Blues and Roots/Rue and Bluets: A Garland for the Southern Appalachians

Blues and Roots/Rue and Bluets: A Garland for the Southern Appalachians

by Jonathan Williams, Herbert Liebowitz

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780822382959
Publisher: Duke University Press
Publication date: 08/09/1985
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 984 KB

About the Author

Jonathan Williams (1929–2008), photographer, poet, and publisher, was founder of the Jargon Society Press. His many works include An Ear in Bartram's Tree: Selected Poems, 1957–1967; Quote,Unquote; A Palpable Elysium: Portraits of Genius and Solitude; The Magpie’s Bagpipe: Selected Essays; and Jubilant Thicket: New and Selected Poems as well as the collection Portrait Photographs.

Read an Excerpt

Blues & Roots Rue & Bluets

A Garland for the Southern Appalachians

By Jonathan Williams

Duke University Press

Copyright © 1985 Jonathan Williams
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8223-0615-3


    A Valediction For My Father, Ben Williams (1898–1974)

    all the old things
    are gone now

    and the people are

    Bea Hensley Hammers an Iron Chinquapin Leaf On His Anvil Near Spruce Pine &
    Cogitates on the Nature of Two Beauty Spots

    in the Linville Gorge I
    know this place

    now it's a rock wall
    you look up
    it's covered in punktatum all
    the way to Heaven

    that's a

    * * *

    up on Smoky
    you ease up at daybust
    and see the first
    light in the tops of the tulip trees

    now boys that just naturally
    grinds and polishes the soul

    makes it

    I mean it's really

    The Hermit Cackleberry Brown, On Human Vanity:

    caint call your name
    but your face is easy

    come sit

    now some folks figure theyre
    cowflop they

    not a bit

    just good to hold the world together
    like hooved up ground

    thats what

    Lee Ogle Ties a Broom & Ponders Cures for Arthuritis

    lands them fingers really
    dreadfulled me I
    couldnt tie
    nary broom one

    had to soak em in water
    hot as birds blood

    then I heard this ol man from Kentucky say
    take a jug of apple juice just juice not cider
    pour the epsum salts to it and
    take as much as you kin

    bein fleshy I kin take
    right smart but
    boys you know it moves a mans bowels
    somethin terrible

    well boys it just
    naturally killed that arthuritis
    lost me some weight too
    and I
    still tie thesehyar brooms

    pretty good

    Old Man Sam Ward's History of the Gee-Haw Whimmy-Diddle

    some folks say
    the injuns made 'em
    like lie-detectors
    called 'em
    hoo-doo sticks

    in Salisbury, Noth Caylini
    made the first
    whimmy-diddle I seen

    I whittle seven
    kind: thisuns king
    size, thisuns jumbo, thisuns
    extry large

    here's a single, here's one
    double, here's a triple and why right here
    here's a forked 'un

    been whittlin' whimmy-diddles come
    ten year, I reckon you'd
    care to see my other toys,
    boys, I got some fine
    flippers-dingers, fly-killers
    and bull-roarers, I can

    kill a big fly at 60 feet

    watch here

    Paint Sign on a Rough Rock, Yonside of Boone Side of Shady Valley


    Daddy Bostain, the Moses of the Wing Community Moonshiners, Laments from His
    Deathbed the Spiritual Estate Of One of His Soul-Saving Neighbors:

    God bless her pore
    little ol
    dried up

    jest make
    good kindlin wood
    fer Hell ...

    Laments from the Pigeon Roost News

    once we all grew shellot
    potato onions everybody
    around here have run out of
    seed E. E. Seaton
    of Jonesboro
    Tennessee done heard
    about this

    * * *

    the Fourth-a-July
    passed off in this part
    very quiet

    * * *

    that snake were such
    peculiar looking
    to me I'm afraid I
    couldn't give it justice
    trying to describing it but it
    didn't act mean like
    it tryed to be
    pretty like
    it did

    Three Thefts from John Ehle's Prose

    every night
    the possums climb higher
    in the persimmon trees

    * * *

    a red pumpkin
    in a row of yellow pumpkins
    in a field

    * * *

    a creek
    fulla syrup

    Three Graffiti in the Vicinity of The Mikado Baptist Church, Deep in
    Nacoochee Valley

    stamp out
    dragon fire

    * * *


    * * *

    vot fer lindin

    A Pileated Woodpecker's Response to Four Dogwood Berries

    kuk kuk

    A Blue Ridge Weather Prophet Makes Twelve Stitches in Time On the Twelfth
    Day of Christmas





    if the catbirds chatter
    winter's might nigh over

    and spring is just around the corner but
    we aint seen the corner yet


    is lovin'

    o supine pine!


    this aint
    Blackberry Winter

    this is
    Late Easter Squirt


    good time
    to plant corn

    when the hickory buds
    are as big
    as a squirrel's foot


    when you tend
    to your
    own business
    you got
    a load,

    come rain or come



    old time


    hit's frost
    6 weeks from
    the katydids


    elder people said that gnat swarms
    were a good sign of thunder storms

    but since then,
    only some light rain ...


    heavy black
    on the front end
    of the woolly worm

    bad weather
    in the first go round
    of winter time


    first snow
    get out,
    wade in it
    a little bit

    old people, now dead,


    if you would rather see mild weather
    and see some sign that makes you sorter
    think a little bit that it
    is going to be a mild winter
    it will make you at least for a little while feel
    better about it—

    before the real begins

    While Down at the Formicary, Time Flies


    The Yellow Peril at Moore's Grocery


    Three Sayings from Highlands, North Carolina:

    but pretty though as
    roses is
    you can put up with
    the thorns

    Doris Talley, Housewife & Gardener

    * * *

    you live until you die—
    if the limb don't fall

    Butler Jenkins, Caretaker

    * * *

    your points is blue
    and your timing's
    a week off

    Sam Creswell, Auto Mechanic

    Granny Donaldson Scoffs at Skeptics & the Uninitiated As She Works Up a
    Cow-Blanket (Of Homespun, Crocheting & Appliqué) Up a Branch near Brasstown, Georgia

    Question: whut fer

    Answer: haintfer
    to name! why Adam's
    in thishyar
    haint got
    no name

    but the Lord's
    liable to call

    hit's got
    in it

    A Blazon, Built Of the Commonest of All Common Eurasian Weeds Of the Fields
    and the Wayside

    The Ancient of Days

    would that I
    had known Aunt Cumi

    C-u-m-i, pronounced

    she lived in the Deyton Bend Section of Mitchell
    County, North Carolina many years ago

    there is one of Bayard Wootten's photographs of her
    standing there with her store-bought
    teeth, holding a coverlet

    she sheared her sheep, spun
    and dyed her yarn in vegetable dyes,
    and wove the coverlet

    in indigo, the brown from walnut roots,
    red from madder, green from hickory ooze, first,
    then into the indigo (the blue pot)

    Cumi, from the Bible
    (St. Mark 5:41)

    Talitha Cumi:
    "Damsel, I say unto thee, arise!"

    she is gone, she
    enjoyed her days

    Miss Lucy Morgan Shows Me a Photograph Of Mrs. Mary Grindstaff Spinning Wool
    on the High Wheel

    Miss Lucy tells that one day
    a visitor asked Mrs. Grindstaff
    "What are you doing?"

    she said "Spinning."

    the tourist said
    "Why doesn't it break?"

    she said "Because I don't let it."

    the charred heart does not break in Appalachia, they
    have not let it ...

    the loom hums


    Aunt Dory Ellis, of Penland, Remembers When She Fell in Her Garden at the
    Home Place And Broke Her Hip in 19 and 56

    the sky was high,
    white clouds passing
    by, I lay
    a hour in that petunia patch

    and knew I was out of whack

    Mrs. Sadie Grindstaff, Weaver & Factotum, Explains the Work-Principle to the
    Modern World

    I figured
    anything anybody
    could do a lot of I
    could do a little


    Aunt Creasy, On Work:

    I make the livin

    just makes the livin

    Uncle Iv Surveys His Domain from His Rocker Of a Sunday Afternoon as Aunt
    Dory Starts To Chop the Kindling

    Mister Williams
    lets youn me move
    tother side the house

    the woman
    choppin woods
    mite nigh the awkerdist thing
    I seen

    The September Satisfaction of Uncle Iv Owens:

    I got
    a rat-proof

    Three Bears of Different Sizes, Dreaming from Three Hollow Logs On Mt.
    Kephart in the Great Smokies On a Warm Day in February


    The Colossal Maw from War-Woman Dell, Georgia

    more mouth on
    that woman

    than ass
    on a goose

    Lipstick Sign under the Concrete Bridge over Middle Creek

    ass is nice

    The Nostrums of the Black Mountain Publican

    best thing
    for roomatiz,
    Homer, is

    a great big ol messa

    if God
    made anything better
    he kep it
    for Hissef

    but boys lemme
    tell you:


    John Chapman Pulls off the Highway towards Kentucky And Casts a Cold Eye on
    the Most Astonishing Sign In Recent American Letters


    Stone Sign By the Temple Congregational Community Church's Resident
    Theologaster On the Banks of the Tallulah River


    Logger to Dozer

    if you work
    for me,
    you got to
    and go

    Cracker-Barrel Revertes on the Tune "Pax Americana" "Us common people run
    this country!" GEORGE WALLACE

    feller over in
    says hes got thishere book
    says that fbi feller hoover
    says that nigger preacher kings
    but a tarnation communist

    and i reckon you boys
    heared on the tv this
    waiter jenkins hes
    some kind of unnatchrul sex prevert why
    you know them seven chillun
    must be lightbulbs
    you just know it

    just like you know ol castro
    and them jew boys in new york
    got us into veetnam

    some things be's plain obvious

    why the barber feller was sayin
    just yesterday
    he said put the bombs to em boys drop em
    all over them russkis and
    the dadblame chinamens too and
    might as well drop em on ol dee gawl
    too hes got the big mouth dont he
    i mean put it to em all
    i mean buddy we could stop all this foolishness up north

    why some things be's plain obvious

    people get
    what they want

    A Mnemonic Wallpaper Pattern for Southern Two-Seaters


    A Ride in a Blue Chevy from Alum Cave Trail to Newfound Gap

    goin' hikin'?
    git in!

    o the Smokies are ok but me
    I go for Theosophy,
    higher things, Hindu-type philosophy,
    none of this licker and sex, I
    like it
    on what we call the astral plane,
    I reckon I get more i-thridral
    by the hour

    buddy, you won't believe this but
    how old you reckon the earth is?
    the earth is
    precisely 156 trillion years old—
    I got this book from headquarters in
    Wheaton, Illinois
    says it is!

    I'll tell you somethin' else:
    there are exactly 144 kinds of people on this earth—
    12 signs and the signs change
    every two hours,
    that's 144, I'm Scorpio,
    with Mars over the water

    here's somethin' else innerestin' :
    back 18 million years
    people was only one sex, one sex only ...
    I'd like to explain that,
    it's right here in this pamphlet,
    50 cents ...

    never married, lived with my mother in Ohio,
    she died, I'm over in Oak Ridge
    in a machine shop, say,
    what kind of place
    is Denver?
    think I'll sell this car, go to Denver,
    set up a Center ...

    name's Davis,
    what's yours?

    Dear Reverend Carl C. Mclntire:

    Just a note
    to let you know
    we are listening to you
    on Station
    in Richmond,

    There are four of us Fundamentalist Baptist ladies
    who ride together at 7:30
    to the shirt factory and the napalm plant
    and we always listen to your
    every day
    after the early morning
    "Urethra & the Catheters"—

    you both groove, baby,
    I mean you let it all hang out
    and no doubt!

    So when you laid that wicked-world bit
    on our heads Friday we felt we should be prepared
    to meet God and goodness we sure would feel lost
    without your spiritual uplift in our new pink
    Dodge Polara ...

    Yours agin sin and keep keepin' those darkies
    from a destroying our freedom,
    Myrtle-Jean Pugh, Co-Captain
    James River Industrial League of
    White Women Bowlers,
    Team #16

    The Remains of a Sign, Mitchell County, North Carolina


    Who Is Little Enis?

    Little Enis is
    "one hunnert an' 8olbs of
    with a 9-inch

    his real name is
    Carlos Toadvine
    which his wife Irma Jean
    pronounces Carlus

    Carlos says
    Toadaveenie is a eyetalyun name,
    used to be lots of 'em
    round these parts

    Ed McClanahan is the World's Leading Little Enis Freak
    and all this information comes to you from a weekend in Winston
    with Big Ed telling the lore of Lexington, Kentucky,
    which is where Enis has been hanging it out for years and years,
    at Boots Bar and Giuseppe's Villa and, now, The Embers,
    pickin' and singin' rockabilly style

    Carlus ain't what he was
    according to Irma Jean's accounts
    (and even to his own) :

    he was sittin' there one night in the kitchen at home
    tellin' stories and talkin' trash about Irma Jean—
    with her right there with her hair put up in them pink plastic curlers—
    about how these days how he likes to pop it to her dog-style
    just now and again and how she likes it pretty damn well
    when they wander all over the house
    and end up in the living room corner—
    "I'm just afraid Carlus will run us out the door and down the street
    opposite the automatic laundry ..."

    The 9-inch fuse hung down Enis' left leg
    is called, familiarly,
    Ol' Blue

    Ol' Blue used to be in the pink! —
    way in ...

    Blue has a head on him like a tom-cat
    and ribs like a hongry hound

    and he used to get so hard
    a cat
    scratch it ...

    but now that Enis has the cirrhosis
    and takes all thesehere harmones
    ?l' Blue just don't
    stand up
    like a little man
    and cut the mustard

    but Enis will smile and say
    let's all have a drink, maybe I can drown thatthere liver of ours,
    it's no bigger'n a dime nohow anymore, it just floats in there ...

    Hey, Blue, let's shake that thang!
    Turn a-loose this oldie
    by my boy Elvis—
    a golden oldie!
    let's go, Blue!

    And off they go
    into the Wild Blue
    Yonder in the Blue
    Grass ...

    Carlos & Blue,
    thinking of you ...

    Hail & Farewell!


Excerpted from Blues & Roots Rue & Bluets by Jonathan Williams. Copyright © 1985 Jonathan Williams. Excerpted by permission of Duke University Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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