Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It's a Game of Chance


As the orange sun bridged water and sky
That time that is neither night nor day
I look to the west and wonder why
All things sacred turned out this way

It’s a game of chance some people say
All things beautiful evolved for us
I guess it’s how we see beauty today
There is no formula we can trust

What will be will be the saying goes
We’re just a speck in the great cosmos
Two eyes, ten fingers, and ten toes
Opposing thumbs and big brain we boast

Men are mystics and superstitious things
Chance is not romantic or mysterious
There are animals with fins and wings
But the creation of man is a lot more serious

Monday, May 30, 2011

Prairie Flowers

Prairie Flowers

Slender blades of Blue Bunch grass
Carpet the graves of long lost past
Sunflowers and daisies border the plot
Planted by nature to commemorate the spot

To commemorate the lives held inside
On the sun soaked prairie far and wide
A field of blue bells covers winter's sins
Bitterroot and paintbrush when summer begins

White top and yellow bells boy in the breeze
They are born in April amongst cottonwood trees
Summer's flowers stand facing the sun
In brave defiance until night has begun

September's flowers start to transform
In October they'll wilt from the first storm
Milkweed and cattails show the colors of fall
Winter's white blanket will cover them all

(c)Copyright August 31, 2007 by Terry Sutherland

Sunday, May 29, 2011



Katalina had etched in memory
The Mother Goose Book of Rhymes
Her diction was most exemplary
When she spoke those rhyming lines

She knew the lines so well by now
She changed them from time to time
She got rid of the jumping cow
And added a mountain to climb

The mouse who married the bumble bee
Left for St. Ives with seven cats
Jack Sprat had a tape worm you see
But his wife was still plenty fat

Kat has put to bagpipes and drums
Jack be nimble, Jack be quick
Jack Horner still stuck in his thumb
But she got rid of the candlestick

(c)Copyright May 19, 2009 by Terry Sutherland

Saturday, May 28, 2011


I've wandered through winter storms
I’ve seen sorrow in many forms
I’ve loved and lived and won and lost
But I never had to bear the cost

My friends have shared that with me
The cost I mean that mine should be
The help they give and sorrow they share
It’s no secret that they really care

There is only one chance this life to live
Don’t miss a chance for you to give
Take what you need and give the rest
Live to the fullest and do your best

The reward is silent with no condition
There is no need for cold precision
The warmest heart is all you need
The ember in the coldest soul you’ll feed

Copyright August 27, 2007 by Terry Sutherland

Friday, May 27, 2011

Greenleaf and Brown

Greenleaf and Brown
Went to town
With trouble on their minds
They had seen
On the silver screen
A treasure they might find

In the early morning hour
They saddled Jake and Flower
And rode the mules to town
Greenleaf rode up to the bank
Brown on his flank
With bandannas covering their frowns

In front of the bank
By the water tank
Greenleaf tied his mule
Off to the side hid Brown
Without making a sound
He watched Greenleaf the fool

Greenleaf walked into the bank
In a voice so frank
Demanded all the money they had
His demand was not met
Because the vault timer was set
And the security was most iron clad

Greenleaf and Brown
Had to run from the town
Without a penny to show for their time
They rode fast as they could
Into the wood
Hoping no one would notice their crime

The constabulary had seen
These criminals so green
And knew they could run but not hide
They found them in time
Punished them for the crime
Now, they're doin' time

Copyright May 7, 2008 by Terry Sutherland

Thursday, May 26, 2011



Euphemia lived in Iowa State
From twenty six to ninety nine
She weighed ninety pounds and a penny weight
The gay ninety’s was her time

She met and loved and lived and died
In the country where she was born
Reared seven children with motherly pride
Along with gardens of squash and corn

In the year of ninety nine
Euphemia was seventy three
She knew from instinct it was time
To leave her worldly spree

She had done all she could do
She gave all that she could give
She was in her life tried and true
She was always ready to forgive

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sunsets and Moonlight


When the sun melts into the sea
When the day is about to end
A beautiful sight, you’ll agree
Where blue and orange blend

A quiet breeze brings memories
Of many sunsets in the past
Silhouetted against the trees
Shadows, the evening sun has cast

The sunset signs the day is done
With it a promise of the morn
A new adventure has now begun
With stars the sky is now adorned

The night moon is blue and bright
It lights an old and traveled path
The sky is a sea of endless night
Drawn as the moon’s eternal bath

Tuesday, May 24, 2011



Vera lived the Precambrian Era
Descended from Lucy, you know
She lived in the Lake Toba caldera
Where Tilapia Mossambica grow

She and her family fished all their days
In the Indian Ocean, their home
They watched the Tofo Manta Rays
Gliding over the Sri Lanka dome

She wore mother of pearl in her ears
She wore rings of Aceh coral on her toes
She carved wooden fishing spears
From the heart of the black palm she chose

She lived out her days in the tropical waves
Of the Indian Ocean, her home
Where the hot tropical sun blazed
Where the Tilapia Mossambica grow

Monday, May 23, 2011



Shadows shimmer across the path
Aspen leaves rattle in the breeze
Walking silent in a perfumed bath
Fragrance drifts from apple trees

Nature’s gift of worldly things
Sensing beauty through green leaves
What grand gifts from nature springs
Those wonderful things we call trees

Cherry blossoms draw summer bees
Collecting nectar for honey cells
Hidden throughout those special trees
Nature’s pure honey wells

Apricots and Bartlett Pears
Maple syrup and Mulberry Jam
Hickory wood for wooden chairs
Apple turnovers cool in a pan

Shade from the sun on summer days
Yule logs to heat on Christmas night
A place for a hammock to lay and gaze
Branches for birds to rest in flight

Imagine what all nature sees
Those wonderful things we call trees

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Father's Advice


Hearts of flint can start the fire
But can’t maintain the term
They spark loves carnal desire
But the commitment is never firm

Hearts of flint can fracture
But they can never bleed
The love they manufacture
Is not the case they plead

Hearts of flint can transform
The transition is rare at best
Hearts of flint are often born
With desire the only test

Choose a heart of flesh, my dear
One that feels the pain
One that bleeds real blood, my dear
For commitment that heart maintains

Saturday, May 21, 2011

On Golden Wings


Golden eagle in the sky
Hear his echoed mournful cry
Floating silent in an azure sky
Lifted high; he circles wide

To be free and see with the eagle’s eye
His domain the endless sky
Stealthily he hunts the prairie hot and dry
Gliding free over his countryside

So high, no shadows cast below
No telltale sign of where he’ll go
Flying free in time so slow
Watching where his prey will hide

Golden eagle in the sky
Heated currents lift him high
He sings his song in a cloudless sky
His solitude an endless glide

Friday, May 20, 2011

Images of Better Times


Buffalo nickels and Liberty dimes
Three cent stamps and Burma Shave signs
The steeple on the church and its Sunday chimes
Watching the train leave the station at nine

Family picnics in the park with music till dark
Mornings when the only sound is the Meadow Lark
A week’s family vacation at Glacier Park
Waking to the sound of your dog when he barks

Lying in the grass in the summer sun
Finding four leaf clovers’ one by one
Watching Roger and Mickey hit a home run
Playing Cops and Robbers just for fun

Listening to the music hit parade
Seeing how cottage cheese is made
Dreading your six week school grade
Watching dad sharpen the mower blade

Playing Olly Olly Oxen Free
The terrible plight of the Spelling Bee
Friday night fights on a little TV
Climbing to the top of a maple tree

Softer days those were for us
No fighting for a seat on a crowded bus
No kids we knew had a living trust
Every school had a copy of Lincoln’s bust

I wish those simple days were back
Where your Lionel train was on the track
Breakfast pancakes came in a stack
Baseball cards came in a pack
Wouldn’t it be grand if these days were back?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Dreams of a Sedentary Man


I would have loved that freedom train
I would have wandered far and wide
I would have traveled the great high plains
I would have walked this land with pride

I would have slept under the great Big Sky
I would have taken my meals from the land
I would have walked the hills parched and dry
I would have crossed the hot desert sand

I would have wandered alone without a care
I would have know the reverence of the wilderness
I would have embraced this great land we share
I would have known a life without any stress

I would have climbed the mountain high and cold
I would have walked the golden prairie hills
I would have given all that is silver and gold
If I didn’t have a house and monthly bills

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Sands of Time


The sands of time cover and drift
Masking years of pain and sorrow
A whispering wind bids sands to shift
Uncovering relics time had barrowed

The sands of time often hide
The past that is best forgotten
Where the hands of good were tied
And a rage no one could soften

The sands of time hold the secret
In a featureless deserted land
Where there is no purpose in regret
What years have buried in the sand

The sands of time cover the wounds
That were once open and exposed
Watching transition of sun and moon
And in time the wounds are closed

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Five and Ten


It was just a place for notions
The small town five and ten
But there was always a commotion
When the new fabric came in

Velour for the new prom dress
In green and blue and red
Herringbone for the old man’s vest
White cotton sheets for the bed

Flannel for the winter shirt
Denim for a pair of pants
Pink for sister’s poodle skirt
Pink ribbon for the dance

Mother oiled her trusty Singer
And bought nearly seven yards
Washed and through the ringer
With bobby socks and leotards

Monday, May 16, 2011

Warriors of the Morning Brigade


Each day in the morning
They meet and talk
Each with his coffee
After their walk

There were days
Those many years ago
Young and at war
With medals to show

Those days long ago
They remember so well
They were young and brave
They made it back from hell

Now they are warriors
In the morning each day
That is their time to recall
To remember and pray

They are warriors still
Members of the Morning Brigade
They remember each morning
Their service on parade

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, May 15, 2011

Public Domain


In the dim glow of a candle
In the darkest part of the night
The old clock on the mantle
Swings its pendulum left and right

Embers in the fire place
Were waiting to be fed
Dying from the fast pace
Consumed in their fire bed

With goose quill in his hand
The old man signed his name
A petition to save his land
And traditional family name

Those who further public good
To take what isn’t theirs
To take house and field and wood
Don’t care whose sweat it bears

They don’t think of the memories
The laughter or the tears
Losses from an early freeze
It all falls on deaf ears

In the dim glow of the candle
In the darkest part of the night
The old clock on the mantle
Ticks steadily until light

Saturday, May 14, 2011



He was dead level set
On the girl he met
A tiny thing was she

Her name was Rose
A name she chose
A daughter of the sea

Most everyone knows
The man she chose
Was as a man should be

No fins for legs
His grog in kegs
No chicken of the sea

He sailed one day
Didn’t mean to stay
His one day turned to three

Rose wanted to stay
But wandered away
On a horse she bought for free

When finally he returned
He was summarily spurned
And denied a chance for plea

Now Rose wandered free
Never more to see
The man who sailed

The chicken of the sea

Friday, May 13, 2011


A short chapter from my book in progress "Dryland":

  Torger Sjurson Kannikeberg Rykken and Agata Kittelsdatter Rykken were quiet by nature and sedentary.  In their life they had no presumptions or expectations for what the future may bring but enjoyed the simple pleasures and lived with the omissions and tribulations without laying blame.  They were poor farmers in the Hardangerdalen region of Norway in 1866.  They were the children of farmers, who were the children of farmers for as many generations as anyone could remember.  They knew no other life than their stewardship of the land they were so close too. 

The last several years the family’s economic circumstance, because of several failures, had deteriorated so that the most meager subsistence was an expenditure of energy and resources that drained Torger and Agata nearly to submission; nearly to the point of yielding to the unrelenting pressure and abandoning the land that they loved 

The next several months brought no relief.  Now the discussion at the dinner table centered on the success of other family members in America.  Opportunities were great and numerous and the land was free.  Agata’s brother Oddmund was the first to emigrate; at age twenty, in 1858 he had landed in America and traveled for the next several months to Minnesota near Rushford where other acquaintances from Hardangerdalen now lived.

Finally the decision was made to migrate to America.  First Agata’s brother Oddmund offered to lend Torger and Agata the $150 for passage on a ship for America.  Then as chance would direct,  Torger, who had apprenticed as a carpenter in his youth, learned that the old stave church at Oystese would be replaced and that carpenters were in demand.  Torger accepted the offer of his brother-in-law and worked for the next year on the church until it’s completion, earning enough for his family’s passage to America
Torger and Agata’s family now totaled nine.  In addition to Torger and Agata, there was Martha, who was born the 10th of December 1854.  Kittil, who was born the 19th of December, 1856.  Sjur, who was born the 18th of September 1858.  Brita, who was born the 11th of June, 1859.  Lars, who was born the 16th of December, 1861.  Agathe, who was born the 11th of June, 1864.  Kristi, who was born the 20th of December, 1866. 

On the 15th of April, 1868 the Torger and Agata Kanikeberg Rykken family left their beloved home on the beautiful Hardanger Fjord, and traveled with a group of emigrants for a day and a half by boat past the majestic fjords of the country they were leaving to the port of Bergen where they would board their ship. 

With the youngest daughter Kristi in her arms and the other children following as they grasped her skirt Agata followed her husband to their accommodations for the night ready to board their ship in the morning.

As the sun rose on the 16th of April, Torger and Agata, children in tow, were boarding their ship bound for America.  The children all participated in loading the few personal items that they could afford to ship, especially Martha and Kittel, who were now thirteen and twelve years, and used to hard work and the tasks necessary for family survival in the 1860’s.  The American Civil War had ended more than two years ago and the U. S. and its citizenry was still reeling, but advancing slowly to recovery.  Torger and Agata’s family and friends who had already immigrated, however, were not directly affected by the war and withdrew from any civic participation in the preparation, execution and recovery from the war altogether.  As the ship made it’s way out to sea from the port, Torger and Agata, with smiles on their faces, waved to Bergen locals who had come to the port to watch family and friends leave.  Tears welled in Agata’s eyes but she held them back and did not cry.  Weeping would come later in the voyage, but now she smiled.  They watched from the deck until the people on shore became indistinguishable dots.  Agata’s breath shortened and the frequency increased, she was anxious.  Torger was sad and Agata could see it in his pained expression.  As the ship finally lost sight of land, Torger’s sadness subsided and Agata was no longer anxious.  She was overcome with a wave of simple fear.  Torger’s sadness transformed to sympathy for Agata.          

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Mighty engines of war march on
Advancing to the beat of a drum
Through the night until the dawn
Through the heat of African sun

March on, 24th Regiment of Foot
The hot Transvaal and Zululand
Will consume the boot on your foot
Where twelve thousand Zulu band

The Zulu formed the head of the beast
The impis were gowed-up with hate
Twelve hundred empire soldiers meet
At Isandlwana on this January fateful date

Twenty five hundred of the Natal Contingent
Some British Artillery and Cavalry too
Met the overwhelming Zulu force so stringent
Each Zulu knew exactly what he must do

The Zulu proved a mighty force
The British suffered the loss
Isandlwana changed the British course
With a huge overwhelming cost


Where have all the pirates gone?
With shiny cutlass and corsair
The hearts of many wenches won
They were so dashing and debonair

The Barbary Coast they called home
Their galleons were equipped to fight
Through the Caribbean seas they roamed
Guided by the stars on a moonlit night

Jewels of kings and Spanish gold
Silver cups and casks of rum
Were among the things they stole
Merchants lost a rich and tidy sum

Where have all the pirates gone?
The conclusion you must draw
It’s in the courts their bounty’s won
For now, they come from schools of law

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Art of Selling

The Art of Selling

You can market a frown
Just paint it on a clown
Sell it for a laugh
Or a dollar and a half

You can market a smile
If you keep it a while
On your own face
At your own pace

You can market a word
As the song of a bird
Or if you sing it out loud
In the midst of a crowd

You can market a song
Be it right or wrong
If you sing it all day
In a melodious way
©5/9/11Terry Sutherland

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Cyber House


We built a house of cyber
Its walls are made of air
It has a digital driver
It fears the solar flair

We talk with optic fiber
We say what no one dares
No use for pen and scriber
Our fingers take us there

Soon we’ll need no fingers
Won’t need the fiber ware
Our minds will work as ringers
To alert a telepathic pair

As our hard drives fill
Bytes float free to combine
In a cyber writing mill
And transmit our last line

Saturday, May 7, 2011



Sounds in an ageless echo
Follow lives in an affluent spin
Born in an age of Art Deco
In a house with a roof of tin

Songs of the fifty’s gyration
And the safety of a dollar’s thirst
Built an undefeatable station
From bubble gum to liverwurst

Gentle people and poets help themselves
To the best there is to have
While keepers struggle to stock the shelves
From produce to a soothing salve

Whittlers carve the willow stick
To help amble the older set
When strolling aimless along the creek
Meeting others they never met

Life goes on from day to day
And from year to joyous year
As long as there is ample pay
The prognosis is crystal clear

Friday, May 6, 2011



A poet’s mind will deliquesce
If no one reads his rhyme
Sometimes it is not the best
But read it, if you find the time

Poet’s see what could have been
Setbacks from time to time
Becoming an erstwhile friend
Whose words ain’t worth a dime

Finding prose to please all those
Won’t happen you know, my friend
Sometimes, and heaven knows
Rubbish leaks from his pen

But write it anyway
Put your thought to words
Don’t let them take away
And force you to eat those words

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Drinking Alone

Drinking Alone

Thoughts strangled by your hand
Before they turn to tears
Listen to a sixty’s band
Recount those war torn years

Thumb through ragged photographs
Of wasted youth in green
The men now in local epitaphs
They’ll never again be seen

Another pull from the bottle of Beam
Another smoke put out
Put off sleep so you don’t dream
Cast off any doubt

Fear that the light will come
And bring another day
Think of what your life’s become
It’s like an off screen play

Turn up the sound on “Three Dog Night”
Sing along with the “Rolling Stones”
Think about the bar room fights
Drink to your life alone

How different would your life have been
If it weren’t for the Asian War
You wouldn’t drink every bourbon blend
And become such a social bore



Winning entries were roses in this year’s fair
They were dusted and pruned with greatest care
The brightest rose was yellow, of course
It was harvested and preserved with a little remorse

The next was a rose of the deepest red
It was grandest flower in the flower bed
It stood alone as a rose among climbing vine
Its petals opened wide gathering sunshine

The wild orange rose had a beautiful array
Orange with yellow centers all gathered to play
Its sweet summer aroma floated over the grounds
Sweet blossoms mingling together and pleasing the crowd

The beautiful lavender rose so dainty and fine
Was armed and protected by thorns on its spine
It stood alone watching admirers bowing at its throne
Safeguarding and protecting its kingdom alone

Truth (2)


The bellows that fan my fire
And heat my lifelong forge
Are made of truth and desire
The depth of a canyon gorge

Indifferent minds; shallow thought
Take the carbon from the steel
Taking the twist from the iron wrought
Then hiding false from real

If truth is what you seek
And are willing to stand alone
What others view as weak
We know is set in stone

Hold all right above the wrong
Steadfast, strong and sure
Celebrate your truth in song
Forever may truth endure

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Our Choice


A salubrious drink of ale
With healthy bread and cheese
It always seems we fail
To satisfy our need

We drink it by the pail
Eat by loaf and brick
We scoff at sprouts and kale
And become fat as a tick

We don’t even bend
To tie our own shoe
Our hearts never mend
For stress of what we chew

Our dog fetches the paper
So we don’t even walk for that
We always think it’s safer
To stay put in our flat

We’ve built a prison for ourselves
And kept the doors closed tight
We stock food on our shelves
And try to empty them every night

(c)Terry Sutherland

Tuesday, May 3, 2011



He was an electric city troubadour
The ladies swooned when he sang and played
He was the pride of the seventh floor
In the building where he stayed

His songs were so romantic
With just a little dirt mixed in
The girls were simply frantic
When he flashed a luring grin

He was an electric city troubadour
The ladies swooned when he sang and played
He tapped his boots on the wooden floor
And danced for the smitten maids

His songs were so romantic
With just a little dirt mixed in
With poems sweet and pedantic
And his lovely toothy grin

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Novelist


The collocation of his words
A colored lexicon by chance
Shows what he’s walking towards
Giving structure a fleeting glance

The order is honed precise
The subject is most obscure
Each left to imagined devise
Interpretation left demure

Whitewashed with colored words
Taming a palette wild and free
Leaving a stream of words to ford
And the alphabet a boiling sea

The stream flows true and deep
With debris left on its banks
Often profound meaning seeps
Out of the simple soundless ranks

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Different Drummer


A different drummer to whom we march
We haters of grand review
We’d shy from all that’s pomp and starch
And reminisce with old friends we knew

Sometimes we owe a parade for those
Who sacrificed all they had
They had written the ultimate prose
Those words were melancholy and sad

A different drummer to whom we march
We haters of grand review
We’d wear uniforms freshly starched
And combat boots instead of shoes

Sometimes we offer silence instead
For those who never returned
A celebration of life in our head
Remembering lessons we never learned

The Climb


Each man has his Everest
He climbs it day by day
Even the lifelong cleverest
Must climb it his own way

He climbs for the sake of climb
He may never reach the top
He climbs for the sake of time
He doesn’t know when to stop

When he stops his life will end
And what is it he’ll have gained?
He’ll have seen what’s around the bend
Some will see fortune and fame

He’ll learn that going up is hard
It’s much easier going down
The arduous climb yard by yard
Will enrich all that he has found

Each man has his mountain
He climbs it day by day
At the end the quenching fountain
Gives meaning to his earthly stay

The Book


There was a boy who knew no joy
He was quiet and reserved
A book of prose was his only toy
But it had no purpose that is served

He read his book with a curious look
And pondered each title and line
Deep secrets held in his well read book
He tried endlessly to find

Finally he learned other books were burned
Before their secrets were found
It was knowledge they burned on each page they turned
A travesty of huge proportions he found

Now a learned man; a scholar of the book
He savors each chapter down to the page
He gives each word a fond critical look
Now each book will know endless enduring age