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Crossroads: Poems of a Mississippi Childhood

by Robert Hamblin


Front Porch

Each summer evening
it gathered us,
warm and compliant,
Daddy home from work,
relaxing in the huge rocker,
occasionally leaning forward
to spit tobacco juice
over the pots of petunias and pansies
onto the hard, grassless yard,
Mama in the swing,
momentarily freed
from stove and sink and broom,
though her hands,
never able to rest,
still busied themselves
darning socks
or crocheting doilies,
while Agnes and I sat
on the edge of the porch,
legs dangling in air,
or lounged on the top step,
searching for friends’ faces
in the rear windows of passing cars,
and wishing that one
would turn off the gravel road
and park beside our house,
and if one didn’t,
having to be contented
with the hushed conversation of parents
recounting the events of the day
or, better, the generations,
until the chorus of tree frogs and crickets
overtook the voices
and even a full moon
or the bright neon flaring
of hundreds of lightning bugs
or the feeble patch of light
blooming through the open window
could not stay the eclipse of laughter
or rescue those rugged, sun-creased,
darling faces from the relentless, certain
shadows of night.


The 55 poems in the book describe people and events Hamblin remembers from his boyhood days at Brice's Cross Roads, a northeast-Mississippi rural community best known as the site of a famous Civil War battle.



Bob Hamblin doesn’t miss much of importance, whether he actually remembers it or makes it up, like any poet, to fill the gaps that memory can’t reach. These strong, evocative poems will reach those gaps in our memories, too, make us whole by removing the screens which often keep us from remembering what we saw, from seeing what we remember. These poems are clear-eyed and moving.

— Noel Polk, professor, scholar, and writer, author of Outside the Southern Myth

Reading Crossroads, you appreciate the depth and complexity of these poems that range over the full spectrum of life and accumulate a profound wisdom in perfect rhythm and a music that delights the heart and mind.

— Terry Everett, Mississippi poet, author of The Work of Two Hands

This is a deeply felt book that understands that language can seek the desired crossroads between what once was and what is. At certain times Hamblin reminds us that the past must be grasped even when it is profoundly regrettable, but in most of these compelling pieces the poet asks us to traverse his crossroads in search of what must be saved.

— Joseph Stanton, author of Imaginary Museum: Poems on Art

Reflecting on the diverse and tumultuous history of his state, [Hamblin] has much in the way of the profound, intriguing verse with a lot to understand. Crossroads is a fine anthology of poetry, highly recommended.

Midwest Book Review

Robert Hamblin writes with such clarity and style, there is no work for the reader but to enjoy the tale he shares about his past and the people and place that raised him — every last stubborn one of them.

Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley


This book is available in Kindle, Nook, Sony, Kobo, and Apple E-book formats, for purchase, and through public libraries' Overdrive account, for loan.

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