Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily: Poems by Gwyneth Stewart and Scott Whitehurst

Here are two poems by Gwyneth Stewart and by Scott Whitehurst, both from Pleasant Ridge, about family, travel and home.
Blue Mountain Lake

It began in quiet summer pre-dawn,
the trip day-long before the interstate.
Lunch at the Peter Pan Diner–
milkshakes and burgers.

We counted up the Fulton Chain of Lakes
finally turned on to Route 28
eyes peeled for The Prospector gift shop,
our house right across from it.

Late afternoon we fell out of the car
ran down the shaded path to strip of sand,
cold navy Adirondack water, Blue Mountain
a pyramid of green beyond.

Two weeks filled with stair-step cousins.
We wore bathing suits from breakfast
to dinner, fretted through the long hour
after lunch when the water was forbidden us.

The great Grumman canoe could hold
five kids, took us to the island for picnics,
rode the wake of ancient mahogany
lake boats from the lodge.

Minnowbrook, the last great camp–
The caretaker took us there on his rounds.
Our voices, our feet too loud
in the high-ceilinged empty rooms.

Warned away from the woods with
stories of lost children, we went anyway,
just to feel pillowy moss and slick
old pine needles beneath bare feet.

We fished for sunnies under crimson
skies, the clouds lit like paper lanterns
long after sunset. We fell asleep and woke
to the scent of fresh water and sharp pine.

It lingered on clothes, hair, skin,
long after we returned home.

Gwyneth Stewart


All Night Diner

My brother comes to mind
when I come here late at night
Of him sitting in my living room
high from talking
from driving all day from Georgia
from the freedom of leaving our sister’s
confining house and habits

It is one in the morning
and I have been up since four
And he asks me,
Is there an all night diner?
It’s so great talking with you
I love these conversations we have
I wish you lived closer
I could stay up all night

I think hard for I am tiring fast
I think of the family restaurants
on my side of town
long since closed
and the franchises, too, that have
shuttered for the evening
I come up empty

My brother laughs,
Come on! This is Cincinnati!
It’s a city- there’s got to be
something open!
I tell him of how the city
rolls up the streets a little after ten,
that the traffic lights turn to blinking
fluttering like eyes closed in REM sleep

Honestly I cannot think of a place.

I long to stay up all night talking
as he wishes
but I cannot
for my twenty-four hours are almost done
He bids me goodnight then
and stays downstairs
Where he can watch tv and sleep on the couch

My brother comes to mind
when I come here late at night
Come visit me again, I think
I know a place now
where we can sit and talk
late or early

Come visit me
and we will talk ‘til three
and watch people eat three-ways
and grilled cheese sandwiches
like those priests over there
sharing their own Last Supper,
a brief respite during Holy Week-
and we’ll hear the laughter of carry-out customers
beat a counterpoint to Rockin’ Robin

Visit me and we will solve the Universe
We’ll figure out how string theory will someday unify
quantum mechanics and relativity
and think about how that string
might be a Mobius strip
and how many dimensions are there really
and what if God is one of those dimensions
and can we actually slow time
by being observers?

We’ll sit and talk and eat and feel satisfied
and slow time
Then we will go home and say,
I love these conversations we have.
I wish you lived closer.

Scott Whitehurst

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


Author: Pauletta Hansel

Pauletta Hansel is a poet, memorist, teacher and editor. She was Cincinnati's first Poet Laureate from April 2-16-March 2018. Pauletta is author of six poetry collections, Plaindrome (Dos Madres Press, 2017; winner of the 2017 Weatherford Award), Tangle (Dos Madres Press, 2015), The Lives We Live in Houses (Wind Publications, 2011), What I Did There (Dos Madres Press, 2011), First Person (Dos Madres Press, 2007) and Divining (WovenWord Press, 2002). Her poetry has been featured recently in journals including Talisman, Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine, Appalachian Journal, Atlanta Review, Postcards Poems and Prose and Still: The Journal, and anthologized in Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia; Motif: Come What May; and Motif: All the Livelong Day. Pauletta leads community poetry workshops and retreats in the Greater Cincinnati area and beyond, and has served as Writer-in Residence at Thomas More College in her native Kentucky. She is a co-editor of Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, the literary publication of Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative. Pauletta received her MFA from Queens University of Charlotte.

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