Category Archives: Poetry

Lost Dog: The Hopes of Saving Addie

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Some humans possess a genetic disposition to love dogs. Like my wife Patricia, they join humane societies, manage dog parks, and respond viscerally to lost-dog reports.

On New Year’s Eve, 2017, a vacationing young couple from Atlanta, Georgia were in the Blue Ridge Mountains resort town of Blowing Rock, North Carolina, when somehow Addie, their four-year-old, six-pound longhaired dapple dachshund ventured out into the night. As a desperate search began on the small town streets, an alarm went out on social media that caused people like my wife to take immediate action.

By the fourth search day, more than thirty volunteers encountered the dog owners and their fellow searchers in a cemetery (during a funeral) and in a ski area subdivision where Addie had been spotted. The very timid dog, however, continued to elude every attempt to catch her.

As the search continued into a second week, the owners had reluctantly returned home, but the Facebook pages devoted to Addie, as well as the barrage of texts, reported the search activities on an almost minute-by-minute basis. Day and night, “Addie’s Angels,” as the volunteers came to be called, kept faith in the hopes of saving the small elusive dog.

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Emily and Charles Heuer reunited with Addie. Photo by Erin Shelnutt.

Through a snowstorm and bitter cold nights, “Addie’s Angels” remained of one heart, one mind, and one purpose. Finally, at about 7 pm on Friday, January 13th, Addie was caught in a humane trap set in the crawl space under a burned house in the suspect area. The joyous news spread quickly to the “Angels,” and their relief was often bathed in tears.

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Some of “Addie’s Angels” at the clinic.

The next morning, the owner couple arrived from Atlanta to be reunited with Addie at an animal emergency clinic. About twenty of “Addie’s Angels” were on hand to greet them and to share in their reunion.

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Photo by Susanna Russell

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Addie’s Reception. Photo by Donna Hunsinger

 

One of the “Angels” arranged for the owners to have a pet-friendly hotel suite that night.

A meeting room space was also donated, and area food and beverage establishments furnished refreshments for an afternoon party to which all the volunteer searchers were invited.

The owner couple was overcome by the generosity of the mountain community, and sincere bonds of friendship were forged by the common experience of the previous two weeks.

I was merely the support person behind “Angel”searcher Patricia Joynes, but I did get to witness the reunion with Addie at the animal emergency clinic. As my wife and I talked about the emotional impact of her experience, she suggested that it could be the genesis of a poem.

And so it became:

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Photo by Patricia Joynes

The Hopes of Saving Addie

A New Year’s Eve vacation
in Blowing Rock, a resort
town in the Blue Ridge Mountains,
turned desperate by the loss of Addie,
a very timid dapple dachshund.

Only four years old and six pounds,
her black and gray long-hair coat
and tan colored face would soon
appear on Facebook and on wanted posters.

Find Addie became a social media cry
and over four hundred people “liked” and “shared”
while more than fifty searched
where early volunteers had seen her
in a cemetery woods and
the crest of a ski mountain.

Into the second week of sightings
and unsuccessful chases,
the forecast of a snow storm
made Addie’s Angels fearful
for her survival against the cold
and the potential of predatory coyotes.

Small animal traps baited
with Vienna sausage and rotisserie chicken
had only caught raccoons and feral cats,
but those bonded to Addie
and to each other by the search
kept faith and continued.

The police and fire departments,
The Humane Society and Animal Control
supported the volunteers with
infrared lights and night patrols
as the second week passed.

A crawl space under a burned house
was a suspected refuge for Addie,
and so multiple traps were set.
Then the night exploded in tears
with the news of her capture,
and she was taken in her trap
to an animal emergency clinic.

Her human companions arrived
for their reunion with Addie
the next morning and found
nearly twenty of Addie’s Angels waiting
to celebrate her safe return with them.

The joy of their common thanksgiving
was monumental as the bonds
of new friendships were on display.
Some termed it supernatural
in the way Addie had brought
them together in a winter
of such American social discontent.

A tiny dog had united all factions
in a common unselfish purpose.
In those fearful days
no one was separate from
the hopes of saving Addie.

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Addie with her new squeaky ball at her reunion reception. Photo by Donna Hunsinger.

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Bob Dylan, Rejected

bob_dylan_-_bob_dylanIt was a Sunday afternoon at a University of Virginia fraternity house located in a cluster of frat houses that overlooked an intramural field depression known as “Mad Bowl” when I met Bob Dylan and witnessed him rejected as a folk singer and song writer.

The year was 1961, and Dylan had been brought to the fraternity house by folk singer, folklorist, and mentor Paul Clayton who had friends there. Clayton was a UVA grad with a master’s degree in folklore. Since the mid-1950s, Clayton had traveled the Southern Appalachian Highlands in search of traditional folksongs that were in danger of extinction. As a scholar and archivist, he recorded these treasures on site and then sang many of them himself on 21 albums released between 1954 and 1965. In folk music circles from New York City to Los Angeles, Paul Clayton was a prominent figure in the folk music revival of the 1950s and 1960s.

paul-claytonClayton’s purpose on that Sunday afternoon was to have newcomer Bob Dylan and recorded folk singer Carolyn Hester sing a few songs as a measure of their live performance abilities. It was easy to pull the frat boys away from the ball game on television once they got an introduction to Carolyn Hester. She was 24 years old at the time and Hollywood gorgeous. Hester had already released two albums and was being compared to folk music star Joan Baez. Clayton was helping her with her live performance guitar playing, which was weak at the time. Hester stood against the living room wall and performed two unremembered songs. Her singing was strong and beautiful, but she missed some chords in the accompaniment.

Clayton then encouraged the shy, downcast, tousle headed, disheveled 20-year-old Bob Dylan to uncase his guitar and sing a couple of his original songs. Perhaps in over 50 years of retrospect it is wishful thinking, but I swear that one of the songs that he performed was “Blowin’ in the Wind.”  Although Dylan would become “the voice of his generation,” his singing voice has been described as, “raw, seemingly untrained, and frankly a nasal voice” by Joyce Carol Oates among others. Dylan was also accused of imitating Woody Guthrie’s earthy vocal mannerisms which were also termed “iconoclastic baying.”

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Mad Bowl, UVA

The frat boys that Sunday found Dylan’s singing to be both incomprehensible and downright irritating.  Someone turned the television set back on to the ball game, and there were insincere smiles and gestures that communicated to the performers that their leave taking was in order. Clayton’s fraternity friend made an awkward apology as the three folk singers exited the scene of their embarrassment.

Soon after the fraternity house debacle, Carolyn Hestercarolyn-hester invited Bob Dylan to play harmonica on sessions for her third album at Columbia Records.  At a rehearsal session, Dylan met celebrated record producer John Hammond who signed him to a recording contract. Dylan’s first album on Columbia Records was released on March 19, 1962. The album made a great impression in the folk music community, but it was not commercially successful.

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Dylan’s second album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, released in May 1963, however, featured “Blowin’ in the Wind” as its first cut. If Dylan could not make his songs famous, then cover groups like Peter, Paul and Mary, The Byrds, Sonny and Cher, The Hollies, and many others could. The Beatles themselves reported listening to the Freewheelin’ album until they wore it out.

Since being rejected by the UVA frat boys in 1961, Bob Dylan has sold more than 100 million records. No songwriter, past or present, has received so many awards and honors.  A partial list includes The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (1991), The Kennedy Center Honor (1997), an Academy Award Oscar for Best Song (2001), the Pulitzer Prize (2008), the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2012), and the Nobel Prize for Literature (2016).

There are perhaps a dozen men now into their 70s who may remember Bob Dylan from their fraternity house encounter in 1961. Fortunately, their rejection of the young artist did not kill his creative spirit. What if they had encouraged him? No telling to what heights he might have risen then.

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Carl Sandburg and My First Poem

Carl Sandburg portrait

Carl Sandburg portrait by William Smith, 1959

I had no idea who Carl Sandburg was when my distant and pretty cousin led the way on horseback from the stables along a mountain trail to Connemara, a goat dairy farm in Flat Rock, North Carolina. My father had brought our family to nearby Hendersonville to visit a favorite cousin who owned a restored antebellum restaurant and inn. We ate supreme southern cooking in the historic restaurant but stayed overnight in the cousin’s home. Their sophisticated daughter was put in charge of showing me the sights. We matched ages at fifteen.

Connemara home

Connemara

The horse trail emerged a distance from the goat pens and the dairy barn to the back of the owner’s residence. There was a low picket fence to keep out the goats. Mrs. Sandburg was a celebrated goat breeder, and she operated this premiere goat dairy farm from 1935 until her husband’s death in 1967.

Goats at Connemara

Goats at Connemara

My cousin halted her horse at the low fence and addressed an elderly man who was sitting in a high-backed chair on the long wooden porch. He had a stack of magazines at his feet, and he put down a copy of Look Magazine when she spoke to him. It was clear to me that he recognized her as a neighbor child, and I was introduced as a visiting cousin. Mr. Sandburg’s face was angular and his frame had the narrowness of hard labor. His shock of parted white hair seemed somehow biblical to me. Maybe the Old Testament Moses looked like him.

We were not offered to dismount, so the conversation was brief, and it ended when Mr. Sandburg said something like, “I guess you best be going,” and the Look Magazine was brought up to cover his face. In 1956, as young teenagers, we were not offended as we turned our horses and rode away.

Later in high school, I was taught about Carl Sandburg and read a few of his poems and excerpts from his Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Abraham Lincoln: The War Years. He also won two additional Pulitzers for his poetry. Much later in my life, while doing post-graduate literary work in Sweden, I became aware that Mr. Sandburg was the son of Swedish immigrants to the United States.

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Carl Sandburg

When I met Carl Sandburg, I was saying that I intended to become a medical doctor, and that intention continued as I entered the University of Virginia. But my ambitions changed, and I became a writer of novels, biographies, and poems that include the libretto for a classical music oratorio.

At some mature reflective moment, I realized that I had composed my first poem on the day after meeting Carl Sandburg. I had no literary goals at age fifteen; and being unaware of Mr. Sandburg’s greatness, I could claim no porch-front benediction from him. Nevertheless, I wrote an honest expression of the heart with no anticipation of writing hundreds more.

Many years later, I brought my wife Pat to Flat Rock and took the National Park Service tour of the Sandburg home and grounds. In the attic of the house was Mr. Sandburg’s reading retreat, and there was a straight-back chair amid piles of Look and Life magazines. Outside the house, I took the opportunity to stand at the back porch and recite my first poem to Pat. It is still the only poem of mine that I can recite spontaneously from memory. So wherever you are, my sweet and endearing cousin, thank you for that horse ride into poetry.

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Carl Sandburg’s home

        AFTER AN ACQUAINTANCE

                          by Monty Joynes

 You meet and then you part.

 An empty feeling grips your heart.

You’re sure a friendship

Could have grown,

If time had ceased and

You had known

A love so true could

Make you cry.

But a bit of your heart

Did die

After an acquaintance.

 

 

 

 

 

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Confessions of a Channeler: Am I In The Twilight Zone?

ConfessionsCover1 Publisher, author, and film producer Bob Friedman has accused me of being a mystic.  After years of resisting, I had to determine if he was right.

Bob has known me as a friend since we were in George Garrett’s University of Virginia writing class in 1962. Bob and I traveled Europe together after earning our degrees, we met our first wives together, and even worked for each other in various publishing ventures. Bob has known me best for over 50 years. Still, he wondered how I could write what I wrote in The Booker Series novels.

First book in the Booker Series

First book in the Booker Series

Finally, in 2011, he confronted me with the fact that I must be channeling the mystical content in my books. And Bob knows something about channeling! He discovered and published the first Conversations With God books by Neale Donald Walsch as well as many other non-fiction books in the Mind, Body, Spirit genre over a long career.

Confessions of a Channeler is the result of Bob Friedman’s request that I write an autobiographical book about how and under what circumstances I managed to write the wisdom content of The Booker Series. My wife Pat had already collected these wisdom pieces as aphorisms that she printed on decorative sets of cards and gave to close friends and family members.

Photo by Pat Joynes

Photo by Pat Joynes

Pat has also taken numerous photographs that in both mood and subject were perfect illustrations for such a book. In fact, her photo of our mailbox became a striking metaphor for the book’s cover. A heavenly light streams out of the trees and illuminates the wooded road as the mailbox stands sentinel to receive the messages.

The Woods

As you read Confessions of a Channeler, I hope that you will find a method for your own personal revelations.  I hope that you will also discover, as I did, that the Great Mystery has always been indwelling in you.

Photo by Pat Joynes

Photo by Pat Joynes

Pat and I wish to express our deepest appreciation to Joe Nusbaum, our publisher at Eltanin Publishing in Vermont, for his creative sensitivity in bringing Confessions to print.  Here are links to purchase the paper back book and the  e-book.

Confessions covers

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Greeting Card Verses for Valentine’s Day

Lamp photoFor Valentine’s Day my wonderful wife Pat has carefully and diligently purchased greeting cards over the years that contain poetic sentiments that were not offensive to writers like me who hate clichés and saccharine sweetness in their verse.  In 2012, Pat asked me what kind of verses I might write for Valentine’s Day.  It was a challenge to produce commercial verses that real poets might tolerate. A warning to writers who may attempt this exercise: you can’t write just one, or even quit at a dozen.  You may become obsessed for weeks. My own obsession lasted through the writing of 57 verses that spanned several card categories.

Some background in poetry seems appropriate at this point.  I wrote my first publishable poem at age 13, and Robert Bly, the prolific poet, editor, and social activist, once rejected a college-era poem of mine with a note saying that it was “almost a perfect poem.”  Nevertheless, I had to compare my nascent poetry to that written by my closest friends, Henry S. Taylor—later to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (1986)—and Kelly Cherry, another celebrated poet who became the Poet Laureate of Virginia. In those early days of sharing our writing with each other, you might understand my reluctance to offer poetry.

Although I have never been a serious student of poetry, I have continued to write verse my entire literary life.  I have thus suffered enough rejections of individual poems and a collection to retreat and rather store them in what Robert Frost called his “strong box.” My strong box now includes more than 150 poems edited into two collections, and the overage that increases by about three to four new poems a year.

After reading the following samples of some of the shorter Valentine verses, you may want to exercise your own greeting card poetic imagination.  But be advised, you might be surprised, as I was, by the sudden abyss of sentiment that results.

Undelivered Valentines

Photo by Pat Joynes

Photo by Pat Joynes

This card comes to you

As a momentary stay

Against television.

 If you will make me

Your preferred channel

For drama and romance,

I promise to deliver you

An exciting season

Of happy memories.

______________________________

Interstellar Dimensions

May I acknowledge

Your spectacular flights

Into the space of my heart?

My happiness now

Has interstellar dimensions

Because of you.

______________________________

Photo by Tommy White Photography

Photo by Tommy White Photography

May I make an attempt

To say something that

I have never said before,

To utter a secret long repressed?

The thrill of your intimacy

Means everything

Significant to me.

__________________________

Sublime imagination

Sublime imaginationContains a heroic aura

Of the romantically

Idealized relationship.

Or so it seems

Whenever I think

About you.

__________________________________

Kokopelli

I am against respectability

Because I am willing

To make a fool of myself

In campaigning

For your attention.

______________________________

Cake topper

Biographically speaking,

I do not want to

Be ambiguous.

You are the most

Wonderful person in my life.

 

________________________________________

2 manatees

Do you want

Buoyant,

Enthusiastic,

And earnest?

Okay. I can be that way

For you.

_____________________________

Lily and Heidi

I am committed

To a trial

By existence.

Knowing full well

That I will be found

Guilty of loving you.

_____________________________

Not motivated by reason,Early morning rider

Or prudence, or foresight,

Or any artificial sentiment,

I am loose headed,

And destined for you.

________________________________

Bestow by whispering

The secret confidences

That we share

Perfect oneness

Is love’s best labor

And our sweetest dream.

Photo by Jim Dillinger

Photo by Jim Dillinger

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