Monday, November 23, 2009

THE BOOTLEGGER (poem & podcast)

Please click play to enjoy an audio recording

His outfit was buried deep within the foothills
of the North Carolina Appalachian mountains and
his potent clear liquid made him a local legend.

They called his hooch White Lightnin;
Who Shot Sally and even Brown Mule.
But Popcorn Sutton knew you were The Law
if you came around askin' for that 'White Liquor.'

Descendant from a long line of moonshiners,
Popcorn took his art seriously and would often
brag that he made more runs of liquor than
there were whiskers on his jaw.

Every morning he'd mix corn, water, yeast and sugar
in that big 'ol copper still and wait for the mash that made
some of the best Painter's Piss in all of Maggie Valley.
But what's a moonshiner to do when his life's work
can be bought in a bottle at the local Walmart?
Still, liquor was all he knew. It was a fundamental right.

By 2009, the jig was up and Popcorn was sentenced
to 18 months in the big house for illegally brewing
those mason jar spirits.

Cancer-stricken, the mountain man pleaded with the
judge to let him serve his sentence under house arrest.
When the petition that thousands signed couldn't help,
Popcorn tooks matters into his hands and comitted
suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning to avoid prison.

That 'White Liquor" finally done him in...

"The Bootlegger" by Anthony Venutolo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Hosted by The Internet Archive, download MP3 here. Music by Derek Porter, track No. 6 "Mars, Kentucky"on the album "Heaven's Hill," and provided by Jemendo.


  1. Damn, I really liked Popcorn. Hate to see him go out like that. Well told, Anthony.

    At work now, so couldn't hear the Podcast audio...but the prose spoke to me without having to go digital.

  2. didn't see that coming... i agree with angel, the prose spoke in a clear concise voice.

    ps have you ever had corn likker? i have.

  3. I liked Popcorn too — I think we have a few of them here in Oregon — and the flow of this piece, the story, rich with telling details and even a little bit of humor 'spiked' into the rawness of reality. Well done, Anthony. I'm digging this audio pieces.

    Hail potato Vodka!

  4. your read was as smooth as any moonshot sally i've ever sipped. slow,, drawlin,, right there I was in Maggie valley along side popcorn - well done ant.

  5. Popcorn is a gem, and I wish I could have a taste of his 'White Lightnin'.

    I've never heard the term 'painter's piss'. Your dialect is fantastic.

    Well done and great vocal.

  6. Another great vocal and well chosen music. Poor old Popcorn. I thought he was going to start making liquor in jail or something. Liked it though.

  7. Popcorn was a great man and you are a great writer, with one of the coolest voices I've heard. Very well done, mate.

  8. Anthony, your voice is perfect for stuff like this. "More runs of liquor than there were whiskers on his jaw." Such great atmosphere! Great reading.

  9. It was great reading and great listening..


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