Country Paradise

Source: Country Paradise

Country Paradise

Source: Country Paradise

10:10:2015:  Lonely October Tomato


The First Day of August dawns Cool; Cloudy


As if a Shroud has been Pulled Across the Land

On the First Day or August, 2015 - 15

August/Aoút/Agosto/’Aukake …

Has come to town this year

Wearing Unusual Apparel.


But near mid-morning

Ol’ Sol forces his way

Through the Overcast.

On the First Day or August, 2015 - 20

And August takes on

A more Familiar Persona

As Happy Sunbeams

Leap over the Patio Woodpile

And Dance across the Dining Room Tile

On the First Day or August, 2015 - 19

No Air moves; Wind Chimes

Remain Silent, Still

Standing at Rigid Attention

On the First Day or August, 2015 - 07

The Patio Bell tolls not for Thee

On the First Day or August, 2015 - 06

It Tolls not at all

In the Stillness of August …

The Garden Gnome peers Wistfully


Through the Overgrown Wildflowers

Perhaps dreaming of Springtime

Or wishing he could travel

to a Cooler Clime.


Sentinel over it all

The Giant Walnut.

The Largest Tree in the yard

Towering above the Travails of Mere Humans,

Stands Mute and Aloof.

On the First Day or August, 2015 - 09

Who was but a Mere Sapling

Over a batter board

When Ground was broken

and This House built

A mere 40 Years Ago.


So much has happened

In the interim …

Portrait of an Idyllic June Day in the Country (A Word Painting):

He walked along a narrow path in the woods near the edge of the ten feet tall dirt bank. Below and to his right, in the grassy creek bottom, the happy stream chuckled and tinkled its way to the beaver pond, a half-mile downstream.

The trees of early summer were fully leafed; the noontide sun reached the forest floor as dappled spots of light disrupting the shadows of the wooded glen.

In spite of the intermittent shadows and being only early June, it was hot — unseasonably so! Though he could see the rustle of the cottonwood leaves 60 feet above his head, trees and thick brush in the creek bottom prevented any air movement through the undergrowth.

The narrow path he trod was made by shorter creatures — rabbits, skunks, possums; coons — and failed to restrict the grasping claws of waist-high blackberry and gooseberry bushes. The clutching tendrils tore at the jeans about his hips and at his shirtsleeves. Thorns broke away with seemingly malicious intent to lodge in his clothing, then worked into the flesh of his arms and thighs.

Clouds of mosquitos, gnats and biting flies swarmed about his head, adding to his misery.

He paused, swiped an arm futilely across his glistening forehead and succeeded in transferring the burning, briny liquid into his eyes. He cast a sidelong, malevolent glare through the trees at the gloating sun.

The sun stared back dispassionately, indifferent to his sufferings.

At the mouth of the east branch, just north of the beaver swamp — no body of water so clogged with moss and vegetation, and nurturing so many vile insects deserved to be called a pond …

The Swamp

he turned left, descended into the creek bottom and jumped the yard-wide brooklet, sinking as he knew he would ankle-deep into the muck on the far side. Grabbing at roots and weeds clinging tenaciously to the dirt bank, he clawed and pulled his up the bank, his scrambling effort sending a tiny avalanche of dirt to the bottom.

Wiping his hands across the thighs of his jeans served not to remove the dirt but, rather, turned it to mud. His mood grew increasingly dark and ugly.

He walked through the woods to the edge of the bean field, turned south to the fence row and started up the hill to the east.

He had walked a hundred feet or so when he felt the cooling southwest breeze caress his back. From there, the day took on a more pleasant aspect. By the time he reached the lone hackberry at the southwest corner — the highest point on the 70 — he was cool, dry and growing more appreciative of this fine June day.

He lay back, using the bend in a fallen branch — the victim of an earlier lightning strike, standing alone and vulnerable as it was on this high crest — as a pillow.

He watched two hawks circling above below fluffy white clouds; silhouetted against the brilliant blue sky.

The liquid notes of a meadowlark perched on a nearby fence post blended with the busy buzzing of honey bees, hard at work in a patch of white clover near his resting place. His eyes grew heavy; he slipped into contented sleep.

As he opened his eyes, sunlight warmed his face. He sat up, stretched luxuriously and glanced west toward the timber. Ol’ Sol was just beginning to descend below the treetops.


Even as he watched, a cautious head emerged from the woods.

One, two, four, finally a dozen deer stepped carefully from the glen, moving into the beans for an early-evening repast.

He watched until his eyes again grew heavy, then reclined once more and drifted into a dreamless sleep.


He sat up straight, senses alert as he stared into the night.  A full moon was descending toward the treetops to the west.


It was the delicious, spine-tingling cry that had awakened him.  It had come from Herdicks pasture, just south of the fence line; not more than 50 yards from where he sat. The answering wail to the southeast told him that the pack was on the hunt.

Crickets chirped where bees had buzzed. He had no idea of the time; only knew that he had been asleep for hours.

The breeze that had offered refreshing coolness in the afternoon sun had turned chilly. He was ready to head for home and a cozy bed.

When his eyes had adjusted to the darkness well enough to allow him, he moved along the east fence line, descending into the valley at the head of the east branch, up to the summit north of the creek. Now the cheery glow of the yard light glowed low in the northwest corner, a welcoming beacon in the night. He reached the north fence line, then headed west, down into the valley, up, then down again and home at last.


When he reached the porch, he sat for a moment, reflecting on this day. Quickly, he was joined by two cats, who knew not of his pleasant day but only that they had yet to be fed this day and were hungry.

He stood and moved to the door. He paused, hand holding the screen ajar as, so far to the south as to be barely discernable across the hills and valleys that separated them, the cry of the pack again reached his ears.

He smiled, drew a deep breath, breathed a contented sigh …

And thanked God for allowing this brief glimpse into Paradise.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015:  As the Trees burn at Sundown!

3:11:2015  A Balmy Late-Winter Kansas Sunset

Friday, March 13, 2015:  Nothin’ Unlucky about This Friday, the 13th …

3:13:2015  Brilliant Kansas Sky




 A collection of poems by

Jim Banister

NOTE:  The following were copied and pasted from a word processing application and I have neither proofread nor checked how compatible the formatting is.  My entire proofreading effort has been that I went through and bolded the title of each poem because otherwise, you might think it’s one long, rambling work.

Not that there isn’t still some rambling going on …

But if there is anything below seems to be non-sensical, blame it on the inaccurate transfer of formatting rather than on my lack of creative juice …  😉


The long shadows of early morning slowly retreat

as the autumn sum stretches luxuriously

and yawns its way above the horizon.

Long columns of steam rise from the duck pond

and cattails warm themselves against

the retreating chill of an October night.

On a low hung branch of the gnarled pine

a chickadee chip-chip-chips its approval

as the crisp, bright day,

arrayed in sun-dressed splendor,

struts proudly down the forest promenade

to the enthusiastic applause of the residents.

On the eastern slope of a meadowed hill

ablaze with the fire of autumn leaves,

I warm with benevolent sun,

and with the joy of living

on a wondrous morning such as this.

Quietly, I watch the attentive passage of a doe

who shows a mother’s concern as she

and her boisterous, precocious fawn

pass through the flowered field

and disappear into the pines.

As I look up at a sky of breathless blue

edged in lacy white,

painted by the bold brush of the rising sun,

my presence there becomes a wordless prayer

as the majesty of the moment washes over my being

and cleanses me of the debris I have gathered

in the process of functioning in civilization.


Gusty breezes whip the trees about

on this warm, early June morning.

Swirls of dust rise from the newly plowed field

north of the hedge row.

High above the earth, precariously riding

on a pine-tree roller coaster,

a blue jay clings for dear life

to the highest branch which,

powered by the surging wind,

scribbles a dizzying,

invisible message

on the chalkboard sky.

In the pasture by the creek,

the brindle cow watches with a mother’s concern

as her week-old calf tentatively examines

with head-lowered curiosity

the antics of a detached red squirrel who,

answering the call of a thousand generations

that preceded him in this place,

is busily engaged in the task of burying walnuts

under the carpet of leaves

in soon-to-be-forgotten holes in the forest floor.

From afar, drifting on the cool wind of the dark wood,

comes the plaintive call of a lonely turtle dove.

“coo, cuckoo, cuckoo.”

From the other side of the forest

comes a hopeful answer

and the calls grow closer together

until they become a harmonious duet at forest’s edge.

Soon there will be a new generation of mournful doves

struggling from the secure warmth

of their egg-shell homes.

To plead on their own behalf

for a loving mate to share with them

the miracle of procreation.

An observer pauses thoughtfully

at the edge of this comforting scene,

reflecting on his good fortune in being allowed

to feel the joy of participation in

this turning of the universe by the hand of God.


It is a dark and dismal morning,

with capricious breezes tousling worried little willow branches.

Overhead, furtive demon-clouds dart about

on unknown errands of mischief.

I walk beneath this somber, gray sky

along an overgrown path that connects,

like a weedy serpent,

the dilapidated, old house

to the bone-weary barn that leans precariously

away from the relentless pressure

of the winds that have challenged it

for over a hundred years.

Flecks of cold, summer rain peck insistently at my face;

sodden horseweeds slap impertinently,

seeking to disturb my melancholy reverie.

But I feel no rain as behind my eyes I walk

down this wide path of twenty years ago.

that leads from the clean, white house

to the proudly erect and freshly painted barn.

Barn swallows dart in and out of the barn door

in their never-ending effort to appease the appetite

of chirping youngsters snug in half-bowl mud houses

that cling firmly to the ceiling joists,

roofed by the dusty hay mow floor.

Fat cattle graze, contentedly apathetic,

in a lush, green pasture

carefully guarded by an arrogant red rooster

who stretches his ruffled neck in assertive pronouncement,

telling the world that this is his corner post.

A chugging tractor flees the rising cloud of dust

in the cornfield behind the yard;–

the yard where plaid shirts and white sheets,

securely tied to their clothes-line leash,

wave excitedly to the row of hollyhocks

that separates the back yard

from the well-tended garden.

The tall, strong man sitting astride the tractor

is only beginning to bend toward

the inexorable onslaught of the years.


The wooded hills are taking on the subdued glow

of a quiet summer’s twilight.

Gently, the breeze caresses the leaves

as eager cottonwoods tremble with delight

at the touch.

High above the meadow soars a hawk,

performing his aerobatics;

dipping, whirling, then hanging suspended

on invisible currents of warm air.

At forest’s edge, a deer peeks tentatively

from the security of its wooded home,

tempted by the succulence of the alfalfa,

yet fearful of the demons of the open fields.

suddenly, she starts and disappears like a shadow,

melting into the darkness of the glen,

Was she ever really there?

The red squirrel who caused her fright

continues on his errand along the forest floor,

oblivious to his power as a specter.

The call of the owl interrupts the reverie of the interloper.

Only now does he realize that darkness

has stealthily crept upon the scene.

The transition from day to night

has occurred imperceptibly.

The afternoon scene of which he felt so much a part has gone.

The plaintive cry of a coyote sends a delicious shiver

undulating along the length of his spine.

The night sounds tell him that he is an intruder here.

Slowly, he turns and reluctantly passes.

The crickets cheer his departure

as nature sighs with relief at his going.


Hot, sticky, fly-buzzing heat permeates all life.

Oppressive humidity envelopes the landscape.

Wilting flowers gasp for breath under a relentless sun.

The coolness of April is in the distant, primordial past,

and the crispness of October is an eternity away

in some inconceivable future.

Such is July in Kansas.

But my spirit strolls in a golden-hued autumn meadow.

I hear the call of wild geese

crossing high on October’s blue sky.

I know not of dog-day afternoons.

The swirling heat of summer cannot touch me.

I have journeyed this day to past’s future,

soon to be now.

today, once again I walked with you

in a quiet glade in my mind’s cool forest.

The joy is in knowing that,


the glade will be real.

And you will be there.

What madness is this that transports me

back through the years

to that not forgotten happy time

which wanders lost in middle-aged cynicism?


It rained today on a parched and thirsty land.

I sit bolt upright in bed in the early morning hours

as lightning crashes into the field behind the house.

The drops come sparsely at first, large and spattering,

stirring up tiny dust clouds as they land

in the eerie shadows of the yard light.

Soon a steady shower is falling;

puddles form where cracked earth had been.

I walk a

lone in the unfamiliar dampness,

savoring the feeling of the first rainfall since July

Over two months ago.

Belatedly, I offer a prayer of thanksgiving

for this relief from the prolonged drought.

The staccato drumbeat on the roof lessens perceptively.

I pause; listening in trepidation.

Hope disseminates like dandelions on the summer wind

. . . an apparition quickly gone.

Now it is silent.

I step outside and looked heavenward.

Furtive little demon clouds,

wispy, smoky remnants of the storm

that never was

scud over the horizon.

A newly reborn sunbeam

gently lays a thousand glittering diamonds in the maple.

A few drops release their grip on the leaves

and fall disconsolately to the ground,

there to be absorbed without a trace

into the still thirsty earth.

Within the hour, choking dust will swirl before the wind.

I continue to pray for relief from the prolonged drought.


The hot September winds billows and gusts,

kicking up stinging clouds of dust

that envelop us all

in a choking, itching, waterless fog.

We go about our business grimly,

with faces that show displeasure

at insistent summer,

which determinedly resists the efforts of autumn

to put an end to dog-day afternoons.

How we long for the crisp, cool nights

and bright, warm days of October,

when brother goose courses the azure sea overhead,

calling us all to impossible freedom.

Fleeting dreams of moments of joy

make tolerable long hours of misery.


Summer died last night and, sadly, no one grieved.

She had become such a tyrant with her oppressive heat

and choking drought.

Many folks were saying that she had already lived too long.

So when the wake began with rolling drumbeat on the sky,

when the mourning clouds somberly marched by,

all dressed in black and dripping cold crocodile tears,

there were shouts and laughter.

No one cried.

But midst the rejoicing, a disturbing thought occurred to me.

In a few weeks, quickly passing,

when Old Man Winter comes sweeping in

on the tail of a bitter north wind;

when the trees begin to shudder, and leaves quake and fall,

when humans begin to shiver,

and huddle in corners and sheltered doorways,

vainly seeking protection from the mind-numbing cold;

when summer is forgotten in her grave,

we will pause in somber reflection

and belatedly mourn the sudden death of summer,

remembering that she wasn’t such a bad, old gal.

Summer died last night,

and, sadly, no one grieved.


The last, insistent days of summer are finally winding down,

Begrudgingly, they simmer one last time on wavy, heat-filled sidewalks.

Reluctantly, they yield to cooler nights, retaining

with a determination born of mortality,

smothering days of heat and humidity.

They pretend to immortality while knowing full well

that their time is short;

that soon will come the cold, icy blasts of winter,

which will, with the same unwavering determination insist

that the snows will never end;

that never again will come the warmth of spring,

or the gentle breeze of June


In between, the quiet, unassuming time of October

will, in humility, give us warm, dry days,

and crisp, cool nights to soothe away

the burn of August afternoons.

Apples will fall fresh from the tree,

the corn will ripen golden in the field,

And the wild goose will thrill us with his melancholy call

that challenges us all to dare to be different,

if but for a moment.

Some will answer his plea,

but most will pass on unheeding and unappreciative.

And those lives will be emptier because they dared not answer

the disguised call of the gods.


September came last night as I was sleeping

and decided, quietly, to stay awhile.

But I was only getting used to July

and had barely become reconciled

to the inevitable advent of August.

September was totally unexpected.

It occurred to me as I struggled to come to grip

with the inexorable onslaught of time

that my life was moving on;

its winter just around the corner.

Yet, I am only just now beginning

to till the soil of my springtime.

Something akin to panic gripped me tightly

as I realized that my time

may well be nearly finished,

with nothing of which I dreamed

in my callow, idealistic, to-soon-gone youth

yet accomplished.

September seemed indifferent to my musings.


On a cold, damp, gray October day, I reflected on life and death.

Of what it is we are here for, and where it is we are going.

It was only in a little while that I knew

reflection is best done in the bright, sunny summer of life

when the spirit soars and the soul is joyful.

On a cold, damp, gray October day, I walked along a stilled woodland path,

where mist-drenched leaves shuddered

in a chilling, silent, shadow world.

All sound was muted and abrupt; all movement furtive and tentative.

Ghosts moved imperceptibly; ominously among the trees.

Evil glared malevolently from within

sodden bodies of forlorn chickadees

sitting in puffed apathy on dripping branches.

Sadness enveloped me like an embryonic sac,

suffocating my independence;–

making me an appendage of this scene,

with no life apart from the melancholy of the forest.

Overhead, the plaintive cry of loneliness personified,

the wild goose,

pierced the stillness with its pleading.

I, like the goose, am a prisoner

to the urgings of my primeval past.

No freedom have I to come and go;

I move with the wind, drifting aimlessly along

with the swaying trees.

“YOU ARE FREE”, cries the errant voice within me

and the darkness laughs, sardonically.

The wild goose flies, his freedom spent,

to the beckoning land of his ancestors.

And the sorrowing forest sadly shakes its head

at my friend the goose and me,

and our elusive freedom.


The branches of the pine outside my window

bend heavily toward the ground,

groaning under the weight of their white burden.

Swirls of fine, icy snow chase autos

down the road behind the house.

The north wind gusts maliciously,

throwing stinging ice pellets at all who are about.

Hiding in the pine, a puffed and swollen cardinal

hunches futilely against its fury,

hoping to live one more day.

Winter has returned with sudden cruelty,

and has again claimed the earth for its own.

Yesterday, there was color on the landscape.

Faded, green pastures spread in counterpoint

to golden-leaved oaks.

Wispy, white clouds gently drifted across a blue sky.

Today, the whiteness of the earth is muted

by the somber, gray sky.

Not even the leaves break the solemn monotony;

the fierce blasts that swept down

from the lonely reaches of the polar wilderness

have stripped the sturdiest oak of its autumn glory.

Overnight, the world has been robbed of its strength; its hope.

Only cold, bitter irony remains.

No one really believes that April will ever come again.

But she will.

The depression of the bitter storm will pass.

The fierce north wind will become a gentle southern breeze.

Once again, the earth will bask in the warmth of spring.

April will return as she always does,

and we will not remember

that January ever possessed the land.

That is the curse and the blessing of the human spirit.


The lingering warmth of summer is caught

in the meadow lark’s liquid call;

in the trees that continue to wear

their springtime garment of emerald green.

Still-vined tomatoes dress the garden fence

in green and red polka dots.

Honey bees buzz among the fragrant petunias

in search of succulence,

not knowing that the joys of August are past.

The world still seems to contain the promise of June.

But the cool, mist-laden breeze that quietly eases, unnoticed,

through an open window

is a harbinger of unwelcome news.

The sodden, gray clouds that drift by sullenly;


are precursors of coming days of shortness

and of nights of shiveringly cold winds

and aching bones.

And the maple glowing scarlet on the hill

reminds the world of a truth too often not remembered.

October is receding

as do the turbulent waters of a gentle brook

after a sudden April storm.

Warm days and pleasant nights will soon be memories

darting among the flickering, orange flames

reflected in the eyes that peer searchingly;



into the ebbing glow of life’s fire.

Those eyes have heard December’s call

Which, too soon, will greet us all.


Crackling, clear winter air

brightens a cold, white landscape.

Glittering ice-diamonds

lace the drifted snow,

making of the world a benign giant

smiling with a thousand sparkling eyes.

Imperiously strutting under the sycamore,

amid row of corn-stubble soldiers

standing at rigid attention,

King Crow surveys his domain.

Resplendent in his iridescent purple cloak,

he strolls in pompous counterpoint

to the whiteness of the snow.

The me that is deep within

is strangely warmed by this cold winter’s scene.

Who is this person that I am,

who feels so akin to the starkness

that is January in Kansas.

Mysterious, enigmatic, elusive;

this stranger, me, resists

as I turn back to the mundane affairs

of the workaday world.

Thank God for that other me.


The snow is rapidly disappearing from the bleak Kansas landscape.

The sun is smiling overhead.

Honey bees ride unseasonable southern breezes.

And from every bare winter’s branch, birds are trilling in joy.

Though it is only February,

and winter surely has not expended its wrath,

we have received a small taste of spring;–

the promise of May.

And we thrill at the prospect of walking through quiet woods,

caressed by gentle breezes that speak of warm, tropical tides

and lush, green meadows filled with the laughter of July.

Lord, thank You for a glimpse of Heaven on this joyous winter’s day.


On a cold, gray Sunday afternoon, as icy rain

driven by a mirthless north wind,

made even less palatable the bleakness that is February,

I sat alone at a window, gazing at the forlorn nakedness,

and contemplated the meaning of existence.

That is not a thing to be done

in the starkness of winter in Kansas.

Rather, such musings should take place

in the budding of spring, when the spirit sings

and the soul

soars in joyous spontaneity

amidst the blossoms of May.

So I traveled on this icy day

away from trembling oaks and sighing pines

to a place ablaze with happy color,

where feathered angels sang

a hopeful song of heavenly joy.

I stood in a sea of waving bluebonnets,

caressed by gentle breezes from southern shores.

Happy laughter’s chorus welled around me

and life was good to have.

The thought that began to pervade my fantasy

was that surely heaven’s glory must be

the idyll of a tranquil, eternal summer.

Then did I return to February’s winter;

a rusted, lonely table in a deserted yard,

crying raindrop tears, mourning the lost summer

which it fears will never return.

It occurred to me then that,

though every winter past has just as surely

been followed by spring,

each February finds me sadly wondering

if ever again the world will laugh and sing.



. . . The girl who was selling them

looked so friendly and sincere

and so cold there in the parking lot.

. . . i had the correct change.

. . . it was Tuesday.

. . . i had the time to stop.

. . . i felt like it.

. . . i wanted to write

(flowers are a great inspiration to would-be poets)

. . . i happened to be in the right place at the right time.

. . . i had thought of you earlier in the day.

But mostly because i like you


day, i bought for you this rose.

If you like, consider it

. . . an early valentine’s day gift.

. . . a gesture of affection from a friend.

. . . a token of my esteem for you.

It’s all of these things

And more!


Again, the tall, soft-eyed willowy blonde

has moved into my consciousness.

Inexorably, she has commanded

a place in my awareness.

Her smile

makes my day worthwhile.

I feel her warmth and seek reasons to touch her hand.

Why do I need a reason?

Why do I feel like a kid

who’s found his first love?

What the hell’s the matter with meÑ

a forty two year old grandfather.

God, she’s beautiful

I explore her face hopefully.

Our eyes meet, we speak silently

on a mystical, transcendental level.

Or is the feeling only mine?

Am I in desperation reading falsely?

In my need, do I see response where none exists?

I think it all began

when I held her hand.

I have no idea where it will end.


For no reason at all her memory intrudes

at the most disturbing times

and he feels the ache of love again

and wonders if there’s an end

to very impossible dreams.

And before his mind can resist it,

in spite of the guilt that he feels,

again they’re walking hand in hand

through fragrant, flowered fields.

savoring tender moments alone

stolen from another life.

And as the moon of his mind shines softly

on the lake they shared in love

his breast burns deep with the longing

and he wonders where she is now.

And he aches, and he pains, . . . and he wishes

but he knows that beggars can’t ride.

So slowly he walks from her presence

into the arms of his wife . . .

seeking her love and solace

to ease the hurt from his flaw.

Yet the pain of it all overwhelms him again

as he wonders what might have been.

And his wife lies beside him not knowing,

yet sensing the pain that he feels.

And eager to ease all his burdens,

she touches with fingers of love

and slowly, so tenderly brings him back

from the battle he loses so well.

And when they are no longer two,

when again she has made him feel whole,

when the touches

between them are gentle and soft,

when passion’s confirmed by deep love

he lies there in tranquil contentment

and savors the gift she has given.

But before he is caught by slumber,

before the bliss of oblivion comes,

that tear-misted face disturbs him again

and the ache like a curtain descends.

Then the moonlight steals quietly into the room

as his wife sleeps content by his side

and he wonders; he wonders

where she is now . . .

and he wishes that beggars could ride.


(or happy times disrupted)

On a balmy day in May

languid, lolling laziness has possessed me.

I cannot break its spell.

I’m relaxed, content at last at peace,

and the world can go to hell.

My eyelids droop contentedly and . . .

Whoops, here comes the boss.

Suddenly, I’m wide awake!

His gain has been my loss.

I wish I hadn’t started so.

It made me seem quite guilty

for doing only what comes naturally

when spring has made me wilty.


A thousand lilies growing

by a pond of emerald green,

a hundred golden sunsets

such as most have never seen.

The mystery of the forest deep,

the fragrance of flowered fields,

the sweetness of the nectar

that the clover blossom yields.

The wonder of a swallows’s flight,

the dawn of each new day,

the joy of happy children

in the innocence of play.

These things of life so common

yet in apprehension, rare

move my soul to the very depths

and ease my pain and care.

But also make me ponder why

I long for peace of mind

and in my passioned search for joy,

only heartaches often find.

Yes, contentment is as elusive

as the fabled butterfly,

fulfillment is so fleeting

as to make me softly cry.

And at times, in introspection,

with an insight rare indeed,

I catch a glimpse of truth and know

why I seldom fill my need.

I, like others on this earth,

pursue at maddened pace

a prize possessed by everyone

at the beginning of the race.


Cold and dreary rain is falling

on a hushed and somber wood.

Forlorn and saddened oak trees shiver.

Within their branches

puffed, indifferent robins wait

With songless resignation,

in apathetic expectation

for the coming of the winter and their doom

In the sodden meadow, pensive stands a deer

as the summer days of plenty disappear

while he is grazing.

And the cold, white time of bark and moss is nigh.

Restless in the pond swim flocks of geese,

who’ll soon be gone.

While frenetic on the forest floor,

a squirrel hides his acorns

in anonymous holes midst rotting leaves.

And the chances of an acorn being oak

are better than the squirrel’s of seeing spring.

But none will mourn his passing

as no one sang his birth song

nor the deer’s

nor the robin’s

nor the goose’s

Not even the mighty oak’s.

For only man, who sees behind him

and wonders of the fore

seeks in desperation, or of ego,

to record the markings of his passage.

But who will write the story

in some neo-primal time

when the oak tree crashes down

with a breaking of the glass, concrete and steel.

And who will mark the grave?

Is a cold and dreary rain still falling

on a hushed and somber wood?


At seventeen, life is happy;

the world so very new.

Spring’s sunrise glistens softly

on sparkling diamonds of dew.

Tomorrow’s gardens beckon

with the flowering of youth

seeking . . . and finding

joy and love and truth.

What cruel specter

intrudes upon this scene

to bring the harshest winter

while the grass is young and green.

An unwanted, fearsome stranger

from the very heart of doom

has crushed the growing bud

before the flower has bloomed

Syndi . . . you lighted many lives

what a difference for those you knew.

and now the awful knowledge is

we’ve come to say goodbye to you.

We weep for you, sweet Syndi

The church is filled with tears and pain

as the sad reality strikes us . . .

we’ll not see you again.

You’re gone from us, dear Syndi

great sorrow we must bear

but we pray . . . and we know

you are happy somewhere.

For gentle people such as you

with your shy and winsome smile

cannot really die

You’re just gone for awhile.

But are you really gone

with all the joy that you shared

or do we all have part of you

in knowing how you cared.

No, Syndi, you’re not gone

I believe that you’re still here

in the memories of that pretty face

that so many hold so dear.

When I stand in the darkened corridor

of this lonely, aching school

I see you coming up the stairs,

a smiling, radiant jewel.

I see you in the shadows

as you walk down the hall

your sweet and friendly smile

landing softly on all.

No, Syndi, you will never leave us

you’ve left too much behind

Your memory walks so quietly

in the soft corners of our minds.

The love that you have given

the love that you’ve received

will forever warm the hearts

of all of us who’ve grieved.

And, Syndi, you are smiling

in some verdant, flowered glen

in happy anticipation

of when we’ll meet with you again.

The Dream

If I could make some sense

of all absurdity,

If I could find direction

in haphazard aimlessness,

If I could find real purpose

in the acts that govern men,

If I could find good reason

for the things that some possess.

If I could find a method

to promote real brotherhood,

If I could only make men do

not what they can, but what they should,

If I could find a way to end

all hunger and distress,

If I could touch a life

and bring true happiness.

If I could find that precious formula

for ending war and strife,

If I could do these things I dream of

for the good of all mankind,

I know that in the doing

I’d find my own true peace of mind.

And though no one knew I’d done it,

the result would be the same.

My reward would be far greater

than position, wealth or fame,

Yes, if we all had what we needed

for our lives to be fulfilled,

If we had such peace and sharing

that no human blood be spilled,

we would see the face of God

as clearly as we should.

At last we’d know the Kingdom

and we’d share eternal good.

Ah, my dream abruptly ended

as I saw an evil face

and I knew we had a ways to go

before the ending of the race.

But then a smile did warm my day

like a blazing hearth in winter

and it carried all the hope of man

that he may someday enter

into that land of all our dreams

which too seldom we

have known

Pray, sisters; brothers, each and all

that it will soon become our home.


When I was seventeen,

i wondered of my place in God’s creation.

i’d known but passing gladness

and never very deep.

i must belong to something

i had a need to share

i fell in love so easy

with anyone who’d care

And then when i was twenty,

life was just a lark

work was just for money

to last a night or two

drink a drink, dance a dance

and share a kiss with you.

At twenty three becoming; growing

an agony very sweet,

crawling into the minds of great men

long since dead

and knowing that they, too, agonized

and finding solace in that truth.

Beginning to know my wife

and life.

And having children, a gift of love so rich

that God, in his infinite wisdom

reveals its essence slowly through the years

so that we of such little faith

are better able to savor the goodness.

At twenty five a zealot,

i was finding in myself a uniqueness

that i’d always known was mine

and yet, which i’d never really seen.

And now afire with the joy of revealed salvation,

buoyed by the heady intoxicant

of finding that individual who was me,

I found the joy of sharing

and caring

sometimes too much

and always not enough.

Coming to know that enigma that was me

my place become so clear then

and, at once, much more obscure.

i knew i had a destiny

but what i wasn’t sure.

Then suddenly i’m fifty

looking back upon my life

and seeing all the things undone

and knowing that the time has passed

When i can dream of what the future holds.


I’ve wandered in my dreams at times

to lonely, unknown lands

where beneath blue skies in meadows green

are lovers holding hands.

Where every bush a rose does hold

which scents the air so sweet

that every boy and every girl

are sweethearts when they meet.

In other dreams I’ve struggled

through hostile lands and cold

where before his youth is over

each man has grown so old.

Where maidens not of bliss partake

but moan beneath their woe

and broken hearts and shattered dre


are all that they can know.

Before my dreams had all passed by

another land I knew

where a few men had so many joys

and many had so few.

But those who had so many

scarce noticed those with none

and those whose lot was meager

sought justice with a gun.

I awakened from these myriad dreams

in a pensive, somber mood

and wondered of these lands I’d seen

of the paths that I’d pursued.

Of what import these dreams of mine

which took me very far

was I destined to enter there

to find my distant star.

Seeking the Quiet Place


The call of the quiet glade is strong within me.

I long for the happy laughter of a babbling brook.

For the peace of the verdant meadow my heart pines.

Communion with unspoiled nature

is the essence of my life’s purpose

Yet I am caught with all my fellows

in the cataract of society’s pressure

The pain is all the greater because I know the truth.

Relief is more remote because I know the cause.

I am caught by me in the suicidal struggle

from which no victor emerges

save oblivion.

My self-inflicted wounds grieve me

far more seriously that those of other enemies.

Yet I fight on blindly

Searching desperately for an end to war.

The battle wages in the hallowed halls of academia

. . . in the bustling streets of commerce

. . . in the sacred sanctuary of the Lord

. . . in the teeming ghettos of the starving millions.

And though I know the only truth is Pogo’s

“we have met the enemy and he is us.”

I carry on

with respites in the quiet place

only oh so brief.

Oh, God, hear me . . . help me.


The jungle is encroaching;

the clearing being threatened.

The eternal war against relentless growth

is slowly being lost.

And the spirit of the strivers is eroding.

When the end has come . . . when the clearing’s gone,

who will know the struggle that went on.

Who will kick away the humus,

look beneath the rotting leaves

to find the traces of the men who were so brave.

Who will read the story

when the flesh has went to ground

and the bones are just another sun-bleached rock.

And who will know that the final prayer

of these men who took a stand

In the dark, oppressive, ceaseless jungle rain

was that their work be ever fruitful

to those who came behind

and that the lives that they had given

they had given not in vain.


Lovely were the roses

when they bloomed along my life.

Sweetly sang the whippoorwill

at the edges of the night.

And in the gently falling rain

of my youthful days

scarce noticed were the rumblings

that were rolling ‘cross the plains.

And only when the far-away flashes

trailing in the sky

became a terrible sonic sword

launched hurtling at the soft innards of my happiness

was the alarm sounded.

Too late, of course, for me.

But you, young man

Apollo of the smooth cheek and jaunty air

even as you smell the roses

unknown thorns are piercing you flesh.

Heed the warning, oh innocent one

before jaunty becomes jaundice . . .

when you admire the beauty of the flowers

inquire as to the identity of the grower

And as the whippoorwill

soothes your troubled sleep,

ask of him whose hand it is

by which he is fed.

And in your solitary walk

in the gently falling rain

as the cool, caressing drops

destroy the pain

cast your eyes into the sky

from whence the water came.

Embrace the rain,

the earth, the sky, the trees

inhale deeply the sweet air of night

and ask as to the meaning of your life.

And in a quiet corner,

in the deepest part of your existence

walk in deep reflection;

give in to introspection.

Seek reverently the Center of truth and light

before the war is lost to the everlasting night.


The meadows sing to me

a song of joy and love.

The redbud blossoms smile

and dogwood tree beckons.

Her bridal veil of white flowers

portends the wedding banquet

as all of nature dresses up

for the marriage of my soul to meaning.

The flower birds lead the processing

tossing about their tender petals of song.

Fluffy, white pillow-clouds

bear the wedding ring

which glistens with its diamonds of dew.

All the springtime earth is resplendent

in a dazzling array of splashing color.

And this is as it should be

for such a considerable event

as the fulfillment of a man.

Give to me the serenity to cope

with the raucous turmoil that is society.

May I gain the wisdom to know when to seek solace

away from the demands of civilization

and find refuge in the quiet corners of my own soul.

Remove from me the guilt I feel

when I throw off the things mundane

and wander idle, almost content

in the peaceful valley of spring.

How many men has history seen like me

whose lives are spent pursuing a thing

for which they have no real desire;

who pursue only because their fellows

deem pursuit as the worthy ambition.

To avoid the displeasure of others

they sacrifice what they want most

to feast a bit on different fruit;

to nourish their famished soul.

I speak best of longing heart

that seeks to be fulfilled.

I know so well the aching pain

of a self-imposed bondage

from which the freedom of peace is not far.

It is so easy to accuse a marriage

or some children

or a job.

And especially to name responsibility

that inanimate, defenseless acceptor of blame.

To face the fact that I am my own jailer is easy

until I cry, “Open the door.”

Then I say, “I can’t.”

and remember wife and children

and good old responsibility.

And relegate ACHE

to the pit of my stomach.

where he struggles halfheartedly to escape

like a hamster in its wheel.

But the hamster in its feeble struggling

somehow inevitably manages to escape.

And once loose in the house

becomes a much more significant creature

than the little rodent who was safely tucked away.

So run, ACHE, unfettered across my consciousness

until you become more significant than relationships

which are so easily forgotten

because the giver is less than the gift.

When will I have strength of heart

to throw off bonds that in part are me?

Can I really cut off my own hand

because it has wronged me?

Am I convinced that by severing a part of me

I will become more complete . . .

more capable of being at last fully human?


my intellect knows the truth

but my spirit is named Thomas.

On a bright and crisp October day

I took leave of things mundane

and wandered for too short a time

in the joy of God’s domain.


Near a tranquil meadow far from men,

in red and gold splashed wood

I was captured by a wondrous peace . . .

caught a glimpse of eternal good.

I saw for a fleeting moment

how futile is the mortal chase

that mad pursuit of what we had

at the beginning of the race.

Like men possessed our eyes are fixed

on that puerile finish line

not daring to glance from side to side

to see the rose entwine.

To the fight we give our all

to earn that fleeting prize

and never know the important gift

for achievement blinds our eyes.

Yet fulfillment of human yearning;

relief of that poignant ache,

is found in nature, God’s great gift

if we will only but partake.

Feel the breeze caressing soft

to soothe a troubled sigh

hear the song of a chickadee

that lifts the spirit high.

Yes, here away from the press and strife

in this quiet sylvan glade,

I fine the meaning of human life . . .

for this mankind was made.

To savor the taste of nature untouched

this banquet of the earth

prepared with care for everyone

to help with our new birth.

And God, in his great wisdom

gave us a loving soul

to know this gift that He has made

and gain that lasting goal.


I am a child of nature

struggling in the realm of civility.

I ache to be shed of the bonds of ambition

that structure and control my existence.

Yet . . .

When confronted by those who say

“You have but to choose.”

I have no choice

I have wife and children and


Yes, that is the despicable creature I loathe.

I wonder, though, when I give the beast;

this responsibility a sound thrashing

for imprisoning me,

why I often find bruises on myself.

What is it that some men have

that allows them

to defy convention, and their peers, and



The music is demanding; commanding.

The day is somber and gray.

The bitter wind crackles the ice covered willows

and whips demon swirls of dry snow into a frenzy.

It is not easy to smile on this day

and so he doesn’t

but shivers as the icy foot of depression

steps on the backbone of his soul.

He turns up his collar against the wind

but it does not shield him

from the biting cold that has seized his heart.

How can he welcome this pain and suffering?

It seems such a natural part of him . . .

Would he have existence without it?

If the ache were gone, would anything take its place?

Why does the music depress him so?

Why does he feel such an enemy to himself?

Is this better than death?


Often, as I ponder the why’s and quirks of life

I wonder why I am and what I’m doing in this place

I think of all my sadness, and doubt about my state

and cannot understand why I’m homeless almost always.

No one really knows me . . . or even cares

and though I speak with some eloquence

I’m seldom ever heard above the clamor.

And the thought becomes obsession

that I’

m really quite different from Most.

Though Most think I’m the same

And I see the world through eyes

that perceive from a different point.

And thus my conclusions seem strange to Most.

I am spontaneous when times call for inhibition . . .

I burst into song when I should be somber . . .

I am insightful beyond Most’s understanding

and this frightens Most.

And I become frustrated at the fright

Because all I really want is to be understood . . .

and respected . . .

and listened to . . .

and loved.

But I am so different in my complicated simplicity

that I despair of ever being known . . .

my perceptions require explanations

that, themselves, must be explained

which requires concentration and effort

and Most will not work with their head

toward a goal which promises no compensation

And so I, alone, see the tear on the cheek of the little boy

when Most see not even the little boy.


The walrus talked, the story goes

of cabbages and kings.

I wonder if he pondered of

the meaning of such things.

Did he talk of relativity

of how those things compare?

Did he speak of what’s important;

of where should be our care?

Did he mention things eternal;

of God did he discuss?

Did he anguish o’er his failings

or was faith with him a must?

Yes, the walrus spoke of ships and wax,

he did discourse on many things.

I wonder if he talked of luck

and how good fortune swings.

Where does the walrus dwell today;

what has been his measure?

Has he found true peace of mind

that all of us should treasure?

I think the walrus lives on still;

he dwells in you and me.

Let him speak on many things

and he shall make us free.


I stood today on a ragged bluff

overlooking a savage land

and thought of men who’d stood and fought

and died to take their stand.

And thought of men who took a stand

who neither fought nor died

but lived to teach their children how

in peace to take a side.

I stood today on a windswept hill

overlooking a land of green

and thought of all the joys and smiles

that one man’s life had seen

and thought of all the tragedy

the tears once overflown

and marveled how time’s passage

had away the sorrows blown.

I stood today in flowered fields

with meadows all around

and thought of all the men who’ve lived

and wondered where I’m bound,

and thought of all the tasks complete

and battles long since won

and shuddered at the things to do

the tasks still left undone.

I stood today in fields of gold

and saw the grain meet wheel

and thought of all the children

who only hunger feel

and heard the happy laughter

of humans caught in bliss


heard their shouting claims insist

that nothing was amiss.

I stood today in gentle rain

that kissed the thankful soil

and watched the raging downpour

destroy the years of toil

and thought of all the heartbreak

that’s been the lot of men

and wondered who had put to death

the world’s most precious kin.

I stood today where eagles fly

and saw the scene below

and knew I’d pondered many things

too great for me to know.

Yes, I stood today where eagles fly

I could not leave the ground,

but watched the eagles soar away

and wondered where I’m bound.

A half-century or so ago, I was a young man and an avid pheasant hunter.

That was not particularly unusual in the early 1960s. Kansas was noted for pheasant hunting back then and opening weekend saw much traffic headed for the western half of the state.

Many groups of hunting buddies had standing reservations at motels and hotels in small towns that would double and triple in population for that weekend.   A half-hour or so before sunrise Saturday morning would see groups of five, six, even ten shotgun-toting men standing at the edge of a farmer’s field impatiently awaiting for the darkness to give way so they could see their beautiful prey as he lifted into the Kansas sky with a cackle and a burst of iridescent tail feathers.

But I was of a different breed. I grew up with natural inclination tending toward introversion and that carried over to my hunting preferences.

I hunted alone.

“Nobody hunts pheasant alone!”, I’d heard countless times. “You’d never get them up! They’d just run right past you and you’d never see ‘em.”

Well, my Brittany Spaniels and I DID see ‘em and would usually have all we wanted by nine or ten a.m.

Then I’d spend the remainder of the day doing what I loved to do even more than pheasant hunt.

I’d wander through the myriad abandoned houses that dotted this landscape back then, the legacy of the great depression, subsistence-level farming and several years of drought and dust storms that crushed the dreams of a generation that came of age in the years before WWII.

The pheasant hunt was the excuse. The true objective was exploring the places that were home to a generation of earlier Kansans struggling to eke a hard-scrabble living walking behind a team of mules and trying to coax a crop from marginal, rain-starved soil.

So the shotgun would go behind the seat of the truck and my beloved companion, Pretty Miss Candy and I would investigate an earlier generation.

It wasn’t unusual to find the furniture, clothing and kid’s toys left behind, as if the last sudden, dust-laden, choking wind had strapped the last bit of will from a hard-working couple, who just loaded the kids up in the Model T while there was still enough money to buy gasoline to go … Where? — Well, anywhere — maybe a town where a man could hope to find a job in a factory or in construction.

A town where the rain fell occasionally to settle the dust …

That didn’t happen here, on the edge of civilization; this land bordering the craggy, prickly-pear-cactus-covered, canyon-filled northwest corner of Kansas, where the Arikaree Breaks ( hadn’t changed much in the century since the Cheyenne and Comanche, the Kiowa and the Pawnee hunted buffalo and ruled the land.

As I picked up the old, battered, dirt-covered doll, I could almost hear the laughter.   The kids playing outside on an old rope swing.

Mom putting the bread in the wood-fired oven; the last of the flour, wondering where the money would come from to buy more when they headed to town on Saturday.

Hoping that the grocer would extend credit for just one more week.

Dad, standing in the doorway, looking anxiously toward the darkening sky to the southwest, praying that is was a much-needed rain cloud.

But knowing in his heart that it was another dust storm.

“Mother, looks like another one comin’. I’m going to get the cows and mules into the barn. Get the kids in and start covering the cracks ‘round the window. I’ll draw a couple of buckets of water from the well and be back soon as I can to help.”


The wheat was near ready to harvest when that final storm hit. The whole crop smashed flat and covered with three inches of fine, dry soil that rightfully belonged to the neighbors to the southwest.

The same dust covered every flat surface in the house. Floors, tables, beds; it even sifted into the cabinets.

His chest heaved in a heart-rendering sigh. “That’s it!” he thought to himself. “That’s all she wrote. We’re done!”

Then aloud. “Well, mother, I’m gonna run into town and see if I can talk the grocer into accepting the cows as payment for our bill. “I’ll stop by the bank and tell Mr. Chambers the farm is his. Pack up what’ll fit in the truck and just as soon as I get back, we’re gone from here.”

Maybe I can sell the mules for enough gas to get us to Wichita or Kansas City. I hear they’re hiring at the Ford plant on the Missouri side. Or maybe I can catch on at that new bomber plant in Fairfax.”


The wail of a coyote started me from my reverie. It has grown dark while I was daydreaming. The chill of the early November night wasn’t the sole cause of the shiver that coursed down my backbone.

Candy looked up at me expectantly. The howling coyote had made her nervous. She was probably hungry, too.

I looked down at the ragged, soiled doll in my hand. I was tempted to take it with me.

But instead, I dusted off the seat of a nearby chair resting precariously on three legs.

“Goodbye, little girl. I sure hope your family found good times when the left you.”

Candy and I walked to our old Ford pickup and climbed into the cab.

I was pretty sure that the fleeting image at the edge of headlight beam was the coyote that had just serenaded us.

But it might have been someone looking for their doll …

English, what a language! Homographs are words of like spelling but with more than one meaning.   A homograph that is also pronounced differently is a heteronym.

I think a retired English teacher was bored … This took a lot of work to put together!

Author Unknown (at least to me …)

1)  The bandage was wound around the wound.

2)  The farm was used to produce produce.

3)  The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

4)  We must polish the Polish furniture.

5)  He could lead if he would get the lead out.

6)  The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

7)  Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

10)  I did not object to the object.

11)  The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

12)  There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

13)  They were too close to the door to close it.

14)  The buck does funny things when the does are present.

15)  A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

16)  To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

17)  The wind was too strong for me to wind the sail.

18)  Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear..

19)  I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

20)  How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Undoubtedly, English is a peculiar language.

There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple.

English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France.

Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat.

We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same as no chance, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

And, finally:  Why doesn’t ‘Buick’ rhyme with ‘quick’? …

Once Upon a Time it was August
And Green marked The Kansas Plain.
And on a Pleasant Summer Sunday
We were Blessed by Gentle Rain
Rainy August Sunday Morning

Now We're Cought in the Grip of Winter
And Breathe In the Bitter Cold.
To Venture Forth into the Bleakness
Requires an Action Bold.
Winter Landscape
But Soon Again the Breeze will Soften
And Blow from the Southern Isles.
Father Sun will Win the Battle
And Bring About Our Happy Smiles.

Patience now is Called For
As We Await the Bloom of Spring.
God gives us the Bitter Coldness
To Appreciate what He Soon Will Bring …

April in Bloom:  Bradford Pears - 4 April in Bloom:  Tulips