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  The Fifty Years

                                   By Howard D. Mallison

            We shed the shackles of our teens
            And left the saddle shoes, and jeans
            We faced the future with pompous air
            Unknowing what awaited us there

            The years did pass, as we all know
            So many places we could go
            And some were lost, in wars, and things
            In search of what a good life brings

            Yet many of us are here today
            Slightly balding, but mostly gray
            To try and recall a scene or two
            Of life we had, when life was new

            Roll them back!  The Fifty Years!
            Fill our hearts with joy, and tears
            And let our memories abound
            While we have our friends around.

From:  Poems and Comments
Copyright © 2000 Howard D. Mallison

About  "The Fifty Years" . . .

    School reunions.  Many people don’t get to see the 50th anniversary of their school graduation class.  When I was asked to write something in the nature of a poem to help commemorate our 50th, I had no idea where to begin, or what tack to take.  I thought about how much time 50 years actually represents, and decided something spanning the entire period - agewise - would probably be more appropriate.

    I wrote the above poem after some deliberation.   It might be helpful to note that our High School graduation class was in the year 1949 (which we combine reunion celebrations with the classes of 1950 and 1951), indicating that our public school days were during the 1930's and 1940's, which included part of the Great Depression and all of World War II.  The succeeding years saw Korea, the Cold War and its end,  man on the moon, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, Granada, Iran hostage crisis, Panama, Desert Storm, Somalia, Afghanistan, terrorists attacks, assasinations of several public figures, and other events - some of which I am sure I have omitted.

    Longevity of life - the equalizer of us all!  In reading the poem, I can almost lose myself in each verse,  thinking of what it suggests, and recalling things, people, situations.  Perhaps you can do the same, also, in thinking of your own public school days and graduation.  I hope so.   After all, isn’t retrospective thought and the temporary reliving of past associations the real purpose of a reunion?

Thank you for reading my poem.    ironfrog

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                                By Howard  D. Mallison

    I want to go where the four winds blow, don't put me in the ground,
    I don't want to stay where stone cold monuments abound!
    I'm sure they're right for lots of folk who think traditionally,
    But if you care, just give me air, it's the only "life" for me!

    Put my ashes on the wind where I'll be free to go,    
    Any place my heart desires, and places I don't know!
    And in the sun of a pretty day, or the snow in its silent fall,
    If you think of me, well, there I'll be, standing straight and tall!

    I always loved a babbling brook and the shade of a stately tree,
    I like to watch wild animals because they're wild and free!
    The eagles wing, and hawks soar, so why the hell can't I?
    Just cut me loose, like the old wild goose, and let my ashes fly!

    I'd like to think that if someone wanted to visit me,
    They wouldn't have to look for a stone, in some old cemetery!
    Just blink an eye, or look around, or feel the summer air,
    And sense my aura, in any tomorrow, and know that I am there!

    I've always thought that I was born to wander near and far,
    In after life, and in this one, akin to a wandering star!
    But when my earthly feet are stilled, and I cross the great divide,
    Wherever you go, you just might know, I'm with you for the ride!
From "A Third Collection of Poems I Wrote"
Copyright © 1998 Howard D. Mallison

("Winds" is published in the International Library of Poetry's anthology entitled
"From Silver Fountains",  Fall 2000)

About  "Winds" . . .

    At some point in time, most of us come to the realization we are not immortal, and, therefore, consider our own passing.  What to do with the shell we leave behind?  And why?  I can truly say it bothered me a whole lot less when I was forty years younger - probably because I had not experienced the depth of life afforded by longevity.

    Peculiar, but there are many things that don't have the same meaning now that they had years ago.  For many of us, perhaps the closer we come to departing, the more instinctive we become in our choices, and the more we unconsciously revert to the feelings and practices of our ancestors.

Thank you for reading my poem.   ironfrog

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  Ode To An Eastern Cowboy

                                by Howard D. Mallison

    Payton was a Cowboy, as fine as you’d want to see
    He lived and loved his cows and his horse and all of his family
    The fact that his spread was so tiny, compared with many out West
    Never bothered his mind, never made him unkind, he just kept doing his best.

    He never had a name for his cows, but he’d whistle and they would come
    Out of the brush and across the fields, to where the call came from
    They always trusted this weathered man, who stood so straight and tall
    And he knew them by sight, even in the night, and they came when he would call.

    His face was wrinkled with living, his statue was always trim
    His eyes would hold you steady peering out from under his brim
    The jeans that he wore showed wear, and his boots had rode many a mile
    In his colorful shirt, (reflecting some dirt), he was always ready to smile.

    He raised the hay for his cow-feed, and other things off on the side
    And bred some horses occasionally, and kept a few for to ride
    An Eastern Cowboy with Western ways, an accident in time
    Had set him down, on Virginia ground, to live in the Eastern clime.

    Now cowboys back east on the rangeland, don’t really have far to go
    To see to their cows, or fix up a fence, that’s easy enough to know
    But Payton was ready for either, though missing a part of one hand
    He guided his life, through joy and strife, and still was a hell of a man!

    His wife and daughter found heaven, at the hands of a drunken man
    When Payton was told of their passing, in grief he could hardly stand
    With tears that flowed like the rivers, he laid them both to rest
    And harmed not the thief, that brought him grief, and put his character to test.

    For thirty long years thereafter, he worked his cows and his land
    And often thought what could have been, if not for a drunken man
    But his hand never raised in anger, his words never once asked why
    He awaited the day, he’d be called away, to that Big Ranch up in the Sky.

    Now Payton has long since departed from, his Eastern cowboy life
    And nothing worldly can hurt him, or add to his earthly strife
    I’m sure his wife and daughter there, were waiting by the gate
    For him on his horse, duded up, of course, feeling sorry for being so late.

    Ride on, my friend, ride on I say!  Throughout the heavenly day
    And chase the dogies through the sky, or toss ‘em a little hay
    And when it’s time to settle in and rest your bones for the while
    Hold them near, your family so dear, and give ‘em a really big smile!

Copyright © 2001 Howard D. Mallison

("Ode To An Eastern Cowboy"  is included in the  website)

About “Ode To An Eastern Cowboy” . . .

    Payton was real.

    He was about as close to the proverbial Cowboy as any Easterner may ever be.  He was an expert carpenter and cabinet maker.  He made many structual enhancements in all of his houses, as well as having built at least one.  He had the patience and wisdom born of living, and of a lifetime of associating with man and beast, and the innate common sense and deductive reasoning necessary for his lifestyle.  He loved his venison, and would prepare and freeze much of it, as well as various kinds of wild game and game birds that lived on and around his acreage.  He fished in his own pond which he had stocked.

    He had served in the Armed Forces in WW II which may have cost him several fingers on one hand.  His wife and eight year old daughter were killed by a drunken driver within a mile of their home and thus was a thief in stealing away a large part of Payton’s future as well as two precious lives.  Later, he gave our daughter a foal, out of his best mare, which I am sure he had mentally earmarked for his own daughter - because we and the daughters had been close.

    One of his last wishes was that he be laid out in a coffin wearing his Western finery, his best boots, and with one of his better hats.  And that a spray of flowers, in the shape of a horsehead, should be among the flowers at his graveside - this was done.

    I sincerely hope that Payton is now at rest - with his loved ones.

Thank you for reading my poem.   ironfrog

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  A Glance Back

                                By Howard D. Mallison

    There's something sad about a paddock gate and a fence that's falling down
    No life, no noise, no activity, just silence all around
    The rotting boards that formed the fence are naked in the sun
    Their paintless face, and rusting nails, attest their day is done.

    The run-in shed is standing bare, and sagging here and there
    A lonely reminder of other times when there were some to care
    And give it spirit, a will to live, a reason to hold out rain
    A place in time to focus thoughts that come now and again.

    If I could close my weary eyes and think down deep inside
    Would I recall the yesterdays and a horse we kept to ride?
    And if I listened carefully for sounds that once were there
    Would I hear the melody of laughter in the air?

    Could I resurrect the dreams that once were dreamed so free
    And could I live again the scenes of life that used to be?
    Or should I find a quiet place where I could search my soul
    And wonder at the course of life, its riches, and its toll?

    Would it be nice to go again back to a place in time
    When things, and life, and family, were in a closer clime
    Before the years had come and gone and split us all apart
    And caused some dreams to run and hide, as secrets in our heart?

    But time is kind, and time is cruel, it never stays the same
    It moves along with strident steps, no matter what the name
    It takes us each on varied paths, life's wonders to embrace
    And maybe, just in memory, a glance back at this place. . . . . .

From "A Third Collection of Poems I Wrote"
Copyright © 1998 Howard D. Mallison

("A Glance Back"  is included in the website)

About "A Glance Back" . . .
        Outside my window, I was bothered by seeing the crumbling fence and the paddock gate which, in their prime, were used for the quarter horse.   The post holes were dug the laborious way - with a posthole digger.  Cedar posts were used to hold the rails and hand-strung wire.  Years later, after the horse was gone and the fence no longer needed, it was left to the elements.  The gate and part of the fence were visible from the dining room window.  Subconsciously, it impressed me with the forlorn, abandoned, look of it.  And I began to think.  Those thoughts led to the poem.

Thank you for reading my poem.   ironfrog

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  Brown Mule

                                by Howard D. Mallison
    Brown Mule really had a kick, as best I can recall,
    But I am thinking back in time, when I was not so tall
    And things I thought I saw back then may not have come to pass
    Scenes of then are hazy now, like Alice through her glass
    And what was once so crystalline grows dimmer with each year
    While sometimes when I think of things I often shed a tear
    Not because the time has passed, for that will surely be
    But all because my years can’t find a lot of history

    ‘Twas in a field that once grew hay, now fallow in late Fall
    With browning grasses all around, and Winter birds in call
    That spoke of cold days yet to come in just a week or so
    ‘Twas in this field that cooling day, Brown Mule I came to know
    Now, old Brown Mule was tobacco made for chewing now and then
    It came in little plugs of brown, not so wide, but thin
    And wrapped around with cellophane to hold its flavor there
    With colored letters printed on to add a little flair

    My friend and I had bought the plug from a store we knew
    And wandered off into the field to do what we would do
    We chewed some Mule for just a while, and spat at things we saw
    A cheek puffed out along the side, tobacco in our jaw
    Somewhere along the way, I guess, I forgot to spit
    And swallowed some of Brown Mule juice, it was time to quit
    My stomach growled in protest and I threw the chew away
    Brown Mule had really kicked me on that cooling, late fall day.

Copyright © 2002 Howard D. Mallison

("Brown Mule"  is included in the website)

About "Brown Mule" . . .

    Brown Mule was only one of the brands of chewing tobacco that we kids eventually tried.  There was also Red Apple, Beech Nut, B&W, Red Man, and I think Cut Plug, as well as several other brands that I no longer remember.  After trying several, Beech Nut was sort of unofficially agreed upon as the “chew of choice”.  The “plug” tobacco was pressed into a block, or “plug”.  Beech Nut came in a “bag” and was stringy, and was easy to wad up, and start chewing.  The flavor was much better, also.  However, after having survived the first round of swallowed tobacco juice, we learned to do without that bit.

    The “field” and surrounding acreage belonged to an old couple that lived in a very old house on the edge of the field.  Sadie and Jim.   She dipped and he chewed.  Good people - and I really liked them.  Before he became too old, and among other things, he would grow, cure, and make his own chewing tobacco.  They named a street after them in that part of the County.  

    Sadie and Jim would sit outside during the summer evenings, behind their wire fence and beneath the shade of the some-kind-of-a-tree that grew there.  They had no electricity.  I knew them for the better part of seven years.  I don’t believe Jim ever said more than one  paragraph’s worth to me in that whole time.  Now, Sadie, she was the wise one, the knower of all and the teller of little, but full of innuendos.  From their chairs beneath the shade tree, they were in a good position to watch the comings and goings in the area, and did so.  She was always ready to laugh, if something was funny, frequently showing what was left of her snuff-stained teeth in so doing.  

    As far as I ever knew, Sadie and Jim had no children.  No kin ever came to call.  Only neighbors stopped by to speak with them as they sat beneath their tree.  They rarely received mail although they had a box at their gate.  They had long ago sold their mule and stopped working their land.  I don't remember the name of their dog but he was highly protective of Jim and Sadie.  They were good people

    We did a lot of growing in their field.  I did a lot of growing simply by knowing them.  Thanks, Sadie, you too, Jim - I hope each of you know how much I appreciate having known you!

    And thank you for reading my poem.   ironfrog                         

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                                 by Howard D. Mallison

    She came in on the high tide and spread herself around
    Sucked in all the calm air, and gobbled up the ground
    She spit out stinging drops of rain in mighty gusts of wind
    And howled aloud her mighty song, unmeasured in its din.

    People sought the shelter of whatever they could find,
    And tried to keep the outside chaos, absent from their mind,
    And lived some frightening hours while Nature shed its wrath,
    Listening to the storm outside and wondering about its path.

    For hour after hour the banshee wail came down
    And suddenly, without a word - quiet - all around.
    The loudening sound of sudden silence, fell upon their ears
    And prompted some to laughter, others unto tears.

    For minute after minute, the silence held full sway
    But bit by bit this eerie void, began to wash away.  
    Then came again the frightening storm, shoving out the “eye”
    Unleashing yet another round of fury from the sky.

    Outside the weaker trees and things were scattered here and there
    And bits and pieces of what had been lay almost everywhere
    The darkness of the night was large because the lights were gone
    The winds and fury began to die, the storm was moving on!

    Another night and to the north the dying storm, still fierce
    Continued in a different vein, its soaking rains did pierce
    The darkness of the coming night, but failed to show the face
    Of danger in the darkening hours, that soon would fill the place.

    The blackness of the night, a shroud, hid the worsening scene
    Of hills turned brown by sliding ground that took away the green
    With houses, roads, and people, too, carried miles away
    The havoc, unimagined then, would show in light of day.

    Hour after soggy hour, it rained and soaked the ground
    But no one sounded danger for the people there around
    The winds that buffeted the Coast, were absent in their night
    And no one really had a thought of leaving home in flight.
    The pounding rain did soak the hills, the tops began to move
    To meet the gullys down below and make a larger groove
    With mud and rain and moving earth it took some towns away
    And many who were trapped within still lie there, lost, today.

    The morning dawned in gathering calm, the rain ceased to be
    The sun came out and lit the stage for everyone to see
    It took a while to comprehend how much had changed that night
    Some things that used to be were gone, such a frightening sight.

    For days the flooded scenes were searched, often all in vain
    The list of missing persons grew, adding misery to pain
    The stench of bloated animals lay heavy in the air
    And many people came to see if loved ones were still there.

    The weeks that followed brought a kind of order to the place
    Roads rebuilt, and houses, too, appeared to change its face
    But memories that live within will come now and again
                Attesting to that terrible night when the hills were full of rain.

From "Poems and Comments"                See also:  Camille Residue    and
Copyright © 2000 Howard D. Mallison                                                           Flood Events and Facts                                             

About "Hurricane" . . .
   In 1999, the thirtieth anniversary of Hurricane Camille was recognized in parts of Virginia.  The drought of 1998-99 affected many parts of the East Coast.  Efforts to conserve water were put into place by some localities and threats of water controls were made in other areas.  The lack of rain sharply curtailed agriculture and forced many local farmers and dairymen to reduce their herds. Many private water wells were in deep trouble.

     The summer of 1969 had no such problem.  Hurricane Camille, a category 5 hurricane, came ashore in August of that year, slamming the Gulf Coast with hurricane winds and many inches of rain.  That is normally expected from hurricanes.  What was not expected, however, was the “back-door” it found further inland.  After making landfall, Camille gradually deteriorated into a large tropical disturbance as it made its way inland and up from the Gulf of Mexico through sections of the States north of the Gulf.  Some winds still existed although they were not the problem.  The disturbance moved through the Virginia Piedmont and eastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the early morning of August 20, 1969, leaving 24 inches of rain in a six hour period, and much death and destruction in its wake.  Some small communities in Nelson County were so inundated with rain that they almost ceased to exist.

    The rain came through during the night with no public warning of the impending danger.  The constant rain caused many mud slides in the foothills, taking away many homes, businesses, and roads.  Many citizens, thinking themselves safe, awoke and realized the danger of their shifting, sliding, homes.  Some were able to reach safety, some were not.  Some members of families were rescued while some members were never found.  50 deaths alone occurred along Davis Creek in Nelson County.  Bridges were destroyed.  Rain and run-off caused many areas to be flooded and isolated.  After the storm moved on, helicopters used an isolated, island like, section of US 29 in Lovingston, Va as a helipad while the adjacent public school building was used as a focal point for the coordination of rescue efforts and the evacuation of sick and injured citizens.  The Tye, the James, the Rockfish, the Rivanna, all rivers using the Blue Ridge watershed, as well as numerous creeks and branches in the area, were swollen, flooded.  

    The final death toll was set at 130 dead, although some, to this day, are still listed as missing, their bodies never recovered.  Search operations continued for several weeks following the storm. At one point during the recovery, it was estimated that approximately 60% of the Highway Department heavy equipment in the entire Commonwealth of Virginia was in use in Nelson County, rebuilding the road system.  The land and several generations of people were forever changed. One of the men who worked in my office lost a cousin in the flood.  Several of the long time residents of Charlottesville, VA who were also members of our church, were working volunteers of the local rescue squad organization, and spent many hours assisting Civil Authorities in any manner that they could.  

    Years later, I wrote the poem “Hurricane”.

Thank you for reading this poem.     ironfrog

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  What?  What?

                            By Howard D. Mallison

        I clicked on my computer just the other day
        I was half asleep, ain't that the way?
        What I thought I saw right before my eyes,
        Gave me a start and a big surprise....
            They were the....

                Prettiest dancing girls that I've ever seen!!!
                Did the Hula Hula all over my screen
                Grass skirts flying, (my computer started frying!)
                Took off my glasses to get 'em clean...
                    And then they were gone...

        Leaving me a coffee cup and a few kind words
        I sat there feeling so totally absurd
        I stared at the cup rocking to and fro
        Wondering where next my computer would go...
                When all of a sudden...

                A dragon!  A dragon!  Now where the deuce?
                Who in the world ever let him loose?
                Beady eyes staring, (his nostrils flaring),
                Hey, can we sign some sort of truce?...
                    Then it straightened out...

        The screen changed colors and it came around
        It spit and it sputtered, then settled down
        I clicked on the icon to bring up my show
        But I kept thinking "This can't be so!"
            And I was right...

                A picture of a Spad and a Fokker, too,
                And a Sopwith Camel came into view,
                Machine guns ablaze, (through a smokey haze),
                From deep within the sounds grew and grew!
                    Until, finally...

        I just couldn't take a silly bit more
        I took my bare foot and stamped the floor
        Searching for the power strip to end my woe
        "I'll cut the juice, and to bed I'll go!"...
            And I did.

From "A Third Collection of Poems I Wrote"
Copyright © 1998 Howard D. Mallison

About "What?  What?" . . .

    I received an internet birthday card from a relative.  It was a coffee cup that would rock back and forth, and had a nice verse with it.  During boot-up and shut-down, the wallpaper on my computer screen would change color and intensity rather swiftly and, using a little imagination, one sequence was remindful of a dragon, combined with several other shapes.

    Another relative purchased a new computer that was flawed.  After it had been on for a while and the screen was showing desktop, the mouse would sometimes begin moving in a very erratic manner with the mouse pointer literally zipping all over the desktop, opening programs indiscriminately.  This produced an effect remindful of the lights of a pinball machine when the ball would cause various features to change and to light up. There was no way to stop it except to turn off the power or let it run its course.  

    It was necessary for a technician to do an on-site checkout of the machine.  Replacing the motherboard apparently solved the “problem”.

    All these thoughts prompted the poem.  

Thank you for reading it.    ironfrog

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  On The Wings of A Scraggly Bird

                    by Howard  D. Mallison

            I once knew a man who said "I can
                Rhyme whenever I speak"
            I followed him around that whole darn town
                For week after week after week

            I stood in awe at things I saw
                And words I heard him say
            He'd rhyme and rhyme everytime
                As he went on his way

            He'd speak to all large and small
                A smile upon his lips
            Not a silly sound I ever found
                He only passed on tips

            It may be absurd, but there were two words
                He said he could never rhyme
            Orange is one, and Purple its son,
                Stumped him time after time

            I never tired (and always admired)
                 Of the way he spoke so plain
            His manner was quaint yet he could paint
                Word pictures again and again

            But I was young with songs to be sung
                And dragons I had to slay
            With growing tall and school and all
                I gradually slipped away

            So now I find in looking behind
                I wish I could recall    
            The songs he sang and the rhymes that rang
                And filled my head so small

            But in my mind I cannot find
                Those verses that I heard
            And I know today, they flew away    
                On the wings of a scraggly bird...
                    Called time...

From "A Third Collection of Poems I Wrote"
Copyright © 1998 Howard D. Mallison

About "On The Wings of A Scraggly Bird" . . .

    Mr. Frank Harrell,  “The Rhyming Man”, actually existed. As youths in a 1930’s small North Carolina town, several of us would follow him around the neighborhood and listen to his rhymes.

    As I recall it, (now 70 plus years later), he would make rhymes for us children, on our own level. However, I was especially intrigued as he spoke to grownups because, in his rhymes, he incorporated grownup subjects about everyday living.  

    In 1997, at the funeral of an Aunt’s husband (also a Harrell, and kin to Frank Harrell), I was pleased to see a childhood acquaintance - Frank’s daughter, Marie.  We discussed her Father, and she mentioned that he had never met a stranger, and was always ready to talk to anyone. She recalled that there were only two words he could never successfully rhyme - orange and purple.

    In the poem, I tried to recreate much of the story, the feeling and impressions, as I could, and equate it to the passage of time and the toll it takes on memories, which, in turn, might give rise to nostalgic feelings for a simpler time.

    It also brought up an awareness of how irregular, uneven, and ragged that, at times, life can be.

Thank you for reading my poem.     ironfrog

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  Granny's Crochet Hook

                                By Howard D. Mallison

    I wasn't there when Grandma died, but I visited her that day
    I knew that after we'd talked awhile, she'd soon be going away
    But still it came as quite a shock, when I answered the telephone
    At three a.m., in a sleepy haze, and heard that she'd gone home.

    I listened to the preacher man, before they lowered her down
    How she had gone to a better life, and soon would wear a crown
    But in my heart I already knew, that through her personal strife
    She had worn a crown for years, for helping others in life.

    We looked around her little place, as we broke it down
    Mementos of another life, and things she had around
    A table cloth I'd sent to her, from far across the sea
    She'd never used, packed away, a note to give it to me.

    And many things from family, she'd placed about with pride
    Or packed in drawers most carefully, with little notes inside
    I never knew how deep she thought, until I went that day
    To help my Aunt and Uncle, put her place away.

    We tried to give her modest wealth, to those we thought would care
    To friends and neighbors, and family, alike, her worldy things to share
    An item here, an item there, that brought memories to mind
    Of this smiling, whitehaired lady,  - of the dearest Grandma kind.

    But it was in her kitchen drawer, in a small compartment nook
    I found the item I love most -  Granny's crochet hook
    Made out of metal, or stainless steel, it seemed to call from there
    And so I took it home with me, to live with my silverware.

    She must have used it all around, for this and that, you see
    A tool so versatile and plain, a real surprise to me
    For with its little end so hooked, it can reach in anywhere
    And grab whatever it is that's needed, to be moved from there.

    But what I really love the most, each time I use this thing
    Is when I hold it in my hand, it always seems to sing
    And I can hear her laughing voice, and I'm so glad I took
    This little metal thing-a-ma-bob, Granny's crochet hook.        

From "A Third Collection of Poems I Wrote"
Copyright © 1998 Howard D. Mallison

About "Granny’s Crochet Hook" . . .

    My Grandmother was one of a kind.  She was courageous, she was talented, she was resourceful, she was brave, and she was not afraid to face the world on whatever terms necessary.  At a time in history when it was neither fashionable nor easy to be a single Mother, she alone watched over and cared for her children.  

    Grandma admitted to having been married three times but could not remember the name of one husband "...because he didn't give me any children..." she said.  How she really managed to provide for her family through the years between 1910 and 1930 is something I never learned. She managed to get all six daughters and one son married off and into their own lives.

    She loved her grandchildren - so much so that she would put aside her beloved snuff and spitoon (a coffee can) when they would visit.  She was always ready to laugh, and frequently did. I never heard her complain, or cry out, even in the final stages of cancer. I looked upon her as a surrogate Mother, never fully realizing until much later the impact she had on my life, and on those around her.

    She loved, and was loved.

Thank you.     ironfrog

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  My Red Shirt

                                                by Howard D. Mallison

        My red shirt is gone, I know not where
        Last time I saw it, it was on the chair
        I’ve looked and I’ve looked and searched high and low
        Now where in the world can a red shirt go?

        It does not have legs, it can’t walk about
        It has no hands, to let itself out
        It has no brain, to think of a way
        To keep it from being worn today!

        Could someone have put it where I can’t see
        The jolly red color staring back at me?
        Is it somewhere, laughing with glee
        At the silly old fool it is making of me?

        Why can’t I find this bright red thing
        But, listen, do I hear its laughter ring?
        From wall to wall as I look about
        I’m sure I left that darn thing out!

        I’ve looked in the hamper, not there, you know
        I’ve looked in places where seldom I go
        And searched through drawers and on hangers, GEE!
        I’m sure not a place has eluded me!

        But sometime, I know, it’ll show up once more
        Maybe around on the back of my door?
        Oh, yes, there it is, laughing with glee
        At the silly old fool it has made of me!

From "Poems and Comments"    
Copyright © 2000 Howard D. Mallison

About "My Red Shirt" . . .

    I really enjoyed writing this poem.  I searched, and I searched, for that darn red shirt, all over the house I searched.  I wasn't mad, wasn't alarmed, wasn't irritated - it was almost like a game of hide and go seek as played between an adult and a child.  I'm not sure that the red shirt didn't actually change locations while I was searching - either that or my eyes don't always see what they're looking at, or my mind doesn't record it, or . . . etc. etc.

    Everytime I read this poem, I can almost hear background waves of low volume laughter as I searched in each place, laughter similar to that of the "Munchkins" in the "Wizard of Oz" movie before they actually became visible to Dorothy.  I came up with the conclusion that the red shirt was exactly where I had put it!  Feel foolish?  I did!

    So, this is for everyone who has ever "lost" something that magically reappeared in a place that had been searched many times.

Thank you.     ironfrog

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  Through Freddie's Eyes
                Microsoft Photo Editor 3.0 Photo
                                by Howard  D. Mallison

    Put me down in the cold, cold, ground, where the rails run by the side,    
    So I can hear and be so near, the trains I loved to ride
    Don't shed a tear just put me near, where I can hear the sound,
    Of whistles blowing and believe they're knowing, they're passing hallowed ground

    In all my life through joy and strife, I've always loved a train,
    To hear their sound and wheels going 'round, brought comfort through my pain
    So put me down in the cold, cold, ground, where I can feel it shake,
    And let me hear so very near, the sounds that trains can make

    In Heavens fold if I behold, a wonderful, beautiful, train,
    I'll be content with the life I've spent, and be at peace again
    (And if each day the engineer may, blow his whistle clear,
    I'll hear the sound in this cold, cold, ground, and I will know no fear.)

From "Another Collection of Poems I Wrote"
Copyright © 1996 Howard D. Mallison

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About "Through Freddie's Eyes" . . .

           Fred was an across-the-street neighbor for many years although he had lived the first part of his life in the Washington, DC area.  He loved his trains and had several model train layouts.  He never married.

           Fred had problems that made it almost impossible for him to work at a steady job.  He lived on his parents property and did what he could.  He was really an o.k. individual although he occasionally became a little loud.  He was a talented mechanic and loved to tinker with automobiles.

          He died early and was buried amongst family members in a cemetery near Appomattox, VA. The tracks of the Norfolk and Southern Railway run by the cemetery, and, during his funeral services, a freight train came by and blew its whistle as if to acknowledge Fred's passing.

          For several nights following the funeral, it was difficult for me to sleep. After some fitful turning in my recliner early one morning, words began to come, and I wrote the poem "Through Freddie's Eyes".  Strange, but after I had written the poem I had no more difficulty sleeping.  I thought I might go it one better, include the pictures of the two trains above, print it in color, frame it, and give it to his parents.  They were delighted to have it.

         Through me, was Fred really telling his parents that he was alright, and not to worry about him? I don't know.

Thank you.       ironfrog

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  The Loneliest Road In America

                                       by Howard D. Mallison

    The sign says “HIGHWAY 50 The Loneliest Road” around
    From Ely on the eastern edge, to Carson City town
    The Loneliest Road in America, and I believe they’re right
    We’ve traveled on this lonesome road, in the day and in the night.

    We’ve marveled at the many scenes of “nothing” to be seen
    Panoramic, inspiring views, with darn few trees and green
    So restful in its “nothingness” (as defined by those back East)
    So peaceful in its “Here I am”!  A virtual, visual, feast.

    One learns to appreciate, a tree, a bit of shade
    The pleasure of driving up and down, when the road changes grade    
    And climbs the summits along the way, which varies the countryside
    Adding variety to the day, and difference to the ride.

    No traffic lights for a hundred miles, between the little towns
    Where one can stop and wander some, and take a look around
    And sometimes people glance our way, and give a smile or two
    When we get out and stretch our legs, as often times we do.

    Through Ely, Eureka, and Austin towns, their smallness not so small
    Just stop your car along the road, and hear Nevada call
    And listen for the horses hooves, that carried the U. S. mail
    A moment in our history, that forever will never pale.

    And on and on to Fallon town, an oasis among the best
    A pleasant stop, a well cooked meal, a much needed rest
    A place to look inside oneself, compare the journeys sights
    And file the memories in the mind, for cold winter nights.

    Highway 50, The Loneliest Road?  Depends upon your view
    And what a person is looking for, and what they want to do
    But if you’re looking for a place, that won’t clutter up your mind
    Try Highway 50, The Loneliest Road, leave the Interstates behind.

From Poems and Comments
Copyright © 2000 Howard D. Mallison

About "The Loneliest Road In America" . . .

    US 50.  The highway begins in the state of Maryland and ends in the state of California.

    In between the Coasts, the road alternately stands on its own and joins forces with I-70 of the Interstate system.  For a short distance, it also combines with I-15 in Utah, then goes west into and through Nevada.  After leaving Ely, there are virtually miles and miles of what some would consider “nothingness”.  

    For the most part, the almost total absence of trees allows for panoramic views in all directions. There are trees, of course, in the towns and in places where the road climbs to summits of 7500 feet or more as it crosses mountains.  In the valleys between mountain ranges, there are many 360 degree views.  Depending on the time of year, there are wild flowers in places.  It is beautiful in its starkness, uncluttered in its simplicity, and quiet in its sparsely inhabited countryside.  No houses hug the road.  No businesses entice the traveler.  Only in the towns of Ely, Eureka, Austin, and Fallon are there nearby signs of habitation.  

    There are few places in the lower States where a motorist can travel 100 miles at a time and not encounter a traffic light, but this is one of them. The "I Survived" promotion, sponsored by the Nevada Chamber of Commerce, complete with bumper stickers, pictures, and other recognitions, was once available to mark the passage and to promote tourism. It described several points of interest along US 50 for motorists. It is also a beautiful drive on a night when the moon is full and shining.

    If you're ever out that way sometime, you might try it.

Thank you.     ironfrog

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  Space Suit

                                     by Howard D. Mallison

        This suit I wear is just for space
        For use while in this earthly place
        It is aligned to local mores
        Attuned to all that crash its shores

        A vessel filled and carved from dust
        With liking for the earthly lust
        And thoughts and things, a mental mire
        An effort to discern desire

        This suit I wear, a house for me
        To use a while, a place to be
        A thing that makes my all appear
        In consonance with what is here

        A way to live, and breathe, and see
        A thing displaying only me
        With earthly frills, good and bad
        Sometimes happy, sometimes sad

        This suit I wear, is mine alone
        And when I die, it will be gone
        And I shall never be the same
        Another world, with another name?

From Poems and Comments
Copyright © 2000 Howard D. Mallison

About "Space Suit"  . . .

    Space travelers?  Space suits?  Walk on the moon garments?  Military pilots?

    I don’t think we have to go that far to understand this poem.  To focus it more closely on the individual, perhaps our earthly form can be likened to a “Space Suit”, of sorts.  If one believes in the “life” hereafter, and the concept of a “soul”, it should be easy to consider an earthly form as a space suit.

    A relative of my wife brought up the idea of a human body being likened to that of a space suit. This analogy intrigued me, and, added to the fact that this relative was a retired Air Force pilot, I could pretty well understand how this comparison may have come to him.

    Think about it!

Thank you.     ironfrog   

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                                    by Howard D. Mallison

                This prison has no bars to see
                It’s always here, holding me
                And it will never let me go
                Respite from it, I’ll never know.

                I try to “listen” for any sound
                But there is not a sound around
                That I can hear, or ever will
                My ears, forevermore, are still.

                The silence of my world is huge
                There is no place to take refuge,
                From quiet, into a world of noise
                Of laughing children, girls and boys

                I’d like to know my Collie’s bark
                And hear the squirrels, in the park
                I’d like to talk, just any day
                And speak with you, in a normal way
                This whole wide world of nothing sound
                Is like a bit of marshy ground
                It grabs and holds onto my feet
                And robs me of their rhythmic beat        
                This prison has no bars, that’s true
                None that can be seen by you
                Invisible, as my discontent
                In solitary confinement.

From Poems and Comments
Copyright © 2000 Howard D. Mallison

About "Deaf" . . .

    I think it is difficult for most of us to understand the problems and feelings of anyone who is deaf, or hard of hearing.  

    I am close to one who must wear two hearing aids.  They are just that - aids.  They are not corrective, as in the sense of eyeglasses.  Try watching the T.V. with the volume completely muted and see what a difference it makes, then try to imagine a life in a world of silence, or near silence.  

    There are many variations and degrees of hearing loss, some in the high ranges, some in the low ranges, or a mixture in different frequencies.  For their own safety, anyone with a loss must always be alert to visual happenings.   All this requires a constant state of mental awareness, which in itself is physically and mentally tiring.  Hearing problems tend to increase with age, although many young people have caused damage to their ears with loud music, and other noises.  

    A prison with no bars, and a prison from which there is little hope of escape.

Thank you.     ironfrog

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  I See The Leaves!

                    by Howard D. Mallison

        I see the leaves that sprang from the trees
        They're anything but green
        I do believe, that this year's leaves,
        Are the prettiest that I've seen.

        Some are up and some are down
        And some are about to fall,
        But one thing's sure, I can't escape
        I'll have to rake them all.

        They'll crunch and crunch in mild protest,
        And skitter across the ground,
        I'll rake and rake, and don't you know?
        Some more will float on down.

        I wonder if, in ages past,
        Worlds and worlds away
        If some other guy raked these trees leaves
        On another beautiful day?

        Was I the first to take a rake
        To all these colored leaves?
        To stand among and look upon
        These shedding, dripping, trees?

        And rake in hand, try to plan
        Where I will start and stop,
        And cart away, day by day,
        These pretty things they drop?

        Ahhh, but I don't have the time
        To ponder all these things,
        I've gotta rake and rake these leaves
        That Mother Nature brings.

From "Another Collection of Poems I Wrote"
Copyright © 1996 Howard D. Mallison

About "I See The Leaves!" . . .


    Leaves from trees where no house has ever been before.  And to think all these trees were left intact to give shade.  Much cooler on a hot summer day, lying in a hammock beneath them.  Think of all the air they help to purify, not to mention homes for squirrels, places for birds, a proving ground for woodpeckers, an occasional perch for the resident owl.  The red tail hawk glides among them on silent wings and reaches for its next meal.  The beetles and the locusts.

    Fall.  That time of year when leaves turn various colors.  Pretty.  Lawn mowers are abandoned.
Leaf rakes are checked.  Occasional gusts of wind cause a shower of these things to fall from the trees.
Some leaves sail lazily around, catching little puffs of air currents, often directed by a breath of wind, a delight to watch for very young children.  

    Rake.  A thing used to physically assemble piles and piles of leaves to be disposed of in whatever manner.  Vacuums and blowers can be used, certainly, but the exercise gained from raking is probably more preferable than using these vacuums and blowers.

    How do the trees know, and how can the leaves tell, when it is time to "do their thing"?  I'm sure many learned persons could explain, and provide a scientific explanation as to the workings of trees and leaves.  Frankly, I am content to accept this phenomena, enjoy its beauty, and decry the raking!

Thank you.     ironfrog

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  The Winter of  '50                                                               

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                        By Howard D. Mallison

        The winter of that year was cold, with lots of snow around
        And many people came and went, fighting for that ground
        I guess if it had been my home, I would have done the same
        But I was hoping I could just get back from where I came.

        The unit that they left me with stayed put, (and didn't go)
        To guard the airfield thereabouts, 'cause it was needed so
        And things for us had quieted down, and we began to live
        Looking to the coming Spring, the renewal it would give.

        Mama-san at the little farm, not so far away
        Would do our laundry, for cigarettes, or anything we'd pay
        And Jo-san, staring vacantly, would work the Singer treadle
        Sometimes humming old folk songs, as she pumped the pedal.

        They drew their water from a well, dug upon their grounds
        And listened to the warbirds roar, and all the other sounds
        While anxiously awaiting, any news of someone dear
        Yet, deep within their weary eyes, hung a little fear.

        Mama-san would oversee, and run the little farm
        She tried to keep her family group, away from any harm
        And see that all the cabbages were planted in the ground
        Fertilized with stuff that we could smell for miles around.

        Mama-san would sing their songs, and laugh once in awhile
        But when I'd ask about her man, she'd only, weakly, smile
        She told me, once, he'd gone away to fight the northern foe
        And then her eyes would fill with tears, no further would she go.

        In retrospect, as do we all, I call up a memory
        And play again a scene or two, my inner eye to see
        I wonder at the hidden strength of those who stay behind
        And hope that in the after years, their future had been kind.
From "A Third Collection of Poems I Wrote"    
Copyright © 1998 Howard D. Mallison                Return to:    Laundry Day

About "The Winter of  ‘50" . . .

        Korea.  The Korean War.

        It was cold there in the winter.  Even the snow had chillbumps.  But it was a country, an experience, and, above all, a people I will never forget.  Their spirit, their will, and their determination, have always served to somewhat humble me.

        They took nothing - and made something.
        Many people take something - and make nothing.

Thank you.     ironfrog
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  Before The Darkness Comes.....

                            By Howard D. Mallison

            Before the darkness comes to me
            There are some things that I would see
            To store them in my memory
            And etch them on my mind.

            Forever there for my recall
            Some things are large, some are small
            But let me see them, before the pall
            Hides their every sign.

            Clouds that skitter through the skies
            And ever change their shape, and size
            Have long with wonder, caressed my eyes
            With many colors, abound.

            Springtime leaves with their new green
            A misty rain that can be seen
            Through their pretty, shadowy, screen
            Of Nature, all around.

            And places that I've been before
            I'd like, again, to reach their door
            And savor, just for one time more
            Their essence that I feel.

            The resting place of some I knew
            The scenes of youth, and where I grew
            To take life's arrows, and live anew
            And know that it was real.
            With anxious mind I must await
            What very well could be my fate
            As blindness, with its faltering gait
            Beats the loudening drums.
            I will greet with mixed review
            And accept a fate that is my due
            Yet, thank the heavens for the view
            Before the darkness comes . . .

From "A Third Collection of Poems I Wrote"
Copyright © 1998 Howard D. Mallison

About "Before The Darkness Comes . . ."

        Failing eyesight is a possibility faced by everyone.  

        Very likely, almost everyone knows, or has known, someone with poor or failing vision, perhaps someone legally blind.  I am not sure which I would rather be - blind or deaf.  If I were forced to choose one over the other, it would be a difficult choice.

        I find it hard to imagine a day without sight - not seeing clouds, or sunshine, or rain, or snow; not driving to the store or watching some television program.  To think I could never visually return to some place I had found pleasant in the past, or to not again see the old home town I left zillions of years ago, is almost incomprehensible.  Those who are blind, or nearly so, must truly be strong of spirit to cope with the situation.

        Still, it has been said that no one is given burdens that cannot be shouldered.

Thank you for reading the poem.     ironfrog

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                                    By Howard D. Mallison

        Time has left its footprint as wrinkles in my face
        My old, bald, head is shiny, not a hair is out of place
        My teeth don’t click at all when I forget to put them in
        And in each ear I wear an aid, their own personal friend!

        I use a cane, now and then, to steady up my gait
        And walk a little slower, too, so sorry to make you wait
        Eyeglass lens are thicker now, much heavier on me
        But still I wear them every day because I want to see!

        These pills I take (when I’m awake), each morning, noon, and night
        Help me live through every day, and keep my body right
        Vitamins, and juices, too, and special foods, and things
        Are constant parts of daily life, such as each day brings!
        I love to drive my car about, but not so fast, you know
        I really don’t exceed the speed, no faster than I go
        And sometimes in my mirror when I see the cars behind
        I pull aside and let them pass, I honestly don’t mind!

        There are so many things that time has forced me yet to do
        But I shan’t recall them here, no need to burden you
        The things with which I must contend may someday be your fate
        But for this time, it’s just for you, to live your life and wait!

        Enjoy the youth that’s yours today, for it will surely end
        And thoughts from out your distant past, will be a constant friend
        While in the mirror, when you look, try to accept with grace
        That time has left its footprint as wrinkles in your face!

From Poems and Comments
Copyright © 2000 Howard D. Mallison

About "Time" . . .

        I cannot explain how ideas for poems come to me.  I don’t say my poems are good, or remarkable, or any such thing.  I only know they mean something to me.  

        One evening, I happened to think of the partial line “. . . footprints in the sands of time. . .” and, suddenly, it reminded me that the wrinkles in my face are a source of constant consideration, especially when I shave.   Facial wrinkles, time - all interrelated.

        From there, the words began to come and fit into situations in which I have been involved, or have witnessed, and some things I have noticed others to use in their daily life to supplement reduced abilities, or to make daily living more pleasureable.  The jokes about the "old man" who can't see well, or hear well, or drives and walks slowly, have a much deeper meaning now that I am on that threshhold.

        I only hope I can be more patient at 75 than I was at 20.

Thank you.     ironfrog

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  A Soldier's Green, Green Grass of Home

                                                                                                                                               by Howard D. Mallison

    I'm a soldier in a foreign land, and I've just become a man
    By virtue of the battle we just won
    It's the first time I've shot someone, Lord, dear Lord, he tried to run
    But in his hand, in his hand he held a gun.

    I’m so far away from home, and I feel so all alone
    Knowing way back there my loved ones wait for me
    At the ruin of war, I stand and stare, tear filled eyes to blind to see
    The soldier's green, green grass that waits for me.

    But now, what is this you say?  I'm not with the war today?
    I'm not with my friends, my comrades brave and true
    Just for me it ends, my days are through, I see my Mom, my Dad, and You
    As they lay this soldier 'neath the green, green grass of home.

    And they'll play a bugle o'er my grave, say some words my soul to save
    When they lay this soldier 'neath the green, green grass of home.

    And they'll give the flag from off my grave, to Mom and say how much she gave
    When they lay this soldier 'neath the green, green grass of home.

From "A Collection of Poems I Wrote"
Copyright © 1990 Howard D. Mallison

About "A Soldier's Green, Green Grass of Home" . . .

        My nephew was killed in Vietnam.  He was a U. S. Marine - a very young U. S. Marine. He had not really started to live.

        His funeral was complete with Honor Guard, eulogies, rifle volleys, taps. I still recall some of the things that were said to my Sister as she was presented the neatly folded flag that had been draped on the casket.  The Marine Officer spoke of her sacrifice - but what of David's?

        I am frequently reminded of the saying that there are only two rules in war:  rule one - people die;  rule two - no one can change rule number one.

        David is on the Wall of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC, at Panel 37w, Row 67. A picture and a brief write-up can be seen at the following web address:   Enter 1st name David, last name Moore, State Virginia

Thank you.     ironfrog

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  Where The Towers Stood

                  Picture of unknown origin and authorship.                                                                            Poem by Howard D. Mallison

Where the Towers stood, there should be light
To focus thoughts each day and night
Reminding us in memory
Of things that live in history
One needs no eye to view a scene
Of upward reaching, twin light beams
    For they are not a physical thing        
To touch, or hold, their cause to sing

But what is really in the view
To be seen by me and you
Remembered when the day is through
Madness that was done by few

The spirits of the innocent souls
Cry out in voices not to scold
But ask the world to understand
The joys, the sorrows, of every man

So let the towers of light so shine
Invisible but to heart and mind
To seek a level where all can live
In peace, with joy, that life can give

"More Poems and Comments"    
Copyright © 2002 Howard D. Mallison

About “Where The Towers Stood” . . .

        The World Trade Center Towers, New York City, 9 - 11 - 2001.
        The Pentagon building, Virginia, 9 - 11 - 2001.

        A Pennsylvania field near Pittsburgh, 9 - 11 - 2001.

        All Nations, and those who lost citizens as a result of the attacks of 9 - 11 - 2001.

        Consider light beams shining and reaching upwards into the heavens, whether or not physical, symbolic of man’s need of forever reaching for understanding, a continuing quest for truth, wisdom, and a genuine desire for all nations to respect the view points of each other.  A call for tolerance of the diverse cultures in this world.  

        Perhaps the spirits of all who perished might really implore the world to seek a universally peaceful path in solving social differences that exist.  It should be realized that the whole world was made, and shall forever remain, a victim of the few who, temporarily, usurped the powers of all Governments worldwide, and took upon themselves the mantle of the Creator.

        It should never be allowed to repeat.  Thank you for reading my poem.     ironfrog

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  That Little Ol’ Cattle Rustler - - MOM

                                by Howard D. Mallison

        My Mother was a rustler, or so I’ve heard it said
        She “rustled” several head of stock, and put ‘em on her spread
        She put them in a barn out back and kept ‘em for awhile
        And when old George came riding up he started in to smile    

        He asked my Mom about the cows that weren’t so very quiet
        (I wish that I had witnessed this, I’m sure it was a riot!)
        She calmly said it was a chore to round them up, you know
        She had to chase ‘em all, afoot, some didn’t want to go

        It seems she saw them wandering along the road nearby
        And lit out on her spindly legs to chase them far and nigh
        And bring them safely home again, complete within the day
        All the while a’wondering just how they got away
        Old George, a careful thinker, was ungiven to early rage
        I guess his reticence to talk, was due a lot to age
        ‘Cause he would always think awhile before he had his say
        And even then, with a little grin, he’d leave the hard words lay

        I think I can imagine thoughts that rambled through his mind
        Concerning Mom, her views on life, while being not unkind
        A “Southern Belle” he’d married with, a prim and proper thing
        He used to think, but later said, he’d wed a “Ding-a-Ling”!

        He always laughed, just everytime, he told about the day
        That Mom corralled a bunch of cows, everyone a stray
        Apologies to neighbors went with every cow she’d “stole”
        And later on she, too, would laugh - a Rustler Mom so bold!

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Copyright © 2002 Howard D. Mallison

About “That Little Ol’ Cattle Rustler - - MOM”

        Mom was an “eastern” westerner - a transplant to Northern California with a backtrail leading to North Carolina - but that is another story.

        George was Mom’s third husband - a person the whole family really loved.  He had the most patient demeanor, slow to anger, classic Western drawl, and one who always looked for the humorous content of any situation.  First divorced, secondly widowed, Mom was reaching for her 60’s when she migrated to Little Valley, California to help her sister with a small restaurant nearby. There she met, and later married, her third husband, George.

        George had done a lot in his lifetime - lumberjack, WW II  combat soldier in Europe, shill in Reno, sawmill sawyer, part time prospector, small time rancher, keen observer of life, and one swell person to ride the river with.

        Each time George would tell about how Mom had “rustled” some cows he could hardly talk for laughing.  To him, it was one of the biggest jokes around, and he never told it in a disparaging way, but always in such a manner that Mom’s dignity stayed intact.  George really liked the "Southern Belle - Ding-a-Ling" joke, too.  Delivering it in his drawling manner always added a note of humor and affection that was evident with each syllable.  

        Turned out that George had moved their cows to another area that morning without telling Mom.  

Thank you for reading my poem.     ironfrog

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  The Watchcat At Bonnie Reb

                            by Howard D. Mallison        

        I opened the door at Bonnie Reb and came face to face,
        With a cat, staring at me, who seemed to own the place
        It made me feel that I was being inspected and scrutinized
        As if I were a monster, maybe, in human form, disguised.

        “Hello, cat”, I managed to say, but I stood my ground
        And took a quick and furitive look, at all the things around
        I must have passed inspection by whatever criteria used
        As I was allowed to stand inside, my entrance not refused

        She never said a word to me, just wrinkled up her brow
        And stretched a tawny paw my way, like “You can enter now”
        And walk inside I surely did, and cleared the entrance door
        To take a look at all the boots, and things stacked on the floor

        The smell of leather, new and old, was spread about the place
        And boots, and shoes, and many belts, filled up the tiny space
        But in the back, behind a wall, where I could hardly see
        Were things a shoeman needs each day, and much machinery

        The Watchcat seemed to know her place, and followed me around
        As I inspected all the boots and things that I had found
        For awhile I lost myself while searching for a size
        But then I felt a watchful gaze, coming from her eyes

        I took the box of boots I found, to a parlor chair
        Sat me down and tried them on while I was seated there
        But Watchcat leaped upon the chair, as if she had a say
        In anything that I would do, or buy from there that day

        Then she burrowed ‘neath my coat, and wiggled all around
        Her gentle purring was muffled now, as she settled down
        But then the owner laughed, and said, “Don’t get happy there”
        “All old Watchcat really wants, is you to leave her chair”

        So I left old Watchcat’s chair and slowly moved away
        Paid for the boots that fit my feet and walked into the day
        Feeling just a little down, my ego sorely bruised
        Rejected by an old Watchcat, I really felt confused.

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Copyright © 2002 Howard D. Mallison
                        Click to see picture of:   The Watchcat

About “The Watchcat at Bonnie Reb” . . .

        I first saw the “Watchcat” at Bonne Reb, a small boot and shoe shop in Culpeper, Virginia, that sold new footwear and also made repairs.  On nearly every visit, “Watchcat” (as I secretly dubbed her) was somewhere near the door, ready to “inspect” each person as they walked into the shop.  As I later learned, her real name was “Suede”.

        She was a beautiful cat with several colors of hair that I find hard to describe.  There were varying shades of brown, tan, yellow, and a color much like that of a new piece of leather halfsole before it had been worked.  She had also been declawed, a fact that I found extremely reassuring.

        Chairs of the household variety had been placed in the shop for customer use in trying on shoes and boots.  Apparently, Suede had selected one (near the front door, of course) that she particularly liked, and was frequently lounging in that chair on many of my subsequent visits.

        On one occasion, I somewhat absent mindedly selected “her” chair to use in trying on some boots.  She was very good at sneaking up on people and, without any warning, she leaped in my lap as if she wanted to be petted.  I stroked her back several times, talked to her, and thought she might get down but, instead, she began to burrow under my jacket.  She continued to move around until she was completely hidden, her loud purring was clearly audible many feet away.  That was when the owner informed me that I was occupying Suede’s chair.  I removed the cat from under my jacket, placed her on the just vacated “her” chair, and moved to another.

        Several times other customers came into the shop and Suede did not seem to “inspect” them.  I learned that these were already old acquaintances.

        Apparently, Suede - Old Watchcat - felt it necessary to check out new customers.

Thank you for reading my poem.     ironfrog

Click for picture of Watchcat:   The Watchcat

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  ForThe Girl Who Stole My Heart Away  . . .
        (When I Was Eight)

                                by Howard  D. Mallison

            Ahh, Suzanne, I loved you so
            As much as an eight year old could know
            I used to like to watch you walk
            And I listened when you would talk
            And if, by chance, you glanced at me
            Your shining smile was all I'd see.

            Ahh, Suzanne, you were the start
            The very first to steal my heart
            I worshipped you from far away
            And thought of you from day to day
            And wished that you could really know
            How much I thought I loved you so.

            Ahh, Suzanne, though we were young
            So many songs we could have sung
            If only you had looked my way
            And let me know I made your day
            And felt for me as I did for you
            When we were young, and life was new.

            Ahh, Suzanne, a gift to you
            At Christmas time, if only you knew
            The courage that I had to show
            The times I started and didn't go
            And finally I gave to you
            The little gift, with love so true.

            Ahh, Suzanne, though you were sweet,
            I realize a one way street
            Returns no love to where it starts
            And sometimes breaks those fragile hearts
            And I am left with a thought today
            Of the girl who stole my heart away . . .    
             . . . . . (When I was eight).

"A Third Collection of Poems I Wrote"
Copyright © 1998 Howard D. Mallison

About "For The Girl Who Stole My Heart Away ... (When I Was Eight)" . . .

        Living in a small town and being close to farmers, cows, horses, hogs, other animals, chickens, birds, and countless numbers of free-roaming dogs and cats usually produces an early awareness of relationships between male and female.

        To some degree, I’m sure we all had some early experience with a person we thought of as simply being the “best” of whatever - at least for the moment, anyway.  This happened to me.  I was jolted awake rather rudely and made aware of several things when the young lady in question returned my gift-giving by giving me, several days later, what I considered to be a really juvenile toy - much below the lofty age of eight!  

        Sometimes reality sucks!

Thank you for reading my poem.     ironfrog

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  A Play Within

                                By Howard D. Mallison

            We're all on our way to somewhere,
            But we pause now and again,
            And take an interlude in life,
            Like falling showers of rain,
            A brief performance between the acts,
            Played out on the stage of time,
            A play within, and a play within.....
            Often without rhyme.

            We are the sum of all our days,
            Wrapped up into one,
            Ever changing, ever growing,
            To greet each rising sun,  
            We know the new things that we touch,
            When travelling through each day,
            A play within, and a play within.....
            As we go on our way.

            So let me take these bits of life,
            Wherever they may be,
            And let me file them in my mind,
            To be a part of me,
            And when some thought from out the past,
            Breaks through my reverie,
            A play within, and a play within.....
            Again for me to see.

"A Third Collection of Poems I Wrote"
Copyright © 1998 Howard D. Mallison

About "A Play Within" . . .

        In my dictionary, the third meaning of the word “interlude” is "...any performance between the acts of a play...”.

        Therefore, could we compare the overall human lifespan to a theatrical play?  From birth to death - the beginning and the end - comprising the entire earthly play, and each day being an interlude therein?  Think of the many things that involve us, whether or not complete within each day, that may or may not have a lasting connection or relevance, one to the other, but, nonetheless, fill our minds and require our time as we go about our daily lives.

        Thus, the various elements of day to day existence could constitute “...A Play Within, and A Play Within...”.

Thank you for reading my poem.     ironfrog

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  Getting Rid of Ned

                                by Howard D. Mallison

    We finally got rid of Ned, you know, we threw him in the drink
    We put his ashes on the tide, and watched them slowly sink
    And as they mixed with little waves that broke upon the shore
    We uttered a somewhat silent prayer, 'cause he won't be back anymore!

        “Old Ned,”  I say,  “I knew you well, and knew you for so long
        I knew some of your inner thoughts, and heard you sing your song
        And wondered time and time again, when life was coursing through
        If all the years that you would know would be real kind to you.”

        “I saw you lift your cup in toast, time and time again
        I saw you live through days of sun, and suffer through the rain
        I’ve heard you curse a lot of things, but that was just your way
        I’ve seen you smile, heard you laugh, while you were turning gray.”

        “I know some of the heartaches, that life had given you
        Many of them well deserved, yet some were not your due
        But reach you did for many stars, of things that were your need
        Grasping some, discarding some, with charity and greed.”

        “With love of this, dislike of that, you sailed uncertain seas
        With tolerance for things diverse, in varying degrees
        You never let the boredom in, you always searched for life
        And tried to keep an even keel, through happiness and strife.”
    We finally got rid of Ned, you know, we threw him in the drink
    We put his ashes on the tide, and watched them slowly sink
    And as they mixed with little waves that broke upon the shore
    We set his scene in memory, ‘cause he won’t be back anymore!

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Copyright © 2002 Howard D. Mallison

About “Getting Rid of Ned” . . .

        Ned was my first brother-in-law.  While once visiting at his home, he explained that, upon his death, he wanted to be cremated.  He also wanted his ashes strewn in the Elizabeth River in an area of Portsmouth, Virginia known as Port Norfolk, where he had lived much of his life, and asked me to help see that this wish was honored.  

        It was very cold that late afternoon, and the brisk wind coming off the water was very biting. The small group that assembled there included his two daughters who were my nieces, his second wife and some of her relatives, myself and my wife.  His daughters committed the ashes to the river, and did so with a short remembrance speech and a brief moment of silence.  

        His request for the disposition of what remained of his mortal self had been honored.

        In life, Ned had his ups and downs, victories and defeats, happinesses and heartbreaks.  In the few short lines of a poem, how can one adequately describe the life of another and do it justice?  

        I simply tried putting into words and in sort of an outline form, thoughts from things that I had seen and things in which I had been involved during his stay on earth.  Also, a part of the poem was put in quotes as if I were speaking directly to him.  Maybe I was and didn’t realize it.  

        And, possibly, somewhere he might even be smiling just a bit.

Thank you for reading my poem.     ironfrog

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  A Journey Unstayed
                                    By Howard D. Mallison

        There is a journey I must make
        I’ve thought of it for years
        And when it’s done, and I am gone
        Don’t shed a lot of tears

        For in the time that I’ve been here
        I’ve really had a ball
        I’ve hit some highs, and had some lows
        And lived through them all

        I’ve seen so many wondrous things
        Like children being born
        I’ve known the seasons as they changed
        And loved every morn

        I had some time to sow wild oats
        And did I sow a bunch!
        I took the consequences of
        Each bite I took to munch

        I held my head up to the sky
        And stood there straight and tall
        I looked the Devil in the eye
        Whenever he came to call

        I really think I made my peace
        With God along the way
        I always had a word with Him
        In each and every day

        With human failings as they are
        I know I stumbled some
        But I always recognized
        Where Grace was coming from

        But now this thing that I must do
        Cannot be long delayed
        Its onward course, a march through time
        A journey that can’t be stayed

        So here I say a sad farewell
        And drift off in the night
        And leave to you my deepest love
        I hope I got it right . . . .

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Copyright © 2002 Howard D. Mallison

About “A Journey Unstayed” . . .

        A Journey Unstayed was prompted by the death of my Mother.  She was 92.  What a remarkable life she had.  She was simply an average person.  Well, maybe a little above  average . .

        She had four marriages, survived all husbands, bore three children, and had lived on both the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts in her lifetime.  In later years, I thoroughly enjoyed the times she and her siblings would get together and laugh and talk about their youth in pre-World War I North Carolina, and of all the good and bad times they had shared.

        Mom and Dad divorced but she buried her next three husbands.  On the way, however, she managed to migrate to a sawmill town in Northern California and her third husband.  After his passing, she married a widower in the same area.  Following the death of her fourth, she took up residence in a Senior home in Salinas, CA.

        Mom was always willing to accept the responsibility for things she had done and did so without complaining, or blaming anyone else.  She was strong that way.  Prior to her death, I think there were many times she mentally relived portions of her life and wished for the power to have changed some aspects.  

        But, in the end, we all die alone, with our victories and our defeats, and no one on earth can change that.

        In “A Journey Unstayed”, I tried to express, in capsule form, various aspects of Mom’s life, and to remember that she was always willing to live, take her share of blame or recrimination, and accept the frailties of human nature.  

        Perhaps this poem could apply to many of us, to one degree or another.

Thank you for reading my poem.     ironfrog

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  I Remember        
                            by Howard D. Mallison

         I Remember . . .

            Picking cotton at a penny a pound
            Gathering apples before they hit the ground
            Shaking ripe pecans off the trees
            Playing with scratches on the knees

            Moviehouse popcorn five cents a box
            Seeing Shirley Temple’s curly locks
            A drug store Dixie cup cost one cent
            Paying cash for the monthly rent

            Rooster crowing in the early morn
            Hiding in a field of ripening corn
            Running to the station to see the train
            Newspaper hats fending off the rain

            Wiping my nose on a short shirt sleeve
            Tall, Tall tales that we could believe
            Living on a street that was paved with dirt
            Only Sunday dinners had dessert

            Mothers at work in the hosiery mill
            Noon lunch whistle sounding very shrill
            Radio programs, Charlie and Gene
            Some good dogs, some that were mean

            Stove fire going out at two A. M.
            Granddad dying, I hardly knew him
            Salted fish wrapped in last week’s news
            Cardboard fans in all of the Pews

            Twelve ounce Pepsi’s at a nickel each
            Respecting the ladies at school who teach
            Firecrackers on the Fourth, at Christmas, too
            Looking through my mind for visions of you.

            Still . . . looking through my mind . . .

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Copyright © 2002 Howard D. Mallison

About “I Remember” . . .

        I did not write this poem to be a continuous subject within itself, utilizing each line and each verse, to perpetuate the theme.  I only endeavored to create a common thought - to hold to the overall idea of remembering, but with every two lines rhyming - as in poetry, although each line has no direct relationship to either it’s predecessor or follower, except in the rhyming.  Or rather, I should say, to fit my concept of poetry.  Free verse is o.k. but I simply cannot get a rhythm going there.  After all, life is a sort of rhythm - we breathe in, we breathe out; we are born, we die; we sleep, we awake; we laugh, we cry; we love, we hate, and so on as long as we can clearly think, or until we no longer awaken, be it physically or mentally.

        Yes, I recall all of the things I wrote in the poem although it has been more than a half century in the past.  

        I picked cotton 1 cent a pound.  Buck (my cousin) and I really liked green apples - couldn’t wait for them to ripen and fall - so we picked them off the tree.  Ever eaten green (as in not so ripe) apples with a little salt?   When ready, we boys would help a neighbor harvest the pecans from his trees.  The larger of us would climb and shake, the smaller would pick up and bag.  We were paid a handsome 35 cents and an eight pound brown bag full of pecans for our days work.  I honestly don’t recall which I wanted most - the 35 cents or the pecans.  

        Popcorn at the theatre.  Five cents a box; nine cents theatre admission; Saturday serials; not-in-color (black and white) short comedies; color cartoons.  I remember the girl down the street who always wore her hair just like Shirley Temple - her name was Shirley, also - she was a nice kid and a swell grownup.  Credit cards?  Checking accounts?  They came later.  The whole neighborhood paid their bills in cash.

        The train!  Yes, the train!  The noise belching, fire breathing, steam hissing, thing that came to town periodically - both freight and passenger.  Nothing to do?  We’d run to the tracks and watch the freight engine shift cars, and envy, purely envy, the train crew.  They could, and did, “slip the bonds” of that little town, at least for a while.  

        Handkerchiefs?  What were they?  Didn’t really need them, anyway.  After all, what were shirt sleeves for, especially the short shirt sleeves of Summer?  We all seemed to keep, to some degree, a runny nose and a cold even during most of the Spring and Summer.

        I really loved Mama’s strawberry shortcake, when we could get fresh strawberries.  She made the whipped topping out of real cream - spray cans were long from being invented at that time - and used a hand cranked blender to whip the cream.  Maybe we only had dessert on Sundays because Mama worked in the hosiery mill all week, who knows?  And in the big Church sanctuary in summer, we tried to keep cool with the hand-operated fans supplied by the local funeral home.

        Charlie McCarthy, Gene Autry, Hoppy - all on the radio - and who else?  I’m really a little sorry I don’t recall my Father’s parents - were they full bloodied or only derivatives of Croatan, Pamlico, Cherokee, Neubie - in the Coastal North Carolina of the mid to late 1800’s, or was that my Grandmother? Do you remember (or did you ever know?) the Pepsi-Cola advertising jingle that was sung, way back in the '30's?

        Still . . . remembering.

Thanks for reading my poem.     ironfrog

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  Telemarketers. . . . . Who Needs Them?

                                by Howard  D. Mallison

            Hey, little man, with your telephone
            You ring me up when I'm at home
            You use the phone for which I pay
            And give me little peace, night or day.

            You do not care if someone is ill
            Or if we're in mourning for Uncle Bill
            You think that it's your God-given right
            To call me at home, day or night.

            You use the phone I buy for me
            And think the whole world should agree
            That you've a right to take my time
            And use my phone 'though it's "my dime".

            You think that it is yours to try
            To sell me things and make me buy
            Some stuff of which I've never heard
            Vinyl windows, or a ceramic bird.

            It matters not to you, my friend
            I try to be courteous to the end
            For in your all consuming greed    
            You never think about my need.

            It's not enough you call on me
            To talk to me, personally
            You sometimes use a computer, you see
            That dials and talks automatically.

            The Constitution of these U. S.
            Is supposed to guard us from this mess
            Of search and seizure illegally
            You seize my time, ..... you steal from me!            

"A Third Collection of Poems I Wrote"
Copyright © 1998 Howard D. Mallison

About "Telemarketers . . . Who Needs Them?"

    Do you find it annoying to answer the phone in mid-dinner (or mid-anything) and learn that the calling party only wants to sell something - frequently an item of which you may never have heard, for which you may have no use, and in which you may not at all be interested?  

    Telemarketers use the phone for which we pay, take our precious time away from our own pursuits,
intrude on family time, violate the exclusivity of the home, and care little for the disruptions they cause.  Some that rang us up have been surly, rude, and lacking in courtesy.  One said I was required to listen to the spiel, and one had their supervisor call and ask why I didn’t listen to whatever.  Hello!

    Wouldn't it be lovely to have a workable, effective, "opt-out" law concerning taking telemarketers calls?  My idea of a truly great law would actually be a little different:  Why not have an "opt-IN" law whereby telemarketers would be required to have the telephone subscriber's written permission before dialing the subscriber's phone number?

    It might also prove interesting to pursue the Constitutional angle against unlawful search and seizure.

    They steal our time and use our facilities, usually without our permission.

Thank you for reading my poem.     ironfrog

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  A Poem in a Poem in a Poem - OR

                                               by Howard D. Mallison

            The night was dark and dreary
                (The night was dreary in the book)
            And I was feeling weary
                (A little cliche that it took)

            The cold cold rain was falling down
                (I know the rain was really cold)
            And lightning flashed all around
                (Soaking up my very soul)

            The thunder roaring, and rain and all
                (Playing such an eerie tune)
            Made me feel so very small
                (And I became so picayune)

            A grain of sand in the Universe
                (I saw my troubles to be few)
            Its message was so very terse
                (Compared with others that I knew)

            Look outward more, and inward less
                (So I’ll just take what is my due)
            And learn to calm the inner stress.
                (And find my peace ere life is through).

Note:  Read
        All lines together;
        All lines not in parens together;
        All lines in parens together;
        OR:  Not at all

"More Poems and Comments"                        
Copyright © 2000 Howard D. Mallison

About "A Poem in a Poem in a Poem - Or Three-Pack"

    One evening I was sitting around, thinking of nothing in particular, when the idea of a  poem within a poem came to mind.  I thought about it for awhile and decided to try the concept.  The longer I considered it, the more intrigued I became with the novelty of the idea.  Initially, I thought I would write lines that would produce a thought as well as rhyme throughout the poem - these lines would be presented in two ways - lines outside of parenthesis, and lines within parenthesis.  

    All lines outside of parenthesis could be read by themselves or together and express a thought;        All lines within parenthesis could be read by themselves or together and express a thought;
    And then it hit me, “Well, why can’t the lines both in and out of parenthesis also be read together and still continue with a thought?”

    So.  Read lines not in parenthesis, read lines only in parenthesis, or read all the lines - and the basic thought is carried through - or - don’t read it at all!

(If you did), Thank you for reading my poem.     ironfrog

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  From Other Times

                            by Howard D. Mallison

        In deep recesses of my mind where goest I alone
        Resides the inner thoughts of me, and light has seldom shone
        A place where always I do fear to trod amongst my ghosts
        And even in my bravest times, of which I’ll never boast
        For therein lives my inner self, a stranger yet to me
        And filled with broken dreams and wants I may not deign to see
        Unworthy, yes, for conscious mind, or for the light of day
        To crowd my waking moments and, to think of in any way

        With all the genes that came to me from forebears I don’t know
        And traits for things not realized, aspiring high and low
        Spirits of another world and of another time
        I feel them haunt my inner space, void of verse or rhyme
        For I am but extension of the all that went before
        A sad recap of bygone days, but weaker all the more
        And when these visions come to mind, I cannot cast them out
        For they are of my former selves, come to look about

        And to this quagmire I include some things that I have done
        That were not right, in any light, I keep them from the sun
        But they emerge from time to time, their wailing voices speak
        And seize my conscious mind anew, for I am frail and weak
        I try to order up this house, where all my demons stay
        And entertwine them with the good, to brighten up the day
        Yet I am not responsible for all these thoughts of mine
        For I have only added to this mass From Other Times.

"More Poems and Comments"                        
Copyright © 2002 Howard D. Mallison

About “From Other Times. . .

    I think each human mind eventually contains a repository of, and for, various thoughts and memories.  Many of these, certainly, are our personal responsibility, accrued from our own experiences and choices we make during our lifetimes.  But how many of our “choices” are influenced or prompted by some aura within that came to us from our ancestors?  Call it instinct.   Call it genetic drift.  Or, call it . . . ?

    Is “instinct” actually a collection of bits of knowledge, desires, experiences, traits, and such, passed down to us by our forefathers?  Do we truly not have any original thoughts and actions, only those that are reactive?  It rains, we try to stay dry.  Reaction.  The weather turns cold, we try to stay warm.  Reaction.  We get hungry, we try to eat.  Reaction.  Basic urges emerge, we seek to assuage them.  Reaction.  Reactive, also, might be the manner in which we accomplish things.

    Do successive generations add to the "genetic drift" of the group?  Do medicine men and shamans, with their visions and pronouncements, actually have no "supernatural" powers but are really only adept at "tapping into" the storage area of things From Other Times?

Thank you for reading my poem.     ironfrog

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  Going Home

                                by Howard D. Mallison

        I’m going home, at last!  At Last!  They tell me that I can
        I’ll see again the fields I love and places where I ran
        And trees I climbed in early years when life was oh, so new
        And people I’ve forgotten now, but I’ll remember you!            

        I’m going home, at last!  At Last!  It makes me happy and gay
        To think that after all these years though I be old and gray
        I’ll smell the air of memories and hear the birds again
        That used to sing in trees nearby with Nature’s old refrain.

        I’m going home, at last!  At Last!  My heart will happily beat
        I’ll see if all my youthful paths will recognize my feet
        Where all the scenes from years ago and other things, I find
        Still echo from my early life to clutter up my mind

        I’m going home, at last! At Last!  The winds have told me so
        They whispered gently in my ear “It’s almost time to go”
        They told me not to be afraid while playing out life’s game
        That they will guide me safely o’er for they still know my name

        I’m going home, at last!  At Last!  In peace I drift along
        While every voice inside my head sings a joyous song
        I’ve been away so many years and nowhere else is home
        But I’ll be happy when my Urn is resting in its loam.

"More Poems and Comments"                        
Copyright © 2002 Howard D. Mallison    

About "Going Home" . . .

        Going Home.  I wrote this shortly after the death of my Mother.  She was 92 and lived in Salinas, California.  Quite a distance from her birthplace of rural North Carolina in the early 20th century.  Along the way, she had had four husbands, three children, and had lived in States bordering on the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, each for many years.  

        After burying her fourth husband, she moved to a Seniors home in Salinas, not far from my Sister’s home.  She became somewhat obsessed with “going home”.  Was it actually the physical sense of going home or was it the spiritual sense?  After several years of indecision, she agreed to be cremated, and to have her ashes buried in the Cemetery at Scotland Neck, North Carolina, where her Mother, Sister, and others of our kin are buried - but still in the general area of her birth.

        My Sister had put together a scrapbook of photos, as well as she could collect them, and brought it to Mom’s services.  I did not fully realize how much she had wanted to return “home” until I saw these photos, some taken several years previously, of Mom and one of her Sisters visiting the old “home” places of their youth.  In one photo, my Aunt and Mom stood in front of the old Church (still active), that they knew as children.  Two pictures were of them in front of the old house (still standing after all these years - houses have a distinct way of doing that in North Carolina) that they all shared, both with and without their Father.  All six siblings, in such a small house.  The seventh came along later, with a different Dad, but just as accepted, one to another, as any of the original group.  There were other pictures, also, but none as expressive as the two I have mentioned.

        At Mom’s services, there were two sisters, still alive, mobile, and active, who had been playmates of Mom some 90 years past.  Amazing.  I can only hope that Mom knew it.

        Going Home.  With many things taken into consideration, I tried to capture some of the feelings that I think Mom had toward the end, and I began to look at the old home places with more of a feeling of kinship, and of comfort, in the surroundings.  I think Mom chose well.

Thank you for reading my poem.     ironfrog

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  Who Calls Me (From The Distant Past)?

                                by Howard D. Mallison

        Who calls me from the distant past in voices I don't know
        Who speaks of places here and there that I may never go?
        And hints of times and things gone by of days I never knew
        Ancestral sounds and many scenes of life before I grew.

        Who calls me from the distant past what message do you bring?
        What do you wish for me to do what songs shall I sing?
        Nostalgia pulls my heart apart and fills my very soul
        I don't even know your name or if you're young or old.

        Is Croatan a World you know is Neubie by its side
        And lapping waves upon the shore of eons that have died?
        What shall I do to set you free? If this is what you need
        Speak to me from the distant past and I will try to heed.

        And I will try to heed.

From "Another Collection of Poems I Wrote"
Copyright © 1996 Howard D. Mallison

About  "Who Calls Me (From The Distant Past)?" . . .

    I went to a family reunion sometime back in the 1990's.  To get to the "old home place" of my Father's people in coastal North Carolina, it was more convenient to also travel through the town in which I was born and where I lived my first 11 years.

    As I approached the town so early in the morning, I could see the remnants of a cotton crop in many of the fields.  Some had given up their fruit and were staring back, bleak and somewhat forlorn.  As I drove, I began to think of relatives, especially my parents, and when we had lived in this little town.  

    The farmland seemed to be crying out, as if they had no further need to live, and had been forgotten; as if they felt some kinship to the auras my thoughts may have emitted; as if to remind me that my roots - as well as those of my parents - were still, in part, nurtured by the past and the surrounding countryside.  I began to feel the "pull" of past generations of kin, and soft moans of some who had already passed.  I wondered if they had been happy, or satisfied, or restless, or . . .

    These feelings accompanied me to the "old home place", and also on the return.  Amongst my Father's people, and on the land he had once helped to farm, there was a somewhat different feeling - telling me I did not know my ancestors - and would probably never know.  I did manage to learn of the Cherokee ancestry mixed with Croatan from many years before.  My Father must have been an oral historian because, years ago and before he died, he would sit for hours, it seemed, and recite family history - who was married to who and from whom they came, and what names they carried.  It was as if they were all crying out, and wanting me to hear their voices now that I was "at home" - almost saying "Don't forget".  I just never learned what not to forget, and what to remember . . . I only know that, as I grow older, I feel so much closer to the Native American mindset - most confusing after having lived so many years in another environment.

    Maybe someday I might know.

Thank you for reading my poem.     Ironfrog

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                                by Howard D. Mallison

            If I were a kite so high in the sky
            I'd wiggle my tail as I flew by
            I'd catch the wind and go so high
            And watch the world go drifting by.

            I'd look down and all around
            Until some children I had found
            I'd make them happy if I could
            Dancing and prancing as I should.

            To catch the wind and be full sail
            And search for a kite's Holy Grail
            Of bringing joy and giving delight
            Is the reason I'd fly, day and night.

From "A Third Collection of Poems I Wrote"
Copyright © 1998 Howard D. Mallison

About "Kites" . . .

    I have always liked watching kites.

    As a kid in Carolina, we used to make them out of sticks, and newspapers folded appropriately and held together with a flour-based glue.  There always seemed to be enough twine around - especially from the tobacco barns.  The tails were of any old cloth we could find that wasn’t in use.  I never was much of a kite flyer - but I liked to watch!

    Box kites were always a mystery to me - I never did get one to fly.  Years ago, on a small beach known as "Sylvan Beach" (near the Lynnhaven Inlet on the Chesapeake Bay), many of the permanent residents there, and some of their guests, would fly kites.  Some were very artful in their style, and their kites ranged from simple stock to very intricate and colorful creations.  Even the dogs would get in on the act as if realizing it was all play-time.  Some people did (and can) make them dance in the sky, much to the delight of an appreciative audience,  especially children.  

    At times, it might seem a kite’s only function is to bring enjoyment to all who watch.

Thank you for reading my poem.     ironfrog


  (The Death of) The Clock On The Wall

                            By Howard D. Mallison

        The clock on the wall is silent, now, it will not run again,
        The little whirr it used to make was like a gentle rain,
        It hung in the kitchen, an overseer, of countless meals prepared,
        A witness to the pains and joys that all of us had shared.

        It came to us as a little gift, it brightened up our wall,
        A white teapot, with handle and spout, not too large, or small
        Its plastic face stared back at us, (now darkened by the years),
        A witness to the happy times, a partner in our fears.
        Its hands would move, steady and sure, a comfort when we'd look,
        And showed the time, day or night, a glance was all it took,
        It did its job, every day, an almost silent friend,
        It never struggled, just moved along, on it we could depend.

        But somewhere in its fortieth year its labored sound increased,
        The hands became erratic, and movement finally ceased,
        It would not be restarted, although it really tried,
        I guess the heart within its shell had finally worn out and died.

        I thought of all the kitchens, where it had shown with grace,
        How it had never failed to give, a substance to the place,
        I wondered if the scenes it saw were really gone away,
        Or if in memories, buried deep, would come again some day.

        But hesitate, I truly did, to take it from the wall,
        A now silent thing, that through the years, had given us its all,
        It came to us as a little gift, but became a trusted friend,
        And brightened up our kitchen wall, until the very end.

From "A Third Collection of Poems I Wrote"
Copyright © 1998 Howard D. Mallison

About (The Death of) The Clock On The Wall . . .

    I miss the clock.

    It was one we received as a housewarming gift for our first house.  It was hung in the kitchen because that’s where it was needed and because it was in the shape of a teapot.  Thereafter, it hung in the kitchen of every house we had.  

    It witnessed everything within sight, but gave no opinions, and no advice - only time - and a measure of comfort in knowing the giver meant us well.

Thank you for reading my poem.     ironfrog
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  A Talk - - - With My Friends

                                    by Howard D. Mallison

    Hey!  It's been a while since I saw you guys, I see some aging in your eyes,
    The war has come and gone, I know, and we all had other places to go
    Why, hello, Paul, how's Tennessee, is it still the place to be
    And Billy boy, from old L.A., did you ever lead that gal astray?

    And I see Millard over here, a mischevious smile from ear to ear
    You always thought your latest love, was sent to you from Heaven above
    And Al, my friend, you son-of-a-gun, I'll never know just how you won
    The hand of that young damsel fair, you really made an awkward pair!

    And Sid, and Emmet, and Roger, too, how's the world been treating you
    Good and bad?  Well, that's about right, every day still has its night
    It's good to see you all again, even in this pouring rain
    'Cause we don't really feel the wet, it’s about as good as it will get.

    Let's have a round of foaming beer, and toast the guys that are not here
    We'll pause a moment while we think, of all the friends with whom we'd drink
    And wonder where they are tonight, (let's hope to hell that they're all right)    
    And speak of times that went before, although they're gone, forevermore.

    So, drift among the crosses here, and try to take a little cheer,
    In knowing that our days did go, to helping folk we don't even know,
    We'll float about as spirits will, our human lives, and voices, still,
    And wonder if in another game, we'd give our all, and do the same?

Return to:     Last Landing of A Lovely Lady    

From "A Third Collection of Poems I Wrote"                                              
Copyright © 1998 Howard D. Mallison

About  "A Talk With My Friends"

    Everyone mentioned is, or was, an actual person.  Some, I know, are no longer with us.  Each thing said about (or to) each person represents some facet of Military Service time together, and comradeship.

    For instance, Paul - always the staunch champion of Tennessee and who longed for the hills he left behind; and Billy -  a Staff Sergeant from L.A. who only wanted to get back there and to some of the girls; and Sid, who had effeminate mannerisms because he was raised entirely by his Grandmother; and Emmet - a short, amiable guy from Arkansas who always kidded me about MY southern accent; and Roger - another from Arkansas who loved country music and had a sister in the Navy, whom I met at the replacement depot in California after returning from Korea.

    Then there was Timothy, who brought back from South Carolina some of the smoothest, clearest corn I ever had; and William, who fancied himself a singer and actually did some singing in the Service club at Fort Meade; and "Little joe" - a short, somewhat diminutive, explosive guy of Arabic extraction who was quick to anger; and many more whose faces I can recall but not their names.  Friends, acquaintances
- - from another time, and another world.

    . . . And the group referred to as “the guys” - a phrase meant to include everyone with whom I served in the Military.  In quiet moments, they often grace my thoughts.

Thank you for reading my poem.     ironfrog
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                                       by Howard D. Mallison

            These words are just for Mary, who lives across the street  
            No finer person in this world that you could ever meet
            She’s always ready with a smile, or a laugh or two
            I do not think she’d ever be, mean to me or you.

            She doesn’t gossip, or complain, of people that she knows
            She spreads a little sunshine, no matter where she goes
            And always thinks of other souls, who may be in need
            Of just a kindly word of praise, or just a small good deed.

            She’s up and down, along the road, as quiet as can be
            And lets us know the weather, and if some rain we’ll see
            She dodges all the freaky squirrels, that get into the street
            And all the deer and rabbits, that she might chance to meet.

            The one surviving matriarch, of her kissing kin
            That still can travel on her own, in and out and in
            To savor all the day can give, and smile upon its woes
            And keep her mental balance, no matter where she goes.

            For Mary, who lives across the street, just some words of praise
            That maybe she can think of when she has her darker days
            And know that things are moving on, not according to man
            But in accordance with the scheme that’s in His master plan.

From:   Poems and Comments
Copyright Ó 2000 Howard D. Mallison

About "Mary"

    The widow lady that lives across the street.  She lost her son several years ago, and her husband a short time later.  Her parents passed on many years ago, and her surviving sisters are extremely ill and incapacitated.  She, herself, has moments when it is difficult to get around.  Aging in America.  Mary still strives to look on the bright side of things, and to treat others with civility - a quality and a viewpoint that is fast disappearing in our society.

    I felt obligated to write a poem for her - as I had done so about her son shortly after his passing.
See  Through Freddie's EyesPoems  The death of her husband also prompted me to write a few lines which is included somewhere in this mix as  When All The Toys Are Put Away. . . .  It’s good to see someone in their ‘80’s being as spry and able to move around as Mary, and as mentally alert, and physically able, as she.  Really gives me some hope for my future!

Thank you for reading the poem.   ironfrog

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  When All The Toys Are Put Away. . . .
                                 by Howard D. Mallison

        When all the toys are in their place, and childhood ends its day
        When all the scratches on the knees, and scabs, have gone away
        And useless clothes are cast aside, no more to be worn
        And pictures in their aged frames, the mantle, still adorn

        Memories of one who’s gone, seem to fill up every space
        And thoughts of things that went before, run rampant in the place
        And this and that is called to mind, often with a tear
        To know that all the times before, will ne’r again appear

        The routine of the place must change, it cannot stay the same
        Not as things that can be seen, like pictures in a frame
        And little things that once were said, things that once were done
        No longer can they sally forth, an object of harmless fun
        The dreams that once filled up the place, now vapors in the air
        Hold on to the present tense, and try to settle there
        But they must have a solid thing, to dignify their life
        To live, and be, within someone, no matter what his strife

        When all the toys are in their place, and breath has ebbed away
        God brings another dawning, and another brand new day
        A chance for those who stay behind, to thank him once again
        For life, for love, and happiness, for grief, and for the pain.

        When all the toys are put away . . . .

From:   Poems and Comments
Copyright Ó 2000 Howard D. Mallison

When All The Toys Are Put Away . . . .
    At what point does one cease to be a “child” and become a “grownup”?  I think that, generally, we all are children, from day one through the last day.  As we grow, our “toys” change from baby rattles, stuffed bears, dolls, toy cars and airplanes, tricycles and bicycles, into lawn mowers, computers, golf clubs, boats,
airplanes, full sized autos, and many other things.

    Dreams and personal aspirations also escalate.  Bill, across the street, used to work for the railroad before entering Civil Service.  He had quite an extensive train layout of model trains in his basement.  It incorporated several model trains and all manner of switches, villages, tunnels, crossings, and other items - many of which I never dreamed existed before seeing his layout.  It operated, too, all
layed out on several 4X8 sheets of plywood made into a table.  Bill had a cutout in the middle providing him access in order to work on the inside part of the layout.  

    Bill’s interests didn’t stop there.  He had a very large collection of hand and power tools, and knew how to use them.  After retirement, he put up two sheds in his yard - one for his lawn mowing equipment, and the other for items he took to various outdoor sales and flea markets in an old panel truck.  He took pride in keeping his grounds, and did so up until the time of his death.
    Bill.  Husband of Mary.  Prompter of When All The Toys Are Put Away. . . . The verses reflect, somewhat, many of the thoughts and considerations expressed by Mary in the months following Bill’s death.  And her efforts (see Mary ) at acceptance of the situation following 60 plus years of marriage.  
    We are all on our way somewhere . . .  

Thank you for reading the poem.   ironfrog


  Fukuoka Town

                               by Howard D. Mallison

        I caught a hop from Taegu Base, to Fukuoka town
        I had some Yen, and Dollars, too, I wanted to spread around
        A change of pace, a panacea, for what was ailing me
        I needed for a little while, some different things to see

        The plane I caught was twin in boom, dual engines, too
        A flying boxcar (full of junk), four members in the crew
        And bucket seats along the sides, a parachute for all
        In case this rattling piece of junk should decide to fall

        They cranked it up and away we went, Fukuoka bound
        To land at Itazuke Base, on the edge of town
        A pretty day to fly in there as we circled all around
        Got permission from the Tower, and started coming down

        It must have been his first time there, the pilot of our craft
        I’m not so sure, but I do believe, he was a little daft
        It took three times to approach the strip before he set her down
        Mumbling something about the wind off the mountains all around

        The passengers and I deplaned and headed for the gate
        The call of Fukuoka town - we didn’t want to wait
        We had five days to live it up, and see what we could see    
        And do some things that years from then would live in memory

        A pseudo taxi took us to the Hotel Mon, you see
        A little place where we could rest and have some company
        No need to leave the place at all, if we didn’t want to go
        Just lounge around, eat and drink, and girls, don’t you know?

        The Mamasan who ran the place was glad to take our Yen
        Showed us around her small hotel, and got us settled in
        And introduced us to some girls who lived somewhere about
        And told us we could tour the town, if we wanted to go out

        She said we couldn’t  wear our shoes inside the place, you see
        And gave us little scuff affairs, that fit both you and me
        It was the custom in that land, shoes by the door
        It kept a lot of  “outside” out, instead of on the floor        
        Fukuoka, a thriving town, crowded by the sea
        Backed up to the mountains, as alive as it could be
        While Nagasaki, fairly close, still struggled to come back
        And rebuild itself, and start to live, since the big attack

        Pachinko parlors, three wheel trucks, crowded streets and all
        Quaint cafes with many signs, streetside shopping stalls
        Hustling, bustling, crowded walks, new sounds every day
        Even trolleys, on their tracks, to take us on our way

        But we were there to have some fun, and spread our wings a bit
        And see the sights, and eat the food, make sure our fires were lit
        And try to learn some little things about the folks around
        To see how life was lived each day, in Fukuoka town

        There was a little lake where we could rent a boat and row
        We had to shuck our leather shoes, to get inside, you know
        And don those little scuff affairs, to keep the boats real clean
        They always tried to be the cleanest people that I’d seen

        The boat was small, the gunwale low, it barely held we two
        And then a fish jumped in the boat, swear to God it’s true!
        But Josan took her slippered foot and held the fish in check
        While I rowed up to the dock, the fish pinned to the deck

        “Presento, Mamasan”, I said, holding up the fish
        She grabbed it with an aged paw, and seemed to make a wish
        I guess she wanted several more to go with evening rice
        But not another fish came forth to be a sacrifice

        We rowed and rowed and laughed a bit, playing on the lake
        We learned some words we each could speak, just for friendship sake
        And for awhile we could forget the larger view of things
        And listen to awakening sounds, that come with every Spring        

        The weather at that time of year was pleasant every day
        The sunshine shone and warmed our bones as we began to play
        And marvel at the differences of culture that abound
        And try to learn a phrase or two, to spread the fun around

        Reminds me of the time at lunch, a steak in front of me
        A glass of Akadama wine, as contented as could be
        I don’t recall what Josan ate, I guess I didn’t care
        Raw fish, and rice, and a little sauce, was not my bill of fare

        But it was fixed right in the room, on an Habachi pot
        And from another kitchen came, my steak when it was hot
        I never did quite get the hang of chopsticks till later on
        So I used a knife and fork, until my meal was gone

        I would wake with the morning sun, and listen for awhile
        To the notes of the Samisen, played in the local style
        I never knew who stroked the strings, but it was very clear
        The music that the player made, must have been most dear

        It seemed to start the day just right, soothing to my mind
        The closest to a banjo sound, that I could ever find
        Its tone was rich, and never loud, the notes were solid and true
        I’d lie in bed, enjoy the sound, until the song was through

        We got about the bustling town, streets and alleys, too
        And looked at shops, bought some things, checking what was new
        And sometimes caught a trolley car to take us here or there
        It didn’t really matter to me, there was newness everywhere

        Many times I walked the streets, camera in my hand
        And took some photos for later on, maybe to understand
        Some blank expressions I had seen, looking back at me
        That I am sure were prompted by animosity
        It was a nation, struggling, to start its life anew
        Peopled by the old and young, guided by the few
        A mental torture, a physical task, to unlearn centuries ways
        Trying  just to fit within the dawning of new days

        The customs of the old were dying, held onto by some
        Reluctant to give up the past, and let the new day come
        Unsure of where the path would lead, apprehensive in its gait
        Not wanting just to rush right in, unhappy with the wait

        Symbols of a bygone time were found on every street
        Old with new, sought common ground, a place where they could meet
        Tradition held its head up high, determined to survive
        A link with the past, a bridge to the now, needing to stay alive
        But time moves on, it never waits, and soon my time was done
        We’d played a while, shared a smile, and even had some fun
        I said goodbye to Mamasan, and walked out in the day
        And used the pseudo taxi cab, to take me on my way

        I caught a hop to Taegu Base, from Fukuoka town
        I’d spent my Yen, and Dollars too, and spread my youth around
        My soul was somewhat restless as I crawled upon the plane
        And wondered, way down deep inside, if I’d return again.

From "Poems and Comments"
Copyright © 2000 Howard D. Mallison

About "Fukuoka Town"

    Fukuoka - pronounced Foo-koo-Oh-kah - is a Japanese city on the southernmost large island of Kyushu.  The city of Nagasaki, the second atomic bombed city of WW II, is also on Kyushu, approximately 60 miles south-southwest  of Fukuoka.  The U.S. Air Force operated Itazuke Air Base just outside Fukuoka.  An Air National Guard Wing stationed there air lifted supplies across the Tsushima strait and the Korea Strait to Pusan, Taegu, and other points in Korea.  It was also one of the R&R leave destinations used by G.I.’s serving in Korea.  I never learned exactly what R&R really meant - we always took it to mean “Rest and Relaxation” - I think the Military definition was a little different.  It meant the same thing, however - someplace relatively safe to relax a bit.

    The C-119,  “Flying Boxcar” as it was slang-dubbed, was a twin engined, twin boomed, multi-functional transport flown out of many locations in those days.  The cargo/passenger “box” was situated between the booms with a cargo door opening at the rear.  It could be used for air drops as well as offloading after landing.  All of the passenger seats were lined up along the two outer walls, with cargo secured in the middle.  Each passenger was required to wear a parachute.  I remember wondering how I might feel if circumstances required the actual use of a parachute - as well as hoping the guy who packed it really did a good job!  I stopped wondering just before we became airborne on the first flight as one passenger, who decided to change sides, crawled across the cargo in the middle and somehow released his ‘chute and it began trailing out behind him.  Looked good to me!

    The airstrip at Itazuke, as best I can recall, was one runway positioned at the base of a small mountain range.  I guess air currents there at times hindered landing - or was the pilot really practicing his approach?  Don’t know, never learned.  I and another G.I. from my outfit were walking toward the front gate and passed a Major - we didn’t salute - we didn’t do much saluting in Korea so it was somewhat natural to pass him up.  We were sort of brought back to reality in a short time and with a minimum of words.

    The little hotel was the “Hotel Mon”.  It more closely resembled a large private residence with many rooms (about 18, I think) located on two floors.  It was run by a Mamasan who was the most courteous person I think I’ve ever known - so much so that I would never have thought about arguing with her over anything.  The “benjo”, or toilet, was down the hall in its own little room and consisted, primarily, of a slit in the floor over which one would squat.  I was really surprised because it never smelled foul and never appeared to be unclean.  Another room, a little larger, consisted of a somewhat slanted-to-one-side floor and, in the middle of the floor was a large, square, cement tub about three feet deep and large enough for several people.  

    It was kept full of steaming water during the bath times.  The idea was to dip a pan into the water, rinse off the body, soak in the tub for awhile, then exit, get soaped up,  wash more thoroughly with soap, rinse off and reenter the water for another period of soaking.  There were some benches along the wall for seats.  After washing with soap, the pan-dipped water would then be used to rinse off the soap and dirt with the water running off the body, onto the tilted floor, and out a drain at the bottom.  After rinsing off the soap, another period of soaking in the hot water was in order.  Mamasan always orchestrated bath times and would let each room know when the occupants could (and were expected to) take a bath.  

    The girls to whom Mamasan introduced us were from a small group that served as “Escorts”, only for the guests registered in that hotel.  They were known as “Business Women” and wore Western type clothing instead of traditional Kimonos.  Most of these young ladies spoke English well enough to make things interesting and helped show us around the city for shopping, sightseeing, restaurant visits, and other things.  All of the girls I saw had good dispositions and a very good sense of humor.  We were expected to wine and dine the “Escorts” as well as pay the hotel for their time.  We did, of course.

    Fukuoka was not damaged by the Atomic blast on Nagasaki in 1945.   Most streets were narrow,
a fact that always contributed to the feeling of being “crowded”.  Many shops and restaurants were located along these streets.  The Escort I was with was a very good haggler and would buy things most reasonably.  She was so good I just gave her money and told her to “go to it” and stood back and watched.  She never tried to rip me off, either.  We were talking one evening and she mentioned she only had “Western” clothes, and she sometimes had the desire to dress in a Kimono.  We went shopping next day and, with her haggling, bought a complete outfit, from head to toe (and all the undergarments), for a very reasonable price.  She had good taste and looked very nice in her new kimono.  Unfortunately, my camera only had black and white film.  

    Many of the citizens of Fukuoka did not take kindly to their young ladies being “Escorts” to American G.I.’s.  Many times we were given cold stares and viewed with apparent hostility while on the street or in the streetcars or other public places.  It was still a transitional time - the throwing off of centuries-old customs and the adoption of many western-style practices.  I’m sure if I had been in their place I might have felt very much the same.  But still, I thought I saw feelings of confusion and apprehension in many faces as well as sensing that many people were convinced the future would be better.

    I liked Fukuoka.  I was never sorry I didn’t go to Tokyo for an R&R leave.

Snow capped Mount Fujiyama, from a great distance.

Thank you for reading the poem.   ironfrog

  The House That Cried

                        By Howard D. Mallison

            I went into the house that cried
            For another look around,
            The joy that used to be inside
            Was nowhere to be found.
            The walls were bare, where pictures had hung,
            That told a story bold,
            Of many dreams, of songs that were sung,
             But it was lonely, and cold.

            Impressions in the carpet still
            Lay deep for all to see,
            As if to say "This is my will,
            Do not forget about me".
            For it was once a lovely place,     
            A haven from life's storm,
            Filled with charm and dainty grace,
            To keep a spirit warm.

            But no echoes came to soothe my mind,
            No visions filled the space,
            And shattered dreams that stayed behind
            Ran rampant in the place.
            A feeling of resigned despair
            Lay heavy all around,
            And loneliness was standing there,
            With tears falling down.

            What roll of the dice, what twist of fate,
            (A decision made in haste?),
            Could cause this tearing down so great,
            (And would it be a waste?).    
            It is so hard to leave a place
            That once held joy inside,
            And leave so large an empty space,
            As the house that really cried.

From "A Third Collection of Poems I Wrote"                                              
Copyright © 1998 Howard D. Mallison

About "The House That Cried"

        Many times I have “felt” or “sensed” some aura, or vapor, in a place, or room.  

        This particular house was known to me both before and after occupancy.  If it is possible for people to leave a spiritual mark, manifested by an unseen essence that can suggest pain, suffering, elation, or joy, then I am certain this house was such a place.

        More cannot be said at this time.

Thank you for reading the poem.   ironfrog