Listen now and heed me well To this tragic, timeless tale— We’ve all lost loved ones To distance and death And occasionally, to circumstance. Or just by believing there was time, Sweet, sweet time, always time, To visit and while away that time. Yes, all the time in the world, Static, breathless, endless time I believed— When I was young. Years pass by in the blink of an eye, And you notice one day How many have died. Gone, all gone, with time’s treacherous tides, Their scattered, ivory bones picked clean And carried away into death’s dawn. Time, sweet time, and them— Now gone. Time is not so sweet anymore, You long for the grim reaper To knock upon your door, And drag you away, You care not where, Over here, over there, anywhere. It makes no difference, Any place will do As long as it is far away From this world now without you— And you and you and you. Far too many yous Have stepped beyond the veil. And you contemplate, Anticipate— Do they frolic upon some sandy shore, No aches, no pains, No worries anymore? Is there a chair saved just for you At the table where they meet? All say a prayer upon that beach, Good bread, good meat, Good God, let’s eat. Teeth young and sharp, Do they tear into food? And lusty, not rusty, Into each other too? And be not at the mercy Of fickle, tricky time, For in this hallowed place There is no time. Just laughter and love And the joining of friends, God knows I long for that— As I long for the end. ©2021 KT Workman
Fear the wrath of the Lord! The soulless preacher yells. Lest you be damned and cast down into His eternal hell— Yea, smitten with the fury of his mighty golden sword. In flaming paper boats, the piceous Styx you will ford, Sails strung with clacking bones and screaming, screeching bells. Fear the wrath of the Lord! The soulless preacher yells. His shiny, black shoes pound the boards, His dark, shifty eyes flash a tell, While his carefully crafted words cast a spell Upon the brainwashed zombie hoard. Fear the wrath of the Lord! The soulless preacher yells. ©2021 KT Workman
(Note: Originating in French lyrical poetry of the 14th century, a rondel prime poem is a fixed form of verse based on two rhyme sounds and consisting usually of 14 lines divided into three stanzas. The first two lines of the 1st stanza are repeated as the refrain of the 2nd and 3rd stanzas. The meter is open, but usually has eight syllables per line. Rhyme scheme: A-B-b-a, a-b-A-B, a-b-b-a-A-(B)—capital letters represent lines repeated verbatim.)
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(Note: this is a follow-up to Good Enough.)
Marlena wouldn’t have opened her door to just any man, a girl had to be careful after all. But when she’d parted the curtains a smidge and got a gander of the pretty man standing on the stoop, she about tripped over her own feet getting to the door and flinging it open.
“Well, hello there,” she said, pasting on a saucy grin. “What can I do for you?”
Light bugs and moths danced around the porch light, throwing flitting shadows over his scarred face. He quirked a black eyebrow. “Marlena Bledsoe?”
“The one and only.” Must’ve been asking about me down at Rudy’s. She tucked a bleached-blonde curl behind her ear, cocked a hip.
“It’s time to pay.”
The smile slid from Marlena’s face. Her belly knotted up. “Huh?” But she knew…Continue reading “Pay the Fiddler”
Marlena was going to have to do something about the sheriff.
“You be nice to me, and I won’t pay Marshal a visit,” he’d said last night, his hot damp hand squeezing her thigh. “Won’t go poking around in the woods out back of his trailer, see what I can find.”
She had been taking a break between shows at Rudy’s, slumped in a back booth sipping a beer when Leroy Jones, sheriff of Rooker County, had plopped down beside her and delivered his ultimatum. She’d known what he meant by being “nice”, she hadn’t fallen off the turnip truck yesterday. The nerve! She might strip for a living, but that didn’t make her a whore.
Now, she was between a rock and a hard place. Either give the sheriff what he wanted, or see her brother, Marshall, get hauled in for growing marijuana—wasn’t like he cooked meth or nothing bad like that—leaving his wife and five kids to fend for themselves.
Yeah, she was going to have to do something, and that was the reason she was here now, crawling at a snail’s pace down Forked Tree Road, risking tearing the bottom out of her old Thunderbird, to pay a visit to Aunt Hassie.
‘Cause everybody knew that Aunt Hassie could fix most anything—for a price.Continue reading “Good Enough”
Summer lies hot and heavy on the open field. The brown grass crackles under the little girl’s feet As she races from the house to the rambling branch, Almost—but not quite—bone dry from baked July days. Long-legged Sister and Brother are already there, Ankle deep downstream of the constant eternal spring, Lifting mossy stones, searching for pinchered treasure. The shy little girl joins them, splishing and splashing Ignoring their wrinkled brows and hot, flashing stares Knowing that treasures may go, but will also return. Soles gripping slimy stones, she lifts a plate-thin rock Lazing stuporously beneath the blue-green veil. And there! Treasure! Red-tipped pinchers raised high, it stares Beady-eyed at her, daring her to make a move, Daring her to attack—and she does, strikes boldly. Small hand darting snake-quick, she snares the piqued treasure, Flings it to the thirsty ground where water-things don’t tread. Her spring eyes dancing, she charges to the bald bank, Scoops up the crawdad, drops it in the gallon can Among the other treasures there, plotting escape. On the way back to the old, weathered house called home, Brother and Sister praise the girl’s special treasure, Eyes rolling, saying hers is the biggest of all. The little girl smiles, imagines the pride that will Shine on her mama’s tired but still beautiful face When the tale is told; and for that moment in time Of summer in the South, all is right with the world. ©2021 KT Workman
(Note: Written in free verse, which does not contain rhymes, strict meter, or the use of repetition. It has varied meter, but can use loose iambic pentameter and cadence.)
Rain drips on curled leaves Thirsty from days without rain On a July day ©2021 KT Workman
(NOTE: Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry that consists of 17 syllables, and is typically about nature. The 1st line has 5 syllables, the 2nd has 7, and the 3rd has 5.)
Image courtesy of Free Range Stock
A blue day, no sun Shines down from a gray heaven To warm my tired soul ©2021 KT Workman
(Note: Japanese Senryu—3 lines, 17 syllables. 1st line, 5 syllables; 2nd line,7 syllables; 3rd line 5 syllables. Subject matter usually the human condition.)
Have you ever had one of those days (or weeks or months or years) when life gets you down, and it feels as if it would be nice to just move on? Listening to “Jubilee” by Gretchen Peters… https://youtu.be/v8WiEO2u7Ao …a beautiful, but haunting song.
Wild violets grew Along the dirt road’s hillside Shrinking, they were not When picked by Mother in May To brighten our old kitchen ©2021 KT Workman
(Note: A tanka is a form of Japanese poetry made up of 5 lines containing 31 syllables. The 1st line has 5 syllables; 2nd, 7 syllables; 3rd , 5 syllables; 4th , 7 syllables; 5th, 7 syllables. It can have any theme.)
I don’t remember seeing my Grandma Workman laugh, or even smile, until after Grandpa Workman passed away. I was around eleven when he died, but I barely remember his death—or him. But I recall that to me, he was a scary, cranky old man who didn’t seem to like children. Funny considering the fact that he and Grandma had nineteen children.
My daddy was the eldest. He was a good daddy, a kind, gentle man who didn’t have a mean bone in his body. I suppose he must have gotten his goodness from Grandma because to hear him tell it, Grandpa had a terrible temper. I recall my daddy telling a story once about Grandpa, something about him getting so mad at a horse that he practically beat it to death. But if Grandpa treated his children and wife like he treated that horse, Daddy never spoke of it—at least not that I know about.
Grandpa died in his seventies. My grandma lived into her eighties. And it was somewhere in that time when she lived alone, when she was free to be herself, that I really got to know her.
When we were in our early teens, too young to date but not too young to like boys, my cousins, sisters Lesa and Jennifer, (You have previously become acquainted with them if you’ve read “The Root House”) and I spent many Saturday nights at Grandma’s home. She’d sit cross-legged on the bed with us and talk about school, makeup, boys, whatever subject our featherbrained minds flitted upon. And even with her gray hair and wrinkles, she fit right in with us giggly girls. She took delight in our silly talk, her blue eyes sparkling like she was right in the thick of it with us—girls on the verge of becoming women. It was easy to forget she was our grandma.
Grandma’s house had two bedrooms, so we slept two to a bed, and we girls took turns on who had the honor of sleeping with Grandma—after we had talked ourselves out, which sometimes didn’t happen until the wee hours of the morning. No matter when we fell asleep, though, Grandma was an early riser, and we were up at the crack of dawn helping her fix breakfast. It was always the same: homemade biscuits, fried eggs, white gravy, and coffee. Grandma took her strong brew black, but Lesa, Jennifer, and I liberally laced ours with cream and sugar. Then, we tidied up the house and talked more.
I never thought about it at the time, but Grandma never had the chance to be a teenager, to be frivolous and lighthearted. She married Grandpa when she was thirteen. Child to wife, nothing in between. I don’t know how they managed it, but my daddy wasn’t born until Grandma was eighteen. Then it was one child after another. Nineteen children! I can’t even begin to imagine what that was like, always pregnant, always a baby at her breast. For over thirty years.
But you don’t ponder such things when you’re a fledging. You don’t think about your parents or grandparents as ever being young, walking the same path, thinking the same thoughts, having the same dreams as you. That comes after you are no longer young, after life has beat you down, and you realize that most of what you dreamed about, most of what you planted in the garden of your life is never going to bear fruit.
Then you wonder: Did Daddy’s life go the way he wanted it to? Did Mama ever dream of doing big things? Was Grandma happy with the hand fate had dealt her?
I don’t have the answer to any of those questions, and I never will. But I do know that for a couple of years, before Lesa, Jennifer and I moved on from just talking about boys to dating them, before we traded our Saturday nights with Grandma to Saturday nights with our boyfriends, we made her life exciting in a way she’d never experienced: we made her young again.
And it wasn’t all one-sided; she shared some of her experiences also: She and Grandpa fleeing West Virginia after Grandpa had beaten a man so severely that the man died. Their trip by covered wagon to Montana, where my daddy was born. The time she threatened to walk out on Grandpa, leaving him with the kids, if he didn’t stop drinking. (And it worked!)
Mostly though, she preferred talking about what was going on in my cousins and my lives. Through us, she lived the carefree, and sometimes heartbreaking, teenage years she never had.
But there are two things she told us girls that have stayed fresh in my mind for all these years. One was her telling us that Grandpa had never seen her in the altogether. Lord, did we ever wonder how they’d produced nineteen children, and he’d never seen her without clothes. And the one I still laugh about today. I can still hear her saying: “Girls, there’s nothing uglier on the face of this earth than a naked man.”
©2021 KT Workman
On a side note—the reason I used the image of an old woman’s bare feet is because I rarely saw Grandma Workman in shoes. One of my sharpest memories of her, second only to her grin that was so like my daddy’s, are her feet.
Long ago in another, kinder time Two wildflowers grew sheltered in the yard. One emerged first, thought this fertile place fine, Bloomed the palest of yellow, then stood guard As the smaller one poked up, the climb hard; But not as hard as it was for Yellow Who blazed the way for the tiny fellow. In time, the small one bloomed stubborn and red, Danced with Yellow through the balmy, bright days. Together, they slept in the tulip bed At night, ‘neath a star-studded, velvet haze, And basked in Spring’s eyes, her warm, loving gaze. Happy and content, they remained well hid Among the proud tulips, safe from vile men. Then, without warning pale Yellow was plucked And thrown from the bed over the tall fence, While Red survived because she swiftly ducked. Lonely, Red wondered where Yellow went hence, That her companion was gone, made no sense. Red was a survivor, though, and held tight, But soon was snatched up, yanked hard and took flight. Over the tall, safe fence, Red also sailed, Landed roots first in an open meadow Chock-full of other wilds, spooking a quail. Red asked, “Have you seen a bloom of yellow?” Pointing its brown wing, “There!” the quail bellowed. Red tracked the wing, saw pale Yellow nearby, Waving gay petals ‘neath the clear, blue sky. Playing in the green meadow God had made, Pale Yellow and Red spent all summer’s time Till a fall wind blew Yellow far away To a place Red searched for but could not find. There, Yellow nurtures small others of kind. Red wandered the field, in time fading pink, Reached the far side, now withers in concrete. ©️2021 KT Workman
(Note: rhyme royal poem—7-line stanzas, 10 syllables per line, written in iambic pentameter.
Rhyme scheme: a-b-a-b-b-c-c)