Tuesday, November 30, 2021


Poem Day 30--Final day for the November poetry month

The following poem comes from an experience I had years ago in Menan, Idaho, that ended up as an essay not shared with many. After Joanne and I read Elizabeth Acevedo's Clap When You Land, I knew I needed to do what Acevedo did: Construct the story in narrative poetic form. It's rather long but worth the read. Grab your tissues because you will need them....


In the dark night, a car lleno de niños
full of children
and a father
skid sideway,
smash into a cement embankment,
as the car attempts to round the curb.

The police arrive, red lights flashing,
only to find two young children already dead,
one almost dead who dies
en route to the hospital.

The other three children
and their father
are rushed to the nearby hospital
along the banks of the Snake River.
My call comes early the next morning.

A lump races to my throat,
sticks there like Elmer’s glue in your palm,
and the words “Why?” Why? Why?”
hang on my lips like shreds of cheese
from a hot pizza and cling there,
too afraid to leave and be exposed
to an unwanted answer.

I rush to the hospital,
see their diminutive mother,
standing alone and frail,
who rushes into my arms,
sobbing, shaking from grief, repeating
Mi Mario. Mi Juanita! Mi Benjamin!”
I ask her about the other three niños
and her husband.

We quietly go from room to room.
In one room, her husband is hooked up 
to tube after tube,
wire after wire, in a coma
from whence there is ultimately no return.
Eduardo lies with a broken collar bone
and badly cut up mouth and lips.
Graciela, the oldest, is covered with bruises,
her arm is in a cast,
her hair tangled around her face,
now laced with a scowl,
one that will remain
for some time, maybe even years.

The nurse enters, whispers to me
the little boy is crying for me.
For me? Why not his mother?
I follow the nurse, the words “why”
still on my lips, still stuck,
still unwilling to come out.

His room is dark, quiet,
a whir of machines interrupting
the dark with their sounds and lights.

The nurse tells me they amputated the right leg
just below the knee and even contemplated
taking the other but refrained.

A small white bowl of Jell-O
sits undisturbed by his bed stand.
The nurse said he has not touched any food,
even refused, but that he needs to eat something.
“Will you try to feed him?” she asks quietly.

Bulmarito, estoy aquí” I am here.
I whisper quietly, not wanting to interrupt his peace.
The niño, only eight, looks up at me
through those big butterfly eyes, tries to smile.
Me patita me duele,” My foot hurts,
he whispers through chapped and puffy lips.

I touch his forehead, too warmish,
sweep a couple of black curls out of his eyes.
His small brown face is soft
with no scratches or bruises.
A sense of both pain and peace
rest on his brown cheeks.

I lift a spoon half full of Jell-O.
Hay que comer un poquito, Bulmarito,”
“You have to eat just a little,” I say,
lifting the spoon to his lips.

Poco a poco, little by little,
he slurps bite after bite,
quietly using his tongue and teeth
until each spoonful is gone,
swallowing carefully
until nothing remains in the bowl.

I sit the bowl back on the little table.
I look back at Bulmarito,
so tiny and brown in that big bed,
covered with white blankets and white sheets.

Mi… patita… me… duele…!
My foot hurts!  
he keeps repeating,
Slower slower
until those big eye lashes close shut,
too tired to keep open.

I just stare at him,
wonder about his future,
his family’s future,
more so about tomorrow,
while my own tears stream down my cheeks
and land plentifully on the white blanket.

I then smooth out the blanket
where his right leg should have been.


Monday, November 29, 2021

I am a connoisseur of potatoes

Poem Day 29

Thanks to https://www.idahofb.org/ for the use of the photo of Idaho spuds.

I am a connoisseur of potatoes

Potatoes or spuds grow naturally in Idaho.
Sometimes, I think someone planted them
there right after the volcanic ash turned into
this deep rich soil that loves potatoes,
coos them to grow big and delicious
and grow they do, feeling right at home
with hot days and cool high desert evenings.

I picked spuds as a kid, filling
those rubberized wired baskets x 2
for about seven cents a sack.
Our lunches probably cost us more
than what we made, but the moon pies were great,
washed down with Shasta Tiki Punch.

I have eaten potatoes in so many ways—
baked, fried, cut up in French fries drenched
in olive oil and sprinkled with ranch powder
and baked in the oven, au gratin, cheesy potatoes,
fake potatoes made from pearl flakes,
(on gloomy days renamed funeral potatoes),
boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes and gravy,
hash browns, crinkle cut, potato chips,
and even raw potatoes with lots of salt
when you are hungry out moving
sprinkler pipe on a sweltering day.

On wet lines, you could literally bury your hand
deep into the sandy soil, feel around
for a new potato, gently freeing it
from its root, not disturbing the others,
wash it off in the sprinkler water, probably not as sanitary
as mother would have liked, pulled out
your Morton mini-salt shaker,
kept in your back pocket for opportune times
like these, sprinkling on an appropriate amount of salt,
and biting into it, savoring and mincing a bit
the crispness and raw flavor of spuds.

I have to say, though, baked potatoes are my favorite,
topped with all the accoutrements of fine dining:
chili, onions, cheese, sometimes broccoli or cauliflower,
some butter but mostly ranch dressing, a smidge
of sour cream, with a boiled egg cut delicately
and sprinkled on top of the whole potato.
Of course, I never liked the skins—
I know where they have been.
Some say the skins are the best part…Really?
These people must be from another planet.

I just like the white fluffy innards of baked Russets
with all those ingredient smooshed together.
There is something about the delicate naturalness
of spuds, no matter how you cook them.
I guess you could say I am a connoisseur of potatoes,
commonly known as spuds in eastern Idaho.

Photo by Dennis Hammon of Dennis Hammon Photograph
The Menan Buttes: a view from Rexburg

Sunday, November 28, 2021

We can learn a lot in Church...

Poem Day 28

Sunset over the Church

We can learn a lot in Church....

We can learn a lot in Church
by listening a bit even with masks.

We can learn that life is not always fun
and delightful and cheerful.

Challenging things plop into our lives
way more times than we want.

We need to pour out our hearts
to God, especially in the most challenging times.

Falling short seems to be the natural way
for most of us, but there is always a way
to climb out of the abyss that we often fall into.

We must be grateful for all that comes to us—
good things and things not as good as we want them.

Our children need tender loving care,
even though their behavior overwhelms us.

The Lord needs us to shine every day
and during the most challenging times.
That’s when we grow and develop
and become better than we were.

We have to believe, have faith, strive
with all our might, mind, and strength.

Learning comes during challenging times
and hardships much to our chagrin and moaning.

It all works out in the end.


We have to just endure to the end—
the end of the hardship,
the end of the challenge,
the end of our lives, knowing
and hoping the challenging times will end.

Hardships have no beginning or end dates.

We need to “let our hearts be comforted;
yea, rejoice evermore,

and in everything give thanks”—
all the time “waiting patiently on the Lord.”

His timeline is not ours.

We must see a far off and remember
why we chose to come to earth.

We must come to understand
“all these things shall give thee experience,
and shall be for thy good.”

It’s a good thing we have time
to contemplate and think
about these things
“with great earnestness”
and letting ourselves
“cheerfully do all things
that lie in our power…”
and then let the Lord do all the rest.

It’s the only way.

End of lesson.

Doorway in Chichen Itza

Saturday, November 27, 2021

The Putting Up of the Christmas Tree After Thanksgiving

Poem Day 27

The Putting Up of the Christmas Tree After Thanksgiving

Today we put up the Christmas tree,
wrapped the new lights around each limb,
made sure each had lights, except one branch
that we skipped over for some reason,
not out of disrespect but from sure
forgetfulness and carelessness.
We recognized our error
three quarters way up the tree.

Too late to make a change, we promised
to place some of the best ornaments
to make up for our blunder
It’s been four years since
we gathered our own
personal ornaments and collections,
all perfectly stored or encased
dusty or Styrofoam boxes.

All have special significance,
gathered over the last forty plus years
from places we have been or visited.
Putting on the ornaments takes
the longest time because each one has a story.
We select each one, reminisce about it
for just a moment before we carefully place it.
Some have their special place on the tree.

Our most precious are the homemade ones
Joanne made when we were poor college students
and after, each with a date or others
like her 1990 counted cross stitched stocking
stands among the elite
or the Christmas tree made
with tiny wood thimbles,
wrapped Christmas fabric.

Of course, how can you not hang
Anna Rose’s grade school potpourri-filled
heart with her picture in the middle
or Hailey’s first grade picture, wrapped 
in a green fluff piping wreath with a bow?
Grandmother Boltz’s unique ceramic bears
dangle from many limb.
One of Joanne’s favorites

is a mesh wire ball full of potpourri
from Joanne’s sister’s wedding,
some fifty years ago.
On some of our travels,
we attempted to find ornaments
like the Maid of Mist from Niagara Falls;
the national monument, enshrouded in gold,
from Washington, D.C.; one with Kansas’ sunflowers

in picture of a typical farm;
a piece of jade encased in red cording
from Dalian, China; the Tillamook Rock
and a blue blown glass ornament from Oregon;
even a cowboy snowman from Montana;
and so many others that make up our tree.
Then, we carefully place a gold
Angel Moroni atop the tree,

facing east, waiting for that final day.
To finalize the tradition,
Joanne places her quilted tree skirt
around the tree to guard it and keep it warm.
Now, for at least a month, we will sit
in the evenings and stare at the tree,
wrapped in lights and memories,
and bask in the goodness of life.

Friday, November 26, 2021


Poem Day 26

Provo sunset reflecting on Maple Mountain
the day after Thanksgiving 2021


Perhaps, it is the night sounds,
the ones that beckon us or drive us
deeper between the wind-dried sheets.

Perhaps, it the soft music billowing
from downstairs on grandma’s phonograph
or the quiet breezes outside,
the window wide open in early summer
to catch their coolness and memories.

Perhaps, it is just me, trying to see
through the darkness, thinking of past times,
the cooing of barn pigeons on the roof tops,
the whistle of the window through the cottonwoods,
or even the overhead flight of mallards.

Tonight, though, I lie tranquil, hoping
to hear the past seeping in
through the cracks in the walls,
a soft creak of the stairs,
even a brushing of weeping willows
on the window, now shut tight.

But it is quiet as if someone
is holding her breath, waiting
for the right moment to exhale.

Sunset in Provo, Utah, day after Thanksgiving 2021

Thursday, November 25, 2021

My Psalm at Thanksgiving

Poem Day 25--Happy Thanksgiving!

The Darrel and Joanne Hammon Family

My Psalm at Thanksgiving

The day we call Thanksgiving comes just once a year
although we should celebrate giving thanks every day.
Each day my prayers are long, sometimes longer
when more blessings come and I feel the need.
Blessings arrive in so many ways, some subtle,
some grandiose, some as every day gifts.

For me, my blessings are plentiful and powerful reminders.

I am always thankful my for dear Joanne
for her 42 years and counting of putting up with me
and her consistent love and those sly smiles.

Our daughters Anna Rose and Hailey,
both miracles from a loving Heavenly Father,
for our sweet memories as we moved from place to place,
new adventures for everyone and their adaptability
to new situations, trying to fit in, and adjusting,
no matter where we were and now their own adventures
with their doting husbands and our sweet grandchildren.

My brothers and sisters and the many memories
I have of and with them, each of us
with our own version of the memory.

The knowledge I can repent and be forgiven
because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
The words of pure truth and revelations
from modern-day apostles and prophets.
The knowledge and understanding of the covenant path.

Our missionaries who have become part of our family
and still stay connected in a variety of ways.
Our missionary friends from the Caribbean
whose lives and examples made us better.

Our callings and those whom we serve or have served.
Our friends throughout the world who keep in touch.

Temples that allow me a peek into eternity
and a life that could be ours if we are obedient.

For our health that keeps changing and moving along,
despite the aging process that we tolerate.

For learning Spanish long ago in Chile
and being able to communicate in two languages.
Our ability to volunteer and help others.

For real Idaho potatoes in any form,
particularly baked potatoes and all the trimmings.
For pork chops; red licorice; ice cream,
pretty much any flavor, but especially
mint chocolate chip and lemon sherbet.
For Kit Kats, Lemon Heads, pie a la mode.

For clouds, sunsets and sunrises, mountains, streams,
seasons, and a camera to take pictures of all those.

The ability to dress in a suit and tie once in a while.
The privilege to read and write to anyone.
The daily opportunity to always smile
at the craziness the world offers us.

More particularly, knowing who and whose I really am
and why I am as we trundle through this world,
trying to progress, grow, and become better.

And so many, many more that trickle and often flood in each day.
Thanksgiving should not be just one day but 365 days
and all the hours and minutes in between.

I am truly thankful for all that I have and will have.

Thanks to Dennis Hammon for taking this
incredible photo of the Idaho Falls Temple!



Wednesday, November 24, 2021

My Mother Made Me

Poem Day 24

My Mother Made Me

My Mother made me
take social dance as a junior.
When I questioned her why—
at least a dozen times,
causing her anger to singe my ears—
she said, You will need to know
how someday, trust me.”

Like a dutiful son that I was,
I signed up for the class—grudgingly, hesitating.
The registrar raised her eyebrows just a little.
I nodded, grimacing at my plight,
sealed for the semester,
trying to convince myself it was okay
since it still counted as P.E.

While my friends took real PE, played
b-ball on the other side of the divider in the gym,
I learned to dance the two-step, the fox trot,
the waltz, the polka with—catch this—
girls, not the prettiest in the batch but passable.
I had to touch them—hand in their hand,
my hand on their waist or the small of their back,
our bodies ostensibly moving with the music.

At first, my shyness caught me by surprise,
and I didn’t look my partner in the eye,
just at my feet, whispering
and simultaneously counting
1 2 together and 1 2 together.

Sometimes the bouncing stopped across the way,
several eyes peering around the great divide.
We heard snickers, then bouncing again,
amid uproarious laughter.
I kept counting and looking down
at my size 12 feet stuffed in Tony Llamas.

By midterm, I tore my ligaments, skiing
an out-of-sync polka at Kelly’s Canyon in the dark.
I told the ski patrol snow snakes grabbed me
from behind, pulled me down
and twisted my ankles for good measure.

For a couple of weeks, I sat on the hard bleachers,
watching the dancers cavort on our side of the gym.
Once my walking cast was on, I charged forward,
not minding too much the dancing, the attention.
I could actually dance in a cast.

Then a substitute took over for a week,
saw my cast, cooed dismay at my bum luck.
Wincing like it hurt, I shook my head and succumbed
to the opportunity, didn’t say a word,
just slipped around the corner of the divider
and danced my own dance—
shooting hoops with the boys.


Tuesday, November 23, 2021


Poem Day 23


Miracles swoop down at times;
other times, they drizzle in
like early morning rains in the mountains.

Still other times, it seems they linger
somewhere in the dense fog and forest,
not showing themselves, hiding from us

like children playing hide n’ seek.
They are there, but we cannot see them
or feel them or smell them.

Yet, they are there, all around us.
We often do not recognize them
because we seek Moses or Enoch-like miracles:

the parting of the great Red Sea
or mountains being moved from here to there,
even the appearance of angels.

We fail to see the small ones,
not getting hit on our bike,
receiving a letter from an estranged child,

or fresh apple pie on your doorstep,
or even a call out of the blue
at the very moment you are having a bad day.

They are there, usually, right before our eyes.
When we look with open eyes,
perhaps even our spiritual eyes,

the fog dissipates and the clouds lift,
and they appear, almost magically,
hanging thickly on every branch and scattered

on the ground like fall leaves and pine cones.
We can gently reach down
and scoop up as many as we would like.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

The Gathering

Poem Day 22

Photo from iStock

The Gathering

When I was younger, working for Bud,
a single man over sixty, he had me gather
the cows and calves for branding
in the spring on my red and silver Hodaka 100,
sometimes louder than the cows wanted to hear.

They heard me coming before they saw me
and knew I meant business.
The Herefords, including the bolly-faced ones,
looked at me, then looked at each other,
knowing the gathering was coming
and headed haphazardly in bunches
for the corrals off in the distance.

It didn’t take me long to maneuver them
to where they needed to go.
Even some of the stragglers balked
at first until I rounded on them,
pushing them forward.

Soon, they were all congregated
in the corrals, bellering, stamping about.
Then the separation of the calves
from their mommas began,
and the bellering reached a noisy
crescendo, heard clear over to Cottle’s
hundreds of acres and a fence line away.

We lassoed them one by one,
dragged them into a pen, held them tight,
inoculated, tagged, dehorned them,
and completed other life-changing tasks.

The branding seemed simple enough
with an iron hot from a burning heap of coals.

Once the brand was burned
into the flesh, we released them
back to their mothers, still bellering,
still stamping around, now mad
as they smelled the burned flesh,
reminiscent of their own branding,
now emerging and burning in their minds.

It dawned on me that branding
would not have been necessary
if thieves weren’t always lurking about,
trying to steal calves that weren’t theirs.

Ironically, the brands protect them
from being taken clandestinely away
from their mothers and the ranch.

After we finished the many hours of branding,
coals doused with water, everything put away,
we watched the herd from the pole fence
in the corner of the corral,
listening to the mamma cows
as they munched fresh bales of hay,
scattered along the bottom of the manger,
while their little ones skipped and skittered
around the corral, frolicking through freshly laid straw
as if nothing had just happened to them at all.

Photo by Wallshaven


Overcoming Challenges

Poem Day 21

Overcoming Challenges

Some challenges in our lives stream
like Netflix movies, some in full length
and vivid color, others like short films,
black and white and rather dull,
still powerful,
still mind bending,
still threatening
our very lives and progress.

Over time, we try to tear ourselves
from the invasive onslaught
of terrifying and smoldering scenes,
some too close to the real thing,
others reminding us of our pasts
that we had purposely buried deep
in the recesses of our minds.

But somehow we still sit there in the dark,
inclined in those comfortable chairs,
munching buttered popcorn and eating red licorice,
all the while the streaming continues.

We promise ourselves we will shut it off
when the scenes become too lifelike.

We close our eyes, hoping the images
will cease for just a brief moment
for us to catch our breath
and then erase themselves forever.

For some reasons, we stay put,
sit alone in the dark,
suffering through it all, knowing
that we should not be here.

Then, the light suddenly flickers on,
and someone opens up the door wide,
allowing slivers of light to enter,
breaking the trance we are in.

At that moment, we realize it is our time
to climb out of the abyss we find ourselves in.

With some effort, we press pause,
then even more determined,
press the off button,
clamor out of our seats,
quickly toss the debris of our lives
into the huge overflowing cans
as we leave the theater of our past,
hoping, just hoping, and finally knowing
that we are leaving behind the darkness
of the past, entering the light of the present,
and moving on into full light and joy of the future.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Ode to Education…Learning

Poem Day 20

Ode to Education…Learning

Surely, it starts at birth, “mewling and puking,”
grows with each new diaper change
clamors once more when words drip
haphazardly with each passing week
Until Kinder begs the little ones,
motions for them to come, especially
the gifted ones already alphabetized
and number and word smart.

Who cares about treats and curfews
when Shakespeare and Neruda,
Angelou, Hughes, and even Keats bask
without forgiveness and repercussions,
toying with 7th and 8th graders,
their swirling minds, often too preoccupied
with hormones, pop music, and that other stuff?

Soon—oh, please!—the high school years,
filled with gushings of nothingness,
and cars, girls, dances, cars, video
and football games—all too ephemeral.

When poetry seeps into young minds
and creates anguish, sometimes feelings
of osmosis, feelings of why me when they read
the drowning words of Plath and her ilk.

Why not sit quietly in your seats, absorbing
Chaucer, Safford, Poe, and even Wordsworth?
Throw in some Dickinson, e.e. cummings
with a dash of Whitman, Yeats, and Dylan Thomas—
and then you feel the glorious rhythm of words
and cadences, dripping, swirling, curling beneath
your feet like the tortoiseshell cat you inherited.

Finally, your education learning becomes yours by choice.

Instead of Thomas’ Do not go gentle in that good night”
and death grabbing at your ankles, try on
with relish do not go gentle into learning, 
along a creek bank or cloistered in a stand of quakies,
or even in a meadow loaded with a herd of deer.

Go gangbusters, pell mell, screaming
at top of your lungs like you did when playing
“No bears out tonight” with your friends and cousins,
remembering that learning is glorious and kind and good
allowing it to seep soothingly into your soul, cleansing it
from all those other trappings, often forced learning.

Hence, learn on and take captive all tidbits
you sense will warm you when you are old
and can’t see or hear or taste….

Friday, November 19, 2021

Holding Hands

Poem Day 19

Holding Hands

Holding hands comes early in our lives,
the first our mothers and then our fathers

who tenderly caress our tiny soft hands,
counting our little fingers with their thumbs,

humming a lullaby that soothes us.
When we are older, learning to walk,

off balance and wobbly, they again hold our hands,
carefully not to squeeze hard, allowing us

a bit of freedom to explore around the house.
During the pre-teen and through the teenage years,

our mothers hold our hands when we are asleep
when we won’t pull away because to us,

it isn’t cool to hold hands with our mothers.
The reversal begins too soon for some of us,

when our mothers or fathers now wobbly and off balance
need their hands held to walk to and from places.

Soon, way too soon, our parents lie subdued
in their beds, surrounded by family

family pictures, and other remembrances.
We hold their hand, squeezing periodically,

letting them know that we love and appreciate them.
During these days as we watch them grow closer

to passing over to another life, their new life,
we yearn for the days when it was they

who held our hands, gently caressing them,
holding us just firm enough, so if we did fall,

they would be there to swoop us up,
wrap us in their arms, smile, and coo!

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Brilliance in the Middle of the Night

Poem Day 18--

Brilliance in the Middle of the Night

Does one ever tire of stepping off
the ledge of the balcony
or the sidewalk curb, narrowly

missing the passing Chevy Lumina,
once dented by a six-year-old bike
with training wheels. Surely,

my mother would disapprove
of my expense account, chuck full
of lunches at the Lariat

and always the extra at the end—
the lemon meringue or the cinnamon apple
a la mode. Isn't it

a shame to dip chocolates
on a Friday night only to be awakened
in the middle of the night—

something about a cavorting appendix
and three incisions to suck out
the inflamed organ, no good in or out

but death to a pig without one.
I find it odd to listen
on quiet nights, straining to hear stars

fall from grace or see
one streak across the sky.
Surely they know better than to burst

and die like my daughter's appendix
on Sunday at 2:00 p.m. Surely
they understood the consequences

of light, a burst, a fading slowly
into the universe, the ultimate loss
of innocence and brilliance, sometimes
simultaneous and the love-struck kid

who names it for the girl in third period
who thinks of him only as the brainiac
with the best notes and homework.

Why couldn't it just fade over time,
lessening the blow and the sudden hole to fill
by darkness and slight twist of the telescope?

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Greatness: The Common Lot of Man and Woman

Poem Day 17--

Peeking at majesty

Greatness: The Common Lot of Man and Woman

Some are afraid of knowing
too much, perhaps too little.
Some shrink away, afraid
of what others might think
about them.
Others do nothing, hoping
that life will not touch them.
Many shine in school,
on the playing field,
in the bright lights
of the world,
thinking that greatness
has enveloped them,
allowed them to become someone.

What we don’t know
because, perhaps,
we do not want to know
is others shine, too—
In the confines of their own rooms,
laden with microscopes,
computers, shelves of used books,
pencils and pens,
writing and drawing paper,
and brothers or sisters.
They help the poor, the needy,
read to neighbors,
take food to shut ins,
write letters to those who
need words of comfort and peace,
be kind and gracious.

We read in the scriptures
about lights under a bushel basket,
talents hidden low in the dirt,
withdrawing within ourselves.
We can fill ourselves with knowledge
of what we really can become,
of who we need to be
in this life to prepare for another life,
of whose we really are,
for we are truly His….

Once we know who we really are,
no longer will our talents be hidden.
We will reach out to others.
Our lights will shine forth.
Then we shall see afar off,
knowing what He knows,
seeing what He sees,
feeling what He feels,
becoming what He is.
Truly then, and only then,
We will be great.

Sand path along the beach


Tuesday, November 16, 2021

The Simplicity of Life

Poem Day 16

The Simplicity of Life

Some people make life way too challenging,
too overwhelming, too large for one
to even comprehend any of it.

Or maybe it’s the internet,
the magazines, the photoshoots,
the blogs, the incessant whining of commentators
of day-time cable or news channels and podcasts
that shout out the horrendous stories and news
that have ostensibly happened to this person
or that person or Instagram posts
that seem so glamorous and far-fetched simultaneously.

Photoshop has added this and that,
a pinch of more highliner and rosy skin,
thinned out some bumps and excess
of whatever might be deemed as excessive,
even added a tone or two, made gray
and wrinkles disappear at a mere click of the thumb,
created an image or smoothness
that truly doesn’t reflect anything
or anyone in real life but creating
a fictitious image of what could be if….

So many apps surreptitiously meld
the lines of reality and fiction,
fake and truth to the point of what is really real?

Whatever happened to the simplicity of life
without all of the distractions, distortions, and disturbances?
Have we come as far as to dim the truth
by telling tell a tall tale, fashioning a hyperbole
or even hyping nothing but air and nonsense
to capture more “likes” than anyone else?

Perhaps, we should bag the many lenses
of extravagance to a single lens of reality
and a sense of wholeness and goodness,
not caked with the layers of density and excess.

Perhaps, the simplicity of life is exactly that:
simplicity of doing and seeing,
no tiers of who’s who or what’s what
but mere deposits of good-old fashion
of what is still real and true and moral.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Random, Simple Blessings

Poem Day 15--"Random, Simple Blessings" emerged after we heard the Carter Family speak in Church. Sister Carter talked about her five-year-old son who said prayers similar to what happens in the poem. 

Random, Simple Blessings

He prayed again last night, the five-year-old,
at dinner, prayed for his brother and sister,
for his parents, his friends, the family dog
and then began his random thanking
for his toys, air to breath, marbles,
apples but not peas, his bike,
the soft blanket his grandmother gave him,
the sun, kindergarten, playing tic-tac-toe
in the cul-de-sac near his house,
his new dinosaur shirt, ice cream
and homemade cookies (chocolate chip),
Coco from a movie he had just watched,
a telephone call from his grandparents
who live far away, his new socks with yellow toes,
Curious George, homemade raspberries jam, and rolls.

He did say amen and climbed into bed.

At first I was irritated that he prayed
for such random things.
I dimmed the lights and stood
in the doorway, watched him close his eyes
and fall asleep, content with his day.
I remembered his prayer and being thankful
for so many everyday things.

When I contemplated each one,
carefully, from the eyes of a five-year-old,
a hole opened in my heart,
tears streamed down my cheek,
my mind was enlightened.
They were not just random things.

They were simple things, yes,
even simple blessings of the mundane,
yet individual things that created happiness
in my five-year-old, about who he was
and what lay around the house
and within his sphere of influence,
minute as they might have seemed to me.
They were his everyday things,
his everyday blessings, his alone—
and maybe mine as well.

At that very moment, I thought of my simple things,
my simple blessings, and they grew
suddenly large and important in my eyes
and in my heart, causing both see
and feel wonderment and happiness
for the simple, enriching blessings that fill my life
with happiness every single day—
all because of a five-year-old boy’s
seemingly random prayer turned revelatory.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

"Who Am I?"

Day 14--"Who Am I?"

Who Am I?

I know the names of plants,
animals, states, and countries.
I know about George Washington,
Abe Lincoln, and the Desert Fox.
I know about the Green Mountain Boys,
and Nephi, and the stripling warriors
whose mothers taught them well.
I even know about Facebook, Instagram,
and blogging, and other social media things.
I know about dissecting sentences,
plopping verbs where they belong.
I know when not to dangle modifiers
or place commas and apostrophes
where they don’t belong.
I know why I should drive the speed limit,
buy items only when they are on sale,
and bath once a day.
So why is it that I sometimes wonder
Who I really am?
Shouldn’t knowing be as simple
as making chocolate chip cookies, frosting cake,
or painting lilacs on the wall?
Shouldn’t knowing be as clear
as hiking canyon trails,
reading Shakespeare’s sonnets,
and picking out animals in the clouds?
Shouldn’t knowing be as clear as using Venmo,
Zoom, WhatsApp, and Alexa?
Why then do I stumble so
just before dances and the big date
or when she tells me
she doesn’t want to see me again
or when I get a D on a test
or when I don’t get my way
or when my day goes blue by noon?
Why do I sink deep
in the leather chair,
mope around the house,
and misunderstand what is written
and hovers in my heart?
How can I miss the words,
the plain and simple ones,
that reach from centuries beyond,
all the while these ancient and modern words
simultaneously shout from the roof tops
that it was He who was risen
that it was He who died for me
that it was He in whose image I am created
that it was He who said
I would inherit all that my Father hath
and be made one with Him
in His many mansions
prepared for me?
Shouldn’t I know clearly that I am
a son of a Heavenly Father and Mother
who love me?

It seems so simple
when I pray.


Saturday, November 13, 2021

"Summers at Grandma's"

Day 13--"Summers at Grandma's"
This storyline came from a colleague I used to work with

Summers at Grandma’s

We liked to sleep outside during summers.
The house was too stuffy;
plus grownups prodded us to say things

we really didn’t want to say.
Our spot of evening comfort
was the old Model A Ford,

sitting out in the apple orchard.
For some reason, my Dad and Grandpa
dragged it out there, propped it up

on old cinder blocks, yanked the motor,
and then left it to rot like fallen apples in the fall.
But there was a mattress someone stuffed in it,

perhaps my brothers or cousins or even Grandpa.
For us, we didn’t really care as long as we could sleep out
beneath the apple trees, far from the farm house,

listen to the crickets, coyotes up on the Buttes,
and gurgling water Dad left on the alfalfa overnight.
My cousin and I giggled through half the night.

To this day, I don’t remember a smidgin
of the conversation, n’er a line from the dark.
But I do remember the grasses

swishing against the side of the rusted car,
loons over on the river, rustling of things
in the orchard, and the deep breathing of my cousin.

Once she was asleep, I just lay there,
left arm resting on my forehead, soaking it in,
hoping, just hoping that I wouldn’t grow up,

wouldn’t have to leave the old Ford,
wouldn’t have to leave home,
the comforts of crickets and nightcrawlers

seeping through the holes
on the freshly watered lawn, stretching far
to find a mate and clinging until dawn.

Friday, November 12, 2021

I Love the Smell of Rain

Day 12--"I Love the Smell of Rain"

I Love the Smell of Rain

I love the smell of rain
early in the morning and late at night
while I am trying to fall asleep.

The patterings in the mornings lull me
awake, soothe the nightmares of the night,
encourage me to contemplate
what rain really means, should mean,
to all of us on the high plains
with little moisture.

Rain is life—life to plants, animals,
the ecosystem, our very lives,
a sense of future and food, and longevity …

When it finally rains, some of us like to stand
outside, heads up, mouths open, and sip the rain,
letting it moisturize our tongues and lips,
sometimes gulping it when it patters down
hard and fast and allowing it to water our faces.

In some hot spots of the world,
the children race outside
when the clouds clap together
and spew its watery tears to the ground.

These little ones stand beneath the water spouts,
happy, excited, ecstatic, wait for the water
to gurgle through the rusty pipes,
anticipate it crashing down on them
on them in streams of pure pleasure.

Then, the dancing begins.

Others down the street use the rainwater
as showers, cleaning the dirge of life
and poverty from their bodies.

Rains are like that.

They cleanse and renew and replenish—
our streams, our lakes, our ponds,
our reservoirs, our states of mind.

It is no wonder we pray often for rain
to come to join us, to fulfill our dreams,
and fill us with hope and possibilities.

I love the smell of rain as it fills my nostrils
with the smells of life, my own presence,
the existence of someone Greater than all of us.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Dawn Comes Early…

Day 11--"Dawn Comes Early..."

Dawn Comes Early…

Dawn comes early in the east.
Often, the sun gathers large at first
and then shrinks behind huge purple,
gray clouds until it succumbs
while the clouds pass, and it rises
further than the clouds.

Streaming rays, oranges and reds
on the horizon, speak softness
to the new day, always moving
in one steady, upward course,
somewhere around the world.

With some trepidation, I walk out
into the dark morning turning new day,
notice the oranges and the reds in the east,
trying desperately to show themselves,
maybe even heave themselves toward the west,
where later in the day, they again succumb
to the night and slip away further into the west.

Yet, I walk on, speculating why the sun creeps along
so tenuously at first, then confidently during the day.

It is like I am— tenuous at first,
and then boldly although not overbearingly.

Perhaps, I should walk early,
try to catch the sun, learn from its steadiness
and how it works to make the world
brighter, happier, consistent.

Perhaps, I should sit on the hill
and just watch the sun, just watch it
grow big and round and bright.

Perhaps, I should just close my eyes,
think of those mornings when I walk boldly
out into the rain, the snow, the heavy winds,
head down, not thinking of anything in particular—
just the mere thought of trudging forward,
into the early morning, thinking of home,
a hot bath, and Cheerios—

all one steady upward course, now and forever.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Magical Moments

Day 10--"Magical Moments"

Magic Moments

I have discovered over time
that it is not the grandiose things
that matter most in life.

It is the magic moments
when we are doing simple things
like walking along river banks
with a loved one, skipping rocks
with your children on mountain lakes
or even streams along the freeway,
eating ice cream cones at every local ice parlor
you come to on a road trip,
eating chicken too dry to eat
at the backyard BBQ and laughing
until the root beer spews out your nose,
or snugging under blankets
with flashlights blaring, telling stories
about growing up in the country,
or driving down a deserted highway
with family while listening
to Jim Dale read unforgettable passages
from Harry Potter and Sorcerer’s Stone
all while chomping on licorice,
huge lemon drops, and kettle corn.

What about baking cookies on Sunday afternoons
as storm clouds gather in west?
What about playing basketball games
or tennis matches, not really keeping score, per se?
Can there be any other moments
that will last over time,
grueling heartbreaks, or even death?

Once we discover this,
hopefully before times of youth
disappear like bell bottoms and wide ties,
we can then focus on the magical moments,
truly those inconspicuous times
that just crop up during some non-event,
only to become eternal memories,
feelings oozing through our minds
and imbedding in our hearts forever.


Tuesday, November 9, 2021

I am still viable

Day 9--"I am still viable"

I just had "that" birthday that puts me in another age bracket. Plus, I have also experienced recently some trappings of ageism, so I thought I would pen a quasi-résumé poem titled, "I am still viable."

I am still viable

I confess I possess some semblance
of gray hair and a few wrinkles
around the eyes, but I still have game.
I still get up on time, actually early, meaning
I can get to work on time, with a smile.
And I don’t need coffee
or one of those booster drinks

to get me going or even keep me going.
I just keep going because I know how to work.
I learned early in life by milking cows,
chipping ice in the winter, moving pipe
in huge potato fields in Idaho,
feeding pigs and chickens, mowing lawns,
and working early and hard in the garden.

I even picked potatoes and hoed beets
in the heat and those wild eastern Idaho winds.
Plus, I went to college and over the years earned a Ph.D.
Yes, I can work circles around most
of your employees all before noon.
I realize the youth need experience and guidance
and probably a boatload of motivation.

That’s where I come in, full of experience,
a guide to help them along the way,
showing how to work the oars and steer the ship,
a high-level motivator with a kind
yet pragmatic dose of stick-to-it-ness.
Plus, I see the holistic,
understand the mission and vision,

and work diligently and persistently
to bring them to fruition,
all in collaborative, successful ways.
Yes, I may be a bit more mature
than your 30-somethings,
some still wet behind the ears,
with their freshly minted degrees,

but I still possess the success gene
and the work gene
and visionary gene
and the resilience gene
and the entrepreneurship gene,
and they have functioned fine for years—
and ready to propel your company forward.

Yes, I am still viable…

Monday, November 8, 2021

Fearful and Wonderfully Made

Fearful and Wonderfully Made
(Inspired by Jennifer Sizemore)

Sometimes we wonder who we really are,
whether we were made, created,
or just emerged from the muddy goo

like a slug along the early morning beach.
My tendencies are that we were created
by some greater being, even a Heavenly Father,

becoming His sons and daughters on this earthly sphere.
He knows us each individually, understands
our feelings and moments of anger.

It is during these times, I often wonder
if I am really destined to be like God is.
Yet, I know deep down, really deep down,

that I have come from so far to do
so many great things, that I tremble at times,
feeling lackluster, inadequate, insignificant.

But I also know that He created me
to be wonderful, persistent, fearful, someone
who should know better than sometimes I act.

In the biblical sense, fear really means “awe.”
Thus, fearful, means full of awe for God,
truly something we can diligently strive for

in our earthly journey so that one day,
we truly can say, we are fearful—
yes, even full of awe—and wonderfully made

in His image, which makes us one with Him,
truly a feeling both edifying and spiritually expedient
to me now and forever more.

Sunday, November 7, 2021

When Grandchildren Come to Visit

Day 7--When Grandchildren Come to Visit

When grandchildren come to visit,
things change, the landscape changes,
and the rules sometimes disappear.

We go swimming together at the Rec Center,
race down the water slides,
skid into the water, splashing most aside.

We do the river of water,
and around,
and around,
and around again, 
stopping sometimes to rest,
other times just to splash water everywhere.

We eat so many things, from pork chops
to Oreos to French toast
sprinkled with powdered sugar,
which we never do when they are not here.

Bacon has been reintroduced on the menu
since the vegetarian ended his experimentation.

Often, the “boys— Malshipoos—come,
two cute, playful dogs who love to sit
on your lap or jump up and down
like excited children, which they have become,
or just look into your eyes,
wishing you would pet them and pay them
way more attention than they really need. 

Walks with boys are frequent
and often necessary appendages
to exercise and just getting out
for some air, sniffing around,
and marking their territory.

We even went to the park,
watched our grandson’s new fighting moves,
using his painted stick,
all notched and nicked from other battles
with trees, rocks, fences, and such.

Movies play a role, mostly cartoons
and Disney, sad and silly, morbid and ridiculous,
fantastically plain, whimsical, and poignant!

You watch grandchildren when they are tired,
earphones in their ears and them giggling
about something they are listening to.

It’s amazing going from fighting machine
to round and round in the lazy river of water
to earphones and a sedentary life on the sofa,
with the boys hunkered down in and around them.

But you take advantage
of those affordable moments
when they come, wishing
they would come more often,
especially with the rest of the grandchildren.

Let them bring the dogs.
Let them bring their toys.
Let them make all the noise they want.
Let them wear their earphones.
Let them play name that tune with Alexa.
Let them have their extra Oreo if they wish.
Let them make a mess around the house.

The time will come
when they will be too busy,
too involved in so many other things,
too nonchalant to care about aging grandparents.
For ours, we hope and pray
that will never happen
for we want them to come often
and be a part of our lives.