FOUR EPISTLES (Part 1), Jeff Newberry and Justin Evans

Editors’ note: This is the first of a four-poem set submitted jointly by Justin Evans and Jeff Newberry. We’ve opted to publish one poem on each normal publication day, over the next week and a half. Their bio will be included in each day’s installment, and we’ll also include links back and forth to each of the poems once this series’ publication has completed.

Letter to Newberry about the Act of Creation

Dear Jeff: It begins with the word of God,
a whisper set loose into the wind
even before earth, cloud or rain were made.
How? All things are possible through God
and the act of creation can, like a mustard
seed, be impetus enough if expectation
can be reined in. As a child I tried planting
acorns near the Union Pacific bridge
waiting tirelessly for something to grow,
but nothing ever came of my labor. I find
poetry to be much easier, within my reach,
language more pliable than germination.
Perhaps it is because language is still in its
infancy compared to the evolution of plants
which has had 450 million years to take root
on land alone, and the appearance of flowers
some 200 million years past. I wonder what
small seed God first planted inside the mind
of man to spark the flower of language. Was
the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil
the beginnings of organic, creative thought?
Is that why God forbid its consumption; why
Lilith left Adam; why Eve was made from
his rib? Not all of my theological questions
are so easy. Some of my questions gift me
sleepless nights staring up at the cosmos,
stars shivering in atmospheric turbulence.
Scientists estimate we can see some 6,000
stars on a clear night, each a seed of light
no matter what telescope we try to use to
get a closer look.  When I write a poem
I feel like I am looking at a star, trying to
define it as it constantly withdraws deeper
into the ever-expanding cosmos. How far
will I end up going before I hear what God
has to tell me? All the best, Justin
Justin Evans’ latest book is Sailing This Nameless Ship (BlazeVOX). His next book, All the Brilliant Ideas I’ve Ever Had, is forthcoming from Foothills Publishing. He lives in rural Nevada with his artist wife, Becky, and their sons, where he teaches at the local high school. Jeff Newberry, Ph.D., teaches at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Georgia, where he lives with his graphic designer wife, Heather, and their children. His latest book is the novel, A Stairway to the Sea (Pulpwood Press). He is also author of the poetry collection, Brackish (Aldrich Press).
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About barkingsycamores 183 Articles
Barking Sycamores is a literary journal entirely edited and operated by queer neurodivergent people of color. We publish poetry, artwork, short fiction (beginning with Issue 3), creative nonfiction (beginning with Issue 8), and hybrid genre work (beginning with Issue 9) by emerging and established neurodivergent writers as well as essays on neurodiversity and literature and book reviews (beginning with Issue 10).

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