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 –
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.
Note: Someone I admire very much is having some health problems, I had written this short poem before I knew of this and now it seems that thoughts must have transferred through a time slot and inspired me to write these words. ajm
The Passing of Time
My body aches, after years of “beating it up” this is what it has come too. Giving in to the grace of gravity. I do not live these days in awe or fear. Yet, a baby’s breath can take mine away and these troublesome times we live in can instill fear in me for the future of this wonderful world. My spine tingles in the presence of a gentle man both young and old. I know that the passing of time is like a cool wind on a hot summer’s day, I no longer count the hours or days. Love still leaves my heart leaping.
As humans we are like the Black Birds
collected in a globe of pecking gloom,
an awakening before the coming of death;
wise souls searching for a revelation for
We are a race that battles, a race of
warring souls unsatisfied until the end,
living in unrest under the breath of Heaven,
always gathering our possessions close to
us before our journey ends.
Banded in a world all the while as the Eye
of God knows who will be saved and who will
be destroyed, collectively, selectively
Reaching out into the night, silently watching
the armies, watching man’s destiny, destruction,
listen people and you can hear… the breath going
out of the world!
Who will deny me the love of an old rocking chair,
snuggled up in it with someone who always cared? I cherished
it from the very start and the stories I heard as a child while
sitting there still lives within my heart.
Washed with tears, grained with heartaches, soaked with wisdom,
an honor to be there with my great-grandmother in that old
rocking chair. In childhood I lay quietly listening at the
gentle words that wise old lady taught me to live by, you may
not be the best she would say…but you must always try.
She taught me truth and the Chickasaw creed, I learned early in
life that she and God would be all that I would need. She was
my teacher, her life was hard work and prayer, when I became too
big for her lap and I would kneel beside that old rocking chair.
I was there when her eyes begin to fail, when her hair turned
grey, she had memorized the Bible, and the crochet marker became
frayed. She taught me so much as I writhed in my shattered world,
she dried my tears then gave me a toothless smile always reminding
me that I was God’s child.
I was there when she took her last trembling breath, I watched and
I knew that she was ascending to the grandmothers and grandfathers
in the sky, and I thanked God knowing I was blessed. It was almost
more than I could bear, as I watched my great-grandmother die in that
old rocking chair.
Commitment, punctured, perforated;
a promise broken can leave open
wounds and fear, a cry for loyalty fell
on silent ears. Spirit bent, joy has
disappeared, heart numb, souls cannot
blossom with hatred on the tongue.
Break the chains that bind let the mind
flee, celebrate life at last you are free.
Born to be a wanderer since his birth,
born after untamed adventurous times,
his soul still fills with wonder and joy, he
continues to dream as he embarks down
another one of life’s unknown streams.
His thoughts never change whether he
sleeps or wakes the imagery warmth of
the sand on his naked feet or a salty breeze
upon his golden skin, still he dreams. A
snowy mountain pass where eagles fly,
enjoying life only as he can, wandering
the banks of the rivers, sandy shores, he
embraces time this adventurous man.
He cries for the earth before it faced the
greed of man, his vision of the world, of God
and his soul, most who know him will never
understand. Drinking from the stream of quiet,
his voice when heard is a mighty roar, spreading
calm and logic from shore to shore.
As the dark waste around him widens spreading
through rivers, valleys and streams, he holds
his vision of a surviving earth close to his heart.
This adventurous man believes in change, in
surviving, in hope, living in today and not the
past; living each moment as if it was his last.
His walk, his sitting,
the desire of him and
admiration, his humor
if talking, he is love.
Like the Phoenix, I have lived long,
reinvented and rejuvenated from life
experiences, reborn in spirit, I ask; where
do I belong. I stand alone, lived things
that too many are unknown. Happiness
never found, worthless are my desires,
quiet kindling of the fires, burned by the
flame, born, dying, they are the same. I
want to believe that the angels will be
there and in their arms I will ascend, I want
to believe that time will live beyond the end.
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