Saturday, September 6, 2008

Recycling the Shrine

He needed a place to remove his muck boots
before entering the house, somewhere
to plant his behind, without standing on
his head; so Dad haunted farm auctions
and scoured old country homesteads, waded
in waist-high weeds, and woke the
custodial grasshoppers, always clutching
a spade, in case he'd rustle up a rattler,
scavenging for pieces of old farm implements;
a rusted gear here, the cast iron tractor seats
and old cream separator bases there, muttering
to himself, "Glad we got rid of those milk cows,
back then;" rustling up bits and pieces of the
past with a screw driver and pair of pliers.

Back home in his dusty shop, he'd lay the body
parts out on the floor, like Dr. Frankenstein in
his lab, with a foot here, a seat there, until he'd
welded this odd creation together into a solid,
one-of-a-kind, heavy stool.

They sit on my patio, now, just three rustic
thrones to judiciously tuck the left-right of your
back side; the flange juts up like a saddle horn.
They are irrepressible, like the bib-overall clad
farmer butts that bumped tirelessly, minus
padding or springs, with Massey Harris through
the green seas of corn and wheat, the vast
acres of hay, soybeans and milo with McCormack
Deering across the Great Plains, and honed
Allis Chalmers to an earthy patina; our leisure
forged by Farmall and their blood, sweat and tears.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Window Sill Altar

Beneath a hushed
cathedral of trees,
I stand near the glass
as sunrise approaches,

the streaks of pink
and periwinkle-tinged
light unfurl like
birthday banners

in a pewter sky.
The gnarled fingers
of brown trees limbs
rise in joyfulness,

lifting the darkness;
auburn light bathes
the sleepy shadows.
My heart rises

like a chalice held high,
an offering of
the warm wine of gladness,
the broken bread of praise.

Today is the pristine page
of second chance,
fresh absolution spread
as a veritable feast.

The Lord of Hospitality
bequeaths this one shining cup,
and mystery brims
in new wineskins.

The Invitation

Near the crown of the elm, in the yard
across the street,
I see the red bird
seeking a perch to sit,
throw his head back
and sing --

I like to think
he is singing to me --
but, it is springtime
and his trembling body strains
with each prayerful note,
pitching his invitation,

into the evening --
"Cheer. Cheer. Cheer, cheer-uh;"
his courting song
charges the evening air.
I hold my breath,

for among the basket
of heart-shaped leaves in the redbud tree
behind me, she answers
his intense longing, note for note.
Instantly, he joins her;
then, over my rooftop, they soar,

tails fluttering,
two fiery exclamation points engraved in
a molten gold sunset.
Mirth tumbles from my lips,
and accompanies them, like the
melody of bendiction into summer.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Like Balloons In the Wind

This really happened, and all I did was record it. Some call that serendipity. Some call it God's will. Maybe serendipity is just God blessing us, while remaining anonymous.

Like Balloons in the Wind

Little One~
The balloon that I signed with felt marker,
I will never forget you. Love, Grandma,
was tied with pink ribbon. Each of your earth
family held one,
as we stood in the snow, that fell last night.
I held tightly to your Grandpa's hand,
as we huddled in the wind, by the red cedar,
remembering two Christmases ago.
Your Aunt Katie said a sweet prayer, before
we released those bobbing balloons,
to the December wind, that whisked them,
out of our hands, high into the sky, then,
soared out of sight. Then, your cousin -
she's just three - cried out,
"I want my balloon back!"as they sailed,
by express, to your forever Home. At her age,
it's hard to let go the things you love.

I tried to be brave for your Mommy.
I tried hard not to cry, but the moaning prairie
wind assured me, tears are just wordless prayers
she transports instantly to God.
But, sometimes, I want to stomp my foot, too,
like a child, and shout to the heavens,
"I want my Sweet Pea back!"
Yes, letting you go is hard, at my age.

One day, when I'm released of my bonds of gravity,
I pray my soul will be lifted,
like a helium balloon in a friendly wind, to
my forever Home, where - God willing -
I will apprehend to the dwelling next to you,
and one day, overhear
the wind consoling another loved one, who cries,
"I will never forget you.
Letting you go is so hard to do."

Love and kisses, Grandma


In June, I received word that two of my poems were to be published in the Fall 2008 Inspirit Journal, edited by the Baughman United Methodist Church of New Cumberland, Pennsylvania. I have been so pleased with their Journals and very happy to have the third and fourth of my poems published. I am doing this a bit backwards, but I am submitting them on this blog, at this time.


The floodgates of heaven were closed to us,
every cloud a taunting tease under a bully sun,
ever rushing to kiss the ground of another land.
It was spring by the calendar, not the greening
prairie hills. Along dry creek beds, grass and hope
turned to dust; the thorn and thistle were our reward.
Year after year, we were the poor banished children
of Eve, scorched by the welding torch of the sun.

When the rains came, the bloom was on the ditch
rose, once more. In the shade of tall sunflowers,
the cicada chanted his monotonous buzz-songs
to summer. Black angus peppered luxuriant
pastures, grazed the wild-rye-fringed cow paths
to brimming water tanks, under rasping windmills.
Blue flax sashayed on the shoulders of country roads,
near the tangle of black chokecherry thickets. In the
fencerows of alfalfa-scented fields, the honey bee
dives headlong into the fluted necks of yellow clover.

I walk along the saffron leaves of the cottonwoods,
along the the river. It's October, and the sticky spider
webs of dread sprawl and adhere to my soul. I dread
the end of the green milk and honey of this one,
abundant summer. I want to whine, like the locust
laments 'till the killing frost. I'm afraid, so afraid the
good luck ran out, and homesick, for the flickering
fireflies of hope, at dusk, in the Promised Land.

It's Fun to be a Drama Queen in the Land of Pretend

I've been hooked on reading ever since my mother put a book in my hand as a toddler. First, there were fairy tales, and nursery rhymes. Then, as I grew older, it was Nancy Drew Mysteries and other stories. I cannot remember a time when I did not read, whether it was cereal boxes, vitamin bottles, road signs and newspapers; anything that had words on them.

Not only did I like to read, but I liked to hear stories, too, and could inhabit another world thorugh my imagination. Later, when I had my own children, we often spent afternoons, just before naptime, reading stories. Each child got to choose a book, and then he or she got to sit beside me while I read it to them. Because there were four of them, when we finished that book, another book was chosen by another child and they rotated positions beside me to see the pictures, too. Those were really good times in my memory.

But, children grow up, and then, leave home, and in due time, they bring young grandchildren to introduce to the world of books and stories, to tickle their imaginations. I've read The Three Little Pigs to my three-year-old granddaughter, Peyton, so many times, she knows exactly where to chime in when the Big Bad Wolf has his part at the door. We say his line in as deep and scarey a voice as we can imagine a Big Bad Wolf could possess. And when we get to The End, she will look up at me, and proclaim, "Read it, again, Grandma!" That is music to my ears. It is so fun to be a Drama Queen with a preschooler, and to rule the Land of Pretend.

A couple months ago, my grandson, Luke, read a book to me! What a thrill to see him figuring out the sounds and shapes and meanings of letters that make words that fuel our language to compose an idea that can ignite the imagination. His brothers, Matthew and Nathan, also love to sit with a book.

Earlier this summer, I listened to my daughter-in-law, Amy, read library books to her son, Jack. Part of their summer routine was to frequent the library. Books are fun, and it thrills me to see our family is continuing to be a family of readers into the next generation, too.

It all starts with a story, some history, and putting words together to write a tale that begs to be recorded.