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May 08, 2010

Indiana Yankees Going “Home Again”

(Talk of the Town photos provided) Above, the Duncan family enjoys a down home, southern meal with family many years ago. Below, taking another southern visit, Susie, her son, Roy, and cousin Kathy Cook enjoy a Southern trip together in more recent years.

By Susie Duncan Sexton

October’s tears erupted from both joy and despair.

Chauffeured to Dixie-land “Miss Daisy” style--not one care.

Northern space aliens arrived, kissed cousins galore,

Yet proved to themselves, “True, you can’t go home…anymore…”

 

Marriott terraces encourage survey of lands

Mountainous, splendid, degenerate--shaped by God’s hands.

Crisp air.  Hospitality.  Southern dialects sparse.

Wealth redistribution. Carpet-baggers returned.  Farce!

 

George Washington Vanderbilt, claiming Dutch heritage,

“Nouveau riche”, established future PBS setting--a stage!

Forty-three “johns”, bowling alley, pool, Euro-mazes,

Turn-of-the-century elevator--“spoiled-boy”-crazes.

 

Conservatory, Arboretum, a Winery.

Bears, deer, fall foliage, blight, crawling “kudzu” vinery.

Esplanade, azalea garden, rusting wrought iron fences.

Agrarian/Industrial coincidences.

 

Nestled solemnly, further downtown, rested my soul--

Asheville’s native “bad boy” son, on whom life took its toll.

Stone-mason Daddy, control-freakin’ Ma--Tom shunned home

To write sorrow-filled novels, NOT squeezed into a poem.

 


Vanderbilt’s grand schemes, castles in sky, “working” estate

Awed not quite so “fine” as Thomas Wolfe’s modest front gate.

Biltmore’s promoters:  “ Paradise ?  Forty-five bucks…per…!”

Julia’s “Old Kentucky Home” Boarding House?   “Dollar, sir!”

 

Sensory, literary--Sargent, (Wharton & Henry James), Whistler, Renoir.

Archaic, primitive, rustic--needn’t drive far.

Country Club dining within philanthropist’s mountain.

Fried chicken, potato salad, Bat Cave , brook fountain.

 

Chimney Rock, Flat Rock, Blowing Rock.  How high may we go?

“Acorn” Crests, carriage rides, Central-Park-like.  “Got the dough?”

O. Henry’s “surprise ending” in Gothic graveyard plot.

Calculating three legends now--“What else have ya got?”

 

Robert Frost defined HOME:  “Where…they have to take you in.”

Whirlwinds of supposed debauchery, engaged in sin,

Or revelatory family secrets filling (23,000) books

Certainly spur hometown friends’/enemies’ askance looks!

 

Wholesomeness breeds at Carl Sandburg’s Chikaming Goat Farm,

Phi Beta Kappa wife Lilian Steichen whose charm,

Devotion, “beautiful mind” deemed Connemara spot

Heaven for Nubians, Toggenburgs, poet-hot-shot!

 

Relics, glowing tales, informative guides leading tours--

Souvenirs, period furniture, photo-brochures--

Create dynamic mythologies, few questions asked

Concerning larger-than-life-folks who in the sun basked?

 

Shanties, crape myrtle, switchbacks, dusty roads, and red clay,

Super-highways “carry” us to BMW-Ville--“Hey?”

Tar Heels! Sand Lappers! Birthright, lineage, pedigree!

Familial politics, “Bride of Christ” churches--wheeeee!

 

Smiles, embraces, sweet-tea, corn-bread, fried okra, biscuits,

Mis-judged gargoyles, over-rated angels, lunch baskets,

Odd crumbling tomb-stones, post-cards, cell-phones, ear-pops, On-Star,

Picaresque road trips, picayune chatter.  “Find a bar!”

 

“Home again.  Home again.  Jiggety Jog.”  “Miss my dog!”

Southern roots syrupy, saccharine; Yankees in fog!

Trapped in time warps, couplets, quatrains, rhythm and child’s rhyme,

Hopelessly constrained, restrained within bound’ries of time.

 

Niece, son, I--cruising through-out Appalachian Range,

“On Top of Old Smokey”, Blue Ridge --seeking fair exchange--

Routine’s rut for enlightenment’s rejuvenation?

Competitiveness, “civil” war wounds, lamentation. (OR jubilation?)

 

Reeling “Odyssey” unending, frolicking, aching--

Sharing such laughter, grief, warmth, brittleness, muck-raking.

Fop’s opulence, poet’s conceit, novelist’s torment

Signified by lone marble angel, their monument.

 

Look homeward!  Which direction?  Might we dare?

You see, our hearts beat.  Buried.  Everywhere.

(Dedicated to:  Roy and Kathy…and Ashton)


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