Wednesday, June 03, 2015


deep b’neath th’sultry hills,
th’green river’s sounds captivate
th’mammoth cave vis’tor

outside ‘t th’slugger bat,
country folk ask directions –
here f’r th’black lung clinic

rock climbers, the red -
uncommon tongues, but common

combs parkway ev’ning –
crickets ‘n’ a valley full ‘f stars,
not a car for miles

tangled woods ‘t th’tug fork
hatfields ‘n’ mccoys are still ‘round,
she says, but int’th’drugs

paducah street fair
th’old guy’s sure he saw elvis,
why worry ‘bout th’facts?

certain hard spirit -
hates harlan's folk 'n' th'festivals -
'stead'f gas, 's got liquor

up main t’ward th’highway,
his fog ‘f doubt, school ‘r’work, lifted –
th’slugger bat statue!

slugger bat statue
grandpa describes for th’young ones
th’sound ‘n’ feel ‘f th’real wood ones

doesn’t know th’culture,
or th’summer shows, but knows
he’s six miles from louisville

go back to l'u'ville,
locals drink 'n' shoot crackers, and
don't care f'r city folk

paducah street fair
elvis impersonator
even has jeweled belt!

just north of campbell,
a nap too restless, a field
'f roadside tobacco

paintsville t’prestonburg
th’art ‘f living on mountain corn,
and th’fine ear f’r music

absolutely lost,
paris streets, background colors,
the leaf hesitates

th’u-pike’s got th’people,
he says – mines have all shut down,
‘n’ th’kids went back to school

paint lick hooligans -
halloween mischief, saved for
those who might be gay

holler kids ‘n b’rea
‘bout t’kill th’students with costumes
‘f improper gender

wood smoke fills th’hollow
near hazard – hungry so long,
forgot how t’treat th’guest

nother school shooting –
kentucky kids, mad’s ever,
now they’re armed t’ th’teeth

holler fog, wood smoke,
fiddle, banjo, dulcimer -
pike county saints day

through th’cumberland gap -
hollows’re too cold t’camp, too much
mountain, not ‘nough sun

lou'v'lle traffic slows,
icy roads unusual
before thanksgiving

hazard county fog,
coal comp'nies, workers' accounts -
woodstove's acrid sting

cloverleaf ‘n’ th’river,
southbound ‘t louisville – th’lights,
th’chill, th’traffic, th’freedom

embers ‘n th’woodstove
‘round harlan, nothing replaced
their faith ‘n dirty coal

ice, english exit
going t’mom’s in ohio,
she’s a bit on edge

icy roads ‘f english
their big feuds ‘t th’dinner table,
‘n’ th’steep roads back t’ th’city

english exit tale –
this kind’f ice, even th’best ‘f us
have trouble stopping


ice ‘t th’river bottoms
said his home was in heaven,
th’press thinks he’s guilty(12-17)

cali to murray,
car dead, she reckons with gap,
frosted cables spark

her car’s jumped ‘n’ running
but it’s cold ‘n murray, ‘n’ th’lass feels
oh so far from home

cross th’bridge to lou’ville
out ‘f th’northern winter, he says,
‘n’ his shoulders relax

glazed ice, knox entrance -
'lost it all,' he says, 'th'day they
went off the gold standard'

up through cumberland,
keeps her balance ‘n’ composure
‘n th’icy mountain roads

through cumberland gap,
winter’s fog ‘n’ ice – somewhere ‘n here,
hank died ‘n th’cadillac

old scot in the boone:
name 'cumberland' chills our bones -
hot stick, winter fire

orion and friends,
mountain air on combs parkway -
utter lack of cars

across river bridge
to louisville - northern march
in rearview mirror

three years, lex waitress,
still not a fan of th'irish, 'r
wildcat basketball

wildcat basketball
lex waitress feels, too much fuss
over th’ball in th’hoop

bar telly ‘n lim’rick
city that cares so much ‘bout
card’nal basketball

saint pats ‘n limerick
so much beer, how’d he see th’foul
against th’cardinals?

near campbell, th’old vet
naps ‘n’ dreams ‘f his days ‘n nam, wakes
‘n th’blooming t’bacco field

paducah gard’ner –
no tol’rance for certain plants,
or mixed-race friendship


spring downpour ‘n’ mudslides –
past dead timber road somewhere,
th’town ‘f california

ohio’s rising
most ‘f th’time, y’look ‘t th’sleepy north bank,
sometimes, y’just get scared

came for th’quilt fest’val,
she knows paducah, ‘n’ she knows
bowties ‘n’ log cabins

bowties at th’quilt fest
th’post-modern impressionist
view of tradition

lower town tourists –
he likes th’fest’val quilts, she likes
th’patches in his jeans

th’quilt festival shows off
th’home arts – but she’s far from hers,
‘n’ he doesn’t have one

by th’wall ‘n paducah,
‘s spring, but th’mighty ohio
‘s about t’meet its match

log cabins ‘n’ bowties –
quilt festival lass knows how t’sew
hist’ry into art

came for the derby,
liked iced tea, local accents -
hers especially


too much ‘f th’mint julep –
flowers even in his hat,
but bet on th’wrong horse


roses ‘t each table –
grows ‘em ‘n’ fusses over’m,
only one derby

ashland lass’ garden –
hummingbird goes f’r th’bright red one
called th’royal catchfly

hummingbirds hover –
‘n th’ashland lass’ garden, th’sun’s
hit th’royal catchfly

t’cave-in-rock, th’ferry,
in th’june fog – stories ‘f intrigue,
she has old ‘n’ new both


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