The Retirees

Two old horses called the small field home.
Shaded by pecan trees, they grazed and slept
Passing their days retired and content.
As I drove by I would wave and call "Hello",
Giving them due respect.
Then one day they were gone.
The field has grown rank and choked with weeds.
Ghosts are all that's left.
But as I pass I still wave,
Unwilling to forget.



Ellen Caldwell


Our Group

As true with most friends, we started as strangers
We now meet monthly, we willful word arrangers

Together we read, learn, laugh, cry, and share
Figure out, collectively, who writ what word where

Phrases new to some are defined, explained to one another
Each is at one time baby, next father or mother

With a seesaw balance, now up then down
We gather and marvel at meaning and sound

At times silly, then poignant, then tragic
But always and ever, endearingly magic

Words draw us back, time and again
So grateful am I for this circle of friends.










Power of Prayer
      (for my mother and sister)

If I were a singer
I would sing for you
'Cause the joys of a merry season
Have become so few
I would sing of the golden highway
Which leads right through to God
I would sing of the deepest joys of love
And give it all the strength I'd have
With song, life would blossom
And friendship, with voice divine
This I would do for you
If such power were mine

If I were an actress
I'd create a scene for you
I would play the part of the one you lost
And make it real and true
I'd imitate the voice you loved
And act out all the joys thereof
And never would you miss again
That loved one, whom you knew back when
I'd open up heaven, to show you the golden shrine
This I would do for you
If such power were mine

If I were an angel
And in good grace with God
I would come every moment
To touch your aching heart
And bring you a message from God above
'Cause the loved one you lost
Not without reason was
And He would want me to say
That there will come that day
When all understanding and peace will be thine
This I would do for you
If such power were mine

I may not be an angel, close to God
Or an actress who could play such a part
Nor am I a singer with voice divine
Who could soothe all that heartache which is thine
But I am a prayer
And I will pray for you
All the days that I am living
With the strength I've been given
Till the day you may drink of God's golden wine
This I will do for you
'Cause that power is mine


* * * * * * * *




Talking to Myself

Start of the week
End of the weak
Another session
One foot in front of the other
Step by step
Whole shebang gets done
Though forward movement
May be hard to discern
Plotting, scheming, dreaming
Hours preparing
All for nothing, if not doing
Credit goes where action is
Trying, thinking, believing
All for nothing, if not doing
No matter how you plan it
If you don’t do it
Result is zero
Get out of your own way
Do what needs to be done
Start of the week
End of the weak


‚Äč* * * * * * *






When first this journey I began,
I did not know how long the road would be—
how it would wind uphill and down.
I started out without a plan
except to see what I could see
in every village and  in each town
and on the road that stretched between.

I thought the road might lead
through valleys lush and green
where I might dip road-weary feet
Into a cool free-flowing stream.
I could not know that it would lead
into a desert parched and dry
to be obscured by drifting sand;
or that I’d wander in a daze,
confused and lost for countless days,
before I found my way again.

The road has forked many times
and I have had to choose
twixt north and south, east and west.
and my choice has not always been
the wisest nor the best.
I’ve stumbled into deep ravines
and climbed rock strewn slopes;
and where a bridge no longer stood
I’ve swum an unknown river
to reach the road on the other side.

Sometimes a highway, sometimes a trail
the road has been my life.
It’s taken me through barren wastes,
to the brink of an abyss;
and it’s taken me to mountain tops
with unobstructed views
of the road I’ve traveled and the life I’ve lived.

There have been others along the way --
companions who have shared with me
and with whom I’ve shared
whatever I could spare.
And yet, I’ve felt alone
displaced  from all that was my own.

My life –
this road that’s wound uphill and down --
has challenged me and made me strong.
It’s been a “pilgrimage of necessity”,
A journey  that I 've had to take
for my soul’s growth, and for the sake
of it’s enlightenment;
but it has wearied me.

As I look down the road ahead,
in the distance I see a gate,
and beyond the gate a light
that is strangely welcoming.
There is something familiar about that gate
and I know that I’ve been here before.
My steps quicken and I cannot wait
to lift the latch;.
for I know that I know this place.        
and  this place will be my journey’s end.

When first this journey I began,
I did not know how long the road would be,
but even though I had no plan
I felt a sense of destiny.
Now, I feel my weariness give way to peace
and in my heart I know
I’ve reached my journey's end.

I have come home at last.


* * * * * * * * * *






Two nuns were there
On Croton Point
That day.
They sat together on a bench
And talked.
I did not hear the words
They had to say
Each to the other.

I sat alone in peace
With pen and paper
As in a bastioned cave beside the river
And could see blue barges
Passing upstream slowly
And above the dump
A moldering mound of sodden waste and dirt
A bold battalion of brown speckled gulls
Screaming and sweeping down
To pluck fetid fish
From dust and debris.

I tried to write to you
How life appeared to me
A twisted interwoven mesh
A tangled tapestry
Of loving and longing
Of wanting and waiting
By time unraveled deftly
Thread by thread.

A letter I never sent.

By the end of summer
He had returned from San Francisco
Leaving a precious find of childhood with you
A simple stick of sapling you preserved
And two years later, Mother,
You were dead.

Yet that day on Croton Point lives on
Sharp and clear.






When the sun sets a little south of west,
leaves the sky a glowing shade of translucent blue
where blackened silhouetted hills form a vee through the pass
leading the way along the path I want to take.
Oh, so nice . . . toward paradise.
High above the evening star glimmers and gleams
like the crystalline jewel on your creamy breast
above the satin silky vee of your sequined gown
leading the way along the path I want to take.
Oh, so nice . . . toward paradise.





A French Rat on the Floor

    On the floor I saw a rat
       I saw a rat on the floor
    On the floor I saw a rat on the floor
                with the cheese in the trap
    On the floor I saw a rat with the trap
       with the cheese on the floor
    On the floor with the cheese I saw a rat
               moving-moving on the floor
    On the floor I saw a rat without the trap
           moving with the cheese on the floor
    On the floor with the rat moving-moving
              I saw myself near the trap on the floor
    On the floor I saw myself moving-moving without the rat
       into the trap on the floor without the cheese
    On the floor I shall never forget this tale about the French rat--
       The long tail of my moving fear into the trap of the rat
    On the floor without even French cheese
    P. S. How do we know he's a French rat?
    --Because he only steals French cheese!






After the pouring rain     
worms litter the sidewalk.
They look like snips of red yarn
or miniature snakes.
This is the path the children take
on their way to school.
This is the path the sun takes
rising and setting on the day.
This is the path the widow walks
bundled in the morning cold.
When her little grey dog stops to sniff
which end of the worm moves?
Front and back are the same
it makes no difference just as
day and night are the same.
It's always tomorrow on
the other side of the world.
One of the rowdy twins
flicks a worm at the girl with braids.
Her screech sends a shiver
through his arms and legs
and that other limb he's
just beginning to understand.
In the widow's imagination
her husband is waiting
for her return, standing
in their drafty kitchen in his
navy blue bathrobe and
thin black socks. Every day
he selected a different mug for her
from one of their various treks
around the world. She remembers
the skinny brown snake charmer
sheltered under a tattered canopy
as the pouring rain created gullies
of mud that stuck to her sandals.
Now the rain sounds like
drums, an irregular jazzy cadence
which brings up a memory
of skipping down a rain-wet sidewalk
making a game of avoiding worms
that look like snakes
or snips of red string.





I hoped to find women with black mantillas
scurrying to mass
as I strolled the steep, pebbled streets of Toledo—
wanted to hear blaring music from shabby back-alley shops
where young girls doggedly practiced flamenco on tile floors.
I was told to head south and west—
a day’s drive
past countless olive groves and vineyards baking in the sun,
across the Meseta,
watchful for Don Quixote to cross my path
on the way to Sevilla,
the city that would wrap my heart in lace
by its loveliness
and etch fiery images forever in my shy mind.






Newness is ever present
Especially true here, in the adolescence of oldness
Discover by embracing
Stop holding back, wishing it weren’t so
Seize the novelty, soar
Leave stale fare, go sample the next concoction
Loose the grip on what was
Fling in now to what will be
No one thing ever as sad
Pitiful or useless as clinging
To what might have been
Motto from here on
All fling-No cling







Let me sing a song to you
A song straight from the heart
Of the only love that's really true
Of which you are a part
It is the living love, the giving love
Alive since days of old
It is the living love, the giving love
That can't be bought or sold

Let me sing a song to you
Of who you really are
You are the love that lives in you
Shining greater than a star
You are the living love, the giving love
That flows just like a stream
You are the living love, the giving love
The truth of which you dream

So be a river and as you flow
Give out love wherever you go
Be the truth of what you know
Be the living love, the giving love
Just like my song has told
Be the living love, the giving love
More than the whole wide world can hold





Metaphor of Sacrifice

A woman knows
moon’s magnetic pull
determines menstrual rhythms
when full and round
fertile energies
promise productivity
as life enters from another
received in chambers
warm and deep
designed to nurture birth.

A woman knows
darkness and pain
in barrenness
as bloody flows
ribbon into emptiness.
A woman knows
signatures scratched
across moon and stars
signing celestial salvation
as birth’s blood
in the beginning
and death’s blood
in the ending
are sacrificed for life
losing becomes finding
Divine enters chambers
designed for human habitation.
A woman knows.






  Lately, when I stop the thinking machine
  in my head,
  I allow myself to feel
  the warmth of you
  still in my heart.

  Just for a moment,
  the cold gloved hand
  loses its grip,
  and I wonder why you let
  your life slip into the dust.

  And so it’s done.
  You are there,
  I am here,
  And there will always be
  an ocean between us






Upon my canvas, shades of blue
merge cloudless sky and sea--
pale blue above cobalt below;
and here and there a different hue
conjured from recent memory.
A well-placed touch of white
highlights the wing of a gull in flight
and traces foam on a breaking wave.

But I cannot paint the seagull’s cry
as it soars across a cloudless sky;
nor the sound of breaking waves,
or the touch of a random breeze
wafting scents I can’t identify.
I cannot paint the way the sun
felt upon my skin;
nor the salty tang of ocean air
drying on my lips;
for on my canvas, shades of blue
fail to convey – they cannot tell
the height and depth and breadth
of an April day at Cozumel.

I cannot paint on my canvas sea
the feeling that came over me
as I took it in, standing on the shore --
a tourist there and nothing more;
trying to set my spirit free,
wishing, somehow, I could cease to be
an entity apart and self-contained,
restrained, and by propriety constrained
to think and act in a certain way.

On my canvas shades of blue
depict a cloudless sky above
waves that break on a canvas sea.
And here and there a touch of white
caps a wave adorned with foam;
or suggests a gull in flight.
But brush strokes laid on a canvas sea
are the best that I can do
to evoke a sense of time and place;
and they don’t convey --
they cannot tell --
the story of an April day
on the beach at Cozumel.







It's Thanksgiving time, the past keeps jumping out at me
There was a chill in the air, a smell of smoke, a time to be
I remember Mama in the kitchen since first light
Getting it all together, everything had to be right

At school the kids talked Christmastime, were out a few days
There were kid parties, popcorn balls, fudge, other ways
To do what kids to, make up games and laugh along
Time to go home, before we do always a song

On Sunday a walk to church, sunshine most of the time
BYPU meetings, talking Jesus, then they drew the line
Boys on one side of the room, girls on the other
If you wanted to see her, you had to ask her mother

The time of Mom and Pop stores, penny candy a big thing
Two of this kind and one two-cents, rich as a king
In the summer was watermelon, time by the lake
You always took your cut-offs, no skin dip to make

Going into high school was a big change in your life
You were low on the totem pole, a long road of strife
The campus looked big, but it was not large at all
I made a few friends, they all were like me, I recall

A year after I finished school I was dressed for the war
I left the world I knew, freedom was what we fought for
When the war was over I went to work for pay
I went to school at night and worked in the day

The day came to shatter my dreams, Korea came along
Went to the first Marine division and landed in old Mason
When this war was over I looked back at my life
What did you do, what do you know, the answer be quite

Progress came very fast to our old way of living
Past star wars and moon shots, new ways of giving
I remember back to minstrel shows, what fun
My ninety years, my heart finds the golden years, I won.





Gentle Gifts of Grace
With wounds so deep your legs of graceful moves
Could carry you no further
You placed yourself at my door
With big brown eyes you looked to me for care
With no complaint you surrender
As I clean, treat, bandage those gapping wounds
Eyes that express gratitude and trust gaze into mine
An appetite that devours prescribed deer pellets
Relishes apples, banana peels and fresh spinach
Was that really a wink you gave me?
Did you just return the one I gave back?
When finally after days flow into weeks of care
I watch your endless courageous efforts to stand
Outer wounds are healed
But unseen wounds to back or hips ensnare
I must surrender to let you go
You taught me that.
I bend to reassure you
Or perhaps myself
“Grace, the game warden has come to carry you
To a place of freedom
A place beyond all outer and unseen wounds
There your deer dance will go on”
Tenderly you touch your nose to mine
Our Eskimo Good-bye.