Grandad’s not got
Anything to do today
‘Cept sit around his checker set
And wait on old Pop Lundry to come down
Off Cooper’s Ridge to play.
I watched him rock
Away this morning talking
To his bird dog Bellaret.
She don’t leave the front porch much, now, either
‘Cept when they go out walking.
And just as dusk
Collects along the valley’s rim
All the boys and young men come
To listen and be hypnotized by tales
Of how the valley is and has always been.
“Eighty-eight years old
And the Keenus Bridge collapsed!
One righteous groan at Mandy Wheeler’s weight
(Mammoth Mandy’s six hundred pounds of fat)
Then rubble sixteen feet below.
Her screams were heard from Willisville
To Fiddler’s graveyard (fifteen miles apart).
And it took two good mules
A hard days work to pull
Her from the mud.”
And he enchants them
With the miners and the whores
With the wild side of the mountain,
The ridge wise boys, the foothill clowns
And the troubadors.
“The people haven’t danced in Willisville
Since Charlie Waters coughed himself
Black lung until
And he was young!
Younger than the ages of collected things….
His nickel dates rented the parlor
And his white gold watch
Doesn’t wear him any longer
At the stem.
Because we hocked it!
We hocked it for the band
(The Keenus Creek Quartet)
And they played “Barbara Allen” as we planned
And planted Charlie in the ground.”
So go now,
Down from these older mountains
And listen to the valley sage
“He’s a good ol’ boy”
Pulling at his pipe and telling lies – counting
All the ways he didn’t make it rich.
“’47 was a bitch!
I lost my cotton to the bug,
My dog to endless age
And my farm to Jimmy Lundry’s poker game.
Boy – pass me that ther’ jug
Yes sir – ’47 was a year!”