Long poem by
Sarah Bryant | Details
When I was a child
Everything was magical
Full of mystery and the unknown
I read hundreds of books
The library my haven
Hours upon hours
Night and day
I read and got lost in text
They supplied me with adventures
Fun and fairy tales
I absorbed the words like a sponge
The books were my food
I devoured chapters of verse
Engrossed in paper previously trees
Entered my own little world
In my childhood dreams
Fairies were my friends
We played hop scotch on stumps of old trees
Jumped gaily across ponds
Using lily pads as our stepping stones
We stopped to talk to frogs and toads
Who sung in chorus
As we made our way along
We threw leaves in the air with glee
I danced in the rain
With pixies and elves
Gnomes and leprechauns gently teased
No hate or malice is allowed here
Just happiness and lots of cheer
Together we played hide and seek
The invisible creatures cheated of course!
“That’s not fair!” we all cry
“It’s only a game!” They reply
We forgive them
It’s all part of their charm
We chased each other through dense woodlands and trees
The bright round moon giving us some light
It was dark and spooky
But exciting at the same time
We were happy
I wanted to dream day and night
The pixies were a bit naughty
Used to hide the keys to doors
But we were all magical in my dreams
We walked straight through them
Keys were just objects
We became like shadows we
Shimmering through walls
The pixies played tricks on us
They lay in wait behind trees
Jumping out on springy green legs
They frighten us with a start
The fairies reprimand them
But pixies do not care
The tiny creatures laugh their pointed shoes off
And they run along
To another dark place
To startle us once again
The gnomes are round bodied and happy
All dressed the same
In floppy hats and wide belts
Stand in your garden perfectly still
They guard it from all things bad with pride
But they hide a secret as well
They run around your garden
Moving objects from their place
They play leapfrog on toadstools
Knock on your door and run away
You will never hear them
Or see them indeed
They are invisible to most at play
The gnomes chase the bees away
They want the honey for themselves
To eat on toast
Or give Winnie the Pooh
They guard the flowers
Like neighbourhood watch
Miniature security guards
Less than a foot tall
They stop deathly still
Looking like statues
As soon as they know you are there
The garden is a haven
For birds and animals alike
And the tiny magical creatures
Keep everything so bright
The fairies give it colour
The pixies provide aroma
Witches make the potions
To fertilise the earth
The sun shines down to bless it
Making it all look nice
Everyone helps in their own little way
And at night it comes alive
Fairies would take me to their home
Deep within dense bushes they live
At the bottom of an old tree
A tiny door is hidden in the stump
I shrink so I will fit in the door
Oh my days it’s so pretty inside
A never ending cave full of twinkling lights
Jewels gleam and shine within the walls
The floor is glittering with grains of gold
The sky is the ceiling
Bright shining stars challenge the blackness of the night
The paths are lined with flowers
The colours of the rainbow in full bloom
The fairies and I skip along
Arm in arm
To a kingdom far beyond
We slide up rainbows here
To get from place to place
And back down the other side
A rollercoaster of dreams you could say
The little leprechauns help us
They are our guide
In my childhood dreams fairy tales came true
I met Cinderella at the ball
Looking beautiful in her gown
A pale shade of baby blue
It sparkled as she danced
Trailing behind her along the ground
Swirling as her Prince Charming swung her around
In tune to the music
Sung by her friends who had helped her in the past
When her life was hard
She scrubbed floors till she was sore
While her sisters laughed on full of scorn
I met her fairy godmother too
Floating in on a cloud to attend
A lace dress of pure white
With diamonds that glistened
It sparkled like a million lights
She was elegant
Spoke softly and slowly
She was calming and had grace
Her hair was as white as snow
Her eyes as blue as ice
Her magic wand twinkled as she cast her spells of love
Conjuring all things nice
Snow White was there
With seven dwarves of course
He didn’t look happy
To go I suspect he was forced
Bashful met a beautiful girl
He was too shy to ask her out
He had met Cinderella before
He loved her but from afar
But he was happy she was happy
With her new groom the prince
They looked beautiful together
And shined like stars
Aladdin wasn’t invited
Because of the forty thieves
The tortoise got there early
Just plodded along with no rush
The hare raced past him but wore himself out
Plenty of time he could afford
He had a quick sleep
The tortoise strolled past
And arrived at the castle before
The hare was late
Had a very red face
Always in a hurry
He never ever learns
And always underestimates
Jack climbed up his beanstalk instead of the stairs
Because the castle was so tall
At the top of the beanstalk were where giants lived
The biggest ones of all
He arrived with a present
More beans wrapped in gold
They looked like sweets
With wrappers shiny and bright
Cinderella was impressed and she smiled
She asked Jack if she could use his beanstalk
He said “Of course be my guest!”
She walked over to her ugly sisters
Told them stories of great riches and the rest
Of jewels and princes too
Of kingdoms they could own
Their greed will be the end of them
Their fate they could not know
We all laughed silently
As the ugly sisters climbed the dense
Their screams heard by kingdoms beyond
As Cinderella took her revenge
Using the Woodmans axe as her aid
She chopped the beanstalk down by half
Her sisters fell
The giants landing on top of them
Her revenge made
Goldilocks was there
With the three bears
Daddy, mummy and baby too
They didn’t like the party food
And there was no porridge in any bowl
Baby bear started crying
Until the fairy godmother came along
She waved her twinkly magic wand again
Three bowls of porridge appear in an instant
The bears tucked in happily
But Goldilocks had to decline
She told me she’s sick of porridge
I told her I feel the same way inclined
We all danced the night away happily
Took turns to fly with Peter Pan
It was way too late for the kids to be up
But Wendy sneaked out anyway
She flew there with Peter in the dark
Her hair was messed up
The wind blew it wild
But she was happy to be there
Cinderella was her friend
She wouldn’t have missed it for the world
Copyright © Sarah Bryant | Year Posted 2015
Long poem by
Corey Johnson | Details
The Sun Is a Liar
It’s been quite some time since I've awoke early enough to meet the sun coming over the horizon. As I gazed out the window from my bedroom window seat, the sky was cloud free, allowing the warm rays of the sun to kiss my face like a loved one. At that moment a memory of something my grandmother used to say came to me. “A bright sunrise meant a good day.” As a young child it was easy to believe her and as I got little older I remember trying my best to keep believing.
We lived in an apartment at the Harriet Tubman Towers, a low income project development in Raleigh, NC. Before then, we lived with Grams, she rented a two-bedroom house in a slightly better neighborhood. Four years ago we had to move, because Grams died and momma couldn’t afford the rent. Our apartment was a lot smaller than my Gram’s house, but at least Janae and I had our own bedroom. Momma never did the stuff that real parents do. I guess its because she had me at fourteen and with Grams sick most of the time from cancer, she couldn’t teach her how to be a momma. I don’t know, maybe I’m just making up excuses for her, because who taught me? When my baby sister Janae was born I was almost six years old. I remember early one morning I was awakened by Janae’s cry. I tried to fall back to sleep, but she wouldn’t stop crying. I sat up in bed and looked around, momma had a pillow over her head trying to drown out the sound of her cry. I got out of bed, then stood in front of Janae’s crib and stared through the same wooden bars that once confined me until I discovered how to escape. The more momma tried to ignore Janae’s cry the more she screamed. Flipping to her back, she kicked her legs and stretched her arms out and shook, as she turned red with anger. I walked over to momma and tugged at her covers.
“Momma, nae-nae’s crying.” She moved away from me.
I tugged again, “Momma, nae-nae’s crying.”
She pulled the pillow tighter to her head and yelled at me from beneath. Since momma did that a lot, I knew it meant leave her alone. I returned to my baby sister and watched as tears rolled down the sides of her face and into her hair. The bottle of red Kool-Aid momma put her to bed with last night, laid half full where she was unable to reach. I slid my arm through the wooden bars and put it in her mouth. The crying stopped and that was the beginning. Thereafter, when Janae would cry in the morning I was the one who would give her a bottle. Janae learned to crawl and walk quickly, I guest any baby would if they were kept in a crib for most of the day. I became more responsible for her needs; she came to me before she would momma. I didn’t mind too much, at least she had someone to care for her when she was neglected by momma. Grams used to do the same thing for me before she got too sick to do it anymore. In away Janae’s dependence on me made me feel needed and loved. Before she was born only Grams made me feel like that. I guess that’s why I was so mad at God for taking her away from me. When I got a little older, I remembered she was in a lot pain and going to Heaven would help her feel better. Then I understood and was no longer mad with God. I think it was Grams who asked God to give me a little sister, so I wouldn’t be alone after she was gone.
Momma had no problem giving all her attention and affection to the men who came in and out of our lives like the changing seasons. Some of them were ok, but most just took from us and never gave anything. They would eat the little food we had and bring their friends over to watch sports, or play video games, so we hardly ever got to watch TV. Two things about momma’s boyfriends made me mad the most, one, the attention they got from her was attention that should’ve been given to Janae and me, and whenever one would be around for more than a few months or more momma had us call him daddy. I hated that, especially since it made me feel momma could care less if we knew who our real daddies were. Grams told me my real daddy’s parents were in the military and while momma was pregnant with me they were transferred to a military base in Germany. She said, although he was only sixteen at the time, he loved momma and intended to live up to his responsibility. That he wanted momma to go with them, but his parents wouldn’t allow it and he had no other family or money to stay here with her. I heard different from some of the neighborhood ladies. They didn’t like momma, because they said she was a home wrecker and they spread rumors about her and my real daddy’s relationship. That he flipped when momma tried to accuse him of being the father. He denied ever touching her and refused to have anything to do with her. Who knows what the real truth is, people gossip and add their own little bits just to make it more interesting. Besides, who cares which version was true. All that mattered was he wasn’t there for me.
Many times I stood in front of the mirror and tried to imagine myself as a man. I knew it was strange, but there was a good reason, at least for me there was. I didn’t resemble momma, nor anyone in her family, so I must look like my daddy or somebody in his family. When I imagined myself as a man, I got an idea of what my daddy must look like. It’s awful not knowing who your daddy is, it’s like a part of me was missing and the fact momma could care less made it even worse. I thought about what life would’ve been like if he hadn’t moved away. Maybe momma would’ve been a better momma had he stayed around. I hated to dwell on stuff like that, because it hurt, it even made me mad sometimes. Didn’t he care about me, wasn’t he curious, if I was a boy or girl? Didn’t he consider for one minute it would hurt to never know my daddy?
And just like I done with momma I found myself making excuses for his absence in my life, but they didn’t wash over. Because, what it all boiled down to, he was my daddy and daddies are supposed to love and be there for their children. As I reached my late teens the pain still existed, but not as deep. Possibly I learned how to deal with it, or maybe I considered my little sister’s situation. Her daddy was absent too and I don’t think momma even had a clue who he was, so I imagine her daddy issues will be more painful. I knew I couldn’t take away the empty feeling of being fatherless, but I promised myself and Janae I would do all I could to shelter her from the anguish of our dysfunctional childhood, as much as possible. I’m sure by the time she’s my age there’ll be many questions about her daddy that will more than likely remain unanswered.
In my childhood the sunrise in Raleigh was bright more often than not, just as it was a liar, more often than not. Because when it came to good days, they were few and far between.
Copyright © Corey Johnson | Year Posted 2016
Long poem by
Sarah Bryant | Details
The three little pigs came to the ball
Tried to blow the castle down
It didn’t work
It was made of solid gold
So they gave up and sat at their trough
And snorted quite a lot
They started poor Sneezy off
His allergies he couldn’t control
Living up to his name
He sneezed and sneezed
His nose was dripping like a tap
And was feeling rather wet and cold
He wipes it on his long red sleeve
Snow White told him off
“Use a hanky!” She exclaims raising her arms with a sigh
He marches across the crowded room
He cannot see what’s in front of him
Arms folded and only a foot high
A pixie lays a banana skin down
And he slips up and falls
I giggle and laugh
As he chases her round the hall all night
I watched in amazement
As my fairy tales came to life
They were all my friends
I had so many
The witches were my favourites
Their cackle made me laugh
With their pointed black hats
And black silky cats
They cast spells all the time
The cauldron held potions
The ingredients a mystery
A secret kept by the coven
I am sure they would have told me what was in it if I’d asked
The smell of potions cooking
Started Sneezy off once more
I handed him a hanky
He went home early
Walked a long way back
Whistling all the while
He lived far far away
But as soon as Sneezy fell asleep
His snoring could be heard for miles
My childhood dreams were full of excitement
Adventure and fun all the way
My toys came to life
My dolls could walk and talk on their own
We talked for hours about school and our friends
We chanted nursery rhymes
Bringing them to life too
Although some of them are scary
I don’t like spiders
I’m glad Miss Muffet left hers at home
Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall
I lost count of how many times
The King’s horses and his men
Put him together again and again
But he was round like an egg
He couldn’t balance on his tiny legs
He fell off the wall for the last time
The King’s horses and men gave up
Poor old Humpty sat crumpled on the hill
Until Jack and Jill came up
They used sellotape and glue
Plasters and bandages
And fixed him up like new
In my childhood dreams I could speak any tongue
To reptiles and animals too
Insects and fish
I would talk to for ages
I was like Dr Doolittle
They talked to me too
Dogs told me stories
Of chewing up toys
And such things like slippers from your feet
Even naughtier they tell of eating the Sunday chicken
Before the family sat down to eat
Cats told me funny tales
Of tripping owners down the stairs
Of meowing loudly to get let out
Bringing in mice
Rats and birds too
Making their owners scream out loud
Because cats are like that
They don’t need people
They have nine lives
Are independent and survivors
But I know they love their snuggles
Despite them being so proud
In my childhood dreams
The stars were family now passed
Watching down over me with the angels as I sleep
They talk to me like normal
Like they’re still here with us
They take me to their new home
Heaven in the clouds above
Angels play golden harps
Raining glitter of silver sparkles everywhere
So beautiful and at peace
The pain no longer on their face
I guess my mum was right
They are in a better place
My childhood dreams were of faraway places
Beaches in the sun
Playing in the warm sea
And of pirate adventures
Oo Arh Captain!
Having fun all day long
I dreamt of rainbows I could climb
To find my pot of gold
I dreamt of finding my own Prince Charming
Of having children of my own
My childhood dreams were full of wonderment
Christmas a magical time
I would watch the elves
Hard at work
Both night and day
Getting presents made
Wrapped and ready
To load up Rudolph’s sleigh
Through the skies we rode
Over chimneys and skyscrapers
Seas and oceans
Through warm days and cold nights
Different time zones
Clocks go backwards here
To give us more time
Everyone helps at Christmas
It’s a holy time
My childhood dreams were enchanted
Full of magic and adventures
My friends were not human
They had magical powers
We travelled throughout time and space
Together we ruled the world
I danced with fairies
Played with gnomes
Attended glamorous balls
I had a life of mystery and bliss
There the impossible was possible
I had a fairy godmother
Who would grant me wishes
Not just three
If I wished for something
It would appear
Anything I need
If I felt sad my toys would cheer me up
The clowns would do tricks
My Barbie dolls presented fashion parades
My teddies would dance in front of me
My childhood dreams were dreams that came to life
To accompany me on my way
From being a child to an adult now
I remember my friends from those days
Sometimes I wonder if they were real
I look in my garden at the gnomes
I swear I see them moving
Out the corner of my eye
I see my daughter watching
Only one year old but she laughs
I swear she sees what I saw
And I feel a tiny bit jealous
I whisper into my baby girls’ ear
Say hello to them for me
To the pixies and the fairies
The witches and gnomes
To the fairy tales and nursery rhymes
And the things I will never tell
The secrets that were given me
By my magical friends way back then
Will stay with me always
I feel safe in the knowledge
They will accompany you on your way
Even now when I look in the skies above
I say a prayer to the stars
The lost people I still love no longer visit me
But I know that they are still there
My childhood dreams were amazing
I know my daughters will be too
I read to her the stories I heard
The ones that inspired me
Gave me my imagination and growth
I know she’s only one year old
And she doesn’t understand
But very soon she will
Be dreaming in wonderland
Dancing with fairies soon
My friends will be her friends
I know they will look after her
Take her to the magical places
I remember and hold in my heart
And give her the most amazing gift
Copyright © Sarah Bryant | Year Posted 2015
Long poem by
cassie hellberg | Details
sometimes i talk to myself,
my mind is racing,
i dont know what to do...
so hard to explain.
depression isn't a stage
or a faze some kids go through
it shatters you...
i saw it all.
she cried silent in her bed,
blood stains covered her favorite jeans,
her every shirt,
long sleeve ofcourse...
she suffered through it all with few people to call friend
and more to call enemy
even more to say where quite dissappointed....
her first name in school,
not started by a bully
or a mean rival,
but by her sister,
and it echoed through her soul,
repeating in her mind... over and over again,
like the ripples of still water
when a pebble is dropped
flash frozen in time
over and over again...
It was the first name they gave her,
millions where created over the years,
some repeating again, just as the first had..
gothic they called her,
emo, fat, ugly....worse things.
but in her mind, things where worse.
everything was repeating,
over and over again,
finally she believed it.
she asked for help, from everyone
tried to explain to parents she wasnt well,
got called a psycho for asking to see a theripist,
not from a teacher,
not from a class mate,
but from her own father, who wouldn't, couldn't,
believe there could possibly be a thing wrong....
finally, crying, she confessed her bloody secret to a teacher.
rather then giving her time,
she is sent back to class crying her eyes out, as if she wherent going through enough...
she is sent to the principals office a few minutes later, after breaking down in class...
the princlipal says she needs help,
sends her and her dad for a risk evaluation,
her dads crying as she shows him her cuts...
they walk into a hospital room,
it smells of chemicals and hand sanitizer,
the lady at the desk gives her a smile.
then she goes into a room with a lady,
her cheeks are sunken in and shes wearing way too much makeup,
the girl is gaging on her perfume,
and she looks really intimidating....
her dark brown hair looks dead and flat
even though its a bit wavy,
and she wears somewhat of a mocking frown.
asks her all these questions,
is mommy beating her?
is daddy raping her?
is she doing drugs?
is anyone beating her?
did anyone molest her?
oxcarbezapine, trazadone, citalipran, clinazapam, colonipan,
valium, lithium, more.......
and thats what they gave her,
some numbed the pain
some brought it out
tearing through her organs,
she became an addict by the time she was fourteen....
over dose after over dose
some for pleasure
some for pain,
gashes on her legs getting deeper,
this time she didnt tell a soul,
not even those she had come to call friends....
wakeup she screamed in her head over and over again
as she dropped weight like it was nothing....
you cant controll it she argued as things became worse.
at age fourteen she attempted suicide,
she didnt quite succeed.
the medication took away her aappitite....
she liked it
she hated her body
felt out of controll
found a new way to cope
as she shoved tooth brush after toothbrush down her throat
to keep her body from nuitrients...
as she whent weeks and weeks spitting food into napkins and making excuses
I ate at my friends house....
spoken as a whisper
heard like a sentance
echoing in her mind over and over again,
along with that word, all the words,
ugy, anoying, stupid, fake, worthless, nothing...
one bite she would say
rocking back and forth
craving nothing but food
her body racked with hunger pain
one bite and there she was again
over and over and over again
back to a toothbrush
this time she sees blood
she saw her ribs
she saw her bones,
it wasnt good enough,
she almost died, again....
choking on this deep dissappointment in herself,
gaging on everything they where pushing down her throat,
their words, and their insults, their criticism.... their drugs
all shoved down her throat like candy
and just as she was was trained to do she swallowed despite the bad taste
or the hurt
or the fact that at the rate she was going she would be dead soon...
and you know why?
because daddy yelled
and couldnt accept what was happening
not because he wanted to hurt her
but because it hurt him,
and she let him believe,
because she could take the hurt if it meant he didnt have too.
because mommy didnt want to sit in her room all day
practically having us raise ourselves,
she didnt mean to take anger, or frustration or hurt out on her daughter
she suffered everyday in her solitary confinement,
and from a young age she accepted her bedroom was the cage
her mother had created for herself.
because sister didnt want to effect her the way she did
she was just frustrated
fed up with the way things where
scared, she needed someone to take her cruelty
and to help heal her pain...
because people in school
who where so cruel
had to have learned from somewhere
and she wasnt going to play into their games,
and they knew she was an easy target
because she would never attack someone so weak
and she accepted her suffering was a sacrafice
to help all these people....
to help her dad,
every person who was beaten abused or hurt
and felt so weak at home they wanted to feel strong in the one safe place they had.
because depite the fact she had died inside,
and almost passed away on the out,
it was a saccrafice she was willing to make
so that no one else would have to feel that kind of pain,
and they all inflicted it and broke her down'untill there was nothing left but a shell
of somthing that could have been
and never had the chance
because she would take it and wouldnt strike back,
because sometimes "just taking it"
isnt so much about the weakness not to do anything
but about the strangth not to hurt others the way they hurt you...
Copyright © cassie hellberg | Year Posted 2013
Long poem by
Michelle Waters | Details
I am an Outlander
Who lives on a high hill
Overlooking a man-made lake
That once was a rapidly rushing river
Along whose banks the Ozarks Bluff Dwellers and the Osage and then Delaware
Hunted, fished, and created shelter
For their families
Where their children ran freely
While red-tailed foxes sneaked softly
Through the forests and the
Wise Night Owl chatted with the
I am a child of Outlanders
Who came from the North
To live along the banks of the man-made lake
Where a small fishing resort, built by my father,
Nestled at the base of yet another high hill, and from the crest of that hill
The southern arm of the lake could be viewed unhindered.
Miles of blue and white water danced in the afternoon sun.
Between Table Rock Dam on my right and Long Creek Bridge on my left,
The main channel branched off- broke loose- and formed the cove
Which we shared with Dan and Cuba Norris at their dude ranch
Located by the side of the Devil’s Pool-
That ancient, sacred, cleansing spring of the Osage men.
The back waters of the cove edged our front yard.
The steep, timber and rock strewn slopes cloaked the sides and back of the 80 acres that
Mr. Curbow sold to my father shortly before the dam’s completion.
Perched between the wooded areas, and the cedar glade,
A ledge rock served as my look-out, like
A sentinel standing guard over acres of scrubby plants and limestone that my father
Transformed into grassy green patches and rocked-up retaining walls,
Laboring as the pioneer settlers had a century before-
He and my mother, pioneers themselves, carved out a home where
Dogwood and redbud trees scattered themselves amid the cedar.
In the spring, they checkered the hills in pink and white and green.
Later, verbena, black-eyed Susan, coneflower, milkweed, and Indian paint-brush
Fashioned a palette of ever-changing tones and hues.
I am an Outlander
Who went to school in a small town that
Once was a humming railroad station where
Farmers marketed fruits and vegetables and wild game,
Shipping their goods out of the land from that
Tiny railroad town, snuggly fit among limestone bluffs, the White River, and Turkey Creek.
They tell me, long years ago,
There by the creek, an old woman lived
Who washed her clothes on a rock each Monday,
While her boy played contentedly in the deeper water nearby.
Generations of children splashed gleefully
In that once glistening, iridescent Granny Hole.
I am an Outlander who continues to live in a growing town whose people
Once, only provisionally, greeted the laughter of holiday makers- those
Wealthy sportsmen and their wives
Who stepped off the train
From far off cities
To camp along the water’s edge or
To lazily float the river with Jim Owen in locally crafted Jon boats
Or, having read Mr. Wright’s celebrated novel,
Trekked the rough and rocky roads in search of
Old Matt and Aunt Molly and the shepherd of the hills.
City-dwellers came to embrace, for a time, the goodness of a fading life-style
When native hill folk families gathered neighborly to
Fill the valleys with songs of long ago troubadours.
Outlanders came, time and time again,
To find balance in themselves within the exquisite Ozark hills, and
As did my parents, and those before them,
Many returned to stay.
Pioneers and Transplanted Outlanders
Forging common values and visions for the future
Mutual conservers of the land
I am an Outlander’s daughter who looks out over
These hills and hollows now choked with highway billboard signs, half-empty theatres,
go-cart tracks, and flashing neon lights,
I find myself mourning deeply the invasion of
Greed-driven, treasure-seeking speculators, whose
Coaxing with cunning words triggered an invasion of outsiders
Seemingly unconcerned about preserving the natural or cultural landscape
I watch family farms transform into cheaply-built, cookie-cutter housing hubs- and
I grieve the loss of the quiet, family-owned fishing resorts.
Time-share vacation condos, signature golf courses, and shopping malls have
Swallowed up centuries -old oak trees
Today’s visitors, looking for faster-paced amusements and thrills,
Arrive in the “Land of a Million Smiles”
Hell-bent on having manufactured family fun and patriotic fervor.
They rush from venue to venue and shop to shop, then
Leave without ever questioning the cost.
Progress rides across the landscape as did the
Bushwhackers and Baldknobbers of old
Assaulting the environment,
Usurping the ambiance,
Eroding the ecosystem
Deaf- deaf to the living symphony of nature floating softly in the evening sunset.
I am an Outlander who has lived upon these high hills
For more than a half century
Admittedly sharing in the alteration of the environment, regretfully-
But mindful of the historical richness of the land, the need to preserve its character
As does the doe who brings her speckled twins to the clearing in June and the
Turkey hen her brood of bobbing-headed babies marching in single file across my yard.
I watch my grandchildren
Run and laugh and chase fireflies on this ancient slope.
They swim and fish the same waters that shaped the adjacent hillsides eons ago.
Yes, I am an Outlander who lives on a high hill
Overlooking a man-made lake
That may, in time, again become a rapidly rushing river
Along whose banks other Outlanders may come to
Hunt, fish, and seek shelter
For their families.
Hopefully, their children will run freely
While red-tailed foxes sneak softly
Through the forests and the
Wise Night Owl chats with the
©2010 Michelle Waters
Copyright © Michelle Waters | Year Posted 2017
Long poem by
Carl Halling | Details
I remember my cherished Wolf Cub pack,
How I loved those Wednesday evenings,
The games, the pomp and seriousness of the camps,
The different coloured scarves, sweaters and hair
During the mass meetings,
The solemnity of my enrolment,
Being helped up a tree by an older boy,
Baloo, or Kim, or someone,
To win my Athletics badge,
Winning my first star, my two year badge,
And my swimming badge
With its frog symbol, the kindness of the older boys.
I remember a child's West London.
One Saturday afternoon, after a football match
During which I dirtied my boots
By standing around as a sub in the mud,
And my elbow by tripping over a loose shoelace,
An older boy offered to take me home.
We walked along streets,
Through subways crammed with rowdies,
White or West Indian, in black gym shoes.
"Shuddup!" my friend would cheerfully yell,
And they did.
"We go' a ge' yer 'oame, ain' we mite, ay?"
"Yes. Where exactly are you taking me?" I asked.
"The bus stop at Chiswick 'Oigh Stree'
Is the best plice, oi reck'n."
"Yes, but not on Chiswick High Street,"
I said, starting to sniff.
"You be oroight theah, me lil' mite."
I was not convinced.
The uncertainty of my ever getting home
Caused me to start to bawl,
And I was still hollering
As we mounted the bus.
I remember the sudden turning of heads.
It must have been quite astonishing
For a peaceful busload of passengers
To have their everyday lives
Suddenly intruded upon
By a group of distressed looking Wolf Cubs,
One of whom, the smallest,
Was howling red-faced with anguish
For some undetermined reason.
After some moments, my friend,
His brow furrowed with regret,
As if he had done me some wrong, said:
"I'm gonna drop you off
Where your dad put you on."
Within seconds, the clouds dispersed,
And my damp cheeks beamed.
Then, I spied a street I recognised
From the bus window, and got up,
Grinning with all my might:
"This'll do," I said.
"Wai', Carl," cried my friend,
Are you shoa vis is 'oroigh'?"
"Yup!" I said. I was still grinning
As I spied my friend's anxious face
In the glinting window of the bus
As it moved down the street.
I remember a child's West London.
One Wednesday evening,
When the Pops was being broadcast
Instead of on Thursday,
I was rather reluctant to go to Cubs,
And was more than usually uncooperative
With my father as he tried
To help me find my cap,
Which had disappeared.
Frustrated, he put on his coat
And quietly opened the door.
I stepped outside into the icy atmosphere
Wearing only a pair of underpants,
And to my horror, he got into his black Citroen
And drove off. I darted down Esmond Road,
Crying and shouting.
My tearful howling was heard by Margaret,
19 year old daughter of Mrs Helena Jacobs,
Whom my mother used to help
With the care and entertainment
Of Thalidomide children.
Helena Jacobs expended so much energy
On feeling for others,
That when my mother tried to get in touch
In the mid '70s, she seemed exhausted,
And quite understandably,
For Mrs O'Keefe, her cleaning lady
And friend for the main part
Of her married life
Had recently been killed in a road accident.
I remember that kind
And beautiful Irish lady,
Her charm, happiness and sweetness,
She was the salt of the earth.
She threatened to ca-rrown me
When I went away to school...
If I wrote her not.
Margaret picked me up
And carried me back to my house.
I put on my uniform
As soon as she had gone home,
Left a note for my Pa,
And went myself to Cubs.
When Pa arrived to pick me up,
The whole ridiculous story
Was told to Akela,
Baloo and Kim,
Much, much, much to my shame.
I remember a child's West London.
The year was 1963, the year of the Beatles,
Of singing yeah, yeah, yeah in the car,
Of twisting in the playground,
Of "I'm a Beatlemaniac, are you?"
That year, I was very prejudiced
Against an American boy, Raymond,
Who later became my friend.
I used to attack him for no reason,
Like a dog, just to assert my superiority.
One day, he gave me a rabbit punch in the stomach
And I made such a fuss that my little girlfriend, Nina,
Wanted to escort me to the safety of our teacher,
Hugging me, and kissing me intermittently
On my forehead, eyes, nose, cheeks.
She forced me to see her:
"Carl didn't do a thing," said Nina,
"And Raymond came up and gave him
Four rabbit punches in the stomach."
Raymond was not penalized,
For Mademoiselle knew
What a little demon I was,
No matter how hurt
And innocent I looked,
Tearful, with my tail between my legs.
I remember a child's West London.
Copyright © Carl Halling | Year Posted 2015
Long poem by
RUSS duPont | Details
WINTER, 1948 [40 Saxton Street]
The winter nights that pass now
are so unlike the winter nights
that passed before, that I often
struggle back in those suspended moments
when sleep grapples for a hold,
to once again hear the voices of those nights
and smell the smells that lingered
in those well-worn days,
and see my grandmother
standing over her coal stove
where I huddled on frost-filled nights
watching my mother and father,
aunts and uncles play penny poker
while I broke pieces off an old straw broom,
poked them through the grating
and watched them explode into a kaleidoscope
of orange and blue and then die out,
twisting and snaking, all black and stunted.
When the top of the stove got finger-searing hot,
I'd lean over and let spit drop from my lips,
watch it bubble, scamper and dance across
the hellish top until it disappeared in a hiss, a wisp.
There were laughs and shouts
whenever someone won a hand
and raked the pot across the porcelain table-top,
occasionally dropping a precious penny or two
for me to reclaim from the darkness underneath.
While they played, I sometimes crawled
through my grandmother's bedroom,
past the creaking and groaning bed
where, on another night, they hefted
my grandfather to his feet, to the ambulance
that wailed him off to die;
past the rounded, heavy-handled bureau
where she kept the clutters;
the wrinkled and tattered paper bags
of string and stubs of tooth-marked pencils
wadded, worthless bills of the Confederacy,
stamped with the faces of bearded men in stiff collars --
"Naming your children after Confederate
Generals makes for slow, steady drinkers,"
and now I think of the uncle named for Lee
and the nights I hoisted him
out of Eddie Connor's Tavern.
There were half pieces of Juicy Fruit gum
in gold cameo boxes stuffed with coins
and uniform buttons.
There were photos, frayed, crumpled-edge,
pale with time, of old women in print dresses
and always, aprons.
Into the parlor as softly as the old black cat
she kept to find some uncle dozing on the couch.
With a screech wild enough for any Indian,
I was on him, arms flailing, legs around his middle
as we rolled to the carpet and fought great battles
over the room and under the teeter-tottering library table.
Once we tipped over the statue of a headless angel
poised on the prow of a half-sunken ship
and a spider plant, its long thin arms
gangling clusters of finger leaves,
and the laughing stopped.
A shout and a scrape of chairs from the kitchen,
and we scrambled to the hall, to the uncle's room
where we crouched in a lightless corner
until there was only the sound of our breathing
and the hot, sweaty, rug-burned sensation
of battle on our faces.
When the laughter began again
and our breathing quieted,
we climbed onto the bed,
slipped out the smooth, metal-cold
Daisy Air Rifle from its nest
between bed and wall,
gently and quietly lifted the complaining window
and rested the oil-rubbed barrel
on the sill, while our hearts
pounded loud enough
for everyone in the kitchen to hear.
But they didn't.
I cocked the rifle
and aimed it across the street
at old lady Cinderella's shade-drawn window,
sucked in the cold night air
and gently, nervously, hesitantly
squeezed the trigger --
"squeeze it, don't jerk it,"
the uncle beside me whispered.
With a click and a whoosh
the barrel jumped ever-s0-slightly
off the sill, and somewhere in the blackness
a ping resonated in the night.
"Nice shot," the uncle breathed,
and a warmth spread over my face.
"My turn," the voice whispered.
After the card game
there'd be cocoa,
dark, creamy coffee and amber tea
in chipped white mugs, occasionally with
Everyone talked, stirred, tousled our hair
and slipped warm coins
into our damp, ready hands.
Heaps of doughnuts, bloody with jelly
pyramided on movie theatre plates
next to wedges of cervelat, sausage
and thick slices of cheese.
Full mouths chortled and garbled about the game
and Uncle Frank, he of the great beak nose
and occasional long, discolored teeth
let out throaty chuckles,
boasting of brilliant bluffs.
We knew that someday we would sit
at that table, snap and slide
the cards across the smooth surface.
Like Uncle Nick, we'd chew a big cigar,
blow rolling clouds of smoke to the ceiling
and watch them drift back around us
like a pale blue scarf.
The night ended all too quickly
when my father stretched and yawned
and unfolded himself from his chair.
I hated to swap the warmth and the light
for the long walk down streets
glazed with frost and people
walking head down and, it seemed, lonely.
We stood in the crisp night air,
stars flaring like kitchen matches,
until the bus ambled up, wheezing and coughing
like an unsteady drunk.
With a hissing of doors
and a jounce that sent us stumbling
first backward, then forward,
the bus plodded on into the night.
I sat on my father's lap,
braced against the brittle cold
of his leather jacket
as the bus gently rocked and swayed
its way up Dorchester Avenue.
I lay my head against his shoulder
and all eerie lights
passed in front of my eyes,
slowly blurring, blending
and fading into darkness.
Copyright © RUSS duPont | Year Posted 2015
Long poem by
Edwin Hofert | Details
Understanding Suicide Understanding Me
Awhile back I had a dear friend contact me to ask if I heard about the young mans suicide at a nearby towns school. I had not. After asking one time on face book if any one of my friends had heard of any such event. My wall began to fill up with details about his life and his personality. His struggles and even previous attempts to end or erase his existence.
He was described as having dreamy eyes by female classmates when he was younger. He was described as the most polite and well mannered but troubled child one person said they had ever met.
Memories of my own changing years flooded my soul as I thought about it all. I did a school report in what they called then Junior High. And my chosen topic was suicide. I've often asked myself why I chose that topic. Today will be one of the very few times I admit it was on my mind a lot during that period of my life. It wasn't because my home life was unbearable. It wasn't because I had no friends or because my young heart had been broken.
In fact I'm only just now realizing it had almost nothing at all to do with my surroundings. It was something within me. Fear certainly had a part to play. Fear of tomorrow. Fear of never really feeling like I fit in. Even though by all outward appearances I was adjusting as well as the majority of people my age.
There was then and sometimes even now this voice. This relentless cruel and demeaning voice always there to remind me. I'll never be good enough. I will always only get what I deserve and that's why I'll never have anything that lasts. Anything that is true. And truly mine.
I was only given a passing grade for my report on suicide because it was obvious the amount of time and effort I put into it. I was told the topic I chose was wrong for a jr high school project. I had failed again. All of that after listening with blood pumping that we could choose our own topic. Somehow my choice wasn't good enough.
I realize now that my very choice for a topic should have sent off bells and whistles throughout the school that one of their own was thinking thoughts of suicide. But they missed it. They didn't see me at all.
Today I don't know why I chose that topic. But I know that one result of it was the saving of my own life. The understanding I gained by being able to see inside the mind that is tormented by unanswerable questions all starting or ending with why? And the realization that to the troubled mind the ultimate answer to fix the most un fixable things.
Is to end it.
This is the point when discussing suicide where fools love to chime in un researched and selfish insensitive remarks revealing their opinions and the fact that they are a fool.
A wise man knows only what he knows.
And he does not pretend to have already been where he never hopes to go.
People often consider suicide to be a selfish act. Sometimes referring to it as a cowards way out.
I hate that. And I hate anything that tries to simplify something as complex as a human mind that has reached it's breaking point.
The fact is that to the person in the midst of that struggle. It is the most unselfish and heroic thing that they think they could do.
My point is, that it was my understanding of suicide. It's effects and it's consequences that kept me from crossing that line.
After all the details of this young life surfaced and several hours later my dear friend and I talked again. And without saying it I know she was asking about this path I'm on with my poetry. The tributes to loved ones that have died. The heartache and the heartbreak that I see every day sometimes all day long.
And she asked me. Does all the sadness ever get to you? I responded Absolutely.
There are times I struggle beneath its weight. Sometimes I fall. But somehow I manage to get up again and I keep writing and sometimes when I'm lucky I see someones reaction to a poem where all of a sudden they get it. A life changing revelation takes place in that moment in time. And for a minute.
I know the reason I'm alive is to help other people live.
And to find the fullness in their life that I may or may not ever find for myself. It's no longer about me. Because you see somewhere back there that part of me that wanted so badly just to die.
I let it die. And I moved on but not me as I was. A different me. Weaker in some ways and stronger in others. Less proud but more to be proud of. More easily overwhelmed but less breakable.
And so when you see me on the mountaintop and I'm strutting around acting like I belong there. Please. Just let me have that one moment. Because tomorrow I'll be back with the mountain on top of me. Trying to find another way to save someone from going where I have been and hoping to enrich other peoples lives even if it means I know I'm simply going to be passed up along the way.
My reward is you rising above my highest point. My fee for my services? That you never forget how valuable you are. And that you keep pushing forward and never give up.
If you forget me tomorrow. That's ok. But don't forget the things I said. And don't forget to help someone else along the way.
Heart Whisperer Ed Hofert @ facebook
Edwin C Hofert
Copyright © Edwin Hofert | Year Posted 2015
Long poem by
Timothy Hicks | Details
It's been four years since I've seen so much as an insignificant mountain creek. I've been overburdened with comfort, now frantic with nature withdrawals and having to settle for photos found on Google Images: emerald pine trees, blue jays on limbs, moonlight cutting through forests, lakes the color of Windexed glass. It's much like drinking water that's been doused with Crystal Light; you feel yourself becoming hydrated, when in reality it's only satiating your thirst temporarily. So you can imagine my joy when my best friend called me up to break the news:
"Monica, Brandon, Joel and I are gonna go backpacking. Care to join?"
of a cell hitting the floor -
Like a bunch of sardines packed in a can on wheels, we headed out to beautiful Cascade: the place where the Idahoan mountains aren't just paintings from afar, but close enough to taste. We weave our way through the spiderweb of dirt trails, as we each take turns changing songs on Joel's iPod. It's my go and I'm searching through the John Denver list, mourning the fact that there's over a hundred songs by him, and not one of them is Colorado Rocky Mountain High (the one song I could say fit my feelings to a tee). The menagerie of everyone's taste in music made for an interesting trip no doubt - even if Jonathan picked the worst possible jams simply for annoyances sake.
My first peculiar observation:
Humans have been making calendars for thousands of years - the first being more akin to cave drawings and stone tablets than paper - but as long as all that has been going on, the mountains don't care that August is expected to be sultry or that November is expected to be chilly. Because June was taking her first baby steps with a stubborn December mindset - a meandering way to say it was cold enough to freeze your nads off. The five foot mounds of snow made it all the more comical the fact I was wearing plaid shorts. Mother Nature wasn't going to be kind, I could tell.
struggling to stand -
our packs full of crockery
It was breezy at first. We would practically glide down the mountain side, using our backpacks as a counter balance. The snowy counterpart to kangaroos, we were. The glistening flakes were thick enough to snowboard down - granted I never touched a snowboard, let alone ridden one. But after seeing this it gives me ideas ...
Monica smiled for the camera as I fumbled for my iPhone, a smile that didn't even require the forcible Say Cheese! nonsense. It wasn't waiting for the camera flash, but the other way around. Now you might be calling that rather pathetic, but I brought my iPhone along simply for the function of capturing memories. Angry Birds just don't compare to the real ones, sweet with lilting songs.
My second peculiar observation:
Google Images is an absolute horrid plagiarist; some beauty just can't be encapsulated despite all our advances in high-def technology.
The downward slope finally leveled out a bit, if only for a few minutes. Truth be told, the path never stopped declining - some routes were simply more apparent than others. Our group of five walked single file through the trees, all basing our faith that Joel (a person who has been to the site once when the trail WASN'T covered in snow) would lead us in the right direction. And here's another interesting fact: this was no official trail, but a hike through the purest of adventures, unpredictable and unreliable.
crushing pine needles
with un-gloved fingers -
rivers beneath the snow
The first time my whole leg collapsed into the fragile surface of the snow made me realize just how far above the dirt I was walking. I'd ask Brandon for assistance with a beet red blush on my cheeks - I blamed it on my fair skin falling victim to the sunny day. From then on out I tiptoed with exaggerated caution, my heavy pack helping me just as much as it was hindering me, for even a foot drop had to be taken with a grain of salt. Everyone had to adjust to the added weight (except for Monica, with her light load of a sleeping bag and nothing else). I'd very ungracefully glide through twigs and pesky low branches, oblivious to my bare legs. In all honesty the cold didn't get to me, just the scratches of neighboring trees is where my concerns lied. At anytime I could have stopped the whole gang, beaming: "Wait a spell and let me put on some pants for crying out loud!" Of course that never happened. My clothes were in the bottom of my pack, and I was nowhere near desperate enough to monkey around with that sorry mess.
slanting down the cliff edge -
Joel, with his redneck stubble, beams up at me: "Every hiking trip needs a little bit of adventure, don't rush it by any means!" That's the last thing on my mind - the first is whether or not that rock I'm about to put my weight on is as stable as she looks. It's a very roundabout route, and as questionable as it is, it's safer by a long shot than the first path we took - call it a 103 degree wall.
NOTE: Continued in Part 2 ...
Copyright © Timothy Hicks | Year Posted 2016
Long poem by
Goutam Hazra | Details
Scent Of Paddy Flower
By Goutam Hazra
My father told me
I was just a boy then,
“Follow the scent of paddy flower
move with the wind it carries,
surely you will go to heaven.”
he would catch
fistful of wind
bring near to my face
“Isn’t it godly!”
Magically, opened his hand
but I never felt
what scent he meant.
Days of kind rain
“Son, see the misty wind
rushing all over the paddy field
comes every year
to drink the scent of paddy flower.”
Mere as a boy
I could see only
tides of a green plane
touching my little finger
and racing far… too far.
I would ask
“Where have they gone?”
Smiled my father
“Did not you listen,
they are going to heaven,
call the goddess then,
‘come goddess dear’
we all are ready with paddy flower.”
Curious was my face,
“Goddess will arrive smiling
her feet will be here
Seeing a pot in her hand
all those paddy flowers
delighted, will open their mouth more wider
and life will be poured…”
“Where these flowers come from?”
Remained my father smiling
speaking all his mind
looking high at sky
asked me to see there
spoke he again.
“Rain, rain, kind monsoon rain
on the first day of its shower
kind rain would ask me to come here
with bagful of paddy seeds,
‘let seeds be spread all over,
let its eternal relation with soil
be the fertilizer’
when all said is done
starts showering its kind
make visible hiding life in the abyss of seed.
Happy wind changes color
being green all around
waits for the day
when the wind would smell the scent of paddy flower.”
Days passed by,
kind rain was still in waiting
sometimes hidden beyond horizon
or simply making sun blind with its smoky face
and whenever wind said,
‘Dry I’m now’
quenched the thirst.
Someday wind played naughty with sun
asked kind rain to make it misty
and with brushes of sun rays
painted a rainbow on the face of east sky.
Wait was over
green field blossomed with flowers
and wind said,
“Fill in my heart
with scent of flower
I shall bring life…”
Happy was my father’s voice
“Rain, rain, kind monsoon rain
green wind brining life
scent of paddy flower
is made so.
Bare footed be here
print your soul
in the dust of this soil
kind rain will come
green wind being there
life will be yours
with the scent of paddy flower.”
How old was I then
nine or ten
my father looked up
up to the sky
again and again
for a month long
only to see
change of sky’s color
from the color of a summer day to a long humid night.
Dry wind cried at last
over my father’s sweating body
“Rain, rain O kind rain, where have you gone.”
One day sudden
kind rain came again.
Cried to my father
“Why no green wind came this year
to bring me here.
Desert wind why
dry my breath
seeds you have sown
how could I then
enliven with my rain.”
my father had asked the rain.
Short-lived, hurried rain could spell its last breath,
“I am not that rain
as was your friend,
I am the curse of dying forest
I am the ghost of all pollution
I am born out of acid weather…”
Who knew, it left for where?
My father cried
As kind rain left him alone
hiding in a dry wind’s bone.
My father was still
going every morning
asking the soil
if soil could alone
make the paddy flowers to be born.
Year passed by,
came back the time,
for green wind to bring kind rain.
Rain came one day.
as a cloudburst
like an unkind monster
in the life of a simple farmer?
Dumb remained my father
for days together
sad was his voice at last,
“Run away, son, run away from here,
sky rain wind
river village land;
thread of this garland
who cuts it
go, stop now there hand.”
Draught and flood,
uncertainty of life
changed my mind
as of a farmer’s son.
Books, studies and education
reasons, truth and compassion
might have had fulfilled my father’s mission.
Does not this civilization
as the products to do more production.
Run, run and run
run ahead of time
let be it, at the cost of inhaling killer tension,
stress taking over your life.
Insomnia, cholesterol or cynicism
is our success’s companion?
‘A’ is shaped as ‘B’
and ‘B’ is sold as ‘C’.
but I found the basic
what it remain
as life’s supreme conviction
‘simply a fist full of paddy
and its grain’.
Scent of life
So here, I am again
standing in front of this green plane
searching for the shadow of my father.
Green wind surrounds my existence
I can see the dance of those bunches.
My mind whispers to my ear
echoes those words of my father,
“Bare footed be here
print your soul
in the dust of this soil
rain will come
green wind being there
life will be yours
with the scent of paddy flower.”
I never felt so,
what I smell now
is the scent of paddy flower.
Copyright © Goutam Hazra | Year Posted 2013