No Rain in Sight


the crickets were forecasting the weather last night,

singing, “No rain in sight, No rain in sight!”

wells are drying up, businesses are shutting down,

soon no one will be living in this deserted town.

today two men were chastised for washing their car,

I’ve got to escape real soon to someplace real far.

my friends are looking at me with evil in their eyes,

my well is still working but i’m beginning to tell lies.

if they only knew I took a bath last night,

they’d sputter and yell and say it wasn’t right.

then one and all would leave with a frown,

and sometime at night my house might burn down.

I’ve got to be careful when crickets sing their song.

anything I might say could be construed as wrong.

I’m breathing dust that hangs heavy in the air,

there’s no rain in sight, so beware, beware!

by dan roberson

Around the World


 

Mount Irvine (left) and Mount Whitney (right)
Mount Irvine (left) and Mount Whitney (right) (Photo credit: rickz)

 

Around the World

 

I don’t have to travel across the world,

 

There is a labyrinth within my mind,

 

Nor do the diamonds of Africa,

 

Call me to seek and find,

 

I don’t need the ice of Siberia,

 

To compare the iciness of your heart,

 

I only know what we’ve been through,

 

And it’s time for us to part,

 

Don’t shed crocodile tears for me, my dear,

 

Until the Nile runs dry,

 

You never loved me anyway,

 

So there’s no need to cry,

 

On the top of the Aztec ruins,

 

My love was sacrificed today,

 

A Black Forest cuckoo will chime again,

 

If I listen to what you say,

 

Mt Whitney might be a place for me,

 

Where love might choose to play,

 

But now that I’ve lost your love,

 

It’s Death Valley for me today.

 

 

 

 

 

We Built a House


English: Front and western side of The Farm Ho...
Image via Wikipedia

We built a house out of silence and words,

With deep conversations we built the foundation,

Sweet honeyed words that oozed and dripped,

Hardened into concrete passion and love,

Kept level for a time as we patched the cracks,

We let down our guard as the foundation settled,

That was our first mistake,

With polite greetings we built the walls,

Used small talk as we went about our tasks,

In the walls silences became trapped and used for insulation,

Keeping uncomfortable spaces between us,

We talked with our eyes without sharing our thoughts,

That was our second mistake,

With angry words we raised the roof,

We built rafters with the appearance of strength,

But empty and unlivable to those inside,

We chose barbed shingles in an overlapping pattern,

Beautiful to behold but they caught and tore the heart,

We lived in this house and never made repairs,

That was our third mistake,

If we had built our house with realistic expectations,

Knowing that marriage either grows or weakens,

We could have given it the attention it needed,

Sharing our dreams and goals as we stayed best friends,

Making additions, repairs and strengthening the foundation,

But we didn’t,

We built our house on hopes and dreams,

Thinking that the other’s faults would change,

Rather than learning unconditional love and acceptance,

Our house was built on the sand of our own vanities,

And when the storms came, and they always do,

The storms were stronger than a house of words,

And the only thing left is the silence.

 

 

 

Christmas and the Scrub Tree (Part 2)


English: A Christmas Tree at Home
Image via Wikipedia

Look at the Christmas cards we got today,” Mom called from the doorway.  There was quite a display.  There were cards from our aunt in faraway California, next door neighbors, acquaintances, and from stores trying to keep our business.  Those cards were spread out on the table.  But in Mom’s hand was the most beautiful card we had ever seen.  It had a picture of a beautiful Christmas tree decorated with candles and a great shining star on top.

“It’s from the Governor,” she said proudly.  Dad edged over to her side and peeked at the card.  “Guess that work we did in the Democratic primaries was appreciated,” he said somberly.

Mom gathered up the cards and she began taping them around the doorways next to others already posted. The Governor’s card was hung on the tree so any visitors would be sure to see it.

“We’re going into town today to buy gifts,” Dad announced a few days later.  “But first I want you all to come here.  You have a decision to make.”  Christmas was a time for giving and in order to be in the proper spirit we had to think past our own wants and needs.  “Do you want me to give you gifts or do you want money to spend so that you can give presents to each other?  I don’t have enough money for both.”

We looked at each other and it was decided instantly without a word being spoken.  “We want to get each other gifts,” Sue Ann said hastily while we all nodded in assent.

“O.K., If that’s your decision,” Dad said as he doled out the money according to age.  “Willis, Sue Ann, you each get ten dollars.  Twins, you each get eight dollars.  Danny, Billy, each of you gets five dollars.”

Christmas comes but once a year and it was a lot of money for us during those dark days.  As we rode the eight miles into town over the gravel road that sliced through the hills, we thought about the gifts we could buy.

“Over four thousand people live here,” Willis told me as we neared town.  “You’ll see a lot of stores.”

In town we decided to split up so that we could make our selections in private.   Before he left Willis took me aside.  “Danny, you watch out for Billy,” he warned.  “And don’t leave Woolworth’s until I return.”

“Why would I leave?” I thought.  “This store has everything.”

Everywhere I looked there were aisles and aisles of fancy things.  I saw prices marked and slashed.  Everything was on sale but I knew I didn’t have enough money to buy something for everybody.  Still, I had to decide.  I talked the situation over with Billy.  “If we put our money together, we can probably buy a present for everyone.”  Billy looked around, still awed by the displays.  “Sure,” he said quietly.  “I think that would be better.”

The previous year I spent almost all of my money on Mom so I thought we should wait before we bought her a gift.  We walked down the aisles looking, afraid to touch anything, with the clerk eyeing us suspiciously.  We decided on a grooming kit for Willis, and two packages of hair ribbons for Sue Ann.  Dad got handkerchiefs.  One half hour later we still hadn’t agreed on anything for the twins and Mom.

In order to find gifts for them we went farther into the store and paused at the Christmas tree decorations.  I could see Billy’s eyes twinkling.  “Isn’t that star beautiful?” he asked, pointing at a shiny star wrapped in tissue paper.  Its four points were silver and the red interior seemed like glowing embers.

Billy reached out to touch it but a rough voice stopped him.  “Don’t touch, little boy.” I turned and saw the red-faced clerk behind me.  I started to go but I turned and asked quickly, “How much is it?”

Haughtily he grumbled, “Two-fifty.  Too much for the likes of you.”

Billy and I whispered together for a few seconds. I drew myself up and said, “We’ll take it.”

The clerk eyed our money and recounted it several times.  Finally he put everything in a bag and rushed us towards the door and into the cold.  We found ourselves standing next to a woman ringing a bell.  “Who are you?” I questioned. “I’m raising money for the Salvation Army,” she replied.  “Whenever there is a disaster the Salvation Army goes there and helps families.”

Billy and I looked at each other.  I pulled out the remaining two dollars and put it into the kettle.  The woman looked surprised but managed to say, “Why thank you, boys.  God bless you.”

Later, while we waited outside Woolworth’s, we were torn between guilt feelings of not getting everyone something, giving away some of the money, and keeping the star for the tree.  “We do need the star,” I told Billy.  “It will make the tree beautiful.”  We talked for awhile and agreed to give the star to Betsy and Kathy.  Everybody had gifts except for Mom.  I worried about that but had no answers.

The day before Christmas the sky had a gray overcast.  I put on my coat and pulled my wool cap over my ears as I stepped outside.  In the distance I thought I saw a glimmer of lights, and that piqued my curiosity.    The lights led me across the gravel road and down to the store.  Displayed in the store window was a odd looking tree with tiny twinkling lights and I stood there for several minutes staring at it.  It was nothing like a real tree.  It was metallic and was shaped perfectly, not like our three sided scrub tree.  I pressed my nose against the glass, hoping for a better look.

A voice boomed, “Would you like to come inside and see the tree? I had it shipped from Chicago.”   Mr. Bradley, the storekeeper, stood at the door.  “I’ll have Dora make you some hot chocolate.”

“No, thank you.  I’ve got to get back.  I was just curious when I saw the lights blinking.”  I didn’t want to go in.  I was afraid that I’d slip and say I thought the metal tree was ugly.  So I just waved and started back.

I came to the schoolyard fence and climbed up the stile.  I stood on top and surveyed the scene like a king surveying his kingdom.  Something wet fell on my shoulder.  I reached out my hand.  It was starting to snow.  For a few minutes I raced around catching snowflakes with my tongue.  Then I realized I wanted to share the moment.  I ran home and pounded on the door.  “It’s snowing.  We’re going to have a white Christmas after all.”

With the snow putting a white blanket over houses, rocks, and trees, everyone seemed to be in a better mood.  Mom was in the kitchen putting the finishing touches on a gingerbread house.  Most of us stayed nearby, watching her work or helping decorate when she would let us.  As a final touch she sprinkled sugar over the orange-sliced roof and the gingerbread forest.

“It’s finished,” she said.  “Sunday we’ll take it to church and let everyone eat it.”  The thought of eating the gingerbread house gave me extra energy.  We were all aglow with the Christmas spirit.  We had presents, a tree, and snow.  What more could we want?

Christmas Eve passed ever so slowly and the afternoon was unbearably long.  Billy and I spent some time studying the tree and looking at the gifts under the tree.  The gifts were spread out over a sheet which covered the rock filled tub. The tub held the water which kept the tree fresh.

Most of the presents were easy to figure out.  The shapes of underwear packages and homemade shirts stood out.  They were always there at Christmas.  But there were other presents we weren’t sure about.  We wanted to shake them and see what sounds they made but we were afraid to overstep any forbidden rules.  Finally Dad said, “You two go into the other room and play Monopoly or something.”

We celebrated the giving of gifts on Christmas Eve because Dad and Mom did not believe in promoting Santa Claus.  They wanted Christmas to be celebrated for the birth of Jesus.  So after supper the family gathered by the Christmas tree.  Dad read the story of Bethlehem while the rest of the family listened silently.  When he finished, Dad said a prayer of thanksgiving for another year.  Then he raised his head and said, “Let’s open presents.”

As head of the household Dad handed out the gifts as he came to them.  Gradually he worked his way around the tree.  When he read, “To Kathy and Betsy, from Danny and Billy,” I held my breath.

Eagerly they tore open the package.  I could hear them gasp as they saw the star inside.  They whispered together while they held it.  I could see no indication whether they liked it or not.  As for Mom’s present, we still felt guilty.  We had not gotten her a present but when we explained that we had given our last money to the Salvation Army, we were surprised.  Mom cried and said we had given her the best present ever.

Billy and I shot marbles, using our new Christmas agates and steelies, until Dad sent us to bed.  No visions of sugar plums or Saint Nick danced in my head because I fell fast asleep.

The aroma of pies and turkey woke me.  Mom and Sue Ann were busily scurrying around to keep up with the Christmas day schedule.  Mom wiped perspiration from her forehead.  “We’ve got Cream of Wheat on the stove.  Help yourself.  We’ve got company coming today and I can’t stop to help you.”

After finishing breakfast I stepped into the living room.  Kathy was sitting on the floor facing the tree. I noticed the tears in her eyes as I sat down beside her.  “Thanks for the star,” she said.  “It makes all the difference in the world.  It turned the scrub tree into a very special Christmas tree.”

She started humming “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and I joined in.  In the kitchen Billy’s voice lifted in song.  Other voices chipped in behind us and gradually everyone drifted into the living room singing.

That’s how I remember Christmas, all of us together, singing around the Christmas scrub tree. That Christmas our family bonds were stronger than ever.  It was a great ending for one year and a good way to begin a new one.  The scrub tree became a symbol of transformation.  It reminded me that something common could be changed into something regal.

The Red Suitcase Adventures (Part 3)


Yes concert, Indianapolis
Image via Wikipedia

By night I
was used to the train and its noises,

And after
the day’s excitement I wanted to rest,

I nibbled on crackers and jerky, read for awhile,

Obtained a
blanket and prepared my nest,

 

I was asleep
when the train came to a halt,

Emergency
lights flickered and I awoke with a start,

A rumor
spread like wildfire, “An animal had been hit,

The carcass
was dragged off, replaced some train parts,”

 

While we
were still pondering, the train slowly came to life,

I spoke to the
engineer before I headed back to bed,

“What did we
hit?” I questioned, “It sure caused a stir,”

“I thought I
saw a woman, swinging something red,”

 

He wanted to
talk, especially since I thought he was sane,

The train
had hit something, or someone was playing a game,

He wanted to
know if anyone was missing from my car,

And if I
did, would I please find out her name?

 

“Each body
was accounted for,” I replied, “I counted them myself,”

“Martha,” I
whispered softly, “this is not the time to play,

Not only do we
have places to go, but love is at stake,

Jon is
missing his love letter and he needs it today,”

I think
Martha had been listening ,

Because at
six an attendant showed up,

Sir, would
you get your friend and follow me?

We found a
red suitcase next to a steaming coffee cup,”

 

Jon was not
easily awakened from his deep sleep,

Grumbled and
said he was allergic to sunlight,

“Come back
and talk to me,” he said crossly,

“When there
are neons and night,”

 

“Lead the
way,” I said, “Jon will follow along,”

Through
three cars to an opened door,

Several
suitcases were stacked along one side,

“Is this red
one the one you’re looking for?”

 

Jon lifted
it and proclaimed, “Yes, it’s mine,”

He walked
past the attendant without another word,

I slipped a
handsome tip into a waiting hand,

Before
unruly words were heard,

 

Jon headed
to the lounge and opened the suitcase,

He tossed
clothes left and right,

He pulled
out an envelope and held it high,

He handed it
to me.  “Here, you’ve got better light,”

 

He didn’t
want me to know his fear,

He wasn’t
ready for the cost,

If his worst
dream came true,

And she
simply told him to get lost,

 

I opened the
letter, letting the tension build,

Jon urged me
to hurry, he wanted to know,

First I saw
the delicately drawn hearts,

So I knew
and I deliberately read slow,

 

“Dear Jon, I’m
tired of waiting for you,

But if your
music rocks your world,

Then waiting
is what I’ll do,

But better
yet, give my way a whirl,

 

I’m flying to
L.A. so I can be with you,

If you
really love me with all your heart,

I’ll embrace
your life of music,

And I’ll be
there from the start,”

Love,

Brenda

 

Jon’s love
life was in order,

He could
settle in and get some rest,

Tomorrow we
would be in town,

He had to be
at his best,

 

My suitcase
contained the clothes,

That I’d
need to walk about town,

I went to
the baggage compartment,

Now mine was
nowhere to be found,

(To be
Continued)

The Red Suitcase Adventures (Part 2)


Kansas City Southern Railway Observation car &...
Image via Wikipedia

The Santa Fe
across the desert rolled on,

I carried my lunch to the observation car,

Watched
antelope and deer graze,

Wondered how pioneers could travel so far,

 

Later in the
day I returned to my chair,

I wanted a
nap because I was beat,

But one of
the young men waited,

His face
showing frustration and defeat,

 

“My name is
Jon.  I’m coming apart at the seams,

My girlfriend
says since I’ve been with the band,

She’s been
left alone too much,

She’s moving
out and hopes I’ll understand,”

 

“She claimed
she left a note in my suitcase,

Explaining that she loved me but didn’t “love” me,

She said
someday we would meet again,

For now I’d
have to wait and see,”

 

Jon was
suffering or he wouldn’t be sharing his story,

I listened,
really listened, for I made a promise to hear,

What people
were concerned about on their trip,

But what
convinced me to listen was Jon’s tear,

 

‘I’ve looked
all over but my suitcase is gone,

I need that
letter if I’m to stay sane,

Everything
else can be replaced,

I can’t
concentrate and it’s giving me pain,”

 

We searched
the baggage compartments,

And everywhere
our attendant led,

I was
reluctant to tell Jon,

I had seen
several suitcases that were red,

 

Finally after
some urging the attendant said,

“An elderly
gentleman left the train early today,

He carried
two suitcases, and one was red,

One appeared
heavy, the red one almost didn’t weigh,”

 

I returned
to my seat and read awhile,

Then I
watched the landscape fly by,

I mused
about how lives can be different,

Yet loneliness
and despair can touch us until we die,

 

I had
suffered through previous broken relationships,

Learning
lessons much too late,

I knew I had
to help Jon find his suitcase,

He was too
young to leave it to fate,

 

I was on a
train trying to discover me,

Jon was on a
mission to find fortune and fame,

And Martha was
still earthbound and having fun,

Traveling
and mischief, it was all just a game.

(To be
continued)

 

 

The Red Suitcase Adventures


A view from the south of the pier at Manhattan...
Image via Wikipedia

Everything
was ready, my suitcases packed,

My itinerary
and tickets in hand,

This was to
be more than a visit to see friends,

It was an
adventure, you understand?

 

The train
station was beautiful even at night,

Clean restrooms,
high ceilings, tiled floors,

Indoor restaurants,
this was high style,

I couldn’t
ask for anything more,

 

Train
changes and bus accommodations,

It looked
complicated but something I could do,

I would take
one destination at a time,

And
gradually work my way through,

 

I must have
appeared slightly confused,

For an
attendant asked, “Where are you going?”

“I’m from
the Midwest and I want to be warm,

In California
will it still be snowing?”

 

“Go to the
last car,” she said with a laugh,

“I think you’ll
be warm enough,

When the
Express gets us close to the coast,

You won’t
find the weather so rough,”

 

I threw my red
suitcase into the luggage bin,

Next to a
dozen or more,

They all
looked very similar,

But there
was no other place it could be stored,

 

I climbed
the narrow stairs and took my seat,

And placed
my overnight bag overhead,

I wondered
if the travelers wanted to talk,

But they
turned aside instead,

 

As the Santa
Fe pulled away from the station,

My
excitement was difficult to keep in,

But most of
the passengers had gone to sleep,

I decided to
read, and tomorrow I’d sleep in,

 

The bouncing
of the train, the tell-tell noise,

Each part of
the experience soon became the whole,

I dozed in a
semi-frozen state,

But I could
not ignore the cold,

 

By 6 a.m.
many of the passengers headed for the lounge,

Hot coffee was
foremost in their minds,

They were
oblivious to the landscape,

Endless and
uninhabited, it was one of a kind,

 

There was
too much noise, how could I rest,

Yet across
the aisle from me, two young men slept,

Each curled
up in a blanket snoring with zest,

And behind
them was an elderly man, who wept,

 

“What’s
wrong?” I queried, “What can I do?”

He looked at
me squarely and wiped away his tears,

“When my
wife died of cancer five years ago,

I promised
her I’d travel each and every year,”

 

“Sometimes I
fly, sometimes I take the train,

But I always go to her favorite places,

And out of
nowhere there are people,

Who have
very familiar faces,”

 

“Martha
always travels with me,

Even if she’s
just here in my mind,

We spent
fifty years together,

And she
still is the best friend I could find,”

 

Wiping away
tears he said,

“I must have
gotten something in my eyes,”

He was
embarrassed by his sudden emotions,

Refusing to
admit that sometimes he cries,

 

My attention
turned to the two young men,

“Where are
you going and where have you been?”

“We’re headed to L.A. for a ‘Battle of the
Bands,’

If we show
our talents we’re sure we’ll win!”

 

“We were in
Madison three nights ago,

A producer asked
us to play at Manhattan Beach,

It was
across the country and days to arrive,

But we decided
it was not out of our reach,”

 

One broken older
man with a spirit guide,

A band
searching for money and fame,

And me
looking for adventure and writing it down,

This trip
would be exciting, like a reality game!

(To be
continued)

 

 

The Hug Library


The Hug Library

A hug is like a book, placed upon a shelf,

Waiting for a reader to come, someone like myself,

How lonely that hug must be, with nothing but to yearn,

Unless a voracious reader appears, who really wants to learn,

My heart would eagerly grab, not one hug, but three or four,

Not wanting to leave one unclaimed, always wanting more,

A book deserves a second look, as a voracious reader knows,

And a hug deserves a second chance, as my appetite grows,

While a reader may have a system, of how to seek a book,

I guess I’m not so discriminate, the first hug was all it took,

And should my thirst for knowledge, grow by leaps and bounds,

I’ll check out a hug, two, and more, my learning will be profound,

Give me a hug to cherish, I’ll treat it passionately,

I’ll return it in good condition, we’ll keep it between you and me,

Think of hugs you could lend, until they’re worn and threadbare,

You could dispense hugs forever, returning even better for the wear.

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