Poetry                        *Silent Scream*/*Poem Leaves* 

                                                                         One Sunday/Newtown/Quiet/Watery Sentence

                                                            Writer to Writer/Let's Try Haiku/Surprise!/Island Vacation/ 

                              Wash Day/Ode to God's Paint Brush/Poppy/LittleDitty/Woodsy Cabin/Return/High Flight

Silent Scream

Years trace tangled 

time too quickly.

There are no old people -- 

only aged, wrinkled ones.

The world designs

a fetish of youth;

glancing past

worth and experience.

Why cannot the others 

glimpse that inner light;

see beauty trapped within

the ancient skin? 

Why must mindset, oh, so mistakenly

assume that the inside (like the outside)

dries and ages, sinks and stutters

losing glory deemed a part of limber youth? 


Poem Leaves

            Old folks, tending their sick and infirm, gathered at the bedside of their ill father, outside summer green tinted the earth with the greens of grass and leaves.

            “I hope,’ said an elderly sister, “he can linger on until the falling of the leaves,” a common phrase in those days in the mountainous neighborhoods throughout the high slopes of the southern Appalachians.

            And, soon the sweet gum trees began bits of yellow, red, and other hues. A sight that thrilled any soul, while waiting, as maples, sycamores and others continued to broadcast their colors across the slopes, curling brownish maples into give up their leafy coats to gathering winds.

            Time passed as the weakening relative slowly turned his head and gazed out the window from his bed. Loved ones cooked his favorite foods and prayed over him, holding his hands and trying to soothe.

            Once in a while he smiled, causing his family members to look fearfully at each other. They didn’t know his smile reflected his joy for the kindness and closeness of them all.  His softening features rested among the faces of children and grandchildren.

            Sailing aloft, carried by quickening wind bursts tumbled the leaves toward oblivion below.

            And the many relatives of his lifetime ringed his burial ceremony like new green leaves that will, come spring, encircle his quiet resting Place.

One Sunday

I had to leave the music of a thousand-throated choir.

The air outdoors reverberated with so many

Different sounds my ears were confounded,

My eyes were searching for a sight of birds.

Overnight they came. Were they on their

Way South to warmer places where their

Songs will gain and ever-richer tone?


I had to leave. What kinds of birds could lift such symphonies

Into the morning air? From my sanctuary on

The wooden deck, I marveled at the scene

I felt their movement, laced with nearly silent

Scratch of falling leaves from their moorings

By the little autumn winds, a movement growing

Fuller; flitting and swirling, landing on pine branches


I had to leave them as I felt my soul yearn toward

This marvelous day, as the birds kept up their

Moving choral presentation.  Transfixed, by the action,

I seemed to feel my heart move as though to join

The glory my eyes saw. It included the soft

Whisper that sounded like joy to me, waiting

There on the deck, in amazement.


I had to leave it all: the movement, the music and

The tiny, twisting leaves circle and twisted into

Constant motion, tuning up background music

Red berries on tree branches seemed to be

Preparing breakfast for the flying singers.

The air around me seemed to glow with

The deepest red. The morning sun was high.

I had to leave and go to church.



Twenty children murdered                                                                                                      

Twenty children gone


To sate his rage, they turned the page


And suddenly went Home


We could only sit and listen


And listening, we cried


A monster's face was in that place.

They saw it ... and they died.



The frenzied ones

rush all around us;

battling, pushing, shoving;

but our love is a 

small quiet hollow

where we can rest.

watery sentence


If I could rise above the meadow like a balloon

advised to ride high on wordy, windy currents

and wait for cloud bellies to write water on my head


I’d wash and wash until my hair sparkled and gleamed

and spread like fiery word-wings so I could chase


shooting stars and catch them on my tongue.


Writer to Writer

It was a gift, that book of poems,

Slipped into my hands

By a dear, dear friend.

I didn’t notice the message

Inked in the author’s

Personal cursive: 

“Writer to writer,” she wrote

Dated December, 1995;

The book, titled:

“Devine Attention.” By

Paulette Roeske, I raced

Through that book

Of lilting poems, delighted

With the way she

Arranged her words.

Example. One poem, titled

“Accordion,” goes like

This. I loved how it began. 

My father’s had a diamond on the button he told me was middle C, the one button I could name among the hundred black buttons set in mother-of-pearl,

Buttons small as fish eyes crowding each other like children. 

And so I marveled when his broad fingers blunt as hammers chose and impeccably

Sounded “The Beer Barrel Polka. 

Just now I found that book

Snuggled on my poetry shelf

And looked again at the signature.

And though I had read it

Long ago, that “Writer to Writer”

Phrase thrilled me more than ever.


 Let's Try Haiku

Consummate song leaves

Love’s lacy bruises to teach

The wild, dark wind joy.


Staggering through morn,

Blossoms turn blue as men slice

Time from halls of power.


Secret bouquets show’r

Evenings’ tongue with liquid

Tendrils of summer.


Mist-fog sinks among

Bare winter-black trees like clouds

Of shredded cotton.


Aw, shucks! Why spend time counting in order to fit Japanese literature’s designs for poems. (Haiku). The way I see it, thoughts need only enough syllables to lift them to the skies. 

This one, perhaps.

The Power of Dawn

Marching along the spider-legged pier

A column of lights

Orders reflections to dance across the water,

Paints many-colored mirrors on the sand

And commands waves to sparkle silver.

Meantime, darkness cowers at the edges;

Growling, angry in defeat.



A tickling thing attacked my head

On the inside, please understand.


Was it’s message “you are dead?”

Or did it say “come hold my hand?”


My reply: “Who are you, inside my skull?”

That sent the tickle to a rage.


“Hit the keys,” he spoke, “tho brain is full.”

And out came a poem, filling a page.


Island Vacation

Morning sun donned his armor;

Ready to break the day.

In the east, navy blue clouds

Easily blocked his way.

But, crashing through the solid blue,

Red splinters joined the fray

Sun-power poured bright glory,

Helping daybreak on its way.

They tumbled about like storm-blown stones,

Two little boys, on a sandy shore

Excitement wrapped in flesh and bones

And joy erupting with shouts galore

Away from school and homebound chores,

With books to read  and songs to sing;

Parents at hand all 24 hours

Vacation, to them, was fit for a king.

Then one day a storm came blowing

On a boil of clouds hovering close

Wet swimsuits pinned up without knowing

How soon the storm would hit our house,

But hit it did and huddled inside

Vacationers gathered together in fright

The rage of nature’s angry tide,

As wind and water turned day to night.

Hello! Morning came and wet sand shone,

Clear skies yelled a welcome to beaches

Swim suited figures danced to the tones

Of happy shouts: vacation went on.


 Wash Day

Of an early morning

Before the sun topped

The misty mountain

At our hilly home.

A boil of steam climbed

Upward as though

Challenging strong

Appalachian domes.

Usually on Mondays

As I recall, the whites

And coloreds lay

Piled on back porch floor

As though keeping watch

Over firewood and

Water and a large iron

Pot awaiting this chore.

Mother and daughters

Scrubbed cotton dresses,

Petticoats, socks, shirts,

Towels and pillowcases.

Aching backs, sore knuckles

And wrinkled hands

Resulted. But soon they had

Too, hot, sweaty faces.

By the time the sun

Was overhead, spreading

Heat downward on

Family members at work,

Some hanging clothes,

Others hoeing corn

Halfway up the mountain

None was allowed to shirk.

Warp speed ahead dear

Reader. For a minute think

Of buttons to push, running

Water at fingertip

Electricity to take your

Laundry and handle it

With care. Make it ready

For an auto trip.

But back to the past;

To tubs and boards and

Wooden clothes pins;

Winds moaning sorrow.  

The sun sinks slowly

Behind tall slopoe

The ironing piled in kitchen

Can wait until tomorrow!

 Ode to God’s Paint Brush 

I walk the lush green meadows of Your earth

And struggle with the words to call to You

Amid swelling heart toward birth

Of words, and fail, it seems to me, to stumble through.

I strain toward some ground where we can dwell,

Where quiet communion lessens stressful days

Where lessons needed more than I can tell

Console my heart a hundred different ways.

My eyes take in a thousand marigolds

Spilling like melted butter on the land

I note the upward thrust and yellow folds

Of sunflowers standing guard on every hand.

And oh, the beauty leaping in the air

Of  variegated zinnias, Queen Anne’s lace

Of fern-filled valleys climbing like a stair

As though their chore is: “beautify this place!”

I  strongly seek the voice to call  to You

From desperate yearning that now fills my heart

To say the things that tumble all askew

And strive to shatter barriers all apart.

 It seems as though I am dropping in a hole

That holds me down with all my thoughts intact

To let you know the struggles in my soul

As though the two of us have made a pact:

Me to lift my thankful heart with joy

To You, and know with sweetness and with grace

That you will understand and then employ

You powerful touch upon my pleading face.



Poppy was a preacher.

He stood tall and strong

And in his mountain

Home deep in the

Appalachians he

Fathered 13 children.

Poppy was a preacher

But he was much more

He was a farmer who

Learned from his father

How to cut stone

And fashion great squares


Into a solid, secure

Home above the reach

And roaring destruction

Of flash floods which arrived

Every year

in spring

He feared the power of water

Poppy was a preacher

He kept a team of mules

Which hauled huge oaks,

Sweet gums and maples

Down to the creek.

He found wonderful uses for water.

Of stones he cut from tall

Mountain slopes, he constructed

A steady dam to harness the stream

Which pushed wood contraptions

Through contortions to grind corn

To feed farm animals.


And provide meal for corn dishes

For his and his neighbors’ tables.

Looking out for others was uppermost

In his life. He settled arguments constantly

Once among workers on the WPA road nearby.

Poppy was a preacher.

 That too was major in his lifetime.

He simply seemed to love all who

Came into his life. He went to the

Pages of the Bible to prove his beliefs

All the while he fed and cared for family.


Poppy was a preacher.


Also a part of his life was spent

Deep under a mountain digging coal

And later in the midst of all his

Activities and his service to others

Lung cancer took him at age 56.


Today three of his sons are preachers.

Little Ditty

There was a little ditty

Who rested in a drawer

And watched time go by

And never took a shower.

Yes, he had a reason

To let himself get dirty

“I am already fine,” he said

“Just see me be flirty.”

As he moved around,

Twisting in the folder,

Sometimes he changed a verb,

Which made him bolder.

He tackled nouns and adverbs

And mauled a little pronoun.

Growing, growing, growing,

Marveling at what he found.

When human hands invadede thought: “I’ve become rubbish!”

But then he heard a voice:

“This one we must publish! 

Woodsy Cabin

A sweet wind spilling like silk,

Wipes the grass, rippling

While Farmer Eugene

Claws the softened soil

With machine and metal

Making rows

Into which

Seeds will fall

And linger



Breath of life

Stirs deeply, strongly,

Surging, pushing against

Clods, toward clear sunshine.

But not yet, not yet. Stay

Down awhile, Little Life,

Take time to nap

For another month.

After all, it is

Only April.



For years I couldn’t go back.

I dared not chase the whistling 

Wind through corridors

Grown fearful with muslin-covered

Memories of I knew not what.

Face to the wind I pushed on

Into the storm, blessing rainbows

And rills that cascaded

Through my life as though to cover

Some scrappy hidden truth I dared not learn

But once I let go; once

I allowed the high whine of time

To carry me back; once I lifted

Shredded skirts and slogged on through

The tangled mass of muddy years;

Among the shards of grief

I found the secret shame

Was not a shame at all, but a tiny

Tidbit of truth – a simple craft

In which I could paddle forward again.


Poetry moves like music, surrounding words with such heartfelt transforming meanings. A special talent, it seems to me, inhabits those souls who commit their thoughts to paper. Some poems have remained with me through decade after decade. I do so admire such abilities . .  . such as the one below.



Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth

 And danced the skies on laughter-silvered


Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumb-

 Ling mirth –

Of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred


You have not dreamed of – wheeled and

Soared and swung

High in the sunlit silence. Hovering there

I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung

My eager craft through footless halls of air.

Up, up, the long, delirious, burning blue

I’ve topped the windswept heights with

Easy grace,

Where never lark, or even eagle flew.

And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod

The high untrespassed sanctity of space,

Put out my hand, and touched the face of


 By John Gillespie Jr.

Somehow, years ago I came to possess this poem written in the left hand corner of a magnificent picture of five Thunderbirds streaking in formation through blue, sunlit skies. At the bottom was printed “Photo Courtesy USAF “

“In December 1941, “is printed just under the poem, “pilot officer John G. Magee, a 19-year-old American serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force in England, was killed when his Spitfire collided with another airplane inside a cloud. Several months before his death he composed his immortal sonnet, ‘High Flight’ a copy of endwhich he fortunately mailed to his parents in the USA.”


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