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from between the plow handles (1932) Editors’ Note: Published on September 25, 1932, by the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee, this undersized paperback chapbook consists of thirty-two pages and notes West as being the “author of Crabgrass and Deep, Deep Down in Living.” The collection is dedicated to “M.C.W.,” West’s wife, Mabel Connie (Adams) West. The chapbook acknowledges the editors of eight periodicals for prior publications. A’Callin’ Home th’ Hogs “Pig-o, pig-o, pig-o-o-ee, Pig-o, pig-o, pig-o-o-ee.” “Whut’s thet echo, Lurey, Whitherin’ down Oak Hill, Over Devil’s Holler Whur’ th’ night’s so still? See them whick’rin’ shaders Wimplin’ by thet tree, Goin’ toward th’ echoes— Wonder whut they’d be . . . ?” “Pig-o, pig-o, pig-o-o-ee.” “Nother gin, Lurey, Cross th’ marshy bogs!” “It’s ole Kim Mulkey Callin’ home th’ hogs.” 02.Poems.97-194/West 12/2/03, 11:49 AM 112 selected poems 113 “Since last mast season When chestnut burs was spread, Ole Kim Mulkey’s Been livin’ with th’ dead. Nearly bout a year now Ole Kim’s been away— Sumpen calls th’ hogs home, Eve of ever’ day.” “Listen, Lurey girl, Th’ hush of them frogs When ole Kim Mulkey Comes to call his hogs!” “Lurey, hain’t hit lonesome, Whutherin’ through th’ fogs— Sound of ole Kim Mulkey Tollin’ home his hogs.” “Pig-o, pig-o, pig-o-o-ee, Pig-o, pig-o, pig-o-o-ee.” “It’s ole Kim Mulkey Callin’ home th’ hogs.” Dark Winds Dark winds, Winds creepin’ down frum th’ mountins To stinky mills, Callin’ my longings Back to th’ hills. Smoke winds, Fouled with dirt frum th’ sutty stacks Of a fact’ry, A-scrougin’ fer room An’ blackin’ me. 02.Poems.97-194/West 12/2/03, 11:49 AM 113 no lonesome road 114 Deep winds, I feel them blowin’ in th’ streets An’ when alone, Dulled by th’ fact’ry’s Dull monotone. Sad winds, They’ve blowed sorrow an’ sufferin’ Frum northern mills, An’ drug my people Down frum th’ hills. Scratching in Memory Kim Mulkey, old man Kim, Scratching in ashes Of memory For a rusty nail To spike the slabs Of eternity Onto his soul. Kim Mulkey, old bent Kim, Nodding in dreams of A yesterday, A silent man On an outward trail, A lonely way Toward the sun-down west. Old Kim Mulkey, You’ve scratched long And tried To find a song In memory Crisp and dried. But memory is a lamp, An old brass lamp With a sputtering wick That soon burn out. 02.Poems.97-194/West 12/2/03, 11:49 AM 114 selected poems 115 I’ve Seen God I’ve seen God— I’ve seen him smile In the several hues of a rainbow. I’ve felt his warm breath In the mists The sun sends up From the plowed dirt After a summer rain. And God was free. I’ve seen God— In the gaunt eyes Of a factory worker, Bound by chains Of circumstances. I’ve felt God’s pulse beat, I’ve seen his soul And heard him groan From the hungry throats Of miners’ children In a Kentucky coal camp. And God was in prison! Highlander Youth I hear the dumb groan Of convulsive pain Scouring the hills With a crimson stain Of mountain blood. And— A heartless power, O Highlander youth, Now grips your throat To kill the truth I’d have you see. 02.Poems.97-194/West 12/2/03, 11:49 AM 115 no lonesome road 116 Up, you Highlander! And hear what I tell, In a world of plenty Is a world of hell, While you sleep on! You Highlander youth, There’s yet a new way To dream your dreams Of a coming day And hills at peace. Up, up, you sluggards, You mountain men, Who fear no devil Nor snare of sin— Shake off this hell! Between the Plow Handles Between the plow handles— Dawn-break— Furrow on furrow. A stubble field, Dirty sweat Streaking the belly, Dripping from overalls Mixing with dust, All day, all day. Dusk— Tired horses Stench of foaming sweat And stable manure. Supper— Corn bread Sow-belly Pot-licker.8 02.Poems.97-194/West 12/2/03, 11:49 AM 116 selected poems 117 Sleep— Smell of rye straw From a bed tick9 And dreams...


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