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Ken Slone
A “Homing” Place

I have been new driving on curving roads that follow a river bed’s course.
The Big Sandy River winds narrowing as it reaches its font,
The Breaks, high in mountains that serve as the border between two states.
I have been too long on wide gray highways
Where to make right of way the hills have been drilled and blasted back.

As a boy I excitedly heard the drilling and shooting
Done to move mountains for a divided four-lane.
I would watch in awe as D 9 dozers did their dangerous work
On high walls and grades that made them want to tumble
End over end over end….

I anticipated new pavement
Barricaded by a Road Closed sign
Surely not meant for me on bicycle.
To me that sign would read New Blacktop,
Smooth for riding.

I have been too long on Still’s white highways
Lined, straight and hard toward death,
Forgotten the old mountain roads
Like this one, US 460.
Forgotten possible views of water and of rail.

Trains carry coal through tunnels and between the narrow road and river.
Their sound drowns the sound of white, stone washing water.
Rainfall is a harder downpour here in the high elevations of southern river valley.
In flowing and falling water there is calmness: “Oh curved and slow is peace ….”
On old US 460 near the Virginia line, I have lately rediscovered Still’s “homing place.”

Professor of English Ken Slone received the Great Teacher Award in 1999 for teaching his students to take pride in their Appalachian heritage and to write from their hearts. His book of poetry, At Home in the Mountains, was published in 2001. His book, Mountain Teacher – An Eastern Kentucky Teacher Tells His Story was published in 2005. After earning his graduate degree from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, Ken returned to his home county of Johnson. He is retired from Big Sandy Community & Technical College after a 36-year teaching career. He and his wife Debbie spend winter months on the beach at North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

 

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