red dirt boy

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Red Dirt Boy

Red Dirt Boy is a collection of Southern-fried, beer-soaked poetry with a tent revival flair. John Hartness draws on years of living in the rural south to share the laughter, tears, heartaches and fears of living, loving and drinking in the modern American South.

Hartness vacillates between the profane and the profound in this collection, tackling cancer, drug abuse, strippers and young love with equal parts pathos and humor. Red Dirt Boy is recommended for anyone with a love of Johnny Cash, Steve Earle, moonshine and fried chicken.

From Red Dirt Boy -



Chelsea (for Gina)

I don’t see him dragging a stolen Food Lion grocery cart uphill
loaded down with a hot water heater and cans picked up
off the side of the road
heading for the recycling center hoping for just enough
to get another bottle of get me through the night.
I don’t see her pay for a corn dog and courtesy cup of ice
with pennies and haul the seven mismatched garbage bags
that make up her whole world out into the heat of the August afternoon.
I don’t see him sitting in the rain mumbling at nothing
and carving names into his wiry limbs with a rusty jacknife
while his own blood drips pink
and runs off down the sidewalk,
puddling for a second around my Ecco loafers.
But I see you
kneeling in front of a wild-eyed Walt Whitman madman
to say “hey man, you alright?”
I look at you in your duct-taped Doc Martens
thrift-store Dickie’s work shirt
maybe a dollar and a half in your own pocket
while you kneel on the wet concrete
to touch the face of a stranger
and for a minute
before the world washes my vision away again
I see


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