Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My Daddy's Funeral

My name is Kenny Zachary LaRue. Everybody calls me K.Z. though. When I was in school a bunch of stuck-up town kids kept following me around and calling me “krazy, krazy, krazy larue.” They stopped that pretty quick when I cut a couple of ‘em with my KA-BAR pig sticker. The sheriff come by and took me to the county reform school for a couple of months. I weren’t mad at ‘em. They was just stupid. I don’t mind folks calling me K.Z.

Oh, I about forgot. This writer fellow is helping me with my writing and all so if you can make it out you got him to thank for it. I prefer to write like I talk—its more natural you see. I don’t like to write much though. I like to paint picture-paintings like my daddy did.

Yeah, that fancy-pants Yankee magazine up there in New York City wanted me to write about my daddy’s funeral here in Judaculla Rock and the entire goings on. The magazine editor said all them artist and writer folks would be interested since daddy was a famous picture-painter and all. I think them snooty Yankee artist folks are glad that daddy isn’t around no more so that now folks will buy some of their paintings.

Anyway, my daddy, Jackson Lee LaRue (everybody called him J.L.), was one of them Vietnam veterans. He went over there twice, flying in them helicopters and shooting at the gooks. Daddy told me it was the best feeling in the world that when he walked his gun up on one of them V.C. and ‘kapow’, there wouldn’t be no more V.C.! I guess that’s what a fifty caliber machine gun will do to somebody if it hits you just right. Daddy once said it was all about spreading democracy around the world and he’d do it again in a heartbeat. Biggest rifle-gun I ever fired was a 30.06.

Turns out, my momma, Betty Jo, told me that when daddy come back from there he just wasn’t quite right in the head—staying up for days drinking and painting pictures of folks shooting and stabbing each other. Hell, I guess painting pictures of folks shooting at each other is better than actually doing it—though if somebody shoots at me; I’m going to shoot at them.

Them snooty rich folks down in hot-‘lanta found out about my daddy painting what they called “hillbilly modern” and thought his paintings was better than anything they had ever seen before or since. At one of my daddy’s showings I heard one wimpy little guy wearing a dress whisper to his buddy that daddy’s paintings was “outsider master pieces.” Them city-slickers was a coming up here to the mountains of western North Carolina and just a going ga-ga over his paintings—especially them rich divorced women.

Them rich hot ‘lanta women would come up here and practically swoon over daddy and his paintings. Of course it might have helped that daddy would give them some moonshine liquor in an old coffee cup and pretty soon he’d have them in the back room on that cot he keeps back there and you could hear them cot springs just a squeaking to beat the band. Some of them women would holler out “Oh God” like they’d seen the light. I didn’t really pay no attention though. I’d just finish painting what ever daddy was working on ever since he taught me how. And them rich women would just write big checks for his picture-paintings.

My momma stayed around ‘till I was five, six year old maybe. She run off with a traveling salesman driving a big, fancy Cadillac car. Momma left a note saying that she was tired of daddy taking them “rich hot-‘lanta divorced women into the back room of the garage and making them holler even if he was selling the hell out of his paintings.” I guess he hadn’t been paying much attention to momma seeing that he pretty much slept out in the back room in the garage on that cot of his.

Well, back to what I was supposed to tell you about: daddy’s funeral. The day daddy died he was painting in the old garage we live in. I was chopping wood out back. I heard daddy holler out “K.Z. come here.” There was a big crash like somebody busted down a wall or something. I run in there and daddy was a laying on the floor with a bunch of painting canvas on him. I run next door to Cicero’s store and hollered for him to call the ambulance.

They come pretty quick and put daddy in the back of the ambulance and hauled him off to C.J. Brinkley hospital up in Scotsford. Cicero closed up his store and we jumped in his truck, peeled rubber, and followed the ambulance.

When I got to the emergency room a doctor come out directly and told me, “K.Z., I’m sorry your daddy’s gone.” Well I didn’t know much of anything to say so I just set there in that waiting room kind of numb-like staring at Oprah blabbing about something or other ‘till Cicero come in and took me back to his place. Cicero’s wife, Mildred, give me a big hug and fed me and put me up in their guest bed room.

The next morning I woke up and realized, “shit, daddy’s gone; what am I supposed do now?” I went down stairs and Mildred fed me a big breakfast of ham and grits and coffee. She told me Cicero was at the store and to go down there.

When I went down to Cicero’s store he looked kind of gentle at me and said, “K.Z., everything’s been took care of. The viewing’s tonight at Moody’s and all you needs to do is to get yourself cleaned up and put on a clean pair of overalls and a clean shirt. Me and Mildred will take you down there and set with you.”

That evening we went down to Moody’s Funeral parlor and I weren’t even prepared for the parade of folks that come in. It looked like the circus was in town. Sheriff Hooper told me that the only difference between these folks and Barnum & Baileys was these characters didn’t have any lions, tigers or elephants with ‘em—other than that, they was all a bunch of animals.

I seen a whole crowd of them too-much-money-not-enough-brains divorced women that drove up from hot-‘lanta in their Beemers and Mercedes. They was all dressed in black shorty dresses wearing lots of pearls and gold jewelry and smelling like the girls over at Sam Bob’s Cat house in Hog Wallow Cove. They had drug up a bunch of cases of some fancy California wine to get drunk on and they was playing old Bob Seegar songs on a boom box. A couple of them had put up a banner with “Jackson’s Girls” in big red letters painted on it. Lordy!

Just when I thought that maybe we might be able to have daddy’s viewing I heard a sound like a thunder storm coming over Painter knob. A whole pack of them Hells Angels pulled up on their Harley motor-scooters in front of Moody’s. Now I knew that daddy liked to take off ever so often on his old Triumph motor-scooter. Shoot, he sent me a post card from Daytona Beach one time of a girl in a bikini swimming suit (she was just about nekkid) all bent over and straddling a big hog motor scooter and smiling like she was inviting you to take a ride. But daddy never told me how he used to hang out with the Hells Angels motor-scooter men.

The leader motor-scooter rider had a patch on his front pocket that said “Eat More Cooze” and his wings on the patch on the back of his jacket was red. Them motor-scooter men and women (yeah they had their women riding on the p-pads) had a moving truck following them full of kegs of beer. As soon as they all pulled up in front of Moody’s and quit revving their engines they jumped off and man-handled some of them kegs of beer onto the lawn of the funeral parlor and commenced to getting drunk. I guess they was a little thirsty from riding up from Florida and all.

As I was standing on the porch of the funeral parlor and thinking that all this was just about enough for little Judaculla Rock I heard a bunch of horses clop-cloppin’ down the street. Damn if there weren’t a bunch of men dressed in Rebel uniforms marching in from out of town. The general-guy leading the soldiers looked right smart and he had them all dismount and point their swords at me and the funeral parlor. All them rebel-men tied their horses to trees and they proceeded to get drunk with the motor-scooter men.

I heard the sounds of singing and testifying coming down the road before a couple of school buses followed by a van with big loud speakers on top of it pulled up in front of Moody’s. Preacher Lonny Watson, from the Holiness Church over towards Glenville was preaching over them loud speakers about salvation and the book of names St. Peter will open up on the last day. Them buses was packed with men and women singing God’s praises and hollering “Amen” ever time Preacher Watson paused to take a breath. One of them Holiness folks was a playing a portable organ and I started tapping my foot in time with the music. Hallelujah!

About that time Cicero come up to me and said, “K.Z., we better get on in and get ready to thank all these folks for coming.” We went in and only a few of them weird people come though. It was mostly town folks. Everybody said that daddy looked real natural and all. I thought he looked dead.

Cicero and Mildred took me back to their house and a bunch more folks come—mostly daddy’s kin from across the Cowee in Macon County. There was a mess of fried chicken to eat, pinto beans, and lots of ‘tater salad. Somebody was passing around some hard liquor too. I got plenty full and tired and went on up to bed. I could hear the shouts way late into the night of the people singing and whooping and hollering on the other side of town in the field by the cemetery. It sounded like they was having a big festival or something. Sheriff Hooper told me later that he and his boys arrested a bunch of them for drunk and disorderly conduct and something called “crimes against nature”, especially after somebody hung a dog from a tree.

The next morning I woke up when Mildred hollered for me to come right down and eat me some breakfast. I ate good; took me a bath, put on a pair of clean overalls and a white shirt and some clean work boots—then we went down to the Church.

Now daddy never had been much for the Church even though he’d been raised Baptist. But since Cicero and Mildred was my daddy’s kin (first cousins) they wanted him to have a little praying over in the Church before we put him in the ground.

Cicero, Mildred and me went on down to the First Baptist Church of Judaculla Rock and we walked on in to the Church basement. Them Church ladies had fixed up a big spread and there was a whole drove of folks stuffing their faces and talking and telling stories about my daddy. Aunt Mimi was there with her husband Judd and she give me a big hug. I about got smothered by her big tits.

A whole bunch of other women come over and hugged me and told me how sorry they was about my daddy and how wonderful his paintings were. I heard a couple of them whispering about how they thought daddy was still going to Hell even if he had been good to me and the town of Judaculla Rock. Their men-folk just shook my hand and looked kind of mournful—like they’d rather be just about any place but there.

Preacher Bryson run the service and he kept it short and sweet. One of the Shuler girls sang “Amazin’ Grace” and we was ready to take daddy up to the cemetery. As Cicero and some of the Sheriff’s boys was carrying daddy out a couple of the rich divorced women started shrieking and having conniption fits over the coffin.

We finally got daddy loaded in the hearse and Cicero, Mildred and me got in the limousine; the motor-scooter men, the rebel-men, the rich divorced women, the holy rollers, an most of the townspeople got behind us and we started driving real slow out to the cemetery. As we was going past the ballfield of the school, Johnny Blanton and some of the town hooligans set off a bunch of firecrackers that liked to scared to death the rebel-men’s horses. A couple of them reared up and almost bolted. The sheriff made Blanton and his bunch clean up after the horses later on.

We finally made it to the cemetery and got the coffin out of the hearse. Thank goodness it weren’t raining or else trying to haul daddy up a muddy hillside would have been a trick and a half as most of the town’s folks was wearing slick-soled Sunday shoes.

When we got up to the hole that Lester Moody and his boys had dug with a backhoe there was a tent thing over it with some chairs for us to set in. Cicero, Mildred and me and a couple of other of daddy’s kin set down and the rest of the crowd stood off aways. Preacher Bryson gave a short prayer where he prayed for “God to take this poor man’s soul into Heaven despite all his iniquities” and Aunt Mildred and them Church ladies was just a crying a river. Then he let Preacher Watson have a crack at it.

Preacher Watson started in on about how “at the resurrection all men will be judged for their carnal, earthly sins” and you could see most of the town’s men-folk kind of drop their heads and look sideways at each other. Preacher Watson got real worked up about the “lake of fire” and how “a lot of the folks standing here today probably would be taking a little swim in it.” Before you knew it all them Holiness folks was a whooping and a hollering, “Praise Jesus” and screeching about “Heaven’s streets of gold.” About a half dozen of them fell out rolling on the ground; speaking in tongues like to beat the band.

About that time one of Moody’s boys hit the switch on them straps that’re supposed to let the coffin down easy into the grave. The coffin jerked once and the straps busted with a loud ‘pop.’ Daddy’s coffin fell down and landed at the bottom of the hole with a boom like a shotgun going off. Before you could say “Jack and the beanstalk” there was a riot commenced amongst the motor-scooter men, the rebel-men, the hot-‘lanta divorced women, and the Holiness folks. Sheriff Hooper and his boys tried to move in and stop all the rioting but there weren’t no stopping them crazy people. Cicero, Mildred an’ me escaped down the hill and piled in the limousine and the driver tore out of there.

Sheriff Hooper told me later on that he had the Governor call up a company of the Army Guard and they had been waiting on the edge of town just in case the sheriff needed them. Well he needed them because all those crazy people commenced to going nuts and tearing up stuff in downtown Judaculla Rock.

The Holiness folks broke into all the restaurants that served beer and liquor and tore ‘em all up. They threw all the alcohol and such out in the street. The Sheriff told me it was something else to see them Hell’s Angels fellers get down on their bellies and lap up the spilled beer and liquor like dogs.

Them rich divorced women commenced to fighting with the rebel fellers and not a few of the rebel fellers beat a hasty retreat back to the cemetery side of town. Although a couple of them rebel fellers did manage to hog tie a couple of them Atlanta women to their saddles and make off for the woods behind the courthouse.

Before the Army Guard was able to clear all them crazy people out of town, the liquor store and a bunch of other places got looted. Marcy’s Furniture Emporium got burnt to the ground because somebody was going nuts shooting emergency flares all over and making it look like the Fourth of July and Halloween all rolled into one.

The last to leave were them Hell’s Angels. All them motor-scooter men had shaved their heads except for a strip down the middle from front to back, and was painted up like they was on the warpath. Their motor-scooter women weren’t wearing no clothes and they was painted all over—even their private parts.

The Hells Angels had been drag racing their Harley’s up and down main street and riding into stores and terrorizing everybody. At the very end of the riot the last of the motor-scooter men rode out of town dragging a nekkid store manikin he’d looted from Parsons Department Store on a rope behind his Harley. He was hollering that they weren’t done with Judaculla Rock and they’d be back.

Well I guess I guess I done cried enough about my daddy’s funeral here in Judaculla Rock in Jefferson County. If that fancy-pants New York magazine wants to print it, I could care less. It weren’t their funeral. I got to get back to my picture-painting like my daddy taught me. Seems like them snooty hot-‘lanta folks like my paintings too. Lord, I’ll always miss him though. He was a helluva picture-painter and a good daddy too.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Taking Them Home

Christmas parades all over the land;
High school bands marching down Main Street.
Baton twirlers leaping towards the sky;
Fire engines with flashing lights and blowing sirens.

Pretty girls waving from convertibles;
Fat, laughing Santas throw candy from the floats.
Little children chase after the tossed treats into the street.
Everyone laughing, all are smiling.

Yet back in the shadows, some watch in silence;
Little girls and boys who didn’t make it to Christmas;
Their lives cut short by horrible abuse.
None wants to remember or even to care.

After the parade,
The noises extinguished,
The bright lights darkened,
Families gone away.

An angel floats up the street
All smiles and love.
Embracing the waiting children;
Taking them Home.

Chuck Connors, December 8, 2009

Gray Missiles

Sleek gray missiles knifing cleanly through the air;
Winging their way through the skies wide and clear;
Thousands of birds borne upon the winds;
Hundreds of squadrons on an ancient mission.

The oldest and strongest lead the flights;
The young and the weak follow behind.
“Honka, honka,” the lead ganders give the cry;
Straight on, fly true, for thousands of miles.

The lead birds slipping back from time-to-time;
Resting in the slipstream of others ahead.
Primitive missiles slipping through the gray fog of clouds;
Flying by the stars—a wing and a prayer.

Up ahead, up ahead, far on the horizon;
A shining sheet of water beckons the birds.
A scout—a mature gander, surveys the sectors;
Reconnoitering the ponds for hidden, deadly dangers.

When the “all clear” signal is given,
The squadrons land flight by flight.
Until all come to rest in blissful cacophony;
Home again—until the great migration—next year.

Chuck Connors, December 1, 2009

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Another Universe

Riding over to Asheville on a chilly wintry day,
Going to the movies at a Sunday matinee.
Will I meet up with my new friend?
Or will I fail to connect again?
Only time will tell about us—
Whether we hit it off or not.
Saw a Sandra Bullock film;
It just might win an Oscar too.
Afterwards, conversation over coffee;
Gazing into her dark eyes;
Diving into another universe.

Chuck Connors, December 6, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Secrets of the Past

Dark fall days, night falls early
Mountains loom black, against an indigo sky
First star of the evening, twinkles brightly in the west
People scurry home, like squirrels scampering to their nests
Early Christmas decorations, light up the avenues
Window shoppers gaze expectantly, at toys in store windows
Strangers pass in the night, mouthing holiday greetings
Houses in the neighborhoods, cozy and warm
Yet something’s not right, not quite definable
Could it be something else, too dark to share?
Hiding secrets of the past; tortured memories in today.

Chuck Connors, November 18, 2009

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pass This Way

Blue, blue farscape,
Wave upon wave of mountains.
What others strode here before me?
Did they marvel at what they saw?

Earth seems so empty,
Trackless forests, fields and hills.
I feel the spirits of the old ones
As they pass this way still.

Chuck Connors, November 21, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

Dress Rehearsal

Little girl running on the sidewalk, how far from your mother will you go?
Is running a dress rehearsal for adulthood?
Or is it just a game,
Something only a child would know?

Skipping back and forth on the sidewalk
A little further every time
Seems like so much of my life
Has been wasted on song and wine

And when I vacillated so much
Not sure of what to do
Shying away like a young fool
From a lover’s gentle touch

Little girl running away from her mother
So pure and innocent still
All of us running away from something
Things hidden too well from each other

All of us run on the sidewalk
A poignant leave-taking we all must make
Leavings are full of heartbreak
A journey we all must take

Chuck Connors, October 30, 2009

Who You Really Are

Whenever I think of you
It’s always your wonderful eyes
Windows of the soul
Love lights on the world

At times I’ve seen your anger
Flashing eyes, storm clouds and wind
Other times I see the hurt and pain
The past re-played again

Our eyes show our soul-strength
The strength to hold to life itself
A tremendous strength of will
Who of us perseveres, only time will tell?

Through your eyes sometimes I see the joy,
A girl’s heart shining through
Now the loving, caring woman
Someone special and brand new

Chuck Connors, November 8, 2009

Second Life

Past the midnight hour, way into the small hours of the night
I sit staring into the blackness, pondering what’s wrong and what’s right
Should I have grimaced and told the truth, risking all on trust and empathy
Or told sweet lies with a straight face, getting what I want without frippery

No answers come this late, only questions seem to grow
The pain of living hits me hardest when I’m all alone below
My only chance is to help another—someone facing more pain than I
When I give my hope to others—it takes away the lie

And when the sun finally rises, another chance will come my way
Receiving the opportunity, sharing hope for another day
I finally shed my guilt and pain, renewed in heart and form
A second life I’m given, for today I am reborn

Chuck Connors, November 1, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

How I escaped from the craft store with my masculinity intact

Editor’s note: This is a work of autobiographical fiction. Some of the facts have been changed to protect the dumb, foolish and outright scared.

I was taken to the craft store the other day searching for Halloween costume brick-a brack. Two other wusses, I mean men were there and they were obviously terrified.
As they were pulled along by their female captors they had anxious fearful looks on their faces which shouted silently, “Help Me!” Glancing over my shoulder, I caught them, like me, making furtive, trapped glances towards the exits hoping to catch an unwatched moment by their torturers so that they could make a last ditch dash for freedom and the life of blissful masculinity that they once knew.

Despite my protests I was dragged further into the suffocating, poisonous atmosphere of scrap booking sets and evil-looking Vanna White crocheting books and I immediately became lost trying to discover the “finding” aisle (whatever that is). Although my lady friend Catherine had explained several times, “oh it’s where the beads and bangles, clasps and pins—bracelet wires of every description and a whole lot of other neat stuff are.” All of this useless information (to me) was enough to make my head swim with strange forbidden thoughts such as, “my isn’t that pink bauble thingy pretty” and “ oh, how that color goes so well with that other color on that shiny fabric.” Needless to say she grabbed me roughly by the arm and pulled me towards my impending doom. Fortunately, just as I thought that I was going to have to call my local community college and enroll in the home decorator classes Catherine said looking at me sadly, “well, since you’re sooo hungry I guess we’d better go if we’re going to get a seat at the restaurant before it closes.”

As we were leaving the woman at the cash register took my money for the costume ‘gee gaws’ I had gotten and said “ya’ll come back now, okay?” I smiled a nervous smile at her and stuffing my change hurriedly into my pocket, rushed for the front doors flanked by the huge black cat statues hoping desperately that the electronic locks would let me through. Thankfully they malfunctioned and I broke free into the cool, masculine-redeeming night only a somewhat tainted man—for now. Happy Halloween ya’ll!

Chuck Connors, October 24, 2009

Dream Girl

I catch brief glimpses of you late at night when I fall asleep.
In my dreams we pass each other, your hair flying in the wind.
Your eyes shine with excitement and
You boldly laugh at the promise of a new day.
Waiting for you seems like forever.
Yet I must wait, for there can be no other.
Will we ever meet dream girl? Or will we smile and pass each other,
Moving on to other worlds and dreams?

Chuck Connors, October 22, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

Zoom Zoom

A magic carpet of colors
Flying up the highest ridges
Swooping down the mountain sides
Engulfing the valleys in lakes of light

Zoom zoom across the rivers
Way up high in the air
Reflecting the reds, oranges, greens, and gold’s
Splashes of rainbow colors slide down the streams

Autumn is the season of change
Wet and chilly, crisp and clean
Trees shimmer in the afternoon light
A smorgasbord of colors everywhere

Nature performs a shiveree—
raucous celebration of the transition of life
Puts on Her wanton best; dares you to condemn Her
Picks up Her skirts, smiles and flies away

Theatrical Play

A blanket of color, a riot of rainbows
Clothes the ridges and peaks of my home
Moving beams of golden sunlight
Light up the mountains
God’s theatrical play in motion

Leaf-lookers on the Road

Sunlight slanting on the ridge tops
Burning polka-dots of red, orange and gold
A glowering of dark gray clouds

Sharpens the sunset,
highlights the colors,
gladdens the eye

Leaf-lookers like ants along the highways
clogging up traffic, taking pictures of the trees
Why can’t these gawkers appreciate God’s creation

in their own towns,
and fields?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Fairy Walking

The magic of walking under the gaze of a full moon,
leaves me breathless in its stunning entirety
Walking by your side I can think of nothing else;
the two of us wraith-like, holding hands

Our actions balanced on a knife-edge;
between two worlds—the past and the future
Small animals rustle in the leaves,
inviting us to rustic delights

What magic happens when two people meet each other,
Intersecting lives from two different paths?
Looking at you, smiles pass between us;
knowing without a doubt, what Forever means

Chuck Connors, October 5, 2009

Harvest Moon of October

Squash, beans, corn, tomatoes,
ready for the gatherin’;
summer’s bounty ripe in the fields

Full moon of October
turns night into day
Creator’s gift to help us reap the goodness

Under the light of the big fat moon;
working in the fields, gathering in the crops,
the harvesters seem more ghostly than real

Throwing the hay bales on the wagon,
digging the taters from the ground,
pulling the last ear of corn off the stalk

Put up the jars of beans on the shelf,
store the taters and apples in the cellar,
hang the gourds in the rafters to dry

A chill’s in the air, first frost’s comin’ soon;
finishing up the harvest—barn’s burstin’ at the seams
under the glow of the Harvest moon

Chuck Connors, October 3, 2009

Gateway to the West

On animal trails, aboriginal footpaths and settler traces;
men, women and children moved across the continent
Struggling through the narrow cracks in the cliffs;
twisting, winding, ever moving upwards into the clouds

Settlers trudging up from the lowlands;
into the gaps they came,
into the gaps and mountain passes,
through the open places in the Great Blue Wall

Animals and men toiling together up from the piedmont,
choking on dust, slipping on clay
Leaving the old life behind, looking forwards,
ever westward towards the setting sun

Families moving with packhorses,
sometimes a rickety old wagon
Moving a few miles each day,
making camp before dark

By the wayside, piles of possessions
folks just couldn’t carry anymore
Pass a battered dresser, an old shadow cut of grandma;
family keepsakes—left behind

Rising before light; fry some side meat, boil some coffee;
hitch up the team, move a few more miles
Each day a little closer, just a little closer
to that Eden somewhere far to the West

All those people, moving westward;
settling a continent, building a country
Would I have the courage
to do the same—today?

Chuck Connors, September 20, 2009

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Tree Frogs

Tiny tree frog, tiny tree frog,
Though there’s millions like you;
You’re unique and individual,
One of a very few

Chirping tree frogs, chirping tree frogs,
The roar of your voices drowns all;
I see you among the leaves,
Covering the tree bark in the fall

Little tree frogs, little tree frogs,
Going chirp, chirp, on a branch;
Your voices tell me summer’s almost over,
Time to get ready for winter’s chance

Dying tree frogs, dying tree frogs,
You’re lives are almost done;
Will I see you next year?
How will I know you’re the one?

Chuck Connors, September 26, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009

'Coons Across the Creek

Late at night the ‘coons would come from across the creek
to noisily eat at our dog’s bowl.

The mama ‘coon would bring her kits,
stepping so lightly on the dry stones in the creek.
One-by-one each would quickly leap
from dry stone to dry stone until all were safely across.

They would cross the old country road in front of our property,
carefully looking both ways for errant farm hands coming back from town after an evening of drinking in the town’s one saloon.

Parading up the hill single file, like wild Indians on the warpath; the ‘coons came to the back of our house to eat their supper from Butterball’s bowl. Squabbling noisily amongst themselves to see who would get the last tidbits the ‘coons would lick the bowl clean.

Until the moon rose in the east casting ghost-like shadows across the world,
when the ‘coons would file one-by-one disappearing across the creek.

Chuck Conners, September 19, 2009

Playing with the Cows

When I was a kid everybody said cattle were about the dumbest animals around.
Uncle Homer said “you can’t drive cattle from one 20 acre field to another
without some of ‘em trying to go through the fence instead of the gate!”
But I knew it wasn’t true because my friends the calves and me would play games during the summer in the field behind the barn.

Each summer’s morning when the dew was still damp upon the grass I’d take the sweet feed for the half-grown heifers and steers up to where they were pastured. I’d call the calves with a song—a song of playfulness, until all of them came near.

One-by-one and two-by-two the big calves would prance up to me. Sometimes it would seem as if they were almost smiling, happy to see me; and frisky, kicking their heels this way and that.

After all were fed it was playtime and I’d tag one and say, “you’re it” while the rest of us scampered in all directions. The chosen calf would chase each one of us until the whole field was a free-for-all of flying hooves and swinging tails. When we were tired we’d all pile up under the shade of a big old oak tree and pant for breath while my friends switched lazily at flies with their tails.

Too quickly, autumn came and I had to go back to school. It was the year that I was nine and was in fourth grade. But each afternoon when I came home the games of hide-in-go-seek and chase-the-tail were renewed with my friends the calves.

One day I came home to an empty field. I ran desperately looking everywhere. My father came to me and said, “son we had to sell the calves to make the mortgage on the farm.” I was distraught for days.

From that time onwards I never played with the new calves because I knew someday they’d be sold too.

Chuck Connors, September 19, 2009

Monday, September 21, 2009

Little Foxes

Dreary, foggy, rainy days;
days when most people
want to stay inside and read and sleep

While little birds hide in the bushes,
feathers wet and dripping, looking dejected;
peeping forlornly, fearful of predators

The land covered with a diffuse, mellow light;
neither day or night, it seems to go on forever,
twilight from early morning until black night

One late summer’s day I took a walk in the rain
Listening to the raindrops pattering on the leaves;
like an army of magical munchkins marching rowdily across the sky

Climbing a mountain, the cold rain wetted me to the skin;
the shards of wetness trickled like icy fingers running down my back
Topping a rise I saw two little foxes cavorting, dancing with each other

One moved right, the other moved left, their eyes intent on each other;
both standing shakily on their hind legs,
like small children taking their first uncertain steps

Chuck Connors, September 16, 2009

Land of Puzzling Tales

What about relations between men and women?
Why is it that we fuss and fight (or worse)?

Do you think it was different in the beginning
when we were running around in fig leaves?

Could it be we’re opposite sides of the same coin;
Human and definitely not perfect also?

Or are we really from different planets;
women from Venus and men from Mars?

We live in a time caught between good and evil,
a strange place seemingly neither here or there.

One day its scream and shout; the next, kiss me darling;
sounds bipolar to me—pretty crazy yeah.

I only know we share a common goal:
the continuation of the human race.

One day we’ll travel out to the planets,
to the stars and maybe beyond.

When that day comes I know one thing won’t have changed.
Men and Women will still live in the land of puzzling tales...

Chuck Connors, September 14, 2009

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Purple Harvest

Padding through the forest feeling kinda’ mean
Sniffed peculiar bushes, their leaves the palest green

Got a bit closer, what’s hangin’ from them leaves?
Dark, round blueberries, a purple harvest just for me

Pop ‘em in my mouth, scrunch, scrunch, scrunch
Big juicy blueberries, cheeks, fill ‘em up like a chipmunk

Can’t stop eaten’ ‘em as I move from bush-to-bush
A blueberry feast goin’ swoosh, swoosh, swoosh

Uh oh, what’s that? I hear a strange noise
Them two-legged things, two big-mouthed boys

Here they are a comin’, stealin’ all my winter’s food
Can’t get a full meal, how could they be so rude?

Take off down the mountain with a grunt and a snort
Headin’ to the campground, I’ll take some of their gorp!

Chuck Connors, August 29, 2009

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Campfire--Redux

Deep in the primeval forest
Way past the back of beyond
A cheery glow in a secret glen welcomes the traveler anon

Outside the sphere of the campfire
The shadows dance around
Our faces contemplative—no cares and certainly no frowns

The fragrant logs pop and hiss
And slowly disappear
We think we control nature and so have lost our fear

I step out in the darkness
And look up to the sky
Beholding God’s creation and still I wonder why

What does it all mean?
Is there anyone who cares?
It seems to me the dark power has set these little snares!

For while I scan the heavens
A shooting star comes to earth from sky
God’s perfect picture, sent to me before I die

With so much self-importance, we strut across the stage
We disregard the wisdom, of all the ancient sages
Hoping that our childish acts will somehow last the ages

What measure of a man?
Does he leave anything at all?
Or can he only face death, standing straight and tall?

We live to help each other
A kindly word, a little smile
Giving love and helpful friendship, to each other all the while

And so seems it must be
For us to pass on to the night
Some how I believe, it gives us second sight

And if I could live forever more
And pass each day as one
It would be around a campfire, sharing with all until we’re done…

For Jimmy Thomas, September 7, 2009

Chuck Connors, September 7, 2009

The Mountains are on Fire

The mountains are on fire, the mountains are on fire,
Great jagged peaks burning one-by-one,
Outsiders comin’ in, settin’ the mountains on fire;
Wide swatches of destruction across the land.

Whole ranges of the mountains are on fire,
Giant trees fall--soldiers in a vicious war,
Furriners crowd in, build huge trophy homes;
Infest the ridge tops—light up the sky.

Our precious homes, the mountains are on fire,
Another heart-rending turn on an ancient wheel,
Will you and I stand up to the mountain destroyers?
Will you and I become soldiers for the land?

A whole world of mountains are on fire,
What is it that you want me to do?
Take action my friend; take action against the rapists,
Before the annihilation is complete and our whole land forever gone.

Chuck Connors, July 18, 2009

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Aunt Lucille Whups the Bear

This story is about to be published in an anthology from the North Carolina Writer's Network:

Some of ya’ll might have heard about the bear that staged a break-in at the
WNC Nature Center in Asheville awhile back. Accordin’ to media reports a yearling black bear scaled a ten foot fence and dropped in to do a little visitin’ with the center’s herd of deer. Bob Fay, the nature center’s critter curator, said the deer “didn’t much appreciate the visitor.” Why wouldn’t Bambi welcome a friendly visit with his ole buddy Smokey the Bear?
Speakin’ of visitin’ that reminds me of the time brother bear visited my Aunt
Lucille. Aunt Lucille was a nurse up at C.J. Harris hospital and a lot of times she’d work over-time and get back to the house pretty late. Her husband Rufus would leave the back door unlocked when he left to go to work at the mill in Sylva ‘cause sometimes Aunt Lucille would forget her key to the house. The bolt on the back door didn’t catch too well and Aunt Lucille had been pestern’ Uncle Rufus to fix it for the longest time.You know how us men-folks can be with those honey-do’s though.

It had been a cool spring with a late freeze and most of the berries and such that bears and other critters in the woods ate just weren’t coming out. A big ‘ole black boar bear happened to be huntin’ up some garbage cans close to town and scented Aunt Lucille’s pot roast simmerin’ on the back of the stove. He peered into the house and spotted a plate of cookies settin’ on the kitchen table like they was just waiting for him! Well it weren’t long ‘fore brother bear just happened to nose up to the back door and give it a little push. The pearly gates opened up and brother bear was in heaven!

First, brother bear devoured the oatmeal-raisin cookies on the kitchen table.
Like a lot of us folks brother bear’s motto was dessert first main course later.
Next he attacked the pot roast on the back of the stove—sliding it frontwards and spilling the juicy meat and vegetables all over the kitchen floor. A perfect mess!

After devouring the tasty pot roast off the kitchen floor, brother bear smelled a strange scent coming from the pantry. He ambled over to the pantry door pushing it open. There sittin’ in the corner was Uncle Rufus’ beer crock plum full of strong bubblybrew. After chowing down on the cookies and the pot roast brother bear had a powerful thirst. He knocked the heavy clay top off and commenced to slurpin’ up Uncle Rufus’ best homebrew.

When ‘ole brother bear was done he belched contentedly and feeling a little
sleepy padded up the stairs wobbling from side-to-side. Nosing the bedroom door open
brother bear saw Lucille and Rufus’ bed which looked just fine for a post-feast nap.
Aunt Lucille came home to find the back door wide open to the world. She
took one look at the hog wallow in her kitchen and just about had a hissy fit.
“That man,” she thought, “he’s a gonna get my broom on his backside” as she
commenced to cleanin’ up.

When Aunt Lucille got done cleaning up the mess she was plum wore
Out. As she started to the head of the stairs she could hear the snorin’ and thought to herself, “Rufe ate all that pot roast, cleaned out the brewin’ crock of homemade beer and now it sounds like he’s logging the whole forest. Can’t I ever get any rest?”

The light was burnt out in the hallway and Aunt Lucille felt her way up the stairs to the bedroom that she and Uncle Rufus shared. As she opened the door the snoring from brother bear sounded like hogs tussling over the feeding trough. Aunt Lucille got into her night gown and slippin’ into bed gave brother bear a poke with her elbow and said “Rufe quiet down so’s I can get a little sleep.” Brother bear grunted and shifted in his home brew induced stupor.

When brother bear wouldn’t quit snoring Aunt Lucille gave the bruin a little
nudge with her hip. Well brother bear didn’t like that too much and gave out a little growl that made Lucille sit up and take notice. She took one look at who her bed partner was and sprang out of bed like she’d seen the Booger man himself!
Aunt Lucille grabbed the broom settin’ in the corner and commenced to chasin’
brother bear ‘round the room. Just when she was gainin’ on him the bear would give a
little jump and get away. Finally, Aunt Lucille cornered the poor drunken bruin by the dresser and gave him a good whop with the broom. Brother bear saw his chance and
leaped towards the window like one of them gold medal winnin’ Olympic high jumpers
and crashed right through it. Aunt Lucille rushed to the window and all she could see was brother bear high-tailin’ it for the woods like a thirsty man headed for his still.

After that little incident Aunt Lucille made sure Uncle Rufus fixed that bolt on the
back door. So the next time you see brother bear pokin’ ‘round the backyard of your
‘little house in the big woods’ just remember he’s hungry and it’s his front yard!

The Bones of the Hills

The bones of the hills, these ancient rocks,
First laid down untold eons ago

The foundations of the Appalachians, strong and cold
Hidden away from prying eyes, secrets in the earth

These ancient mountains, the backbone of Pangaea
super continent, of the entire world!

The super Appalachians fierce and proud,
stretching to Scotland--all the way to Africa!

Mighty Granite, Schist, Gneiss, Shale, Igneous and Sandstone rocks,
Their weathered forms, what we see today

Ancient volcanoes, continents forming,
Ripping apart, change from a restless earth!

Stretching out on the rocks, in the bright sunlight
Absorbing the warmth, of a summer’s day

From what once were the fires of hell itself
Bones faded and exposed, now only warm to the touch

Chuck Connors, June 30, 2009

Nighttime in the Country

Nighttime in the country, the shadows dark and deep
Fireflies all a’ glitter, the frogs chirp a roaring peep!

The critters of the night move stealthily from bush to hay
The baby skunks and tiny possums come out to snack and play

The riot of nocturnal flowers, their scent so sweet and full
The first cutting of the hay, the greased implements in the shed of tools

I gaze across the land, breathe in the wonder of the night
Could it be that I am hungry for more than just the sight?

To live a good and just life, a life that gives back to all the rest
Sharing with each other is really the ultimate test

We stare up at the lights, each one alone it seems
What gains a man the whole world if he cannot share his dreams?

Nighttime in the country, the quiet takes my soul
Under a billion stars I once again become whole.

Chuck Connors, May 30, 2009