A Journal

"I'm going to come back to West Virginia when this is over. There's something ancient and deeply-rooted in my soul. I like to think that I have left my ghost up one of those hollows, and I'll never really be able to leave for good until I find it. And I don't want to look for it, because I might find it and have to leave".----Breece D'J Pancake, in a letter to his mother. 

Carolann Madden


Porcupine Stew 

The slow roll of the hill, the grass climbing it,
I know their secret. My father says

this is where we kill the deer. There
is blood there just below the roots.

My grandfather says this is where
we pluck the geese, his hands deftly pulling

pinfeathers between dull knife and thumb,
thin streams of red running round the follicles,

down the drain, the crack of wet burning wood
in the outdoor brick oven. My brother

baits his hooks with fish. Seems gruesome
to bait a creature with its kin, but he says

big fish eat little fish. And I watch
as cousin Joe Ed shoots a porcupine and says,

Well, little girl, what should we do with it?
on tiptoe I say,

Pluck him and eat him.

I’m kind of a souvenir freak, probably due to the fact that I was a Navy brat growing up, and was always getting attached to places I would have to leave. This might explain why one of my favorite souvenirs is a necklace that belonged to my maternal grandmother, Yolanda. She came to this country at 14, and she just always longed for home. When her nieces gave her a necklace that was made in Italy and had been her sister Dominica’s, she wore it everyday. I think it reminded her not only of her family, but also of the home she’d left. Now it reminds me of her and her story, and I’ve worn it everyday since it was given to me…at 14. 

Carolann Madden is a poet, translator, and PhD candidate in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Houston. Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Town Creek Poetry, Cactus Heart, Women in Clothes (Penguin, 2014), Yalobusha Review, and elsewhere. She is obsessed with languages, and is a co-founding editor for Locked Horn Press (