Valle Crucis Poems

by Kelly Jones

photography by Lilli Storm

In the Valley of the Cross


Roads wind down mountains towards valleys.

People pull over to paint pastorals of old barns and horses in the fields.


We collect eggs to fry for breakfast,

dodge snakes in the grass when harvesting dinner.


Goats in heat escape from pens—we chase them.

Cars pass us. Drivers wave but don’t slow down.


Tourists rent cabins miles up the one lane dirt road,

they ask for directions. I point and smile.


Half the license plates are Floridian,

all sunshine and palm trees.


We go into town,

tell someone We’re going into town! before we leave.

A phrase I never imagined I’d use, but it comes out naturally.


The sun shines through clouds, the birds make a racket.

They seem to appreciate a clear sky more than I do.


Mountain Earthquakes and Other Minor Catastrophes


The dirt road was crooked, narrow, hard to find.

Our cabin shook when trucks drove by.


My dog escaped a couple of times,

ran up the hills and into the wild.


Snakes made their way inside.

I chased them with broom or shovel from the corner they loved to curl in.


Further up the road were rental cabins.

Fall-tourist traffic pushed wild turkeys to the trees.


Lightning bugs flooded the summer air with a soft glow,

and made the world feel like a dream.


Butterflies bloomed in spring and quickly died,

littering the ground with wings that made me wish for flight.


Winter came early, turned the ground white

and taught me the beauty of wood smoke in morning.


At the farm we danced

through the rain and snow, day or night, weekday or end.


When the earthquake hit I barely noticed, didn’t realize

the seismic shift wasn’t just another truck speeding by my window.


Me and the Woodsman


I had enough potatoes and kale in my garden

to feed the starving man.


His hair was long

and his eyes shined

like a deer’s in darkness.


He carried a bow with him

but no arrows

and I wondered

how long he’d been hungry.


A teacup placed before him made him look

delicate. Lines on his face

told me he wasn’t.


He stayed on at the farm until the sky

went grey and didn’t change.


I looked for him, followed footsteps

to the tree line where they

disappeared into the wild.


Some evenings I leave

a crust of bread on a stone

between the woods

and my home.


In the morning when it is gone

I wonder if he was real or a delusion.



Kelly Jones

Kelly Jones is a writer, editor, and educator currently living in New Orleans. She has an MFA in Poetry and a BA in Literature and Social Justice. Some of her favorite things are manatees, glitter, wild turkey, and dance parties. In her spare time she runs The Gambler Mag, lazes by the bayou, and tries to come to terms with the concept of infinity.



Lilli Storm

Freelance photographer, writer of poems and articles on nature conservancy and a more responsible way of life. Living in a rural valley on the border to Hardangervidda National Park, Norway. Vegetarian, mother and wife, avid hiker. Currently learning to craft milking stools in the traditional way.