It seems that I have been writing poems all my life. I kept them in various places – notebooks, boxes, purses, books – until someone told me that I could actually have my poems published and share them with other people who might like poetry as much as I did. Below is my first poem that I submitted to the magazine insert to the Sunday Commercial Appeal (Memphis TN). I think I was about 9. Somewhere I have my (sort of) rejection letter, stating that they couldn’t publish it because they didn’t publish poetry. Here is New Orleans Lady.
New Orleans Lady
O, the lace! The frothy, frilly lace,
On the gown, and on the veil
that hides your lovely face.
O’er the satin and the silk
and the skin of rosy milk.
The raven blackness of your hair
that falls in tangled glory past your hips,
and the fullness and the redness
of your boldly curved lips.
The delicate arch of eyebrows
above slanting eyes of green;
The jewels resting on the breast
of one so like a queen.
I learned from that rejection letter that there were markets for poetry, and if I wanted to see my poems published, I would have to find an appropriate market. Unfortunately, my next poem was of an activist nature and I had no idea where to send it. I was 11 when I wrote this poem, entitled The Next War.
The Next War
So you hope there’s not another War?
Well, good! So do we.
But, man, you’d better kneel and pray,
For this is how it will be.
No other wars with shot and shell.
The next will be a living hell!
A scorching, searing, burning flame
that flicks its tongue at all to maim.
No bullet-quick death to still the pain,
But, far more deadly, radioactive rain
That torrents down from red-rimmed skies
And bloats and sears until all die.
Until all die? No! It can’t be!
Think not, foolish Man?
Just you wait and see.
God made Man and loved him
Though his actions proved him sin-
ful. But God intended for Man to be
The image of Him, and so you see
It hurts God to see our heads so swelled
With pride at making this Bomb so well,
While our feeble minds don’t or won’t understand
That this may well be the End of Man.
And what happens after that, O Man?
When you’ve laid waste God’s own dear Land?
Why, with the death of all men,
Then wars will cease!
And God will be satisfied,
For there will be Peace.
Life is a study in contrasts for me. My husband and I recently went down to the Gulf Coast and tried to find Vrazel’s, one of the best seafood restaurants in the area. When we couldn’t identify it among the new eating places, we pulled into one of the parking lots to turn around and go back to our motel. We then decided to just eat at whatever restaurant we were at, because we heard so many good comments from people coming out of the restaurant. When we relayed our situation to our waiter, he told us that this was, in fact, the “old” Vrazel’s – what a coincidence! Of course, it didn’t look anything like the restaurant we were looking for, but it was new and beautiful and over looked the Coast with the waves coming in at dusk and the lights coming on towards dark. So romantic! Ambiance was in abundance! And then I saw these two…One More Night.
One More Night
She’s on her second drink,
He’s on his second iced tea.
She stares at him,
He stares at his cell.
The only thing they do together
Is eat the house rolls.
She has a bowl of gumbo,
He has a bowl of salad.
Then their orders come…
A thick steak for him
A pile of fried shrimp for her.
Their server is tall and tan and lean and lovely…
Her customer is tall and tan and lean and hungry…
The wife eats the fried shrimp, one by one,
as she stares at him.
He cuts the steak in tiny pieces and deflects her stares
by looking around.
She keeps her eyes glued to his face,
seeing no one else.
His neck swivels back and forth,
looking at everyone else
She pays the bill.
He pays the price.
One more night without a fight…
Fast-forward to yesterday when I went to one of my favorite places to write, our local Cracker Barrel. There was a sweet couple who had come in to eat lunch. They laughed and talked as they ate, and when they were finished with their meal, he got up to get her walker. There were many little “comforts” that he had apparently made and attached to the walker – soft foam to cushion her hands, a little basket to put her things in, and a place to fold and secure her sweater. Here is what I observed and wrote about in The Right One:
The Right One
He helps her into her walker
(Still her protector),
She pokes his chest with her finger
(Still the joker!).
He gives her the sweetest look,
She gives him her biggest smile!
Briefly they hug as if getting ready to dance.
As he straightens her blouse,
She puts her hands on his shoulders.
“You two look as if you’re getting ready to dance,”
their server says.
“No, our dancin’ days are done,”
“But we can still prance and joke and have fun!”
Getting old is great, when you chose
The Right One!
The truth is, I HAVE to write! No writer’s block for me! I write at all hours of the day and night, when the spirit moves me. I never remember what I composed if I don’t write it down, so I try to be ready! People, pets, and poetry are my passions in life…and what a grand life it is!