Down Beneath The Roots of Things

This next poem is, in my mind, inextricably linked to the At Fifty piece I posted here last. That’s because it was written only a few days later and in direct response to that first poem. That bit of elegance I found in the first poem sort of scared me, and I had to reaffirm my reality of jeans and t-shirts, lest someone get the wrong impression. Poems are born for a variety of reasons, even the business of staying honest and correcting the trajectory of ones own truth. This one needs no explanation and is also another of my favorites. It was published for a while on my Splitting Darkness site, but never anywhere else.

Down Beneath The Roots of Things

Am a North Wisconsin hillbilly.
Prefer t-shirts and jeans
even at age fifty-plus
and would rather be fishing
than almost anything else.
Can still spot a ’57 Chevy, up on
blocks, glass packs rumbling
through backyard weeds. Ignorant
of politics, don’t do arithmetic
unless I’m being short-changed.

Choose flannel over silk, actually
drink cold milk, but only
on rare occasions. Beer
and cigarettes add spice to a life
devoid of deliberate vice, fattened
on peanut butter and jelly, laughter
that starts deep down in the belly,
then ripples outward to be shared
only with a few close friends.

If reincarnation is a fact, hope
I come back as a gray and black
badger. Bit of a grouch, who with
low warning growl, and fast rambling
slouch, is swift to defend her underground
den, down beneath the roots of things.

Elizabeth Crawford

About 1sojournal

Loves words and language. Dances on paper to her own inner music. Loves to share and keeps several blogs to facilitate that. They can be found here:
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18 Responses to Down Beneath The Roots of Things

  1. Stafford says:

    Yes, and I see you, a ‘bit of a grouch’ defending your den (self) against any who would breach its (reincarnated and therefore longed for and ideal) integrity! Mmmm… Seems like you are about where you want to be. See letter!


  2. 1sojournal says:


    I already read the letter and you see well and clearly. I thought the eyes were supposed to dim after a certain age. Yours haven’t at all, except perhaps when it comes to the ideal. Those are for much younger folk than I. Thank you for your clear sight.



  3. connetta says:

    this poem is very well written, universal. I felt like it was about me..( cept the part where it says i’d rather be fishing, building a campfire while others fish is more like me)…But, i’m sure everyone thought it was about them. good work Elizabeth.


  4. 1sojournal says:

    Connetta, thanks for finding this one. It’s one of my favorites and always makes me grin. Wrote it a long time ago, but it does, for the most part, still hold true, lol.



  5. pamela says:

    Elizabeth, this does hold true for what I have envisioned you to be like.
    Which is a wonderful thing believe me. As for spotting a ’57 Chevy,
    I am always amazed when someone can tell the make of a car.
    I don’t know the difference between a Honda or a Toyota 🙂
    Excellent write.

    Pamela, I knew the most mainline cars back in the late fifties and early sixties because that was the time in my life when it was important to know those things (teenager), lol. I can no longer tell one from another. Those are classics now. Oh, the age is always showing, yes? In my neck of the woods, a girl had to know what make and model her boyfriend was driving, it was a matter of pride (such a foolish thing). Now, I am just grateful if it has four wheels and starts up on the first try.

    I remember the first time I read this poem out loud. I was the Moderator of the longest established poetry group in South Eastern Wisconsin, and read it to that group. When I finished, one woman asked what glass packs were, and before I could respond, one of the men jumped in and grinningly explained that they were a type of muffler built specifically to make a certain very loud rumbling noise. Then another woman jumped in and asked the group if they’d ever been North of Green Bay and explained that every word in the poem described what she herself had encountered while in that area. We were both laughing by the time she was done. This poem celebrates my beginnings. I’m so glad that you can see those qualities still alive in me. Thank you,



  6. Tumblewords says:

    Powerful and provocative piece! Love it!

    Thank you Tumblewords, but powerful and provocative are not exactly the words that come to mind with this one. I will really have to think about that. It’s always made me grin and smile. It just feels good,



  7. this gives a great sense of your roots. what a tribute!

    Thank you, Carolee, I think so as well,



  8. joannejohns says:

    This is full of clarity and pride, a no-nonsense statement of who you are. There is such beauty in its strength and conviction. Well done 🙂

    Thank you much Joanne, and yes there is sense of pride in being self aware in a world that doesn’t always cherish that reality. This is a particular favorite of mine and I needed to bring it out at this time, to remind me of certain truths. Glad you enjoyed it,



  9. deb says:

    *love* this…down to thebadger. One of my favorite critters. Glad you posted it for BTP.

    deb, this one gave me a problem when first written. Being from Wisconsin I wanted to end it on a note that spoke of that place. It wouldn’t work until I put the badger in it. It’s the State animal. I have seen a few and they are to be respected, and that’s how I feel and see them. When I put the badger in place, it all fell together and made sense. I really can be a bit of grouch, but also protect my most private places, lol,



  10. connetta says:

    My old poems are my favorites.

    Connetta, and I have to thank you for drawing me back to this one. Not all of my poems continue to speak to me deeply beyond the time they are written. Some few do, and this is definitely one of them.



  11. Ah! So there are badgers in North America, too. Perhaps they are not quite the same as the British ‘brock’.

    Here, they dig up lawns and are blamed for eating hedge-hogs.

    But the poem is a good one.

    The state of Wisconsin certainly has them and they are most noted for their agressiveness and fearless stance. Although they are a member of the weasel and ferret family, they are also cousins of the pine marten, also known to be a bit unfriendly to strangers. Bear like claws and really large teeth assure them of their own space. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of the Brock, but if they inhabit urban areas, they may be quite different. Thanks for stopping and visiting Harry, and for you comments,



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  13. I clicked the link on your today’s Napo prompt, and boy, am I glad I did! What a terrific poem, gives me a whole new picture of you.

    BTW badgers are Public Enemy Number One in England for spreading bovine TB. There have been selective culls, and farmers facing ruin are crying out for their extermination.

    Viv, I laughed and then hugged myself when I read your comment. I have always loved this poem. It’s writing marked a deep sense of freedom for me, in untold ways that continue to unfold each time I read it. And by the way, remind me not to go to England, I would doubt my acceptance there. However, France is a different matter altogether. It is another piece of my origins story. We are all multi-faceted, with many layers of meaning…and I am glad you enjoyed this one of mine.



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  18. KT Workman says:

    Oh, Elizabeth, I absolutely love this! I can see why it is one of your favorites…it is YOU.


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