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Ken Slone
God, Make Me a Jeep

If I were to return to Earth as a vehicle, I would ask God to let me be a Jeep.
I would be at my best with my motor below 2,000 rpm’s,
Moving slowly as along a curving mountain state park road
With a view of lake and sky to my right
And woods and deer to my left.

My horn would blare,
“Lord I want to do what You’d have me to do/
Lord I want to be what You’d have me to be,”
And my tires would sound like knobby tread bike tires
Humming on blacktop.

That was when I was a child.
As a Jeep I could be childlike again.
I could climb hills as before
Without a care about falling—
About descending (I could lock in four-wheel drive and gear ‘er down.)

Or I could spin circles on pavement,
Leaving black marks of rubber
From all four tires.
Someone would later come by to see my circles
And to subconsciously store them away

For that night’s dream.
You know, the way we record
Subjects for our dreams
There somewhere behind the more significant day’s events
In an old curved-top trunk where they call, “Dream me, dream me,” after dark.

In that dream I could provide
A slow Jeep ride on a north/south seaside highway
With a view of ocean waves, gulls, and eternity to the right
And to the left a mountain view of lake, woods, deer, and immortal memories.
After all, we’re dreaming here; I am a Jeep for God’s sake.

Ken Slone
Like an Old Guitar

Like an old guitar
Been played too long without the restringing
And bridge adjusting, saddle lowering
Setup needed.
Been uncased and rested on mahogany back

So that tuning keys have been
Knocked a kilter.
Have not been in tune for years now.
There is dust on my body and neck
Beneath strings that have no rust but no longer the brilliance of shine.

A thin crack is forming behind the bridge
And extending to the trim band near the electronics plug-in.
It is from the stress of amateur tuning
An octave above normal.
It is also from the dampening and drying of the seasons

Because it’s been in the mountains
Where in woods there is high humidity in summer
Then the shock of dry air of winter
With no thought of humidification.
Been strummed with makeshift picks

By people indifferent
To learning to play well.
When asked whose music they like to read,
Or which NPR station they listen to, or whether they know Garrison,
They are without interest
Because they are too starved for music
To know that’s what they are.
Been picked up carelessly
And strummed on by too many
Who couldn’t care less.

Would like to make it to the stage some day
And to be tuned and played by one who knows the music by ear.
When the show is over, no need for flamboyant guitar smashing,
Would like to be gently placed in a purple plush hard-shell Martin case
And taken to my new home.

Ken Slone’s poetry collection At Home in the Mountains was published in 2001 by the Jesse Stuart Foundation. Mountain Teacher – An Eastern Kentucky Teacher Tells His Story, an autobiography including stories about teaching nontraditional students, poems, and teaching methods, was published by JSF in 2005. His poems appeared in Coal – A Poetry Anthology. After earning his graduate degree from Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH, he returned home to Johnson County, where he lives today with his wife, Debbie. A retired Professor of English at Big Sandy Community & Technical College, Ken received the Great Teacher Award in 1999 for teaching his students to take pride in their Appalachian heritage and to write from their hearts

 

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