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On a warm summer day, an old soul returned to a place where parts of it had remain for years.  Waiting while misplaced pieces of it floated through life on waves of tears.  Many gathered on this day all had the same ancestral blood flowing through their veins.  Some came out of respect; the unbroken circle… was there for gain.

These mortals had tried to keep the old soul away from this final commemoration. They did not care about its many years of painful isolation.  Death had not fractured the unbroken circle had gone unchanged for years. The return of this old soul brought to the cloistered multitude panic and fear.

Disregarded, invisible with no right to be heard, the Old soul was damned in their every fearful word.  Watched closely, made to feel like a thief, an intruder daring to be a part of their hypocritical grief. The old soul tried to enter this circle of mourning, doors slammed in its face.  A reminder of why it was not wanted in this protected place.

Unwanted at birth, cast out on a journey at an incredible cost, to penetrate the unbroken circle was a battle that would forever be lost.  The old soul believed there was a time to grieve, a time to pray.  A time to remember when an innocent soul simply forgotten and tossed away.

On soft breezes, those that gathered could be heard with a pretense of moans.  Their voices echoed memorials where truth was silenced the real story hidden, inside of the unbroken circle truth forbidden. The old soul stared down at a mound of dirt waiting for love that the grave could not offer, while the unbroken circle gathered and divided their coffers.  A loving soul had returned to where a part of it remained years, it gathered up the pieces of its heart and wiped away its tears. The shattered old soul had returned on that warm summer day, to grieve the loss of never hearing “I love you” or feeling a parent’s gentle touch.  It needed to tell the unbroken circle when children are unloved their lives are crushed.

copyright.2010.honeysucklememories.annjohnsonmurphree

HONEYSUCKLE MEMORIES

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Happy Birthday Daddy…

I am going to reblog a poem that I wrote for my daddy, but first a bit of his life story, I hope you enjoy it, his adventures in life were many, as were the heartaches and pain.

It is my father’s birthday, although I wish he were here with me, he would have been “110 years-old” He had just turned eight years old when his mother died, he went to live with his Native American grandmother, as his mother and father were divorced after his father left them sitting in an empty weathered house after he removed everything.

Unfortunately at the age of ten, his father came after him, he lived with his father, slept in the barn, ate on the back porch; treated as a farm laborer.  Not allowed to visit his beloved grandmother, he dreamed of running away.  When he was twelve, his father put him to work in a Tin Mill, so small in stature he stood on a stool to reach the cutting machine, however he was strong and without help lifted the rippled tin that was stacked next to the machine.  He would walk to the Mill early each morning and back at night accept on the end of the workweek; his father would be standing at the “pay window”.  Each Friday handed what few pennies that he earned over to his father.

When he would tell the story he eyes would sparkle at the mention of a man he call “Big Ed”.  Big Ed brought him his quota of tin each morning; and it was on such a morning that he asks my father if he wanted to get away from his father whom was known as a lazy drunk by everyone in the county.  The answer, yes, Big Ed help plan his escape!  The day finally arrived, my father placed his “other” set of clothes in a feed sack and went to work.  At the end of the day, he stood in line to collect his “pay”, Big Ed stood behind him.  My father held out a nervous hand to receive his money, when his father reached for it Big Ed grabbed him by the wrist saying, “Not today, this boy is going away and he needs his money”.

My father told of the railroad hiring water boys, jumped the nearby freight train heading south, he would forever be grateful to his friend, Big Ed.  Hired as a water boy, given a place to sleep in a tent, two hot meals a day and a few cents pay each week.  This life would continue for the next six years.  When he turned eighteen he begin riding the rail, yes, hobo style; finally returned to his grandmother’s when he was twenty.  It was during his visit to Birmingham that he met in a local Roadhouse a man by the name of “Pretty Boy Floyd” who connected him with an organization running whiskey throughout the south and as far north as Chicago.  It was in the Tennessee Mountains that he was chased by local authorities, his car shot-up and nearly lost his own life.

Hearing of this his grandmother sent him to stay with her cousin who owned a farm in the northern part of the state.  It was there that he met and married my mother, had two children and would remain on this farm for years.  This is where I grew up, with the most wonderful father in the world, a kind and gentle man that everyone called the Chickasaw Farmer.  Below is the poem I wrote about his farming days and the people who loved him.

“Happy Birthday Daddy”

 

The Chickasaw Farmer…

“A tribute to my Daddy”

Rickety ole man stood on the cotton
Wagon a tin of yellow salve in his
Hand.

Rickety ole wagon
Rickety ole man
A hot southern sun hides behind

the Willows on muddy Flint Creek,

cotton Pickers sweat falling on

parched lips Taste like salty brine

while they wait For the ole man to

call “quitting time”.

Rickety ole wagon
Rickety ole man

Young, old, children, women and men
Bloody fingers cut by the barbs of the
Cotton boll dig into the old yellow salve

Tin.

Rickety ole wagon
Rickety ole man

Tar bottom sacks filled with soft white
Gold weary feet follow two old sway
Back mules down a rutted road.

Rickety ole wagon
Rickety ole man

Crimson clouds from wagon wheels
Whirl around tired bodies and drained
Minds; feels like pickers been

Working in the cotton fields since the

Beginning of time.

Rickety ole wagon
Rickety ole man

Mules stop at the fork of the road as the
Cotton pickers walked into the dark of the
Night the Ole man’s heart filled with

Appreciation; cause he’s just an old

Chickasaw farmer trying to
Survive inside a “White Nation”.

 

Rickety ole wagon

Rickety ole man

Sea Giants…

 

In the solitude of the

night crouches Ice

Mountains floating like

pyres that wait for the

ceremonial fires.

Arctic waters move in

time with the rhythm of

the seas mystical lyre,

crossing vast distance the

Ice Mountains never tire.

Sharing the sea floats a

Steel Mountain opulent and

free, a jewel of human design

to ravish the mind.

Radiance and glittering from

port into the black waters under

the gaze of the moon, the vain

and glorious Steel Mountain

could never have foreseen its

sandy doom.

The two mountains were not

prepared to consummate an

unwanted union on that cold

and misty night, in the belly of

the Steel Mountain confidence

soon replaced with fright.

Wealth turned into an evil mate,

its unequal locked in a coffin filled

with water all too soon learned

their fate.

In silence both steel and ice unaware

of the looming catastrophe shared

the same path, the Ice Mountain moved

forward unscathed, while the Steel

Mountain quickly floated downward to

its cold salty grave.

(The Titanic)

 

©2013.annjohnsonmurphree

 

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The Moment…

 

Broken winds from the

slow hand of God lifts

waves ever moving

surging towards some

crystalline shore.

 

The evolution of change,

moving forward toward

the end, the scaling of old

skin, leaving only a shadow

of the imperfection of life.

 

New, newer, seasons never

turning back, blooming into

tomorrow, searching in a

colored cloud of being.

 

Enlightening the darkness,

alone, unafraid; stained by

time; it is time to be free, in

truth it is time to take root in

“the now”.   

 

©2013.annjohnsonmurphree

 

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Benevolent Memories…

 

I have enough memories

from the past to last me

for the rest of my life.  My

bountiful 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, a 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 winds surrounding the Oaks

embrace flesh.

 

The rocker on the porch is stilled,

no hand waves goodbye.  In a

cobwebbed corner of the room,

the sun shines through a cloudy

window, as the image of tattered

curtains dance in a nearby mirror.

Childhood is dead.

 

 

****

 

2013.annjohnsonmurphree

 

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A Redbird Day…

It is a Red Bird kind of day as I carefully

walk the bramble-hedged path through

the forest that edged our home.  I could

hear leaves crunching, not from my boots…

but a lighter slower movement.

 

I can hear the crusted creek running beside

the path flowing gently through vein like

openings in the ice.  I can smell the wood

smoke from our fireplace.

 

I know that on the warming shelves of the

old wood stove are hot  biscuits and ham

waiting for me to get home from scurrying

the forest for nuts and berries, a treat while

we sit around the fireplace listening to

grandpa’s latest tale of the war he fought in

during his youth.

 

Mother’s watching from the window for signs

of my bright colored hat she knitted me last

Christmas, she opened the door and waved;

I was late and she was worried.  I showed her

my overflowing baskets, she smiled…I wanted

keep her happy so, I did not tell her about the

Wolf.

 

 

 

2013.annjohnsonmurphree

 

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Grandpa’s Jug…

 

On a cold southern night, reading under the

covers by a “coal oil” lamp, grandpa’s piano

and laughter ringing in my ears, serenading

grandma, both had a bit too much “cheer”.  I

laughed so hard I pulled up the tail of my flour

sack gown to dry my tears; grandma could

not hear me I had nothing to fear.

 

Suddenly there was the smell of smoke; grandma

came in giving my covered shoulders a poke.

“It does not matter to me” she exclaimed, “You

may want to get out of bed before you go up in

flames”.

 

Through the hole in my quilt I could see…

smoke rising through it like a wilderness tepee.

Grandpa tossed a bucket of water at me from

the door; it missed the bed and hit the floor.

He jerked the quilt off the bed, folded it ever

so gently and pristine, then threw it out my

window which had no screen.

 

My aunt walked in laughing so hard she peed,

then said to the others, “Don’t yell at her, be

happy that she likes to read”.  Everyone begin to

laugh, drabbing at tears, grandma said, “Well, it’s

not as if she’s committed a crime”.  It was then…

I ran out of the room thankful for their “cheer”,

with the help of a little old jug of “moonshine”.

 

 

 

©2013.annjohnsonmurphree

 

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Mothers’ Freedom…

It is good that I cannot remember the day of

my birth, although since I have questioned why

I am on this earth; my mother did not want me

she wanted to be free.  I understand the poverty

in which I arrived, I did not understand years later

when she told me she would have been happy if

I had died.

 

She told of not having even an aspirin for the pain,

and that she feared the future and afraid her life

would never be the same.  Mother spoke of the old

iron bed with cornhusk mattress that stood on a

bare wooden floor.  Of how they kept out the cold

with raw cotton from the nearby field stuffed into

the cracks of a homemade door.

 

Delivered by a neighboring mid-wife, weighing only

two pounds my mother told her to take me away saying, I

hope that she will be gone by the end of the day.  I

have heard, that my father took me into his well-worn

hands, whispered to me, “Live, I know that you can”.

He placed me in a shoebox put me on the front seat

of his old pickup truck and carried me away.  He would

not see me until my birthday, exactly two-years from

that day.

 

Left with a woman, that I until this day I think of her as

mother: I knew no other.  She packed my clothes in a

clean cloth sack, she cried, but knew when I started

walking that my father would want me back.  He looked

at my birth mother saying that I would never again go

away, she responded without feeling saying, it would

be him that took care of me if I stayed.

 

The years, they quickly flew by and she was never at

home, then the day came that she was finally gone.

When my father died, I recognized her but did not see

her cry.  Me, I soon had children of my own and knew

what kind of mother I wanted to be, and unlike my own

mother, I always felt free.

 

I had not seen her for many years when I heard that she

had died, too late to feel a mothers touch, too late to

hear her say, “I love you so much.”  I cried, but not for me,

I cried because at last my mother was set free.

 

Finally mother’s love…

 

In the stillness of the midnight hour veiled in angelic

glory my mother stood next to me.  She touched my

face where there are always tears.  She placed her arms

around me to take away my fears.

 

What are these thoughts you have my child, she said to

me with a mothers’ smile.  Embrace my love let it take

away, your sorrows we are here for only a short while.

Be joyous of each tomorrow.  Forgive me, seek life not

death; things are never as bad as they seem, cherish

your life…follow your dreams.

 

 

 

©2013.annjohnsonmurphree

 

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Soap Sticks…

 

soap sticks

 

Her dark russet hair, wiry, tickled the legs and

her boney back made sore the tiny bottoms of

sparsely clothed Butts.  She was a tough old girl

slow; bit proud of herself when I climbed on her

back, I swear that old mule would strut.

Silver hair replaced the brown around her eyes and

mouth, in her prime she pulled plows and wagons,

old Soap Sticks, a genuine mule from the south.

 

She woke at four O’clock every morning with a braying

that echoed off the nearby bluffs, like the barnyard

rooster, it was her way of telling everyone they had slept

enough.

 

Her world in those days were filled with sunshine and all

the oats that she wanted to eat, her long ears had finally

gone deaf, her sight weak.  Soap Sticks, wise, her senses

distinct, she roam familiar fields by instinct.

 

She inhabited the lazy brook in the field, nibbled on

whatever the land would yield.   Her love for children never

slowed down, when I was close to her, she would instantly

kneel to the ground.

 

Climbing on her back, holding to her rough old cropped mane,

she took me through fields of sweet sugar cane.  She would

go down into the brook letting the water tickle my feet; old

Soap Sticks on any given day would delight me with these

special treats.

 

Unafraid, I knew that she would never bring me harm, when she

tired of the ride she would slowly take me back to the barn.  It

was fall when daddy came into the kitchen to say, that old Soap

Sticks had gone away.  “Where”, I screamed, “She suffered all

night,” He said, “But early this morning she just closed her eyes and

died, she could no longer stay.

 

Daddy buried her in the pasture by that lazy little brook with water

clear and sweet, the same one where she loved to wade and tickle

my feet.  I said a prayer over the big tall mound; she would lie there

forever only a few feet under the ground.

 

I knew that Soap Sticks would no longer be old and alone, she would

roam green pastures and drink from bubbling brooks, at last, she

was truly home.  She could now hear birds sing high up in the trees,

and once again, she would be able to see; no matter how long it

takes me get to Heaven; I know Soap Sticks will know that it is me.

 

©2013.annjohnsonmurphree

 

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HONEYSUCKLE MEMORIES

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