A Letter to the Man I Loved the Most


Today is your birthday, June 6.  I cannot wish you Happy Birthday because you fell into a coma a year and 1/2 ago and died several months later.  Our daughter came over and over to see you, unconscious, eyes staring into empty space.  She drove the five hours back and forth repeatedly.  Sometimes I came with her.

What happened to you?  Your mahogany hands and arms looked as they did when I first met you decades ago.  I looked at the signs of aging on my own; yours seemed so young, ageless.  But not your face.  I wonder if I would have recognized you on the street.  I remember the first time I saw you, sitting on a sofa–fancy, engraved silver tipped cowboy boots, shirt open half way down your chest, and your smile radiating across the room.  I knew immediately I had to have you.

What happened to you?  How could I have guessed I could be so wrong, decades of believing you just left, no explanation, nothing.  Then after you are comatose and I cannot talk to you, I learn a far different truth, a truth that never leaves me, a truth from which I will never totally recover.

What happened to you?  Charming, laughing, the man so many loved.  That you.  Did the other you finally dominate–the sad, disappointed, angry you?  The you few knew, the hidden you, the one I often held, tried to protect. Now I talk to your cousin, the one you forbade to tell me the truth I never knew, the friend I thought I had lost forever.  Yesterday we talked.  Today she left me a message.  She and I will never be the same, she filled with irreparable loss, your company, your mutual love, and I with a hole in my heart that can never be filled because I cannot talk to you.

What happened to you?  A decade ago when you came to see our daughter, it was like I had seen you only yesterday, in so many ways as if we had never been apart.  It haunted me.  You could have told me then, the truth.  But no, I had to learn it by accident from our daughter.  She thought I knew, that you had told me.

What happened to you?  I look at photos of us, young, filled with hope and love and promise, smiling brightly toward a camera.  I wonder how different my life might have been.  I will never know.

 

 

 

Sunday Poem–A Life


IMG_1645

I wrote the first blog post about this in February, a second a few weeks later.  The following poem I wrote a week ago but never posted:  too upset, too sad, too filled with regrets I could have no way fixed because I did not even know all the story.  He remained unconscious for two months from late January until March 22.  It seems strange that the memories of a life I lived so long ago, mostly forgotten, could surge into so many waking moments now years later.  Life:  always filled with wonder, surprises.

yesterday we put his body in the ground

the wind blew through the trees

whispering green spring, beauty

yesterday we put his body in the ground

the man I loved, beautiful mahogany velvet

dazzled the world with his smile

yesterday we put his body in the ground

my daughter’s father, standing with family

some we had never seen before, worldwide

yesterday we put his body in the ground

watched a life flash by, slides from baby

to our life long ago, other lives and children

yesterday we put his body in the ground

family, friends, two of his children

a life struck down, too suddenly, too soon

In honor of the life of Kenneth A. Mowoe

You will not be forgotten, your memory lives on with me, your family, your children and grandchildren, your friends.  Peace.  Love.

IMG_2666

Meet the Artist–the Writing Process and Poetry


This evening I am the artist at a local Meet the Artist event in Amarillo, Texas.  This event occurs bimonthly and past presenters have included musicians, photographers, and painters.  While I sing and take photos, my presentation will include reading poems from my book, “On the Rim of Wonder” and new, unpublished poems and talking about the writing process.  While I honestly thought few would be interested in the latter, several people have asked me specifically to discuss this.

Although I consider myself a writer, I do not sit down on schedule and write every day like many writers.  Inspiration, thoughts, come to me sporadically.  I write creatively exactly like I used to write college papers, magazine articles, etc.; I look like I am doing nothing, but in reality, all these ideas run through my head and finally gel.  Then I sit down and write it all at once.

The following is one of the poems from my book which I plan to read this evening:

 

Aging

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”  Dylan Thomas

Custom says, “Age gracefully.”

Are they crazy, dumb.

Who wants to look

old

wrinkled

grey?

They lie.

All of them.

Who wants a broken mind

confused

unfocused

lost?

Shoot me!

Burn my bones.

Scatter them

in the desert sands

to feed

desert willow where

rattlesnakes lie

searching for shade.

Ranch Bones


w

Skull

 

Years of bones piled up.  Cattle–calves, yearlings, the old–heaped 100 yards

northeast of the ranch house, upwind from the summer, southwest prevailing

winds.  Mostly black baldies, a few Charolais.  Old bones bleached white,

disintegrated.  Some new bloated bodies rotting, nauseating.  Others just sundried

hide stretched over skeletons.  Drug here by tractor, the dead.  Shipping fever, parasites,

drought, extreme weather.

 

A ranch’s history written in bones.

Publication!


A writing colleague posted this on her blog today. It expresses so much of what I feel about so many things that I just had to reblog it. As soon as I finish this reblog, I am going to look for one of these statues for myself. Here’s to a fabulous today and a creative, adventurous future.

20 Minutes a Day

I am pleased to report that my flash fiction piece, “A Brother’s Gift” has been accepted for publication at the Provo Canyon Review, a print literary journal. I am especially pleased about this because I rather impulsively submitted it when I saw the Provo Canyon Review’s Call for Submissions. This is a very short piece, but the editors said they liked the tone and also thought it was “A refreshing and moving look at grief and the true emotional impact of such a loss.”

I am happy. Here it is in case you missed it first time round.

A Brother’s Gift

Mary Lou Holder sank down next to her brother, the one who was dying of cancer, and started pulling on the bright red bow of the gift he had just handed her. “This is sweet, Jake, that you’ve gotten me a present. You know you didn’t have to…”

Jacob…

View original post 491 more words

My Father


Recently I decided to try writing poems about a few family members.  Months ago on this blog I published a poem about my Grandmother along with the marriage photo of her and my grandfather, who was so much older than she  (22 years) that I never knew him at all.  In June I posted photos of the trip I took back to Missouri where I grew up.  While a few things remained the same, I felt very sad about some changes and kept thinking how my dad must feel if he were watching.  He died in 1996, lived in the same house for 80 years and on the same farm all his life.  He labored long and hard to make the homeplace beautiful.

He watches:

The house where he was born

gone

Only the old carriage house stands.

The young man who farms the land cannot bear to tear it down.

He watches:

The ancient burr oaks and black walnuts

gone

bulldozed into waste piles or sold for greed.

He watches:

The house he lived and loved in for eighty years

still stands on land his family owned for more than 100.

Strangers live there:

He sees the well trimmed lawn,

new picket fence,

children playing.

He watches:

The pond he proudly built and stocked with fish reflects the summer sun.

The tree filled park between the pond and house

gone

He wonders why someone would destroy such beauty.

He watches:

The walnut grove where he ran cattle

gone

The pond where his grandson caught the giant turtle

gone

plowed over and planted to corn and soybeans.

He watches.

SAM_1165

Star


The phone rings.

“Star’s dead.  There’s blood everywhere.

He’s hanging from the gate.

Blood is all over Rosie’s face.

It’s dreadful.”

A tear choked voice.

“You can’t bring D’mitri home.”

D’mitri’s nine.  Star belongs to him.

Shock, tears, disbelief.

Last night he ran, bucked, reared,

chased around, playing.

How?

The pen’s all pipe, no sharp edges,

nothing harmful, consistently inspected.

D’mitri goes home with me.  He says,

“Nana, I have to see him;

I have to know what happened.”

Slowly, in dread, we walk behind the barn.

Star’s hanging by one hoof in the three inch

space between the gate and fence,

ankle broken.

The blood covered fence, gate, and ground

stare at me.

It’s hot, his body’s stiff.

He must be moved.

The coyotes will come in the night,

drawn by the smell of blood, of death.

The neighbor brings his big, red tractor;

a wench pulls Star’s young body free,

and gently lays him on the cold, grey, barn floor.

His shining copper coat no longer shines.

D’mitri and I remember bottle feeding him

after Miracle died, teaching him to lead.

We stare at Star’s body in disbelief.

Kindly, the neighbor says,

“He died quick, femoral artery cut by bone,

bled out.”

For hours Rosie and Cool stand at the spot

where Star died.

They do not even leave to eat alfalfa.

It takes me hours to wash away the blood.

It took D’mitri ten months to go back to the barn,

to ride Rosie again.

Miracle and Star as a newborn

 

 

Note:  This is a photo of Star and Miracle in July 2010 shortly after Star’s birth.  Miracle died of colic three days later.  Star died last May.

Marriage


ONE

Afraid of revealing me       the Essence of Me

Mother told me                  Boys won’t like it

Too smart                     Too aggressive

Too full of              Myself

Too serious             Too intense

Too adventuresome

Too nasty a temper

Too in love with Possibility

Too             Too         Too        Too       Too       Too

I took her advice

Married  a Genius Scientist

Safe                    Timid                 Disadventurous

He liked me because I could Shoot a

Bird off a Wire

a hundred feet away.

In time We All Died

Him             Me            the Bird

TWO

Last night I dreamed of him

Black velvet, young, strong, sexy, arrogant.

I had to have him!

This morning

I almost told our daughter.

Then I Remembered

It took nearly 31 years for me

to Learn

She has a sister only 3 months younger.

She told me.

He has never said a word.

THREE

I remember the time he touched my face, melting me.

I married him;

My face slowly, inexorably froze.

FOUR

I was a very good investment.

He consistently insulted my daughter.

We are ALIVE and HAPPY.

He’s DEAD.

The Land in Love with Guns


In the United States firearms kill approximately 15,000 individuals per year.  In Britain, Australia, and Canada, the average is 350 per year.  Spain’s rate is even lower.  In Germany, it is less than 800.  A young person here dies about every 4 ½ hours, shot dead.  The US murder rate is 19.5, nearly 20 times higher that the next 22 richest countries.  In the 23 richest countries combined, 80 percent of all gun related deaths are in the US; 87 percent of children killed are shot by guns here.  In the last 45 years, bullets killed more than one million people in the US.

Gun sales are big money.  More than a dozen hand guns are sold per minute.  One survey indicates that one out of every four US homes possess a gun; another survey says 39 percent.  However, most guns are owned by only a small proportion of the population, gun “collectors” who own an average of seven weapons per person.  Guns are cheap here and bullets even cheaper, about 50 cents each.  The Mexican government contends that our cheap guns help fuel the dreadful violence there which then overflows to here.

In spite of all this, the US murder rate is the lowest in more than 45 years.  The NRA claims more guns equal less violent crime.  The NRA contends that the lower crime rate is the result of less strict gun laws and more people owning guns.  Nevertheless, mass murder occurs on a regular basis.  We mourn, we lament, but nothing changes.

Eventually, another mass murder occurs and the cycle repeats itself.  Why?  Who or what is responsible?  What can be done?  Will more restrictive gun laws help or hinder?  Debates continue; opposing views and answers abound, but the cycle continues.  Will it ever change?

I wrote the above after the last mass murder event.  Nothing changed.  Now the conversation appears more strident, more active.  Apparently, the mass killing of children is more heinous, more scary than the mass murder of adults even if the adults are young.  The NRA advocates armed guards at schools.  How will that prevent mass killings at movie theaters, at malls, at churches, on the street, e.g. the three murders this week in Pennsylvania?

Australia was another country in love with guns, but after a mass killing there, they changed their collective mind.  They enacted strict gun control laws for assault weapons and ammunition.  Could that work here?  I think not.  This is a country in love with guns because the right to own a gun symbolizes  what is perceived as individual rights.  This is a country where personal liberty remains far more important than community safety and social justice.  Until that changes, mass murders will continue.