Pauletta Hansel

Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily: Canary Dirge by Dale Marie Prenatt


Yesterday’s poems were, in part, homages to other poets, inspired by their poems. For today’s poem, former Northsider Dale Marie Prenatt (frequent contributor to Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, the literary journal of the Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative–with an April 15 deadline, by the way–and designer of this website) was “inspired” (if anger can be considered inspiration) by the bestselling book, Hillbilly Elegy. Here’s her response:

Canary Dirge

American Elegy is coming
Just you wait –
A bestseller will kill you off too

I’m a hillbilly, they plum kill’t me
Bulldozed my bones into valley fill
with the other dead canaries

When exxon oil busts up your aquifers
a red state lawyer
will write a bestseller

about your loose bootstraps too
and shove them down your throat

You’ll be paying nestlé for your muddy tap
before your bookclub figures out
that our selenium sludge runs

and we are your headwaters

Dale Marie Prenatt, 2017

Join us for the Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily Project Reading on Wednesday, April 26, 7 pm at People’s Liberty, 1805 Elm Street, Over the Rhine