The Kentucky Arts Council sent out the call for Kentuckians to
delve into their pasts, sift through their memories, and tell the world “Where I’m From." Each poem was to follow the structure and style of the brilliant original “Where I’m From” by our own Kentucky Poet Laureate George Ella Lyon. I decided to take the challenge. The result is below. And as a bonus, I was asked to return to my childhood stomping ground and give it a reading. I saw some old friends, swapped stories and shots of bourbon chased down with of Ale-8-One, won a $10 door prize, and used it buy Berryman’s chili dogs...so I’d say it was a damn near perfect evening.
Where I’m From
I am from
Tidy closets, armed with moth balls,
But stripped secret-clean.
Our skeletons rocked on the porch,
Drinking tall glasses of sweet tea spiked with Maker’s Mark bourbon.
Waste not, want not.
Pretty is, as pretty does.
And, you don’t know your ass from apple butter.
I am from
Reared up on Queen Street,
Riding a chestnut mare named Cleopatra,
And listening to the King…
Until he was found dead next to his porcelain throne,
(My mother wailed for a week, clutching unused concert tickets).
I’m from Mouths,
That tasted of Ale-8-One, small town gossip, steeped sassafras,
Berryman’s chili dogs, Marlboro menthols, and answered prayers.
That played honkytonk piano, birthed slippery calves, rubbed on Coppertone lotion,
Dug potatoes, picked purple irises, and applied layers of lipstick in Pink Frost.
That trod through fresh manure,
Danced in black, shiny shoes in Miss Rosalind’s recital,
And tracked through October Court Days hot on the scent of a funnel cake.
I am from
The rhinoceros that lived in the tobacco barn,
Great Aunt Pearlie’s ghost,
A buried treasure at the bottom of the pond guarded by an albino catfish,
And, a faraway place that never slept called New York City.
(I was determined to live there one day…and I did).
A bone and flesh compass,
Needle never wavering.
No matter how far I get above my raising,
It always leads me back,
To where I’m from.
Click HERE to read more "Where I'm From" poems from around the state.
the bourbonistA, Promoting Debauchery and stamping out political-correctness one blog at a time.