Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home

It seems the older I get, the more I miss my childhood, and the more I yearn to go “Home.” Yes, my present house, the one I have lived in for a little over twenty years, is home, but I’m referring more to a state of being than a physical place.

I will say, though, that the old, weathered house where I spent the first twelve years of my life is a big part of Home. It had no indoor plumbing, and we relied on heat from the fireplace in the front room and the wood cookstove in the kitchen in the winter months to keep us warm. Most places inside were still cold if you weren’t in the kitchen or right in front of the fireplace. My siblings and I slept under quilts my mama had made from fabric scraps. On frigid nights, the layers were so heavy I felt almost pinned to the bed under their weight. But I wasn’t cold. Many mornings I woke to the cloud of my breath and the smell of baking biscuits and sizzling bacon.

In the summer, there was no escaping the heat. I had never known the luxury of a fan to sleep under, let alone air conditioning, so I don’t recall sweating interfering with my sleep. In the height of summer, Mama canned vegetables from our large garden. My sisters and I were often recruited to help, and let me tell you, if I had to be in that hot, stifling kitchen today, I would probably pass out.

I don’t look back on those times as hard, though I’m sure they were to my parents. They bore the bulk of the work and let us children have plenty of playtime. We roamed our large farm/ranch and the lands surrounding it (which at that time was still primarily woods), played in the branch, and because we had few toys, improvised our own. We used our imaginations to be cowboys, Indians (that’s what Native Americans were known as then), play war, and sometimes, my sister closest in age to me, and I played with dolls. But outside was the preferred place to be.

I’m old enough to know that I look back on those times through rose-colored glasses, but I think most of us do, even those whose childhoods weren’t so great. Some people have horrific childhoods with little to no good memories, but most of us fall somewhere between idyllic and horrific. And I think we recall more of the good than the bad over time.

My mama had a hard childhood. Her family was dirt poor, and her father was an abusive alcoholic, and though Mama’s mother was kind and gentle, I don’t think she protected her children from their father. In that day and time, the man was the king of his castle, and what he said (or did) was the law. I believe, though, that Granny endured most of his physical violence. And you know, one would think my mama would have no desire to return to that time in her life or see her father again. But…

In the final months of her life, when my siblings and I were caring for Mama, she often spoke of her parents. She was old—eighty-seven—and after a series of mini-strokes (we think), her mind was slipping away. Frequently, she believed she was still a child, and her children were people she didn’t know who were taking care of her. She would ask us if Mama and Daddy knew she was there (Maybe in a hospital?) and when would they come to take her home. We always reassured her they knew and would be there as soon as she was well enough. What else could we do but make her passing as easy as possible for her both physically and emotionally?

Mama departed this earth eighteen years ago this month. And just like she wanted to go Home as she was dying, for several years now, I’ve also felt that urge to return Home as I know it. I don’t get it—what’s so magical about our childhood that makes us want to return there, that makes us hope that if there is a Heaven, it will be Home? Is it the innocence of that time in our lives that beckons to us, calls us back to the safety we felt beneath our parents’ wings? All too soon—especially in today’s world—that innocence is ripped away, and we see the ugly side of life.

As we grow older, we don’t necessarily grow more content. And we look back, look back, on those perfect halcyon days, wanting to go Home.

©2022 KT Workman


“Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home” written and performed by Joe South

Image by RitaE from Pixabay

Red Oyster

The future was her red oyster—
Red like her passion, uncloistered.
Red like her heart, ripe for a coup.
A time long gone, when youth was new.

A young conqueror stole her heart,
Took a vow they never would part.
In time, he cleaved her heart in two.
A time long gone, when youth was new.

Though battle-scarred she tried again
To find a love that was a friend,
But her mind, he did not value.
A time long gone, when youth was new.

Closed to the world, free to the page,
With pen of red, she spills out rage.
She never knew a love that’s true…
A time long gone, when youth was new.

The future was her red oyster—
A time long gone, when youth was new.

©2021 KT Workman

(Note: [I deviated from the standard fourteen lines, adding in an extra quatrain. The poem seemed to call for it] A Kyrielle Sonnet consists of 14 lines (three rhyming quatrain stanzas and a non-rhyming couplet). Just like the traditional Kyrielle poem, the Kyrielle Sonnet also has a repeating line or phrase as a refrain (usually appearing as the last line of each stanza). Each line within the Kyrielle Sonnet consists of only eight syllables. French poetry forms have a tendency to link back to the beginning of the poem, so common practice is to use the first and last line of the first quatrain as the ending couplet. This would also re-enforce the refrain within the poem. Therefore, a good rhyming scheme for a Kyrielle Sonnet would be: A-a-b-B, c-c-b-B, d-d-b-B, A-B –or- A-b-a-B, c-b-c-B, d-b-d-B, A-B. Definition taken from Shadow Poetry.)


Image by 호영 이 from Pixabay

The Turn

For we mere mortals, the apathetic world keeps turning.
Fanatical time goose-steps forward, ever forward,
leaving behind wrinkles and gray hair, aches and pains.
And a cautious wistfulness takes root in our hearts, 
to turn back the clock, to be granted a do-over.
But Father Time—or perhaps, Mother Time—heeds no one.

If I could be granted a wish, a single solitary wish—just one,
this old Earth would spin backward, until it reached the turn
where I took the path through the easy valley instead over
yon rock-strewn hill. The green valley lay forward,
it’s way smooth and grassy, no challenge to home and heart.
The hill looked enormous, formidable, so I fled from the pain

that can transpire with a challenge met, for the nature of pain
makes one shun an operose endeavor. And not one
to take the more difficult way, I tucked away my heart.
I locked all the doors, ignored the wary words turning
somersaults in my imagination, pushing forward 
against my closed mind. In time, they played dead, rolled over.

Time swept away my eagle’s voice, raucous cries now over.
No sound escaped; even attempting to call out caused pain.
The eagle I was meant to be, folded her wings; forward
momentum ceased. Once multiple paths became only one.
The words became memories as the world turned and turned.
But inside the raging silence, a hatchling stole my heart.

The hatchling became a nestling, then fledgling, bold of heart,
Flew away from a nest that grew cold, its purpose now over.
Then, inside the raw silence, words woke, twisted, twined, and turned,
Called out to the comatose eagle, wakened the pain
of a repressed voice that had grown rusty with age. “You are one
once more,” spoke the words. “The time has come to fly forward.”

Now the eagle shouts her words. Body time-worn she pushes forward,
For though a day late and a dollar short, she still has heart.
Time may march on, train-wreck the body, but silences no one.
If the words are yet on life support, they can be warmed over,
the chill chased away, freeing vocals of moth-eaten pain
that withers the soul when what it is meant to be is overturned.

The eagle in me soars forward, my words far from over.
Letters flourish in my heart, dulls old age’s constant pain.
At long last I am the one I was before I missed the turn.

©2021 KT Workman


(Note: The sestina is a strict ordered form of poetry, dating back to twelfth century French troubadours. It consists of six 6-line (sestets) stanzas followed by a 3-line envoy. Rather than use a rhyme scheme, the six ending words of the first stanza are repeated as the ending words of the other five stanzas in a set pattern. The envoy uses two of the ending words per line, again in a set pattern.

First stanza,..1 ..2 ..3 ..4 ..5 ..6

Second stanza, ..6 ..1 ..5 .. 2 ..4 ..3

Third stanza, ..3 ..6 ..4 ..1 ..2 ..5

Fourth stanza, ..5 ..3 ..2 ..6 ..1 ..4

Fifth stanza, ..4 ..5 ..1 ..3 ..6 ..2

Sixth stanza, ..2 ..4 ..6 ..5 ..3 ..1

Concluding tercet:

middle of first line ..2, end of first line ..5

middle of second line ..4, end of second line..3

middle if third line ..6, end of third line ..1)

Definition of a sestina taken from http://www.shadowpoetry.com/


Image by suju-foto from Pixabay

Silver Strands

red-gold cannot stay

frost ices flaming tresses

as winter creeps in

through autumn’s unguarded door

forging fire into silver

©️2021 KT Workman


Poetry form: tanka


Image by Mystic Art Design from Pixabay

Mother Moon

Mother Moon looks down on me tonight,
Full, pregnant, an alabaster ball on the horizon.
My lonely spirit yearns to take flight.

I wonder—does She feel Her children’s plight,
Or our heartaches uncaringly shun?
Mother Moon looks down on me tonight.

Oh, lovely lady, with my tears I write
Odes to your glory—have you seen a one?
My lonely spirit yearns to take flight.

If I could unfurl wings, become a sprite,
I would fly to your domain, eschew the sun.
Mother Moon looks down on me tonight.

You climb through the stars, my envy You incite.
I hunger to rise with You, dressed to bedizen.
My lonely spirit yearns to take flight.

Grant me wings and I will be Your acolyte,
Tiptoe past twilight, with this old earth be done.
Mother Moon looks down on me tonight.
My lonely spirit yearns to take flight.

©2021 KT Workman

(Note: A villanelle  poem has a fixed form, written in tercets, usually five in number, followed by a final quatrain, all based on two rhymes. The 1st and 3rd lines of the 1st stanza are repeated in alternating order throughout the poem, and appear together as the last two lines in the final quatrain.

Rhyme scheme: a-b-a, a-b-a, a-b-a, a-b-a, a-b-a, a-b-a-a.)


Image by Gerhard G. from Pixabay

Sweet Time

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



Image by dalnimi oh from Pixabay

Cold Soul

a blue day, no sun

shines down from a gray heaven

to warm my cold soul

©2021 KT Workman



Poetry form: senryu


Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Grandma Workman

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.


Image by tatlin from Pixabay

Mother

She rejoices when Spring spreads its green skirts,
Arranges them about its sun-draped form
And settles upon the tilled garden dirt
That basks beneath a bright blanket of warmth.

Seeds sprout, take root, raise their tiny green heads,
Reach for the sun, drink in April’s showers.
She picks the brash, ripe produce, tends the beds
With gentle hands and love’s healing power.

Seasons change, a chill creeps over the land,
Diminishes the sun, guides in fall’s winds.
Vegetables grow sluggish, as do the hands,
And winds once warm are replaced by cold friends.

Winter howls, its fangs frost-bite spring and she.
Spring will return...Mother, at last, is free.

©2021 KT Workman

(Note: A sonnet is a 14-line poem written in iambic pentameter. It contains and octave (presents the theme and develops it) and a sestet (which brings the poem to a conclusion).

Rhyme scheme: a-b-a-b, c-d-c-d, e-f-e-f, g-g.


Image by Adina Voicu from Pixabay

Let’s Make a Deal

“I’ll pay you fifty million dollars,” Angela Burk said, her sharp gray eyes boring into Mark Pearson’s. “And all you have to do is give me a little nudge so I can die.”

The old lady was serious! Mark couldn’t believe it. He had agreed to have lunch with Mrs. Burk prior to her surgery on Monday, something the anesthesiologist had never done before with a patient, but she had been insistent; though, her asking this of him was the last thing he thought she may want to talk about. Questions about the operation, yes, but never this. It was just a simple operation—a vaginal hysterectomy for fibroid tumors that had enlarged, which was an uncommon occurrence for women of Mrs. Burk’s advanced years, but not unheard of.

I can’t be hearing her right…this is crazy. Or maybe she was senile. She couldn’t be asking him to kill her. “Mrs. Burk, do you know what you’re asking of me?”

“Yes, young man, I know perfectly well what I’m asking: I want you to help me pass on.”

Mark took a big drink of the expensive wine, started to set the glass down, changed his mind, and swallowed another big gulp. He studied her face for a moment, noted the set of her jaw and the astute intelligence in her steady gaze. Though her shoulder-length silver hair hinted at her age—ninety-five—the rest of her spoke of a much younger woman. Makeup expertly applied, a shocking red dress that skimmed her slim body, and red pumps to match, she could have passed for someone in her fifties. Truth be told, he wouldn’t mind having a look under that red dress and maybe even tapping the old broad.

Continue reading “Let’s Make a Deal”