BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL#28 “Red Daylilies”

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 black-eyed Susans,
dazzling at their peak
of color
in the sun.

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

© Freeda Baker Nichols

GOING HOME

GOING HOME

My plane is airborne, headed south.

Memories march in and out of my mind–

like dogface soldiers.

I’d said goodbye to Mama, then Daddy,

who bent to hug my three year old son

not very long ago.

Emotion struck Daddy like blows.

He straightened, then turned too late

to hide moist eyes.  His blue eyes had

laughed when I was my son’s age.

Youth disappears like the dandelion fuzz

on the face of the wind.

Adams Field is windy . . . but the

planes’ wheels touch the runway

in a smooth landing.

“No, son, Papa’s not here . . .

to meet us.”

Uncle Jim’s brown pickup needs washing.

“Your mama’s taking it bad, ” he tells me.

“Is the wake at the house?” I ask.

He nods. “Like your daddy wanted.”

At the doorway, someone takes my

little boy by the hand.

“The casket’s gray. I never saw Daddy

in a coat and tie before. He’s so cold-looking.

Mama? Mama!”

Her warm arms engulf me.

© 2017 Freeda Baker Nichols

Daddy

A Summer Night

Whip–poor–will!  Whip–poor–will! A voice declares. It reaches across time and my remembering stops with the sound as it peacefully echoes back from a silent night of long ago. The summers of my childhood come alive with color as a cup of fiery memories overflows.

Yvonne & Freeda Baker

Yvonne & Freeda Baker

After supper, our family sat on the front porch of our home on Banner Mountain in the Ozark Foothills until time to go to bed.

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Dusk appeared just as the whippoorwills began to sing.  Fireflies flitted about the yard and some of them had the misfortune of getting stuck inside a jar, held by small, sweaty hands.  Jarflies were so noisy that adult voices had to stop sometimes, but the children’s laughter continued and mingled with the noise of the approaching nighttime.

Daddy never said how tired he was or how hard he had worked or how aggravated he had been.  It seemed as though he loved everybody he had ever met, and felt no ill will toward anyone.

And Mama was always unruffled, unhurried, and able to relax as she went about her household duties. The apron she wore has no replicas.

The modern day housewife seldom wears an apron. But her children need to feel the security that I felt on those summer evenings when my family gathered to wait for bedtime –when the dogs lay lazily in a corner of the yard, and chickens were on the roost, the door to the henhouse closed and locked.  Once again the chickens had escaped the whistling hawk that sailed the clear skies overhead. Tomorrow would be another day.  Whip–poor–will!

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© Copyright, Freeda Baker Nichols, all rights reserved.

 

 

The Sea is a Mermaid

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                             THE SEA IS A MERMAID

The sea is a mermaid who keeps tapping, tapping at the door
like the raven in Edgar’s poem who quoted “Nevermore.”*
Water lapping, gently lapping on the banks of Gloucester’s shore.

Many times before, with his crew, Nate had gone down to the sea.
He had always returned to his home and sweetheart, Lora Leigh.
Lora Leigh’s  flaxen hair was ruffled by the late autumn breeze.
Her eyes glistened like dewdrops fallen on pale lilac leaves.

Red clouds gathered slowly that morn across the northwestern sky.
Lora felt the premonition though she prayed it was a lie.
She begged Nate, “Please heed the warning. Promise me you will not go
down to the sea this morning.” And he replied, “Don’t worry so.”

Nate and his crew secured positions aboard Athena Gale.
They waved to their loved ones and then set the swordfish boat to sail.
Lora cried. Her heart beat faster than it ever had before.

Like the raven in Edgar’s poem who quoted “Nevermore,”*
the sea is a mermaid who keeps tapping, tapping at the door.
The Athena Gale and crew returned to Gloucester nevermore.

The force of hurricane winds quickly sank the ship far off shore.
One life raft found unoccupied called to mind each crewman’s name.
Its emptiness told the story with a message all too plain.

The foghorn signaled strongly against the raging tempest’s roar
but fell mute to worn-out fishermen a hundred miles from shore.
The hurricane’s powerful winds thrust high the dangerous waves
that heaved the sailors down to the dark and silent, salt-lined graves.

“What did they  tell the children when each one questioned, ‘Why
did the Athena Gale sink and all the fishermen have to die?'”

Did they tell them Nate and all his crew were predestined to drown?
That it was a Perfect Storm that swept the ship Athena down?
That the sea is a mermaid who keeps tap, tapping at the door?
That she claims the lives of the weakest and the strongest crewmen?

Some go down to the sea in ships and come safely back to shore.
Others go down to the sea in ships and return . . . nevermore.
Water lapping, gently lapping on the banks of Gloucester’s shore.

* Reference to “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe

 

© Copyright, Freeda Baker Nichols   (A work in progress. This poem is based on the true account of the Andrea Gail, the fishing vessel and all its crew who were lost at sea in 1991 during a so-called “Perfect Storm.” Names in my poem are fictitious. Other names and fiction have been added. My inspiration to write this poem began with a visit to Gloucester, Massachusetts in 2006. I stayed at the Emerson Inn by the Sea in Rockport, Massachusetts. And I visited Gloucester where I took the pictures of the monuments honoring fishermen and their families. As I sat by the sea, I listened to the lapping water and wrote the first line of this poem. These ten years later, it’s ready to post, but I doubt that it’s finished. I’m posting it now with respect to the memory of the Andrea Gail and her crew.)

 

 

 

The Baker Sonnet

I have created a new sonnet form, the Baker Sonnet,  and I’m introducing it in the Poetry Day Contests 2016 with Poets’ Roundtable of Arkansas. The Baker Nichols Award contest for this year is open to PRA members only. Some awards are open to Arkansas residents and some are open to all poets.  Information on the contests may be seen here. Entries are not to be sent before June 1, 2016 and must be postmarked by August 15, 2016.

The Baker Sonnet form is fourteen lines of iambic pentameter and concludes with a couplet which may or may not be indented. The rhyme scheme is a-B-b-c-a-a-b-c-d-c-d-B-e-e. Note the repetition of lines two and twelve.

No Longer Mine

The rain falls damp onto the grass tonight.
My heart is sad because your love is gone.
The barren ground is cold where sun once shone.
The moon and stars no longer gleam above.
Somehow they hide their shine of silver light.
The darkest sky becomes my dreadful plight
as I begin to spend my time alone.
How can I go through life without your love?
Another holds you spellbound by her charms
as I give up the goals that I dreamed of.
I wait with aching heart and empty arms.
My heart is sad because your love is gone.
Once, I believed your promises were true.
My heart now breaks each time I think of you.

© Freeda Baker Nichols

Note: My poem example here is a work-in-progress. How does a poet know when a poem is ready for the printed page?

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There’s No Place Like Home

 

When I’m away even for a day trip, it’s always great to return. Often on my way up the drive, I  say, “Be it ever so humble, there is no place like home!”

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Banner Mountain

The road back home is sometimes too long and difficult to travel.

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Home is someone drawing water from the well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home is a place to be at Christmas. It’s a visit from the grandkids.

It’s a nostalgic place, a place for memories. A place for love.

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Gene, Freeda, cave on Baker Place, Clinton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No matter how far away your travels take you, there is no place as wonderful as home.
Home is being together, being happy, being free.
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Home is the ending of the day, being thankful. Being grateful to God for all His many blessings.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/theres-no-place-like-home/

Repeat Performance

Repeat Performance

My little angel dressed in shades of brown.
My granddaughter with ringlets hanging down.
You bring delight each time I see your face.
Your mother grew too big for lightning bugs
but now your laughter seems to fill her place
as you run after them and bring me hugs.
My granddaughter with ringlets hanging down.
My little angel dressed in shades of brown.

© Freeda Baker Nichols

Thistle