Tough as Gator Jerky, Soft as Spanish Moss

Updated on February 11, 2018
Brianna Olsen profile image

Brianna is a writer, editor, and photographer. Her creative work is grounded in healing and self-compassion.


I am not the black grease stains on your knuckles
nor the cigarette breaks behind the garage
not a tightened bolt or a mucked stall
but my memories smell of fertilizer and motor oil
and I am not home without these scents
carried with me in the heel of my muddy boot

I am not your brown beer bottle
slammed down against the bar table
or wedged into the sand like the end of your fishing pole
I am not your drunken grievance
cursing the job stealers, non tax payers, non god fearers
but I am not silencing your shouts
with my college discourse and smart-ass mouth

I am not the store owner who was robbed
nor am I the hungry looter
but I would buy food for him to eat
and this does not take away from your table
it just adds another guest to who sits at mine

I am not your Confederate flag bearer
nor I am the black community that matters
that makes our neighborhood vibrant
how could I be against justice when I'd never had to fight for it

I am not here to disrespect our police
nor am I here to police our neighbors
the families you grew up with
stood behind in line at the Dollar Tree
I understand the root of your colorblindness when everyone uses EBT
but when I learn about racism
it's not just in classrooms built by rich liberal's wallets
I learned just as much justice from all y'all's unions and empty pockets

I am not the long dirt road
or the faded numbers on your mailbox
I am not the tread of your over-sized tires
but when I’m on the city bus to downtown
I miss riding in the bed of your truck
and stopping on the side of the highway
to buy fresh boiled peanuts, homemade
still hot and wrapped in used grocery bags
sold from the bed of another Florida man’s truck

I am not a Dixie gal
or a California valley girl
but my Florida cracker blood still runs thick as grease
tough as gator jerky
soft as spanish moss
true as the heart of a Good Ol Boy

and just because I flew the coop
traded family tradition for higher education
learned big words and intersectional social theories
don't mean I'm too articulate for the small folks back home
don’t mean I’ll ever forget the manners I learned down here
don't mean I ain't also teaching them about you
not preaching what I wouldn't also do for you


Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Brianna Olsen


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      • Brianna Olsen profile image

        Brianna Olsen 11 days ago from San Diego

        Thanks so much! :)

      • RobinReenters profile image

        Robin Carretti 11 days ago from Hightstown

        Very well put that I am not I enjoyed your words of this read