Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Bittersweet Dreams

My recent dreams
Are not of
A Christmas
White with snow.
Nor are they filled
With sugarplums
Dancin' in my head.
I do not drift
In wonderlands
Filled with costly things
As I sleep
As I dream.
My dreams instead
Take me back
To an easier time
Simpler place.
An old log house
Shotgun kitchen
Mice runnin' in the walls.
The sound of Aunts
Through walls and doors
Movin', cookin', talkin' low
The smell of coffee
Boiled strong an' black
Biscuits light as air
Hand cut bacon
Piles of eggs
Preserves sweet an' thick.
These dreams take me back
An' as I sleep
Tears fall on my face.
For even as I sleep
I know
This is a place,
A time
A memory
Where I can no longer go.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Tower Dreams

I sit at my desk
High in an office tower
Middle of a city
Separated from the world
Breathing recycled air
And dreaming of home.
Dreaming of mountains
Old as the world
Worn down by time
Hollers deep and hidden
Bypassed by roads
That do not take the time
To turn down a crooked path
To find the joys
Waiting at the end
Of a broken path
Or across a ford
In a branch filled
With water
That had traveled
Down ancient hills
To gather and sing
And call to me
Hundreds of miles away
Sing my name
Call my heart
Back home.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

False Spring

It is warm
For December.
Too warm
With no snow
Or ice
And little frost.
Trees in the holler
Are budding
Fooled by
A cruel nature
Into thinking

Friday, December 08, 2006

Color Guard

The long path
Wanders through
A glorious woods.
Trees cloaked in colors
Bright yellow, red and orange.
After a quick bend
There is in front of you
A straight boulevard
Lined on either side
With giant Oaks
Silent and waiting.
Color guard
For a king.
At the bottom
Of the hill
Mists rise
Making the path
Seem to be
An impressionistic

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Puddle Jumpers

There is a small puddle
Just a rut filled with water
High on a mountain
In the Appalachian hills
It is far from any stream
Creek or river.
As I walked by
I would see ripples
Often there would be bubbles.
I stopped today
Sat on a fallen tree
Waited and watched.
For I knew there had to be
A wonderment.
Soon, not soon enough
A small frog
Stuck out his head,
Climbed out of the puddle.
He was joined by two
Little frogs on the muddy rut.

When I rose to leave
I saw three ripples
Bubbles in the water
And I knew that there
Away from any source
Where tadpoles might grow
Lived three little frogs.

I walked by again and again
Just to see them jump
Ripple and bubble
In a small puddle
In the rut of a path
High on a mountain
In the Appalachian hills.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Ancient Rituals

The woods are calling
To gather us together
Old men, young men
Travel from here, everywhere
Gathering back home.
Gear in the back of pickups
Wives and youngin's kissed
Waving goodbye
See y'all soon.

Deer camp calls to us
Calling to our mountain souls
Remindin' us of how it was
Maybe how it should be.
We gather over campfires
Laugh and tell old stories
Of hunts forgotten
Old friends remembered
New stories waiting for their telling.

It is a treasure
To gather with old men, young boys
To laugh, listen and be.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Mountain Man

I am the mountain man
I am the Appalachian mystic
The preacher and pappy
Sitting quietly at the end
Of a long rough wood porch
Listenin' to old women gossip
Grinnin' as they whisper
Louder than they think.
Listenin' carefully
Peelin' off long curls
Of cedar wood
Piling up
Round my old brogans.

I am the old man of the hills
Knowin' cures and tricks
How to cure an ear ache
How to make a wart disappear
How to conjure up a storm
To call fishes an' snakes
Secrets that were passed to me
From the emerald hills
Of ancestral Celtic homes

One day I'll repeat back
What I sit and hear
At the end of the porch
Them women will sit in wonder
Taken aback I know
All the things I know.
Like I am a wonder
A magick, a trickster.

I am the old man of the mountains
I'll sit and listen
Peelin' a long curl of cedar.
Grinnin' when you turn your head.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Odd One Out

The moon is a selfish slice
Like a piece of muskmelon
Given by a miserly aunt.
Laid carefully in the sky
That is deep blue
Like the flower
Of a deadly nightshade
Hidden in the garden
Next to the tomato plants.
Cousins, yes
But how different their fruits.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Dream My Dreams

Dream my dreams
Walk in them
Through the hills
Of my home.

Taste the sweet water
Drawn from the well
Of my remembering
Sip it slow.

Run through tall grasses
To follow the fleeing deer
Run hard though you know
The race is not yours to win.

Sit still in a hayloft
Watching through the door
Seeing the world
Secret and hidden from all.

Dream my dreams
Sit and watch the joy
The comfort of the mountains
The harmony of the hills.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Can You See?

One of the greatest fears as I write about the hills and hollers of Appalachia, the mountains of my youth and the mountains that will cradle me as I age, is that when the reader looks they will not see what I see.  I fear that when you, dear reader, look into my little part of the mountains you will see only trees, thick woods and will walk right past the wonders I speak of so often.

I suppose that I am something like human rose colored glasses.  Showing you a world that is so easily common, but so particularly wonderful to those that will stop and feel the earth neath their feet, smell the sweetness of the mountain laurel or sourwood, see the richness of the greens that make up the hillside of trees, brush and sweet grasses.

I would love to dip a bucket of water, taste it and offer you a glass (maybe in a mason jar reserved for the most important of visitors) just as a wine steward would in a New York restaurant... waiting for you to smell the subtle nuances of the spring water, to know that cress grows just up the creek and filters the spring water to give it the sweetness just lingering on your palate.

I would have you taste the red and white acorn with me to show you that the red has more tannin in it and it is bitter, so the deer and turkey naturally leave it till last.  Once you would taste you would always know as you see the deer kick through the leaves looking for the sweet white oak acorns.

We would pull up a little sassafras sapling and wipe the dirt away to make tea from the root, pour sourwood honey in it bought from my neighbor and sip from old  and chipped china cups left me by Great Aunts who lived and died in the hills and who await the last trumpet on a hillside in Clay County, Kentucky.

I am a voice, crying in the wilderness, yes.  My cry is not one of repentance, but a cry to stop, look to the hills from which we, many of us came.  Listen to our hearts and hear the heart cry that calls to us, feel the beat of the heart of the mountain in our very chests and know we are connected, blood, bones, flesh and spirit to the hills.

"Come home, come home, come home" is the cry of homestead and hidden holler.  There is a place for us.  It is home, it is us, it is Appalachia.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Heart and Soul

The woods were glorious last weekend.  All around my small cabin in the hills fall was paintin' lovely scenes.  Mom Nature artfully draped a mountain mist on the shoulders of tall oaks and down below, closer to the ground, wrapped it around on holly, sassafras and mountain laurel.

The deer walked slowly all day long through the trees, kickin' up acorns.  Preferrin' white oak acorns, they taste better, but eatin' the red oak ones when they were around.  I laughed often as I walked the woods.  More than once my path met theirs and they would stomp like spoiled youngin's, mad I was interruptin' their meal, tryin' to get me to move as I would freeze for long moments to watch them.  Almost always their tail would eventually rise and they would run for a short distance.  A whistle from me and they would pause, turn and circle round to see what and who I was.

It was an uneasy truce most of the time.

One morning I left the cabin at 5:30 and went to sit in the woods to see the sunrise.  I must confess that I rose too early and it was well over an hour before the hint of morning.  I was dressed well enough, so I was not cold.  I sat against a tree and dozed (one of my favorite early morning things to do) as I listened for the hills to come alive with a new dawn.

I first heard the birds wake and start their morning calls. It is amazing how they seem to wake as one, to sing and call and fly from bush to tree, all in harmony, as if it is a great play and they have received their cue from the stage manager, "now, fly and chirp".

The squirrels are not too long in bed after the birds send a wake up call.  An untrained ear might think it is a deer or larger animal in the woods walking along, but I have heard the jump, pause, jump and run of grey squirrel and the fox squirrel, their larger cousin too often to be taken in by their ruse.

Finally I hear a hesitant movement, the pushin' aside of leaves in an unendin' seach for fodder.  A few deer make their way up the gully below me.  I watch carefully through the trees and brush as a magnificent 10 point buck, Grandfather of the herd, makes his way through the leaves, pickin' up acorns and chewing as he ponders the woods.  At one point I think he spies me.  He looks warily but then relaxes and lowers his head, pickin' up an acorn with his tender lips and chewing carefully, savoring the white oak nuts he finds.

I am a country boy, I do not apologize for my desire to be the hunter, bring home food for my family.  Not today though... and not this old feller.  He would be tough as nails an' gamy, man oh man.  A trophy, yes, but not fittin' for the table.  That, dear cousin is the difference between a city and country boy.  We are a part of the world, a tight fitting piece in a world that has lost familiarity to most folks.  A world that we have insulated ourselves from.  Like my ancestors, Scots, Irish, Welsh, Melungeon, Cherokee, Powhatan and Choctaw who lived in the Appalachias, we were taught to live in and use the wealth of the hills, not to waste, to know we are a part.

Today though, I am a mountain philosopher, a poet watching a verse, walking softly, rhyming with the woods and forming stories in my mind.  Yes, I taste and see that this is good, I feel and hear his heart beat, listen to him snort.  I want to chase him, win him, to be the victor and taste the victory.  I want to be the brave, the hunter, the mountain man preparing for winter.  I am the spy instead, the sneak, the laughing victor who has hidden and fooled the wary buck.

With that I know I am content, happy to watch this day.  Happy to feel the interweaving that makes me an Appalachian, to feel the tug of the hunt, but to know in my heart that there is no need, so sitting, listenin' to the turkey cluck in the distance, watch this ancient deer wander off is enough.

I hear the heartbeat of the mountains in me as I sit,connected to the very earth that is the lifeblood of folks like me.  It is the mountains and I am theirs, heart and soul.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Night wonders

Serendipity woke me
Just a few nights ago
Early in the morning
I was up and opening the door
To my cabin in the hills.

Standing in the light
From a light high
On an electric pole
Stood three deer
Eating acorns
Enjoying the early morning
Just a few yards
From my cabin door.

I paused in wonder
Not sure what had
Awakened me.
Nor why I stepped
To the front door
And looked out
On the morning.

They were not sure
What I was
Or why I stepped into
Their breaking fast.
Cautiously one came
Closer and closer still
Stomping a foot
Trying to make me move.

I would not
Did not move.
Filled with excitement,
I knew even a slight motion
Would end that moment
Of serendipity.

Wanting it to go on forever
I grinned and watched the show.
Then, as quick as a tremor
A tail went up.
All three looked at me.
Tails up, a few steps
Then a run into the woods
Hard and heart pounding
As the fled for safety.

I whistled
They stopped
Wonderment and curiosity
They circled and watched me now.
Stomping a foot
Till I moved
And went inside
Back to bed.

It was a wonderment.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Acorns in the Night

The tall oaks
Chunked acorns
At the roof of
My little cabin
Hard as they could
Wakin' me
Deep in the night
Thinkin' I was shot at
By a jealous mountain gal.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Goin' To The Hills

Please pardon me for a few days
While I sneak off to my cabin
Iin Tennessee for some time in the woods.
It is going to be glorious.
It is a bit rainy down there,
But the leaves are grand
In their fall coats and the rainy days
Will allow me to sit and write.

I don't have tv or a regular phone there, only cell and I have to go to the top of the hill to use it!  All I can say is...wahoo!!!

Sunday, October 22, 2006


It is a cold
And dreary day.
The mist has not
Left the pond
And still tarries
On the creek.
It gathers,
Forms into drops
That quietly fall
Midst the leaves
And acorns laying
Round my cabin.

As I sit on the porch
Looking up at the
Old tin roof,
I think of the quilts
Unused through summer
Waiting like old friends
Just for a
Night like this.

Pick one that pleases.
Snuggle with me
Into a deep
Feather bed
And dare the mist
To creep in
Under the door.
We shall laugh
At the impotence
Of the cold.
Secure and safe
In an old iron bed.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


There have been three
Remembered through the years
Sweet and tender
Promises met and unfulfilled.
I shall tell you of one
Perhaps two
But yet not three.

The first was stolen quickly
Soft and sweet
Cold from ice and soda pop
Not allowed
Far too short.

The second I knew
Through most of my life.
Loved her more than she knew
Measured every woman by her
Dreamed of her too much
Her kiss made her sit back
Made me gasp and stare.
Who knew if could be
Oh what a confection
Yet I never knew
Never dreamed she loved me
Till t'was too late.

The third I'll not speak of
It is and was and shall be
The best.
For she is the one
Who holds my hand
As she sleeps.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Come, Sit a Spell

It is a dreary, rainy old day.  I would love to celebrate it by sitting on the porch of a cabin, deep in the hills.  A cabin too far from the road to hear the sound of cars and traffic.

Come, sit with me in an old ladder back rocker, Shaker made and as ancient as the cabin itself.  We'll sit and occasionally talk.  Mostly we'll listen to the dance of raindrops on the tin roof of the porch, the squeak of the rocker or the chain holdin' the porch swing I sit in.

As we look out into the woods our attention will be drawn to the drops of water collectin' on leaves, already glorious from the fall weather.  Today we'll hold our breath an' count the seconds as one drop collects an' finally falls to the ground where is is quickly gone, sipped up by the hungry earth below.

While you sit, almost dozin' from the peacefulness, I'll sneak in an' make a pot of coffee the old time way, boiled in a pot...strong an heady.  We'll sip  hot coffee to warm us up an' maybe we'll even need a couple of them quilts stored carefully in the old trunk back yonder in the dogtrot bedroom to wrap up in an' keep the chill off.

An apple, a sweet peach, a chunk of cheese an' some soda crackers on an ol' plate fill us as we do just nothin' but enjoy an ol' rainy, dreary day in the woods...deep in the hills back home.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Strip Trees

All round down home
Trees are doing
A seductive strip tease
Baring their lovely limbs
As if the song of the hills
Has become a bawdy tune.
They seem to look back
Over their shoulders
As if to say to Winter,
Bring it on, Darlin'.
Bring it on!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Rain Dance

As the rain
Tap danced
On my roof
The gutters
And downspouts
Gurgled happily
Glad for
To do.

Monday, September 18, 2006


Do you look each time
You go outside
For that first leaf
To bravely show
Just a whisper of
Orange, red or yellow?

Do you breathe in
Slowly to get a hint
Of Autumn sneakin' in?

Its comin', youngin's
I feel it in my bones.
I hear it in my sleepin'
Taste it when
I lick my lips
As I hunger for
A cool, ramblin' walk
In the hills back home.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


I don't reckon my little hometown of Beloved, Kentucky is much different that most little ol' towns in America.  Why, for the mountains, it is right regular.  There is a Henny Penny restaurant on the edge of town where a cousin of mine, Maggie Bowling works as a roller skatin' waitress.  She is tall, olive skinned with almost black hair an' blue eyes that men would feud for the right to look into.  they serve some of the best broasted chicken over there that I have ever had.

In town there is a small courthouse, not used much since Beloved ain't the county seat, a number of businesses, a Carnagie Library, the Pappy Yokum Masonic Lodge #149, a Baptist Church an' several large homes where the better off folks settled years ago.  Many family members still live in them same houses.

What is odd about my hometown is the tendency for folks to get a hankerin' for high falutin' names.  Some folks hear names when they are away an' bring 'em back to hang on their youngin's.  Now, I'm not talkin' about Bible names like Mrs. Sleepy Jean Gilbert named her youngin's... Adam, Bethany, Caleb, Daniel, Ephriam, Frankencense (a girl they called Frankie), Gideon, Hezekiah, Isme (as in Whoa Is Me - hopin' her husband would stop there), James (her husband didn't stop) and Zachariah... cause she said she weren't goin' through the whole alphabet!

I ain't even talkin' about Lucinda Nutt giving' youngin's her last name as their middle name on birth certificates if the parents couldn't read when she delivered babies in her duties as a midwife.  That is where my cousins P. Nutt Chappell, Hazel Nutt Chappell - who married Woodrow Budder, the Holiness preacher from over to Booger Holler Holiness Church and became Hazel Nutt Budder, their brother Chester Nutt Chappell (called him Ches Nutt)  Walter Nutt Chappell and Cornealius Nutt Chappell.

I'm talkin about names that are just plain wrong... like Chuckie Cheese Murphy, or Tootsie Roll Carpenter, Maytag Gilbert, T. B. Chappell (Taco Bell!!!), Wally Martin Henry (got that one from WalMart), Noxema Wilson, Jack Daniels Davenport, Willy wonka Marshall,  Pasta Fazool Bowling, Boyardee Bishop... and the worst of the bunch ShaNaNa Stephens, her brother DooWop Stephens and GetAJob Stephens, the baby of the family.

It is just wrong to saddle them youngin's with commercial names like that.  Folks make fun, tease an' point in the store at them.

I reckon folks need to go back to traditional mountain names, normal names like... Myrtle, Homer, Hank, Mildred, Jeb, Wilbur, Abner, Clem, Junebug, why, even Scooter is better than Chuckie Cheese Murphy.

Like I said, Beloved is a pretty normal mountain town... its the folks that is odd.

Monday, September 11, 2006


Do you remember?
Where you were
Who stood by your side?
When the news came
When you first saw the horror?

It is an image
That is seared
Into the backs of my eyes
Burned into my brain.

Images that will never fade
Shock that doesn't ease
The sight of men, women
Jumping to their death
Can you imagine
A situation
When that is the best option?

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Big ol' moon
Sittin' up there
Like Mama laid
A yeller an' orange plate
On her purple velvet

Or maybe more like
Daddy when he sits
In the outhouse
At night
Door open wide
With the kerosene
Lantern on,
Readin' the Sears catalog
In the deep of the night.

Nearly Fall

Old squirrel's cuttin'
On a hickory nut
Up that tree
Just behind the house.
Sittin' here
I hear the constant
Crunch as he bites.

The cool of the night
Reminds him
And me
That leaves will be changin'
Birds'll soon fly
Nights grow colder
And quilts appear
On my bed
To comfort and warm.

Fall's a comin'
Nearly here.
Old friend, harvest buddy
Companion to the hunter.
Just wait,
Soon you'll be dancin'
Kickin' up the leaves
Doin' a promenade
In the fallen leaves.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Sit With Me

Sit with me on the porch
Of an old mountain cabin.
Listen to the rain
As it hits the tin roof.
Playin' a ragtime song
In seasonal syncopation.
Look out into the distance
Up the holler
Through the hazy rain.
Watch for that truck or car
That might wander by.
Throw up a hand an' howdy
Nod your head an' grin.
We'll talk a bit
Not often.
Just a wanderin' thought
Now an' then.
Mostly we'll sit an' listen,
Watchin' nothin' at all.
Enjoy the day,
The rain,
The company.
Just bein'
Just knowin'
Just fine.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Tall Ships

Tall ships and boats
Moored and await.
Masts held high
Like second grade
Sitting in neat rows
Hands held high
Crying, "Pick me!
Pick Me!"

Thursday, August 24, 2006

To Be Young

He often dreams of her
In his sleep he hears her call.
He turns and tries to find comfort
In a bed not of his making.
She calls and he hopes
Wanting, deep in his dreams
To wake up and go in search of her.
She waits in the twilight of memories
Golden skin and sun bright hair
Eyes deep blue stare into his
When he sleeps.

Many years have passed
Since they shared their love.
He is no longer the slim boy
With hair long and wild.
His hair is shorter now
Going grey and not looking back.

She remains the girl that he loved
He can see every detail of her now
Even the gossamer, golden hairs
On her arm as she reaches to touch him.
Oh, that he could run into that dream
And live forever in that place
With that lovely mountain gal.
Not that life isn't good,
Nor even that he isn't happy.

Like every man,
He would be young once more.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

That toad

No verse today,
just a note to say
the opportunistic toad
has taken up
permanent residence
on the side of my home,
coming out each and every night
to slap tongue onto flying insects
wandering too close to the ground.
Sort of pet,
Protector of the light
Moocher, evening pal
Not responding to my
"Howdy neighbor"
Because he is too busy
Looking for a handout.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Opportunistic Toad

Last night as I walked
Round my little homestead
Surveying my patch of land.
I watched the night sky
As lightning played
At the corner of my eye.
I thought to myself
That I must remember
To turn off the lights
Shining in the dark
Outside my home.

As I rounded the corner
I changed my sleepy mind
As I saw a toad
Dark from hiding in the mulch
Sitting silently below a light
Waiting patiently
For the occasional bug
Drawn by my light
Dancing in the night
Flying a bit too low
Then becoming a feast
For an opportunistic toad.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Supper Time

Just to be in the hills
Sittin' on the porch
Of a rugged ol' cabin
No more than a throw
From a creek
Runnin' deep an' cold.
Minnows swim this way, that
Dancin' 'round half dozen
Bottles of Grape Nehi
Chilled icy by the stream.
Air cooled by the creek
Just like the soda pop.
Rockin' in an' ol' chair,
Hearin' your ol' dog snore,
Lunch is over, supper not done.
Waitin' to hear a call,
"Supper time, supper time".

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Morning in Beloved

As the sun rises
It is a bright
Banana yellow
With a rind of orange.
Through my window
The world is awakening
To Crayola colors
As if creation was
A coloring book.
A periwinkle sky is filled
With clouds whipped thin;
But clouds are no competition
For sun or sky.
In the distance the hills
Stand round about this holler
A ring of isolation
From a harsh world.
The morning mist wraps
Next like batting,
But more alive than
Sun or sky or even trees.
Closest to this cabin
Guardians stand tall
Oak, pine and hickory
Silhouettes against the mist.
Sourwood, dogwood and redbud
Huddle near their feet.
Guarding the low road
That leads to home.

With regret I lower the curtain
I have held ever so long
As I looked out in wonder,
Turn away with regret.
Oh, that I could stay at that window
Watching the sunrise
Watching my little holler
As the world seems to forget
I am there.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Blue Eyed Gal

Close my eyes and I see
Brown head gal
Big ol' blue eyes
Sittin' on a cabin porch
Waitin for her man.
Rockin' in his favorite chair
Mad 'cause he is late.
Supper past, food gone cold
Scotch Irish temper heatin' up.
Blue eyes narrow,
Foot quickly taps
Watchin' the narrow road.

Old truck comes over the hill
Brown head gal sits back.
Blue eyes close for just a spell
Plannin' the scoldin'
He's gonna get, what she's gonna say.
Food cold on the table,
Youngin's all in bed
Chores not done
Animals not fed.
Just you wait
Just you wait
He'll get his, certain he will.

Truck gets close, drivin slow.
Raises a tail of dust
Raises suspicions an' ire
In the mind of a blue eyed gal.
Bet he's drunk, spent his pay
Cares nothin' for the kids.
Havin' a time of it
Wastin' our due.
Why'd she ever marry him?

Truck slows, rolls an' stops
Old man gets out with hat in hand
Bad news, oh so bad
Mine has done collapsed.
His tired brown eyes
Rimmed with red
Told all the news she heard.
Brown head dropped
Blue eyes cried
Why God asked the blue eyed gal.
Old man shook his weary head,
No answers could be told.

How a moment changes her
How her anger fades.
She takes a hand
Smooths her brown hair
Wipes tears from her blue eyes.
Invites the man to have a seat
Goes in to put water on.
Folks will be comin'
Sittin' wake, waitin' to hear
Some kind of news.
Neighbors, loved ones
Mama, Daddy
Will sit an' stare up
The road.
Waitin' for an answer,
Waitin' for some news.
Brown heads, red and blonde
Gray heads bowed so deep
Too many wakes, too much pain.
Red rimmed eyes,
Blue, brown, green and gray
Wait an' watch
Stare up the road
In hopes he finds his way.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Scam Alert

Well, a couple of y'all mentioned a scam on their blogs an' I just didn't take the time to listen to y'all at all.  You know who you are!  Yep, I read in passin' about folks comin' to the door an' sayin' it was tick season, they was inspectors from the health department.  They was tellin' folks to undress, get buck nekkid an turn slowly around so as they could inspect for ticks. (Won't mention any names, but the initials are M.H. and W. G.)

I even heard it happened to a couple of y'all, but knew it would never happen to me.

Yet even the wise ol' storyteller man can be victim to this prank.  Y'see, I was sittin' in my livin' room down home in my hometown of Beloved, readin' some Jessee Stuart verse, sippin' on home made lemonade an' nibblin' here an' there on a biscuit with a slice of good ol' fried country ham.  I had hauled over 2,000 pounds of pea gravel back to the back an' put it under my deck so the dogs wouldn't get in the mud.  I reckon I was just plain worn out 'cause I just had let the book slide off my lap an' onto the floor.  The biscuit lay half eaten on a plate an' the lemonade was gettin' warm in the glass, all the ice had melted.

When the knock came to the door, I got up, still half asleep an' went to open it.  I didn't suspect nothin' as I stood there half asleep an' listened to the warnin' about ticks an' all.  Heck, I had got into a patch of woods just plumb full of seed ticks a few weeks ago an found three on me - two in my hair back behind my ears an' one on my leg.  I just hate ticks.  I hadn't got the one in my head out good an' it formed a sore for a couple of days.

I didn't pay no mind to the gigglin' or smirkin' as them fellers talked to me.  I just listened good naturedly, still woozy from sittin' an' drowzin' in my chair.

When they instructed me to take my clothes off an' turn around slowly, I complied easily.  They was from the Health Department after all.  I took off my overalls, shirt an' drawers quickly.  My socks had already gone when I sat down.  Slowly I turned this magnificant body around and around, a few drops of sweat glistening on my heavin' chest.

that's when it got weird.  them Tick Inspectors from the Health Department got wild eyed, started screamin' an turned an' ran off my porch.  They was hollerin' at the top of their lungs.  A couple neighbors came out while I was still rotatin' an' I reckon they wanted to see if I had ticks also cause they sure looked my way for a long time.

I suspect my example gave them the courage to go in an' lkook on their own selves, 'cause several doors slammed an' they sure went in awful fast.

Later all heck broke loose as the Sherrif came by an' said I had exposed myself an' needed to go down to the sherriff's office to be booked.  I thought that was some type of fancy scannin' for ticks an' went right along.  they took my fingerprints an' took pictures of me.  I tried to undress 'cause if they was lookin' for ticks too they needed to take pictures of my without clothes, cause ticks get under clothes, not on them.

I must have scared them with havin' ticks real bad, or so I thought, cause they put me in a cell all by myself.  The two drunbks in the next cell was whisperin' to themselves about me, I reckon they didn't want to get ticks, so they went all the way to the other end of the cell.

Later I was let go, must have been cause they was no ticks on me.  The Sherrif said it was all a misunderstandin' but I should have known it was a trick.

Like I said, I was half asleep an' had experienced a run in with a bunch of ticks just a few days before.  Still, he said I should have known.

How was I to know that 8 year old boys can't be tick inspectors?

Monday, July 10, 2006

There is a Place

There is a place
Where old men still pause
Take off their hat
Shed a tear when
The flag passes by.

There is a place
Where women still stop
Youngin's in hand
To talk and laugh
Outside a small grocery.

There is a place
Where stores are closed
On each and every Sunday
'Cause folks just don't shop
But stay home with families.

There is a place
Where farmers pause
As they plow their fields
To eye the clouds
And hope for rain.

There is a place
Where neighbors wave
As they drive slowly by
Lookin' at your tomatoes
Wonderin' are theirs bigger.

There is a place
Where blue ribbons won
At the County Fair
Hang displaced proudly
In places of honor.

There is a place
Where the modern world
Has not interrupted
Has been held at bay
By mountains old and rugged.

Come, go with me
I'll show you wonderful things
Come, go
I'll hide, you hunt me
Find me hidden in that place.

Come, go with me.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


Long leg coyote
Just a pup
Lean of body
An' full of wonder
Not much fear yet
Standin' real still like
On the side of the hill.
Ears movin'
Never stoppin'
Listenin' listenin'
Waitin' for a sound
A warnin,
Maybe an all clear
From his mama.

For some sound.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Olde Tyme Music Festival

One of the finer times I have had this year storytelling happened over the weekend on Saturday as I sat with friends and told stories in the shade of old maples while musicians picked, bowed and sang in the close distance of Caesars Creek Pioneer Village.

Together with my two storytelling friends a web of tall tales was woven that trapped children and grown folks alike as they walked by or came to sit and listen.  Straw bales were the chairs of the day and most bales were constantly filled as listeners were treated to Jack tales, Celtic stories and, of course, stories about my hometown of Beloved, Kentucky...and my Cousin Peanut.

Hundreds of folks stopped in.  We started at 11:00 and literally did not stop till 3:00 for a half hour break.  Jack's Mama, Sandy Messerly and I tag teamed.  As one finished another would stand and begin.  Many folks stayed for one, tow and a few for almost three hours at a time.  Others would sit for a while and leave to eat or listen to music and then come back.

The wind cooled us and we were never without shade, so it was a lovely day.  I had a chest full of sweet tea on ice to revive our tongues and throats and fried green tomato sandwiches satisfied out hunger.

Sometimes things are just right and this weekend was no exception.  I was the only teller on Sunday and I would tell for an hour and break for thirty minutes.  forty or fifty folks, kids and adults sat and listened to me as I told about Beloved and good ol' Peanut.  they came to hear old favorites and were not bashful about asking for their favorite stories.

the last story I told was a sad one I call "Ol' Sooner".  when it was done my weekend was made when a beautiful little girl came up to me and asked..."was that story true?"  those are words writers and storyteller yearn for.  the story has passed beyond the realm of "tall tale" and made someone stop and ponder, perhaps wanting the story to be real.

My answer, as always..."well if it ain't, it should be, shouldn't it?"   And she shook her head, smiled and said, "yeah, it sure should be."

Magic, dear cousin, pure magic.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Peanut's Wild Ride

A while back there was this here man that came through my hometown of Beloved, Kentucky on a business trip. Fate, or somethin' a whole lot like it stopped him smack dab at the Henny Penny Restaurant for breakfast on a Tuesday mornin'. Only reason that is important is that is the only day my cousin Peanut stops by the Henny Penny. Peanut knows that Bessie Bowling always works the mornin' shift on Tuesday mornin's.

Well sir, this feller was havin' two hen eggs, over easy, biscuits an' sausage gravy with a side of grits covered up with butter an' real maple syrup... not none of that Karo stuff. Most folks down home grew up eatin' Karo syrup an' liked the thick taste of the stuff. Not the Henny Penny. They served real maple syrup.

Anyway, Cousin Peanut had come in an' was sittin' at the counter carryin' on since Bessie was workin' the counter. He was tellin' about a mare Hap Collins had bought that was not broke. Hearin' him tell it, he had broke that mare single handed, had rode her up a mountain, straight down a coal mine an' never fell off. Now, Peanut is a fine rider, but all there knew that Cousin Peanut dealt wholesale in truth-stretchin' an' did not mind if folks believed ever'thing that they heard from him.

The feller from out of town had been listenin' the whole time an' had looked over to see Cousin Peanut more than once. He sized him up right good by the time the last grit an' swaller of coffee was down his gullet. He noticed Peanut's small stature an' light weight easily. If folks had looked they might have seen a light bulb brightenin' up over his head as he listened to Cousin Peanut. By the time he stepped up to the counter an' paid his bill he was ready for a plan he hatched as he ate his hen eggs, over easy.

He quickly started up a conversation as he waited for his change. He asked Bessie Bowling if Peanut was really a good horseman an' she told him that despite the stretch in the story Peanut was one of the best horsemen in that part of the mountains. Peanut spoke up an' took up for himself, admittin' that he might have bent the truth a little, but that he did know horses an' was a right good rider.

Before that man left my hometown of Beloved he asked Cousin Peanut to come to Lexington, Kentucky to try out his skills on some of them fancy horses what ride in the Kentucky Derby. Told Peanut that he could make good money ridin' in races. Peanut didn't take to work any more than he took to water, so the idea of ridin' horses an' makin' money appealed to him right well. He agreed to meet up with the man over the weekend at a farm in Lexington an' try out some of them horses to see how he did.

Bright an' early on Saturday my cousin Peanut was at the horse farm in Lexington, Kentucky an' was wanderin' the stables with that feller lookin' at them thoroughbred horses. Peanut took to them right off an' agreed to try an' ride one.

Bein' as them horses is expensive, that feller, known now as George, decided that a new jockey candidate like Peanut was didn't need to be ridin' no expensive horse, just in case there was a problem. George opened the stall of a three year old that was a little bit down on his luck an Peanut commenced to rubbin' on the horses nose an' talkin' to it like they was great pals an' all. George explained that it weren't much of a horse but Peanut didn't mind. They saddled the horse up an' went over to the track for a run.

Now, as you know, cousin Peanut is a little bitty feller, just weighin' a bit more than he did when he should have been in third grade. I say should have been 'cause Peanut didn't go to school much. Thus he was perfect size to be a jockey.

George helped Peanut up on the horse, put it in the gate an' rang the bell. That gate opened an' that ol' horse took off out of there like the gate was haunted. Oh my, Peanut held on for dear life for a while, but soon got the hang of ridin' a thoroughbred racin' horse an' commenced to urgin the horse on...

"Come on Lionheart, come on feller" he roared. Oh, yeah, the horse was named Lionheart. "Come on now, let's show ol' George what you are made of."

Lionheart tried his best, but the time that George clocked wasn't gonna win the Kentucky Derby. Fact is, he was a slow horse an' just would never be in the money at all. 'Bout the only thing he was ever gonna be in was a can of dog food or maybe a bottle of glue. Of course, George didn't tell Peanut that, he wanted to see how Peanut rode. The fact is, Peanut rode pretty darn good.

This was an opportunity for a ne'r do well mountain boy like my Cousin Peanut. He hadn't done much in his life except make a little moonshine an' cause his mama, Mrs. Chapell a good bit of heartburn. Peanut took a likin' to that old horse Lionheart an' when he was offered a small room in the stable to be a training jockey, Peanut jumped at the chance. He lived right there an' spent a whole lot of time with the horses... an' Lionheart received a right smart piece of that attention. Why, they ended up givin' ol' Lionheart to Peanut an that horse avoided the glue factory, came to live down home in Beloved for many years (but that there is another story).

About that time I took to the road again doin' my squirrel fishin' show for several festivals, state and county fairs. I would go an' set up my rig an' show folks my newly invented sport of squirrel fishin'. I took along my little red wagon to which I had welded hamster wheels to the tongue. I placed one of my squirrels in each wheel, held a walnut on a string out in front of them an' they would pull me in that little red wagon all over the place.

I had originally had 8 squirrels - Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and, of course Fluffy. Fluffy had babies a year before an' I had been trainin' Fluffy Jr. to run in the cage with the other squirrels an' Fluffy was supposed to stay home for the summer.

Well, Fluffy didn't agree with my decision and had snuck in Cousin Peanut's satchel when he visited an' had gone all the way home to Lexington an' that horse stable with my Cousin Peanut. 'Course, Peanut let me know about it as soon as he could call an' I decided it might do Fluffy good to spend the summer away from home an' in the big city of Lexington. A squirrel can get mighty bored in my hometown of Beloved, Kentucky. There just ain't much goin' on for squirrels or young folks back home in the summer.

Anyways, Fluffy was right there wherever Peanut went that summer, right on his shoulder. Best of pals.

One day a feller what was a retired Methodist preacher came in with a two year old bay what had some pretty good times on the track. They thought with the right trainin' it might be destined for the big race at Churchill Downs one day. Horse was names "Valley of Dry Bones" but everyone called it "Val".

They gave the trainin' over to Cousin Peanut an' he was so proud. He took the best of care of ol' Val. He rode Val on the track an' was producin' times that folks was a lookin' at with right smart interest.

Then ol' Val broke the track record on that farm an folks started comin' round to see him AN' Cousin Peanut. They was talkin' like Val was goin' to be entered into a maiden race when he turned three. Why, folks talked like he might go all the way to the Triple Crown.

One day when this here Arab sheik was visitin' with one of his horses they decided to put several of the older two year olds on the track to run. Val an' the sheik's horse was in with four other horses, includin' one mare.

When the gates was opened them horses took off an' the leader of the pack was ol' Valley of Dry Bones. Peanut was grinnin' to beat the band an' ever'one includin' the sheik was a' cheerin' for Val.

Val not only won, but beat the other horses by three lengths. The sheik was talkin' about maybe buyin' Val.

The folks at the farm had recorded the race so the owners could watch an' see how their horses won. Everyone sat down to watch an' that is when things fell apart for ol' Val an' Peanut.

Remember how I told y'all Fluffy was the constant companion to Peanut that summer? Well, as they slowed the video down to see how the horses was runnin' someone noticed a hump on Peanut's back, under his racin' silks. Then they saw that hump a'movin'.

It was Fluffy! As they horses ran Fluffy slipped down an' out of Peanut's racin' silk shirt, sat on Val's rump AN' bit Val agin an' agin!

They called Peanut in an' he told them, "Sure, that's how we get Val to run fast. Fluffy bites him in the rump."

They made Peanut an' Val run the race over agin the next day without Fluffy an' Val came in sixth out of six. Seems he couldn't do much without the encouragement of a squirrel bitin' his rump. They ran him five or seven times with other horses, other jockeys an' he was the same dead last ever' time. Val just couldn't run good without Fluffy bitin' him an' encouragin' him on.

However, seems the horse racin' folks didn't allow squirrel assists in horse racin'. Their loss.

They retired Val, gave him to Peanut as a bribe to keep the whole thing quiet. Peanut, Val an' Fluffy was brought home in a big ol' air conditioned horse trailer. They was the talk of my hometown of Beloved for months.

(Yep, Peanut rode in the horse trailer with Val on that trip. He is H2O intolerant, you know. The driver put him out after a few miles ridin' in the pickup, said Peanut was too odoriferous... whatever that means.)

If y'all want to see a couple real live thoroughbreds close up, head on down to my hometown of Beloved, Kentucky. Ask anyone in town how to get out to Booger Holler an' to the Chappell homeplace. Peanut will be glad to show you Lionheart an' Val, the horse who almost was a champion.

Just be sure an' stand upwind of Peanut.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Broken City Lives

I saw a woman
Standing on the corner
Near the place I work.
Her man sat
On a pile of clothes and blankets
While she cried out
To strangers.
Her speech affected
by a broken palate.
"Hey Mister,
Mister, Hey you...
Can you help me?
We're sure hungry
I just need a meal.
Hey Mister...

She kicks at the air
Behind the man
As he walks past
Pretending not to see.

Then, once again...
"Hey Mister, Mister."

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Slow like
Real slow
Only the rustle
Of a few whispery leaves
That tumbled
From treetops
Back in the fall.
They whisper
And warn;
Snake, snake
Hear it slither
Hear it sneak.
Stops, warned
Crawls on.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


Along the narrow path
Below the canopy of tall oaks,
Red Oak, White and Pin Oak
Reach out and join hands
Covering the way
Where sassafras grows
Unchecked, unkempt
Sock, mitten
right glove, left glove.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Those crowded into the brick
And concrete of cities
May never notice the sun
As it sets all orange like
Or see the blue of a new morning
As they rush to work.
The sun in their eyes causes a curse
As they reach for sunglasses
To dim their view of the world.

In the hills, or on any farm
There is seldom a day
That farmers don't stop and look
Up to the sky,
Looking at the world and judging
What will the weather bring.
Seldom does a golden sunset
Escape their weary glance
Or a morning fade to noon
Without an old man
Worn by toiling in the dirt
Stopping to look and say
To himself,
"My oh my, that sure is one pretty day."

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

To the Hills we go!

I am leaving today for a short trip to our little place in Tennessee.  Just 4 days in the mountains before I change jobs, but I will savor every minute like an old dog chewin' slowly on a ham-bone.  By now the trees are fully green and I'll be able to see a few dogwood blooming on the hillsides.  I reckon it will be so thick with new growth that the deer I see in winter and early spring with whisper by the cabin without my notice.

I am going alone.  I love to be there alone.  I'll work on the inside while I am there and try to get the strips of wood that will make up the ceiling nailed in.  I'll put up one ceiling fan for sure and maybe move some electric outlets.

A bath house is next - maybe this year.  It will have the well pump, hot water heater, sink, toilet and shower.  A line over to the cabin will give water for the small kitchen.  Next year I begin the swinging bridge that will lead to the tree-house/guest cabin about 20 feet in the air and 50 feet into the woods.  Nothing grand.  Just about 10x12 attached to the trees and access via the rope bridge.  I'll probably have electric to it just by a temporary cord whenever anyone uses it.  That will supply lights and a small propane wall heater will heat it.

Sorry for the ramble.  I am pretty well excited about going down.  I'm sure I'll have much to say when I get back.  Probably some old ragged verse to throw on here.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Taste it, smell it
See it hear it.
It is good
It is good.
Honey from the rock
Glory of the mountain
It is good
Yes, it is good.
Everlast and
Mountain Laurel
It is good.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

About the rain

There is something about rain
Quiet like, fallin' on a tin roof.
Sort of hypnotizin', the sound
Relaxes a hard workin' man.

Sit there, just there
At the end of the porch
Rock back and fro, real slow
Put your head in neutral and rock.

There is something about rain
Constant, like sheets across the hills.
Mesmerizin' to the eye
Dulls the aches and pains.

Rock quietly an' stare out
Not lookin' for a single thing.
Now an' again, just stop
Sit still an' focus down the creek.

There is something about rain
Cleanses, washes, cleans.
Rinses off the toils of life
Makes the world smell new.

Monday, May 15, 2006


Today is two years since my Daddy left this world to go into that mystery beyond this life.  I often wondered how people were able to remember the day and time they lost a loved one.  It is no longer difficult to understand.  I know the day, the time and when that moment happens I am aware of it, just as I was today.  In the midst of the rush of the day my mind leapt to one thought..."This is when my Daddy died".

I wish that you could have met him.  He was a gracious mountain man.  I never heard him gossip and talk bad about folks.  He was quiet and didn't ask for a lot.  After he was gone I helped my Mama go through his clothes and he still had socks he had not worn, had not opened in over 20 years.  He was saving them for when he needed them.  They are still in my drawer, still with the wrapper around them, ever unopened.

He could not tell a joke or story to save his life.  He would get tickled or mix the joke up and try to tell it. Finally getting through it as he chuckled at himself and the punchline that he probably delivered in the middle of the story instead of the end.

Daddy liked his coffee in thin china cups.  I don't know why, but he did.  No mugs for him.  Mama would go to garage sales and the thrift to find them, in case one broke.  He wouldn't use the good china, so she kept a few hand me downs for him to use.

I remember walking with him when I was a very small boy, holding just his little finger that he would hold out for me.  His legs were so long as he walked - all 6 feet of him that I would constantly be at a run.

Sometimes I would say, "Daddy, wait for me, I'm runnin' just to keep up".  When I got to be 6'2" I could walk along side this giant easily.  When he began to get sick with COPD I was the one who would have to walk slower, often stopping for him to catch his breath.  He once told me he was just getting me back for all the times I stopped to look at some rock or bug as I walked with him as a child.

When Mama cleaned out his closet I took an old sweater he wore often.  I placed it in a large zip lock bag and put it away.  It was an odd thing to do, but that old sweater smelled like him.  When I open that bag it still does.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


I received a message this morning asking if I thought I was too good to add other blogs to my network.  I had to chuckle a bit and did want to respond.  It is a good question and you might have wondered the same thing... in one form of thought or another.

I use this blog as a writing tool.  I travel often and sometimes do not have a journal or pad of paper with me.  It is often easy to find my computer, or one in a hotel where I might be staying and put a few thoughts down.

I am a storyteller, I have told in 27 states as a teller (am telling at the Appalachian Festival in Cincinnati this weekend).  I also write verse - I call it Old Ragged Verse... as you have seen.  This is often where I begin with a thought, a verse or a story.  They are often first attempts.  Sometimes they might be something I have half baked in a journal or on a scrap of paper.

Mostly I write here because the writer, no the storyteller in me needs to be heard.  Writing is a lonely task and seeing the number of folks that stop by gives me a feeling that what I write might touch  kindred folk.

I don't have other blogs in my network because I don't often have time to search them out and read them.  When I have stopped to read I am taken aback by the wonder of peeking into other lives.  I am often humbled by the depth of feeling others express.

Lastly, I want this to be a cleft in the rock where a weary soul can stop, read and rest their spirit.  I don't imagine that this is better, or even as good or worthy as other blogs.  It is simply here with the hope that you will read, remember that place that is magical to you and pause to reflect...and smile for a moment at the memories.


Sunday, May 07, 2006


Lonesome valley
Weary mountain
Worn out creek
Cries a
Plaintive tune.
Willows weep
Oak and maple
Merry dogwood
Cry along.

Woe, woe,
What shall become
Of hill and holler
Stone and water

Now that you
Are gone?

Friday, May 05, 2006

Old Dogs

Old dogs are always tired
Pups, they're mostly happy
Farm dogs are ever hungry
As if they're seldom fed.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Mountain's Heart

Heart of the mountain
Soul of the hills
Ripped from the deepest places
Sacred, precious... valuable.
The Company doesn't care
About the heart or soul.
Heart of the Mountain
Only the black coal
Bought and sold.
Hauled away in truckloads
Hauled away with no care
Hauling precious souls
Draggin' the dead behind
Long trains to the north.

Heart of the mountains
Hauled away in carloads
Draggin' the dead behind
Burned in the smelters
Furnaces, engines, converters
To give light, steel, transportation
To those who mock
The mountains.

Weep, Weep, heart of the Mountains.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Sunday Dinner

Oilcloth covered table
Red and white checked once.
Now worn pink from
A thousand meals,
Hundreds of plates passed
Scores of fried chicken dinners
With a patchwork of preachers.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


I am just homesick for the hills of home.
Wantin' to sit in my little cabin
and watch the world whiz by
While life there moves ever so slowly.

Does your head ever ache, dear cousin
From the fury of the race?
Feet weary and worn out
Just tryin' to keep up?

Oh my heart grows tired of hurry hurry run run
I long to see a big ol' magnolia tree in full bloom
Hundreds of feet high
But eye level from the top of the ridge.

Listen close, past the sound of the branch
Singin' a bright tune as it falls over rock
Old as the world an worn smooth
Like me, worn smooth by the years.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Do You Dream Of Her?

Do you dream of her?
Feel the touch of her lips
On yours in your dreams,
The soft smile
Aimed at your heart?
Find yourself dreamin'
Of her in your waking?

Do you dream of her?
Remembering the last time
Your hands briefly touched
Your fingers brushed her skin
And chills went down
Your spine at the remembrance?

Do you dream of her?
Of what she was to you
Of what she is to you
Of what she will be?

She walks soft
In your heart.
Wanders the backroads
Of your memories.
Her presence silently
Crosses hill and holler
Reminding you
Of that one
Sweet, soft kiss.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Almost Over

It is almost over
Last breath, last breath
Waiting, silent and still
Waiting for that moment
That final taste of being.

Waiting till it is done,
Till all has been said
Waiting for the dawn
Breath of another day.
When shall it come?

It is almost over
Slow, brief agony
Breathe deep,
Breath rattles
When shall it come?

Almost over
Waiting still
Morning breaks
Heat of day comes
No mercy yet
It comes, shall we wait?

Friday, April 07, 2006


Panther cried in the night
Screamed and squalled like
An old woman
Killed in her sleep.
Woke me hard and fast,
Tore me from dreams

Took me back to a cabin
In the Appalachian hills
Deep in a holler back home
To a night not so unlike
This fractured night.
A child woke from sleep
Heard a woman screamin'
Death and ruin.

Then was told
"Hush now, go back to bed.
Just an ol' mountain "pant'er"
Callin' in the night
Searchin' for a mate
Lookin' for home.

So, I lay in bed,
Say, "hush now, back to bed.
But my heart pulls me up.
Light in hand I open the door
Shine a beam on the hillside
'Cross the road and up
Till I see red dots glowin'
Eyes caught up in the light.

Pant'er sittin' on the hill
Callin' in the night
Searchin' for a mate
Lookin' for home.

And I am glad
To have seen it.
Glad it called to me
Told me
"Welcome home"

Monday, April 03, 2006

Tennessee Last Week


A personal journal entry here...

Last week was one that will remain with me for some time.  I was able for the first time to stay in our little cabin in Tennessee for a whole week.  I had quite a few chores and tasks to do on the place, so I kept busy.  Being in the woods on our 27 acres was quiet...real quiet.

I had some insulating to finish, no big chore.  I started putting up strips of wood on the ceiling - like furring strips sort of, placed close together to make a rustic look.  I think they will be whitewashed when the ceiling is done.  The one end wall will probably be covered with cut stone from Crossville.  The corner where the woodstove will go for sure and if it looks good the whole end.  I bought mattress and box springs in Oneida, TN and they delivered it for free!  I had to meet the truck and let them follow me to the cabin.

I raked around the cabin, put down granules that get rid of ticks, fleas and chiggers and planted grass seed all around the cabin.  Hopefully I will have a bit of grass by summer.  I also planted clover in the ravine where the electric company right of way is to attract deer.  They travel through there a lot.  I saw over 50 last week.

I also saw two bobcats, one coyote, lots of squirrel, six turkeys, bunch of redtail hawks.  Late one night I heard a mountain "painter" - panther.  I didn't see it, but went to the door, shined my big light across the road and up the hillside to catch bright eyes on the hillside.  That might have been the panther.  If you have ever heard one you will remember.  It sounds like an old woman screaming... over and over.  The hair on my neck raised more than once when I first woke and laid there for a moment listening.

At night the stars were so very bright.  We forget how bright they are in the navy blue midnight .  I just stood and looked night after night.  the closest neighbor is half a mile away.  Few folks live on the road where our cabin is.  It is still a private road and dead ends, so there is very little traffic at all.

I enjoyed the escape from "real life".  It was only lonely in the evening when darkness crept in.  I don't have electric yet - (by summer's end) and the small lights in the cabin forced me to bed early.  Of course, I woke at daylight when the birds started singing and the sunlight lit up the cabin.  Maybe that is what we miss in "civilization"?

I didn't write much, just thought a lot.  I have a lot of pictures and will try to post them here for you to see, dear cousins.  My mind was made full and I'll start writing about the week soon.


Thursday, March 23, 2006

Bashful Child

Spring, this year
Is like a bashful child.
Backward and quiet
Hiding behind tree and bush.
Letting Winter bully
Waiting to slip out
Waiting till nature calls
Olly olly oxenfree.

Yet Spring is here
I heard a whisper.
A quiet chuckle
Mocking this last snow.
There, see the daffodil
Hiding neath that ragged bush.
See magnolia buds swell
Proud to wait
Impatient still.

Spring is like a bashful child
Getting dressed for Easter.
Grinning bright as it waits
Ready to walk out
Cheeks burning but proud
Of all the elegant finery.

Friday, March 17, 2006

The Feud

I reckon I might have to declare an official feud between the Hollen an' the Flanagan clans if this day turns any worse.  My hometown of Beloved is all in a mess because of Jim Flanagan an' I am tryin' to resolve it an' get life here back to normal.

See, Jim told this story up to Columbus, Ohio a while back about some raccoons he got drunk with old beer.  I sort of thought that was a funny thing an came home talkin' about the story... you want to know about it ask Jim Flanagan.  I ain't even gettin' in that hot water again.

My Cousin Peanut thought it was just a hoot.  He could just see them coons carryin' on an' he wanted to try an' see if he could get critters likkered up.  He stood in the bushes round home with an open jar of moonshine for hours Wednesday night tryin' to lure coons out an' get 'em lit on shine.  I reckon the coons didn't like the smell 'cause none showed up.

He figured the only thing left to do was to pick on harmless,,, and caged critters that couldn't get away.  You may remember I have been on the Squirrel Fishin' circuit for ESPN for some time since I invented the sport.  To that end I keep my eight tiny squirrels in a big ol' log complete with individual doors an' brass plaques over each door with their names... Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner...an' Fluffy.  Yes, they are the same eight squirrels that pull my little red wagon at Thanksgiving each year for the Beloved Thanksgiving Day Parade in which I am Santy.  Folks just love to see them in them little ol' hamster wheels I have welded onto the tongue of that red wagon... just a runnin' as hard as they can run, takin' me through the streets of Beloved as I spread Christmas cheer to my many cousins an' friends.

Well, Peanut got hold of Fluffy as the poor squirrel was sleepin' an dosed him good with moonshine.  Held Fluffy for a good while till he woke up.

Problem is, Fluffy is a mean drunk.  Fluffy lit into Cousin Peanut right hard, scratchin', bitin an runnin' that big ol' bushy tail right up Peanut's left nostril just for plain meanness!  Fluffy crawled down Cousin Peanut's shirt, bitin' an all till he got under Peanut's long johns an' discovered something that no one knew...my Cousin Peanut had his belly button pierced and had a ring in it!

Well, Fluffy commenced to doin' chin ups on that ring there and soon was pullin' on it, bitin' an tryin' to steal the thing.  By this time Cousin Peanut was on the ground screamin' an carryin' on so that my neighbor, who happens to be Peanut's Brother-In Law, Brother Woodrow Budder, pastor of the Booger Holler Holiness Church came out.  Brother Woodrow decided Peanut was possessed an' took to tryin' to drive the devil out.

That ticked off Fluffy to no end, givin' credit to some evil bein' who weren't even there.  Fluffy bit off that ring, opened it up an' drove it through his right ear so as to have a pirate look to himself an' came flyin' out the right cuff of Cousin Peanut's overalls.  He launched his sorry drunk self at Brother Woodrow who determined it was the Demon Rum... who shows up a lot back in the hills.  Woodrow ran to his pick up truck an' tore off down the holler toward the turn to Booger Holler, an ' his church.

Fluffy ran right after him, hopped into the back end of the truck an waited under an' old crazy quilt that Woodrow had layin' in the back.

When Woodrow ran into the church, Fluffy was right behind him.  Woodrow ran to the office an' Fluffy commenced to rain holy heck in the sanctuary.  He noticed a box to one side with lots of holes in it an' staggered over to investigate while he waited for Woodrow to come out.

The box was where Booger Holler Holiness Church kept their rattlesnake for the times the church had snake handlin's.  They called the snake Ol' Yeller 'cause it was so old the diamonds on its back had faded to yellow.  The kids in Sunday School would take Ol' Yeller an' paint new diamonds on him durin' Sunday School before a snake handlin'.  It weren't dangerous since Ol' Yeller had lost his fangs years before.

Well, Fluffy got in there an' saw Yeller curled round some tobaccer an' rollin' paper makin' himself a cigarette.  Fluffy was drunk already, bloody from wrasslin' with Cousin Peanut, had that ring in his ear an' was just a mess.  He scared Ol' Yeller to death right there an' as Yeller died that rolled cigarette flew up into the air where Fluffy caught it.  He ran with it to the alter, lit it on a candle burnin' there an smoked that dang thing right there in church.

Woodrow saw that an' had had it with that drunk squirrel.  He came out with a ping pong paddle, got hold of Fluffy's tail an' wore him out.

Fluffy didn't take that too well.  He got hold of Brother Woodrow right back an' when the dust settled the inside of Booger Holler Holiness Church was wrecked, Woodrow required 1,239 stitches an' Fluffy took off for downtown Beloved.

Annie Pankey is the owner of Pankey's Hankies, a fine linen, lace an' antique quilt store.  Annie is also just about a bubble off plumb.  She had heard about green beer for St. Patrick's Day celebrations from a Catholic friend of hers.  Now, they ain't a lot of Catholics much in Beloved, but Annie decided to reach out to them by havin' an interfaith green beer drinkin' contest to celebrate the Irish in all of us down home.  Problem is, she didn't have no recipe for the green beer.

Jim Flanagan had been sendin' his old beer down to some of his kin near my hometown of Beloved an' they had sold the old beer to Annie to experiment with to get just the right color green for the celebration today.  Folks kept tellin' her that a 50-50 mix of beer to green dye was too much, but she weren't listenin'.

About this time Fluffy snuck into town, startin' to sober up an' lookin' for likker.  He smelled that old beer an' climbed into Annie's place through an' open window.  Annie had been samplin' the beer since Tuesday an' didn't notice.

Fluffy fell into a mason jar full of beer - 50-50 beer dye mix an' had to drink his way out to keep from drownin'.  By the time he could climb out he was green inside an' out an' mad that he had to drink a whole quart of skunk beer.  Besides, his green fur was clashin' with his new pirate earring.

That dang squirrel has done liberated my other seven squirrels, stuck them all in mason jars full of green beer an' they are loose in town.  It is terrible.  I have to leave tonight right for a squirrel fishin' exhibition down in Richmond, Virginia.  I have caught Donner an' Comet, Oh My Darlin' has washed them, used some "Just for Men" hair dye to get them brown again an' is feedin' them strong coffee through tubes attached to an enema bag.

I have been in the streets of town all night with my squirrel fishin' rig, castin' line after line into the trees an on top of buildin's tryin' to get my squirrels back.  They weren't eatin' nuts like they usually do, so I had to resort to other things.  Right now I have Dasher on my line, caught him with a Vienna sausage an' some kraut served up on a Ritz cracker.  I have been tryin' to reel him in for near an hour.  I caught Donner an' Comet on some of them cocktail onions with a dash of bitters on them.  I might have to try some hot sauce on sardines if them squirrles don't sober up soon.

The rest of them squirrels are wanderin' through town, bangin' on doors, demandin' old skunky beer, Chex Mix an' carryin' them little cocktail umbrellas, opened over their heads to keep them dry so the green dye won't wash off.  Fluffy has been seen in the hills 'round home tryin' to start a squirrel revolution.

I don't know if I can catch them all in time.  I don't know if these are the last days of Beloved, of squirrel fishin', of civilization as we know it...  I'll get back to y'all later this weekend to update you.

All due to Jim Flanagan an his dang bad beer.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Rest On

If you go back home
To the hollers you wandered in
Up on the hillsides
Close to the homestead
Look deep in the brambles
See stones a standin'
Reminders of those
Who have gone before.
Some unkempt an' overgrown
Some tended neat
Yet all silent testaments
Of lost love, life and home.
Sandstone worn with
Nary a word
Visible to the eye.
Underneath lies pilgrim bones
Waiting for that trump.
Marble some, milky smooth
Letters crisp and clear.
Yet all harmonize,
Sing the same song,
Reminding all who see;
This here's a good spot,
I'll just take me a rest
Till time to go on home.
As pilgrims sleep
They rest In peace
Knowing they slumber on
Beneath the poplar and sycamore
Safe on the hills
Of home.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Spring Song

Sing me a Song of Spring
Of Daffy-dills peekin'
Over on the roadside.
Pussywillow sneakin' out
Her catkins.

Hum me a little bitty tune
Of warmer days an'
Sweet blue skies,
Trees a bloomin'
An' waters warmin.
A song of life an' joy
An' promise...
A song of life renewed
Of the everlast of the hills.

A song that will resound in the rocks,
Be whistled by the sparrow
Hummed by the bees an' wasps an' mud duabers
As they mud their cradles
In the logs of my home.

Saturday, February 25, 2006


This color of melancholy
Does not suit me well.
It is faded and harsh
Does not flatter me.

At first I thought it had
A touch of bittersweet.
Looking close there seemed
A hint of what had been.

Instead it is grey
Dulled flat by pain.
Washed out and faded
Bitter with memories.

Wash me and cleanse
Lord of the rains.
Flood the hidden hollers
Cleanse and set me

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Hurts of the Heart

Have you ever had your heart just ache
Bustin' like it was ready to quit?
Hurtin' like some wild thing stuck
Deep inside your chest?

Ever felt like you had failed
Had done nothin' right, nothin' good?
Have you sunk down deep into a holler
Filled with bitter darkness?

Wail at the dark,
Cry and ask God to make it better
Scream to the tops of the hills
For answers that you can't find.

Hold your head close
Cradle it an' cry.
Don't be 'fraid.

There is a new day,
A new day.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Collect Call

They call to me,
They woo me,
Sing like sirens
A song that draws.
Tug at my blood
Boil it hot
Sing in my ear
Whisper as I sleep.
Mountains they call
Hollers they whisper
Heat of the day
Cool of the evenin'
Callin' me home.

Appalachia callin'
Will you take the call?
Where you been, son?
Why ain't you come?
Where you been, now
Ever so long?

Wayfarin' stranger
Wanderin' in northlands
Hankerin' for home
Hankerin' for home.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Heart of the Mountain

Coal dust is in his pores
Likker runs his veins.
Tobaccer smoke pours out his mouth
Poverty his middle name.

Dozen children's all she has
Weary is her soul.
Workin' to keep house an' home
Livin' on commodity dole.

Proud man, humble woman
Careful in their speech.
Hardscabble life an' few rewards
Pity ain't given or received.

Heart of the mountains
Hear them sigh.
Hear them cry an' breath.

Heart of the mountains
Watch them stand
Always on their own.

Heart of the mountain
Watch them go
Generation soon lost.

Heart of the mountain
Where'd they go
Why'd they ever leave?

Heart of the mountain
Listen, hear
Silence in their place.

Friday, January 13, 2006

City Lights

I don't often talk of the city,
But a trip to Chicago left me breathless.
I should say the moment of leaving
Took my breath away.

As the plane rose
Grumbling at gravity in the dark night
The lights of Chicago appeared
Like Christmas lights to a child they drew me.

Standing in rows
Like a bright connect the dot game
Ordered rows and blocks of light
Reminding all that someone was home.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Winter in Beloved - Bud Clavins passes

The winter has been mild in my hometown of Beloved, Kentucky.  The snow held off except for one big snowfall in early December.  Over a foot of snow fell and unusually cold weather kept it on the ground for weeks.  That was a historic week in the journals of Beloved as that snowfall saw the death of Homer "Bud" Clavens from up on Brushy Butt Creek.

Seems like Bud Clavens noticed his outhouse was pretty near full an' in need of the hole bein' filled an' a new hole dug.  Those among us who have not had the pleasure of digging a hole for an outhouse would not know that digging through a foot of snow and six or seven feet of frozen dirt is a difficult task.  It was also a task Bud did not relish.

Bud got the idea early in the Winter of puttin' sled runners on the outhouse an' waitin till it snowed real deep.  He then planned on moving the outhouse to a new location and hang the backside over a steep ravine.  He figured he would just push it to the edge, secure it an' never have to dig an outhouse hole again.  Pretty good idea, as far as it went.

When it started snowin', Bud hiked the outhouse up a bit so the sled runners would be on top of the snow.  Him an' his wife, Etta figured they would use other accommodations for a few days, haul the outhouse to the edge of that ravine an' be livin' in high cotton from then on.

There were several light snows but none big enouugh to move the outhouse.  He decided to sit tight.

Then the big snow came and Bud knew it was time to make the move.  He would do his usual chores and then drag the outhouse down the hill to the ravine.

Problem was, Bud was out feedin' his hogs early in the morning an' nature called.  He couldn't make it back to the house, so he figured "one for the road" an' carefully stepped up and in the hiked up outhouse.

His weight in the outhouse made the dang thing break off the jacks an' land on the sled runners.  Bud had just settled down and started reading when he felt the jolt.  As he stood up to see what in the heck was goin' on, the whole kit an' kaboodle took off on them sled runners, headed downhill to the ravine.

Bud saw where the thing was goin' an sat down, dropped the a Sears an Roebuck catalog that he was readin' an' grabbed hold of the sides to keep from fallin' through the hole as he bounced over the river an' through the woods!!!

Bud looked around the generous sized outhouse (it was a two seater after all) for something to help him in his unusual situation.  Above him in the rafters he spied an old Model A Ford tire rim and had a McGyver moment.  Taking off his scarf, he tied it to the tire rim and held on to the side of the outhouse.

He planned to drop the old Model A Ford tire rim through the hole and use it as sort of an anchor to grab a-hold of a root or some other obstruction.  The speed of the outhouse on the hard crusty snow should have been a pretty clear sign that any obstruction was totally covered.

Well, when he hit the edge of the ravine, the outhouse was movin' so fast he whizzed right past the edge (pardon the pun) in that two seater outhouse an' fell to his death over 100 feet to the bottom of the ravine.

The fall jammed the outhouse so deep into the ravine that his wife an' youngins decided it were a waste to undig ol' Homer "Budd" Clavins when he was near buried already.  They threw a few buckets of dirt over the top of the outhouse an' left Bud to his eternal rest.

A lovely memorial service was held at the top of the ravine an' a mess of flowers was thrown over the side to rest on the mound of dirt below.

Homer "Budd" Clavins was 102 years old an' is survived by 17 children, 85 grandchildren an a mess of cousins, brothers an' his Mama, Eunice Poovey Clavins.