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January River of Small Stones

Hardscrabble Fields

Someone has left a rake leaning upon the porch corner.
Against the dirty chipped paint.
The ground appears scraped bare of all living things;
Shabbiness surrounds the house.
Is it empty?
Or are there children huddled inside trying to stay warm?
The end of January approaches and the men and boys are working hard;
But work is hard to find, and the fields of 1947 were just as hardscrabble as they are in 2012.
 January 27, 2012

Sundown at Possum Kingdom

Rose petticoat furled
Same moon and north star shining
Indigo apron

January 26, 2012

Rainy Images

Silver trails of rain
Rushing down midnight sidewalks
Streetlights make images

January 25, 2012

 Chalk Sunflower

Sidewalk chalk flowers
Powder blows yellow and green
Remnants of child’s play

January 24, 2012

Picky Cardinals

Red pyracantha berries
On tall leggy bushes
Hang in grape-like clusters
End of January cardinals
Picked and picked and screeched
Now they’re nearly gone
January 23, 2012

Abnormal Temperature

I’ve been sick the last few days with one of those winter colds that isn’t too terribly bad, but bad enough to stop you from feeling like doing anything very constructive, like housework, or baking, or sewing, or even reading very long. I read stones half of the morning and didn’t move from my chair, but I kept dropping off to sleep. I notice that my face feels very warm, but when I take my temperature the thermometer reads below normal. Is that normal? Do you think I may be abnormal? Do you think something may be terribly wrong? Probably just a hypochondriac speaking, you say? Yes, I imagine that’s it. But I am sick with a cold. And I’m going back to bed now. Toodles. 
January 22, 2012

A Day at the Laundromat

Curly haired Anna gave her mother a quarter when asked.
Another, said her mother, and then another.
Can you press the round green button?
Standing on tip-toes, stretching her little arm, her tiny finger made contact.

The striped, purple, yellow, pink and green of her shirts and socks flew
Around and around as the girl stood in wonder and cocked her head
First one way, and then another.
A whirling bumpy noise then snagged her attention.

Quizzical look upon her face, Anna looked up at her mother,
Then in the most grown-up of voices, she declared, “This machine is very jumpy.”

January 21, 2012

Skeleton Swing

It is warm today giving me time to sit and bask in the sun.
Gentle breeze lifted my hair;
A dried seed pod from the tree above floated down
To join the many other brown twelve-inch long pods littering the ground.

The skeleton of a backyard swing sat forlorn
Above the stepping stones I brought on the plane from Carolina.
No children now skipped upon the stones nor leapt into the once swinging chair;
Broken, it stood bare and alone, the frame waiting for a new occupant.

January 20, 2012

Blue Moon

Fuzzy blue thread right
Smooth white threads left and middle
Needle moves up, down
Blade cuts excess fabric strip
Cow jumps over moon emerges
January 19, 2012

Haiku: Curling Wind

Wind is warm today
Clouds are hanging low and gray
The grass twists and curls 
January 17, 2012

Discovered Pearls

Reading old news clippings
Faces and names jumped out at me
Charcoal dresses with red accessories
It’s a Christmas wedding
What a joyful party!

The bride wore a waltz length gown of white
With a finger-tip length veil falling from a pearl studded tiara
From an old family scrapbook
This newly discovered piece of my past
Will add another layer of self to my memory.

January 16, 2012

Pink Neon

As I took some time to quietly observe the place where I sat, I realized that there was quietness within me amidst the hustle and bustle of those around me. Living in a city it is hard to find that quiet at times, but I began to look at the pink neon lights that shown so brightly around the popular ice cream store that we frequently go for milk shakes. You might think the pink would be garish or harsh, but in reality, it was not. The sky had darkened to pitch black and the pink neon parallel bars surrounding the building rose to a half moon in the center above the doors with the lights neither wavering nor flickering. Floating above the bars of light were the letters spelling out the name of the ice cream. It hung there, suspended in air, against the black of the night. I heard the noise of the traffic, the people, the distant freight train, but it was muted as I concentrated on the calmness of the pink neon lights.
January 15, 2012


Born today
Loving, shining, caring
Blond head bobbing happily
January 14, 2012

 I participate in A River of Stones

Acrostic: Michael

Make way for the birthday boy
Is the cry on parent’s lips
Cake is served on the patio table
Have you brought your gift in, Joe?
Anyone can see the boy is eager
Else why would he be here instead of there
Leaning over the fishpond?

January 13, 2012


Interwoven limbs
Like the fingers of two hands
Bare trees meet in light
Of moon and evening star shine
Beckoning me home
 January 12, 2012

 A Birthday Game

Today is my youngest grandson’s birthday. Eleven years ago he came into this world a beautiful, perfect angel and has not changed. Excitement shines in his eyes as he shows me his newest game, knowing he will be the one to tromp me at the end. It’s an old game with new rules and new gadgets. He loves it! And I love the way it makes him light up. 
 January 11, 2012

I participate in A River of Stones

Cinquain: Closet
Empty, Christmas

Stacking, storing, waiting

Housing family holiday decorations


January 8, 2012

Grateful for a Job

Workers lock the gate
Bright signs along the building
Ready for the night
Seven men and two women
Leave for home, tired but happy

January 7, 2012

Tanka: Wrinkled Face

Wrinkled Face
Old straw hat, sunglasses
Old gloves and rolled up shirt sleeves
Old blue jeans with holes
Old worn shoes with familiar scratches
Old face bearing wrinkles smiles
 January 6, 2012

Acrostic: Bobby


Bushy brows draw together as the old man draws paint
Over the wood – he tried to make his shaking hand glide smoothly.
Both the paint and the brush left a squiggly line,
By the look of his face
You knew he was not pleased with his efforts.

January 5, 2012

City Sounds

 City sounds greet the chirping birds in the elm tree outside the gate. The cold air still lifts the dry leaves which noisily swirl around the feet of the stroller. Quiet greets him, but he listens more carefully and hears the faint roar of traffic in the distance, the engines of a passenger jet making its way across the sky, and then the whistle of the Burlington Northern freight train passing through in the distance. As he passes on through, he hears the quiet melody of a neighbor’s wind chime. The city sounds here are soothing.

January 4, 2012

Pink Sandwich Platter

The large sandwich platter had been resting under several dishes for a long time. Inside the cupboard it seemed to be waiting for someone, anyone, to reach in and lovingly lift it from its place of hiding. Why hadn’t anyone noticed it before? The pale pink glass glittered in the bright light of the dining room chandelier and the edges, like inverted diamonds, begged to be touched. The back of the depression era piece was a cutwork of crisscrossed lines that ended in the center starburst. This holiday the platter would be used and admired and afterwards not be hidden away and forgotten.

January 3, 2012

Old Trees Shed Their Gowns 
I hurry because it is cold, even though the sun is shining so beautifully. The breeze is lightly touching my cheeks with icy fingers. My shadow goes before me, slightly to my right. I hear the newly fallen leaves crunching under my heavy shoes in the front yard, but as I go through the gate into the back I notice the leaves have been mulched and there are no newly fallen leaves. The old trees there have already shed their gowns and lift their arms to the blue skies waiting for whatever the season might bring them.

January 2, 2012

Pagoda Shaped Bird Cage

My eye saw movement to the right and a large bird cage came into view. The pagoda shaped aviary seemed out of place in the bed of the tan pickup that was streaked with dust and driven by a tired looking woman with short grey hair and a cigarette hanging from the fingers of her left hand. I wondered what kind of finicky bird called this magnificent cage home. The inside was draped with strings of colorful buttons, toys, shells, flowers and mirrors. The mirrors twinkled in the sunlight and I watched until it was only a speck in the distance. 

January 1, 2012


Peggy Duke said…
Judy, I re-read your January River of Small Stones thread on your geanealogy blog this early morning. As usual, I had trouble posting a comment, but I wanted to tell you that your words touch the very heart of our family. You are a "freelance writer and poet" indeed!
How sweet! Thank you so much for saying that. I know you enjoy my writing and I truly, truly appreciate all the words of encouragement you give me. I love you!

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