Thursday, March 31, 2011

Groups

GROUPS


 A Murder of Ravens flew overhead
While a Parade of Elephants marched on
Through a Quiver of Cobras in bed
While a Cackle of Hyenas looked on

An Army of Ants started to swarm
While a Pace of Asses walked through
A Rafter of Turkeys evaded the storm
And a valiant Dazzle of Zebras did too

A Coalition of Cheetahs hiding in wait
Caught a Clash of Bucks on the run
Through a Husk of Hares ready to mate
And a Bloat of Hippos basking in the sun

A Bale of Turtles headed for the sea
Followed by a Colony of Gulls
And a Pladge of Wasps were set free
While a Mustering of Storks ate the culls

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Springtime

SPRINGTIME

The sun held against its will
Swallowed by cotton clouds
Escaping long enough to spill
Warm rays on pregnant mounds

The sun warms the ground
The refuge for new growth
The seed uncurls to reach around
And pledge a newborn oath

Clouds laden with nourishing tears
Shower the thirsty earth
And when the cleansing clears
Spring has given birth

The seeds arms reach the sun
Its legs anchor in the dirt
New growth has begun
Spring has embraced the earth

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Growing Up Ambidextrous

Growing Up Ambidextrous

If sciolism were an art form I’m sure I would be a Picasso. For as long as I can remember useless facts and figures seem to adhere to my brain and are randomly released as free radicals from incomplete oxidation in my burning mind.
I have a love of puns and irony and they seem to surface in the form of humor when I can work them into conversation.
It started, I think, with my first grade teacher, Mrs. Fulton. (Mrs. Fulton was also my father’s first grade teacher). I advanced from first to second grade fifty-five years ago, but I’m convinced Mrs. Fulton is alive and well still influencing the futures of first graders. She was an encyclopedia of misrepresentation and wives’ tales, which she executed with Nazi precision in the classroom. She was a big woman and towered over her peers and teaching associates, both male and female. She had a huge wart on the left side of her nose – no matter how I tried to see her in a normal perspective; I could never stop focusing on that appendage. She was a woman of little patience.
Twice a week we took forty-five minutes from our day to go the stage of the multi-purpose room for band practice or rhythm practice. Rhythm practice was a class of twenty first-graders, most of them carrying two sticks each, which they banged together while they marched single file around the stage. There were two tambourines that were assigned to the two girls with the most influential parents – a doctor and an insurance salesman. On occasion we were arranged on stage as a choir – tallest in the back. In this arrangement we were allowed to sing songs like “Old Dan Tucker” and “Go Tell Aunt Rhodie”. Mrs. Fulton loved rhythm practice because she could wear and use the round silver pitch pipe to sound the notes to start the songs. She would sound the note and tell us the letter it represented. They all sounded the same to me. Music was so abstract to me that to this day I don’t know what the letter denomination for music means. Once she explained it by singing “do ra me fa so la te da”. I was usually the student that always sat back in quiet observation; but this time I asked what the name of the song was. She looked at me in disbelief and without a word, dragged me to the corner of the stage, where I stood with my back to the class for the remainder of rhythm class.
I think I was supposed to be left-handed. Mrs. Fulton insisted that there were no left-handed people by birth. She insisted that using one’s left hand caused mental defects in adult life. Each time in penmanship that I tried to write with my left hand she took the pencil from my left hand and put it in my right. To this day I am ambidextrous and can even write with both hands at the same time. However I bat only right handed, and shoot only left-handed. I’m beginning to believe her observation of adult mental problems.
It was the early 50’s when I was in the first grade. Boys with crew cuts and short hair were the norm. Every day during health class Mrs. Fulton explained with prophetic indignation that boys with short hair would be bald as adults. She explained that the top of the head exposed to the sun dried the oil from hair and caused it to fall out. After all, one did not see bald adult women because they did not have crew cuts when they were young.
I gathered all of these facts and stored them in the recesses of my mind to be regurgitated at an opportune time. Through my school years historical facts often intrigued me. For instance the fact that George Washington was a big man caught my attention because they also said he was the father of our country. It just stood to reason that it would take a fairly large person to father a country. I was also intrigued by the fact that he threw a dollar across some river – the only thing that I could reason was that he folded that George Washington bill like a paper airplane and flew it across.
I had read somewhere that during the engagement of Serapis, John Paul Jones proclaimed: “I have not yet begun to fight”. He also said, according to my recollection, to his first mate: “Fire at Will, Smedley.” I often wondered who Will was and why they picked him exclusively to shoot at. John Paul Jones was born in Scotland with the name John Paul. He took the name Jones later – a clear case of keeping up this the Joneses.
You can see why these facts falling out of my mouth would give the impression of knowledge and education – the truth is though, that sciolism is an art form and I am a Picasso.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Philosophy

THE PHILOSOPHY

“Grandpa,” my grandson said
When he came home from school
“We had band today and played the drum”
“Three of us played; it was so cool,”
“Me and Billy and Ted”
“When we marched we counted to three”
“We marched for all the class to see”
“But,” he said, “Everyone was out of step but me”

Prairie Life

PRAIRIE LIFE

In the morning when day’s begun
When warmth drives the cool away
The tree line catches the morning sun
And gives the mountains the light of day

The mountains take the warmth it gives
And make fresh streams from winter snow
The streams where the wild trout lives
Flow swiftly to the prairie below

The prairie brings out its wild flowers
And its grasses green and lush
The prairies early evening showers
Quench the thirsty stands of old sage brush

The wild trout finds a caddis hatch
And a grasshopper taking a swim
The brown bear finds a berry patch
Magpie watches from an old ponderosa limb

The meadow lark sings in the afternoon
The killdeer is calling in the relentless sun
Soon there’ll be a prairie moon
Followed by another rising sun

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Painting

PAINTING

The paintbrush in his hand
Was a pen with rainbow ink
Colors from desert tan
To a prism of lavender pink

Colorful words spilled on white
Provoking wild and epic scenes
Stories of long dream filled nights
And a saturation of royal greens

Candy stripe red and white
And the darkest indigo blue
Stories for each color to write
Never being false or true

Painting pleasure and delight
With words colored gray
Makes words appear as bright
As the summer’s sunniest day

Friday, March 25, 2011

Elements of Logic

ELEMENTS OF LOGIC

The sun sets in the west
The moon lights up the sea
Mud makes up an oyster bed
Green apples grow on trees

The grand scheme of everything
You’ll find in these words of love
It’s all in the song you sing
It’s all in the stars above

Robins return each spring
Groundhog says it’s always so
June is the month of diamond rings
April rain makes the flower grow

Life is a matter of season
Happens four times every year
There can be no other reason
Isn’t that perfectly clear

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ernest

ERNEST

I look at the clock, it’s quarter past nine
It’s a two cookie morning for this dog of mine
Ernest loves cookies shaped like a bone
He can’t eat just one, can’t leave ‘em alone

It’s a two cookie morning ‘most every day
Before Ernest the Schnauzer goes out to play
Red ones and green ones and brown ones too
If the dog could see color he’d choose the blue

Just leave the bag he seems to say
I’ll choose the cookies I want today
Sorry dog, as I take the sack
Tomorrow, you get your cookies back

I look at the clock, it’s quarter past nine
It’s a two cookie morning for this dog of mine
If the dog could see color; I know what he’d do
Head bury the green ones and eat all the blue

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Finally It's Spring

FINALLY IT’S SPRING

A scent so sweet is in the air
It lingers for us everywhere
It tells us spring is finally here
The sun is warm the sky is clear

An explosion of newness comforts us
Mother Earth has renewed our trust
Nature’s magic from dawn to dusk
Clearing the senses of winter’s musk

Color changes our moods to bright
Ending winter’s longest night
Covering all with hopeful light
Pleasing all with flowered delight

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Mystery

A MYSTERY

Some say Francis created Bill
If true; what a bitter pill
We’ll have read and played
Under false pretense, I’m afraid
Or we would see “Lear” by Bacon
And not Shakespeare on the bill
Shylock’s pound of flesh
Could have been Bacon, what a mess
A philosophy in writing to test
If Bacon was really the old bard Bill

A Prelapsarian World

A PRELAPSARIAN WORLD

A prelapsarian philosophy
Governed by the times
No particular geography
It crosses all boundary lines

The belief that man will survive
In a universe so harsh and cold
When the dawn of man arrived
His story was already told

Forever in a cosmic sea
Where time does not exist
Man is only space debris
On the endangered list

What will be when man is gone?
In a cosmos that never ends
What new species will be spawned?
To replace man and his friends

Monday, March 21, 2011

Glory Days

GLORY DAYS

They were glory days
The days of our youth
Lord, how we loved it back then

We were at war
And winning we thought
We had thousands of soldiers to spend

We traveled the land
With our guns and our birds
Believing we had land to defend

We walked the long nights
Hunting for country and home
To hell, the enemy we’d send

When it was over
We’d squandered our youth
With no one left to call friend

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Fortunate Agnes

The Fortunate Agnes

She was in our grade in school.  We were in Mrs. Olson’s fourth grade class at the Prairie View grade school.  Her name was Agnes.  She had bright orange hair which was always tangled and unkept.  She had freckles.  She had freckles the color of her hair all over her face and arms.  She wore penny loafers, brown, and a size too big and only one penny remained in the pair.  The other penny had been spent long ago at the dime store for a stick of double bubble.  When she walked her heels slid up from her loafers revealing her white cotton socks with holes in the heels.  She wore a white cotton tight knit sweater with a large hole in the back near the left shoulder.  The sweater bore the dirt and grime of several previous owners.  Her skirt was wool plaid embedded with the same grime as her sweater.  She wore a sleeveless white blouse which had been recently laundered.
It was September, 1956 and school had just started.  This was the first year of school for Agnes in our little farming community.  Agnes came with her father in early April.  Earl Preston was working as a farm laborer, moving from place to place until he could find something and somewhere permanent for him and his daughter.  Earl caught wind of an unanticipated teacher vacancy for the second fifth grade class.  Earl had been working summer fallow for Iver Johansen.  Iver farmed a large dryland spread east of town; he was also a member of the school board.  Iver learned in passing of Earl’s teaching certificate and recommended he apply for the position.  He did.  Iver planted a few good words with the school board and now Earl sported the new title Mr. Preston.  The first male fifth grade teacher teaching in the little town’s history.
Earl and Agnes found a two room suite in town at the Bitner Hotel.  The soft hearted John Bitner looked at Earl and Agnes with compassion and offered to let the suite for four dollars a week.  He allowed they could have a hot plate for an extra dime a week.  There was no ice box but John recommended leaving perishables outside on the north side window sill.  Earl and Agnes were delighted with their new home.  The suite ran circles around living in the 1949 Chevy coup.

Earl’s wife Luella had died of influenza the past January.  Earl had been out of work that winter and it took all that Earl had scraped together just to bury her, and by March Earl and Agnes were on the road looking for work.  They followed the road and countryside from their last residence in Dickinson, North Dakota and finally ended up in Brady, Montana and then another ten miles north to the little farming community of Conrad.
At the morning recess Jerry and James and I stayed on the east side of the Prairie View School.  The old three story brick school house was built in 1916 and was an ostentatious addition to the modest little farming community on the Montana prairie.  The first week or so of school the grade school boys brought their marbles in leather pouches purchased at the five and dime for ten cents.  Every recess found the boys in groups of two or three playing a marble game called ‘Pots’.  The boys dug three small holes in the dirt and gravel playground.  The holes were usually about an inch and a half in diameter and a couple inches deep and evenly spaced in a horizontal line.  About five feet back from the holes a foul line was drawn in the dirt.  Each competitor dropped one of his marbles in each hole.  The object of the game was to roll a shooter marble from behind the foul line into one of the pots or holes.  Success meant keeping the marbles in the pot in addition to getting another turn for a try at the next pot.  A miss meant dropping another marble into each of the pots.  Marble season lasted a few weeks at the first part of the school year and by the end of play the boys seemed to end up with the same number of marbles that they started with.
Agnes, stood back quietly watching our marble game.  Because she was new to the school and community the fourth grade girls were not willing to invite her into the inner circle.  James was the tallest of the three of us but still an inch or two shorter than Agnes.  James who usually rolled a mean marble could not make a shot.  He claimed that the red haired girl with the freckles was a jinx.  He confronted her.  Agnes was fed up with her treatment so far by the other fourth graders.  Her defense was a magnificent offense.  Without a word she raised her freckled fist and punched James square in the nose.  There was no blood but the tears came.  Now James was not just angry and humiliated he was surprised and confused.  Tears running down his cheeks he left the school yard headed for home.  Jerry and I exchanged surprised and curious glances.  Agnes beckoned us with an inviting forefinger.  Neither Jerry nor I responded.  We just backed a little further away from the imaginary line defining our space.  Agnes stepped closer.  Again we stepped back.  The bell rang.
At noon we walked across the school yard to the lunch room at the Meadowlark School.  Jerry and I talked about the big confrontation and about how the new red headed girl would be sorry for ever setting foot in our little town.  We waited in line at the lunch room to get our ‘hot lunch program’ tickets punched.  We looked over to the table where the teachers usually sat.  The new teacher, Mr. Preston was sitting there with Mrs. Olson and Mrs. Lane and Agnes.  Our faces flushed with the realization that Agnes was not just bigger than us and stronger than us but she had an in with the teachers.  Life was not fair.
After lunch, Jerry and I walked on the sidewalk the fifty yards or so toward the Prairie View School.  We heard footsteps behind us and turned to see Agnes catching up with us.  Although we wanted too; we did not bolt and run.  Agnes had tears in her eyes.  She told us that her father said that she had to apologize to us.  Surprised and a little shaky Jerry and I accepted the apology.
As we walked, Agnes opened up and told us her story.  She told us of her mother’s death of her father’s hardships.  She told us she had trouble making friends.  Jerry and I reminded her that punching people in the nose did not enhance her friend making skills.  James had gone home.  Agnes was our pal for the rest of the day and in the following recesses of that week.  She had no marbles but she could push a swing high enough to bail out twenty feet.
James learned to like Agnes that school year.  After a month or two the fourth grade girls warmed up to her.  Walking home from school one day; Agnes told us that her father said, “even though they had very little; they were very fortunate, indeed.”
At the end of that year, Agnes and her father moved on; presumably to better things and better places.  Jerry, James and I decided that Agnes was very fortunate, indeed.
©3/22/09Terry Sutherland   

Friday, March 18, 2011

San Patricio

I should have posted this yesterday, March 17th:

San Patricio

O, San Patricio what have you done?
You’ve forsaken your comrades with Santa Anna’s gun
With Santa Anna’s army you’ve thrown in your lot
Now you parish at the hand of Winfield Scott

You’ve deserted your comrades for love of the Pope
Now you hang at the end of a hangman’s rope
O, San Patrick’s Battalion of men
In Mexico City you fought to defend

Chapultepec Castle near Molino Del Rey
A fateful battle you fought that day
Your parcel of land you will never see
A free citizen of Mexico you will never be

O, San Patricio you fought hard and lost
Your lives in battle the final cost
Cannons and muskets and artillery sword
There was no time for your final word

You will never see your homeland again
You will never again fight to defend

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Daughters of Oden

I've always had a fascination with this period of history:

DAUGHTERS OF ODEN

Daughter of Oden, Valkyrie
Cause of the heroes slain
Valhalla’s open gates to see
Forever Norsemen reign

Oden’s warriors einherjar
Valkyrie serve them drink
Skuld carried from battle far
Across the foamy brink

To every battle the Valkyrie
Until final Ragnorok begins
Oden’s norn cross the sea
Blown by the Northern wind

Norse heroes of Oden die
Valkyrie choose the slain
Sail Norsemen to endless sky
Drink mead to ease the pain

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Signs of Age

Feeling the years - feeling my age:

SIGNS OF AGE

Signs of aging in my eyes
Part of me I can’t disguise
You and I have aged I see
We’re feeling the pain, you and me

Are we wiser for our years?
Or have we just cried more tears?
We’ve lived our life right or wrong
We’ve forged a chain miles long

We don’t know when the end will come;
We only do what must be done
Today is the day we celebrate
It’s our right to be fashionably late

We have talked to death our sixty years
When we were brave and our greatest fears
Why we fought for our a noble cause?
Only to find that it never was

We marched to the rhythmic drums of war
We never knew just what for
Some of us fell never to rise
For some it was just an exercise

The greatest battle we ever fought
Was with the way we drew our lot
Life for some is cruel, I guess
That’s what I think, more or less

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

There is a Place

Sometimes it's comforting to just sit back, close your eyes and reflect:

THERE IS A PLACE

There is a place
Within my mind
It knows no pain
It stops all time

The world outside
Is fenced away
Good thoughts abide
And always stay

The place is open
But once a day
Just a token
Of a better way

It keeps me sane
And sorts things out
It masks all blame
And hides all doubt

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sailing

Sometimes it's fun to contemplate the wonders of the cosmos:

SAILING

Ethereal climates bid me leave
Celestial boats to sail
In a basket heavens weaved
With a comets luminous tail

Travel the black night void
Follow the bright North Star
Dodging the floating asteroid
To the end of the Dipper far

Sail the lone basket vessel
Through the depths of eternity
Carrying cargo most special
Through the ancient starlit sea

Watch the planet’s cordial stance
And their moons playful turn
Watch the heavens alive with dance
What wonders there are to learn

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Strawberry Afternoon

I would have never known what a strawberry afternoon was if I hadn't written the poem about it:

A STRAWBERRY AFTERNOON

Sittin’ watchin’ a game show quiz
Well, it’s a strawberry afternoon
Out in the yard I hear the kids
Havin’ a war with water balloons

Havin’ old Clyde fetch me a beer
Durin’ a commercial on FDS
What it means just ain’t clear
But old Clyde is just the best

The old lady’s out findin’ work
The rent is due next week
Weren’t for that damned stork
There’d be plenty for us to eat

Ain’t no football on the tube
It’s a strawberry afternoon
The radio is playin’ “The Blue Danube”
The woman will be back soon

Being laid up ain’t so bad
It’s a strawberry afternoon
Don’t miss the job I had
Workin’ nights pushin’ a broom

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A poem called Talitha

The name Talitha means "little girl" in Aramaic.  Telitha cumi means "little girl arise" spoken by Jesus in order to bring back to life a young girl:  Mark 5:41:

TALITHA

Talitha, child, was still born
But she rose before the Crown
Frail body in full reform
Her color from blue to brown

The breath she drew was deep
Full and pregnant with new life
A covenant this child to keep
Never to marry and be a wife

She pledged her life to He
To the love of all mankind
To love and learn, clearly see
The old, hungry, lame and blind

After ninety years her task was done
Her account was fully paid
She quietly walked into the sun
Her last breath where she laid

March 12, 2011

Another of my Kipling favorites:


Cells

I've a head like a concertina: I've a tongue like a button-stick:
I've a mouth like an old potato, and I'm more than a little sick,
But I've had my fun o' the Corp'ral's Guard: I've made the cinders fly,
And I'm here in the Clink for a thundering drink
and blacking the Corporal's eye.
With a second-hand overcoat under my head,
And a beautiful view of the yard,
O it's pack-drill for me and a fortnight's C.B.
For "drunk and resisting the Guard!"
Mad drunk and resisting the Guard --
'Strewth, but I socked it them hard!
So it's pack-drill for me and a fortnight's C.B.
For "drunk and resisting the Guard."

I started o' canteen porter, I finished o' canteen beer,
But a dose o' gin that a mate slipped in, it was that that brought me here.
'Twas that and an extry double Guard that rubbed my nose in the dirt;
But I fell away with the Corp'ral's stock
and the best of the Corp'ral's shirt.

I left my cap in a public-house, my boots in the public road,
And Lord knows where, and I don't care, my belt and my tunic goed;
They'll stop my pay, they'll cut away the stripes I used to wear,
But I left my mark on the Corp'ral's face, and I think he'll keep it there!

My wife she cries on the barrack-gate, my kid in the barrack-yard,
It ain't that I mind the Ord'ly room -- it's ~that~ that cuts so hard.
I'll take my oath before them both that I will sure abstain,
But as soon as I'm in with a mate and gin, I know I'll do it again!
With a second-hand overcoat under my head,
And a beautiful view of the yard,
Yes, it's pack-drill for me and a fortnight's C.B.
For "drunk and resisting the Guard!"
Mad drunk and resisting the Guard --
'Strewth, but I socked it them hard!
So it's pack-drill for me and a fortnight's C.B.
For "drunk and resisting the Guard."
Rudyard Kipling

Friday, March 11, 2011

March 11, 2011

SIMPLICITY

Let us distill, from the concoction of thought
Those reasons we thrill, at simplicity wrought
We are most complex; but simplicity we seek
A month’s worth of problems we solve in a week

When we are right, we revel in ourselves
When we are wrong, our reasons are shelved
We live long lives in the shortness of mind
From those simple five senses answers we find

We draw our conclusion by reason we think
But it is all pretense and gone in a blink
The essence of our species is a curious lot
Always believing he is the master of thought

What is the meaning of this complex state?
For simple short answers, a long time we wait
Let us stop wondering and waiting for right
Let us live in the moment and celebrate the night

Thursday, March 10, 2011

March 10, 2011

Sometimes it is wise to leave things as you found them:

THE STONE UNTURNED

I found once a stone unturned
A rare exceptional prize
For wisdom a lesson learned
Saved expecially for the wise

To turn or not to turn
Was the question that I had
If I turned--no lesson learned
And the wiser would be sad

I left the stone for today
Unturned in pristine form
As I went on my way
I was happy not forlorn

I'll return again sometime
And watch for the stone
It may have been another sign
Of things, better left alone

Copyright December 1, 2007 by Terry Sutherland

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

March 9, 2011

A Tarpaper Suntan

Charlotte followed behind her mother pushing the small grocery store shopping cart.  The aisles in Reader’s Grocery were only four.  Her mother dropped items into the cart as they traveled the store aisles.  One three pound can of ground coffee, a box of tea bags, three ounce boxes of Jell-O assorted flavors in a flat of twenty four, ten pound bag of flour, ten pound bag of sugar, soda crackers and Crisco shortening, four pounds of Pride of the West sweet butter, a bundle of bananas, a box of Wheaties and a box of Post Toasties. 
The ride from the farm to town was four miles.  Muriel, Charlotte’s mother had taken the International Harvester Travel All this afternoon to carry the groceries.  The weather off into the west threatened rain and she didn’t want wet groceries in the back of the pickup truck.  Charlotte was pleased to see the storm coming; although she preferred it wait until after four PM because she wanted to go swimming while she was in town.
The city pool was the main attraction for the small prairie town’s youth in the summer.  It was the best way for the children to find relief from the hot prairie sun.  It was, in reality, a fabulous community day care center.  A season ticket for the city pool was three dollars.  Four trained life guards, (high school kids fortunate enough to get the summer job with the city).  The pool staff offered swimming lessons early in the morning five days a week.  Swimming lessons started at eight AM each morning.  The pool opened at nine AM, closed at four PM, and opened again in the evening from seven to nine.  Thursday evenings were always reserved for water basketball and volleyball.  The pool was the social meeting place for the small town’s teens.  The pump house, located on the south end of the pool was a perfect place for suntans.  The roof was flat with a composition tar and tarpaper covering.  The roof was accessed by climbing the ladder for the high dive and stepping to the parapet surrounding the roof and then down onto the roof itself.  The hot prairie sun kept the roof too hot for bare feet; but if your feet were wet the heat was dissipated enough to get to your little spot on the roof and put your beach towel down.
The city girls were able to spend their days at the pool.  They hardly ever swam.   They sat on their beach towels on the pump house roof and developed their summer tans.  They spoke of boys and put on their nail polish and sun tan lotion.  They wrote in their dime store diaries and cooled off with their nickel pop sickles.
Charlotte was a farm girl.  Although she had a season ticket for the city pool; her visits were infrequent.  In the summer Charlotte spent her days helping her mother cook for the hired help as they worked the fields of summer fallow.  She wore shorts, a blouse and sandals nearly every summer day.  Her swim suit was a single piece – she would have been embarrassed to wear a two piece suit so popular with the city girls.  The pool rules required that females wear bathing caps – the idea was that girls always wore long hair – hair that could plug the circulation pumps in the pool.  Rather than suffer the indignity of the ugly rubber bathing caps the city girls usually never entered the water.
Charlotte had rolled her swimsuit and nose plugs into her beach towel.  She left her mother at the grocery store and walked the three blocks to the city pool.  The weather had changed.   The sun was bright in the sky – a perfect day for swimming.  She showed her season ticket to the girl at the front counter.  The girl at the counter gave her a basket to put her clothes into.  Attached to the basket for her clothes was a brass tag attached to a safety pin engraved with a number that was the same as the basket number.  The idea was that when one finished swimming, one turned in the brass tag to the counter girl who retrieved the clothes basket with the coinciding number.
Charlotte passed quickly through the cold acclamation shower in the women’s dressing room – just long enough for her suit to show a few wet spots.  She entered the pool area and looked up to see who was sunbathing on the pump house.  Three town girls were in a close huddle on their towels gossiping and polishing their nails.  Kay, blond with blue eyes was attractive one of the group.  Diane and Karen, both brunette and not quite as developed, followed Kay’s ques.  They felt Charlotte’s gaze and looked down with disdain.  Charlotte broke eye contact and walked to the edge of the pool, brought her hands together, arms extended above her head and executed a classic, graceful dive into the water.  She surfaced in mid pool and looked back at the girls on the pump house.  They were still watching her.
Charlotte swam to the other side of the pool and climbed out.  She stood dripping on the concrete, again watching the city fluff huddled together giggling and pointing.
Charlotte gathered up her towel and laid it out on the concrete by the pool fence; took her bathing cap off, shook her head so that her blonde hair fell loose and cascaded down to her shoulders.  She glanced once more at the three and sat down on her towel.  Without looking at them again she thought to herself, “I’m glad I’m not one of those giddy city girls with tarpaper suntans”.
©Terry Sutherland    

 
  

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

March 8, 2011

I always thought it would be fun to be in a sailboat for a few days of freedom - no cares; just free for a little while:

FREEDOM

Just beyond the setting sun
Across a white-capped sea
We sailed 'til day was done
We drank the evening breeze

The rising sun warmed our decks
The west wind filled our sails
The people ashore turned to specks
As we caught the eastern gale

In the north the shining sea
Took on the look of glass
We were sailing fancy free
With our colors atop our mast

We’d sail forever, if we could
As if the sea would never end
In our vessel made of wood
Just you and me, my friend

Monday, March 7, 2011

March 7, 2011

Sort of a pessisimistic reflection, I think:

HEAVEN AND HELL

The choir sings the same old songs
How Jesus saves and faith is strong
How we should praise and glorify
So we’ll be saved when we up and die

I sing along with half a heart
I’m just not sure; but I do my part
The organ grinds and people praise
The preacher talks of better days

The preacher talks of glory and grace
So that we may go to a better place
I just don’t know of heaven or hell
I hope there’s a heaven the way they tell

When I’m gone and in the ground
Just buy my friends another round
Tell them heaven is where we are
But a life in hell just ain’t that far

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Tibetan Fly

I have no idea what prompted this one - but it was fun anyway:

TIBETAN FLY

He was just a fly in east Tibet
But he was a Buddha pest
Buzzing around the monks he met
None of them got any rest

The Sherpa’s home in Kathmandu
Housed a jillion pesky flies
They buzzed around the mutton stew
Around the yak meat pies

Pesky fly spots in the tsampa
In the yoghurt, butter and cheese
Curls the toes of the Tibetan grandpa
Nearly brings him to his knees

If you could be a fly on the wall
In a Tibetan’s modest home
You would be most appalled
By the names those flies are called

March 6, 2011

The following is from Recessional by Rudyard Kipling.  One of my favorite pieces:

Far-called our navies melt away—
On dune and headland sinks the fire—
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

Friday, March 4, 2011

March 4, 2011

I think I was feeling a little philosophical when I wrote this.  The meaning of life in four stanzas:

THE RIVER TRIGIDOR


Rills flow from the Trigidor
A quiet river of hope
As the Morona of Ecuador
Water follows the slope

Meandering forever to the sea
As snow on the mountain adorns
It’s the cycle of life you see
Whatever dies is reborn

Rivers carry mountains away
Reduce them to silt and to sand
Green foliage springs up in May
Dying at winter’s cold hand

From a mountain fertile land is made
The sun warms it before the night
From it springs the green grass blade
Covering all the land in sight

Thursday, March 3, 2011

March 3, 2011

I tried my hand at imitating Kipling:

A Soldier’s Morning Lament

‘Twas the break of day when I found my way
After a night on the town

I had my say when I spent my pay
I must have bought a dozen rounds

The ale flowed free like a foamy sea
The pints filled with the amber brown

We drank to the clan and grand pipe band
We told stories of loves we found

When the dawn broke not a word was spoke
All what was left was a half o crown

My head hurt bad for the drink I had
I have to lay these old bones down

When I wake; hair of the dog I’ll take
I’ll start again when night comes ‘round

You work all day for a soldiers pay
Then at night you’re a bloody clown

I’ll soldier for pay, every bloody day
Until they lay me in the ground

©12/18/09Terry Sutherland

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

March 2, 2011

A short story.  Life in a small prairie town in the 1950's:

I'll See You Tomorrow Eudora


She pushed the baby carriage through the alley skirting water- filled pot holes.  The first stop in her daily route was the garbage cans in the back of Reader’s Grocery.  She had competition this morning.  Angel Gonzales had already arrived, pulling his red wagon.  He must have had an early start; his wagon already contained five empty RC Cola bottles and a dripping carton of broken eggs.  The Hutterites had been there earlier and scattered unsalvageable produce on the ground where they sorted lettuce trimmings, celery and potatoes.  The sea gulls, squawking with irritation were dragging lettuce leaves away from the crowd of two and picking at them and arguing bitterly over pieces.
Garbage in the sleepy prairie town was collected once a week and taken to the dump.  The two garbage men, Pinky Bowers and Charlie Anderson were two of the six city employees.  One drove the truck while the other emptied the cans into the back of it.  They traded off.  The job of can emptier was the best.  Emptying the can afforded the opportunity to go through the garbage and save anything good by setting it on the running board of the garbage truck.  It’s amazing what some people throw away.  Pinky had already found the sack from Myra Morey’s spring cleaning.  She had tossed her son Bruce’s baby ring still in the little square jewelry box.  In addition she had thrown out his stamp collection.  The collection was arranged and housed in an H.E. Harris, “The Discoverer”, paperback stamp album.
This April had been a particularly wet April.  Eudora Leech sloshed through the muddy alleys pushing her baby carriage collecting garbage treasures.  She wore her red rubber goulashes and mangy mink coat for protection from the wet April snow and rain.  She wore the goulashes and mink all year long, summer, winter, spring and fall – temperature was irrelevant.
Eudora was married – at least at one time.  No one had ever seen him.  Speculation was that he had died or was in prison.  She had two boys.  She lived across the tracks in a tarpaper shack with her oldest son Donnely.  Donnely was fresh out of prison.  Her son Chester, died of an accidental gunshot wound this last December.  Donnely had left one of his tools of the trade, a Starr chrome plated .22 auto pistol on an apple crate in the shack.  While he slept off the revelry from the night before; Chester played with the gun and accidentally shot himself in the chest.  He died while Donnely slept and Eudora was making her rounds.
Chester’s funeral was attended by all of the sixth and seventh graders.  The kids went as class groups, totaling forty eight kids.  Chester rarely attended school so had few friends as a result.  His only childhood friend was Eugene Towns who was the same age but crazier than a March hare.  Eugene never attended school either.  Eugene didn’t attend the funeral.  The funeral was conducted by the Lutheran minister – no one even knew the Leeches were Lutheran.  The two classes lined up at the end of the ceremony and walked past the body in respect to the deceased.  It was the first dead body any of the kids had seen.  He didn’t even come close to resembling the way he looked alive.  He was white as milk and clean.  Completely out of character the kids thought.  Chester was buried at Hillside Cemetery on December 6, 1956.  With the last shovel full of dirt on his casket the memory of Chester Leech was buried too.
The town’s people attending Chester’s funeral included Al Reader, proprietor of Reader’s Grocery and Angel Gonzales the tiny Puerto Rican scavenger friend of Eudora’s.  Fred Irwin the sixth grade teacher and Donald McGraw the seventh grade teacher and Tilford Stone the school superintendant were the only other grownups in attendance.
As the last words from Reverend Olmstead were uttered and the funeral ended Eudora walked to her baby carriage she had left at the cemetery gate. 
Al Reader turned and watched Eudora leave.  As he watched her he mumbled to himself:  “I’ll see you tomorrow, Eudora”.

©2008Terry Sutherland
     

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Granddaughter Holly and Grandmother Denise

Those attitudes - Wow!!!



March 1, 2011

Another adventure of the Gumdrop Galleon:

THE GUMDROP GALLEON SAILS AGAIN

The Gingerbread Maritime Board
Had decreed the final word;
The Gumdrop Galleon would stay
For two weeks and a day
In the Land of the Lemon Drop Tree.
The Captain had ordered the crew
To prepare a sassafras brew
Made with cinnamon spice,
With lemons squeezed thrice,
And ten pounds of roasted cashews.
When the brew had fermented four days
On the docks of Butter Rum Bay,
The Captain said, “Men,
This fine brew we will send
To the King’s dear friend
Who lives in the Land of Licorice Brocade.”
Then the Galleon set to sea
Leaving the Land of the Lemon Drop Tree
With fifty gallons of the fine brew they made.
The Galleon anchored fast
With her colors half-mast
In the Land of Licorice Brocade
But alas, the King’s dear friend
Was still on the mend
From the last batch of brew they made