My October Treasure


Near Homeplace in October 2012

October, I love you and here’s the reason,
you are the best part of my favorite season.
You kiss the pumpkins in kind, cool nights;
you schedule the wild geese for southern flights.
You color the leaves in Crayola blends,
then light up the sky until autumn ends.
You welcome each moment with radiant foxfire;
you are the season that I most admire.
Your rains are gentle, your joys are deep;
October, you are my treasure to keep.

c Copyright 2012, Freeda Baker Nichols

Too old to float the Buffalo

In this instance, “the Buffalo” is the Buffalo National River in Arkansas, U.S.A. Without giving away my age, let’s say that on that particular day, I was  the perfect age of a grandmother.  My kids insisted that I go along on a canoe trip. I was not too old to float the Buffalo, they emphasized.  Never mind that I’m not a good swimmer. Not to mention that the rapids are sometimes reckless and that most canoe floats wind up with somebody dumped into the water, regardless of his or her swimming record.    “Just come with us, Grandma, and we’ll have fun.” 

And so I went. My husband, Gene, and I floated serenely along, admiring the green and flowering growth along the banks of the smooth-flowing mountain  stream. Guaranteed not to drown with my life jacket on, I was brave enough to totally relax when Gene slowed the canoe to drift around in a calm pool of the river. As he paddled out of there toward the rapids, the canoe spun into a log that was hidden underwater.   Gene jumped out as the canoe slipped sideways; then it capsized.  I was under the upturned canoe and under water.  My quick-acting husband flipped the canoe up and away; I surfaced and Gene caught hold of my life jacket and pulled me from the rapids.  The kids came running, yelling, “Are you okay?” Concern in their voices rose above the sound of the rapids.

“Yes!” I answered, wiping water from my face.   “I’m just mad!”  And at that, the kids broke into laughter.  Remember, they said it would be a fun trip!

Out of that experience came this little poem, which won a prize in a poets’ contest. So, the canoe trip ended up being fun, after all.

My Husband, My Hero

Our canoe spun.  Gene jumped.
Canoe slammed into stump.
Screaming, I dunked under;
Rapids ripped like thunder.
Gene flipped canoe on end
And grabbed me at the bend.

c Copyright 2012, Freeda Baker Nichols



Homeless in Spring

Bird Babies
The cardinal’s feathers contrasted
sharply with the hedge bush;
he flitted noisily nearby
until the buzzing hushed.

In disarray, the bush fell
to the daisy-dotted ground–
a hand reached to gather the limbs,
then stopped at a soft cheeping sound.

A nest of twigs and twine–
home of featherless bird babies–
once secure on the fork of the limbs,
now lay scattered in the daisies.

The cheep-cheep of the birdies
could no longer be denied;
the big man picked them up
and with no one looking, cried.

Published in Ozarks Mountaineer,
The Arkansas Democrat Magazine,
and Poems by Poets’ Roundtable
of Arkansas 

cCopyright, 2012 Freeda Baker Nichols


Portsmouth, NHMission

How patriotic am I?
With respect and honor,
I recite the pledge
and sing the National Anthem.

But would I pick up a rifle,
sight and aim it
in defense of my liberty?
Would I die?
How patriotic am I?

This country I claim;
I delight in its wealth and its beauty;
its freedom I strongly proclaim,
But to keep it,
would I be willing to die?
Would I?
How patriotic am I?

c Copyright, 2012, Freeda Baker Nichols
From Poets’ roundtable of Arkansas Anthology

The Changing Season

A Spring Day

A Spring Day

With shades of green the season bursts anew
and sprinkles pollen dust around with ease.
The thirsty buds soak up the evening dew
which spreads like spider webs across the trees.
The sun arrives and darkened bits of night
then start to change to hues of tender greens.
The sunshine crowns the trees with gleaming light
that makes them glow like noble kings and queens.
A gusty breeze begins to rake the yard
where last year’s leaves are gathered in big mounds.
The blue jays hop about with disregard
for gentle birds which scratch the greening grounds.
Each year the clocks are set to move ahead
to give more daylight time for work and play,
but sleepyheads are slow to rise from bed
with yawn and smile to welcome new spring day.

c Copyright, 2010, Freeda Baker Nichols

Appeared in Ozarks Mountaineer, March/April 2010
Poets’ Roundtable of Arkansas Anthology 2010-2011

No Reason to Rush


Ole Jerse

Milk Cows

Ole Jerse gave
down her milk–
a warm, white stream
in the lard bucket,
as Mama’s hands
pressed gently,
in a world that
had no reason to rush.

No reason to rush
nor to worry
in the Ozarks of long ago
with time only to tell
and to listen
to stories of real life
told by real people
in the Ozarks of long ago.

cCopyright, 2012, Freeda Baker Nichols
First appeared in the Ozarks Mountaineer, 1986

Red Daylilies

The house is empty now
and no one tends
the flowers, growing still,
along the walk where once
I strolled with Mama.
My hand in hers, she walked
with me and talked about
the blue hydrangeas,
phlox of pink,
daylilies red, and
golden daffodils
dazzling at their peak
of color in the sun.

I  walk along the
silent footpath now,
where only shadows move.
I miss Mama.

cCopyright, 2012, Freeda Baker Nichols



  The blue clouds drift slowly
in mid-air with nowhere to go.
The bluebird flies purposefully
between the clouds, over the trees,
and westward.
The silk violet stands waiting . . .
A small hand reaches down.
Lips form a smile,
A voice says, “thank you.”
The vase holds violets, green stems,
and love.
c Copyright 2012, Freeda Baker Nichols
From Vortex, 1978