by Gayle Compton


The whole world’s gone crazy!
Gone hog wild over Elvis Presley and that
old sinful rock and roll!
Daddy slams his big coal miner’s fist
on the supper table
sloshing red rot Krogers Spotlight coffee
all over Mother’s new white table cloth
priced at a dollar but knocked down
to a quarter
at the Abundant Tithings True Gospel Church
of the Heaven Bound
rummage sale mouth of Doc Bill.
The world’s gone crazy
and the baby lets go of the titty,
bawling and showing his gums
over this Elvis thing.
Get it on your mind!
That old Elvis singing about a hound dog,
shaking that leg
and girls screaming and passing out
like a bunch of Pentecostals
slain in the spirit.
A truck driver from Mississippi 
in a jailbird suit,
shaking that leg, curling that lip,
just wants to be your Teddy bear.
Teddy bear my Virgie, Kentucky, hind end!
The world’s gone crazy, the world’s
“all shook up.”
The cat runs under the bed, the dog
crawls under the porch.
If I weren’t a god-fearing, blood-bought,
born again Christian
I’d ask the Lord to paralyze that left leg
stiffer than a fence post.
Mark my words, the End is near.  
The old horny-headed devil is on the loose, 
wearing blue suede shoes
and driving a pink Cadillac.
Pour me another cup of that coffee, Avalene,
and turn on the  radio.
I’ll show you what I mean.

Cold Cocked

Ungroomed and randy Apollo stud,
Mott Blackburn, shucked down, drawers on a limb,
takes his Sunday bath in the silt-fed creek
by the washing plant (Apache No. 5).

Shakes his old whatchamacallit (penis erectus)                                                         
at good women on the way to church:
bunned and bee-hived Old Regular Baptists, foot-washing Freewills
and Holy Ghost-filled Pentecostals
turning one by one into pillars of salt.

Where the road forks at the Jot’m Down
he lives to stalk the dog-muzzled, blue-assed baboon
(papio ursivus) through the chin-high broom sage–
never missing a shot–
save for the errant Remington long rife, copper-coated hollow point
that got Minis Calhoun in the forks of his galluses
in the hot August noon.         

One hour past the dayshift whistle,
Mott Blackburn, barefoot and shirtless
robs the motor barn 
of 10 gallons of  high-gloss, heavy-duty, Joy orange paint;
Puts twelve coats on his Corvair and two on his cow
(dyspeptic domesticated bovine)
with a four-inch brush,
gloved and booted in the night sweat, moth swarm, cusp of new moon.

Unable to sleep for the banjo-eyed bullfrogs (rana catesbeiana)
swinging from the curtains
and melon-headed moon men peeping through the window,                       
Mott rides herd on the fleet and flatulent
Two-toed sloth, Chawbacca, Baloo and Rudyard Kipling.

Mott Blackburn, BA, MA, PhD, was a zoology professor
before his brother Caleb cold cocked him with a
ball-peen hammer in the hot August noon.

The Formosa

Some would call you a weed,
you whose seed was sown
by the “fowls of the air,”
O tree whose name is “Beautiful.”

It is a haughty mountain
that wears your Persian jewels,
a not so humble valley
that flaunts your pink and silken fans.

From out of the wall of thundering earth,
out of the smoke that steals
your fragrant breath
the “slouching beast” has come.

Shall I rue this day, or gaze the ebbing hour
upon your fancy dress.
Should I curse the sun that sets too soon,
even before the twilight closing of your leaves.

Proud flower of summer,
you will come again.
In one hundred years your garlanded arms will hold
the bee, the finch and hummingbird.
O bright tree, be not late
to gladden these sorrowing hills.

About the Author:

Gayle Compton

Gayle Compton is a redneck hillbilly from Eastern Kentucky. His stories, poems and articles on the Appalachian experience have been published widely. Gayle lives with his wife Sharon near Pikeville, Kentucky, capitol of coal mining and internecine feuding.