Driving with the Dead

We hope we haven’t spooked you too much with our “Haunted Lexington” story from yesterday. To keep up the creepy Halloween spirit, we decided to switch it up and give you some poetry today. Today’s excerpt comes from Driving with the Dead by Jane Hicks. While it’s not exactly a ghost story, the book laments the struggles and loss of the Appalachian region, which is all the more scary to us in a much more realistic way.

Certainly, Appalachia is no stranger to loss. The region suffers regular ecological devastation wrought by strip mining, fracking, and deforestation as well as personal tragedy brought on by enduring poverty and drug addiction. In Driving with the Dead, Appalachian poet, teacher, and artist Jane Hicks weaves an earnest and impassioned elegy for an imperiled yet doggedly optimistic people and place. Exploring the roles that war, environment, culture, and violence play in Appalachian society, the hard-hitting collection is visceral and unflinchingly honest, mourning a land and people devastated by economic hardship, farm foreclosures, and mountaintop removal. So without further introduction, today’s excerpt is the book’s title poem:

Driving with the Dead

The little bus ate the road, rose toward the sky,
topped the mountain, perched on the edge before
falling toward the valley, white lines clicked
in rhythm to Mickey’s drums, tape deck humming,
there is a road, no simple highway,
between the dawn and the dark of the night.

The mist gathered, fell in a steady drum
on the roof, merged to rivers on glass.
Truck tire spray, like white angel wings,
washed us, on our flight through the dark.

For more poems like this one, be sure to check out the rest of Driving with the Dead.


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