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Julian Barnes

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Thomas Jones

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Poem: ‘The Reach of the Sea’

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Diary: Where water used to be

Rosa Lyster

Nashville to NickajackSimon Carnell
Vol. 36 No. 4 · 20 February 2014

Nashville to Nickajack

Simon Carnell

242 words

The town that ‘doesn’t need another silly love song’, and gets ‘You Look Like I Need a Drink’.


Next to the deleted cigarette on the barroom door: the red crossed circle deleting a handgun.


‘Hear a sound like a train coming’ (tornado season) ‘get in the tub and hold pillows over your heads’.


In Music City, even the waiters and waitresses keep guitars in cases at the ready beneath the bar.


Stepped outside the singer-songwriters circle for a smoke: the ‘lonesome’ airhorns of freight trains.


Not Dollyville. Not ‘sketchy’ Memphis, defined by the cab driver as ‘not safe for white people’.


No detail too small, for children trying to prise seashells from the aggregate, on the Parthenon steps.


More complete than its original, the full-scale repro houses an Athena with eyes bigger than footballs.


All along the route to Chattanooga: hoardings for fireworks, politicians, automatic weapons.


Where the Southern Agrarians took their stand, the manners of the porter with his ‘yes’m’.


Johnny Cash in a Hatch Show print, Tammy still standing by her man. Until the dee ai vee o ar cee ee.


Neo-classical stud stables restored at Belle Meade. The one surviving slave cabin ‘not to be ignored’.


The ‘Sioux-blooded’ Man in Black’s Dark Night of the Soul, in the Nickajack Cave. Saltpetre …


… resurrected for Gospel, Folsom Prison, cancer … some mind-blowing boom-chick-a-boom.


A penultimate choice, on Tennessee’s Death Row, before the last request. Chair or lethal injection.

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