NPM 7: Georgia & Beyond

So here is the Finale to our marathon 2012 National Poetry Month project, “Crossing Country Line by Line,” starting with YARN fave, Terra Elan McVoy of Georgia.  THANK YOU for reading the 35 poets who made this month so amazingly, well, poetic.  We’ll have more blog-like thoughts reflecting on this year’s amazing NPM project very soon, but we just couldn’t wait to share these poems with you. So, without further ado…..

Image courtesy of Geographicus Rare Antique Maps (Wikimedia Commons) PD-US


Terra Elan McVoy (Georgia)

A Crossing

A feeling moves across your chest—
a pulse, once,
and that is all.
There is
no confetti raining from the ceiling,
no studio audience applause,
no parade—
only the knowing:
you were there, before,
and now you are not.

You have made it.
you have crossed the line—
a passing
from here
to somewhere else.

The road before you will remain blank-faced:
just as much ahead as behind.
But in this moment, a small certainty
—somewhere, now—
you have arrived.

Carissa Neff (Texas)

Crossing Lines

across the phone wires, the fiber-optic
lines bridging the crevasse from me
to my grandmother, i’m complaining:
the women around here erase their stories,
each sentence, each line
of their lives—proof of their time
alive—need be obliterated. turn back
the clock, the ads say. (parentheses
have a place, but not on your face.)
they say: “always look your best” or
“beauty is only skin deep,” and the women
around here, they believe.

so unpopular, a face like georgia’s, lines
deep as rivers, rivers crossing, crossing lines
fit for the palm of a hand, that face. she
must have squinted and furrowed
and frowned and smiled ten billion times,
while painting those blooms, each dip
of the brush, each stroke, each line
necessary, a gift, a legacy of intricacy.

these little girls at my knees, they need to know
something about beauty, where it exists, how to find it.
walk this road with me. walk it so many times
you create a path. listen. i’m telling you. trust me,
flowers mine: when I first saw you, my face moved
through every emotion, and you quickly recognized
the one for love. let your face be read. let it
become the most beautiful book. allow your eyes,
their wings. (allow your mouth its parentheses.)
beauty exists in imperfection. watch yourself
bloom with the eyes of an artist. after all:
you are poems.
you are paintings.
you are built of lines.

Carrie Bennett (Massachusetts)

Early Spring

I consider distance.
how the sky looks
from my third-story
window, the wind
a brief-breath.
I don’t know
what beauty is.
the day I knew
your child
was in the hospital
again I wanted
to be next to you.
what has been done
to his small body.
what is left-
over after each
new procedure.
then joy
like anything else.
how each
crosses over a
blind-line, my
own face close
to yours. how
sometimes it seems
there is only ever
one breath.

Terra Elan McVoy has been reading and writing avidly since she first learned how, and has had many jobs that center around those two activities, from managing an independent children’s bookstore, to teaching writing classes, and even answering fan mail for Captain Underpants. Terra lives and works in the same Atlanta neighborhood where her novels After the Kiss, Being Friends with Boys, and Pure are set. She is also the author of The Summer of Firsts and Lasts. To learn more about Terra’s life, visit and follow her on Twitter at @TerraMcVoy.


Carissa Neff holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Florida State University. She writes nonfiction, poems, and plays. She lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and two daughters.





Carrie Bennett is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and author of “biography of water” (Word Works’ Washington Prize, 2004). She currently lives in Somerville, MA and teaches writing at Boston University. Her poetry has been published in Boston Review, Caketrain, Denver Quarterly, Horse Less Review, Indiana Review, Interim, Prose-Poem Project among others. Her chapbook, “A Quiet Winter,” was recently published by dancing girl press.

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