Tuesdays for Catfish

Tuesdays for catfish at the BBQ
To fill our bellies & catch up on news

Wednesdays the banks close at noon
To pick cotton in the lily white fields

Thursdays the livestock auction
To replenish the farm & harbor menfolk

Fridays the juke joints sell moonshine
A banjo is plunkin down the holler

Saturdays the melon is sliced at the lake
To feed the smiling children

Sundays the churches are bustling
To renew our faith and flaunt our millinery prowess

Mondays we start over again

Fall 1892

When she sat to stitch, she was happy
Her wicker basket overflowing with bits of Lancaster blue and double pinks
Mustard, indigo, cheddar and muslin
Tiny bits of fabric sewn together to make a beautiful blanket

She does her quilting by her mothers cut glass oil lamp
Chats by the fireside carding wool and planning weddings
Picking seeds out of the cotton
Sorting through a trunk full of crisp linens

Pickles and jellies are all put up, so theres more time to sew
Hours and hours of holding the shiny needle
Humming to herself, rocking in her chair
Creating a cloth of love...an heirloom

Ether Town

There was a time in Ether Town,
When all the skies were rolling brown.
Smokestack plumes with big red stripes.
Poison, hatred in the pipes.

Not a whisper, not a prayer.
They had conceded. Doom, despair.
Disease and plague had taken most.
They'd all become a walking host.

So when the last one finally died,
No funeral, No tears to cry...
Nature came and moved back in.
This is her house, she always wins.

The Girdle

I've checked the size more than once
And I swear I've got this right...
But no matter how I pull & tug
My girdle's just too tight!

The salesman swore that I would be
A hit at any dinner
But if I can't stretch this out an inch
I'm not getting any thinner!

It fits up to a certain point
And then my legs give out
I fall upon the floor.. and then
I squirm & twist & shout!

I paid a good steak dinner
For this spandex horror show
I'm putting on my sweatpants
Cause this girdle's got to go!


When thin white branches spring forth with green
And mighty Oaks create a screen
Her windows she can now leave bare
Slide off her gown, let down her hair
No neighbors peeking round the pane
In solitude she is again

Marie Laveau

As I watch the madness unfold, my mind tries wrapping around...
City of water and coastline of pain. Big ripples on a little pond.
They're Suffering!
They're Dying!
They're there!!
Right there!!
Don't you see them??
We can see them!!
They're there!
Let the heroes in!! Let them save the day!!!

The ones that escaped early or the ones who got away...
Slowly they're coming back.
Proud soldiers in a parade of suffering.
No trumpets blow, no mummers low.
God rest your soul Marie Laveau.

First Evening Home

For Emma Faye
June 28th, 2007~

On tender bough you lay your head
Each new breath crystallized in sugar
A blanket of angel wings will keep you warm
Enveloped in maternal awe and divine love


We assume that life is long & lingering.

Years upon years..smiles upon smiles.
Walking into sunsets...attics full of memories.
Silver in our hair.

But life is a light switch. At 2 or 102. The switch can be flipped off at any time. On any day. At any minute.

Sometimes the switch is held back, by an unseen hand.
And lights continue to flicker & shine bright.
Life goes on.
And family sits around a table, through a window in the glow.

....and things are in the attic.


The destruction of Fallujah is coming
Ancient city walls will fall
Leaving crying mothers to wail for their children
Thousands of years of history will be reduced to rubble
Because a lone Texan has decided it shall be so
Lets just destroy ALL of our history
Lets smash the Great Wall of China
Lets burn the great Black Forests of Germany
Lets stop Victoria Falls from flowing
Lets flood Venice all together
Lets fall the mighty Redwoods
Lets just start over
Its only history

Fairy Tales

Shattered glass and petals
The roses have fallen to the floor
What once was love and beauty
Has gone the way of nevermore

She tries to gain composure
Dabs a tissue to her eyes
She says goodbye to fairy tales
Until her cheeks are dry

To princesses and wedding veils
A little girl again
Just spin me round and round the room
Until my breath grows thin

Grandma's Apron

Painting by Darryl Armstrong

The strings were tied, it was freshly washed, and maybe even pressed.
For Grandma, it was everyday to choose one when she dressed.
The simple apron that it was, you would never think about;
the things she used it for, that made it look worn out.

She may have used it to hold some wildflowers that she'd found.
Or to hide a crying child's face when a stranger came around.
Imagine all the little tears that were wiped with just that cloth.
Or it became a potholder to serve some chicken broth.

She probably carried kindling to stoke the kitchen fire.
To hold a load of laundry, or to wipe the clothesline wire.
When canning all her vegetables, it was used to wipe her brow.
You never know, she might have used it to shoo flies from the cow.

She might have carried eggs in from the chicken coop outside.
Whatever chore she used it for, she did them all with pride.
When Grandma went to heaven, God said she now could rest.
I'm sure the apron that she chose, was her Sunday best.

Crazy Man

The hair on his face is wiry and gray
The lines on his brow are deep
He wanders through the streets all night
He doesn't get much sleep

Whenever he tries to close his eyes
He's right back in that place
The helicopters, body bags
Commander of the base

His head is filled with cluttered thoughts
He tries to keep it clear
The whiskey helps to dull the pain
The screaming in his ear

It seems as if a million years
Have come and gone away
Since innocence and purity
Were the order of the day

He left his home, he left his girl
The government made him go
Saigon was whispering his name he says
But little did he know...

The things he saw, the things he did
In some foreign land
The little boy that we all loved
Came back a crazy man

Home Movies

Oh take me back to my younger days
So I can show you how I was raised
Get out the movies and pull up a chair
In no time at all, you'll feel like you're there

Glitchy and scratchy and grainy and fast
The movies are old, I think they won't last
So settle on in now, the popcorn is waiting
Here are the answers to what you've been hating

Here is my mother, vulnerable but strong
Her cheekbones are high, her hair dark & long
Her eyes shaped like almonds, a beauty for sure
A voice like an angel, a heart that is pure

Here is my father, a selfish addiction
No honor, no valor, no manly conviction
An average sized man with striking brown locks
Dressed to the nines, sly as a fox

She gave me honesty, humor, her smile
He gave me fear, distrust and denial
She gave me love and comforting things
He gave me trembling and words that would sting

So here they are, your explanations
Of why I'm the cause of your frustrations
My anger is not my fault... you see
I'm just a product of my family tree

The End

Sometimes people leave us.

So we remember they were here.

So we can analyze.

And criticize.

And finalize.

And eulogize.

Rubys Dressing Table

Lace handkerchief and silver comb

A glass hatpin, some fine cologne

Dusting powder, looking glass

Rococo pin tray made of brass

War heroes bride, mother of four

Healer of wounds, keeper of lore

Matriarch, patriot, dutiful wife

In front of the mirror, reflecting on life


Cool dewy morning
Apple orchard misty
Ripe for picking
Sweet crunchy delight

Warm sunny kitchen
Pie crust baking
Iced milk waiting
Children smile eager

Tinkle of forks
Clatter the plates
Moans of delight
Mother's quiet love

Love was strong, but the price was better

She bends away from the hot sun
Cracked fingers
.....................sweaty bosom
........................................aching back
Bags of cotton stretch on forever
Remembers a child snatched from her arms
Love was strong, but the price was better

She strains to read by candlelight
In the beginning
.....................God made heaven and Earth
........................................................and it was good
Thoughts of learning stretch on forever
Shackles and chains can't keep her from it
Love was strong, but the price was better

She keeps stories of the motherland in her heart
Of Kings and Queens
...........................fields of green
..........................................brave warriors facing the beast
Feelings of pride stretch on forever
Grandfathers conch shells held tenderly in her hands
Love was strong, but the price was better

The Hollywood

Slate gray skies, bare trees and sharp winds
The old yellow brick tavern smells of peanuts on the floor and stale beer
Echoes of laughter make their way through the years
Men gather to trade war stories, and fishing tales, and argue who to vote for
Anything to validate their addiction and lend comradery
Behind the bottles, in the mirror, there they are looking back
Sons of Slovaks and Germans... Italians, Greeks and Irish
A Pennsylvania blend of mill workers and farmers and carpenters and bakers
The old wooden phone booth in the corner holds all of the lies told to wives and girlfriends
Round glass windows yearn for deco sunshine

Nickel Mines

In a Pennsylvania pasture, on a blue sky kind of day
The devil came to Nickel Mines, and took the girls away
The tender tiny darlings, in their bonnets and white gowns
The most innocent of innocence, now buried in the ground
The elders grieved, the mothers cried, the fathers held their breath
How could they have predicted, the killings and the death
Forgiveness came in the same gasp, as did their grief and pain
The Amish know their God is near, they'll see them all again
In a Pennsylvania pasture, on a blue sky kind of day
The devil came to Nickel Mines, and took the girls away

Frannys Day Will Come

Franny takes the wash out, and hangs it on the line.
Factories in the background but her lungs are doing fine.
Stares up at a bright blue sky she knew another day.
Hanging sheets & pillowcases, bleach takes out the clay.

Sinatra on the radio and money in a jar,
One day she's going to Hollywood so she can be a star.
Momma thinks that she should stay and Dad says she can go.
But Daddy had a lot to drink, his words they come out slow.

The war is nearly over & the men are coming back.
Franny wants to see the shore, her bag's already packed.
So every day the laundry comes & she will scrub them clean.
Put her nickles in the jar, so she can live her dream.