“THERE’S NO THROUGH TRAIL” —HAN-SHAN, TRANSLATED BY GARY SNYDER
/ Buffalo Creek, Greensboro, NC

Buffalo Creek, Greensboro, NC

by John York

Years ago, the city gave in
to a rage for safety—fears of snakes,
muggers, rabid raccoons—
enforced a crewcut conformity: 
men whacking, sawing, 
mowing, all the way down
to the water, as if the creek needed 
a close shave, no public bush allowed.

Now, we find poisonous 
hemlock, ragweed, copperhead, yes,
but also morning glory, Virginia pine,
catalpa, paper birch, whistle pig,
water snake, resident birds 
and the visitant,
vegetation giving cover 
to the green heron, for example,

trees slowing the overflow 
when Buffalo Creek charges 
in a brown slobbery snort, and, 
when the water clears,
providing a hiding place 
for the kingfisher, blue and white 
spiky-crowned bloom of a bird,
chattering a blue streak, clackety-
clackety-clackety.

Maybe one day,
our descendants will find a wallow, 
hoof prints, a dark splatter, 
hear a thudding—Hide, children!
Then a deep bellow like the roar 
of the last diesel engine.

John York

About John York

John Thomas York is a retired teacher of high school English. He has published four chapbooks and one full-length poetry collection, Cold Spring Rising (2012, Press 53). His work has appeared in Tar River Poetry, Poetry East, KROnline (Kenyon Review), Appalachian Journal, and several other magazines. He has won both the James Applewhite Poetry Prize and the Alex Albright Creative Nonfiction Prize from North Carolina Literary Review. His poems appeared in the first two numbers of Cold Mountain Review, many years ago, when he was a student at ASU. He is proud to be published here again. To visit his website, please go to: https://www.johnthomasyork.com/

Cold Mountain Review is published once a year in the Department of English at Appalachian State University. Support from Appalachian’s Office of Academic Affairs and College of Arts and Sciences enables CMR’s learning and publications program. The views and opinions expressed in CMR do not necessarily reflect those of university trustees, administration, faculty, students, or staff.