BY Guest authors

A love affair with the Cape Fear region inspired this collection of odes penned by novelists book authors and writers.

Ode to Masonboro Island
By Clyde Edgerton

Oh Masonboro mighty isle.

To her (for inspiration) I dash.

But when I reach that lovely shore

Sometimes I find trash.

But thats no more than a slight inconvenience

For no TV I find there.

And given the choice between trash and TV

We know which reigns most fair.

So Ill return to Masonboro again

Looking for peace and quiet.

Until a quiet and wealthy man

Sails over to buy it.

Ode to a Coastal Carolina Morning
By John Michael Grudzien

The morning along the Intracoastal Waterway

means promise and much to think and say.

This always-moving body of water connects us all

making north to south seem small.

Magnolia trees stand like sentries at attention and still

as I merely walk on along the small green hill.

Its here I sift through the moments of my life
now and those to come.

The dreams and the memories rise as my face
feels the warmth of the sun.

Now before me the sky opens a big old smiling Carolina blue

and my thoughts turn again to others and you.

I wish you could feel the stillness and the light.

Its as if on this small ground all can be so right.

 An egret stands on one leg in the marsh the tidal pool still low

and now I continue on for its time for me to go.

Ode to the Tool Bar
By Susan Taylor Block

Thou stripe of empowerment at my touch

making the writing much more of a game

fonts and alignments a bit of design

printing companies used to do the same.

I can make things vanish then reappear

print them bold as Prufrock walking the beach

or slant an entire book with just two clicks.

This italicizing I find most dear:

when a mind is angled to its best reach

it can spot humor lurking in the sticks.

Ode to Summer Rest Road
By Ellen Elizabeth Hunter

On winters morn I stroll this lovely street
where azure sky and placid water meet.

Warm sun upon the dazzling harbor shines
to temper chilly breezes in the pines.

And from the stately house with broad front porch
a languid mermaid watches my approach
while Milo dashes out to say hello.
I pause to pet him on his silky brow.

Ah there my favorite house: the French chateaux
its mounted angel blesses boats below
and snowy egret posed as if for show.

My soul refreshed by this most splendid view
I hurry forth to greet the day
and all that I must do.

Ode to the Cape Fear River
By Brooks Preik

In Southport many years ago

when I was yet a child

the river sang its song to me

a song both sweet and wild.

A song that called to me back then

with invitation clear “Come swim within my waters fresh escape the suns hot sear.”

On summer nights

I walked its shores

my mothers hand on mine

and felt its cooling breezes flow

the feeling was divine.

Though calm serene and beautiful

the river has its moods

the fury of a hurricane

the ravage left by floods.

Peace always follows every storm

there follows too the shine

of silvry moonlight on its waves

all turmoil left behind.

The rivers timeless waters soothe

my soul refresh my day.

I rest beside its tranquil banks

and sorrow goes away.

The rivers there for everyone

though often Im quite sure.

its charm is meant for me alone

a bond that will endure.

When I am gone the river still

will sing its haunting song

and generations yet unborn

with joy will sing along.

Ode to the Salisbury Street Bridge
By Taylor Riley

Where are you taking me today bridge?

The metallic purr of our tires on the mighty intracoastal drawbridge has faded.
We slow to an interminable stop
A slight veer to the left
We are getting closer closer
I see you bridge!

You are dull in the bright sunlight but stoic in your bleached colorless concrete.
Oh how youve aged but remain exactly the same.
So many have passed over you under you through you.

The car lifts slightly as we climb onto you.
A quick glance to the leftYes! It is high tide!
You must straighten your back as high as possible to carry us across safely.
The tires rolling over you make a different sound than they do when they cross your majestic neighbor.
You are duller heavier
More solid.
A hollow echo sound sings stories of what lies beneath and what soars overhead.
We are almost there! So close now
We are across you in a second.
You are keeping your promise of safety anticipation and delivery.
A slight bump as we alight a quick left down our street and we stumble out of the car.
We race to the water 
Ahhh we are here.

Where are you taking me today bridge?

I am traveling under you today bridge and I am scared

Daddy we are getting too close!
I am seven years old and Dad and I are fishing in his weathered john boat.
Daddy says the most interesting fish are caught under the bridge.
We have drifted too close to your soldier columns they are alive with barnacles.
They stare at me unblinking my tiny finger wants to reach out and touch.
I know they will hurt me.
Daddy catches one monster after another a humped and mottled toadfish a croaking spiny robin fish a furious writhing oily sea snake.
Go back to where you came from! You are not of this world you poisonous prehistoric creatures.
Your ominous sea is dark and murky and cold and deep.
I am not safe in that water.

Where are you taking me today bridge?

I am traveling over you today bridge and I am free

Mom we promise to be careful!
I am ten years old and mom has finally given permission for my sister and me to ride our bikes to the Scotchman just on your other side.
The anticipation buzzes like the mysterious cicadas.
There is money to be spent and candy to be bought and freedom to be had.
Single file girls we remember as we make this first independent voyage.
Deliver us safely bridge.
The cars race by us too quickly my left hand runs along the smooth metal rail to steady myself.
The concrete rail on my right feels too low up here on my bike.
An unexpected shiver of danger
If I were to lean just so you could not catch me bridge and I would slip over.
Would I fly?

Where are you taking me today bridge?

I am traveling under you today bridge and I am in big trouble…

Maggie we are gonna hit the bridge! Everyone overboard!
I am fourteen years old and my cousin Maggie and my sister Holly and I are teaching ourselves to sail in our tattered and faded Sunfish.
We are laughing under a burning August sun.
Choked in our orange lifejackets we fool around in our safe protected lagoon.
We pretend to jib and come about and trim the sail.
We stay far away from you bridge.
You are our guardian our gatekeeper our boundary.
We see a glimpse of open water beyond your protective window and wonder
But we belong HERE and heed our parents warning of not getting too close
A sudden defiant wind bursts forth
Yes! We are sailing!
No! We are racing toward you bridge the tide is too high the strait too narrow we arent ready to cross under you bridge!
Your edges are jagged and unyielding you are relentless in your pull
Wham! The mast strikes your warning sign the discarded ropes tangle around that old enemy those mocking barnacled columns.
The churning unwavering tide is pulling us under
But wait we bob to the surface on our backs.
What is this?
The water here is cool and slick
The air quiet and wise
The dark shade a respite from the scorching summer heat.
Up above a family of pigeons live in your craggy rafters they coo inquisitively about our presence here.
The cars hum over us unknowing.
I pause in this unexpected shelter;
This is a cocoon.

Where are you taking me today bridge?

I am traveling over you today and I am living

I am 25 30 40 and I am walking across you today.
I begin my walks crossing you and you lead me back home as well.
We walk this loop in the cool morning hurrying before the oppressive heat sets in.
We spend the day beach combing for sharks teeth doing jackknives off the dock and catching crabs.
We walk this loop in the warm evening satisfied after eating our caught dinner with our fingers.
I have pushed a baby in a stroller across you hoping for her sleep.
I have been pulled across you by my eager dog chasing after another.
I have run across you
Run away from someone or run toward something.
Some days I am heavy when I cross
Heavy with the sleeplessness of motherhood
Heavy with the fear of a new beginning
Heavy with the sorrow of saying goodbye.
No matter how heavy or how slow my crossing you dont budge
You hold firm.
Other times I cross you feeling light and quick
Jogging for fitness
Chasing a child on her way to the park
Sharing secrets and hopes with my sister mother friend
These times I take you for granted I am embarrassed to say I dont notice you at all.
You understand this and you forgive
You release me so quickly

Where are you taking me today bridge?

Today I will slow down.
I stand still on you bridge.
We are surrounded by activity.
There are bikers joggers cars.
Everyone wants something from you.
Seagulls scream overhead fisherman spend countless hours leaning on you
Casting a line in hopes of something better.

We are surrounded by the changing elements.
A white hot sun a bitter wind salty air you can wipe off your cheeks sideways rain that slides down your shoulders.
We are surrounded by beauty.
The grassy marsh that matures from a brilliant summer green to a barren winter brown
Water streaming under you swirls from sapphire blue to mossy green.
It is unfair to you to be built amongst such natural beauty.
You are man made and plain.
But you are vital
Quiet and loud
Rough to touch and worn from use
Scuffed and scratched and broken in places
You protect and support you cover and expose
You shoulder you connect you define
Unshakable unadorned and dignified
You are beautiful in your humility.

I am traveling over you today bridge and I am leaving

My bags are packed the car and my mind filled with the things I have collected memories I have gathered the time I have spent.
My journey begins again only this time there is no anticipation of your arrival you are the first thing I cross.
You are the end and the beginning.
I cross you entirely too quickly not ready to say goodbye.
It is a long way back to where I came from.
I look back and watch you grow smaller and smile knowing youve done your duty youve kept your promise we will meet again.
So I wonder

Where are you taking me today bridge?