Cold Spring Rising, poetry by John Thomas York John Thomas York

Press 53 . PO Box 30314, Winston-Salem, NC 27130-0314

John Thomas York
Cold Spring Rising
by John Thomas York

8.5 x 5.5 inches, 112 pages
ISBN 978-1-935708-52-0
Praise for Cold Spring Rising
“John Thomas York has long been known as the Yadkin Bard. But he is also a poet of the vast reaches of the night sky, of deep memory, of wonder. His voice is distinctive, fresh, bringing to life a world long forgotten, of work, of struggle, of family bonds and community. I know of few poets who recreate so effectively the awe and aching immediacy and imaginative intensity of childhood. It is a pleasure to welcome the abundance, the full range of achievement, of Cold Spring Rising, which has both the sweetness and thrilling sting of the coldest and boldest spring water.” 
— Robert Morgan, author of Gap Creek and Terroir

“John Thomas York's technical skill is remarkable: his melodic use of word music and rhythmic (though often unmetered) cadences, his vivid images that make the world new, his precise words zinging like surely-shot arrows. These bring us aesthetic pleasure as well as meaning—and the meanings probe his world with courage as well as insight. An award-winning teacher who prizes truth as well as art, he remembers his farm childhood as through a golden haze, but not once does he slip into sentimentality. And when shadows come, as they must, whether he stumbles, falls, or comes up dancing, his work is, finally, a hymn of gratitude.” — Sally Buckner, editor of Word and Witness: 100 Years of North Carolina Poetry

“John Thomas York tunes a guitar strung from the stars to the dirt of a farm where memories grow. The melody may catch on tobacco or hemlocks, cobwebs or sleet, a dog or a dental appointment or the fate of a loon. And the voice shows a solid, barefoot familiarity with every setting, even when it's a two-ton Chevy flatbed that's left the ground.” 
— Sarah Lindsay, author of Twigs & Knucklebones

John Thomas York was educated at Appalachian State, Wake Forest, and Duke, and he has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He has also been a Mellon Fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as a recipient of fellowships from the Council for Basic Education and the National Endowment for the Humanities. For over thirty years he has taught English in the public schools. In 2003 he was named Teacher of the Year by the North Carolina English Teachers Association. His work has appeared in many regional journals, as well as in anthologies such as Word and Witness: 100 Years of North Carolina Poetry and The Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume III: Contemporary Appalachia. He has previously published three chapbooks, Picking Out, Johnny's Cosmology, and, in 2010, Naming the Constellations, the last published by Spring Street Editions of Sylva, NC. In 2011, he received the first annual James Applewhite Poetry Prize from the North Carolina Literary Review. He and his wife, Jane McKinney York, live in Greensboro, where they have raised their daughters, Elizabeth, Kathryn, and Rachel.
Cover artist Jan Jílek was born in the Czech Republic in 1989 in a small city in North Moravia called Zabreh. He studied at a technical high school and continues his studies at the University of Economics in Prague with a focus on Business Administration. His dream is to move to the United States and start a successful photography business.
Jan has been involved in photography since 2008 when he bought his first compact camera. About a year later, he purchased a DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) camera. Jan says, “My passion for photography has no limits: it is how I work and relax, both at the same time. Thanks to hard work, I was able to become one of Canon's representatives and also one of their photographers. Making photos for one of the largest companies in the industry is a huge success and great honor.”

While the other birds take off like clunky
bi-planes like Fokkers or Spads
the barn swallow zips away
and around like a jet or faster

like a science fiction fighter craft
guided by the pilot’s thoughts
whatever the imagination dictates among
planetary rings moons asteroids

willows pokeweeds flowering hemlocks
over the grass and back
to the mud cups under the bridge
where sunlight’s reflections

wave on a concrete ceiling 
wing-whir and frantic chirping a blessing
there in the shadows birds circling
perching taking flight 


They like to feed over quiet water
and I’ve seen them unzipping
their reflections I’ve stood atop Fontana Dam 
and watched them fly

in from the lake to execute acrobatic loops
down then under a beam
and up to their nests built along
the top of the water gate

on a girder suspended above the overflow
tunnel a yawning mouth
large enough to swallow a house
and black as Hades’ gullet


And now it’s mid-August and they
have deserted their cups
and the hemlocks are dried up 
brown sticks of poison

I wish I could follow the barn swallows
to the Yucatan to Argentina
the birds travelling six hundred
miles a day a tide

ebbing as daylight decreases
I wish I could learn their secrets
the zing and zest with which they live
like a thought that flees before I can say it