Archive for the ‘poetry’ Category

If I blogged as often as I think about blogging, I’d do little else. I started this blog because, most of my life, I’ve chided myself for not keeping a journal. I always felt somewhat deficient. I was an English major, for heavens sake. English majors are supposed to read and write. A lot. And I have — just not as much as I think I’m capable of doing. Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion even has a “sponsor” called POEM — the Professional Organization of English Majors. I should be a dues paying member. (smile.) In the early 90s I wrote poetry rather regularly. Then I went back to graduate school for my specialist degree and that seemed to stifle any creative energies. That degree was in education, not English. (gag . . . gag) At least my BA and MA required me to read a great deal. It was legitimate. State sponsored, if you will.

I still don’t think I read enough. Somehow I think I should read a book a week. I could — if I spent half of my days with a book under my nose. Reading still seems like a wonderful luxury to me and my Puritan work ethic says anything you enjoy that much is probably not nice. Maybe even illegal. As a child I used to sneak books after “lights out.” Just hide the flashlight I’d take from the kitchen drawer. Stash it under the pillow. Make the sheets into a tent and I was all set. Mother will never find the flashlight when she makes the bed the next morning, I hoped. Dad will never notice the glow of light under the bedroom door. I also went through a phase when I snuck candy into my illicit late night reading sessions. Boy, Mother did notice the chocolate stains on the sheets, and I got into trouble. (This is the woman who kept a bag of chocolate stars next to her murder mysteries which were all stashed in her bedside table. Years later when I would borrow a book from her, I’d often find a chocolate stain on the corner of a page.) Finally, though, I wised up and switched to Maple Nut Goodies and Circus Peanuts. They didn’t melt. However, Dad often complained about the flashlight. The batteries always seemed to be dead.

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I’m a movie buff. I’ve loved them since I was a kid. It was such a treat to go spend an afternoon or evening in a darkened theatre with the imagination fueled by giant images and the tummy fueled by popcorn and soda pop. It was a delight then and it still is.

Since it is still Lent, we are continuing the general ban on mindless TV, however, we have tuned into the news a few times when the “need to know” was just too much. We read the paper which is a day late with the timely matters, however, a person can read it in about 20 minutes, so it’s quick. Bruce checks the news on the computer in case the world ended while we were not looking. The other evening Bruce was suffering fron game show withdrawal. A round of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy cured that. I similiarly suffer from soap opera withdrawal once in a while. A episode or two quickly cures that too.

We went to a poetry reading at USC-Aiken the other evening. That was fun and an evening well spent. We are continuing our massive book marathon read. I’ve read more non-fiction this year because of the book club at church. I have to switch back to fiction again, however. I recently finished The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Bruce used it as part of his senior seminar paper and, fortuitously, it won a Pulitzer Prize while he was in the class. Of course, he got a good grade on that paper! He’s been nudging me to read it. It’s a good read; soon you really care about what will happen to those characters. If you liked The Stand by Stephen King, you’ll like The Road.

The NetFlix membership has been getting a workout. We’ve watched everything from Schindler’s List to British murder mystery series from the BBC. We just got Ben-Hur. That should be interesting. I ordered Elizabeth R, which was on Masterpiece Theatre right before we subscribed to cable so I missed it and had always thought I missed out.   Apparently not, or else, films, whether on television or in the theatre, are just that more sophisicated than 40 years ago.   Anyway, we watched it last night and, I, who looveeesss history and England together, found it dated and a bit simplistic. There was no music so it was like watching a stage play that was filmed. I sent it back and will delete the other disks from the mini-series. Instead, I’m ordering the new Elizabeth with Cate Blanchett. It has a musical score. Tra la tra la. I get a catalog with all kinds of (expensive) goodies in it and so far, all the British film or series I’ve seen there, I’ve found for rent on Netflix. It’s especially nice since we no longer get BBC America after we cut back on the cable.

The evenings whiz by. Usually music is playing in the background. We’re reading and enjoying thoughtful films. Two more weeks left of Lent.

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Barn Kids

The barn was their holy castle.
Like serfs cooling in the summer moat
the cousins dove into the fresh hay.

From below they gazed up
where strung from one side of the loft to the other
a heavy rope.
The pages learned first to dangle with a dead grip on the rope
dropping down into the mounds of hay.
With years and growth they reached the knight’s sitontheropelikeatrapezeartist
a distinctive mark of an official barn kid
the highest order in the dangerous world of children and barns and hay.

With training the squires became knights who swung far out on the rope several times
to drop down into the piles of sweet hay
or land back on the ledge
upright on the feet
a feat only accomplished by the most experienced barn kid
an envy of the other younger barn babies.

A dinner call rang out from the farm house.

With a visit to the newly scrubbed horse trough
the barn kids were sluiced under the pump with sweet cold water
washed as clean as a lamb
ready for the other trough
armed with heavy plates
they attacked the table in the dining room
laden with ham loaf and deviled eggs
and potato salad and au gratin potatoes
and sliced red and yellow tomatoes
and green beans and creamy macaroni
and purple beets and fluffy white rolls
and coconut cake and chocolate cake
and apple pie and peach pie
and chocolate chip cookies.
No room for pickles.

It was only fuel for the afternoon assault of the barn kids
signaling the siege on the hay forts built with bales
the east side versus the west.
The side with the most captives won
the victors with the red scratches of hay on cheeks and arms
another tournament won by experienced barn kids.

The more battle
the more wisps of hay
glued to the sweat on the faces and arms
hay sticking out from pockets and cuffs like small scarecrow warriors.

This was long ago and far away.
All in the play of a hot summer day.


This is dedicated to second cousin, Sandra Jean Hinman Ketzner, who died recently. She, too, was a barn kid.


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