BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL # 56 My Arkansas Heritage

In Arkansas the Ozarks Mountains rise
in rugged rows of hills, tree-lined and steep
where redbirds flit beneath crisp autumn skies,
and sugar maples’ roots run dense and deep.

And here, we mountaineers are always free
to pass our heritage to every child.
Black bear and white-tailed deer near post oak tree
are sights that welcome me from forest wild.


Fog fingers hide green valleys on wet days
when Arkansas awaits the sun to shine–
my home–a rustic cabin wrapped in leis
of pink azaleas sparkling like grape wine.

A welcome sound–Abe’s banjo by the stream
on nights when hounds forsake the mountain trails
and sleep stretched out in bravo just to dream
the hot pursuit of foxes with red tails.


I’m glad I married Abe and settled down
to raise our blue-eyed, little family
on banks of this Red River town
where Arkansas forever calls to me!

© Freeda Baker Nicholscardinal on post



She changed from her wedding dress,
tossed her engagement ring,
slipped into a travel suit,
turned her Mustang toward Hot Springs.

She checked into the cabin
last night at nearly ten
close to the magnificent
Garden of the Pine Wind.

She had waited at the altar
for a groom who never showed.
Her tears barely slacked enough
for her to see the road.

Yet, she determined she would
make the best of this.
She swiped her hand across her lips
and wiped away his kiss.

In a room for honeymooners
occupied by only one,
she awoke to dazzling sunbeams
when the day had just begun.

She went down to the springs
where Native Americans ceased
many battles by the mystic waters
and reconciled in peace.

She wondered about De Soto
who once stopped here to drink
the warm and healing waters
filled to his canteen’s brink.

She bet betrothal money
on thoroughbreds at the track
and tried hard to forget
that handsome Bobby Jack.

Although her heart was breaking,
she would never let him know.
She lit her own peace pipe
down on Bathhouse Row.

She boarded a plane
as soon as it was night.
She cried herself to sleep
on an international flight.

And if Bobby tries to find her,
she knows he never can
in Hot Springs’ Sister City,
Hanamaki (Hot Springs) Japan.

© Freeda Baker Nichols

A Tough Old Bridge

The train came through a tunnel, down to town
across a bridge that spans the Little Red–
a bridge of steel that reaches bank to bank
above the river flowing fast and deep
enough for young and old to dive and swim.

The angry flood of nineteen eighty-two
bear-clawed and pulled apart the cobbled streets
and quickly claimed an ancient concrete pier.
The boiling waters scarred a path so wide
the river steamed onto the shore and caused
the bridge’s portal to float free in stream.

But strong-willed men rebuilt the broken link,
restored the aged bridge–a tough, old bridge.

The railway bridge at edge of my hometown
no longer hears an engine’s chugging sound,
no longer shakes with jar of clacking wheels.
Old timers spin a thousand tales and more
of whistle blaring near the mountain bend.

Though trains no longer cross the Little Red,
the bridge has earned the honor to remain.

by Freeda Baker Nichols

Train Bridge at Shirley, Arkansas

National Poetry Day in Arkansas

Sumac, Oct. 2012-- 100

This poem was written especially for The
Rosa Zagnoni Marinoni National Poetry
Day in Arkansas, 2012

In Rosa’s Honor

As poet laureate, Rosa was great!
October 15th marked her special day.
She gave her time and talent to our state,
encouraged poetry along the way.
Her poems still
speak clearly
as year after year
we think of her.
We meet to keep the torch she lit aflame.
We watch it glow when our own fire is low.
We think of her and write our best because,
as poet laureate, Rosa was great!

© Freeda Baker Nichols