Where I’m From

 By GEORGE ELLA LYON

I am from clothespins,
from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride.
I am from the dirt under the back porch.
(Black, glistening,
it tasted like beets.)
I am from the forsythia bush
the Dutch elm
whose long-gone limbs I remember
as if they were my own.

 I'm from fudge and eyeglasses,
from Imogene and Alafair.
I'm from the know-it-alls
         and the pass-it-ons,
from Perk up! and Pipe down!
I'm from He restoreth my soul
         with a cottonball lamb
         and ten verses I can say myself.

 I'm from Artemus and Billie's Branch,
fried corn and strong coffee.
From the finger my grandfather lost
         to the auger,
the eye my father shut to keep his sight.

 Under my bed was a dress box
spilling old pictures,
a sift of lost faces
to drift beneath my dreams.
I am from those moments—
snapped before I budded—
leaf-fall from the family tree.

The Menu

Served June 26-July 13, $50

Stacked sliced white bread, scratch made
Herb garden lemon thyme, oregano butter with salt
Ruth Ann’s Lime Pickle
Cucumbers and onions

Sheets of green pasta hiding
Kenny’s Fromage blanc with lemon and lavender
Peas, Lisa’s front yard fava beans, green cherry tomato

Shaved baby beet, smoked carpaccio of beef, thin slices of king mushroom
Rings of pickled shallots and scattered pickled mustard seed
Glistening drizzles of olive oil

Skillet fried sweet corn in cast iron and butter
Summer’s first green beans

Company pork roast from Patrick and Leeta, slow roasted in milk with Trudy’s rosemary scented June apple sauce
or
Cornmeal dusted crab cakes and tartar sauce with little pickles, boiled egg, salty capers and handmade mayonnaise
or
Squash casserole, made fancy for white tablecloths, in its own little crock with Mississippi rice and Kentucky cheese
or
Always a big ol’ skillet-seared Cowgirl Ribeye, smoked onions, Henry Bain’s sauce
but it’ll cost you $20 more

Toasted lemon pound cake, powdered sugar lemon glaze
Selma’s peach ice and blueberries
Fudge brownies


Bucolic LXXVIII

The Menu

Details soon

By MAURICE MANNING / July 17-27

I’ve got one thing to say to you
that’s blackberry winter Boss
your little cool spell in the spring
your dewy days so lingering 
your fiddling with the sun you slow
the season down you pull the reins
you lay a whoa on everything
as if you want the dawn to last
until the dusk as if you want 
to taste the dawn a little longer 
O I don’t blame you Boss the dawn
is sweet who wouldn’t want to hold
it back I like it when you hold 
me back I like it when you jerk 
the reins I know the gee or haw
if either comes will come from you
but when you let the reins go slack
now that’s a different story Boss
I don’t like that that moment when 
you turn me out alone to graze
to graze is such a hot-faced slight 
as close as breath but never close
enough to know if I was hitched 
for real or if the hitching Boss
I felt was just a feeling sweet
but not the honeypot itself
which swings the gate right back to you
O tell me why I can’t hold back
this bitter thought are you the bee
or just a stinging story Boss


O Tobacco

By CRYSTAL WILKINSON / July 31-Aug. 10

You are the warm burnt sienna
of my grandfather’s skin
soft like ripe leather.

I cannot see you
any other way
but as a farmer’s finest crop
you are a Kentucky tiller’s livelihood.

You were school clothes in August
the turkey at Thanksgiving
Christmas with all the trimmings.

I close my eyes
see you tall
stately green
lined up in rows.
See sweat seeping
through Granddaddy’s shirt
as he fathered you first.

You were protected by him
sometimes even more
than any other thing
that rooted in our earth.

Just like family you were
coddled
cuddled
coaxed
into making him proud.

Spread out for miles
you were the only
pretty thing he knew.

When I think of you
at the edge of winter,
I see you brown, wrinkled
just like Granddaddy’s skin.

A ten-year old me
plays in the shadows
of the stripping room
the wood stove burns
callused hands twist
through the length
of your leaves.
Grandaddy smiles
nods at me when he
thinks I’m not looking.

You are pretty and braided
lined up in rows
like a room full of 
brown girls with skirts
hooped out for dancing.


HAZEL DICKENS

By SILAS HOUSE / Aug. 14-24

As soon as I heard she had died I looked
A mess of soup beans, studying hard
for rocks, let the beans slide over my
outstretched hand and into the cold water.
I lit the stove eye, plopped in a big glomp
of grease, salted like a hillbilly
does : a lot. I stood there a long while,
but a watched pot never boils. So I
will wait here by the window, watching
redbirds fly hither and yon on a stormy
Good Friday. Later, when we are eating
our soup beans (and sweet onions, fried
taters, chow-chow, salmon patties) we
will listen to Hazel singing “Black
Lung” or maybe put on her and Alice
doing “The One I Love is Gone” and
there will be nothing else except
the silver sound of forks between us.


DIXIE HIGHWAY

By NICKOLE BROWN / Aug. 28-Sept. 7

1.

Past the starting line in Louisville, Dixie’s a six-lane tangle,
car lots made carnival—balloons and barkers, cheap
strings of lights and triangle flags—then discount
recliners, country kitchen oak, concrete
ducks dressed in bonnets for your lawn, racks and racks
of knock-off jeans, knock-off bags, and for the working man,
manly bins of wife-beaters and white tube socks.

Dixie is all-you-can-eat—ribeye, T-bone, sirloin—
you pick your own piece of meat—and the buffet ends
soft-serve, sprinkles in every color for the kids.
Here, the highway’s bottomless, buy-one-get-one-
free, come on down to Big Tom’s, we’ll do ya up right,
until the road bends to
girls with big tiddies and bad teeth, girls doing
best they can at Dixie’s Trixie and Go-Go-Derby Gals.

When we drove past, it was always
breakfast time, the trucks still parked in those gravel lots
looking terrible lonely
in broad morning light.

2.

Outside town, Kentucky was all winter,
mud wind-whipped to beige
ice and trees brittled
bone, the lanes blood-smeared
deer and stray dog,
and on walls of rock
blasted from the mountain,
limestone wept long stalactites
of frozen white.

Because my body was small, I still fell
asleep to rocking things
and dreamt to the tires’
pop n churn, pop n churn
waiting for Fanny to say
wake now up, Koey
hours later when Tennessee
pines greened things up again.

Next came the long fingers
of moss haunting
Savannah’s branches,
then came
orange groves, miles and miles
of fruit polka-dotting the waxy sheen.
Finally, a miracle—a wonder
like a troll doll spun
on a pencil’s eraser end—growing not
out of dirt or clay or what men
tracked in on boots,
but from clean, easy-to-sweep-away sand,
a tree without leaves that fall
and need to be raked but fronds,
the kind cut and braided at church
Sunday before the capital-S son goes and dies
all over again.

We’ll go with Fanny, and we’ll go to the beach every day, all our problems
gone
, Mama said, because at the end of Dixie’s The Florida Turnpike,
at the end of the turnpike’s the sea.

3.

We took Dixie because Dixie was made for
a car like Fanny’s, a car that preferred
old highway, a car that wanted nothing to do with
needless speed, a car that was built
to coal-barge glide, owning the damn road.

It was a Cadillac, her El Dorado, a car impossibly
long with impossible fins, white and waxed and gassed
ready-chrome-go, the interior kid glove in Atomic Red,
a climate-controlled bomb shelter, an escape hatch,
an automobile called home.

The factory mats were replaced with white shag rugs,
and because I was a child, I was allowed to be the little animal
I was, curled up and hiding in that woolen nest
behind the driver’s seat. Up front, my matriarchal line
laughed and cussed and flicked so many cigarettes

we were our own comet,
tiny red stars sparking down that road.

4.

Dixie starts in burning cold, in gas stations
where you have to ask for the bathroom key
and the man hands you one chained to a hubcap that opens
the kind of toilet Mama and Fanny say not to touch
with a ten-foot pole.

They suspend me over, my arms hooked
around each of their necks and their arms holding
my legs. I am a little girl made cable car, a cloud high above,
I am a giggle of weightlessness until Fanny says,
Enough now, pee.

Later, bathrooms don’t get any cleaner, but each state
has treasure to sell—in Tennessee, it’s homemade
lemon drops and cast iron to shape cornbread
into little fish; in Georgia, it’s billboards
for Pecans, Peanuts, Peaches every five miles
though all we buy is a bologna sandwich
that gives Mama the shits.

Across the final line, it’s saltwater taffy
in every Miami-Vice shade, and Roy Rogers welcomes
weary travelers with stale biscuits and sticky showers
and Pac-Man machines. Mama gives me some quarters,
whispers,

You see? I knew it. Even the rest
stops are better, everything’s getting so green and warm and clean.

5.

How many times did we make the trip,
Kentucky to Florida and back? So many
I can honestly say maybe that long tar-patch highway
is where I was raised.

It was a move we made whenever we could, more times
than I care to count; it was a chance to leave
behind the men and the cold; it was a long stretch
with Howard Johnson’s in between.
Ho-Jo’s is only place clean enough to sleep, Fanny said,
and once my weary drivers drifted off

I’d sneak out to the hotel pool, slip under
the surface, hold my breath,
open my eyes to the blue lit from within.
Amniotic, a mermaid then, a girl with nothing
but sunshine ahead, without a clue
as far as we got, wherever we went,
there we would find
ourselves, there we would still be.


The End of the River

By PAM SEXTON / Sept. 11-21

Red heat slathered on food that slid
through some bayou
into a roux in smoky rooms throbbing
with sax flash of trombone on glistening
skins wail of a trumpet throat heat
on the head of a snare pulsing
bass pushing bodies in air thick
as hot milk and sugar in black
chicory and listen

to the rap gone crabbing pot
of people mixed in the net chicken
necks spiny blues and mudbugs sweet
ears listening hard to the Blues voices
singing sweet Jesus too figuring how to live
on wet ground floating the dead live

oak sprouting ferns magnolia bloom
and mold in the shoes
march it out down Basin
Decatur Dumaine throw beads
doubloons dance a callout in purple dance
a coming out in white dance
dirty on Bourbon wave
to Zeus ride a streetcar named you know
march it out easy here
easy Bebe
big-time easy.


The Carrying

By ADA LIMÓN / Sept. 25-Oct. 5

The sky’s white with November’s teeth,
and the air is ash and woodsmoke.
A flush of color from the dying tree,
a cargo train speeding through, and there,
that’s me, standing in the wintering
grass watching the dog suffer the cold
leaves. I’m not large from this distance,
just a fence post, a hedge of holly.
Wider still, beyond the rumble of overpass,
mares look for what’s left of green
in the pasture, a few weanlings kick
out, and theirs is the same sky, white
like a calm flag of surrender pulled taut.
A few farms over, there’s our mare,
her belly barrel-round with foal, or idea
of foal. It’s Kentucky, late fall, and any
mare worth her salt is carrying the next
potential stake’s winner. Ours, her coat
thicker with the season’s muck, leans against
the black fence and this image is heavy
within me. How my own body, empty,
clean of secrets, knows how to carry her,
knows we were all meant for something.