Running Through the Sprinkler (Poetry)

The following poem was recently published in The Weekly Avocet. This is a haibun, a poetry form that combines a paragraph of prose with a stanza of haiku. You can click the link below to hear me read it.

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running through the sprinkler.mp3

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RUNNING THROUGH THE SPRINKLER

I stand on the sidewalk, a jet of cold water in front of me, my impaired eyes unable to find a way around it, as cars whoosh by on the busy street. The ninety-degree sun beats down. A tepid breeze caresses my face. I remember how fun it was to run through the sprinkler as a kid. Why not, I think. With a hearty “Yahoo!” I dash into the water’s inviting coolness.

a hot summer day
cold water sweeps over me
I’m a child again

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What did you do to cool off in the summer when you were a kid?

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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On Straightening Up and Flying Right, an Abecedarian Poem


Thanks to fellow blogger Alice Massa for inspiring me to post this again. It was published in Magnets and Ladders several years ago, and I posted it here at that time. In this recent post, Alice encourages her readers to write an abecedarian about summer. I wrote this one several years ago. It’s not exactly about summer, but it will do.

When my father died several years ago, my brother and I performed the song that inspired this poem at his celebration of life with me on piano and vocals and my brother on drums. Without my brother and his drums, I can’t re-produce that version, but here’s Nat King Cole’s rendition, which is a lot better.

Below the video, you’ll find the WordPress player application, and when you press the Play button there, you’ll hear me read the poem. The printed version is below that. This form of poetry is called an abecedarian because the first letter of each line starts with a consecutive letter of the alphabet. Needless to say, this poem is 26 lines. You’ll note that the beginning letter of each line is in bold. In my recorded reading, I emphasize the first word of each line. Enjoy!

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On Straightening Up and Flying Right

A buzzard and a monkey wouldn’t fly together
because a monkey wouldn’t be stupid enough to
climb on a buzzard’s back, a buzzard being a
dirty bird with no morals.
Everybody knows that monkeys don’t
fly–buzzards do. I would
guess that monkeys associate with monkeys.
Heaven knows why the song was written. What an
imagination someone must have to
justify writing it—but with
knowledge of values, one would believe that there’s a
logical message here. The
monkey makes a point when telling the buzzard
not to blow his top and to do right.
Of course, not blowing your top and doing right are important.
People who are angry blow their tops, but the
question is do these people not do
right? I’ve blown my top a few times.
Still, I try to do the right thing. I
think that even the best of us,
under certain circumstances, blow our tops. It’s not
very unusual, but back to the monkey and the buzzard.
Why would a monkey allow a buzzard to take him for a ride? It doesn’t require
x-ray vision to determine that a buzzard is smaller than the average monkey.
You should realize that a monkey would be safer riding a
zebra. He wouldn’t have far to fall.

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If you’d like to try writing an abecedarian poem, check out Alice’s guidelines linked to above. The basic idea is to write a 26-line poem with the first letter of each line starting with a consecutive letter of the alphabet. This can be tricky. Good luck. I’d love to read what you come up with, either on your own blog with a link here or in the comments field below.
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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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Thursday Book Feature: Guest Review–When Night Comes


Today, I’m pleased to present a guest review of an interesting collection of poems. I haven’t read this yet but hope to do so eventually. You can also read Lynda’s review on her blog, and it was published this week in The Weekly Avocet. It contains some information about Lynda’s most recent collection of essays and poems and an email address where she can be reached. Enjoy, and happy reading.

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When Night Comes

by Wesley Sims

A Book Review by Lynda McKinney Lambert

I met poet Wes Sims One Sunday morning while reading my weekly issue of a poetry magazine, The Weekly Avocet, published by Charles Portolano, featuring poetry that has a nature theme. In one particular issue, I encountered 3 Haiku poems by Sims. Each intrigued me for he presented new ways of looking at something ordinary. The poems caught my attention. Since Mr. Portolano encourages his writers to drop a note to other poets and to make friends with them, I sent a note to Wes Sims to say how much I enjoyed his poems.

Eventually, I learned about Wes Sims’ poetry chapbook, “When Night Comes,” because he sent me a copy. I’ve enjoyed reading this 28-page chapbook. It is a collection of twenty-four poems.

The chapbook’s cover is a moody black and white photo of a nocturnal landscape by the author. I thought “This is the perfect image for this collection of poems.” In addition to writing poetry, Sims likes to do photography. I found that the all-seeing-eye of the photographer is apparent in the poems, as I read through this collection. He sees and speaks of little details that might go unnoticed. It is in the description of the little things that we are brought into Sims’ world through his poems.

In “How to Use a Shoebox,” Wes Sims gives us his secret and intention for writing: “the impact of little things preserved” (p.4)

The mostly one-page poems are created by building up layers of finely nuanced accumulations. Sims is actively viewing and preserving as he writes the poems. Minute images are intertwined with his personal and private memories as he has known them in rural Tennessee.
Sims describes his world – the present and the distant or even the historical past of his rural landscapes in Tennessee. Reading through the poems brings the reader right into his family circle. This is the place where Past and Present merge. The poem becomes a confluence in which time is collapsed. The individuals he presents are not generalized people, but they are family and they are named: “grandson; grandmother; Mr. Newman; Sister; Dad; Mother; Uncle Bo; Mrs… Engle…” This gives us a feeling that we know them personally or that we have just met them even though many of the people who populate his poems are no longer in this world.
But, more than this Sims gives us a deeper understanding of life as he has known it – and we feel like we, too, have lived this life. In the poem, “Eyes to See,” he speaks of watching a blind man…

“Until one day, when I saw
Him in a church setting
Heard his lips sing out in prayer,
And received my revelation—
I was a blind man, too.”
(from “Eyes to See,” p. 24)

Through the book we see deserted old rundown barns and abandoned empty sheds; time-worn, rarely travelled roads up into the hills; and the last days of people who have passed away. No matter where we live or what our life is like, we relate to Wes Sims and his reflections on particular individuals, rural life, death of loved ones; flowers, dogs, songs, snakes, music, personal memory and history. We know that our lives are enriched by the small things and places we encounter over a lifetime. It all adds up, in the end. Unimportant and trivial things really do matter.

You can find this chapbook for sale on the publisher’s website:
Buy it at Finishing Line Press Also available on Amazon:
Buy it here! or better yet, write Wes at wes4words@att.net

Walking by Inner Vision: Stories & Poems by Lynda McKinney Lambert, Pennsylvania artist, teacher, and author Lynda McKinney Lambert invites readers into her world of profound sight loss to discover the subtle nuances and beauty of a physical and spiritual world. She takes strands from ancient mythology, history, and contemporary life and weaves a richly textured new fabric using images that are seen and unseen as she takes us on a year-long journey through the seasons. llambert@zoominternet.net

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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In the Garden (poetry)


According to this week’s issue of The Weekly Avocet, National Gardening Week is celebrated during the first part of June. Here’s a poem of mine on the subject that originally appeared in my collection, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver. It was inspired by a real event. I recently submitted this to The Weekly Avocet’s garden challenge but haven’t yet heard if they’ll publish it.

You can click below to hear me read the poem.

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In the Garden

There are no trees, just an expanse of dirt.
While Mother and Dad work, I sit on the steps,
with limited vision, study seed packets of peas, corn, tomatoes,
read the labels, gaze at the pictures.
I’m only twelve.
Little brother Andy, five,
rides his bike around the neighborhood.

In the distance, sirens wail.
“Sounds like fire engines,” says Dad.

In the house, the phone rings.
I hurry indoors to answer it.
A male voice asks for my mother.
I rush outside, call her to the phone.

“Oh my god! We’ll be right there,” she says.
“Ed, we need to pick up Andy at the police station.
He was playing with matches near the shack
at the bottom of the hill when it caught fire.”
The garden and I are abandoned.

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What are your childhood memories of gardening? Did you help your parents till the soil and plant the seeds? What about enjoying the fruits of your labor in the fall? Didn’t those fresh vegetables taste wonderful? Do you think gardening taught you about eating healthier foods? I’d love to read your thoughts, either in the comments field here or on your own blog. Happy gardening, and happy summer.

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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Graduate and Climb Every Mountain


It’s that time again, and this year, I have two cousins in Colorado who are graduating from high school, so here’s a poem I wrote and a song I’ll sing for this occasion. You can click below for audio. Congratulations to Christina, Mitchell, and anyone else graduating this year.

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Graduate/Climb Every Mountain.mp3

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Graduate


Go out into the world–never look back.
Reach for the top–always look forward.
Aim as high as you can.
Dream as big as possible.
Use your mind, heart, hands,
and know you can do anything.
Trust your instincts.
Energize your life.

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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What is Nothing?

Nothing is what you get
when you pour coffee from an empty pot,
what you find when you open the refrigerator
and you haven’t bought groceries in a while,
what you end up with
when you spend all your money
with no more coming in,
what you have when you sell everything
to pay for the mortgage,
and it’s still not enough,
what you have when you walk the streets,
too proud to go to a homeless shelter.
Nothing but the clothes on your back
is all you have
when someone finds your body
in a cold, dark alley.

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During my last Third Thursday Poets meeting, the facilitator led us in a breathing exercise, prompting us to write about the first word that came to mind afterward. The word that popped into my head was “nothing,” so the above poem is what I wrote. Don’t worry. This does not come from personal experience. Click below to hear me read it.

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what is nothing.mp3

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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Thursday Book Feature: Celebrating All Seasons


The books I’m reviewing today contain poems, song lyrics, and prose for all seasons. Some of you may remember my review of Chasing the Green Sun back in 2012. This book is worth a second look, so be sure to scroll down and read my review.

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Julie Andrews Treasury for All Seasons: Poems and Songs to Celebrate the Year
Compiled by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton
Copyright 2012.

The poems and song lyrics in this collection are divided into sections by month and season. At the end, there’s a section on other celebrations such as birthdays and welcoming newborns. Besides Julie Andrews and her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton, other poets featured here include Emily Dickinson and John Updike, to name only a couple. The book includes illustrations and an index.

I enjoyed reading the poems in this collection. I knew most of the songs and ended up singing along, as I was reading the lyrics. I especially liked the Christmas section, which contains, among other things, Christina Rosetti’s poem that was the basis for “In the Bleak Mid-Winter,” a song I’ve sung a few times. I wish they’d included “Twas the Night before Christmas.” This book is fun for all ages, so if you have kids, I suggest reading them the poems and singing the songs with them, especially during the time of year for which the poems and songs are written.

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Chasing the Green Sun
By Marilyn Brandt Smith
Copyright 2012

This is a collection of stories, poems, and essays written mostly by Marilyn. She collaborated on a few of them with her husband and other authors. The book is divided into twelve sections, each corresponding consecutively with the months of the year. Some of the pieces are seasonal. Others were originally published in the Behind Our Eyes anthologies and Magnets and Ladders. The title comes from an essay in which Marilyn describes how her son, born blind, perceived the moon when he was a child.

I met Marilyn years ago when I joined Behind Our Eyes, an organization of writers with disabilities, of which she is now president. It was fun losing myself in her writing. I wondered what would become of a woman in a hospital on New Year’s Eve, a victim of domestic violence. I laughed when a blind man told a policeman why he couldn’t move his van. I found her stories about her volunteer work in the Peace Corps fascinating. This is another book that can be read over and over again the whole year through.

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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