Friday, March 27, 2009

In Country

I long to be in country.

Not for me a pot of plants

Reaching through a slant

Of rails to stretch for sun.

I feel no city comfort,

Complain of concrete, censor

Brick and shun a windowed

Wall, a steepled church.

My gods are forest deep,

On shadowed, mossy altars

Made of peat; my prayers,

The flowing streams, the rocks

They shape, the poetry they speak.

I know my self on woodland paths;

Their lore runs in my blood,

A rustic mapping through my veins

To find my heart in woods.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


knee bent
parallel with sky
foot flexed
toe toward
the earth
arms raised
joyous sun salute
a skip
a run
one two three
heels up
hands down
damp ground
over up
the world flips into Spring

Thursday, March 19, 2009

On Bebelplatz and 25 Most Influential Writers

Being tagged to list the twenty-five writers who have influenced me the most caused me to remember a place and time when the words of writers floated as ash into the darkened sky…


On sunny days
on Bebelplatz,
the burning room
reflects a soft blue sky
as travelers gape to see
an empty shelf.
Ghostly volumes, dimly glimpsed
amidst the rush, reflect
faces of the curious
eager to be off
to find the next big thing.
One man, unawares,
steps hard on echoes
of the burning leaves,
while far away
under an Appalachian sky,
a child peers up
through burnished leaves
that dapple tales
of her dark knights
on sunny days,
never once in her wildest
dreams perceiving
that books may burn
or man may step on thoughts
or smoke may stain the
soft blue dreamer’s sky.

25 Most Influential Writers

When K. Lawson-Gilbert of Old Mossy Moon challenged me to list the twenty-five writers who have influenced me the most, I knew what a difficult task was before me. Deep and wide exposure to good literature has certainly influenced my thinking, which in turn, influences my writing.

As air is to breath, literature is to writing. Reading and writing for me are recursive processes: I read, I write, I read again. My own writing informs my thinking, just as my thinking informs my writing, but my thoughts have also been formed by the West Virginia hills, the people whom I love, the roads I have traveled, and the writers whose works I have inhaled my entire life long.

Narrowing this list was nearly impossible, and I apologize to all my dearly beloved authors whose names do not appear below:

William Shakespeare


Charles Dickens

William Faulkner

John Keats

Percy Bysshe Shelley

William Wordsworth

Robert Browning

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

William Blake

Thomas Hardy

Emily Bronte

Emily Dickinson

Edgar Allan Poe

Alfred Lord Tennyson

John Steinbeck

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Gerard Manly Hopkins

John Donne

T.S. Eliot

Walt Whitman

William Blake

Virginia Woolf

Toni Morrison


I challenge Sarah Hina, Rachel Westfall, and Julie Buffaloe-Yoder to show us your lists!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

O, Danny Boy

We climbed the rocks above the gorge

to have your party as you wanted.

The evening sun shone from the ancient

river like a fire encased in steel.

The air, sweet and cold, rang little

breath clouds as we sang your Irish song.

Anna, swaying as she sang, held to you as you

had held to her when she was still your child.

You didn’t mind the clinging; you seemed

in no great rush to go your way alone.

When finally it was time for you to leave, you faltered,

torn between falling back with us and flying free.

Just then, the wind picked up the tune, the trees

piped out your name, and we in silence watched

as you embraced the sky.

Monday, March 9, 2009

She Came In Handy and Molly Marine

These were inspired by the epitaph on a gravestone. It says...

She Came In Handy

When she signed up in ‘43

She got no special name,

But wore the eagle and the globe

And anchor all the same.

She trained with guns and aeroplanes

And learned to march just dandy,

But it was keeping things in check

She really came in handy.

They said she freed a man to fight

So he could win the war;

At home she did the vital jobs

That he had done before.

She typed the Captain’s letters up

And filed his work away,

She kept a calendar for him

And organized his day.

She felt great fear she couldn’t show

About the plans they made

To drop a bomb to end the war--

At least that’s what she prayed.

She gave her days to Uncle Sam

And when the war was done,

She shook their hands and said goodbye

And felt life had begun.

She married Jack and had three kids,

And when the kids were grown,

She helped by taking on the books

At the station that they owned.

She lived a life of sacrifice,

Blessed others by the giving,

And when she passed short years ago

She left a life worth living.

Upon her grave they set the stone

That told the world a story

Of one good life lived out in time

Without a thought for glory.

In words so sweet and measured out

Like little bits of candy

That summed her worth for all to see,

They said, “She came in handy.”

Molly Marine

Me? Bothered by a stone?

Why, child, there’s a ring to it—

rhymes with dandy, and I was that,

in that uniform I wore.

They told us not to fraternize,

but I could have. I’d march by those men,

and I knew the power of my hips!

Never used it, though.

I was a good girl, a good Marine.

Wore the eagle, globe and anchor.

Did my job for God and Uncle Sam,

in my own way.

I freed a man to fight, they said.

He went to die, and I went to work.

Spent my time typing up the war

and praying they’d not drop that bomb.

But they did.

That might have been the happiest

and the saddest day of my life,

Cause then it was done.

I traded a salute and Semper Fi

for an apron and a big belly –

three younguns and fifty-three good years

with one man before it was over.

But you know, once a Marine,

always a Marine, and I never

felt so proud in all my life as the day

they planted me here with the rest.

Seventy-nine years doing

for others what I could, and I reckon

I earned the way they summed my life.

It’s no insult, child: I came in handy.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hero Song

Don’t fool yourself --

I am no goddess,

here to bless your way.

I’m just a woman,

weaving toward a life

while you spin

beyond the cliffs

of my yearning.

And you, Hero,

wandering in dreams,

when you strain

against the mast,

think of me,

alone here at my loom,

picking threads and

trying to compose

my own Siren’s song.

Think of me

and remember --

though goddesses

roll apples at your feet,

it was flesh and blood

nurtured the seeds

and wove the sails

that freed you.