Sunday, February 19, 2017

Hope's Brightest Ray






                            Alone beneath the wind’s white drifting
A lonely, yet not surprising sadness stirs his heart
For a time when life served him so much more
Oh how he longs to go back before it all fell apart

When loved ones were close beside and never far
And laughter sounds a stronger note than tears
He sits on the park bench and questions why
His aching heart longs for those lost yesteryears

 A more simple time moved much slower back then
And a home meant joy within his boyhood breast
To hear those old familiar voices calling him back
Would give him a new song filled with joy and rest

His eager youth could never find a way to hold it
Although his yearning heart tried so earnestly
The wind’s directions pulled at his heart strings
But life’s lessons unfolded bitter and so strongly

A young man in his prime set out to do his duty
To conquer the world and see a magnificent place
Fighting for freedom, his homeland and country
But war’s wounds can never be forgotten or erased

The cold‘s sting, the wind’s own flying breath
Stirs more so, the old hurts his mind has bore so long
And that long ago boy that fast became a man
Wonders how he’s suppose to live and carry on

There’s been to many days of anguish, nights of pain
Since the hands he held in his, long loosed their hold
Through the summer’s heat and winter’s wrath
After a while a lonely heart tends to lose all control

 If for one brief moment he could see a friendly smile
It would help his mind find a stillness of it’s own
Such a thing is worth it all and would last for quite a while
And has the power to lift one from a combat zone

If he could tell his stories of how he grew and lived
Working hard to feed his family, he’d welcome it in
And how he missed out on an education cause life was slim
He’d forget about his lost years and smile once again

He grew up knowing what he had to do and how
Oh the things he could tell, what joy it would bring
And the wisdom he learned down through the years
Common sense will take you far and means everything

Maybe if listening ears could spare a little time
And relive an old man’s life, what knowledge they’d gain
It would shed new light on a past that’s never gone
For the ways of the old, time well spent is never in vain

Till then he’ll sit and wait for the spring birds to sing
Perhaps the sun’s warmth might brighten his day
Bringing joy to his lonely heart and food for his soul…and
  Loneliness might be left smoldering in hope’s brightest ray

© Susie Swanson, 2017

Friday, February 10, 2017

Mama's Chickens






My mama loved raising chickens better than anything besides growing her flowers and always managed to have some when we were growing up. I can’t remember a time when chickens weren’t running around scratching all day or hearing the ole hens cackling when they’d laid their eggs. And there’s nothing like being chased by an ole sittin hen when she gets the mindset to be ornery when she thinks her chicks might be harmed.
 When spring time came in mama kept an eye on those ole hens when they took off to build their nest. Mama knew where every nest was and if she didn’t she’d watch them till she knew just about the exact location.  Daddy tickled all of us to death. He’d stand on the porch and say, “lookie yonder at your mamie, she’ll follow them ole hens till one of these days she’ll get a snake around her neck.”


There were a lot of varmints to contend with like hawks, foxes, etc. but that didn’t detour mama from doing what she loved to do. Sometimes an ole hawk would dive down and grab a baby chick.
One ole hawk really was bold one day and dived down in the middle of the yard. Mama run down those steps faster than a cat could lick and grabbed the first rock she could get her hands on and threw it straight up at that hawk. The rock didn’t come close to him but it scared him enough to drop the little chick. The poor little thing died on impact if it wasn’t already dead.  It broke mama’s heart and she said, “I’ll kill that thing if it’s the last thing I do.” Daddy wanted to put his two cents in but knew better and turned around and walked back in the house. Those varmints were brave to show themselves around mama.

When an ole varmint grabbed a hen on her nest mama would take the eggs and put them under another ole hen. We never could keep up with how many ole hens and chickens mama really had but she knew each one of the hens and had most of them named and knew where each one built their nest.
When it came time for all the baby chicks to hatch out there’d be several ole hens and their baby chicks running around to feed and those hens were mean as a striped snake. We knew better to get their feathers riled. 
 Those ole roosters were awfully cocky as well.  Mama never could stand to hear an ole rooster crow in the middle of the day. She said it meant bad luck. She’d throw rocks at one to get him to stop. It was usually the young roosters that had just learned how to crow and thought they were something. Daddy told her that one day she was wasting her time and she said, “well it’s about time they learned when to crow and I’ll teach em.”

She’d put as many of the ole hens up in chicken pens as she could and the little ones would go in and out through the chicken wire till roost time. When the chicks got a little older she’d let them out of the pen to make room for more. Every now and then a fox would reach through or under the wire and get one of the hens and leave the babies to fend for themselves. Mama would catch the babies and put them in a cardboard box and feed them. She’d take them in the house at night and cover them with an old rag. They’d peep for a little bit and then get quite as a mouse till morning. When morning came she’d carry the box back out on the front porch and let them out for the day.

She did this many times and they thought of her as their mama cause every evening at about the same time they’d come up the front door steps looking for mama. Someone would holler here comes your babies mama. If she was in the house she’d come a trotting. If she was already sitting on the porch she’d stick her legs out and they’d climb up both legs and onto her lap. Sometimes they’d climb up on her shoulders. She’d say, “awe, come on and I’ll put you to bed, I know you’re ready fer it.” She’d carry each one and place them back in their box till morning.  This became a daily routine for mama till they grew big enough to fend for themselves. They’d grow so big they already had their little tail feathers and they kept on prancing up those steps for mama to put to bed.  It’d finally get to the point she had to run them back down the steps and I can just hear her now, “ uns go on now and find ye a place to roost, you’re plenty big enough to fend fer yourself.”



My uncle was visiting late one summer evening and was sitting on the porch talking with mama and daddy when a batch of those chicks came up those steps and walked towards mama. She straightened her legs out and they climbed up her legs as pretty as you please and onto her lap.  He asked her about it and she told him they did that every evening wanting to be put to bed. He said he’d never seen anything like it before in his life. He told mama she had those chicks spoiled and she said, “spoiled or not, someone has to take care of the little fellers.”


Mama also loved to raise those pesky guineas and we all hated those things with a passion, daddy included. An ole guinea ain’t got any sense and can do the craziest things. When they sit on a nest of eggs till they hatch out they practically abandon their little ones. We’ve watched ole guinea hens stand out in the pouring down rain and look straight up and never try to hunker down so the little ones could get under them and stay dry. They’d walk around with their head in the air and let the little ones drown. The only thing they were good for was letting us know when a snake crawled through the grass. They’d all gather around it and you never heard the beat and of course the chickens had to join in as well. It’s a wonder the snake didn’t die of a heart attack on the spot.
They also loved going to the main, paved road and just stand in the middle of it.  When one or two would meet their waterloo we’d shout in secret for mama’s sake. She lost quite a few in that road but always managed to triple even more so come spring.

The only thing an ole guinea is fit for is keeping bugs off of stuff. They sure did keep the bugs off of mama’s flowers. They’d even eat ole stink bugs, shewww.  I do believe that’s one of the reasons mama liked to raise them. She sure prided herself on those flowers.


Mama did some funny things when it came to raising chickens and guineas. When an ole guinea was sitting on a nest of eggs mama would watch her till she left the nest for a while and then slip and take those eggs out of the nest and put them under an ole sittin hen while she was off of her nest. She’d remove all of the hen eggs except ONE and replace them with the guinea eggs. It was the funniest sight you’ve ever seen to see that ole hen walking around with a bunch of baby guineas and one little chick in the bunch. 

We always said, there was never a chicken or guinea that built a nest that mama couldn’t find, even if it meant going into the snakiest places there were. Mama prided herself on her chickens and guineas. My mama was an inspiration to us all and even though we didn’t always understand her motives or love for certain things she sure did know her stuff and taught us a lot of life lessons along the way.



I love going back to our childhood home in the spring. I can still hear those ole hens cackling when they lay their eggs and see them running around with those little chicks behind them and yes, I can still hear those ole guineas as well. I can also see mama standing in the yard watching an ole hen take off towards her nest.  It’s like turning back time and I’ll always cherish those sweet memories of mama and her chickens and the ole guineas too. 

                                          © Susie Swanson, 2017

Friday, February 3, 2017

Her Corner Of The World






She came from humble beginnings
A place she grew, learned and loved so
Across many mountains, hills and valleys
There was nary a trail she never came to know

Where a simple, little home became a mansion
And laughter sounds a stronger note than tears
Still holds their rhythm in the scheme of life
 In the wind’s sweet insistence from yesteryears

How many childhood days did she play and run
So happy and carefree through those ancient fields
Feeling the wind and rain brushing against her face
So many praises rise above for the joy it still yields

When she closes her eyes she can still see it clear
And hear the humming of the little, honey bees
Under crab apple trees that still bloom in the spring
She faintly smells the perfumed, petal rippling breeze

And the gathering of family around the fire at night
So many cherished memories still fresh in her mind
A father telling his life stories to each of his young
A mother sewing on quilts, a sure legacy left behind

An old oil lamp sits in the window, guiding her path
Leading her onward to that little mansion home
Where the door is open and the light shines bright
She steps inside to a welcome, the best she’s known

Those familiar voices she hears are music to her ears
Gathered around the table, giving blessings galore
The simple, little things in life, are the best of wealth
Even a bowl of milk and bread is worth so much more


Many seasons have come and gone in yesterday’s wind
 The memories will always be close beside all of her days
For the pleasures of this world is found only in the heart
Perhaps across some shadowy valley or ridge, in joyful ways

 And when she is bearing a load up some steep hillside
Familiar echoes are there, pulling her homeward bound
The cool, mountain air upon her face is still just as fresh
Yet still the earth beneath the paths lie packed and brown

A cool drink of water straight from a mountain spring
Where the mountain still hold its kingdom and crown
Crystal, clear waters flow from its downward sloping
Can quench a thirsty soul better than any to be found

She’ll never forget where she came and where she’s been
Or the many miles while spreading her wings to fly
 Trying to find the end of a rainbow takes an eternity
But the gold lies within her heart underneath the same sky

In her corner of the world the mountains are her legacy
She never knows what lies beyond a hilltop but delight
For the things that cause memories to awaken her soul
She so yearns for, she shall sit down and write and write

© Susie Swanson, 2017