the year i moved south

amidst a northern drought

there was a band of arsonists terrorizing

the people of three counties

comprising my childhood stomping grounds

Lincoln, Casey, & Pulaski

Kentucky

.

the bastards burned the hardware store

a few occupied houses

the lumber yard

and my dead daddy’s high school

in eubank

where he was in 
future farmers of america

a basketball star

and the first of his mining man clan

to graduate

.

i had moved into my grandmother’s old house with my sons

to write my book

the utilities were reasonable

the memories were free

.

poppies and black irises in the back yard

mockingbirds in the trees

hummingbirds attending gossip socials

and a coat of many colors rose bush

who presented the sunlight back

to god in heaven each morning

.

one dark august night

deep into the soup thick summer heat

i had retrieved a jar of green beans

from the cellar out back

and proceeded to

cook them up with bacon grease

at the same old avocado green

electric whirlpool stove

where i watched

in hungry awe

as memaw did it

a thousand times

.

my loyal staffordshire bull terrier

was laying behind me at my feet

as is tradition when mama is cooking

.

my proximity to danger

was right beside

the side door

in the kitchen

leading out onto a breezeway

and porch

.

i had the big wooden door open

with only the screen door locked

in place to
allow for escaping heat

stirring

stirring

stirring

slow and southern

lost in a dying love poem

.

at the same moment i saw

a bit of night beyond the doorway

move in the shape of a man

up to no good

just when

i heard a gutteral growl come from

the canine creature behind me

comparable to the ear piercing howls

of a minotaur

trapped inside a labyrinthine hell

.

my boy

my dog Vinnie took flight

at the door

his paws never touching the floor

he exploded through the screen after

the menacing figure

.

i gave chase with my shotgun

saw he had three fuckers on the run

silhouette kerosene cans in idle hands

determined to burn down

what the banks

haven’t reclaimed yet

their lives stripped

of purpose and pride

one generationally entrenched

welfare check at a time

.

that night a church went

up in smoke instead

.

that was the evening

Vinnie saved my life

the lives of my twin boys

and the most sacred hiding places

my childhood provided

.

god have pity on the lost

future farmers of america