Lenny Lianne: When Rains Were Frog Chokers


My Southern Legitimacy Statement: I spent the first five-eighth of my life, the formative years, in Virginia and come from Southerners with a love of language and landscape, good storytellers. My ideal meal would be a tall glass of iced sweet tea, hot buttermilk biscuits, sugar-glazed ham, Southern-style green beans and a sweet potato casserole followed by a warm slice of pecan pie.

When Rains Were Frog Chokers

Sit you little self down was the way
Dad began his stories, taking his own
sweet time to unspool them, especially

the ones way back when he was
knee-high to a grasshopper, when rains
were frog chokers or gully washers.

Then there were those trips, an hour
as the crow flies, to the great-aunts.
The car was chock-a-block full with us

in our Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clothes
when Dad let out the clutch and
proclaimed, We’re off like a herd of turtles.

My dad also liked to say lickety-split,
savoring the way it made his mouth
spread into a smile, pucker, then relax

and he enjoyed a cheery okey-dokey and
hunkey dorey, how they gave affirmation
a sudden sprinkling of flippancy.

Hell’s bells, darn tootin’, piffle
and horsefeathers had become
(alas!) extinct. But there remained

thingamabob, whatchamacallit and
cattywampus to cavort and wallow in
like a little boy with a puddle.

The older he became, the more he’d claim
to luxuriate in his language the way
a dog rolls in the grass to scratch an itch.