Thanks to Mike Staton’s post here for inspiring this. When I was growing up in the 1960’s, my family was living in Tucson, Arizona, and a trip downtown was exciting because we had to drive through a large tunnel in order to get there. Dad or Mother kept honking the horn, as we drove through, and I loved the way the sound reverberated.
Once downtown, I enjoyed shopping in department stores with escalators and elevators. During the Christmas season, visiting Santa Claus was the highlight of any shopping trip. We often ate at a cafeteria, where my favorite meal was turkey with dressing and sweet potatoes. On my eleventh birthday, my parents took me and my younger brother to dinner at an Italian restaurant, where we ate outside on a patio.
The Tucson Community Center opened downtown while we were still living there, and Dad and I heard such performers as The Carpenters and Sonny and Cher. This facility also had a music hall where we heard performances of such works as Benjamin Britton’s A Celebration of Carols and Karl Orf’s Carmina Burana. We even heard a production of Rosini’s The Barber of Seville.
After we moved to Sheridan, Wyoming, in 1973, going downtown wasn’t nearly as exciting. The only tunnels were underpasses on the freeway. None of the department stores had escalators. One had an elevator, but it was old and creaky and had to be run by a human operator. However, there was a café where I enjoyed drinking milk shakes after school.
Now, that café has since been replaced by another that doesn’t serve milk shakes. The department store with the elevator is gone, as are other stores that were there during my childhood. I still enjoy walking downtown from my home in favorable weather to do banking and other errands.
Now, in celebration of National Poetry Month, I’ll conclude with a poem I wrote that was inspired by a childhood memory of downtown Sheridan at night. This is an acrostic in which the first letter of each line spells “downtown.” You can click on the title to hear me read it.
with stores of all sorts to delight shoppers who have
not a care in the world, as they stroll
to Penney’s, Woolworth’s
on streets that are crowded
with babies in strollers, children, and adults
needing nothing more than to shop and enjoy.
What do you remember about downtown when you were growing up? What has changed since then?
I’m the author of a romance novel, two poetry collections, and a memoir. My work has appeared in The Avocet and Magnets and Ladders. I have a visual impairment and live in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, I cared for my late husband, who was totally blind and partially paralyzed by two strokes. Before that, I worked as a registered music therapist in a nursing home and other facilities that served senior citizens. For more information, please visit my website and blog.
If as Herod, we fill our lives with things and again things;
If we consider ourselves so important that we must fill
Every moment of our lives with action;
When will we have the time to make the long slow journey
Across the burning desert as did the Magi;
Or sit and watch the stars as did the shepherds;
Or to brood over the coming of the Child as did Mary?
For each one of us there is a desert to travel,
A star to discover,
And a being within ourselves to bring to life.
~ Author Unknown
“The Road to Bethlehem” is based on the story of the Three Kings who journeyed to visit the Christ Child, and then returned home by a different route to avoid King Herod, who was bent on the Child’s destruction.
In a larger context, the poem asks us to consider how we prepare to make our own journeys, and tells us what treasure lies in store for us along the way.
~ Posted by Kathy Waller
“The Road to Bethlehem” appears on numerous websites. Most attribute the poem to Anonymous. If you know who wrote it, please share the name and, if possible, other documentation in a comment, so I can give the poet credit for his creation and can search for information about copyright. Until I know more, I will assume the poem is in the public domain.
This Post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction
I had a Black Friday post all ready to go but my internet has been acting up so I am going to share a favorite poem with you instead. I love poetry and have written many songs and poetry, but it seems that in the last few years I have neglected to read much poetry. As I worked on an art journal last week I pulled out an old book that I use for quotes and the like and there it was. One of my favorite all-time poems. Annabel Lee by Edgar Alan Poe.
It was if an old friend I hadn’t seen for many years showed up at my doorstep and I was very glad to see her. That’s how I felt when i opened the book and it landed on this poem. As I read it I was filled with the same wonder and love for Poe as I had the first time I read it. You may not share my love of Poe’s works, but I enjoy his works very much, as well as the works of many other poets.
I share this with you in hopes it will bring a rememberance of a time when you first heard a poet and style you liked.
by Edgar Allen Poe
It was many and many a year ago
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee.
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.
I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea
But we loved with a love that was more than love –
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.
And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsman came
And bore her away from me
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.
The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me –
Yes! – that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea).
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.
But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we –
Of many far wiser than we –
And neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.
For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by my side
Of my darling – my darling – my life and my bride,
In the sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.
It is with regret that I write this last post on Writing Wranglers and Warriors. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Cherley and all of you, but I don’t have enough time to go around and my own work is suffering. I’m glad someone is taking over and the blog will go on. I’ll check in as often as I can. Best of luck to all of you in the coming year!
What is it about poetry that touches the soul? What makes certain combinations of words haunting, happy or beautiful? This poem by Helen (Hunt) Jackson may help us understand the power of words.
As when on some great mountain-peak we stand,
In breathless awe beneath its dome of sky,
Whose multiplied horizons seem to lie
Beyond the bounds of earthly sea and land,
We find the circles space to vast, too grand,
And soothe our thoughts with restful memory
Of sudden sunlit glimpses we passed by
Too quickly, in our feverish demand
To reach the height,–
So darling, when the brink
Of highest heaven we reach at last, I think
Even that great gladness will grow yet more glad,
As we, with eyes that are no longer sad,
Look back, while Life’s horizons slowly sink,
To some swift moments which on earth we had.
From the book “Poems” by Helen Jackson
Little Brown and Company 1908
First appearance in publication September 19, 1872, New York Independent
One thing I love about the poetry of Helen Hunt Jackson is the musicality it has when read aloud. Not read as one usually reads poetry, with the breaks and breaths at the end of the line, but read as prose. If you read this poem aloud, reading through the complete thought, its true beauty comes through. Try reading it through more than once. Try different combinations of breathes and thought combining. The beauty of this poem; each time you read it something different blossoms into being. I believe that true poetry never has the same story, same meaning twice. Each it will touch a different chord.
As you read this or any poem, keep an open mind and heart. Helen was favorably compared to many of the poets of her time. For some she was actually considered the best; male or female. It is interesting that Helen was so popular during her lifetime. With her poetry, essays, and novels she able to make a living as a writer. Emily Dickinson, a childhood friend who lived down the street from Helen in Amherst, did not become popular until her death. Now the tables have turned, Emily is now the more well know of the two. Each had their own style, and each wrote beautiful pieces of work.
The next time you are looking for something do to, search online for some of Helen’s poetry, or better yet, find a book of her poems, and start reading. To me the gift of the poet, and for me that is Helen, is the joy of finding something new every time I read their work. Give poetry, especially Helen’s, a try. For me, poetry, especially Helen’s will never grow old.
Doris Gardner-McCraw –
also writing as Angela Raines Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in Colorado and Women’s History
As most of you know, I have a visual impairment. On my PC and tablet, I use software that reads everything to me and repeats what I type. With such software, there is a variety of text to speech voices you can either purchase or download for free. Some sound like robots, while others have a lot of human qualities.
I occasionally like to buy new voices. Recently, I sampled one with a British accent. She said, “Hello, I’m Amy. Shall we read something fun together?” I immediately purchased her, and we’ve been having fun reading and writing ever since.
This post is about painting with words, letting the words do the work that pictures usually do. We all use them, it is how we communicate. Still many can’t or don’t read. There are those who can’t write, let alone write cursive. If we don’t use words correctly, misunderstanding occur.
April as most of you know is National Poetry Month. It is a month to celebrate words. While I enjoy most poetry, I prefer the challenge of the haiku form. I haven’t been posting as many this year, and that is by choice. I’ve decided to let the well fill up again. Still I can’t let this month get by without some form of poetry. Here then is a poem a CENTO if you will, of life, love and…. It is composed from lines of some of my favorite paintings with words.
Only I can change my life
Let go of the life you planned – To feel freedom
Don’t wait for something outside yourself – Darkness cannot drive out darkness
Reality is better than your dreams – Being deeply loved gives you strength
Loving deeply give you courage – Love those who can smile in trouble
Dreams are more powerful than facts – Culture is the intersection of people and life
Cowards die many times before their death – Death is not to be feared if one has lived wisely
You cannot feel comfortable – Without your own approval.
Immortal Twain said:
” Don’t part with your illusions. When they are gone
You may still exist, but you have ceased to live.”
So I leave you with a painting taken from the words of many. May the picture be one that speaks to you in its own way. Have a wonderful Spring and remember to paint pictures in your mind from the words you read, speak and hear.
Doris McCraw also writes as Angela Raines and is an Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in Colorado and Women’s History.
One morning years ago at the Sportsman’s Lodge in Los Angeles, while most of my extended family was gathered for my uncle’s wedding, we were sitting around the pool, discussing what we would do that day. The men wanted to go sailing, and the women wanted to see some sights. At the age of twenty-three, I’d never been on a sailboat but had done my fair share of sightseeing, and being young and visually impaired, I didn’t find that at all appealing.
When I invited myself to go sailing with my brother, dad, and two uncles, they readily agreed, and we set off. At a marina, we found a captain willing to take us on a three-hour cruse for a fee, which would increase if we made a mess. Before heading out, we ate lunch at a nearby establishment where I had a cheeseburger with French fries and a Coke. Once we hit the high seas, I wished more than ever that I’d gone to look at museums and other attractions with my grandmother and aunts.
I wrote a poem about this experience several years ago. Kathy Waller’s 100-word short story inspired me to post it. Click on the title to hear me read it.
The rented boat glides through smooth port waters.
A college kid, the only woman on board,
once we hit rough waters,
my stomach revolts.
Moments later, while holding the leaking sack
containing what was once my lunch, Uncle Tony asks,
“Will the EPA mind if I throw this overboard?”
“No problem,” says Shawn, the captain.
He hands me a bucket,
places a hand on my shoulder
while I let it all out.
A helicopter whirrs overhead.
“They’re making a movie,” Uncle Jon speculates.
Oh boy, I always wanted to be in a movie,
I think, huddled over my white bucket,
Barfing on the High Seas.
Later, Shawn reminisces about man overboard drills.
Still nauseated, I glance at the water, the shore.
If I jump in, try to swim,
will I make it?
After three hours, back in calm waters,
I step onto the dock,
exhausted, sunburned—it could be worse.
Afterward, I learned that the women not only saw some sights but also went to an ice cream parlor where they encountered a celebrity from Hill Street Blues. Oh well, some choices we make in life aren’t always good ones.
Then I happened across another poem she wrote about March, and it seemed a shame to keep it to myself, so I prepared to post it on the 2nd.
Like “To March,” the new poem celebrates nature, specifically the natural light that appears in early spring. Unable (after an extensive search of several databases) to find a suitable photograph of Dickinson’s Central Massachusetts in springtime, I settled for a picture of a Texas landscape covered in bluebonnets. . . .
Then I added a few paragraphs about bluebonnets. I wrote about the annual tradition of driving around looking for bluebonnets, the different species, the history of the bluebonnet as the state flower. I put in pictures from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. . . .
That reminded me of the time Fannie Flagg wore a big flowery hat and did an impression of Mrs. Johnson, way back in the ’60s, when Lady Bird was pushing highway beautification. (“Whenever I see a candy wrapper on the ground, I stop and pick it up. . . . Lyndon collects candy wrappers.”)
I think I saw it on the Garry Moore Show–I was about twelve at the time–and I thought it outrageously funny. So I decided to include the memory in my post. . . .
But first I had to write about the Highway Beautification Act of 1965, which meant I had to do some research, and that got to me thinking about Mrs. Johnson herself, which led to remembering her memorial service and the lovely words her oldest granddaughter, Lucinda Robb, spoke there–that woman is a fine writer, and I say that in all sincerity–and that prompted me to pull up a video of the eulogy. Of course, I had to listen to it to make sure it was as good as I remembered, and it was, so I decided to add a link, but before I did, I had to listen to the tribute (Parts I and II) given by Bill Moyers, a string of touching and humorous stories about Lady Bird. . . . And by the time he finished, I was all teary and had to get out the crying towel. . . .
And then I remembered something really funny, a conversation broadcast on local TV news between a reporter and one of the Johnson Ranch hands, a man who’d worked there since he was a boy. He said Mrs. Johnson woke up one morning and looked out her bedroom window and saw that overnight, deer had grazed on the vast and expensive bed of pansies she’d laid out the day before. She came to him, all fired up, carrying a rifle, and said, “Can you drive?” He said he could, and she said, “All right, get the truck. You drive, and I’ll shoot.” He didn’t go into detail about the hunting trip, and I have a feeling they didn’t bag anything.
Well, anyway, my mind then turned to the East Texas roots Moyers and Lady Bird shared, which took me back to all those people meandering around the Texas backroads every April, looking for bluebonnets, and that reminded me of William Humphrey‘s memoir, which I read in a master’s class in Texas literature, and in which Humphrey refers to Texas’ romance with the automobile. I’d forgotten the title, so I had to look it up. (Farther Off From Heaven.)
Thinking about the romance with the automobile reminded me of how my father loved to drive around just to see what he could see, and all the Sunday drives we took, during which I generally had my nose in a book and so today I know a lot of local place names but have no idea how to get there, and then I thought about the many trips we made from Fentress to Houston, and we always took the old highway and stopped in Schulenberg at something that wasn’t a Dairy Queen but was close, and that had the absolute best hamburgers I’ve ever eaten to this very day, and how somewhere just north of Schulenberg, or maybe south of it, there was a series of Burma Shave signs. That was just before the interstate highways came through, when major roads in our area were still junky but interesting and even entertaining, and then I remembered my favorite Burma Shave jingle. . . .
Finally, I decided to postpone bluebonnets and write about Burma Shave instead.
Then I remembered I was scheduled to post here on March 3rd.
And that’s how we got to where we are now.
For those too young to know–and I never thought I would use that phrase–Burma Shave was a brushless shaving cream. The company advertised with jingles displayed on roadside signs, one line per sign. They entertained drivers and kept children busy on long jaunts (Who’ll be first to see the next Burma Shave sign?).
I don’t know for certain, but I’d be willing to bet that at least 99.44% of travelers who encountered Burma Shave signs were constitutionally incapable of passing by without reading them aloud, at least when a second person was in the car.
Some of the jingles touted the product. Some promoted safe driving. Some were just fun.
Photos accompanying the Prepost have nothing to do with anything. I needed to break up the text, and I didn’t want to search for appropriate pictures, so I just dropped in whatever showed up on my hard drive.
Thanks to Neva Bodin for inspiring this. When I read her poem last week, for one split second, I was tempted to re-blog it but decided instead to write my own Christmas poem. The following is a mirror sonnet. I learned this form years ago from local poet Jane Wohl. It has fourteen lines, and each line has ten syllables. The first seven lines are repeated in reverse by the second seven lines. Click this link to hear me read it.
I grew up not far from Galesburg, Illinois, the setting for Edgar Lee Masters classic. Why is that important? The small rural community I spent time in was much like the town that Edgar Lee Masters wrote about in his classic “Spoon River Anthology”. Masters told stories, without varnish or sweetening. Reading this work you know the heartache, secrets, joys and pains of these people. Much like my other favorites, I have more than one copy. I’ve shared some of these works before, but I feel revisiting, as the daylight fades into winter, is the thing to do. These works and other authors such as Tennyson, Bristow, Hunt, and others should not be allowed to molder away. So here for your enjoyment, some stories of the people who lived in Spoon River.
Knox County Illinois, where Galesburg is located U.S. Geological Survey (Data Owner), Alden, William Clinton (Photographer)
Here I lie close to the grave
Of Old Bill Piersol,
Who grew rich trading with the Indians, and who
Afterwards took the Bankrupt Law
And emerged from it richer than ever
Myself grown tired of toil and poverty
And beholding how Old Bill and other grew in wealth
Robbed a traveler one Night near Proctor’s Grove,
Killing him unwittingly while doing so,
For which I was tried and hanged.
That was my way of going into bankruptcy.
Now we who took the bankrupt law in our respective ways
Sleep peacefully side by side
Henry got me with child,
Knowing that I could not bring forth life
Without losing my own.
In my youth therefore I entered the portals of dust.
Traveler, it is believed in the village where I lived
That Henry loved me with a husband’s love
But I proclaim from the dust
That he slew me to gratify his hatred
I was not beloved of the villagers,
But all because I spoke my mind,
And met those who transgressed against me
With plain remonstrance, hiding nor nurturing
Nor secret griefs nor grudges.
That act of the Spartan boy is greatly praised,
Who hid the wolf under his cloak,
Letting it devour him, uncomplainingly.
It is braver, I think, to snatch the wolf forth
And fight him openly, even in the street,
Amid dust and howls of pain.
The tongue may be an unruly member—
But silence poisons the soul.
Berate me who will—I am content
Mrs. George Reece
To this generation I would say:
Memorize some bit of verse of truth or beauty.
It may serve a turn in your life.
My husband had nothing to do
With the fall of the bank—he was only cashier.
The wreck was due to the president, Thomas Rhodes,
And his vain, unscrupulous son.
Yet my husband was sent to prison,
And I was left with the children,
To feed and clothe and school them.
And I did it, and sent them forth
Into the world all clean and strong,
And all through the wisdom of Pope, the poet:
“Act well your part, there all the honor lies.”
I would recommend, it you have not done so, pick up a copy of “Spoon River Anthology” and give it a try. To me this book, along with so many others, has influenced not only my reading, but my writing and the way I look at and live my life. As Lucinda Matlock says in the book :
What is this I hear of sorrow and weariness,Anger, discontent and drooping hopes? Degenerate sons and daughters, Life is too strong for you – It takes life to love Life.