Pony Payroll Bones Talkin John Jacob Niles and Doris Ullmann
by Matthew PonY Bones Proctor

“Creek crossing Cut Shine CreeK”

She rode piggyback across
creek- cut shine creek
     some unfortunate
-fool-    Niles wasn’t

     some unfortunate fooL long
ago time got all cut up when crossin
cause the creek is wide and shallow with
sharp rocks.

     after we crossed tha
creek, she wanted to
cross back again.

I was a patient
man that day


she saw drama when it
was coming....

treacherous, narrow pathway
--both us mounted on

some fine done   Photos
-the Local bee man
     and the Bee man’s wife
--who done the bee hives

This was up above in tha mountains,
Northwest Tennessee
Near above Gatlinburg Tennessee

I chased bees away. I wasn’t terrified but the ephemeral moments
were terrifying.
I chased bees away with fractured fluency—with a
wide brim hat.

Bees will Bite—and several
will Bite—will inflict several
bee bites

Her Thick hair protected
from the bees.


We were done
Photo graphing
the Husband and Wife
Bee domesticators

Take tha road
down tha
     to Gatlinburg, Tenn.

Impractical pair of Jodhpurs
she wore.

In this outfit she rode
like a Biblical Queen.

was all going well right.
down the narrow some road
--when---suddenlY---- HOrsE mistooK
     a steP

--     I fell down
with Horse---down that mountain

brushes briars and thorns

I yelled in balladeer surprise
-- HOrse yelled it’s horse yell
               of surprise.

we tumbled and slid
thru pains.

bruises briars and Thorns
rocks, yes sharp rocks
   blunt rocks
fallen trees
     and scratchy
   fallen branches

we suffered them all

at least I got outta tha
     That wuldve been deathly

        clothes all obliterated
     yet miraculous

     --the equipment remained
        and the photos
     mysteriously safeguarded
        sound in safely

     took 36 hours
        for me to ----

     Tha rescue team
        found amusements
     ---with the sight of me

     what happened to the horse?
        what happened to that horse?

     I had no pants at all.


     Tetanus shot
               --I broke out
        in fantastic red spotting

clothing arrived—New--- also
     New Watch
   still wear 30 years later----- over
some 30thirty some years later----

     horse had to be destroyed.
That horse had to be destroyed. Wasn’t right in any right

Near tragic Gatlinburg, Tennessee


To unhorse me

at Barlow’s store

     she got tha docile Equine.

I got the tempestuous one.

     when he passed 3three mules on tha
road—that Horse almost won tha
     wild Horse desire

     all took place in the geography of Grassy Valley

Grassy Valley.

Notes concerning John Jacob Niles and Doris Ulmann Poems

Some may find insight with the below information. Some may not. The poems exist without any of these direct explanations. The poems show what truly unimportant events are. In summation though, all events are important.

John Jacob Niles was a visionary folk song performer, song collector and all around adventuresome prone soul prowling the first half of the twentieth century. He traveled widely through the dark rural forgotten corners of this U.S.A. with photographer Doris Ulmann. He gathered ballads and she painstakingly took photographs without compromise. She refused to pay her subjects directly as with money, though would give them copies of the photos she took. She was gleefully attracted to old men with full blown mountain whiskers. She was obsessed with humankind at work seaming, factory work, outdoor chores, symphony performers, folk singers of the east coast mountains that can generally be referred to as Appalachia.

He preferred to work in the day. She preferred to work at night. Her health was often frail. He was the younger of the two. She originally hailed from New York City. He was a Kentucky man from the so-called hillbilly region. He eventually wrote an opera whilst also inventing his own musical instrument, a very personal version of the autoharp.

Ulmann was also trained as a photographer in New York City. She would only take alcohol in the form of sherry poured into her bean soup. She drank too much coffee for her health and put most chain smokers to shame in her ferocity of habit. She suffered from ill health all her life only living to the age of 50 years old.

This all went down in the late 1920’s-early 1930’s.

(Taken from John Jacob Nile’s introduction to The Appalachian Photographs of Doris Ulmann.)

These poems are about reduction. Through simplicity they take one into a narrative. Incomplete to incomplete in traveling adventures of this eccentric pair. Simplicity. The poems are mostly seemingly from Niles point of you years later. The original recollections can also be found in Nile’s introduction. I modified and manipulated his sentence structuring.