It’s the Real Thing

brick wall-fenced back yard
oval daylily bed
looping two tall pines
monkey grass border
trampoline from grandparents
for jumping with friends
between bike rides
rabbit hutch
that didn’t last long
carpeted thick centipede
for running barefoot
post-nailed chalkboard
for playing school
stolen chalk from church
disk tree swing
where we sang the Coke song
“it’s the ree-yal thang,”
spinning in circles
fig tree
for making “strawberry pigs”
picnic table
for scraping scales, cleaning fish
a place to grow up
to sit outside with Bridgette,
our Schnoodle
and plot my next moves
First Baptist Church pastorium
at 208 Martin Street
St. Simons Island, Georgia
carefree island childhood

A prompt from Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc by David Elliott

Inspiration:  InVoices:  The Final Hours of Joan of Arc,David Elliott uses a series of poetic forms to tell the story of Joan of Arc.  At the end of the book, each poem is categorized according to forms that include Rondel, Short Rondel, Sestina, Villanelle, Ballade, Rondeau, Rondeau Redouble, Rondelet, and Triolet.  He also uses Free Verse.  Elliott’s approach to telling the story of Joan of Arc through a series of verse forms is creative and fascinating!  

Motivation:  Think of your favorite author, and do a little research on his or her life.  Use book titles, biographical information, awards, excerpts, or any other aspects of his or her life to create a verse tribute (or at least one of your top 25).   
Challenge:  Below is a link that contains 100 poetic forms from which to choose – just to widen your variety of choice. 
Write! Raise a Glass to the Literary Avant Garde by writing a verse that shares a glimpse of your favorite author.   
If you choose to write a Rondel, the format is:
13 lines in 3 stanzas (4 lines, 4 lines, 5 lines) with 8 syllables per line, and a rhyme scheme of
ABba/abAB/abbaA, with the upper case letters used as repeating lines
Mentor Poem:
“The Cattle,” a Rondel by David Elliott
What did she hear that we did not?
What was that faraway look in her eye?
The unthinking steps, the mournful sigh,
this girl unstudied and untaught,
trapped as if she’d been caged and caught
like a fledgling lark that is longing to fly.
What did she hear that we did not?
What was that faraway look in her eye?
Was it love, with its tender, unknowable knot,
or madness chanting its lullaby
out in the meadow beneath the blue sky?
Was she enraptured? Or was she distraught?
What did she hear that we did not?
          -David Elliott
Kim’s Rondel celebrating David Sedaris through the rearranged words of his book titles (Title words are capitalized)
A Fevered Barrel of Sedaris on Ice
Family Holidays On Ice
Talk Pretty Naked all the while
Barrel Fever, Calypso-style
Explore By Finding Theft in spice
One Day Let’s Dress Your Owls and mice
Squirrel Seeks a Chipmunk to beguile
Family Holidays On Ice
Talk Pretty Naked all the while
Corduroy And Denim entice
Engulfed In Flames but not denial
With Diabetes walk a mile
When You Are With Me, life is nice
Family Holidays On Ice

Dream Crossovers

How does the timing of a dream
cross over into reality?
How do I just happen to have
been outside in a park
for a long time, people watching –
watching a grandmother and
her little granddaughter
romping around in a new dress
with little lacy fold-over socks
the same kind I used to wear with
patent leather Mary Janes when 
The grandmother sees a bug on one
lacy sock and bends down to get it
so I run to lean in and have a closer look
when the grandmother grabs it
by the back legs and holds it up.
“It’s a tick!  The little ones carry
Lyme disease, but this is a big one.
She controls the panicking tick
its legs in four wheel drive 
doing all it can to escape
the little granddaughter is watching
in wonder at the scrambling tick
intent on observing it so she can maybe
identify ticks in the future
when the tick gets away and
scurries quickly onto my sleeve and runs
up my arm, past my shoulder and into my hair and
hit my head with a thud, so
and hear and see
a winged flying something hitting
the hotel walls in the corner above my head, all
discombobulated and in a state of panic.
So I lie here wondering
#1. How did my dream know to start building toward
real and physical contact with a dream bug
before the hotel bug hit my head?
#2. I’m not letting these real
bugs into my dreams here again.  
The coffeemaker was nasty, too, and there
was a winged bug in my coffee cup
and what I
wanted from the Reid Ridge Lodge in
Blue Ridge, Georgia was the 
rustic atmosphere
of a would-be lodge, but not the
authentic risky kind
like Thoreau or Emerson would sleep in
without pest control
and that is why I didn’t stay upscale.  
note to self: check 
under seat rims of toilet
and ceiling above shower 
before starting 
the day

Today’s writing was composed at the Blue Ridge Arts Council’s Communal Pen workshop. 

My Kitchen

My kitchen has deep roots
grown from the women before me.
My kitchen is from the
Eunice Sands Jones kitchen –
where three meals a day on the farm
were cooked and never
a wayward crumb or utensil out of place.
And always, always
An ice cream sandwich in the freezer
Just for me
Except one time when I didn’t hug
Her hello first.
I never made that mistake again.
My kitchen is from the Georgia Lee Harris Haynes kitchen-
Where I was just as likely to find
A random wooden spool of thread
Or a half-filled book of S&S Green Stamps
Or a stray chess piece or
A spent tube of toothpaste as I was to find a fork
To eat the
Always, always
Five-layer chocolate cake under the silver metal
Cake lid, dented like a Goodwill castoff
Surrounded by empty plates
Sitting in a sea of cake crumbs
Where I secretly picked off only the
Hardened frosting,
Sinking my back teeth into it
To savor its sugary-gritty sweetness,
hear its grinding in my ears.
My kitchen is from the Miriam Ruth Jones Haynes kitchen
seasoned with torn-out recipes from
Southern Living and Good Housekeeping
A mostly-matched set of dishes,
Geometric avocado designs along the plate rims
And an oversized set of wooden salt and pepper
Shakers, the grinding kind
For peppercorns twisted fresh, and
Always, always
Boxes and boxes of breakfast cereal
Not only for breakfast
But also for building a fortress hiding wall
For my growling baby brother
Who sat watch in his high chair
To catch anyone looking in his direction
My kitchen is the Kimberly Lynn Haynes Johnson kitchen-
Adorned with cherished framed handwritten
Recipes from each of my grandmothers
and my own late mother-
A penciled sketch of an old stove I imagine
Looks just like the one from Truman Capote’s
Christmas Memory where he made
Fruitcake with Aunt Sook
And a drawing of a wooden rolling pin I imagine
So many women wanting to use for reasons
Other than rolling pie crusts
through the years
My kitchen has some patterns of order in the chaos and
Always, always
A coffee can because the disposer is broken
And the unexpected beauty of discarded cucumber slices
Squeezed lemon rinds, potato peels, and bites of
Buttered raisin bread that
Survived the dogs, peach pits and
Watermelon seeds creates a layered work of heart
(Like a child’s sand art creation
Before it gets shaken),
Its contents destined
For composting,
Reincarnating for further purpose and surely
Cycling back to the kitchen coffee can again in a future
Generation of food.
My kitchen is a farmhouse recipe, blended and baked
From kitchens before mine, a
Lingering aroma of love that transcends time.

Today’s writing was completed as part of The Communal Pen writing workshop held at the Blue Ridge Arts Council on July 11, 2020.
The Sears and Roebuck Wee Alert
My baby brother –
five years younger and
I knew he was a problem
the day they brought him home
to the pastorium.
The early signs were there
in so many ways, but none
more so than in his enuresis;
he was a full-fledged bedwetter,
and my parents grew more and more
concerned with his disorder.
Our grandmother
a lifelong Sears and Roebuck
catalog sales representative
suggested the Wee Alert,
and it wasn’t from the Wish Book
but from the more serious
thick catalog I used
as a booster seat.
They bought it for the standard
twenty percent employee
We hooked him up before bed
and honestly I was scared for him
when I saw all the wires.
Sure enough, it didn’t take long.
The wee alert awakened
everyone in the house
except for the bedwetter
who snoozed on in his
self-made pee pool.
There we stood
tousle-headed and groggy-eyed
in our pajamas
in his room
littered with Matchbox cars
and Little People
who knew the family secret.
We tried every hype and gimmick
-even combining prayer and
voodoo rituals-
but what we tried to undo
he simply outgrew.
Today at 50,
he’s still the only sound sleeper.
The rest of us wake to a whisper,
compliments of the
Sears and Roebuck Wee Alert.

Barnyard Concert at Dusk
stadium of tiered strains
crickets getting on key
off-key bleating goats
sound-boosting rooster straining in
heckling-cackles from the hens
melodic symphony of songbirds
grunty strumming backbeat pig
headbang-drumming woodpecker
string-section grasshoppers’ lilting cadence
high-trilling tree frogs
windchimes ring  
porch swing chain keeping tempo
as we sway
to this cacophonous
sunset serenade

The Heart of Belonging

if you’re driving along Highway 441
in north Georgia
admiring the mountain views
and happen to think that
out of the corner of your eye
you just caught a glimpse
of a goat on a roof
turn around immediately
and go back
at first glance, this is 
nothing short of alarming

you’ll want to call the fire department
to send over the ladder truck
like people do for kittens stuck in trees

but as you’re plotting a way
to not sound like a prank caller
you’ll see the sign 
are realize that you really did see them
and they’re supposed to be up there
“but,” you’ll self-argue,
“they’re notsupposed to be there
nope, goats don’t belong on a roof,”
you’ll keep thinking

which is the whole point
you’ll get out and take in
the whole country store
stocked with jams, jellies, ice cream,
boiled peanuts, t-shirts, 
photo opportunities,
and goat souvenirs
you’ll buy a handful
of goat food and pour it
in a yellow crane bucket
and bicycle-pedal it
to the rooftop and 
dump it in a little trough 
for the hungry goats waiting
to gobble it up and
then you’ll
rub your chin and wonder,
“did they really just
smile at me for more?”

they’ll trip-trap
across their suspended rope bridge
and do their head-butting
sibling-style goat play
to entertain curious
mind-blown tourists
like those boxing hares
you watch on YouTube

yep, the roof goats know this business
my brother Ken and I
earned our official
goat ranger shirt stickers
by feeding the
rooftop ruminants
and eating their ice cream
one recent summer
who says goats don’t belong on a roof?
who says it’s too late for
middle-aged adults to re-live
their youth and earn
official goat ranger stickers
they missed back in the 1970s,
like a skipped-over scout badge?
belonging is rooted in the heart
of the roof dwellers

if ice-cream-cone-licking
out-of-place tourists
lured to pedal food
in a yellow crane
to rooftop goats
in memory-making roadside
attractions on a mountain 

why don’t goats
on a roof?

Bad Deer Dream
unlike your sisters
you rarely slept
you’d peek out your door
for anyone awake
in the wee hours
and drag your boppie –
the soft, puffy one with the horses-
and give a tousled headfirst tumble
onto the living room couch
to contemplate 
in the dim silence
your sleepy, hoarse voice
and wild, expressive eyes
invited me into your troubled dreams
that kept you far from sleep
“I, I, I, I…..I had a bad dream.
I, I, I…..I was riding
and, and, and, and…..and the car stopped
and, and, and…..and we saw a deer.
A bad deer. 
And, and, and, and……and it bit me.” 
(your eyes popped open wider here)
“Oh no!”
I overdramatized,
opening my own eyes wider in horrific
response that a bad deer bit 
my baby.
“Were you okay? Where did it bite you?”
You demonstrated by grabbing your foot,
Which slid out of your single dangling sock.
“In, in, in…….in the sock!”
Those precious early morning moments
just you and me
are especially sweet memories now
when you bring your own 3 dreamers
who give tousled headfirst morning tumbles
onto Nana’s couch. 

Saved by the Bid
there’s no air I’d rather breathe than the grainy haze of
never-settling dust at the Buggy Town Auction on a Friday night
in a Barnesville, Georgia warehouse
my heart beats to the
pulse of people moving through the maze of livestock pens
to bid on barnstock frock
settling in mismatched castoff chairs
savoring the blended scents of
sausages, peppers, onions, and fries
cheeseburgers and pizza
barbecue and boiled peanuts
and the ice-cold pop fizzes of drink tops
wearing broken-in boots and
well-worn jeans
faded and torn
in the corrugated metal walls
under the wooden rafters
on red clay floors that
conjure the very spirts of
Charlotte and Fern and Wilbur
milling through the laundry baskets
of chicken wire-covered
feathered fowl headed to flock elsewhere
barnyard mixes of fertile future egg
hatchlings for surrogate incubators
against the backdrop of the bleating
of goats and sheep
cackling of hens and
crowing of street-preaching roosters
awaiting their turn on the block or
in the livestock limelight of the funnel pen
with an extreme bullriding farmhand who
headlocks horns up for bid
in risky positions that threaten
his very manhood
a sing-songing auctioneer who’ll stop mid-note
during low-ball bids and interject,
“Y’all need to stand up and look at this prize!”
to too many folks who are
letting their ears itch
and hearing my favorite proclamation, finally
“Sold! Number 2078!”
satisfied our newbies destined for the
Johnson Funny Farm will live out their days
peacefully sheltered, safe from slaughterhouse blades

The Farmer’s Assessment

Old farmers know best
how to sort things out.

They call it like they see it.

It happens when they stroll
up and take a look.

“What we got right here’s a mule
thought he could swim.”

“What we got right here’s a stuck calf
needed turnin’.”

And so when it was Archie’s time,
the vet –
an old farmer’s son
and an old farmer’s grandson
and and an old farmer’s great-grandson –
had just the right words.

“What we got right here’s an
old dog’s lived a good life,
and’s too sick
to go on livin.’ “

Sometimes all we need’s the facts.

But they still don’t stop the hurtin’.