Last month when award winning poet, professor and advocate for literacy, Joseph Bathanti, took the post as North Carolina’s seventh poet laureate he announced plans to work with veterans to share their stories through poetry.
To celebrate Veterans Day, Sunday, November 11, Bathanti has written a special poem for veterans, families of veterans and for all of us who honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.
“North Carolina, arguably the heart of the U.S. military establishment, is overflowing with unforgettable stories of veterans and their families, and across the state there are various initiatives, as well as writers and countless others, dedicated to bringing these accounts to the surface,” Bathanti said. “As Poet Laureate, I find myself suddenly in a position to make something very meaningful happen in North Carolina by serving as a lightning rod to publicize these programs, create a consortium of thought and action among them, and help create a sustainable collaborative model for teaching writing workshops for vets that can be duplicated and delivered anywhere in the state.”
A resident of Vilas, Bathanti is a professor of creative writing at Appalachian State University where he is also Director of Writing in the Field and Writer-in-Residence in the University’s Watauga Global Community. He has taught writing workshops in prisons for more than three decades and is former chair of the N.C. Writers’ Network Prison project.
Only the seventh person to hold the title of poet laureate in the state, Bathanti succeeds Cathy Smith Bowers, who served in the position from 2010 to June 30, 2012.
Saint Francis’s Satyr Butterfly
All creatures have the same source as we have.
Saint Francis of Assisi
A reclusive small brown butterfly,
white and yellow stigmatic suns
deployed along its wing ridges,
Saint Francis’s Satyr – christened
after the 12th century Italian soldier
and POW turned mystic –
secretes itself, miraculously,
in 10 by 10 kilometers
of the 251 square mile brash
of Fort Bragg – exact coordinates classified –
beyond which – we know this much –
it has gone undetected. Shy, endangered,
preferring anonymity, it hides
in high artillery impact domains –
life often chooses death –
the fires triggered by bombardment.
It wears Marsh camouflage,
resembles in its favored habitat –
blasted sedge and beaver ruins –
a tiny standard issue
Advanced Combat Helmet.
Parsed from the chrysalis,
rent too soon from its dream of living,
the satyr blazes in desperate glory
but three or four days,
in its imaginal stage,
then tenders its life in writ sacrifice.
Its gorgeous numbers dwindle.
The caterpillar has never been seen.
We accept, on faith, metamorphosis.