Banner Mountain Girl # 60 -“Whicker Bill” Riley

unknown grave
“Whicker Bill” Riley
(1903—1925)

I always thought Maude Henry
and her three daughters were so
pretty ridin’ their mules. They rode
them mules wherever they went. Maude
was a widder woman—had been for six
years when their four mules got stole,
right out of that shabby, old barn settin’
on the side of Brock Mountain. One of ‘em
was Maude’s bug-eyed mule, called Ned.
That critter was half-blind, I tell ya’ fer sure.
The sheriff, he nailed up a poster
down at the courthouse—a picture took
last May of Maude and her girls ridin’
them mules to a cousin’s weddin’.
Yesterday mornin’ the Henrys walked
two miles to Kill Devil Creek, where they
come to my hangin’. Them and everybody
else in Waycross County. I swore
up and down that I didn’t steal
them mules. They hung me anyway.

© Freeda Baker Nichols

NOTE:  This may be a Spoon River Poem, but I don’t guarantee that it is! 🙂

two donkeys

Replacing the Toothpaste Cap

When my husband leaves
the cap off the toothpaste tube,
sometimes I complain,
but more often than not,
I replace the cap.
His dogs adore him;
they lick his hand,
and stick close by.
His horses trust him.
They neigh their
thanks in the evening
when he takes them feed.
He tells me, “See why
I must be home by dark?”
He removes his hat,
gives a firm salute
when our flag passes by.
He opens his Bible
night and morning
in total commitment.
He speeds but not enough
to get a ticket, won’t
park in a handicap slot,
though he’s qualified.
When I say, “The doves
are few this year,”
he replies, “Love you too, Dear.”
And that’s why, most of the time,
I replace the cap on the toothpaste.

c Copyright 2012, Freeda Baker Nichols

The Family at Evening

At twilight, the fireflies
light their lanterns,
one at a time.

Jumping from porch,
Jimmy runs,
fruit jar in hand,
grabs lighting bugs
while whippoorwills
repeat themselves,
like Grandma.

Lindy brings Ole Jerse
from the pasture at
Weaver Creek. “Nearly stepped
on a copperhead,” she says.

“They crawl this time
of day,” Daddy warns.

He tells Mama
his check didn’t come.
She nods.  “Candy took her
first step today.”

Daddy reaches for
Candy’s hand.  Mama looks
at the sky.  Dark clouds
boil in the northwest.
Much like when the
tornado hit Banner Mountain.

c Copyright, 2012, Freeda Baker Nichols

Awarded Fifth Place in Poets’ Roundtable of Arkansas’
Annual Anthology Contest, 2005