Saturday, February 23, 2013

The House on Second Street (c)

The house on Second Street,
A product of the Gilded Age.
Marbled bathrooms,
Gas lights,
Brocaded curtains,
And porcelain in the parlor.
Waterford crystal,
Oriental rugs,
Tiffany lamps,
Add a servant or two, 
 Serving cocktails at 5.

Mysterious rooms,
Each painted a different color,
green, blue.
Imposing, dark.
Along came two young children,
One a toddler,
The other five,
Who laughed and teased,
And toured the downstairs
on a trike and a
Laughter and innocence
 Echoed off those walls,

Then the two,
Husband and wife,
Each to his own room.
Now everyone had their
Own big room,
Containing secrets,
No more, no more.

Like smoke,
those memories have faded
into their proper hue,
of gentle green and blue.
We can breathe now--
Well loved and
And secure.

The House Where I Grew Up (c)

Memories come
To haunt and arrest me
Creating unpleasant feelings,
Like a cold, harsh wind
That blows in the night. 
A child
Needs protection and love.
The shouting and the
fading affection
between my parents,
cut like a knife.
I remember things
I shouldn't have heard.
I release them now.
I cast them aside,
Realizing that memory is an
opportunity to understand,
and accept.
No one is to blame.
There is nothing to fear.
Our memories are but
a springboard to action.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

"Travel Light"

(from a found note from a friend)


Thank you for just being you!



Travel Light

Notes On An Extraordinary Day

Making the ordinary
seem extraordinary,
I notice how the light
comes in through the lace curtains
in my bedroom.
How the Eastern Red Cedar
trees pop
in the morning sun,
and how my body feels 
as it glides to the
music of Mozart.
A Mozart morning,
what could be more wonderful,
besides memories of
and Thou.

"Next Day" by Randall Jarrell

 Moving from Cheer to Joy, 
from Joy to All, 
I take a box And add it to my wild rice, 
my Cornish game hens. 
 The slacked or shorted, basketed
 identical Food-gathering flocks 
Are selves I overlook. 
   Wisdom, said William James, 
  Is learning what to overlook.
  And I am wise If that is wisdom.
 Yet somehow, as I buy All from these shelves
 And the boy takes it to my station wagon, 
What I've become Troubles me even if I shut my eyes.
  When I was young and miserable and pretty And poor,
 I'd wish What all girls wish: to have a husband,
 A house and children.
  Now that I'm old, my wish Is womanish:
 That the boy putting groceries in my car  See me.
  It bewilders me he doesn't see me.
 For so many years I was good enough to eat:
 the world looked at me
 And its mouth watered.   
How often they have undressed me, 
The eyes of strangers! 
And, holding their flesh within my flesh, 
their vile  Imaginings within my imagining, 
I too have taken The chance of life.   
Now the boy pats my dog 
And we start home.   
Now I am good. 
 The last mistaken, 
Ecstatic, accidental bliss, 
the blind  Happiness that, 
bursting, leaves upon the palm 
Some soap and water-- 
It was so long ago, 
back in some Gay Twenties, Nineties, I don't know 
. . . Today I miss My lovely daughter Away at school
, my sons away at school, 
  My husband away at work--I wish for them.
 The dog, the maid,
 And I go through the sure unvarying days
 At home in them.   
As I look at my life, 
I am afraid Only that it will change, 
as I am changing:   
I am afraid, this morning, of my face. 
It looks at me 
From the rear-view mirror, with the eyes I hate,
 The smile I hate.   
Its plain, lined look 
Of gray discovery 
Repeats to me: "You're old."   
That's all, I'm old.  
 And yet I'm afraid,
 as I was at the funeral I went to yesterday.
 My friend's cold made-up face, 
granite among its flowers, 
Her undressed, operated-on, dressed body 
Were my face and body. 
As I think of her I hear her telling me   
How young I seem;
 I am exceptional; I
 think of all I have.
 But really no one is exceptional, 
No one has anything, 
I'm anybody, 
I stand beside my grave 
Confused with my life, that is commonplace and solitary.

Note:  Randall Jarrell wrote this poem in 1960.  He taught at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (then called the Women’s College of the University of North Carolina, Greensboro). I'm amazed at Jarrell's ability to use a believable, feminine voice.  I also admire his ability to make the ordinary extraordinary.   dls

For Today

     "When we are troubled, we may think that our pain will last forever.  Peace of mind appears to be gone for good, and the fact that we have faced and conquered problems in the past is forgotten.
     Overcoming suffering gives us strength.  Our burdens today may seem greater than any we have ever faced, but so is our ability to deal with them.  We learn that when we can do nothing more to improve a situation, there is a process in which we can trust absolutely:  to let go and let God.
     If we find that we can neither change nor accept a certain reality, we let it go for now, knowing that it is the first step in overcoming our misery."

The Quintain


Sometimes called a quintet and most commonly known as a cinquain, this poem or stanza consists of five lines, sometimes with the same meter in each line but often with alternating meters and line lengths (e.g., the limerick [link:]). The earliest Fr. poem, the 11th-c. Vie de Saint Alexis, is written in decasyllabic cinquains; in 1174, Guernes de Pont-Sainte-Maxence wrote cinquains in alexandrines [link:]. The 19th-c. poet Victor Hugo wrote cinquains with alternating alexandrine and eight-syllable lines. In Eng., George Puttenham uses the term quintain. Examples include Philip Sidney (Psalms 4, 9, 20, 28; Astrophil and Stella, Song 9; Old Arcadia), John Donne ("Hymne to God my God"), Edmund Waller ("Go, lovely Rose"), William Wordsworth ("Peter Bell," "The Idiot Boy" in tetrameters), and E. A. Poe ("To Helen"). The Am. poet Adelaide Crapsey popularized unrhymed cinquains, inventing a syllabic form (built on the analogy to Japanese tanka [see JAPAN, MODERN POETRY OF [link:]] and influenced by *haiku) in her 1915 book Verse. Her five lines consisted of 2-4-6-8-2 syllables; and her poems were mostly iambic. Unlike Japanese tanka, Crapsey gave her cinquains titles, which often served as a sixth line. Twentieth-c. variations on Crapsey's form include the following (all syllabic): reverse (two, eight, six, four, and two syllables); mirror (a cinquain followed by a reverse cinquain); butterfly (a concrete, nine-line stanza with two, four, six, eight, two, eight, six, four, two syllables); crown (a sequence of five connected cinquains forming one poetic sequence); and garland (a series of six cinquains in which the sixth cinquain is formed from lines taken from the preceding five poems, line one from stanza one, two from two, etc.). Since the early 20th c., cinquain tends to refer specifically to Crapsey's original (two, four, six, eight, two) syllabic verse form, which has achieved specific popularity in Am. elementary classrooms as the "didactic" cinquain. The term cinquain, then, has supplanted the more general quintain, which describes only a poem or stanza of five lines rather than Crapsey's syllabic form. More specific rhyme schemes for the quintain are named the English cinquain (a poem in no specified measure with rhyme abcba), the Sicilian quintain (ababa), and the pentastich (no specified meter). Tetrameter quintains include the Spanish cinquain or *quintilla [link:] (ababa, abbab, abaab, aabab, and aabba).

        * Schipper, v. 2; Crapsey, A.. Verse (1915); Lote, v. 2; Scott; Toleos, A., [link:]



QUINTAIN. (2012). In The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. Retrieved from

Copyright © 2012 by Princeton University Press
The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics
Princeton University Press

To contact Credo Reference:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Letter to God (c)

     Dear God,

     I'm just waiting for you to point me in the right direction.  Is it here -- or there?  I was at NC State last night -- Withers Hall, where there was a lecture on Lincoln by the renowned scholar, James McPherson.  On the way there. I noticed a few neighborhoods and thought to myself, "I could live there!"    Or what about those cute white cottages, all in a row?
     That night, I had a wonderful dream about being in Richmond at an arts festival where there was good conversation, good food.  Rich wood.  Sunshine. A glow.  Good friends.  A sense of belonging.    Intellectual stimulation.
     So how about it, God?  I'm not asking for a parting of the Red Sea, here!  I'm just asking for a small break.  I need a little help here.  Don't let me mess this up!
     I will keep in mind:  what is important?
     "This too shall pass,"  is the answer I hear.
      I can trust in myself.  I can trust in You.

News from Tar-burr

     I just picked up the Edgecombe Review, which was tossed on the ground by my driveway several days ago.  The rain and snow kept it lying there for a while, safe in its pink plastic wrap.  Frankly, I don't know how this "newspaper" stays in business. 
     The big headline today was that the County Commissions voted to keep a chicken farm from building around here.  That's a good thing.  Billy Wooten is shown taking the oath of office to be a new County Commissioner.  That's a good thing.  But an article on Girl Scout cookie sales?  That hardly warrants an article!
     Moving on to "Edgecombe Events" --let's see:  there is going to be a weight loss seminar surgery seminar.  Wow, marketing surgery for weight loss!  Why not promote healthy lifestyles, instead?  Healthy eating and exercise?  Come on, people!
     A historian is going to speak about:  "The Fire of Freedom:  Abraham Galloway and the Salves' Civl War".  Huh?  Methinks there are a few typos there.
     Moving on:  now this caught my attention:  the community college will be having North Carolina's poet laureate reading from his works on Feb. 26, at 7 pm!  Hurray!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sunday, February 17, 2013

This morning, I decided to go 
to a different church...
There was loud music playing
and tables were set up, and it started sounding 
like a rock concert.
I didn't know a soul there,
But everyone else knew each other.
There were birthday greetings and lots of conversations 
going on.
Not like at Unitarian in Raleigh,
where I felt at home 
right away.
I needed reverence, so    
I went back to the Episcopal 
church where I usually go.
The idea of forgiveness is today's topic.
This service is just
what I need,
right now.   

"Home Again"

Sunlight streaming
through every window,
the bird feeder at the ready,
new grass coming up,

Friday, February 15, 2013


The lesson in forgiveness is this --
it helps us more than the other
We don't forgive someone 
so that they   

can receive peace,
but to receive peace ourselves.
We knock at the door of
of forgiveness and allow the 
gift to be freely given.
Forgiving others allows us to
be free of resentment.
is the pathway to compassion
and love.........  


I reckon I won't be

going back to Tar-burr,

back to the rednecks and 


back to old money,

old ideas,

old places,

old people,

who have  kept

the community

from growing,

from advancing forward.

They say that

at one time,

it had good schools,


but then things shifted.

It has now become the town

where no one gets off.   

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Offering (c)

When I was in France,

a gentleman offered

me his arm

as I went down the stairs.

A strong arm --

To keep me from falling.

To keep me safe.

I cried, as I remembered that

kindness a year later.

Because where is this kindness

in Tarboro, North Carolina?

Another strong arm

is keeping me safe now.

Enfolds me,

and holds me close.

As we dance slowly around

the living room,

I exhale,


and peaceful.

Recalling this memory,

I go back to sleep,

and rest in the realization

that I am loved.

Voyeur V

She opened the back door

onto a soft summer night.


A "Monet moment."


she took in the crisp night air.

She stood on the top step,

looking at the hovering 


A male voice shouted,

"Go back inside!"

But she stayed.

Voyeur IV (c)

She came home from the hospital

and collapsed in a chair

under the cedar tree.

Her stalker coughed and

cleared his throat

while she

leaned back in her chair

and closed her eyes,

trying to forget 

that he was there.

Voyeur III (c)


cut her grass that day

while the neighbor


walking by her yard

as if to inspect

the finished work.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Voyeur II (c)

Only his white sneakers

were visable from beneath her fence,

His body turned in her direction,

he is like an apparition,

appearing only to annoy

the beauty of the landscape.

His voice broke the solitude of

a quiet morning

as he told her,

"Your fence is broke..."     

Voyeur I (c)

Her lounge chair was parked
at the side of her house,
where she could catch the full
benefit of the sun's rays.
Her favorite halter top,
and a glass of ice tea
completed the scene
 for relaxing in the sun,
on a hot summer day.
Suddenly her concentration
was broken,
there was a presence.
Her neighbor was standing there,
just to chat, she assumed,
"Go away",
She screamed silently.  
Later, she went for a walk.
He appeared again, blocking her path.
She swung around,
"Don't do that!"
She shouted,
      Feeling violated.      

Neighbors (c)

They gossip mostly,
that old grey pair,
coming out to talk,
or just to stare.
Do they travel,
beyond, the confines of this place?
Do they dance, or love,
Do they know of grace?

Francis, Mary,

Mary, Francis,

the same, the same...

with them, things will remain 

the same...