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.
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,