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 –
Reflection on conception, an unwanted
soul cast away because of greed. An
image of the future, lost in time, starvation,
did not kill the seed.
It lived, did not go away, destiny or fate,
Life without love surrounded by hate.
Yoke around the neck at birth, emotional
Scars during its journey on earth.
Tomorrows’ path long and steep, search
The past, a need to prove why hurt and
Anger ran deep. Truth in abandonment
Can be found, sanity and sorrow closely
And then they say “goodbye”.
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Spring, bright and fresh, birds sing as a cool
morning breeze floats through magnolia trees,
thoughts of long ago day’s surface into the now.
A gracious woman of the South rises from past
memories into the present, ice eyes, cheeks a
natural rose-colored, speaking with the sound
of dripping honey.
She leans toward a honeysuckle vine dreaming of
what was and what will never be, her chained heart
tugs at the sealed door.
A mocking bird sits and sings deep within the lilac
bush, as she dips her fingers slowly in a pebbly brook,
her reality; life passed her by, and the depths of her
sorrow never known.
Nevertheless, in her place of selfishness she never
denied her hate for the child she brought into her
unwanted world, does she deserve the name “mother”.
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On a warm summer day, an old soul returned to a place where parts of it 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.
Living and Breathing a Patchwork Life…
I have never believed that I should be immune to grief; I have accepted that my living a life in a constant state of unhappiness conditioned me to believe that it was normal; I had not labeled it grief. Before my children my world was to exist, afterwards I had happy moments; life for me consisted of keeping my children happy and safe, if possible. Then later with children, grandchildren and work suddenly came retirement, being alone, and I had to stop and think about how I got to this place, this questioning place. There is a time to search and a time to give up (Ecclesiastes), so the search continues in my life.
The dynamics of my life no longer made sense, I could not identify with what this stage of my life should be; alone, old, a storehouse of memories that could only be defined as constant grief. With this life style being “normal”, the means of processing it could not be accomplished in any normal way that I knew, any way that I could find in books, talking to others; I had to begin a journey that I did not have a “lifetime” to prepare, the need to seek the answers and understanding is now urgent.
We must live within our own schedule, we all experience grief, it is impossible for us to define it in the same way. Whether a lifetime or moments, days what causes grief is many times the same; the death of grandparents, parents, children, friends, death comes in different forms, but it all results in three words; it is final. When we lose our place in a family or have the lack of one, divorce, misplace a friendship, it all results in dealing with a grieving process.
It seems that happiness and grief go hand in hand; my mother never wanted me, she never gave hugs, kissed or told me she loved me; this has caused me a lifetime of grief. Yet I have had to be happy that she allowed me to come see her once a year! When she died, I did not suffer the grief of her dying as she had lived a long life and on her terms; I grieved because I had never heard her say “I love you”. Standing over a mound of red southern dirt brought this home to me, she had thrown away her chance to tell me and I had no more time to continue to try to get her to say it. One might say you need to let go, you must forget…unless you have never heard your mother or father tell you that they love you, you may not understand. Nevertheless, that child in me cannot heal, so I allow her to grieve, and I have given her permission to heal in her own time, if possible. After all, somewhere within she is still that child who wanted desperately to please, to hear that she mattered; and the grown up must now search for the answer too, “Who am I now”.
My heart continues to be like a patchwork quilt, keeping the memories alive it keeps breaking apart and I keep trying to mend it piece by piece, I hope my experience; my words will help others in some small way with their own losses throughout their lives. There are others, I know that I am not alone!
Until after the upcoming holiday “Thanksgiving”, this will be my last entry. A sabbatical of sorts to rest and regroup for a couple of weeks, thank you for your support, I do look forward to continuing following all of you each day until I return with new material for my blog; Happy Thanksgiving wishes to you, as you enjoy the day with family and friends.