Harry Calhoun – Five Poems

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I learned all about living in the North the hard way. I lived there. Lived in a little lake-effect town south of Erie where recreation consisted mostly of scraping snow off your car in the morning, at lunchtime and when driving home from work. Then donning your mukluks and walking to the tavern for a sandwich and a beer just so you didn’t have to scrape snow again.

Also lived in Pittsburgh where things were marginally better. Finally figured out that the South is the place to be. Moved to Key West, which is the ideal spot if you’re independently wealthy. I’m not, so for the past 15 years North Carolina has been my happy home. My Southern Legitimacy Statement is mostly this: I hate winter. I’m writing this as we get seven inches of snow. Considering that this is the first measurable snowfall we’ve had this winter, I can live with it.

I am perhaps not as legitimate as the real Southerners. They will not drive in the lightest dusting of snow. They close schools and cancel events when a winter storm cloud crosses the horizon. They buy milk and bread and clear out the supermarket shelves when snow is predicted because, well, they’ve been told that’s what you do when it snows. Doesn’t occur to them that in two days it will be 50 again and the snow will melt and they’ll be feeding bread to the birds and pouring milk down the sink. But I am a Southerner because this is a darned nice place to live and because it’s actually nice to see snow when it’s not a steady diet. And “y’all” is such a genteel and sweet collective pronoun compared to “you’uns” and “youse guys.”


Harry Calhoun – Three Poems

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

In my poem “Connellsville,” which is about my hometown in dreary Western Pennsylvania, I close by saying:

the only North I want to be in
is here in North Carolina
where I have at last

found love and warmth

That about sums it up. While I’ve lived further south — can’t get any farther south than Key West — I will not live any farther north than here. This is my home for nigh on to 15 years now and I I have seen my dream of retiring to Key West mutate into one of getting a beach house at Topsail Island here in North Carolina. Just as I quickly learned to despise tourists in Key West, I almost immediately learned to hate transplanted Yankees complaining about the hot weather. GO BACK NORTH! IT’S THE SOUTH AND IT SWELTERS IN THE SUMMER!

I met my wife here, bought my first home here and have built a full and happy life in Raleigh. I probably should switch over from my brandy nightcaps to some good ol’ Southern sippin’ whiskey like Jack Daniels or George Dickel. Maybe that will be my next project. Sounds like a pleasant one.

Am I a legitimate Southerner? You betcha … I love the South and I’m too legit to quit!