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,
Conservatory, Arboretum, a Winery.
Bears, deer, fall foliage, blight, crawling “kudzu” vinery.
Esplanade, azalea garden, rusting wrought iron fences.
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)