In the rippling of an SUV-sized American flag, wavering over the half empty parking lots of decaying strip malls, you’ll find my home in Kentucky. A state where it doesn’t have to be the 4th of July to hear “I’m Proud to be an American” on the radio.

Start driving out of Owensboro, away from the strip malls, away from the gas stations on every corner with their expectant newness rubbed off like a penny worn from palm and pocket. Drive away from the man-made monoliths to God, filling every other block with Christian penis envy. Drive out to the country, out to where the weeds mosaic asphalt and roadkill litters the pavement, both saying in their own way: “We’ll never be tamed.”

Notice every mile or so the block-sized churches have been replaced with modest white wood and steepled buildings. Note the verdant chaotic green punctuated by well manicured lawns with generic brick houses set back down a quarter mile drive of inky black.

Note that you’re trading strip malls for strip mining out here– blocks of reddish brown dirt cut the green– makes you think of scabs, of wounds still healing. A depletion of fundamental nutrients paints the landscape. Keep driving.

See how the unshorn grass sidles up to the road here? How the weeds almost cursty at the passing of your car? You’ve entered a Huckleberry Finn feeling, a lackadaisy before coming of age, a skipping rocks on pond water just to see the ripples kind of mood. Here, everything is untouched, pristine nature, and therefore on the cusp.

*Model T American Folk Painting by Jeff Stoltz


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