Coal River Memories

A wide-eyed child was growin' up,
On that restless river bank,
We'd walk that bridge on Sunday,
For we had the Lord to thank.

Hand in hand, we walked that road,
But my heart was in those hills,
'Bout that time, a big hawk screeched,
And I went simple with the thrill.

I wished right then I could be that bird,
Above the dust and din,
Just fly away above the earth,
And see if this river ends.

Coal River waters,
Wash this dust right from my soul,
Coal River memories,
Clears my eyes as I get old.

Cousins, aunts and uncles,
And friends that all lived near,
I never stopped to reckon,
What we all were doing here.

Where'd we come from
And where do we go?
Such deep inspirin' thoughts
Maybe I'll never know...

I grew up lean and wiry,
Mean as a' old copperhead snake,
Runnin' barefoot through those mountains,
And swimmin' in a highland lake.

When I reached my eighteenth year,
My fancy turned to a pretty girl,
Now there's the serenade, courtin' and the chivaree,
Then I said "Let's go see the world".

And fierce to my word,
We left those hills and wonders of the valley,
And saw plains, oceans, cities and towns,
Places far too many to tally.

The banjo, fiddle and mandolin,
Had left our thoughts and nights,
The sweet sounds of the mountain dulcimer,
Had long gone stone-cold quiet.

Our family grew and flew with the winds,
A restless ramblin' spirit was born,
Time scampered by like a rabbit through the rocks,
And that river place seemed so foriegn.

Now Time has picked up its travelin' cloak,
And is making for the door,
A good full life and a lovin' wife,
I thank God, I was never poor.

What more could an old mountaineer want?
A smile runs across my face,
Now is time to cut to the chase
And I'll know my place....
Coal River will tell me....
"...You're going home."

Coal River water,
Washed the dust right from my soul,
Coal River memories,
Have cleared my eyes.
And when my time has come and gone,
There's one thing to be sure,

Those Coal River memories,
Always will endure.

Just By Myself

We laugh together
and call it congenial,
Laugh alone,
Perhaps insane.

We cry together
And call it compassion,
Cry alone
Maybe manic.

We live together
And call it social,
Live alone,
possibly eccentric.

But what shall we call it
When we die?
For it can only be,
--Done alone


Blackberry Work

Just a clear, hot Saturday morning,
When my feet touched the floor,
A little bit of a groan eased out,
When I remember my July chore.

It's blackberry picking time in Kentucky,
Gallon buckets we had to fill,
It's blackberry picking time in Kentucky,
I'll pick those darn berries 'til I'm ill.

Now I'd dress myself and get my pail,
And slam back that old screen door,
And then head on up the road,
Little brother in tow, maybe just ten gallons more.

By eight AM, it's already hot,
As we struggled through the weeds,
Mindful of snakes adn flicking ticks,
Just to fill Mom's canning needs.

But on the way we'd explaore a bit,
Finding crawdads in the creek, bobcats on the hill,
A field full of monarch butterflies,
And sometimes, the woods that were very still.

Now July had turned to August,
And summer went to fall,
The berry buckets gone for another year,
Hanging on the toolshed wall.

Now it's another Saturday mroning,
And my feet hit the floor,
But there's no groan this time,
As blackberry cobbler smells float through the bedroom door.

Unmoved, by Time

Will they remember,
That we measured the distance,
Between our fingertips,
By heartbeats?

Will they remember,
Our Promise to the River,
On a cold, sunny day,
By our vows?

Will they remember,
The trials of fiery youth,
Distance in centuries,
By exile?

Do they know,
Our souls long passed away,
That the distance, now,
Is measured by a smile?

Anthems of the Self-Righteous

The words spewed from soulless eyes
Agitating bile of a self-righteous host
Whose clicking tongue, we most despise
To hear it clamor and gloat.

And 'This is this' and 'That is that'
As stomachs wrench and churn
We wish to cook you in your own fat
And watch you pop and burn.

So save yourself, self proclaimed erudite
And cease your mindless rattle
Just pack your ass and your Samsonite
And save us from your endless prattle.


Just a day like we should imagine, it was,
A clear, bright sun meandered
Through the air just to enhance
The blueness of the sky.

A light zephyr tugged,
At the ends of my hair,
To keep me from concentrating
Myself into oblivion.

I positioned myself, back to the north,
To see the imaginary gates.
East left, west right, south full face.
The solitude was the essence.

The centre of the world,
The energy I needed, focused,
On a rock, on a hillock,
On a an Antrim summer day.

What could have transpired,
That caused such a reaction,
Would require deep introspection,
Why was my sweetheart contrary?

A fortnight before, at the county fair,
An absolute pleasurable event,
Horse racing, fine animals on exhibit,
And victuals beyond compare.

That evening, a slow cruise,
Under starry airs, we enjoyed
Every moment built for two,
But the following morn, a puzzle.

My true love, I passed,
A stranger was her continence,
No smiling lover to be seen,
Her refrigerated eyes, no gleam.

No words were given or taken,
Just slight head tilt,
As if she were sniffing bad air,
And her unbroken shifting gait.

So here I'm positioned,
On Seint Padhrig's hill,
On a clear Antrim day,
Thinking of my girl to the North.

Scowbound, Adrift

Sedated, seated in the wet floor
of my tempest tossed scow
stringing prayers onto
broken beaked ravens and
singing red shore songs to
appease you. beaches of fire
and sands melt to glass

i never asked for safety
dreams of mourning doves
and breast aches ceasing
i wished our hands
to kiss the same flames
of hot flowers, their petals

Never to be,
your foot kicks the bow
sending my wooden island
to safety skies, and
starętipped waves of
Lir's heavens, darkly sweet.

His children fly a broken V-formation
over my head, relating the ancient tales
spun in spider's silk
tightly pulling time to
a single point of
everything that exists, packed
most orderly.

The relativity, lacking in moments
pulls the strings as blue
skies and hearts spare

All material is copyright William Pitchford