Monthly Archives: August 2013

Poems — Aug 2013

These poems are drafts, not final versions and are not meant to be shared outside this website. Thank you.

Selected Poems



I don’t ask for a life of luxury
(of cherries and whipped cream)
but I’m jealous of my night-time self
who gets to sleep and dream.




barely enough tuition for
the school of hard knocks





it’s such a pity
that my kitty
thinks it’s witty
that her itty-bitty
pads go pitty-pat—
and, moreover,
that her catty
city mistress
wrote a flitty
little ditty
about that.

[Well, I GO to the city often.] 




The other planet poets—
Who are they?
What do they write?
What is poem-worthy
in their sight?
What, to them, is beauty;
what right or wrong or duty?

The other planet poets—
Do they write with heart?
Do we share a Muse?
Or are we worlds apart?




I dwell in stealth.

For all I know,
I dreamed myself.

I have no place to stand—
except in here I am.




“I think,
therefore I am.”

You thought, therefore you were.
You were a man; I don’t refute—
but is a stone’s existence in dispute?

If not, then is it true
that stone thinks too?




We feel so sure
as we endure,
seeking unremembered bliss,
“There’s more to life than this.”

There’s also less.




The trust I bear to Thee
in gratitude deep-growing
turns pangs of old not-knowing
from pain to peace for me.



(A Spiritual Perspective)

But for space,
we all would be
stuck in the same spot—
yet, if we’re free,
who’s to say we’re not?





her t-shirt read.
Five cents a hug!
For that, I dug
and paid the lady’s fee.

the hugger said.
And when we’d done,
for love or fun
she bought one back from me.




Perfect love casts out fear.
What makes pain disappear?

* * *
Change is scary, no-change worse;
is eternal life a curse?

* * *
In this scheme of good v. sin,
how do animals fit in?

* * *
Imagine that we took a poll—
“What’s your pick: love or control?”

* * *
While we’re learning what is true,
what are we supposed to do?




“Forget all the fables
you’ve been spun—
now it’s two hardheads
instead of one.




Life can seem
so hard and unfair.
Yet every time
I come up for air …
the air is always there.




I knew I was unwelcome,
even at first sight.

At my approach, one huffed.
Then they all took flight.

But their leaving left me grateful—
in sheer dear deer delight.




Once upon a time, the lord and lady
of the manor got dethroned (missed
a balloon payment). Their homestead
was foreclosed upon and they were
forced to move to a shepherd’s hut
where they lived meagerly but happily
ever after, as far as anybody knows.
They could have been eaten by bears.




You made us
from Your spark—
and a bit of loam.

We travel here in dark;
help us help each other home.




When does
suffering end?

(When karma’s
known as friend.)





I have seen
what wasn’t there;
saw it twice,
but didn’t stare.

Don’t know why
it came to me,
unless to show
such things can be.

* * *

Speaking of Poetry

Buzzards and Poems

Turkey Vulture Can you believe it? I was just asked to make a presentation on these joint topics to the Arkansas Audubon Society. Their upcoming convention. will be September 27-28 in Harrison AR.

I am beside myself with wonder. Which causes me to wonder if Lynn Sciumbato, the local vulture expert will be there. I also hope I’ll be able to locate the extensive vulture research I once did. Otherwise, I’ll start from scratch. 

The correct term for what most Americans call “buzzard” is actually “vulture.” So I’m counting on the Audubon audience to be indulgent with my use of the incorrect common name. The word “buzzard” actually refers to a type of hawk. Scientists and Europeans are sticklers for this distinction.

This invitation to speak didn’t come completely out of the blue …  sky … like a buzzard. One morning I saw a glimpse of a bird that I couldn’t quite identify; it was large and dark with white wing-tips. So I looked up the Arkansas Audubon Society on Facebook and asked questions. A long discussion followed. In it, I mentioned my love of buzzards and the related poetry. And now … voila! A chance to share.

Let’s see. I’ll dredge up a buzzard poem for you …


Every day, a buzzard
comes into my view—
flying solo overhead
or swooping down, quite low,
or stationed in some untoward place.
It seems to say, “Hey, you!”

There’s nothing that I dread
or worry I should know.
I simply view it as a grace
and I reply, “Hey!” too.

Turkey Vulture

My affinity for buzzards grew out of several moving and meaningful encounters.  Maybe you know of a group that’s hot to hear these stories in a presentation on “Buzzards and Poetry”? Not likely, I know, but I’m ready when the group is.  ♥ ~Jo

* * *

Photo Credits: Images cropped from a couple of my recent snapshots.

What’s So Scary?

Fear Itself

Every topic I started to write about tonight led to a dead end. That’s good. They were about scary things or self-recriminations. Really, though, how can I say they were about scary things? I don’t believe that.

“Scary” is a reaction applied in reverse as a defense. Lots of things are “scary” before we’re willing to face them and experience them. Almost always, the encounter ends up being positive instead. Because life is good. Regardless. As the latest popular saying goes, “The universe doesn’t do things to us, it does them for us.”

The unknown is a challenge. Once, when I was young and applied for temp work, I told the agency I was willing to do anything clerical or administrative. “But please don’t put me on a switchboard,” I emphasized. That must have made an impression; my next assignment was as a receptionist and switchboard operator for a large retail distribution warehouse. Since the agency apparently had confidence in me, I decided to have confidence in myself. I spent every spare minute of my first morning memorizing faces, names, and numbers … and practicing which buttons to push when. Not surprisingly, this turned out to be my favorite and most successful assignment till then and I was asked back repeatedly by the company. 

Cricket in hand“Scary” could be bugs for some people.
(This is a photo of a cricket.)

Once I lived in a small, very old downtown apartment where roaches were hard to control. But that is just what I was trying to do one night when a friend stopped by to visit. He asked if he could help … because, he said, that was the exact fear he was working on at the time. Being of the hippie type and generation, he one-at-a-time lovingly scooped up the half-dozen erstwhile residents and took each one to an outside garden. Because he was afraid to.

Hazy city sceneIt’s all a matter of perspective. Back when AIDS was a quick death sentence, I went to a literary event of some kind in a Little Rock bookstore. Poets read their work aloud. One’s was about the day he was diagnosed with AIDS. When he learned he had it and was told how it operated, he left the clinic and wandered the streets, marveling in an almost ecstasy of wonder: “Not immune. Not immune. I’m not immune to anything!

Approach and Avoidance

With fear, as with pain, there are two main techniques that can be effective—[this is my own experience speaking]—either complete focus on that thing or complete focus on something else. I’m lucky. I can usually do either with poetry. Today, Ethan and I had to face something intimidating and we both fell into behaviors we didn’t like. So we called a halt, reviewed things, and worked them out. During my halt, I delved:

Why am I such a drain?
     Why do I find fault
     then clam up like a vault?
Why do I complain?
     Why do I stew,
     then blow my top at you?
I feel threatened and powerless.
It’s some kind of cowardice.

Conclusion? Being afraid is about feeling vulnerable and deficient. And self-protection plays out as attack. Or it can. It helps to be in a partnership that calls a timely halt. Coincidentally, that is the very thing this blog is calling for, so I will end. May all your scares lead to positive outcomes.

♥ ~Jo

* * *
Photo Credits: All photos are by artists.
No Outlet by jdurham – Hazy Street by krosseel – Cricket by rocker123 

Lingering Lushness

Landscape Views

Woods and road

Arkansas Woods and Road in August

Amazingly, thankfully, the verdure brought by early August rains still graces the scenery of my daily walks. The woods remain extra-green and neighbors’ flower plantings are full and lush.

Landscape plants

Landscape plantings


Pom-pom Mushroom

Mushrooms continue to appear, puff up, brown, and die away. Some varieties are especially beautiful; this globe-shaped one is reminiscent of an anemone on a sea-floor.

The sudden appearance of seedlings and mushrooms can be explained. But the alligator intrusion is still a mystery …

Unexpected Arrival

Toy alligator

Mysterious Gator

The only known fact about the gator’s arrival is that it materialized on the asphalt by our mailbox one morning. I had no idea what to do with it. Eventually, I decided to move it to the top of the mailbox, partly to witness Ethan’s reaction when he gathered in the noon mail. His reaction, if any, was imperceptible—probably because so many strange events occur in our lives anyway.

Strange or not, I addressed the alligator in a poem.


I found a gator in the road
lounging smugger than a toad.
When I looked into his eyes,
I saw that he was rubberized.

“Gator, are you someone’s toy?
Are you best friends with a boy?”
(Might as well talk to a tree;
Gator only grinned at me.)

Verdant Vines

One of the prettiest sights recently is this view of vines at a retaining wall railing.

Vines on Railing

Vines on Wrought Iron Railing

Opposite the railing and slanting down the hill slope is the view that appears at the top of today’s blog post. I feel very fortunate to live near such beauty and to be fit enough for daily excursions.

Every place has its own beauty … how is it where you live?

♥ ~Jo

* * *

Sprites, Spirits, and Sprouts

Pert as Pixies

Mushrooms on mulch

Mushrooms on mulch

Brown ones, tan ones, white, gray, orange … mushrooms sprouted all over the landscape after early August rains. Some were seen playing “king of the mountain” on a neighbor’s mulch pile. 

One particular mushroom displayed exuberance at simply being alive by breaking into a dance, although a fairly static one. 

* * *

Mushroom gills

Mushroom displaying gills


lifts her
can-can skirt:

Jaunts and Haunts

This August, walking was pleasant at almost any time of day. Near one of my routes and tucked away beneath overhanging tree branches is an abandoned cul de sac that affords some wonderful shade and privacy. (Truth be told, it is not abandoned at all; the privacy is shared.)

Abandoned road

Abandoned cul de sac


Blocked entrance

Blocked entrance to street

I went today
where dead children play
and grownups seldom venture.

trees decay, 
vines ascend,
shadows shift and blend,
and a forsaken roadbed crumbles.

it’s quite a pleasant
where wild weeds jumble …
and where bees, birds, light,
dark, bugs, toads, mice,
and other beloveds
of nature and children 

Old concrete stairs

Stairs at sidewalk

The street curves and is about half a block long, including the turnaround. A stairway leads from the sidewalk to nowhere in particular, but a mimosa tree on the higher ground indicates that a house was once nearby—inhabited of course, as the place still seems to be.  ~ ♥Jo

* * *


“Pomes 5¢”

The Dream

“Pomes 5¢” is the booth title I dreamed up for my version of Lucy’s version of a lemonade stand. In visualization, my stand is full-sized and the poet is swamped by purchasers.

Poet doll selling poems

Poet’s “lemonade stand”

The Dreamy Reality

Yesterday, I experienced a modified version of this idea at my hometown’s end-of-summer festival. Lucy was portrayed by a doll my niece gave me. The lemonade stand was made from an inverted patio footstool and some small cardboard boxes. “Pomes” (so-called because my everyday poetry is not very refined) became “Poems” (so as not to confuse customers). “Pomes” also relates to apples, an everyday wholesome nourishment.

The real was better than the imagined. Along with a half-dozen other Arkansas authors, and at the invitation of owners Myra and Pat Moran, I shared booth space at Trolley Line Bookstore in downtown Rogers. At other times during the day, I filled in at the Lions Club chili contest booth and handed out flyers for an upcoming car show.

I wore a pocketed apron under my Lions t-shirt so I could carry poems with me and offer them freely to people who looked like they might be interested. My approach evolved as the day went on: “Hi! Have you had your poem of the day yet? No? Well it’s here in this spread somewhere.” I would then fan out a brightly-colored assortment of slips of paper, just as a Las Vegas dealer would fan a deck of cards. “Pick one. The one you pick is the one that’s meant for you … or for somebody who means a lot to you. It’s like a fortune cookie and, when you read it, you’ll know why it came to you this way.”

One man was reluctant to participate. “No. No. I’d rather not.” So we talked awhile about his t-shirt. “Fly Fishing in America” it announced above a related graphic. “Fly Fishing in America” is the name of a band that had just participated in a music contest. We talked on, about family, and eventually the man allowed that his wife might want to try the fortune cookie thing because she likes to read. So we went to her and, as it turned out, her poem was about books.

“Sure you don’t want to try?” I asked. He took one, read it, and was shaken. “How did you know I like trees?” he wondered. “I didn’t,” I answered, “something else did.” The man even knew Joyce Kilmer’s poem by heart. Here is the poem he picked:


beneath bold blue—
October oaks,
we’ve pined for you.

Golden oaks and blue sky

October Oaks by Krosseel of MorgueFile

It kept happening again and again, that syncing. In one instance, the recipients were a couple. He drew first and got a disappointed look on his face. Same with her. Then they read the poems aloud—and each said, “You got mine!”

All this interacting happened during my wandering around. When I arrived at at the bookstore for the authors’ time-slot, I reviewed the small “lemonade” stand I’d set up earlier and its sign mentioning five cents. By then I knew enough to tell people, “Oh, the first poem is free. Just pick one. The one you pick is the one that’s meant for you…”

The story of the Lucy doll is a very special one, to be saved for a future time. I hope all your days are at least as delightful as mine was yesterday. ♥ ~Jo

* * *

Walking and the Dogs

My Buddies

On daily walks, I never know what I’ll encounter. Usually it’s something marvelous. Other times it’s funny or beautiful or grim.

Bird dog and beagle

Bird dog and beagle


(Two dogs,
two body lengths
from the electrified fence,
lie unmoving in the dust and weeds.
A neighborhood walker approaches.)

“Where’ve you been, buddies, huh?
I been missin’ you these last few days.
Not gonna raise your heads, are ya?
Too stuck up? Too dang taaard?”

“Hey, I’m callin’ ya’s, … whistlin’.
It ain’t that hot; you ain’t that tard.
Cain’t be. C’mon move, ya lazy lugs.

I bet this rock I’m tossin’ll bust you awake.”


OH! Oh ma gawd,
who done you in, boys?

(An ear twitches.)

“Dang dogs!”

Well that was a somber episode ... until it flipped. Spooky. Those were some, yeah, dead-to-the-world critters. These are the same two dogs that used to howl and bark and chase along the fence every time I walked near. Now they’re inured to me … or, hopefully, my efforts to befriend them have been ultra-successful. This is a good way for this episode to end.

(By the way, that is not my normal mode of talking. But the boys enjoy it … when they’re alert.
♥ ~Jo

* * *

A Dream of a Mother



Kaleidoscope view by Andalusia of Morguefile

I used to think my life was charmed or enchanted, that it was especially wonderful, guided, and looked-after. Later my life became more challenging and I felt less special. In fact, specialness seemed a mistaken and arrogant idea.

Yesterday I began to appreciate specialness all over again. Not in the sense of “better” but as “different.” Two nights ago, on video, Ram Dass described how each person’s spiritual journey is unique although the result or destination is the same truth.

My Dog

Small white dog

White Dog by Jade of Morguefile

That night, I dreamed of a fluffy white dog, small and curly-haired, that bounded across a green-green grass yard to a cluster of people I recognized as relatives. Then it bounded—almost bounced—across that grass to meet me in joy and recognition, as if to say “Welcome home!”

Then last night, as I walked the neighborhood, I spotted just such a white dog at the top edge of a long, sloping green-grass yard. A man there was watering the hedge in front of his house. I stared at the dog and wanted it to see me and come bounding toward me like a long-lost friend. As I thought this, it turned its head, saw me, became electrified, and bounded toward me with a happy, bouncing gait.  He sniffed my hand hello, welcomed a quick petting, and followed me as I continued to walk. In the side yard of the house, an entire family came into view, surprised to see their dog following me. They called it back and gave it a talking to.

My Candy Man

Also on last night’s walk, I had an unusual encounter with a friendly older man. I heard a truck coming up beside me on the road, so moved well away from the pavement. But the truck advanced more and more slowly till it finally stopped beside me. The driver had white hair and wore glasses. On the seat beside him was a crumpled brown paper bag full of penny candy. “Have some,” he offered, lifting the bag toward the open passenger-side window. I took a small Dum-Dum, cotton-candy flavored, with a blue-and-white wrapper. I smiled at him and at the extraordinariness of his presence. “Take another,” he said. I did, and he headed off toward the boat ramp.

Candy assortment

Candy by JDurham of Morguefile

As I walked, memories floated up of times when I was in distress (or even appeared to be so) and people responded with help and encouragement. For example, one spring day in downtown Little Rock, I saw a mulberry tree next to the sidewalk that was full of ripe berries and I began to help myself. Judging partly by my casual blue-jean attire, I suppose, a downtown resident came over to me and told me where to find the local soup kitchen. (Amazingly, this very evening by the lake I’d been wishing for help and encouragement because financial difficulties were calling up visions of a soup-kitchen future.)

The candy man was due to return shortly, I knew, because the boat ramp route is a dead-end road. This time when he slowed, I went out to meet him. “Do you always carry a bag of candy with you?” I asked. He held it up and grinned in answer. One side of the paper bag was taped over with verses (poems!). One verse mentioned that happiness and health are the true kinds of wealth. Another stated that organ donation is a good part of preparing for death.

As our conversation went on, I learned the man had lost his wife a year ago (just as my dad had). He’d considered suicide, he said, just as most bereft spouses do. He advised me to say I love you to my husband every day at breakfast. Candy Man owns a home nearby that enjoys a beautiful view of the lake. He makes sure to keep the lower limbs of his trees trimmed so people can view the water as they drive by. By the time we parted, I was convinced that this man is special, I am special, every part of life is special, and each of us is solicitously watched over. If only we realized it.

My Mother

I can only call my dream-time last night special. I wandered what seemed to be a quaint downtown area. A vaguely remembered person asked if I’d come to find my mother and told me she was at a book club meeting in a certain old hotel. I easily located the hotel and went inside. Indeed, a circle of women had gathered there. I scanned for my mother and recognized her by voice, rather than by hair color, because she was young and her hair was dark.

My Mother

Mother (Mary Lee Musholt)

I didn’t speak to her or even catch her eye. She was offering suggestions about how to keep the discussion fair and inclusive, so that each person’s contribution would be honored.

My mother is alive, at least in my dreams … just as I am alive in what may also be a dream state. I don’t have to figure this out, but I can certainly enjoy it and take comfort in it. ~ ♥Jo

* * *

Writing and Writing Tools

Pens, Pencils, Computers

When the U.S. first planned to send its astronauts up into realms of zero-gravity (I’ve heard), they spent mounds of money designing special pens that would operate there. The Russians, sensibly, sent their cosmonauts up with pencils.

Keyboard and pencil

Pencils are my favorite writing tools, especially when I write in bed at night with legs drawn up and tablet propped against them. Ballpoint ink doesn’t flow at the near-horizontal angle this arrangement requires. Years ago, I kept a journal in a hand-made book that was made of a luscious high-grade soft archival paper. I used a porous fiber tipped LePen, which I considered equally luscious. That writing experience was sensually and emotionally satisfying, in part because I recorded so many dreams (literal) and aspirations.

If you’ve ever begun to pay close attention to your dreams, you know that you soon have enormous quantities of material. One memorable night’s dream transported me to an art gallery on a foreign planet. Items on display there were wildly unusual, exquisitely beautiful, and ingeniously made.

Computers are good tools … when you have them. Ethan’s notebook was in the shop last week; mine is there now. This is being written at a computer station in a local wellness center. I figure if I don’t find ways to keep involved with this blog, it will lapse. (My poems have, on occasion.)

Regretfully, Ethan’s notebook doesn’t accommodate my camera’s flash drive, so if I add photos to this post they will come from another source. In that case, I may just pick ones that are eye-catching rather than topical; I think everyone knows what a pencil looks like.

Penciling You In

Basically, I’m just touching base with friends of this blog. I think I have one reader so far … an immensely valued one. Wait—make that two, plus Kate who’s made the only non-spam comment so far. Bless you all, and future readers as well.  ~ ♥Jo

* * *


Awash in August

Rain and More Rain 

Rain repeatedly overflowed my flower pots these last few days. One night’s accumulation was over five inches. An ice chest beside the deck has completely filled too. What a lush and beautiful Arkansas August we are having!

Surprise lilies

Surprise lilies at base of crape myrtle

My daily walks lapsed this week, due partly to the thunderstorms, drizzles, and downpours. This morning was different though, because I headed out with umbrella and camera … to see what Nature was newly up to.


to the
pit-pat of 
second rain

Buzzards in Snags


Buzzards on alert in snags

Along the route to the lake, I encountered storm debris, burgeoning weeds, deer, and buzzards. Also, a man appeared, walking out of the bushes and waving arms overhead as if to signal for help. Turns out, he was just doing arm exercises with weights. We teamed up for part of our walk and had a good conversation. He walks almost daily too, mostly on the lake shore instead of the lake road. He was very knowledgeable about habitat and critters, and I liked that.

Two “Feathers”

IMG_3243a Two Feathers

In the grass alongside the white-edged asphalt, I caught the impression of a large feather that turned out to be fast-food packaging. I laughed to think how bird- and buzzard-oriented I’ve become. Then, wow, about two feet further ahead there was a buzzard feather. I don’t normally rearrange found objects—though that would be an art option for the future—but, in this case, I did bring the two “feathers” together for one vignette.


More Rain Effects

At another location, crabgrass was encroaching on the asphalt. Arkansas is beginning to morph into jungle.

IMG_3253a Bermuda grass encroaching

Rainstorm results also prompted the poem below:

Hickory Nuts in Grass


Well, now—
who do you think had the brass 
to lay green summer eggs
in green summer grass?

The Easter Funny? It could be.
Or—perhaps?the Hickory Tree.

Rain is predicted for the next two or three days … I haven’t investigated beyond that. And, of course, there is major flooding nationwide. This will certainly be a summer to remember. ~ ♥Jo

* * *