I want a South where manners mean more than materials,
Where folks put down their gadgets and talk to each other again,
Where children aren’t “buddies” with their mothers and fathers
But actual wards, actual responsibilities in need of guidance.
I want a South where we smash the screens of Ipads and TVs
And return to good old fashioned, porch-staged storytelling,
Where the young do not stare at you zombie-eyed
Should you merely tell them hello.
I want a South where piety trumps cynicism
And no one would dare admit being a Republican,
Where Wal-Mart grows small in the rearview mirror
As we head to the homes of our grandmothers
For songs and laughter and slices of sweet potato pie.
I want a South where our language is a treasure once more,
Not a thing of shame that must be changed for “employment viability”
But a miracle of cadence and invention trusted by everyone,
North and South, used to recount the lives of men and women
Who raised everything else above their own selfish gain,
To sing of Lee and Davis and Calhoun, of Jefferson and Jackson,
Of Washington and Stonewall and the nameless men in the fields,
Of the men and women in the mills, the hills, by the riverbanks,
In the hollows, in the crowns of trees, by the sun-baked shores –
Sing of them all in the tongue of Shakespeare and King James!
Randall Ivey is Instructor in English at the University of South Carolina-Union where he has seven times been voted Teacher of the Year by students. He is the author of two novels, a children’s book, and several collections of prize-winning short stories. He is founder and director of the Upcountry Literary Festival.