New Year’s Resolutions and Dreams

The black pearl sea laps at the wreckage I’m floating on
while a spotlight moon reveals jagged shore
where people in beautiful clothes gather
to talk of how wonderful they all are,
how neat and good. In this dream their faces
are 3D vivid like a movie.
Looking at me slantways
they lie and lie while the willful wind brushes my cheek
like a hand turning my head toward the stars.

This year I pledge to take more Vitamin D
to prevent Despair, Depression,
Disgust, Detachment, and most of all,
the real cause of death for every single one of us
no matter what the doctor claims.

This one is a flipbook that just loops endlessly until I wake:
People I am not close to anymore
or just acquaintances
are in mundane situations speaking nonsense
Alice-in-Wonderland jabberwocky over and over.
I rarely dream of my children,
husband, parents, brother or sisters.
My subconscious mind
even has a subconscious mind
like a funhouse mirror.

I lie down resolved to dream of trees I have loved:
the one with the swing, the one like Eve’s in her Garden,
another one where the bees live,
where the crippled fox
sent me a poem across silent snow.
To go out on a limb means you’re going where it lives,
that fruit that doesn’t stand for anything else
only the way forward to the next day
and the next.

This year I pledge to take more Vitamin L
to replace all I’ve lost.
I will forgive myself for forgetting,
forgive myself for remembering.
No longer the flat character in someone else’s story,
I’ll make my heart murmurs
speak up—
but most days
I pledge to be still.
Be still.
Be. Still.

Rita Sims Quillen’s new full-length poetry collection, The Mad Farmer’s Wife, was published in 2016 by Texas Review Press, a Texas A&M affiliation. Her novel Hiding Ezra, released by Little Creek Books, was a finalist for the 2005 Dana Awards, and a chapter of the novel is included in Talking Appalachian, a scholarly study of Appalachian dialect published by the University of Kentucky Press in 2014. She also published a new poetry chapbook from Finishing Line Press in 2014 titled Something Solid to Anchor to.

One of six semi-finalists for the 2012-14 Poet Laureate of Virginia, she received a Pushcart nomination in 2012 and 2015, and a Best of the Net nomination in 2012. Her most recent full-length collection, Her Secret Dream, is from Wind Publications in Kentucky and was named the Outstanding Poetry Book of the Year by the Appalachian Writers Association in 2008. Previous works are poetry collections October Dusk and Counting the Sums, and a book of essays, Looking for Native Ground: Contemporary Appalachian Poetry.

Her poetry, short stories, reviews and essays have been widely published in anthologies and literary magazines, including Antietam Review, Roanoke Review, The Chattahoochee Review, Connotation Press, Potomac Review, The Texas Review, Blue Fifth Review, Appalachian Heritage, The Laurel Review, Appalachian Journal, Artemis Journal, and the Birmingham Arts Journal, and she was anthologized in Bloodroot and in the Appalachian volume of the Southern Poetry Anthology series published by Texas Review Press.

She lives and farms on Early Autumn Farm in Scott County, Virginia. You can learn much more about her, her work, and the beautiful Appalachian mountains at her website:

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