Just Off Half-Moon Road / Sheila Turnage


Just Off Half-Moon Road

poems by

Sheila Turnage

ISBN: 978-1-59948-887-5,  40 pages, $13 (+ shipping)

Release Date: October 26, 2021

The Advance Sale Discount for this title has expired. For those who prefer to pay by check, the price is $17.50/book (which includes shipping) and should be sent to: Main Street Rag, PO BOX 690100, Charlotte, NC 28227-7001. 

PLEASE NOTE: Ordering in advance of the release date does not mean the book will ship before the date posted above.

About Sheila Turnage

NY Times Bestselling author Sheila Turnage’s poetry reflects the voices of eastern NC – just like her Newbery Honor book Three Times Lucky. Her novels include The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing, The Odds of Getting Even, and The Law of Finders Keepers (Dial Books for Young Readers/PRH). Her articles and poems have been published by Southern Living, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the NC Poetry Society, and International Poetry Review. Sheila and her husband Rodney live on a farm in NC, where she’s writing a mystery set on Hatteras Island. Just Off Half-Moon Road is her first poetry collection.

In Just Off Half-Moon Road, Sheila Turnage races words on wild, wonderful rides toward unending farm-roads where “hot mules glisten and babies fret” and characters like piano teacher Miss Doll believes music is all. Consider “River Prayer” raining a “porpoise hymn” while Miss Ella McCrae graces “her flower-pot porch,” as the poet creates a symphony in “the violet clink of mason jars.” ~Shelby Stephenson, author of Shelby’s Lady: The Hog Poems


Just Off Half-Moon Road is Sheila Turnage’s first poetry book, but a reader will quickly recognize the poems of an experienced, well-published, and gifted writer. Turnage creates memorable characters, unforgettable turns of phrases, and stunning imagery in a way that even non-poetry lovers will love. Turnage’s book covers a wide range of subjects, and while poetry may be serious business, I laughed out loud reading some of these poems. Returning to this book will be like sitting down with friends once again.  ~Malaika King Albrecht


Love Song in Red and Rust


Vincent is a strut of a peacock. A Liberace
of shimmer and sheen, a Cleopatra
of dark-rimmed eyes and earthquake colors.

He preens across our wide porch
courts his reflection in floor-length windows
admires the six-foot sweep of his kingly tail

turns his back on our drab pea hens
hums narcissistic love songs all alone
until one June morning, Jerry from down the road

cruises by in a new-to-him rattletrap Toyota,
a three-hubcap glory ride in fading reds and rust.
Jerry leans on the Toyota’s brassy wanderlust horn

hoooonnnnnk – and Vincent falls madly, searingly,
hopelessly in love, hurls himself from the porch
blasts back like a love-sick oboe, gallops

to a spot sweet Toyota can surely see, spanks open
his tail feathers – an iridescent dawn of greens, purples, blues –
and rattles his charms like a choir of thirsty Spanish fans.

Day after day Toyota honks at Vincent as she speeds by
and day after day, Vincent sets the world ablaze
with shimmering, shivering longing and heat

until one sparkling September afternoon
Jerry trades up for a mostly blue Chevrolet
with faux leather seats and a heater that works.



First Sunrise Without You

~For my father


Dawn reads the earth’s face
like a blind woman reading dreams
fingers scented by distant oceans,
cinnamon deserts, sips of sky.

Her touch silvers oak and jimson,
fennel and rye, shivers winds to pale feet
sends them running
to ruffle wrens and rattle cattails awake.

Westward dawn sweeps, endless day
disguised by season, rain, cloud –
eternal day uncoiling. How, then,
do I awaken to a day without you?

Without the brisk of your walk, the snap
of your fingers, the jazz of your smile?
Where are you in this everyday miracle
of unceasing dawn, you

who stepped free of time? Where
do you sleep? Beneath whose sun?
Whose fingertips read your face
in this unbroken moment of light?



Just Off Half-Moon Road

~For Michael

August’s heat lies thick and breathless
across our old tobacco farm, too hot to work,
too hot to sit in the determined whir of Mama’s

black back-and-forth fan, so hot mules glisten
and babies fret. But you are ten
and I am twelve and our bicycles know magic.

You – boy-solid, curly-haired as our father’s sheep;
me – a crazy-to-fly girl, knees already skint from trying
we grab our bikes, nod like seasoned cowpokes

mosey our two-wheeled rodeos to the blacktop
and fast-pedal down our country lane, rustling
up a breeze. You on a red Schwinn Appaloosa

me on my tested teal steed, my handlebar basket
bent to creation. We zip
past Shackleford’s store and across the highway

through cornfields gasping in sunstroke-white sand,
coast down a tree-lined curve through the leaf-green tunnel
to the double bridges where the shade’s so dense

morning glories bloom at noon
and liquid-cool air whispers black mud and catfish.
We circle like dragonflies and dart away

you choosing one turn, me the next
lost among sycamores, shadowlines,
homeplaces three grandmas old.

And then it happens. You surge ahead
fling your arms wide as flying,
a hallelujah boy in a thank-you-Jesus choir

and the miracle of you
leans into my heart like light into film
searing and golden as our watching sun

on a long-ago day when you were ten
and I was twelve
and our bicycles still knew magic.

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