Swallow Me Whole

a poem of Contemplation

Image from Pixabay

Beneath this earth
so many souls. In this ground
right where I stand,
my bare-heeled ache on the grit;
do they linger here?

Do their solemn hazes pass me by 
as my breath drifts me
one day to the next?
Am I aware of
that chill, that pressure in the air
shifting, disturbing,
a moaning whisper to my
human ears?
Does it shift me?

I turned on the light
I asked you to leave

In the pierce of afternoon sun
an oak; a bleak, towering,
ivy-choked oak.
An angular ghost.
The last leaf fell long before
I appeared, a shifting soul, 
nowhere to go.
I contemplate its lean.

When comes the terrible fall?
When comes the violent creaking
that will rip me from my sleep?

Sudden noises — squirrel-gray 
antics on maple boughs,
on living, bending boughs or dead
bark-bare and bony limb; 
no difference to them,
with their inexorable ramblings
all toenail and chatter.
They gather and they gather.

How soon will I sink into 
worm-foul and rot?

They will scurry across my grave.
They, or their generations of they.

The dead tree refusing to fall…
These wiry-tailed rodents’ gatherings…
These shadows of souls carried quietly by…
and I?
Barefooted, sore-footed I;
standing in the dirt
left to ponder it all.

How soon will this earth
swallow me whole?

At Home Amongst These

a poem

https://www.pexels.com/photo/nature-grass-mushrooms-amanita-33695/

The squishy-cool green beneath my feet
meandering before me, a path between trees.
The bright arms of the sun reaching down,
fingers of light, bringing growth to the ground.
 
I can no longer get lost this way.
 
I have come again. I wander again
through the moss-strewn aisle
in gripping fear and anxiety-laden… 
I know they’ll be lost if I wander awhile.

I have been here too often.

The moss knows each tentative step
each catch in my breath, I gift my tears
falling softly from my chin, a tender
sprinkling of salt drains away my fears.

The trees creak with the breeze,
interrupting me, reminding me
of the cellular world, uptake of nutrient
the vascular world outside of me.

I stoop and take note of basidiophytes,
all dome-topped and mysterious,
the feathery gills underneath
each whisper-soft and musty fungus.
 
Worry melts from me as I picture
beneath them the faeries and gnomes 
in secret they watch my bare feet pad by
giggles on breezes drift up from their homes.

They remember my name. I am sure of it.

I find a cool spot to stretch and to lay
my back in the moss, a bryophyte bliss
works its way through my bones, my skin
prickles and settles, I’ve so missed this.
 
This tender release. 

If I lie here for a moment
in sweet rest, in soft sphagnum hug, 
with the sun shining warmly… 
with whispering friends, meandering bugs.
 
I’ll rest and release, breathe in, out…
the world will make sense to me again.

Oh, sing to me.


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Hunger

a poem

https://www.rawpixel.com/image/426941/grizzly-bear-roaming-through-yellowstone-national-park-united-states

I had a vision.
A pole; horizontal, unmoving.
Suspended from it — carrion
in varying stages of 
decomposition;

One, freshly hung
drips its life blood free
drip…drip…drip…
 
Another, rotting
begun, its surface writhes
with maggots and flies.

The third is rot-worn
black, a carcass shell
or its former self.

The three hanging there 
just out of reach, as are most
things when you are hungry.
 
A bear, standing on two legs
angrily reaching one sharp-clawed
swipe after another roaring swipe
menacing arcs cutting the sky
just out of reach,
just out of reach.

I don’t want to be this bear.
 
Sad thing.
Always reaching 
for the depleting,
the constantly wearing, 
disintegrating, withering
dreams cut short
just hanging there…
dreams dripping in the sun.
No, that is not for me.

I do not want to be this bear,
pathetic hungry beast
reaching for the despaired,
decaying and wormed away by 
the negative and the bleak,
gnawing, stealing, tearing
dreams disappearing,
eaten away in the sun.

I do not want to be
this hungry animal reaching
for the rotten, the black
the ghosts of dreams
the illusion of dreams
the dreams that used to exist.

I want to be a different beast.
A noble, beast of wanderlust
and curiosity, broad-shouldered
thick-backed and wiry
and feasting on berries
plump with juice and seed
paws-full gathered in the 
bliss of the sun and breeze.
The work is of no mind.
A belly can be filled with 
the small, if there are many.

want to chase after the living,
the sprinting and darting deer, eyes
frozen wide with fury and fear…
devouring the fresh
flesh-dream full of muscle
and blood pumping full
of organic desire, of 
opportunity racing, raging into
life, unabashed.

I had a vision, or perhaps
a vision has me. A sharp-clawed 
roar impels me.


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A Soul Set Free

a poem

Seven Butterflies Illustration
https://www.pexels.com/photo/adult-art-artist-artistic-133170/

Lift up your face.
You, there in the shadows,
Head hanging in disgrace.

There is no reason
to sit full of fear, to shackle
yourself to yesterday’s woes.

There is no reason
to feel rooted to guilt
and shame no one knows.

No reason to hold yourself
back from all things wonderful
all things beautiful and freeing…

No reason for you to be in disgrace.
You, there in the shadows,
Lift up your face.



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Ladybug Journeys

a poem of a quiet afternoon

https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-photo-of-ladybug-on-leaf-during-daytime-121472/

A ladybug journeys
 up Hawkweed stem
 searching for another

Dark-spotted red bug
 with which to fly high
 the ladybug labors on…

A squirrel scampers
 through leaf litter and soil
 searching for another

Nut she had buried 
 some time ago Spring
 the squirrel labors on…

Chickadee and titmouse
 nuthatch and goldfinch
 searching for another

Black sunflower seed
 or millet or worm
 the birds labor on…

I absorb the sun 
 I notice their sounds
 each searching for another

While creatures toil and fret
 and summer besets
 I, thankful, rest on…


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The Waters Run Clean Through Me

a poem about the North Carolina Mountains

https://www.pexels.com/photo/bench-cascade-creek-environment-355321/

Deep in the North Carolina wood
 nestled between steep mountainous 
 rises, a gorge, through which run
 waters, crisp and cool and clean.

A bench waits there for my soul.

The waters run clear, cross rock
 and moss, with dribbling sounds
 and meandering thoughts of the
 distant seas. The canopy hangs over.
 
 Shady oasis of quietude waits
 for me to climb into its folds.
 A genteel hug whispered through green
 to wrap me up in wonder once again.

A hike for a day, I must go.

I’ll climb on the rock, spread 
 my wings to gather the sun
 rub my toes in sphagnum
 hear the cool-water melody flow…

Oh, Carolina, you are good to my soul.

Let the breeze sway and creak in the pines!
 May the babbling waters find their gentle way
 and the mockingbirds ramble song to song,
 let your nature carry its secrets on.


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Nectar Dreams

a poem about the tiny creatures we often miss


Honey Bee (Unsplash.com)

Nectar Dreams

Walking sticks, June bugs,
Bumble bee, Wooly Bears
all came out to play
and when the streetlights 
at last were lit
the fireflies lit the way.
The June bugs, in droves,
in whispering swarms
slapped against our chests
emerald green-backed and shining,
the airborne jewels in summer vests.

Where have all the June bugs gone?
 
Wooly Bears sauntered by one-by-one
we didn’t touch them as they rolled
laborious slow and steady, with hiding
faces, these solitary mysteries unfold.

Oh Wooly Bear, please come 
out to play once more.

Walking sticks, box turtle, sage-shaded mantis
and the creepy-singing “whooo whooo whooo
that rose from the woods behind us
telling secrets that sailed out over the garden
plump with cucumber, tomato, corn stalks, melon.

Daddy Long legs often skittered by
climbing on spindly silent legs,
with tiny black dot bulbous eyes 
they crept on silent dregs.
Now, sadly gathered elsewhere
on distant dream, searching 
for more of their kind.

Perhaps the June-bugs hide there too
in this grassy hidden plane
where creatures gather 
to speak of when their numbers
had not yet begun to wane.
They worry over summers 
that no longer look the same,
of the children no longer twirling
in grass with magical dreams.
 
Bumble bee, I beg you, do not go away.
I plant my flowers one-by-one
enticing you to stay.
Our earth is not the same for you
but your plump colors light our way
I miss you singing nectar-dreams., oh please
Forgive us, we have lost our way.

Wooly Bear Caterpillar (https://cottagelife.com/outdoors/wild-profile-meet-the-woolly-bear-caterpillar/)



Walking Stick bug ( https://www.spirit-animals.com/stick-bug-symbolism/)

June Bug ( https://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2016/jun/28/outdoors-summer-heat-magnolias-and-june-bugs/)

Thank you for reading Nectar Dreams, a poem inspired by my love for the tiny creatures and the joy they brought to my childhood. I hope you will read more of my poetry!

A Yellow House in Iredell County

A poem — to immortalize a love worth telling and a house that carries their memories in its heart

Mamaw and Pop pictured there in the center. Their love, the family, and the home they built together are the inspiration behind this poem.

Nestled… in the dappled Spring sunlight 
peeking through oaks, maples, and Tulip poplar 
is a country house with pale-yellow siding.
Across a corner of the weathered 
wooden-slatted front porch, a vine lazily 
stretches to find a spot in the sun.
 
Inside, the navy-blue carpet runner slinks 
up the beautiful wooden stairs that 
Pop built with bony-knuckled, work-deep hands. 
He’d have worked quietly, smiling as he thought
of the lovely young lady with the yellow flower
behind her ear, that caught him by the heart 
some fifty years past. At the wane of her 
she rang the bell, a silver tinkling call.
He shuffled to her bedside, leaned close.
“Pop, will you hold my hand?”
 
The front parlor is very much the same; 
an old-fashioned sitting room 
with milk-cream white, antique furniture, perched 
on mahogany clawed feet, elegance immutable, 
unmoved. A portrait of my young mother 
hangs there on the wall in ornate frame,
her eyes the foremothers to mine.

Arising there, a China cabinet, its gifts enclosed in a hug.
Atop a pedestal table, hand-sanded and love-stained, 
Mom’s Christmas cactus trails and cascades in forest greens
awaiting pink-winged petals, alighting in season,
a crescendo of bloom framed in autumn-light 
meandering through remembrance like a dream.
Mamaw’s spirit lingers there, her high-bubbled laugh 
carrying on like a song, her quiet dignity still holding 
together the air that holds up this house. 
In the kitchen she makes her list, there at oval
table; the names of all the children she loves.
Do you see her sitting there?
 
There are so many children here now.
 Pop would have snagged them one by one 
with a devilish grin, with navy-socked feet 
smelling of sweat and dust, and of the garden
where his watermelons juiced and plumped
on the vine. Wriggling, giggling children
were no match for the snare of Pop’s feet.
His tender chuckle rolls quietly by on the wind. 
 
Presently, titmouse and chickadee
swoop down from the trees to gather black
sunflower seeds, meal worm, and millet;
their warbling chatter and brief staccato chirps
a cacophony of tales wrapping a yellow 
house in Iredell County with enduring 
melodic memory. At night, a yellow house 
sleeps with a smile.


Thank you for reading A Yellow House in Iredell County.

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Cottonwood Wings

a poem for my son to read at the funeral


You might want to read this first



In the Spring, God brings forth life
Cottonwood drifts by on the wind.
We water our gardens with tears
for we have lost a dear friend.

Her kindness grew like tulips
Proud and colorful and tall
Her compassion, a vine reaching  
our lives and touching us all.

Our beloved Beverly was so
Warm-hearted, sweet, and caring
Loved her family with all her soul
Though cancer, in the end, unsparing.

A kind and quiet woman who
grew like the flowers
and paled into silence
in her last waning hours.

Her Spring was cut short,
Her candle burned low,
in God’s precious time
she knew she must go.

Though it’s hard for us
in this bountiful spring
we let go and know
God’s given her wings.


I was asked to write a poem for my son to read at his Step-mother’s funeral next week.

He is to speak at the funeral, at which time he will read the above poem, no doubt through shaky nerves (to my knowledge this will be his first “public speaking” engagement), and through a heavy wall of emotion. He is with-holding so much emotion about this whole thing.

As a mother, my heart is breaking for him. He has no memories of his life prior to her entering it. It is a terrible loss. How in the world do you honor that in a poem? Yet, this is the task I was given.

To make it simple enough for the country-folk family members to be able to appreciate, make it rhyme so it sounds to them like a poem, make it personal enough that it touches their hearts, Christian enough and reassuring enough so that they are comforted in their time of sorrow.

What an arduous task, but I wanted to do something. And this is what I do–so I hope you have enjoyed reading Cottonwood Wings. I am honored to have written it for my son. (I think it will mean a lot to him.)

(In Memoriam, Beverly Mullis; wife, mother, sister, daughter, grandmother, friend)

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On Dappling Pond

a poem about the beautiful Mandarin duck and the not-so-beautiful Muscovy duck

Mandarin duck, Pexels.com

On Dappling Pond

White, crisp half-moon,
  the blue crested melt
  to ruddy hind swoop.
Tawny wings tucked under,
  belted by royal blue.
Sleek chest, brazen
  blue as ocean-deep.
Neck ringed in
  maple majesty lace.
     Enlightened, resplendent,
         spectacular.

All nature’s paintbrushes!
Were they hog hair
or badger?
Were they
rinsed clean in muddy
waters encircled by sawgrass;
sandy-fawn stippled?

The Mandarin navigates,
whisper-smooth and waggle,
the Carolina grasswort; rising
variegated greens
wind-bent and skyward.

Mucsovy regards the
radiant fowl,
disturbed at such
     reckless abuse of color…
for one dappling duck?
Pinkish beak dipped under,
up with a snail? Asnail!
Vexed, perturbed,
Muscovy waddles, plops
with a splash and a glide,
     nature’s sculptor’s pride,
     its gnarly head held high.


I hope you enjoyed On Dappling Pond (I am quite fond of this one) and will stick around to read some more of my poetry. I have made it easy to find ones you may like and you can find links to poems on the poetry tab, or use the navigation menu and search features on the homepage. Thank you again…what did you think of On Dappling Pond?

Muscovy ducks are widely varied in blacks and whites–but the red bumpy face is usual. This is a snippet from a picture on All About Birds website.

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