May 14 – My Mother’s Daughter

I’m so proud to be my mother’s daughter! She was one of a kind, ever conscientious and always protecting all of us. She was a seatbelt enthusiast, a nighttime curtain puller, and an avid door locker. So when someone tells me I’m just like her, I am reminded how fortunate I am! Remembering Mom today on this 8th Mother’s Day without her. Hug your mom if she’s still here – tomorrow holds no guarantees!

My mother in the early 1960s
My Mother's Daughter

at the Dames Ferry
dump station
at the top of the hill
two and a half days worth
of our waste
sliding down 
a three inch hose
from the belly
of our camper
into the waste tank

you stepped to 
the back to check
the spare tire

I looked out over 
the lake 
at the bottom of the hill
and panicked
thinking you, too, 
might slide

ran to the truck
set the emergency brake
announcing in a high pitch

for all to hear

to let everyone know you were safe

not about to get flattened
and drenched in pee
sliding all the way down 
to the lake

you walked up the hill
wiping your hands with
a glove
chuckling your 
secret knowing smile
satisfied with yourself

I searched your face

you raised your eyebrows 
in answer

I love you
you said
kissing my cheek

and there's nothing wrong
with this

May 4 – Lonesome Bee Haven

Johnson Funny Farm bee haven, April 2023 – baby bees at top right corner and entering bottom left tube

Forget Lonesome Dove. This one’s all about the lonesome bees – and putting food on Earth’s tables. One of my 2023 goals is spending more time outdoors, taking more notes in nature observations, and learning more about the ecosystem and the creatures that do jobs I’ve taken for granted. A couple of summers ago, we bought a bee house to provide safe spots for solitary bees like mason bees and leaf cutter bees to nest. These pollinators help plants like fruits and vegetables thrive. We have enjoyed watching the little bees come and go – they’re so cute – and so helpful! In rural areas like ours where agriculture is the name of the game, bees matter! Help with pollination – NOT PESTICIDES! We are doing one small part to make a difference – and watching it happen thrills our souls!

Lonesome Bee Haven

lonesome bee haven
apiculture hideaway 
pollinator post

baby bees buzzing
busy building businesses~
hungry world feeders

May 3 – Our Bat Hollow ~ ~Free Housing for Chiroptera

Aidan enjoys helping us outdoors when he comes to visit the farm!

One of my 2023 goals is spending more time outdoor, taking more notes in nature observations, and learning more about the ecosystem and the creatures that do jobs I never fully appreciated. Both my mother and grandmother, avid gardeners, died of Parkinson’s Disease, a neurological disease that has been linked to pesticides. If my fish are not wild caught, I don’t buy them (my takeaway from Silent Spring). I’m doing all I can – one small part in a big world – to make a difference where I can.

I was driving along our rural highway last week and felt tears well up when I saw a sign advertising 52 acres for sale. I drove back around the loop, looking at all the trees – all the homes where right now, there are baby birds and deer and foxes and squirrels whose homes will be felled with the blade of an ax when the money changes hands. It hurts my heart for them.

We have been considering ways to control our mosquito population (quite possibly the only critter in the entire universe I would vote to eradicate), and one of our ideas is installing a bat village. So this past Saturday, I raised my husband and grandson up in the tractor bucket to install our first bat house. We’ve seen bats out by our driveway for the past several years, and we hope we can attract them to the bat houses from wherever they are living (we checked the barn and see no signs). We’ll add to the village over the next couple of weeks, even though the boxes should have been up by now since they are more likely to be inhabited over the summer when the bats emerge from hibernation in the spring, according to Google. I read somewhere that the occupancy likelihood is only 35%, but we’re going to give it a go since we know we have them nearby.

Plus, Halloween. It will just feel a little spookier and more seasonally festive when the pumpkins frost over and moon shines through the trees. We’ll enjoy batwatching almost as much as birdwatching!

~~Bat Hollow ~~

house installation
erecting a bat hollow
mosquito control 

spooky October 
Loblolly pine neighborhood 
for night flight critters

vampirish creatures
welcome wagons circled up
upside-down hangout! 
My husband takes direction on the exact placement of the box, which should be at least 12 feet off the ground.
Bat Box #1 being installed

May 2 – And Just Like That, A Miracle is Taking Place

The first of the three bluebird hatchlings; one did not hatch.

I’ve spent the months of March and April writing among friends, celebrating the Slice of LIfe Story Challenge and #VerseLove – – and spiffing up my bird and butterfly garden. Each year, we discard any cracked feeders and add a couple of new ones so that we maintain the work that began in spring 2009, shortly after we moved to the Johnson Funny Farm on New Year’s Eve 2008.

I caught butterfly garden fever from my mother. Throughout her years, she planted fennel as host plants for butterflies to lay their eggs. Every summer, her fennel plants would sag with the weight of the caterpillars, each happily munching away to becoming a chrysalis before emerging as a black swallowtail. She also threw out rotting fruit for them to feed on, and taught me to do the same. She had attended a butterfly gardening workshop with one of the leading butterfly garden experts in Georgia and learned that butterflies like to feast on urea. So if you ever see an upside-down garbage can lid with rotting oranges and a wet sponge in a garden, you can bet that someone knew to invite their little grandson to go tee-tee on the sponge to make the butterflies happy. Mom grew nectar plants nearby, such as butterfly bush, azaleas, lantana and coreopsis. Every once in a while I can keep a flower alive, but it takes a modern-day miracle to make it happen.

A miracle. That’s why a week ago Thursday for the Open Mic, I changed up my whole reading plan less than an hour before the long-awaited event started. I’d stepped outside to toss a lemon rind out and to fill the bird feeders and birdbaths and check the bluebird house (again) to see if the eggs had hatched. I could see a tiny notch in one egg, and I knew the hatchling’s head would emerge within the hour if all went well. I waited awhile, watching from the front porch, and when I could see that no parents were coming and going, I returned in time to capture the moment of wonder! Watch the video at the top, if you haven’t already.

I headed out to the poetry reading, leaving my own poems at home, selecting one by by Mary Oliver instead. I stepped onto the stage and read This Morning .

Reading poetry at the Open Mic, 1828 Coffee Company, April 2023

#VerseLove April 30

Sarah Donovan is our host for Day 30 of VerseLove and our host of this space each month for writers who crave togetherness each month as we come together to celebrate our words and thoughts ~to share the joy of writing. She helps meet a deep need in each of us. I adore the prompt today, and I ran for my journal from 2019 when I saw the topic. I thought back to the first year I participated in VerseLove and looked for that first prompt that changed the trajectory of my life from grief over my mother’s death to connection with others whose pain shone through their heart holes, too, who showed me how to use the sunspots to write and heal. To every writer who shares the journey, thank you for all of the inspiration you bring. This morning, my grandson writes along with me as I revise my first-ever VerseLove poem, Blackberry Winter.

Blackberry Winter, Revisited

It’s a Blackberry Winter I wrote in 2019
beginning a poem about all the good things

later this morning, my first grandson 
               will make elderberry jam toast
                         plus cheese omelettes 
                                   on the Lodge cast iron griddle
   wearing my apron 
         (he doesn’t know about the apron yet)

but first: raindrops on rooftop, fresh coffee,
wi-fi (stronger than coffee, finally), computer charged,
comfy chair, whisper-soft pajamas,

thoughts ready to materialize
three schnoodles tussling on grandson’s 
sleepover mattress as we write together
in the living room

words forming on pages: his pen, my keyboard
to the first #VerseLove prompt of 2019 from Sarah:

….the good things in our lives….

there are those who bring
more warmth than raindrops and coffee,
more comfort than chairs and pajamas,
more joy than words ~ 
   ancestors whose cast iron presence
      and apron strings linger in kitchens
       hugging us tight about the middle

and those we ancestor ~ grandchildren 
who write right next to us
about all the good things in our lives
on this elderberry toast and cheese omelette morning.

– Kim Haynes Johnson, April 2, 2019 and 4/30/2023

#VerseLove April 29

Our host today for Day 29 of #VerseLove at is Scott McCloskey of Michigan, who inspires us to rewrite the script of a time we wish we’d given a different answer. You can read his prompt and the poems of others here.

Kernels of Truth

ten months after

she died

four months after

he died

you asked me

what I thought

of y’all

and I told the truth

you’re nice

she’s nice

but y’all don’t fit

you thought

it was that woman thing

that I 

just didn't like her

you had it all wrong

there were those

I thought would be a

great fit for you



lovers of wine

whose blood runneth blue

this one wasn’t for you

you’ve held my 


against me all this time

made me the 

unaccepting one

and now after

seven years

of frustration

figuring out


you finally realize

all those reasons

y’all don’t fit

so next time I’ll

tell the only truth

you want to hear

marry her

then I’ll go 

make popcorn

#VerseLove April 27

Today our host for #VerseLove is Chea of Texas, who inspires us to write poetry with regional dialect ~ to tell something as it really happened, in our home language. You can read her prompt and the poetry of others here. I’m sharing a phone conversation with my dad one early morning not too long ago and wrote it in prose during the Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Hopin' Folks Out

my phone rings early 

I have a story I need to tell 
while it’s fresh on my mind
before I forget

I grab my pen

It was back in the old days in rural Georgia 
when I was preaching at Ohoopee
This was down around Highway 19
where you’d go through Wrightsville
meander over to Tennille
and then head on out to Sandersville
a sea of cotton fields  
roads all red clay

Ohoopee was a church of miracles
a cured drunk who loved the Lord led the singin'
“On Jordan’s Stormy Banks,” 
only he pronounced it Jurdan’s.
and he weren’t wrong.

a fellow named Noah in the church 
needed help finding 
where to dig his well
even with a name like Noah

back in those days
people were people 
folks’ existence was all about 
helpin' their neighbors out

old Elvis heard about it
“I’m coming over to hope you out” 

I went over there too
to see Elvis hope his neighbor out

Elvis said he had a divinin'  rod – 
a hickory branch –  to find water 
Elvis walked  
it tremored
I saw it with my own eyes
they dug that well right there

they called this place Possum Scuffle
back over in Harrison by Raines Store 
over yonder by Deep Step and Goat Town
by Margaret Holmes's cannery ~
black eyed peas and collards. 

 in Acts 27
Luke is in a ship in a storm 
using stabilizing ropes 
~ also hawsers or helps
a help is a hope rope
on land or at sea
it's Biblical, Kim

you remember that

write it down

#VerseLove April 22 – with Emily

Emily is our host today at for Day 22 of #VerseLove.

Today is Earth Day, and Emily encourages us to write about an island of our choice. I grew up on two islands – one in Georgia, one in South Carolina. I love today’s topic, because I’m back on St. Simons today spiffing up our rental unit here, remembering my youth softball league playing in the ballpark across the street, walking the village where I crabbed on the pier with my mother. It’s a perfect day to enjoy the island vibe with three out of control schnoodles who can’t get enough of all the salty sea smells.

St. Simons Island, Georgia

Memories splash
Time-faded photographs
Redigitized to present-day
Beach walks

sea smells
salty schnoodles
savoring Saturday
still snoozing, sunrise sand dune soon
spoiled sons

#VerseLove April 21 – with Darius Phelps

Darius Phelps of New York is our host today for Day 21 of #VerseLove at, inspiring us to write poems of grief or disillusionment. You can read more about Darius and read his full prompt here. He mentions that the ancient Chinese believed that by burning the house down when relatives died, it would send the house to the place where they were so they could have their homes beyond this life. I reflected for a while on that idea this morning, even chuckling about the Calgon laundry whitener that I remember commercials for as a child – – an Asian actor would come into the frame holding a box, saying, “Ancient Chinese Secret” when someone wondered about how the clothes got so clean. I think the ancient Chinese had a lot of things right. Come join us and read today’s poems.

Up in Flames ^ Choose One: House or Legacy? ^

those ancient Chinese

had it right: burn the house down!

strike up the torch flame!

better the house go 

up in smoke than the siblings

killing each other

who gets the dwelling?

who gets the crystal timepiece?

who "gets" anything?

executor’s call:

who gets to make decisions?

who denies morphine?

which one plans all meals?

oh, but NO SUGAR, stage 4

cancer patient fat?!?

what is this fresh hell??

give Mom a damn M&M!

stop controlling LIFE!

inheritance sucks

some get fortunes, some get F(ORK$#)

who "gets" anything??!

those ancient Chinese

had it right: strike the match and

walk in peace from fire