HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO EVERYONE
HOLIDAY SNOW – ACRYLICS
Born in northern Alabama, father was a Native American (Chickasaw) sharecropper who managed a farm for a businessperson from Decatur, and a mother who worked in the local cotton mill during the Depression to pay for Beautician School. Although her mother lived in the same house, she was emotionally absent since the Author’s birth. The author, raised by her father, Native American great-grandmother and an African-American woman all were great storytellers.
Instead of playing like most children, she roamed the countryside alone or with her father and at night she sat at the feet of these strong-minded individuals listening to the stories of their lives. During the summer, she lived with her fathers’ sister in Birmingham, Alabama; it was there that she would discover a library, and mingle with her aunt’s circle of friends that included local writers, artist, and politicians. A cabin deep within the Black Warrior Forest was the weekend retreat and filled with these people from a different life than her own. This aunt encouraged the imagination of a young Ann with the gift of her first journal, which she filled with stories over the summer. Planted was the desire to write, a seedling waiting to spurt from the warm southern heart of a child.
Nonetheless, with adulthood, the desire to create buried itself deep within, the dream wilted but did not die. It lay dormant, gaining experience all written in hidden journals. These experiences, the contents of these journals became short stories and poetry reading to share with the world.
Throughout the years along with her father, great-great-grandmother, and her beloved Aunt Francis, other influences were, Faulkner, Capote, Fitzgerald, and Harper Lee. Later in life, I discovered the warm and comic writing of Grace Paley. The Collected Stories, the vivid poetry of William Carlos Williams; the strong poetry of Phyllis McGinley, and the world’s most exciting women, Maya Angelou are some of the poets at the top of her list.
The harshness that shrouded her life would cause her to withdraw from most of the world; it fills the pages of her writing, the heartache, the abuse, and the denial from her mother. Today, at a stage of life where she enjoys her children, grand and great grandchildren, her four-legged companion Mason, she lives in Southern Wisconsin…far from her southern roots, writes and paints daily.
ONE OF THE MANY REVIEWS ON HER WORK:
Southern living, tragedy, memories, and nostalgia… 2014
By Dr. Karen Moriarty – Karen Moriarty, Author of “Defending A King ~ His Life & Legacy” [about the incomparable Michael Jackson]
“As a former teacher of English and creative writing, I approached the reading of Ann Johnson-Murphree’s “Honeysuckle Memories” with real enthusiasm. Poetry is not a wildly popular genre currently. However, I have always enjoyed it, partly because it can be consumed in bits and pieces and at any time of day or night. This book did not disappoint. I consider poems the poet’s personal journey of heart-soul-and-mind. This collection of poems is about Southern living, tragedy, death, and memories. The poet-author’s background as a child who grew up in northern Alabama, a sharecropper’s daughter who farmed for his living, colors much of her work. I enjoyed the flow of her writing, her style of combining prose and poetry, and her reflecting the imagery from her earlier memories in vivid terms.
I recommend that you buy and read this book. It is priced well — to entice the potential reader to venture into the realm of poetry. Ms. Johnson-Murphree enjoys, above all else, sharing her love of writing with others who will enjoy it, understand her better, and share her personal journey.”
THE POETRY OF ANN JOHNSON-MURPHREE AT AMAZON.COM –
IN SEARCH OF WORDS
Ann Johnson-Murphree Poetry Books – A Collection of Poetry
A harvest moon slivers over the tops
of the trees, glows upon the white lilacs
shadowing the wall by the sea. The night
birds call as evening falls.
Boughs of spruce grow green in winters
cold, the willow tree weeps as the earth
becomes old. A moonlit night that will never
die, memories in time watched over by God’s
Mist across a nearby brook lies low under
dimming stars I see fireflies dancing afar.
Rain seeps into the earth as vines cling to
ghostly streetlights; in the shroud of silence,
my soul takes a heavenly flight. Life and death,
time and lack of memory are all lost on youth,
breath taken away, there will only be truth. I
thought this was a dream with spikes of purple
bloom, pain sharp I ascend from this place of
Uncovered and wrinkled is my sack, a gigantic hump on my
Back. Frost clutches to these old rags, my body is covered
With burlap bags.
My flesh like ashes my face tinged with blue, my chest
Rattles, my lungs sucking in the morning dew. I have
Traveled on the railroad back and forth, does not matter
Where, south or north.
I sometimes walk city streets when they are dark and dead,
The side of a railroad is where I make my bed. I eat my
Food from old tin cans, I will steal candy from little hands.
I scream for the warmth I see coming from the riverbank,
A bright fire, from this cold I do tire. I think that I am
Burning, I smell smoldering hair, my arms are thrashing in the
I see evil darkness, what is this madness, I feel spiritually ill,
Then, I gasp in horror when I realize that I am dead. Here on
This cold and damp riverbank someone has severed my head.
Before the Voices…
You left the world to early, free from a life that
left you filled with doubt. You lived the lives of
many, the voices, always hoping just to be
I now wait for that spark from heaven, I willed
you not to go, God did not agree. Was your life
fulfilled in such a short time, will I ever know.
You had beginnings, disappointments, new starts;
you worried about tomorrow, unable to feel happiness
in what you accomplished today.
I suffer your being gone, sadness wretches my days, the
glow died there was no hope. It seems like one long unhappy
Roaming within my mind, I walk the fields of your life. A
time of clouded joy, then time was blown away. Born in
innocence, fresh, life clear, before the voices took over,
bringing fear. I could not help you in your solitude while
you nursed your unconquerable fears.
As the moonlight pales, I yearn for lost years, before the
mental strife. Before the voices took over your life. It was
after sunset that you died, a void that cannot be filled, you
will never grow old. I miss your smiles, your red tresses
flowing down your back, your light will always shine; your
radiance will never fade.
Sleep my child in eternal rest…
I have enough memories from the past
to last me for the rest of my life. My
benevolent memory will not bury them
from which they were born.
A small country church, a chorus of
crows; the splashing sounds of the
brook running through the Birch trees.
The wind caressing the colossal row
of Oaks in the field.
Death road away from the weathered
house of worship, followed by black
feathered angels. No longer will the
water beneath the Birch cool, nor will
the wind surrounding the Oaks embrace
The rocker on the porch is stilled, no hand
waves goodbye. In a cobwebbed corner of
the room, tattered sun struck curtains dance
in the nearby mirror. Childhood is dead.
Thank you Elouise
for this comment which touched the heart of the story…”Southern culture. The look, the smell, the ungodly expectations and the heaviness of tightly guarded secrets. You’ve captured it so well.” ajm
The story below was the inspiration for the book of poetry called “A Sachet of Poetry – Adoration, Anger, Asylum and Aspiration”. The poems with thoughts of adoration come from the possibility of love. The anger poems come from thoughts of being placed in a position of abuse. Asylum poetry is derived from the position she was placed in by her mother and the man she was forced to marry when only an innocent girl. Apparition became the final voice for Rebecca, her desires, her wishes, her thoughts on her life and how her innocence was lost behind the walls of an asylum in the mid-1950. Her goal, her most needed aspiration was her death, her death meant freedom.
Rebecca’s story is one of a developing collection and this is an excerpt from her story…
Rebecca watched her father walked through the double door without looking back. Her mother and husband was telling the family doctor how she had been upset with her marriage and threated to kill herself. When she looked at her arm, the rubber tubing, the syringe was freighting then her mind froze in time. Her vision blurred and the fleur-de-lis wallpaper in her parent’s living room became waves of beige and gold swaying in an invisible breeze. The reason she was there dissolved into an ocean of oblivion.
Still dazed, she woke lying on an examining table in the Shelby County Medical Clinic, beside her was the doctor who had given her a shot and a nurse she knew. Standing in the corner of the room were her mother, husband and two sheriff deputies. She did not protest when the doctor gave her another shot of his magic that sent her to a place where she no longer cared. The wheelchair bumped over each crack in the sidewalk, each time giving her the feeling as if she was falling into a dark black hole. The doctor and nurse put her in the back of an ambulance as her mother began to tell Rebecca’s husband that his wife would never leave him. She steps into the ambulance, and in her own heartless way said in a low malicious voice…
“You see what happens when you try to disgrace me, putting you away for being insane will be more acceptable than have you leave your husband. You’re a southerner, southerners don’t leave their husbands”
Quivering beneath the threadbare blanket she fought violently against the straps confining her to a bed as her mind battled with drugged hallucinations. When she slept they became chaotic dreams. Mostly, she lay quietly watching other unwanted souls shuffle back and forth in a dimly lit hallway or being carted off to where the black box was kept. She knew that she had been admitted to Challis Manor located at the edge of the Appalachian foothills it provided medical treatments for the mentally ill. A place where wealthy Tennesseans paid to have members of their families placed to avoid embarrassment; Rebecca was not there because she had a mental or physical problem, she was there because she tried to leave her husband.
There is a legend upon Mossy Ridge children hear while listening to the old folks weaves their tales around their supper table at night
Two gentle spirits walking the rutty mountain roads under the mystical Tennessee moonlight. These stories begin many years ago about an old Cherokee and a little girl he called his Wild Mountain Rose –
First saw her drinking from a cool mountain stream all legs and dirty yellow hair, abandoned by her family, so the story goes, but no one is sure of that, if the truth were told. The first time the old Cherokee saw her she was sleeping under a bush folks call the Wild Mountain Rose –
She was with him no matter where he would go. Folks would say that without old Willie Youngblood she would not have survived –
Knew that without her, he himself would have died. The years went by quickly and they both grew old, time had touched their hair with gray –
They could only dream about their younger days. One cool spring morning, Willie woke to find her gone from his side; he sat for hours head hung low as he cried –
He found her lying peacefully; she had died under a familiar bush on a soft bed of leaves, a mournful death chant was the only way the old Cherokee knew how to grieve.
Now if you know where to look, it is in the Tennessee Mountains where Willie Youngblood’s Wild Mountain Rose can be found –
The damp rotting forest floor in a shallow grave, up on Mossy Ridge near the entrance of Chicopee Cave. The following winter Old Willie died, and they buried him next to his Wild Mountain Rose –
Say in the moonlight two ghostly spirits can be seen sitting on the banks of Chestnut Creek, or floating along the rutty mountain roads.
When the sun comes up, they disappear…
Or so the legend goes, but everyone on Mossy Ridge knows that it is Old Willie and that golden haired pup he found many years ago that he called his…
Wild Mountain Rose.
In the dusty corners of yesterday are buried fragments
of humanity, ancient history, forgotten mothers, fathers,
children, good, evil, and beyond death a veiled ambiguous
world that is still a mystery.
A people that after millions of years of evolution, cannot
see the reality of it all; the human race learns nothing they
endlessly continue their destructive fall.
Blood drenched roads from barbarity to civilization measured
by the futility of the enlightened, and those sacrificed are
forgotten.As humans, we judge others by our own beliefs, we
recoil, we threaten, we kill, and the blood of virtue we continue
Millions of years from now when barren land reaches as far as
the eyes can see; will the dusty corners of yesterday show
fragments of how we destroyed humanity, will the veiled curtain
of death no longer be a mystery.
Ann Johnson-Murphree books at: