Stephen Scott Whitaker: A Mini-Chapbook of Poetry

Southern Legitimacy Statement: Born raised, and breeding kids in Southeast Virginia, though I had to go to Buffalo to get hitched. Didn’t cross the M/D line till I was 19, and then for only a weekend. Unlike many, I know what’s it like to turn soil all day long, which is why I don’t do it.

A Mini-Chapbook of Seven Poems


Dem peckerwoods, dem peckerwoods,  dem pecker


How holy in holly they leap and file,

loon under big fat hill-and moons,

if they were marsh hens they’d be fat and drunk on sawgrass sweet.

Distant fields,

the curve of the earth

like the curve of a breast,


the curve of a beast’s belly

that’s full and lonely and moon.

Dem peckerwoods, dem peckerwoods, dem

Tossing the tearing soil

in harvest heat, nights bearing shadows

night stretched from music on the radio,

a dip in skinny lakes at noon.

Dem peckerwoods, dem peckerwoods,

dem peckers.

How they scatter and return and scatter again

nervous, tempered with shot,

brown nut and dirty scalp

hunting late into lean winter

for old bucks,

slow thin does with child.

Curve of hunger like a ghost of belly round

empty inside

still hot, open, local with desire

dem peckerwoods, dem peckerwoods, dem.


They leap and file under the pickle moon.




Who says we aren’t rich? For rich eat well,

and do we not eat well?  Our sandwiches stack

as far as Ray can stack them. Is there not

tender venison lodged for slow cooking

on the one short day when it counts

to celebrate? And why not unfetter joy?

There is little light, and winter gardening is simple.

There is always rain. The spring plays have yet to rehearse,

and there have been many fires.

Do we not have well worn clothes and coats?

Ah, show some character around the elbows or neck…

The rich may tell stories of where a coat was purchased,

as if that were a tale as chorded and riffed as the one

where two children made haymakers in the snow

over territory and crowned ribbons and ripped the hem below.

As if the snow covered fields could upturn anything

but the smell of manure and wild onion?

Are there are boxes under the tree and fresh bread?

The tobacco is cured and the pipes are hung with the bow,

for fiddle and guitars are sure tokens

of the holidays and of the season of dark.

Bring over the stools and high chairs, neighbors.

Bring over the cabbage and ham, all the worry carrots you can carry.

Rain barrels are full and round as a child’s ear

and has a notion of wonder in her bright face.

The blue sky and clouds reflected in the pool

are as still as I hope to be.




get out, all the way to the curb

because money isn’t a mother

because wheels don’t stop rolling

because a lamp lies upturned against a window

daddy ain’t drunk no more

momma ain’t loaded no more

baby sells lightning by the seashore

baby sells lightning by the seashore

get out, get out, money pulls the trigger

because a man’s game is cheated

because a woman ain’t no purse

baby sells lightning by the seashore

baby sells lightning by the seashore

because momma is dead in the ground

because daddy is dead in the ground

baby sells lightning by the seashore




Box, box, box, box, box, block end

at sharp right, and box, box, box.

Houses continuing down to the stilted salt house

and the knacker’s yard, the one rum house

big as an Alaskan rig.

Bucks rack over does in field,


Eat grain, brace horns.

Corral in the bar of the gin people

in the narrow fishing town.

Spend too much time staring

across the bay’s dumb grey face.

Buck thistle. Moot flower, a thyme

that grew up in purple curls,

like the hair of clown children

that stop in the square every fall

for harvest fest. Only the celebration

remains, a circled date on a farm calendar

the day off from school.


Pity the wood that discovered it was a pier

an easy slut for boats and fish,

men wipe their boots and boys

do what they wish with what was so green

now grey and dry.

Wild minds like a topspin of ice

forming a rime on the salted ropes,

the edges of the dock turning white.

The storm is heavy and high,

dragging it’s drowsy head across a desk,

lightning, like a teacher’s finger, dry and hot,

scratches arithmetic and Latin across the slate colored sky.



River runs all day and never gets anywhere

that forbidden desire





Rice and all its water

Rice and all its water

Mouth gonna eat



backmouth eat.

And the bay, ripeness of it

coming back where the sea has exposed its neural reach,

the smell of her tall bacteria.

The key she is thine

The key she is thine

Come back here gull

Come back to your first mother


Rain shooting through a gargoyle’s mouth,

a tall glass of ice water in July,

a forest rainpool,

the storm fresh leaves laid down low.

This is how to pray.




Jenea slammed Kiki in the back of the skull

with that fat purple ring she wears, ya know?

She’s skunking Kiki and spitting in her hair

and punching her fucking neck. Her neck, yo

and Kiki”s face is just bouncing off the hood.

And man she tries to turn around, and slips

gets trapped in her own turn, and Jenea keeps hitting,

but now it’s on Kiki’s nose, and Kiki’s bleeding,

her eyes watering, but Jenea never quits, right?

Just like her sister. Breaks the bitch’s glasses, yo. Damn,

but Kiki turning around saved her neck, man,

cause if Ferry didn’t bust it up any sooner,

her neck would have been snapped back,

cause Jenea had her whole weight in it.

Plus, everyone knows Kiki can’t fight.



Knuckledrag and bad boy’s game.

Lying and keeping

a little to the side,

no more talk

old ladies on the block.

old ladies on the block

Raincoat blues and the Blue Owl, a barrel house

bar for jazzboppers

and string bean painters shucking leftovers at the bottom of the sea.

Out of control with block letters

and a bag of shortweed.

No littlemore talk, be love afraid.

Old ladies on the block.

Author: Dead Mule Staff