When I was a young man with children and debts,

I remember so well, what one often forgets,

that I harbored a dream, unspoken, unreal,

an impossible dream, but with wondrous appeal.

I vowed what I “would do,” not what I “had done,”

I’d buy me a farm, my own place in the sun;

Right smack in the Bluegrass, That’s where it will be!

And Pa in his wisdom, he just looked at me.

‘Cause Pa was a realist, a skeptical soul,

“That blue grass,” he said, “grows in pure solid gold.”

But I juggled the bills and I bragged out of sight,

…while deep in my heart I knew Pa was right.

So the seasons turned on; and I went off to school,

and I left off the dream, like a typical fool,

while I gloried in grades and grew vainer each day.

And Pa in his wisdom, he just helped me pay.

Cause Pa he had vision, and a pure frugal soul,“

“Education,” he said, “will help you reach your goal.”

Being older and wiser I quickly agreed:

“I’ll serve a great cause now! How high it may lead!”

So like a false prophet who follows a star,

I went far away in my dirty old car,

to Washington DC went I, like a jerk,

where it’s nigh on impossible to find honest work.

So the seasons turned on; I struggled and grew,

and carved out a career, and made money too.

…until one long day, when my eyes opened wide…and…I’m

on a ladder that sinks in the mire as I climb…

…and I’m ten thousand miles from Pa, and from Ma.

And where went that wondrous bright star that I saw?

Why, it never did move! It still shines above

the green hills of Kentucky; the one place I love.

The one place where my heart could hold a true dream,

of a farm in the Bluegrass, one near a small stream;

I’ve got myself lost, like a land-walkin’ fish,

with a mere painted barn to look at…and wish.

I commissioned an artist to paint that for me

so that, there in the city, I”d have something to see,

while my mind just pretended, and never would let

go the dream that my spirit could never forget.

I began to have wisdom, just barely to see

how total the ignorance of young men can be.

There came a decision, called Pa on the phone:

Come wife and come children, we’re all going home.

And Pa’s big broad grin was a real sight to see;

“It’s good that you’re back, Son,” his eyes said to me,

“Education and goals will help win you your fare,

but you wouldn’t be here if you hadn’t gone there.

“No matter how dearly you hold to your dreams,

the road to a goal’s seldom straight as it seems.”

Now here on my bluegrass farm, happy and pore,

I guess I won’t need that barn painting no more.

So with pride I present it, a gift of the heart,

to the fellow who set me off straight from the start.

The painting has meaning, far more than you see:

I give it to you, Pa; Merry Christmas from me.



December 1976


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