There’s the way he misses his grandmother, Mamie Lee, the matriarch of his family, “like an ache” - something she used to say to him and the rest of her grandchildren (The Poets Weave). His grandparents were sharecroppers in Alabama and as a child, Douglas often took the train from Louisville to visit them (“Writing Home” - Louisville Magazine).
Douglas also introduces a new six-line form: the fret, of which there are three in the collection.
Echoing the blues theme of his persona collection about Donny Hathaway, Cooling Board, the fret builds on the visual framework of a guitar's neck. Each line begins with the letter of the corresponding string (EADGBE), and vertical caesuras break the lines into three parts, as in this excerpt from “The Sorrows (A Fret in Three Chords)":
To hear Douglas read his poems, listen to the related The Poets Weave podcast on Indiana public radio. There’s also a teacher’s guide available for the book by Marilyn Nelson that Douglas references in “Tallahatchie”.