Monday, August 30, 2010

The Bus goes back to school

Karen at Keeping Secrets is driving the bus this week, and it's a school bus!  Her prompt, aptly enough, is to write a poem about school or schooling. I give you a poem I wrote when I was in the 10th grade.  I tweeked it a little just now (I was going on memory, anyway), but for the most part it is true to the words, and certainly to the thoughts, of the high schooler who wrote it many years ago.

My heart longs greatly
For a love long lost in time,
A love I searched for
Too strongly ever to find,
A love sadly lost for aye.

The love I needed
Lay before unseeing eyes,
For the blinders of
My fantasies and desires
Hid your eager heart from me.

So I live without
The love I did not notice,
The hope you carried,
The gift you wished to give me,
A love sadly lost for aye.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Playful Sunday with LC

Thought I would route this to One Shot Wednesday for a little love...enjoy!  And check out some great writing while you're in the One Stop neighborhood.

The Precocious Pelican
By Lemuel Crouse

As I sat looking out on a slate-gray sea,
A precocious pelican swooped from the sky
And lazily glided in front of me
Until a fine fish caught his eye.

At once he dove in headlong manner,
Splashing down noisily amongst the waves.
Then floating proudly, a wind-tossed banner,
A nod of the head to me he gave.

With tipping beak and gulping throat,
He slickly swallowed his salty snack.
Then, flapping his wings, the water he smote,
And my pelican flew off without looking back.

To be a bird like he I sometimes wish,
To have a home upon some marshy shore,
With naught to do but fly and swim and fish,
And be a haunted human, nevermore.

(Photo courtesy of me, taken in Charleston Harbor, March 2010)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Swallowtail Saturday

The Bug was out and about this morning (a birthday party for twins that I'm sure you will hear all about), so I was left to make do with only the Canon PowerShot A710 IS.  It is a fine camera that has captured so many lovely moments in our lives over the last half dozen years, but close-ups of butterflies is not its forte.  Still, this lovely swallowtail was quite accommodating, practically posing for me!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

This Sunday, LC rides the Poetry Bus to the Gulf

Welcome, One Stop One Shot Wednesday visitors.  This week I'm sharing a poem I, er, LC posted on Sunday.  I will let it speak for itself.

Chiccoreal is driving the Poetry Bus this week!  I have chosen prompt #2:

Write a poem about the first song that POPS INTO YOUR HEAD IN THE MORNING. It could be your favourite song, or your least favourite song, or a song that keeps replaying over and over again in the breadbox. This is called an all-day EARWORM and you need to find a good dewormer. It is music in the making and over ripe for writing a poem about.

Lemuel insisted on writing this one, and he has given you a sonnet:


By Lemuel Crouse

On salty sands where once we played in light,
Slick shadows crawl, as I, now still for good,
Lie mired 'neath the spewing, endless night.
Gulfsong: “Forgive…forget…not sure I could.”

For good…a ghost-laugh leaps from withered throat
At such a backward phrase, for evil wrecked
With zeal my birthing beach, then paused to gloat,
Some years before his well unleashed the dreck.

The dreck, this crude effusion cov’ring all
That once was home to life and hope and bliss,
Now clings and lingers deep inside my walls,
Consuming, burning with its lethal kiss.

The ghost-heart silent ‘neath my carapace
Will ever be “not ready to make nice!”

(Image courtesy of AP; for the relevant Dixie Chicks video, click here)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Birdbath Saturday

 On this overcast, humid day, the little birdies were happy
to stop by for a drink, but not a dip in the pool!

 "That water looks cold...stick a toe in and see..."
"Sure...what's a toe?"
"Here's lookin' at you, kid..."
"Ah, got the place all to myself..."
"For about three seconds..."
"Pool party!"
"Where'd everybirdy go?"
"Who's the pretty bird?"
"Lookin' good makes me thirsty..."
"My best side..."
"That last guy was kinda stuck on himself..."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Magpie Tales

Painted Ladies

in the interval
that separates
like bubbles 'twixt
your bathing feet,
subtly parted
by the drip
from the faucet
I need to fix.

What drip is it
that keeps us
we two who know
each other so well?

Your toes
above the suds,
ruby nails
like painted ladies,
catch my eye,
inviting me
to explore
the interval
that lies

To participate in Magpie Tales, or to read other entries (you won't be sorry!), just click here.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Linthead with a brush

I acknowledge that I can paint.  I can dip the brush into the paint, be it craft paint in little plastic cups or oil on a palette, but I'm not sure I can *paint*...not yet.  I can visualize, and sometimes I can come close to what I see.  My favorite painting may well be the one I used for my header, the one admired by the Totalfeckineejit.  I painted it on a 6"x8" piece of plywood with craft paint from that chain store ol' Sam Walton foisted upon us.  I have since graduated to oil on canvas (farther down the page), but I love the early paintings, both for their style and for the time in my life they reflect.  I was recovering from acute depression, going back to school, becoming a teacher, trying to be a good husband, and trying to live, not just survive.  Some of the poems you have seen/will see also were born during this era...the Snowflake poem, for example.  I am proud of all of it.  It was part of my journey to become who I am today...a beautiful part, lived out in one of the more beautiful places on earth: the mountains of western North Carolina.  I found health and healing and hope in those mountains.  I miss them so very, very much.

The above is a stylized view of Mt. Pisgah, near Asheville.
The above was inspired by a trip to Cade's Cove.
The above was inspired by Lake Junaluska in winter.

Stylized depiction of a farm near Hickory, NC.
Oil on Canvas, Central Kentucky Barn (8"x10")

Oil on Canvas, Piedmont North Carolina Barn (8"x10")

Oil on Canvas, "Kentucky Twilight" (16"x20")
Oil on Canvas, "Marblehead Imaginings" (16"x20")
Oil on Canvas, "Carolina Dunes" (11"x14")

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Beautiful Blogger Award

Oh, that Ann T....she's going to make me reveal "stuff" about myself!  As a means to avoid working on my course syllabi (wow...spellchecker doesn't recognize "syllabi" as a correct plural likes "syllabuses" that a sign of the apocalypse?) for the fall, I seem to have created a blog.  Ann T. Hathaway, on whose ever thought-provoking blog I have commented this summer, liked my little blog so much that she bestowed upon me this award:

In order to accept this award, I must tell you ten things about myself.  I think I will do a "top ten" countdown of the reasons why I should not have a blog!

10.  I loath HTML!!! am a full-time professor of American history at a small liberal arts college...meaning I have no life apart from school, at least not once the semester starts: I get paid to teach and hold office hours, but I'm also expected to advise the history club, participate in public history and humanities initiatives on campus and in the surrounding community, attend extra-curricular activities on campus, participate in shared governance of the university, and more.

09.  I am the only full-time history professor at present...and likely will be the only one for the next two semesters, at least, which means I have to do all the advising for majors, selection of textbooks, etc., as well as teach several courses I've never taught (U.S. Womens History last fall, two sections of World Civilizations I this fall).

08.  I am scheduled to give five...FIVE...public lectures this fall, varying in length from 15 to 45 minutes, on these topics: the Underground Railroad north of the Ohio River (45 minutes), Alexander Gardner's 1865 photo of Lincoln (15 minutes), Augustus Saint-Gaudens' Robert Gould Shaw Memorial (15 minutes), white supremacist terrorism in Civil War era Kentucky (45 minutes), and the history of Thanksgiving (30 minutes), plus Q&A for all.  Admittedly, I am well read on such things, but still....

07.  I may have to revise a conference paper I presented last March for possible inclusion in a volume of essays on life after slavery in the American South, and I have several other professional obligations that, while unrelated to my professorial duties in the strict sense, are a part of what I expect from myself, and will look good in my tenure file.

06.  I just signed a book contract for my manuscript on post-emancipation racial violence in Kentucky, and my editor wants a revised manuscript in her hands by January 15...ROTFL!

05.  Did I mention that I find the Blogger program *most* annoying am happily married to The Bug, and would like to stay that way?  One blogger in the house is enough.

04.  I still have yard work to do!  There's grass to mow, a small garden to tend, flowers to look at, birds and butterflies to watch...there will be autumn leaves and woolly sheep and Christmas and snow and spring and baseball, oh my!  How can I possibly have time to blog with all that going on around me?

03.  I have the great family struggle going on down south, 450 miles from us.  My father needs help, and I can't be there for him every day, or even once a week, or realistically once a month!  How can I possibly spend time blogging when there is such great need in the world?

02.  There is great need in my life.  I am in pain...constant, throbbing, equal parts physical, mental, and spiritual.  I endure, but I often forget to live.  I am hurting, and I can be bitter and mad as hell...why would anyone want to visit the blog of someone like that?

01.  Okay, so HTML isn't so bad, and I can manipulate Blogger, but I still don't know if I really want to "social network."  I mean, I hate when I'm tending one of my virtual farms on Fb (yes, I play multiple farm games) and I keep getting pop-ups telling me to go do this or go do that or to let my friends know this or that.  Just leave me alone and let me farm!  I'm talkin' to you, Zynga.  Even at that, there are times when my crops wither on Farmville, and my poor flowers on Farm Town have been dead most of the summer, and My Farm has forgotten me.  Will I let you wither?  Can you wither?  Can I? seems obvious that I have no business being here...none whatsoever...and I am.

To state it more plainly, I. Need. This.  I need you.  So there.

At this time I am supposed to bestow this award on ten worthy bloggers...but I'm just too new!  I'll have to let The Bug make some selections for us...heh.  Thank you, Ann T.  You are a beautiful blogger, indeed.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

By Popular Demand: Sundays with LC

Welcome, One Stop One Shot Wednesday visitors!!!  LC's work normally appears on Sunday, but I thought you good folks would appreciate it, too.

Not really "by popular demand," although LC made a splash (hehehe). Just thought I would make Sunday his often as I can...because it amuses me, no end, for reasons all my own.  So without further ado, here's my darker half's offering, accompanied by a lovely John Muir sketch:

By Lemuel Crouse

Alone, awash amidst this sea of spruce
and pine I sit. Into the rising fog
I gaze as if to see some mystic realm.

Enchantment drew me to this holy hill
by promising a glimpse of heaven's bliss,
but haze and heavy clouds obscure my view.
The gloom, my doom it is, I think, to see.

What is it like to dream of future days
and not of nightmares past? The wintry blasts
come howling through my brain. Yet on the winds
of pain a solitary snowflake floats.

Someday the snow will fall and bury all
my shame beneath its pristine flow, and I
will know at last a season of new hope.

(John Muir sketch courtesy of:

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Riding the Bus

This week's poetry bus is driven by Chris at Enchanted Oak. She has given us two photographs from which to choose as inspiration for our bus pass.  We chose this one:

Le Petit Bateau

By Lemuel Crouse



lies frozen

in my memory:

perfect stillness, glass

surface smooth, reflecting

with the passive love of one

who sees all...yet feels nothing.

An illusion of calm...a lovely pond,

perfectly hiding the tangled wreckage

resting just beneath the liquid mirror.

A little boat once floated right there,

no oarlocks marred its gunwales.

From shaded,  grassy shoreline

it nevermore will be cast off,

for now the boat is gone,

carrying with it one

who loved it

but not



Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fringe Benefits

Like I said...
Plant cypress vines...
 And they will come!
And sometimes...
They bring a friend!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Shout Out to Annie...and Dad

Drivin' north like Braxton Bragg,
wonderin' if it's worth the gas.
August's heat is draggin' me down:
stiflin', drownin' humid days, all haze,
not not cool.

Playin' that EP you bought,
the one I never bothered
to listen to...leastwise
not until it was "my" idea.
Yeah...that's the way I'm wired.

So tired...but now I got Hootenannie
on the brain. I love this song,
the same one I said she wrote
for me: "A disenchanted man...
holdin' more than one should bear."

Sheddin' a tear, or two, or three,
thinkin' 'bout my dad, again.
Man, oh man, what a mess
he's in. He just didn't plan
for this. I wish I knew what to do.

"I see your tears, you're trying
to understand," and failin', Annie,
flailin' and failin', big time.
"What do you do when life
don't wind up like you planned?"

Y'all know Annie, sister blogger,
Parsons' daughter, and she
oughta be on the radio, yo!
Lady's got soul...schoolin' me,
near twice her age, on how to be alive.

That's my M/O, no jive...fallin' hard
for the dream...not Dreamboat Annie,
you know what I mean: the one where life
is smooth like Young's ice cream,
where we embrace this place as home.

Sorry, I could go on and on, dear friends,
but we know how this song ends, don't we?
"There's no way around the hard times."
The EP spins, and Annie Parsons sings,
"will your feet to hit the floor," once more.

(For more on Annie's EP, click here, and you'll enjoy her blog!)

This poem is part of One Stop Poetry's One Shot Wednesday poetry gathering, where all poets are welcome to share. Make the rounds!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hummingbirds are welcome here

Every year we strive for a hummingbird-friendly yard!
We put out the welcome flag...
and we choose our hanging baskets with care.
They seem to like petunias...
who doesn't?
We tried a designer begonia this year!
Verbena is always good...
as are geraniums.
The neighbors gave us these little flirts.
We sowed wildflower seed and planted pansies...
and daisies a friend gave us (thanks, C)!
Lemon Gem marigolds and cucumber blooms call to them from the garden.
But our secret weapon...
 the one that never fails...
is the cypress vine!
Perhaps this little fence-sitter is overwhelmed?
We do all this on the off chance that...
if we're lucky, in our yard...
life will imitate art!
Original from which the above was cropped:
A very lucky series of shots, esp. as it was through the glass of a door I dared not open!