In November, my original poem “Tender Apocalypse” was selected as a finalist in the Dogwood Alliance’s Woods & Wilds Storytelling and Music Festival flash fiction contest. The top three finalists read their works aloud at the festival while the Asheville Grit published the works online. I was honored to have my work selected for a festival that promotes such a worthy cause like forest conservation.
Writing “Tender Apocalypse” was therapeutic as it allowed me to process the devastating emotions I felt regarding the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election. On the morning of election day, Asheville was covered in smoke from the wildfires in both Rutherford County and the Nantahala. The air was thick, hard to breathe, and needless to say, the atmosphere felt immensely apocalyptic.
My old friend Scot Langland is a studying poet at the University of Alabama at Birmingham where he is earning his masters in Literature. He was a huge help in the editing and refinement of this piece, which you can read in full below.
by Ted Kendrick
Apocalyptic ash was in the air on Tuesday November 8th.
At first I thought it was just the atmosphere of anxiety
Created by the uncertainty of the Presidential election,
But as the ballots trickled in, the haze still remained
And I discovered that my countrymen were arsonists.
In the East, near the Rumbling Bald in Rutherford,
Lake Lure was lit by the Dirty Dancing of wildfire.
Flames spread across seven thousand acres of forest,
Blamed on the debris falling below the Party Rock.
A warning, perhaps, not to blindly toe the party line.
In the West, among the shade of the Nantahala gorge,
The Land of the Noonday Sun became a roaring Inferno.
Amid campaign trail vows to ‘Make America Great Again’
Adventurers on the Appalachian Trail were warned away
And much of the Great Smoky Mountains was closed.
Smoke still filled the air on Wednesday November 9th.
Not only was the city of Asheville enshrouded by smog,
But the entire country was faced with the sudden promise
That the drought would continue for another four years
And some folks might admit they prefer it that way.