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With photographs by Roger Manley.
I was born at home in a plankhouse (above photo), on a small farm in Johnston County, NC. The poems are vignettes: lyrics and stories reflecting my growing-up years. My poems and Roger’s photographs complement each other, though we did not collaborate; which is to say: I wrote the pieces and he took the photographs. 1993. North Carolina Wesleyan College Press.

Vignettes from the book:

Uncle Dray, Hungover

"How many eggs you want for breakfast, Dray?"

Drunk in the grapevine,
his specs lost and false teeth hanging in the arbor;
scuppernong-brandy waving inside his head
and the ten-acre field needing plowing.

"I don't even want to see no chicken, Mary."

Sleeping in the Old House in Winter

Sometimes I can smell the heat coming into my body through the bedclothes, the Silent Flame burning to warm three rooms where cracks were so big you could throw a coon through.


When I was a boy the teacher asked me what an adverb was. I told her I didn't know, thinking to myself it could be the white part of a chicken manure for all I knew.


Shelby Stephenson / 985 Sanders Road / Benson NC 27504 / shelbystephenson@mindspring.com
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Photographs copyright © 1993 by Roger Manley