Notes From Appalachia

BORN IN THESE HILLS
taken away when I was three.
Son of a coal miner who took
my mother, my brother, and me.
Drove west to the ocean, Pacific.

The kids there called me “hillbilly” and “hick.”
Said I talked funny. Punched me, kicked me,
generally tried their best to make sure
I knew I didn’t belong there.
And I did not.

Eventually, though,
I learned to speak like them,
dress like them, act as if I was not
from Kentucky, my daddy
was not Appalachian, that
these mountains had no part of me.
My only recourse was
after the pledge of allegiance…
I never sang the “Oregon” song.
I sang, “Kentucky.”

But, my father, he wouldn’t change.
He was proud of his heritage.
He played banjo; he played mandolin;
he went fishing, a lot.
Grew the best garden in the county,
ate soup beans and cornbread.
He did not give a hang for their Yankee ways.

I hated him. I hated my father.
until I returned to these hills.

Now I see them,
I see him,
in me.

(Poem by Don Sturgill, copyright 1983, Kentucky | photo By Jan van der Crabben (Photographer) (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons)

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  1. […] his recovery only by the goodhearted charity of relatives and neighbors. And when he recovered, Dad loaded us up in an Oldsmobile and drove west until he was stopped by the Pacific […]

  2. […] play such a prominent part in my answers during this interview … but it sure has. In my poem, Notes From Appalachia, I talk about how I hated my father when I was young … but saw his wisdom reflected in the […]

  3. […] his recovery only by the goodhearted charity of relatives and neighbors. And when he recovered, Dad loaded us up in an Oldsmobile and drove west until he was stopped by the Pacific […]

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