Southern Legitimacy Statement:
Only the military draft could get me to leave the South where I was born and raised in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I grew up in chigger heaven, the red clay hills of Georgia, but somehow my neck never reddened. My accent could never choose sides either, owing to my heavy books and a thing called free verse.
I never wanted to put a hood over my head, much less burn Jesus’ cross, but my great great grandma shot a rapist union solider during the War Between the States (ain’t nobody calls it “The Civil War” around these parts). That’s still a story whispered with pride at family Sunday dinners (I mean “lunches” for you Northerners, and suppers are when you eat dinners—you damn backward yankees!).
In my growing years, I lived near a church and a still. In those woods I bet I could still find a still, and I bet too that I could find some of them still workers in church on Sunday puttin’ some ill-begotten gains in the collection plate.
The South has changed, but it still has a unique soul. For better or worse, I’m not just whistlin’ Dixie.