90 pages, $15 (+ shipping)
Release Date: November 21, 2023
The Advance Sale Discount price on this title has expired. For those who prefer to pay by check, the price is $19/book (which includes shipping & sales tax) and should be sent to: Main Street Rag, 4416 Shea Lane, Charlotte, NC 28227.
Andy Fogle was born in Norfolk, Virginia and raised in Virginia Beach. He spent many years in the DC area and has been an educator of various kinds since 1997, when he began an MFA at his undergraduate alma mater, George Mason University. He is the author of Across from Now, and seven chapbooks of poetry, including Arc & Seam: Poems of Farouk Goweda, co-translated with Walid Abdallah. His nonfiction has appeared in Salvation South, The Writer’s Chronicle, Parks and Points, Gargoyle, and elsewhere. He lives with his family in upstate New York, teaching high school.
Southerners who decide to reckon with the deeds of their ancestors take on a heavy burden. Andy Fogle begins one of these poems, looking back on a grandfather, with the phrase “I want to believe he was fair.” As we reckon with our ancestors, however, we often find that what we want to believe is not always true. Fogle’s Mother Countries shoulder the works of reckoning with courage, beauty and truth. ~Chuck Reece, editor-in-chief, Salvation South, and founding editor, The Bitter Southerner
Andy Fogle’s Mother Countries mines the mythologies that make a life, a “watershed / of triumph lined with loss, / spotted with venom, / streaked with laughter.” In this evocative gathering of story-poems, we are lovingly guided to larger truths about gender, privilege, racism, and our own collusions in “the things we say, the things / we hear, and the things we cover up.” Fogle’s memorable lyrics sing nostalgia into honesty, despair into enlightenment. ~Marianne Worthington, author of The Girl Singer
THROWING ICE AT BOLTON LANDING
The lake is thawing in slabs on the shore.
March, and we’ve come here on a whim to see
what it’s like in an opposite season.
No one here, the playground empty,
the restrooms locked tight, but water and sky
are one blue in counterpoint shades.
It’s a hard shine on this small flat of muck,
after months of loss after loss, turn
upon turn, when we have not often
“been ourselves,” none of us. Like others, this
is slow to change, its temperature steadier
than air’s, and like others, this ices over
from perimeter to center. Our edges,
fragile in the days, also froze first.
I am not one for displays, but I am
one for “To hell with it.” One of us
takes a palm-sized chunk and sidearms it east,
quick-spinning fragment sliding along expanse.
Another one does the same, another,
another, our motions like chants: stoop, rise,
sling. The thinnest ones shatter before going
far, but they are transparent layers
on top of a vast opacity,
and there might be a lesson in that.
When I move to the big slabs, I feel them
in my gut when I throw. They stay solid
when they fall, make wider revolutions,
accelerate upon impact (and we
smile at all that), glide out to the center
which will stay frozen longer, more deeply,
floating on itself. It’ll take
a little more time. It just takes time.
MY GRANDFATHER AT THE EDGE HILL & STAR THEATERS, GLOUCESTER VA 1948
I want to believe he was fair,
didn’t joke with the whites about
the blacks. I want to believe,
if the whites ever razzed him
about working both sides,
that he said something back to them,
something calm, direct, wide-minded.
I want to believe he shook
every hand, hope he carried
no weapon. For patrons
who arrived late, I want
to believe he shone the same torch.
(Surely, it was the same light, it
had to be, I want to believe.)
He was likely fair, not just
pointing latecomers to seats,
but walking them there. He must
have answered their questions
about the restroom, schedule,
or snack bar. Show me the way, sir,
dead a week before I turned
eighteen. Tell me the answers,
old man, you who pass between
adjacent theaters, shuttling
the one reel they share.
I imagine congratulations
on the little girl born four days
before his own birthday, wonder
about the sister-in-law who fled
the Armenian genocide
as a child, wonder about
his conscience. Lord, all the places
your mind goes for the heart’s sake,
to try to balance the scales.
Show me the way, sir; tell me
the answers, old man; shine your light,
blood usher, not at the screen
where it will go unnoticed
but on me, and us, in this dark
cathedral of fantasy.
IN THE LAND OF WILD GEESE
Thunder murmurs a county away,
and she tells the boy, Get your tail inside.
He’d tempt danger in the bathtub,
playing with his water ships, forget
how lightning can slip its way up the drain
and sliver the water into blue light.
He’d go sledding slaphappy in an ice storm,
if it ever got that cold here.
For now, it’s the caterpillars’ fine-haired
meander across the square of pavement
at the back door. It almost seems tame,
trusting his skin as ground, but at root
that thing is still wild as summer hail.
Thunder murmurs, but he drifts to the far
corner of the yard, by the shed the color
of jaundice, to the wobbly woodpile,
the fallen timber in this muddy patch,
lifts and flips an old stump, whispers to all
the low things that shine and writhe inside the world.