Southern Legitimacy Statement: I grew up in the capital of the Confederacy, a stone’s throw from the James River. My dad grew up on Monument Avenue, a stone’s throw from the Jefferson Davis monument. My grandpa used to say “you can’t beat a dead mule and expect him to pull the cart.”
You talk slow, you think slow, I overheard
my freshman roommate say
to my other roommate, who teased me
about my y’alls, my yonder’s.
They branded my accent—
or tobacco-barker’s cry.
First week of classes culminated
with all-night poker in the dorm floor
lounge—Pabst Blue Ribbon, a circular table
with five guys wearing Yankees
baseball caps and me, folding my lousy
hand and letting slip from my mouth an
it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.
They start called me Hill of Beans.
That fall and winter of my freshman year
I kept my mouth shut in public, as in private
I practiced scooping the gnat of my accent
out of my glass of Southern Comfort,
scooping it out, before it drowned.