Norm Venable

Ode to a Kentucky Woman

You want you mountains to remain mountains
Your family to stay family
You wait for years for someone who has left to return
You want what you can not have
And have what you do not want
So you wait for one who will not come

You want to eat your cake and the ice cream too
You want your best friend to become your boyfriend
You listen to Playboy blondes speak of ecstasy
All the while the years start to pass you by
You want a drink and a pill too
Knowing the harm that both will do
As you wait for what will never come
A giant bulldozer plows into a mountain

You once were young and younger
But grey appeared and lines grew over eyes
You were once carded by the cashier
And wanted by both young boys and old men
Then the Earth rounded the Sun again
The Moon rose and ocean waves splashed
Comets came to visit and then went away
And we both grew old and older still
And all our lovers never came back home

So we wait
As our mountains fall down around us
And those we love disappear
Like our creeks, hills and hollows.


Onward Kentucky

Come on Kentucky, pick yourself up, carry on
Rise from beaten down lands and move on
You’ve been rained on—ice stormed on
From Harlan County to Louisville
Left in the dark with no lights on
For two weeks running all alone
You’ve been Gardner-Webbed—ten losses a Season
And Twenty-Twentyed by God what was the reason
By someone who told the whole wide world
She was one of Kentukcy’s Own
So shake it off and move on
You still have some of your landscape
And a little bit left of your coal
You do have all of your Bluegrass
And some part of your basketball
Though the man comers to take your minerals
And in doing so lays your mountains down
He takes away all the funds from you
Then spends them in a faraway town
As a pill doctor from down in Nashville
Tries to spin wasted and weary heads around

Remember heroes Thomas Walker and Daniel Boone
They are both your past and what you will become
So rise back up to the top Kentucky
You are the heart of the Appalachian land
When someone tells you “You can’t,”
I’m here to tell you, “You can!”
So Onward, Kentucky, Onward!