Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

Dear Little Maud

This page is all that remains of an autograph book that belonged to Great-Grandma Young, Maude Lee Stout. Perhaps she kept this particular page, and stored it in the bookcase because the inspiring verse was inscribed by her mother, Frances Rebecca Lavina (Smith) Stout. Maude was 12 years old, and her mother was age 36.

March 12.th 1888
Dear Little Maud
Within this book so pure and
white let none but friends presume
to write; and may each line
with friendship given direct the
readers thoughts to heaven.

Your Mother Rebecca F. Stout

The other side of the page seems to be a farewell from a friend.

To my dear Maud
Jan 6/89
Kittie Frazier
Above all be patient whith those that love
When many miles from here your rove
Remember your friend at Cedar Grove

Semper ? P ?

The 1880 census shows both the Stout and Frazier families living in Cedar Grove, Walker County, Georgia. Most likely, Maude and her family were preparing to leave Georgia in 1889, and move to Howe, Grayson County, Texas.


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An Affidavit That You Are Sane

Today I came across a 1952 Texas Driving Handbook in a box of miscellaneous items that had belonged to my father.TX Driving Handbook 1952 001 Printed on the handbook’s back cover is a poem by American poet, Edgar A. Guest (1881-1951), entitled “Driver’s License.” I became familiar with Guest when Hannah’s fifth grade teacher required each student to memorize his poem entitled “Myself.”

Guest was a prolific poet, as is evidenced by the great number of his poems published on the Internet. So, it was surprising not to find this particular poem anywhere on the web. Therefore, I offer this cautionary verse about the responbilities of obtaining a driver’s license in honor of all new drivers.


This is your license to drive a car:
To be watchful ever where children are;
To travel the streets and keep in mind
That people are sometimes deaf and blind
And lame and feeble and care distraught
And accidents come from lack of thought.

This is your license to drive and so
All that it means I would have you know.
Though it isn’t printed in language plain
It’s an affidavit that you are sane;
And it also tells that your state has found
Your faculties clear and your body sound,
It says that your state has faith in you;
That never a wrongful act you’ll do;
That you know how dangerous hills can be;
That you’ll pass no car where you cannot see
A long, clear stretch of the thoroughfare
And wherever you’re going you’ll drive with care.

Carry your license to drive with pride,
For how shamed you’d be were it once denied!
It is sworn-to proof that the rules you know,
That you’re neither stupid nor witted-slow;
That your state through its officers find you are
Fit to be trusted to drive a car.

~by Edgar A. Guest~

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Ninnekah Summer

The summer of 1967 that Boyd and I spent in Ninnekah, Oklahoma, with Grandmother and Granddad was an educational one. Every evening we accompanied Granddad to feed the hogs. The only pig that I was familiar with before meeting Granddad’s pigs was the literary pig, Wilbur, in Charlotte’s Web. I loved Wilbur but I did not feel loving toward the live hogs. I was a little afraid of them. Unlike Wilbur, they were huge, gulped slop in an unmannerly way, and grunted ominously. Granddad cautioned me when my curiosity led me to observe them too closely. He was obviously fond and proud of his pigs because he was generous with their food and water, and was fluent in pig language. It was fun to hear Granddad holler “soo-ee, soo-ee, soo-ee!” as we approached their trough with heavy buckets of slop.

While Granddad taught us how to care for pigs that would one day become bacon and ham, Grandmother educated us about how to turn a live chicken into a fried chicken dinner. Boyd and I were the suprised, and yet interested, witnesses to the chicken losing its head, as described here. Grandmother wasted no time in hauling the bloody bird to the kitchen. We followed to see what would happen next.

Grandmother hung the chicken up by its feet to drain the blood. A little while later, she dunked it in a pot of boiling water. At that point, the nasty smell of scalded feathers prompted Boyd to skedaddle outdoors.

The scalded chicken was given to me to pluck. I was pleased that the large feathers came out by the handful. I informed Grandmother when I was finished with the task but she pointed out that the smaller pinfeathers needed to be pulled out too. Plucking pinfeathers was tedious work, and there seemed to be an endless supply of them. After what seemed a very long time, I turned the chicken over to Grandmother. I had lost interest in chicken of any kind, and went in search of Boyd. Mom told me that the next step that I missed would have been holding the chicken over a flame to singe off the fine hairs.

My interest in chicken revived by the time Grandmother called us to supper. Piled high on a platter, in all its hot, crispy glory, was the chicken. I don’t recall everything on the table but I remember a large bowl of mashed potatoes, a plate of sliced tomatoes from the garden, and a pitcher of sweet tea.

I remember that first bit of chicken. I also remember the second bite, and the third, because each mouthful held a fair amount of crisply fried pinfeathers. Half-heartedly, I finished the first piece, and selected another only to be disappointed by more pinfeathers. For the second time that day I had lost interest in chicken.

I watched Grandmother eat her chicken without giving a hint that she was eating pinfeathers. One of my aunts casually asked who helped with the chicken, and Grandmother merely nodded in my direction. No other comments were made.

For the remainder of the evening I pondered chicken—headless, bloody, scalded—and all the work required to bring a piece of fried chicken to the table. Later I learned that the trick to plucking pinfeathers is to work fast before the skin tightens up, making them almost impossible to remove. I am sure that Grandmother was aware that my plodding, laborious plucking would yield less than satisfactory results, and yet she allowed me to help anyway.

That summer Grandmother made all my back-to-school dresses, eight or ten of them. I had never started school with so many new dresses. Yes, I learned a lot during the summer that I spent in Ninnekah. I learned that Grandmother and Granddad loved me.

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On Walking and Pits

This poem by Portia Nelson makes me smile. I refer to those deep, sidewalk holes as “pits,” and I’ve fallen into quite a few of them. Now when I find myself in a pit, I cry out to God to rescue me. He does.

There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk

Chapter 1.

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost…
I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter 2.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in this same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter 3.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in… its a habit.
But, my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter 4.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter 5.

I walk down another street.

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162I’m on a mission to find green plums. “Yes, they’re red,” said the produce manager at Whole Food’s in Austin, “but they’re really green plums.”

These tart-tasting plums would make excellent jelly. Whole Food’s had about sold out of them, but I learned that Cooper Farms is the source of these plummy plums.  I’m keeping an eye out this weekend for one of their road side produce stands so that I can buy a bag of plums.

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The Perfect Pal

Today Hannah took the TAKS English Language Arts Test along with all Texas 10th graders. This morning we discussed possible story lines for the writing portion. “I hope that the writing prompt allows me to write about Toby,” Hannah said, as she ate a hearty, brain-stimulating breakfast. The prompt was to describe a time that she had to depend on someone, so she chose to write about a person. But we won’t let the day end without a tribute to her pal, Toby.

The Dachshund

Because I waddle when I walk,
Should this give rise to silly talk
That I’m ungainly? What’s ungainly?
I’m really rather graceful–mainly.
The experts have been known to state
That there’s a twinkle in our gait.
One said,”They have a clumsy grace,”
Which after all is no disgrace.

My funny features may abound:
Short legs, long body, low-to-ground,
But I’m about the perfect pal
For man or woman, or boy or gal.
I’m gentle, very playful, kind,
I housebreak fast ’cause I’m refined,
I’m smart but never sly or foxy–
No, do not underrate the dachsie!

Edward Anthony

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Charlotte to the Rescue

Charlotte and I went to visit Margaret and Ray,
They lived in the Metroplex.
I came down with the flu in the worst way,
It was serious because my body demanded sleep.

We needed to be back in Odessa,
I had to report to work early next day.
Charlotte said, “Don’t worry, I’ll drive the car.
You just tilt back and hit the hay.”

We owned a little Austin.
Of course, it had a stick shift.
She had never driven that I could remember,
But she was full of confidence.

“Don’t you remember,” she smiled,
“That long Sunday afternoon?
We went to that deserted road,
And I drove the wheels off your Mainline Ford.”

Sam Young

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