How I Became A Cosmic Possum

Appalachian Poet and Fiber Artist Books/ Appearances Quilts/Friends Favorite Links Contact the Alpha Possum Anthologies How I Became a Cosmic Possum

THE COSMIC POSSUM

The History of the Cosmic Possum

After one hillbilly insult too many, I began to think about ways to explain who I am. I had been made fun of in a setting with other highly educated people who should have known that an accent does not mean a lack of intelligence. I wrote a poem that explains who people of my generation are and where we came from. Wind Magazine published the poem in 1998. Since then, a lot of people have used and (appropriated) the term cosmic possum. I felt I had "arrived" when cosmic possum appeared in the urban dictionary. They get the meaning mostly right but left out my original statement about being "first generation off the ridge or out of the holler."

 

  How We Became Cosmic Possums

(Suburban Appalachian Baby Boomers)

 

 Caught between Country Club and 4-H,

Neither shrimp nor crawdad,

Neither hip nor hillbilly,

Neither feedsack nor cashmere.

 

Neither shrimp nor crawdad,

Daddy punched the time clock,

Neither feedsack nor cashmere

Worked weekend tobacco on Grandpa's farm.

 

Daddy punched the time clock,

First generation out of the holler,

Worked weekend tobacco on Grandpa's farm,

Saved for our college diplomas.

 

First generation out of the holler,

Veterans who never spoke the horror,

Saved for our college diplomas,

Television lullabies shaped weary dreams.

 

Veterans who never spoke the horror,

Stanley thermos and lunch pail full,

Television lullabies shaped weary dreams,

Believed our country always right.

 

Stanley thermos and lunch pail full,

Feared beatniks, hippies, and Communists,

Believed our country always right,

Scorned unions in the plant.

 

Feared beatniks, hippies, and Communists,

Secretly applauded our highest draft numbers,

Scorned unions in the plants,

Wars they never spoke of, fierce dreams.

 

Secretly applauded our highest draft numbers,

Searched the skies for nuclear rain,

Wars they never spoke of, fierce dreams,

Built fallout shelters for our future.


Searched the sky for nuclear rain,

We learned to "duck and cover,"

Built fallout shelters for our future.

Became the hippies our fathers feared.


We learned to  "duck and cover,"

Neither shrimp nor crawdad,

Became the hippies our fathers feared,

Caught between Country Club and 4-H.

 

Speaking of accents

Talking Appalachian, edited by Amy Clark and Nancy Hayward, takes a scholarly look at Appalachian accents, their origins, and the people who speak them. The book contains poetry, personal essays, and scholarly papers all pertaining to "Appalachian Englishes." Avavilable from the University Press of Kentucky.

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  How We Became Cosmic Possums

(Suburban Appalachian Baby Boomers)

 

Caught between Country Club and 4-H,

Neither shrimp nor crawdad,

Neither hip nor hillbilly,

Neither feedsack nor cashmere.

 

Neither shrimp nor crawdad,

Daddy punched the time clock,

Neither feedsack nor cashmere

Worked weekend tobacco on Grandpa's farm.

 

Daddy punched the time clock,

First generation out of the holler,

Worked weekend tobacco on Grandpa's farm,

Saved for our college diplomas.

 

First generation out of the holler,

Veterans who never spoke the horror,

Saved for our college diplomas,

Television lullabies shaped weary dreams.

 

Veterans who never spoke the horror,

Stanley thermos and lunch pail full,

Television lullabies shaped weary dreams,

Believed our country always right.

 

Stanley thermos and lunch pail full,

Feared beatniks, hippies, and Communists,

Believed our country always right,

Scorned unions in the plant.

 

Feared beatniks, hippies, and Communists,

Secretly applauded our highest draft numbers,

Scorned unions in the plants,

Wars they never spoke of, fierce dreams.

 

Secretly applauded our highest draft numbers,

Searched the skies for nuclear rain,

Wars they never spoke of, fierce dreams,

Built fallout shelters for our future.




 

Searched the sky for nuclear rain,

We learned to "duck and cover,"

Built fallout shelters for our future.

Became the hippies our fathers feared.


We learned to  "duck and cover,"

Neither shrimp nor crawdad,

Became the hippies our fathers feared,

Caught between Country Club and 4-H.