Sunday, September 30, 2007

Autumn Night

Perhaps these images, written about so wistfully, have little meaning to others, but to me they are the essence of things I miss about that place where I grew up.

I think it is quite natural that we have this connection with our beginnings, and quite natural that we should think of them again ... and again ... as we look back and see just how far we've traveled in all these years.

Thank goodness for that "bridge of memories." I often go strolling across it.

The poem:


Stars spilled

across dark velvet,

thin ribbon of smoke

climbing the air,

lettuce-crisp, clear,

toward a lemon moon,

square of window

whispering its light

through the trees,

beckoning to me,

wanderer still,

with only a bridge

of memories

to carry me back.



(originally published in Explorer)


Today's word:


Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:

Oh, I'm fine, thank you very much, Southernmush ... just finding it a little difficult some days ... most days, actually ... to get everything done in the allotted time.

I really prefer it that way ... as opposed to sitting around feeling that "there's never anything to do" ... but I regret that I'm not as prompt in responding to comments as I'd like to be. About the time I feel that I've caught up just a bit, I find that I'm falling behind again.

I do enjoy sharing my poems, such as they are, and I do appreciate the comments they draw.

I'm always pleased when someone indicates that they're looking at things in a different way now ... or "with new eyes," as I like to say. There are so many things to observe that way ... all around us ... and each has its own special "flavor," if we can just find the time to savor it.

Thank you, Magran, for dropping by again ... and for leaving those quiet observations. I love it when something I've written leaves the reader just sitting, savoring the flavor of the words. Then I know I've done it right ... and I can think of no greater reward than that. It's like pausing with a friend to watch a sunset ... then noticing how the fading rays seem to be dancing in the autumn leaves ...

And Vicki! I'm delighted that you like today's entry ... even more that you'd like to share it with your audience. I'm honored that you want to give it further mileage ... as I say, poetry is meant to be shared ... please do.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I Could Have Played Piano

Picture from Hometown

Once upon a time ... way back in the previous century ... my grandparents had a piano. I believe it was for my mother, but I never heard her play it.

It sat in our living room. I remember a piano tuner coming once to do his magic on it. But mostly it just sat. Oh, I plinked and plunked on it when nobody was looking. But, of course, I couldn't play it.

I didn't feel deprived, and I don't now. There was that imposing upright musical instrument which fed my imagination. I dreamed of playing it someday ... like I dreamed of many other things.

Then one day it was sold. Strangers came to move that magical creation carefully through the front door, down the front steps and into the truck.

And that was that ... except for the poem (be prepared for a slight twist with this one), originally published in Midwest Poetry Review:


My long, skinny fingers

itching for things to do,

toes just barely reaching

the pedals, and my bottom

gripping the slippery edge

of the bench, I dreamed

of playing ragtime, gospel,

boogie-woogie, maybe even

some of that girl-pleasing,

tough, classical stuff.

What I did was what

seemed to come naturally.

With only one lesson,

I flung myself into all

of the old favorites,

playing each several times

before going exuberantly

to the next. Finally,

Grandpa admitted he was

sorry he had taught me

what could be wrought

with a comb and paper.

Oh, I could have played

piano, no doubt, but my lips

wouldn't feel all numb

and fuzzy, like they do now.

© 1997


Today's word: fuzzy

Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:

As you say, Vicki, there is something sad about musical instruments with "all the music locked within them." I have a particular attachment to the piano which sits, silent and neglected. But I try to think of the enjoyment they did bring to those who practiced on them ... and those who listened to the performances. And when they're gone ... as in sold to someone else ... I try to focus on the fact that they are bringing enjoyment to someone ... someone I may never meet ... but someone out there who is playing them, or listening to someone else producing music from them.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Autumn's Leaves

I know ... those who have long memories will recall having seen this one before ... but I hope they ... and you ... will forgive my repeating myself.
It is autumn again ... well, almost ... summer is still hanging on, but the trees in my neck of the woods have begun showing tinges of autumn hues.
Now where did I put that rake?
Even with all the raking involved, I still consider autumn my favorite season. Oh, there are certain redeeming qualities about spring, the new growth signaling the end of winter. And summer, too, if it doesn't get unbearably hot ... I like the good walking that season provides. And even winter has its moments of beauty.
But autumn ... well, there's just something about autumn ... quiet, cool evenings ... the play of late sunshine across the colors of the foliage ... and sunrise ... oh, sunrise simply outdoes itself. I like the show that the trees provide. Always have. Always will ... even with all that raking.
The poem:

Across the fence,

my neighbor's trees
droop with tons
of gorgeous leaves,
and here I stand
with a single rake
to defend against
the inevitable.

© 1996

(originally published in Capper's)


Today's word: inevitable

Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:
I'm not sure what it is about autumn either, Leigh ... there's just something about it that is so relaxing, so reassuring ... and it reminds me of those carefree autumns I enjoyed when I was growing up. Little did I know what a lasting influence they would have on me. Now I can hardly wait to go kicking through those leaves again. Happy trails to you, too.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Winter Comes

No ... winter hasn't come to Ohio ... yet. But it will. This morning, though, I'm thinking ahead ... well beyond winter to ... those things I speak of at the end of the poem.
For now:
When it arrives like

a gentle rustling
descending a stairway,
the wary resident
might slam a deadbolt
against it like some
grumping, groggy bear,
were it not for a tiny
preserved memory
of a far warmer world,
where flowers are not
mere speculations,
where the ice has fallen
away, the bees jubilant.

© 2000

(received an honorable mention in a Poets Study Club competition)


Today's word: jubilant
Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:
Here I am snowed under again ... no, not with real snow, just those many details that seem to crowd my day ... and it's all my fault, Southernmush ... and I apologize, to you ... and others ... for failing to keep up my portion of the conversation. It seems I'm always trying to catch up ... and I appreciate your patience. I appreciate your comments, too ... especially when I discover that one of my poems has found a home in a handwritten journal. I can think of no higher honor ... and I thank you so much for that. It really helps to keep me going. Best wishes.

Monday, September 17, 2007


I think today's poem requires little in the way of explanation.

When the idea came to me and I tried to capture it on paper, I struggled to squeeze as much into eight short lines as I possibly could.

I was operating then under the mistaken impression that Capper's ... where I was thinking I might submit it ... only published eight-line poems.

I believe, however, that I may have succeeded in conveying my central message: The world does take on a new aspect when we view it with "new eyes."

Oh, if we could just manage to maintain that perspective.

The poem:


The landscape

seems different

from yesterday,

brighter, softer,

and yet the same

in all details.

Could it be that


have changed?



(originally published in Capper's)


Today's word:


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sudden Thunder

The skies were a bit threatening, but nothing serious, as I set out on my morning walk. Still, I had chosen one of my intermediate routes, which would add two miles to my good-behavior record, rather than the usual one mile ... or, in warm, sunny weather, three miles.

I'm sure there had been some rumblings, but nothing to worry about, just a bit of background music as I went strolling along, my thoughts a million miles away.

I was somewhere along Watervliet Avenue, heading generally east, when a sudden explosion of thunder got my attention. Did it ever. It was so loud that "nearby" seems an understatement.

I remember turning - I have no idea what I expected to see - but I turned, found myself looking down this driveway, and there, in the wind and rain, was this beautiful rose, bending and straightening, almost as though beckoning to me.

I've tried to fix that exact location in memory, but I have yet to locate that precise driveway, that fence, that rose again.

I must have been soaked by the time I got home, but I don't remember changing into dry clothing. I don't think I was chased all the way home by lightning. I would certainly remember that. But do remember that moment when I turned and discovered that rose.

I'll always remember that.

The poem:


I was walking,

cradled in thought,

when a nearby

crash of thunder

wheeled me

and I stood looking

down a long driveway

at a deep red rose

that was leaning

and straightening

beside a dark

gray fence.

For the longest

moment I remained

rooted there, letting

the rain trickle

down my neck,

drip from my

fingers, admiring

this beautiful flower

that had drawn me

to it with

a clash of cymbals,

brittle song

of thunder.

© 2003

(from my first collection, Chance of Rain, published in 2003 by Finishing Line Press)


Today's word:


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Moon Tonight

I grew up in the country ... not on a farm, but in the country ... away from city lights.

As a result of that ... and hearing my gandfather talk so many times about the phases of the moon ... its importance in the planting of crops ... knowing about its pull on those distant oceans ... its effect on young lovers ... I was always intrigued by the moon.

The front porch swing provided a great vantage point for watching the giant harvest moon rising slowly over the hills.

I remember being so intrigued by the quarter moon ... the new moon ... the moon showing in the late daytime sky.

When one lives in the city, though, the moon can become a forgotten item ... unless it really asserts itself as we're coming up the driveway on a late-winter evening.

Then there's no denying it. I still remember that evening ... can almost hear a choir, singing a cappella, celebrating the rising of that moon.

The poem:


What a gorgeous sight,

lodged in the darkness

of the walnut tree,

the nearer maples joining

to hold it, glowing

in the late-winter sky,

broken, and yet whole,

like a stained-glass

window catching evening

light, holding it high

under the ceiling while

voices rise in song.



(originally published in Capper's)


Today's word:

a cappella

Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:

Thank you for stopping by, Leigh ... and for leaving a comment. That's not required, of course, but always appreciated ... and I'm especially pleased when someone indicates that they can see the picture I've tried to paint with my words. Then I know I've succeeded. And I agree ... children who "grow up with paved playgrounds miss out on so much."

Oh, thank you, Southernmush. I'm delighted that you feel this poem brings the moon to life. I hope you're feeling better, too. Take care.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Grandpa Will Getcha

Okay, so maybe I'm rushing the season a bit ... or maybe not ... I do seem to be bumping into a lot of pumpkins these days ... in and around the stores where I stroll on my daily walks.
Halloween just seems to come earlier each year.
One of these years, I suppose, it will be combined with our observance of New Year's Day.

Be that as it may ... this poem, based on an early frightening experience, is further evidence of why I write very few rhyming poems and perhaps shouldn't attempt any.
I keep telling friends and fellow writers that I find it very difficult to advance the story line while maintaining even a semblance of meter and rhyme. It's true. So true.

To borrow a phrase, it's hard work. Really hard work.
But, with much labor in this instance, the dirty deed was done. The poem was sent out to mingle with strangers, found a friend at one magazine, and was published.
The poem:

It was a dark Halloween night

With nary a goblin in sight,
No place to go, nothin' to do.
Where to turn, I hadn't a clue.

But wait! My brain just clicked on:

SOAP A FEW WINDOWS flicked on,
And quickly it was bar to pane,
Making abstract strokes, in the main.

Then, looking in, what did I see?
My Grandpa, looking out at me.
No little smile did he bestow
As he swiftly took me in tow.

So with a pail and a wet sponge
My fine art I had to expunge
Till the windows were far cleaner
Than they had been. My demeanor?

Subdued now. A tad smarter, too:
Soaping our own was dumb, it's true,
And getting caught was SO SCARY

The next time I was more wary.

© 1997

(originally published in Parnassus Literary Journal)


Today's word: scary

Thursday, September 6, 2007

At the Wheel

I sometimes write about driving ... or other drivers ... but not today.

The wheel referred to in today's poem is a potter's wheel ... that device on which a glob of clay is tossed, then, with an expert touch as the wheel goes whirling round and round, gradually becomes a work of art.

It may become something quite fragile, or it may turn out to be a very substantial piece, depending on the imagination ... and skill ... of its creator.

I feel that same process at work when I toss a glob of words on the wheel (I always hope it's a somewhat orderly collection of words, even in the beginnings of a poem). Then the revisions, the serious shaping and reshaping begins.

Over time those words take on new shapes, new meanings, sometimes quite fragile, sometimes substantial. Then I let the reader judge ... in light of his or her own experience, for the reader always brings something to the poem.

This one was originally published in Candlelight Poetry Journal:


I sit watching

these words

mounded, whirling,

rising at the touch

of my fingers,

becoming something

I shall slide

into the glowing kiln

of understanding

and, warmed by it,

stand marveling

at what I've made.

© 1998


Today's word: substantial

Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:

Welcome back, Marti! We've missed you ... I hope your visit today means your computer is behaving once again ... glad you're able to find a few moments to join the conversation here. Best wishes.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


I don't recall the date, exactly, but I do recall that evening, sitting, trying to read, pausing as I felt the house "filling with quiet," then reaching for a pen, a scrap of paper, so I could record my feelings.

My thoughts did seem to be "shy and skittery," like field mice, it occurred to me. I imagined the sound of their tiny feet, running in a quiet place, like the house where I was alone that winter evening, or perhaps a country church ... during prayer.

Fortunately, my being alone was a condition of short duration ... only a few evenings, as I recall ... but it helped me to identify with those for whom sitting alone in the quiet of a house, apartment, or room, is a continuing thing.

I hope I managed to capture a degree of that, too. The poem:


The house fills

with quiet tonight,

only my thoughts

moving about,

shy and skittery

like field mice

in a country church

during prayer.

© 1999

(originally published in Riverrun)


Today's word: skittery

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Trail of Thanks

Sometimes I think I spend too much time explaining the poems I post here.

Oh, I think it's helpful to describe what inspired a particular poem, where I was when I wrote it, why I went ahead to share it with you (a lot of my poems ... shy creatures that they are ... still reside in my handwritten journals ... or on tiny scraps of paper).

But the poem ... like today's ... sometimes explains itself. It requires no further words from me. And still I go on and on ... sometimes ... but not today. I am trying very hard ... today ... not to overdo it.

Speaking of thanks, though ... I'd like to thank those who have ordered copies of Hollyhocks, my second collection of poems, to be released by Finishing Line Press in early November.

These early purchases help to establish how many copies of this limited edition will be published ... AND the earlybirds are each saving $2 (during the pre-publication sales period ... which ends October 3 ... the shipping and handling charge is waived).

If you haven't ordered ... but would like to ... you may do so online. Or, if you'd rather order the old-fashioned way ... like I do ... via regular mail ... I can see that you get an order form. Just let me know.

Otherwise, I will not phone you while you're having supper, nor will I come around to knock on your door ... or twist your arm, should we bump into each other on our way to the grocery store.

Meanwhile, today's poem:


Tiny morsels

of my thanks

mark the trail

I have come,

leading back

to a grandmother

who reared me

as her very own,

etching her lessons

on the innermost

growth rings

of my young mind.

I am thankful

for her lessons,

herexample making

my journey easier.



(originally published in Capper's)


Today's word: