Sep 21, 2018

Today’s poem is “Nope” by Adrian Blevins from her third book of poems, Appalachians Run Amok. She is also the author of Live from the Homesick Jamboree and The Brass Girl Brouhaha; two chapbooks; and Walk Till the Dogs Get Mean, a co-edited collection of essays by contemporary Appalachian poets and writers. She teaches at Colby College.

She writes, “The poems in Appalachians Run Amok are an attempt to celebrate rural Appalachians, and to complain also a bit about them and myself for being occasionally nostalgic for a simple past that never was. Mountain people are a lot like Mainers--they're fierce and independent and ornery, as we'd say back home. They are set in their ways. They are not fond of change. Yet they have also been systematically brutalized by a narrative that looks at them through a lens that privileges money and the making of money over ingenuity, self-sufficiency, loyalty to family, and many other virtues it might be smart to bring back to America right about now.”

by Adrian Blevins

As for yes I’ve been against it
since ballet & I refused to leap
like a little white flag in the gym
& I refused to skate on blades
if there was ice which there was not
& I refused to ride in the backs of trucks
& did not kill my mother & father
& did not not want to either
& did not wear red bandannas
or gyrate with tassel & baton
in the Jesus parade or go door to door
with The Old Farmer’s Almanac
or curl my hair except for that
one blue summer after the 7th grade
or talk with other girls about how
to fix my face or go with them
to the mall to steal bikinis there
or just lean hot against a swanky pillar
until a cowboy came by if “cowboy”
is the right word for southwest Virginia
since there were no priests back then
in the motherland. There’s just lichen
now in the motherland. Just lichen
& other forms of algae in the motherland
& vines & moss in the graveyards
of the motherland whereas before
at least in Bristol there was Valleydale Foods
& hence wild gangs of handsome butchers
who’d knock on your door on Sundays
to see if you wanted any hog meat
for the freezer you didn’t have in your basement
like the God you didn’t have down there either
but just crickets & webs & things gone flat
like the tires on the bikes you didn’t ride
& the tubes you didn’t float slow
saying yes O yes down that olden river on. 

Poem copyright ©2018 Adrian Blevins. Reprinted from Appalachians Run Amok, Two Sylvias Press, 2018, by permission of Adrian Blevins.