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Hillbilly Guilt is populated with those whose lives aren't deemed important:
the poor and working poor of Appalachia, who live what it is to be American.
This is a book that seeks to show that we are the sum of our mistakes. Not just
the little goofs, either; but the huge, world-shattering blunders that go to the core
of what it is to be human. The title poem "Hillbilly Guilt"-the frontispiece and
forward to the book as a whole-asserts moments of resilience if not Triumph,
the chance to heal if not a deliverance from the possibility of further injury:
I waved someone down who took us to a hospital.
I recall he broke his nose. That it bled and bled
and that he wanted me to believe what he said
happened, had happened that way. He seemed
to want not to feel what he felt at having risked
our lives for nothing. Oh, and I have to tell you:
the Chevy-to-a-hospital that stopped had a Virgin
Mary on its curving, blue dashboard and that plastic
figure said what it said about having a little faith.
These poems exist in a kind of Twilight Zone of expectation and hope and knowing that country by a whole bunch of names. As a survivor of the Great American Beating We Give Ourselves for Falling Short, the writer invites us to live, innocent and less so-as in the poem "Lazarus, Later"
Don't get me wrong. I was in a hurry to flee the tomb.
Quick to step from one imperium of flesh into another.
However, I paused a short while to let my eyes adjust.
Not to be honored or genuflect but to let it all sink in.