Thursday, August 29, 2013

Pear season again

pear tree, corner of Couchwood/SamplesRoads-PL
From the late Dion O'Donnol's day by day-1998
for August 28:
pear-like preserve labeled
From Connecting Our Houses, PL/Dot McLaughlin, 1997
for September 16:
ping of sealing lids--
thought of winter preserves
eases today's work
for September 18:
sneaking diced pears
into the tuna salad--
he eats three sandwiches

Thursday, August 22, 2013

School time has come again: Three tanka

first day of school
it takes twenty-one minutes
to go four blocks
   then ten more to get back home:
   three schools on the same street

[PL, August 18, 2003]

second week of school--
in homes of kindergarteners
white uniform shirts
  (napkins for spaghetti lunch)
  soaking in the kitchen sinks

[PL, August 31, 1995]

for football players
during practice
  (funds raised by cheerleaders
  from the folks in Star City

[PL, August 11, 2004]

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Anniversary of the end of WW2/ two sestets in memory of Joe Prichard

A flagship destroyer, the Selfridge by name--
destroyers are named after heroes:
Thomas O. Selfridge of Civil War fame,--
was one of the first to look up and see those
enemy planes as they charged into Pearl,
and the first ship to fire back: one grand girl!

Whether frigate or flagship, clipper or cruiser,
government boat under flag of truce, or
destroyer, battleship, schooner or whaler,
carrier, cutter, steamship or freighter--
all manner of ships through the years had their day
defending and building this U. S. of A.

[Published in delicious fatigue, 1992.
Joe Prichard was my neighbor
when I lived on West Sevier in Benton]

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Three Etheree poems

woods near Cherokee Village, AR
When writing new poems, I often use the discipline of writing a syllabic pattern to get thoughts/ ideas/ images into a workable form. The Cinquain––2, 4, 6, 8, 2—is a favorite of mine, as is the Etheree.
             In fact, “On Poems and Pears” began as an Etheree. Here is the way it looked before I turned it into free verse.

3-of poem
4-shrink when revised
5-like sacks of tawny
6-windfall pears, split and cored,
7-skin pared and rot scalpelled out
8-till only solid fruit remains,
9-cooked in sugar syrup for three hours,
10-yielding glasses of clear jeweled preserves.

           The Etheree poetry pattern was created in 1967 by a Magnet Cove, Arkansas poet, the late Etheree Armstrong. “The form is 10 lines with the syllable count matching each line number. It is unrhymed, though it must have rhythm, meaning, imagery OR carry an undertone of a second meaning.” (From a copy of a letter signed by Mrs. Armstrong given out by her son, Britt, the speaker at a local poets’ meeting.)

           Two more of my poems follow.

to the pole
in especial
honor of the tenth
anniversary of
Nine-Eleven. The banner’s
faded from many years of use
but memories of the horrendous,
senseless attack on our country have not.

limb––as large as
a dinner plate––buds
at the twig ends aground.
On this cloudy Good Friday,
I ponder Holy Week lessons:
even though the limb is dead, new life
springs forth––a second chance. Hallelujah!

                Why not try writing an Etheree yourself? Send to

[This post originally a column published in Calliope: A Writer's Workshop by Mail, #140, Summer 2013.]

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Tribute to an Arkansas poet: Neville Saylor

             Another renowned Arkansas poet has died, alas.

Neville Saylor, daughter of Neville Preston and Eunice Bennett Swaim, died in Baton Rouge June 12 of this year at age 90.
            A few years ago, she lived off Highway 5 between the Alcoa and Springhill Roads in Saline County. She attended the local branch of Poets’ Roundtable of Arkansas during that time, taking her turn now and then to present a program.

Earlier, when she lived in Arkadelphia, she was best friends with the now late Hazel Gaither and Mike Grogan, editor and publisher of “Heroes from Hackland.” Mike is a subject for another column.
            Neville, Hazel, and I all wrote for Mike Grogan. Serendipitously, today I found a page from said magazine. How I wish Editor May could publish the pictures in this publication beside the one in the Welch Funeral Home obit.

Mike loved Neville. In this particular issue—he didn’t include the month and year on every page as some publications do––the subtitle is POETRY: and the headline is “The Peppermint Poet.” Mike had his say before Neville had hers:
           “As children we often spent a nickel for a roll of peppermint Lifesavers. Peppermint was cool and tingly. Neville Saylor’s poetry dissolves in the mind and sends refreshing verses through the brain in steady impulses. Neville’s poetry clears away the cobwebs and delivers insight that lingers throughout our daily routine. She is a lifesaver! – M. Grogan”

What followed that typical Grogan-esque introduction was NEVILLE SAYLOR ON NEVILLE SAYLOR: “I have written poetry for most of my life. Dr. Lily Peter, former Poet Laureate of Arkansas was a mentor in my early years. She was an English teacher who loved and wrote poetry and who encouraged me to write.
               “Also a great lady and prolific poet, Anna Nash Yarbrough, praised and criticized my work with love. They meant a great deal to me.

“I have used my skill for passing on whatever came to mind, some light verse, some more meaningful, and some I am sure which may be hard to fathom.
             “It has served me well in my profession of teaching school. I have been a Special Education Teacher for the last 25 years, and haven’t decided to retire yet! At the moment I am employed by the Little Rock School System, and am a member of Poets’ Roundtable of Arkansas.”

Here are two of her poems

 HILL 875:
A cautious moon with uncertain light
Crept from behind a cloud that night
And saw herself in mirrors of blood, 
Deep blackened pools in slimy mud; 
Then she turned aside to look into
Distorted faces, purple hue,
A tight, clenched hand on trusted rifle,
Cold as the metal, devoid of life. 
With her soft rays bathing flesh and steel
That filled the ghastly battlefield
The moon sank lower, lower still
Until she fainted below the hill.


God is good. 
So sang the mother whose son
Stood proudly beside her in the church, 
While on bended knee another mother knelt
Beside a flag-draped coffin.
~ ~ ~ ~
Long live the memory of Neville Saylor.
[You can find her picture on the top left row of Google Images: Neville Saylor. I worked and worked to get the picture here, but to no avail. Her obituary can also be found online.]