Prize; and The 13th Sunday after Pentecost, released by Louisiana State University Press in 2016. His novel, East Liberty, won the 2001 Carolina Novel Award. His novel, Coventry, won the 2006 Novello Literary Award. His book of stories, The High Heart, won the 2006 Spokane Prize. His book of personal essays, Half of What I Say Is Meaningless, is the winner of the 2014 Will D. Campbell Award for Creative Nonfiction. His novel, The Life of the World to Come, was released from University of South Carolina Press in late 2014. Two new volumes of poems are forthcoming: Rising Meadow, in collaboration with photographer, Houck Medford, from Horse and Buggy Press (Durham, NC), in 2021; and Light at the Seam, from LSU Press, in 2022. Bathanti is Professor of English and McFarlane Family Distinguished Professor of Interdisciplinary Education & Writer-in-Residence of Appalachian State University’s Watauga Residential College in Boone, NC. He served as the 2016 Charles George VA Medical Center Writer-in-Residence in Asheville, NC, and is the co-founder of the Medical Center’s Creative Writing Program.


Thanks to all who submitted this past month. There is no limit on submissions to Table Rock Journal, though we may give preference to folks who have not sent in something yet. In good Table Rock fashion, you are welcome to comment on these selections at the end of this issue, just keep it constructive.

We’d also love to hear from you in a postcard-sized message if any of the prompts so far have led to longer pieces or have taken you somewhere you didn’t expect to go. We’ll publish this conversation in June. Keep it going. Here’s a wish for good writing, ya’ll!

To refresh your memory, the prompt was: Go in search of the lyrical in everyday messages. Maybe it’s a snippet of instruction, a list of ingredients, a caution. Something in print on a product or tool or pill bottle. Maybe it’s a sign on the side of the road or a short, instructive message elsewhere in print. Arrange the line breaks artfully as a poem. 100 words maximum.

Spring Styles Can Really Hang You Up the Most
( a found poem from the Boden catalog.)

That dress you choose
is all about the unexpected
bracing for the brights.
As if we need to tell you
that greens look good on you.
Hello, white petals! Polka dots splash
across grass to color-block
this season’s fabric, fresh bolts
unfold, raise smiles and eyebrows.

It’s a jungle print out there!
Lake swifts on chicory sky,
Foxes on clover,
Deer blending low
into gold broom sedge,
Bumble bees favor deep
violet collars, redbud pearls.

Round every corner
there’s wild side to ponder
on this coolish day—
how orb weavers web
fishnets, delicate to spectacular,
always in style, never on time.
Our thighs burst through
their versatile threads.

A cardinal hits the high note
on this catwalk—day in, day out.
His flash and feathers know
no season. No wonder
he’s a bestseller.

And here’s to you, every you
turned into a singer by a glass of red,
cottoned to joy by scoops of moon.
You have got this. Sit and watch
the world go sigh.

--Roberta Shultz, Wilder, KY

The Proximal End

Discolored and swollen   
Patchy rash
Itchy bumps
Blisters that look like chickenpox
Round, pinpoint spots on the skin
A bright red color that gradually turns to purple
Acral areas of erythema —
Vesicles or pustules
Ah Covid toes,
You mother.

--d Minish, Salt Lake City, UT

The First Rule

Before my husband leaves 
to recycle ten miles away 
where a white man works
mask-less, I say, “Remember,
follow the rules.” 
“What rules?” he asks. 
“The Rules,” I respond. “Keep
your distance. Wear 
a mask, gloves. Use
“Okay,” he says.
We’re talking 2020 Rona Virus rules.

Then I say, “Remember 
the first rule.”
“What rule is first?” he asks.
“Come back,” I respond. “Don’t drive 
too slow or too fast. Don’t reach
for your license or ID. If stopped,
don’t talk first. Keep breathing.”
“Come back,” he says.
Now, we’re talking 1877 Jim Crow rules,


--Beverly Boone Meek, Calhoun, GA 

Yo-Yo Instructions

While making sure the back of the cloth is
ing the back of the disk,
the cloth and the disk onto the
Push the needle in through the
disk side
and out through the
plate side.
Be careful not to sew
the holes
by going from
one hole
to another.
Doing so will
vent the plate from being

—Mary Rocap, Cedar Grove, NC

Signs of the Times 2020

Walking in the neighborhood
in the early days of Covid
this sign: Six Feet of Love
and this: Peace Be Still.

Behind the mask, I carried my I.D.
from planet Earth, where I grew up.
I wondered how it would feel
to bump into you accidentally
as we swerved in wide paths
not daring eye-contact or breath,
whether we would cross-contaminate
carry the disease back to the nest
or if we would learn how to live
with each other
as aliens in this new world.   

—Linda Vigen Phillips, Charlotte, NC

From my Energy Work class notes:

Reiki enhances
all healing modalities
Western and Eastern

--Gena Rawdon, Huntsville, AL 

Blinding of Isaac Woodard

Sgt. Isaac Woodard,
a black soldier,
was removed
from a bus
in Batesburg
and arrested
on Feb. 12, 1946,
after a dispute
with the bus driver.

Woodard was

a town
police officer
the next day

in town


The incident led Harry Truman to
form a Council on Civil Rights and
issue Executive Order 9981, which
desegregated the U.S. Armed Forces in 1948.
(continued on other side)

From South Carolina Historical Marker No. 32 43

—Will Jones, Aiken, SC

May Prompt

200 words maximum, this month’s prose prompt comes from Darnell Arnoult:

Your character has to jump. Set the scene.