An Autumn Rose

Among the thorns, I found a yellow rose;
its petals shaped in perfect harmony.
It grew inside a thicket, I suppose
awaiting lovers’ hands to set it free.
I wandered down a path to reach the quay
when autumn wore her wrinkled satin clothes
and there beside the restless, singing sea,
among the thorns, I found a yellow rose.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIts secret place I vowed not to disclose
as light of moon shone on a myrtle tree.
The rose appeared in Mona Lisa pose,–
its petals shaped in perfect harmony.
Although it seemed to beg in silent plea,
without a word I shook my head and chose
to leave the flower in serenity.
It grew inside the thicket, I suppose.
Recalling your last words that quickly froze
my heart like snow in northern Zuider Zee,
I left the yellow bud to decompose,
awaiting lovers’ hands to set it free.
I wish that you and I could still agree
and write love letters in poetic prose
so that our prideful hearts would always be
like autumn roses ready to transpose
among the thorns.

© 2014 Freeda Baker Nichols

(This poem is a Rondeau Redouble. The ocean picture is one I took at Rockport, Massachusetts.
The yellow rose bush grows in Arkansas at the home of Calla Linn. She  graciously gave permission
for her picture to appear here on my blog. Thank you, Calla Linn)


Excerpt from my story

English: Western Sandpipers in Bolsa Chica Eco...

Giving thanks to the open ocean, just off Waim...

English: Sea gulls in flight over the Dutch Wa...

The main character in my short story is Calypso, an artist from Texas, who has lived in California for nineteen years. The story is told from her viewpoint, and in present tense. The following lines are Calypso’s thoughts as she walks along a beach.

(The ocean fascinates me.  Growing up in Texas, I seldom ventured to the coast.  The first time I came to California, I fell in love with the blue, lapping waves. I love to smell the wet sand and to search for unusual shells.  Sea gulls and sandpipers are so much fun to watch.  Moving about on wiry legs, the sandpipers peck and probe into the sand with their short bills.  When they take flight, they sound a piping-like cry of ‘twee-wee-wee.’ The gulls glide majestically above the water.  Marine life is interesting, too. And snorkeling is still an adventure for me.  Critters of all kinds swim in close to the shore.)

© Copyright, 2013, Freeda Baker Nichols

Why do I love the sonnet?

Writing a sonnet is challenging and rewarding.  Sonnets are often winners in contests compared to other forms.   Once I learned how to complete a sonnet, the form became one of my favorites. Sonnets in English are usually fourteen-line poems of iambic pentameter with a rhyme scheme that follows any of the several traditional patterns. I like writing the Shakespearean Sonnet best of all.

The following poem is one of my Shakespearean sonnets. It appeared  in Encore, the National Federation of State Poetry Societies, Inc. anthology, in 2000.


Blue waves of water broke upon the shore,
where Bonny laughed and played that misty day,
and splashed and dragged her to a cold, sand floor
where depths of dark replaced her world of play.
Her mama rushed to edge of rolling sea
as black storm clouds like veils of midnight came.
Her heartbeat’s rhythm pounded out a plea;
she thought she heard her Bonny call her name–
but it was . . . only rising, frothy foam
from angry sea — untamed, a friendless thief,
who dashed away her special spark of home,
and turned her joy into a burning grief.
“Oh, God,” she prayed, “Take hold of Bonny’s hands!”
Then raindrops pelted hard the silent sands.

© 2013, Freeda Baker Nichols

Calypso — middle part of short story.

A drawing of an envelope

English: Ocean waves

There’s no return address on this letter. I rip it open. A check! One thousand dollars written on a Virginia bank. From Whit! I look closely inside the envelope for an explanation, but there’s nothing. Not one single word.
A while later, Layton comes by and we sit at the table on the patio. I try to put my thoughts about the check aside for now.
I’m glad Layton is here. Does he know how happy I am to see him? I try not to show my feelings. We talk a few minutes about many things, but nothing in particular. Chit-chat.
“Calypso, tell me how you got your name.”
I laugh. “My dad once met Jacques-Yves Cousteau.”
“The ocean researcher?”
“Yes. Dad went aboard his famous ship.”
“I’ve heard of his ship. He called it Calypso, didn’t he?”
“That’s right. Dad was impressed with Cousteau and he really liked the name Calypso. When he suggested the name to Mother, surprisingly she agreed. I would have thought she would give me a dripping-sugar Southern name.”
“So you are named for a ship. Suppose that’s why you love the ocean?”
“Actually, I’m also named after Cousteau himself.”
“How’s that?”
“My middle name is Yvette, the feminine form of Yves.”
“Calypso Yvette. Pretty name.”
“Thanks. I’ve been told it fits an artist.”
“You are a very good artist.”
“So good that thieves steal instead of buy?” I try to make light of the horrible theft, but Layton is not smiling. “Whit liked to tease me about selling the seascape when our bank account got low but he knew I’d never part with it.”
“That was a beautiful painting. I’m sorry it was stolen.”
“If you’ve never had anything stolen, you can’t imagine how vulnerable it makes you feel.”
He nods. “Do you mind telling me how long you and Whit were married?”
“Nineteen years.”
“And you? How long were you married?”
“Thirteen years,” he says and looks away.
“Any children?”
He shakes his head.
“Whit and I never had children, either. If we had, I wouldn’t be alone now.”
“Do you think you’ll ever see Whit again?”
“I don’t know.”
“A few days ago, you mentioned getting a divorce. Do you plan to go through with it?”
“Yes.” I can’t even imagine how devastating that will be.
Suddenly Angelique’s red Mustang whips into my drive and comes to a quick stop. She gets out and strides over to the table. Layton–gentleman that he is–stands until she is seated.
The sun’s rays slant through the leaves of the pepper tree and brighten the table top. Angelique pushes her sunglasses to the top of her head. Her thick blonde hair cushions them. Layton shoots her an admiring glance. She is attractive. I recall telling her she should spend some time looking for Mr. Right. She always came back with, “He doesn’t exist. You’ve already got him.”
I clear my throat and shut my eyes tight. I don’t have him anymore. When I open my eyes, Layton smiles at me. I force a smile and turn to Angelique. “So how are things at the sheriff’s office?”
“Usual stuff. At least, we’ve not heard any more out of you. So that means things are okay?”
I nod, not trusting my voice to sound reassuring. Things have quieted down though. Rex Gentry unnerved me but I haven’t heard any more from him since he bought the painting. And I’ll be getting a report from the detective soon.
Angelique looks at Layton. “I have a habit of dropping in to check on my best friend. I hope I’m not interrupting your visit.”
“Oh, no. It’s nice to see you again.”
Angelique turns to me. “When did you say your Aunt Helen will be here?”
“Next week.”
“She’ll be good for you. Her sense of humor will definitely lift your spirits,” Angelique says.
I turn to Layton. “Helen is my favorite aunt. I want you to meet her.”
“I’d like to meet her.”
After a time, Angelique leaves. A short while later, Layton says, “Time for me to leave, too. Is our date at the beach still on tomorrow?”
“Yes. I’ll be there mid-morning with my canvas and paints.”
“I’ll bring our lunch and see you at noon.”
When I’m alone, I look at the check again. The familiar signature of Whit Langley brings to mind how much I loved him. Love him. Maybe he still loves me. He sent this check for some reason. Didn’t he?
Don’t count on it, Calypso.
But why did he send it? Why? After all this time. I’m getting by, selling a painting now and then. My savings account though is dwindling. I need to look for a job. Or maybe I should sell this house and move back to Texas. Back to the cabin.
The cabin and acreage would bring a good price. Maybe I should sell the cabin. I don’t think I’ll ever want to go back there to live.
I wouldn’t be happy far away from the ocean.
I wouldn’t be happy.
I wouldn’t.

© Copyright, 2013, Freeda Baker Nichols

(This is a middle portion of my short story-in-progress)

A Trip Back to Kittery

Rain Threatens First Day of Trip

Annabelle's Ice Cream Shop

At Annabelle’s, Portsmouth, NH

An Air Force retiree, his children, 
his wife, granddaughters, too
took  a trip back to the state of Maine–
to see again the birthplace
of the youngest daughter–
first day out, they stopped in cool of rain.

Her birthplace by the ocean
a town called Kittery
vivid memories of golden days
military family
with little children three
delightful in all their child-like ways.

Return to Hampton Beach, NH

Visit was magnificent
with skies and sand both great.
Duplex still there they used to call home. 
New memories made that day
in town of Kittery  
to take with them wherever they roam.

c Copyright,  2012 Freeda Baker Nichols