Southern Legitimacy Statement: Not a native but I have settled in both Carolinas longer than an eye on a tater. Appreciating over a duo of decades away from kin and my midwestern roots to savor Blue Ridge mountain hikes and white-water rafting somewhere under thick foggy mornings and red clay bursting with rhododendrons while living in the Carolina dubbed North. Then relishing oyster roasts, dragon boat racing, beaches, sweet tea, and Saint Cecilia Society Punch under live oaks while residing in the Carolina named South. My creative writing and poetry has flourished under the saturating humidity and the peaks along the Carolina Continental Divide.
Gift Shop Jesus
Weary bickering traveling families
pull into a gift shop off the turnpike
to browse in search of a cheap memento.
Pecan rolls, rows of shot glasses,
lewd tin humorous signs, bumper stickers,
T-shirts or postcards abound,
and by the cash register
a freezer of individual ice cream treats
to balm the cranky stiff and contorted bodies.
Yet over on the paneled wall near the bathrooms,
next to black velvet framed paintings of Elvis
are several diagonally cut tree trunk planks
each decoupage with the word inspiration
under a yellowed sepia muted pensive searching your soul with his eyes
portrait of Jesus which ends up journeying home
to be mounted on many paneled living room walls across America.