Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Salt of the Earth ( Hillbillyzen )

While camping in Virginia
just east of Kentucky north of Tennesee.
I took a walk deep in the wood
just to enjoy the scenery.

I came upon an old farmstead
with an old-timer on a old time rocking chair.
His face was leathered by sun,
wrinkled - worn and greying hair

a jug of moonshine was at his feet
beside him snored a blue tick hound
the dog sniffed and barked at my approach
the old man jerked and looked around

he turned his reumy eyes on me
and smiled at me with a gap-toothed grin
I said "What's that you're drinking, Zeb ?
High test corn or bathtub gin ?"

Boy, you callin me a drunk ?
You think I like to drink ?
Causin if you do, I've news for you,
perhaps you'd best re-think.

I was born my father's son
as my father was before me.
Our family crossed the ocean wide
to a land that then was free.

We cleared the forest, we cultivated the land
we worked hard - you understand ?
We raised generations one by one
from dawn until the setting sun / son.

In God's country we grew corn
fed kin and livestock...
We had a vegetable garden where we grew
cabbage - tators - pole beans - t'maters too.
We canned and stocked our larder,
what was left we gave to friends
or to people that were in need.

We all pulled together - we all looked after our brother.
Where did those days go ?

The corn that grew in fertile soil with God's blessing was full.
More than we could ever give away,
waste not / want not - we took the rest
up in the hill to Pappy's still

We soaked sour mash - we added malt.
We stirred it up and made a beer.
We strained it good - we lit a fire.
We drained the beer into the still...
boiler thumping - copper tube hissing,
draw some off and take a bead.

There was an art to making shine

When it was done and right
you could drink it and it would sit in your mouth
as sweet as branch water.
Swallow and it would gently warm yer innards
until it lit a pleasant fire in the pit of your stomach.
That kinda lickker is as rare as a honest pol-tician

Survival or tradition, we put into the land
what we took out of the land.
The land was in our blood
we would spill our blood over our land.
The flesh, blood and sweat of our fathers enriched it,
the tears of our mothers watered it
and so gave of themselves to future generations.
You think I'm a drunk - think again...
What will you be allowed to give your children ?

The goverment made us stop makin our own whiskey.
They passed a tax law that took the profit away
then with pro-bition, the profit lost was took back again.
When repealed - in bottles bonded - uncle Sam smiled once more
profit given to the rich - welfare given to the poor

So I carry on and I taught my son
to try to work and make his own way.
And I'll stand proud and I'll stand tall
when I stand before God on judgment day.
And if you look at me and all you can see is a hillbilly drunk
I'll have you know, that hit ain't so,
how far now has our country sunk ?
How much lower can it go ?

In his cloudy eyes I saw tears uncried,
shame and sadness washed over me.
He said he took a sip every now and again
to remind him of how sweet life used to be.
I hate to admit, but I turned away
there was nothing for me to say that day,
but I still ponder every now and then
the wise old man and his hillbilly zen.

-.-. .-. . .- - --- .-.   -... .   .-- .. - ....   ..- ...  Mitch Fuqua

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