Category Archives: Writing

Blue Ridge Reflections: Photos with Matching Poems from Western North Carolina

cover

When my wife Patricia Joynes sees a morning fog or the beginning of a crimson sunset, she abruptly leaves the house to submit to her passion. She is a nature photographer.

Years ago, when her 35 mm film cameras and her role as family event documentarian became obsolete, Pat turned her attention to nature photography with a small Canon Power Shot S110 digital camera. Her focus was on the Appalachian Mountains near our home around the Blue Ridge Parkway for its natural beauty aesthetics.

Strolling at the Blowing Rock

The Blowing Rock Attraction, Blowing Rock, NC

Her first published credits were in books and journals, but her Blue Ridge photographs became recognized in the Town of Blowing Rock, North Carolina annual calendars (2015, cover in 2016, and three pictures in 2017) and the annual Blue Ridge Parkway calendar (2017, 2018).

Sunset Capture

Pat also published annual family calendars of her nature photos with aphorisms by me in 2016 and 2017. By that date, the edited file of her Blue Ridge-centered photographs exceeded 10,000 images!

Solitary Bench.JPG

Mayview Park, Blowing Rock, NC

In early 2017, Pat asked me, a published poet, to write poems inspired by specific photographs. We were both amazed at the collaborative results as the first poems emerged. The titles give clues to the content: The Puddle Portal, The Sanctified Bridge, Split-Rail Fence, and Solitary Bench. Week after week, as Pat presented me with other photographs, I wrote matching poems. By mid-September I had completed 29 of them!

The urge to share what seemed to us a remarkable series of creative events caused us to edit and design a collection of 32 photographs and 20 poems titled Blue Ridge Reflections: Photos with Matching Poems from Western North Carolina. The soft-cover edition of the book may be viewed and purchased here.

IMG_1296-001

Mayview Park, Blowing Rock, NC

 

Here is a sample photo and poem from the book.

Become the First

Become the First

Before there were human eyes to see

there were a millennia of dawns

and foggy mountain wooded sunsets

whose nascent glory went unreported.

 

From any high Blue Ridge vantage point

creation unfolds in waves of light,

and time is a cycle of the sun

that produces growth and the promise

of life in its regular passing.

 

What was it like to be the first to see

the distant waves of an evergreen sea?

What was the valley fog assumed to be?

And what monsters did they prepare to flee?

 

Primal emotions are felt in all ages

as the wild universe is explored.

A ravens’ rock becomes sacrosanct

in a landscape bereaved of doors.

Rejoice that the search for tomorrows

is still the possibility of today.

Become the first to reach the mountaintop

and see its natural wonders on display.

IMG_5747 (2)

 

 

 

 

6 Comments

Filed under Art, Family, photography, Poetry, Writing

The Travel Adventures of Flat Monty

IMG_2366

Flat Monty inspects the cruise ship kitchen.

My gifted and talented younger sister, Rita, greatly surprised me when she telephoned to say that she was taking me on a luxury Mediterranean cruise with land excursions to some of the most historic and beautiful sites in Europe.

Pat, my wife, was unfortunately not included obviously due to the huge added expense. It would be awkward to leave Pat behind, but how could I not accept this trip of a lifetime from my now beloved incredibly generous sister?

 

My mind immediately raced to the implications of the short-notice trip. The cruise wear from a dated Alaskan cruise was not suitable for May in Barcelona if it could even be found. Then, too, I’d need immediate airline reservations for the flight from Charlotte to Miami in order to meet Rita for the transatlantic flight. The grand tour was to begin in less than ten days!

IMG_1935

Flat Monty pauses outside the Basilica in Venice.

7F81099C-FEE8-4E9B-88D6-8F988382B27A

The Sorrento hills provide a scenic retreat for Flat Monty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

218B60DD-BCD3-4290-9C40-7DBDEB3A1A71

Always ready to video, Flat Monty arrives in Nice.

58F623DE-D449-4571-A54D-A4C108BC46E0

Flat Monty is always accompanied by his dedicated bodyguard Dennis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1353

Flat Monty at his favorite shipboard bar.

IMG_2322

The bulging-eyes guy from the movie Young Frankenstein attempts to pose with Flat Monty.

 

Rita waited a few smiling seconds as my excitement peaked before she explained the crucial caveat. I would not be making the trip in person. I would be traveling as Flat Monty. Totally confused, I had to ask, “Who the hell is Flat Monty?”

988AABD0-36F0-4B6D-BB74-B9026B9BA75E

Flat Monty visits the hidden monument to mathematical Pi somewhere in Italy.

6D814563-C8E9-42F2-A66A-B342D14D76F7

Flat Monty comes to life amid the ruins of ancient Pompeii.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being technology challenged, I was unaware that photo cutouts of me could be creatively positioned in front of a camera phone so as to give the illusion that I was present at some remarkable place or circumstance.

169439CC-48E3-43DD-89ED-F4E8D46CEB48

My sister Rita carries Flat Monty on the next grand adventure.

 

The photos of Flat Monty that Rita later produced on her grand tour have been captioned for the sake of context, if not for cruelty. Perhaps she thinks that I will use them to impress strangers as I once did with an office wall full of celebrity photos falsely dedicated to me.

 

IMG_1924

Flat Monty enjoys a cigar off the Piazza de San Marco in Venice.

The framed photo of Albert Einstein, for example, was inscribed with thanks for my helping him with quantum physics. John Wayne wrote that he looked forward to working with me on his next movie. Several sexy female movie stars intimated that they loved our nights together. President FDR thanked me for my wartime service although I was only four years old in 1945.

 

The wall of phony photos behind my magazine editor’s desk was my social satire on similar displays that I had seen in the offices of politicians. Too bad the Flat Monty technology was not available to me then. I might have appeared in a New York Yankees baseball uniform standing beside my heroes Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle.

IMG_1032

Flat Monty wins a gold medal for the discovery of a giant petrified frog.

IMG_1015

Flat Monty leads the way for an encounter with the world’s largest cat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here then in the spirit of truth telling, if not a gesture toward sibling forgiveness, I hereby publish the fabulous travel adventures of Flat Monty. Trust me when I say, “I wish that I was there.”

407E6F91-07AE-47F9-A95E-B4E68F4CED54

Flat Monty enjoys relaxing in his cruise ship stateroom.

IMG_1046

Travel adventures often imply danger for Flat Monty.

2 Comments

Filed under Entertainment, Family, Travel, Writing

Lost Dog: The Hopes of Saving Addie

15826392_1526907177338552_3601472285197357349_n
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.

15975168_10154868576948232_2370324261216192237_o

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.

15941438_10154868694283232_8974875119152005080_n

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.

16143324_10154880373408232_2887012920334753352_n

Photo by Susanna Russell

16105640_10211339958552584_8705860510872162627_n

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:

img_1672

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.

15977646_10211339939232101_809344152462353404_n

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

1 Comment

Filed under Animals, Poetry, Writing

Billy Joel: A Tribute

billy-joel-cover-1One of the greatest troubadours of my generation is Billy Joel, a poet and musician of genius, who shared his deepest emotions, and ours, over a lifetime of joys and tears. He is much more than a pop icon. He is the chronicler of an age in American life.

In one of my unpublished novels, Strange & Modern Phobias, two psychiatrists speculate on the psychiatric merits of Billy Joel’s greatest hits. It was my way of paying tribute to him. Here is the excerpt.

Albert Drexle had different tastes in music; and throughout their medical school and residency years together (the mid-1970s into the 1980s); Albert was fixated on the genius of rock and roller Billy Joel, whom he celebrated as the most psychologically aware troubadour of their generation. Rooming with Albert necessitated cohabitation with the albums of Billy Joel and enthusiastic lectures on how the composer’s lyrics were more meaningful to the listening public than any of the therapies that they were being taught as clinicians.

Bernie remembered Albert saying, “If we can learn to be as keen an observer of the human condition as Billy Joel, we have the possibility of being good doctors.”

Bernie heard the Billy Joel songs so often in Albert’ s presence that he learned the melodies and the lyrics by repetitive osmosis, but he never more than politely acknowledged that such music had lasting social value, or that it could affect the behaviors of anyone with more than sentimental emotion. Poet-musicians were entertainers, not philosophers, in Bernie’s reckoning.

billyjoel-500x280

To counter Albert’s insistence on the loud sublimity of rock and roll, Bernie substituted albums by Jean-Pierre Rampal, the French flute king, and the piano records of Ferrante and Teicher and Peter Nero. These Albert would tolerate, plus any flute album by Herbie Mann in the jazz idiom. Thus a musical modus vivendi was achieved in their shared environment.

In recalling Albert’s insistence on the psychological insights of Billy Joel, Bernie decided to re-visit the entertainer’s greatest hits; and, on impulse, he saw one of the ubiquitous block-size, everything-you-want-twenty-four-hours-a-day marts and went in to purchase a CD. He had not gone into such a store during his married life since they were considered so déclassé in Joyce’s social league. The hour was late; but there were customers, maybe second-shift workers from the few remaining cotton mills that produced sheets and socks and jeans for someone other than the block-sized chain marts that got their cotton goods from factories in places like Mexico and Hong Kong. The shoppers looked tired, and they were price conscious about everything because they had to in the blue-collar rank to which they were assigned. They looked at Bernie passing in his $2,000 suit and his $300 shoes, and he could see the question in their eyes, “What the hell is he doing here?”

The city block under a single roof store was divided into departments, but the aisles were not laid out in a grid. They were mazelike so that people would get lost among the high shelves of merchandise and feel the impulse to buy their way out. Bernie wandered through the necessary, but mostly unnecessary, junk of American civilization and felt claustrophobic as the stuff surrounded him, confined him, and threatened to claim him as a helpless shopper and gnaw at his wallet.

billy-joel-greatest-hits-vol-1-2Finally, he found the music department and was informed by the signage that the mart chain was the largest seller of tapes and CDs in the known universe. Of course, they had a CD copy of Billy Joel, Greatest Hits, Volume I and Volume II. Bernie renegotiated the maze back to the front of the store and paid cash for the CD to a sad-eyed cashier, a woman with white hair, who would have preferred to spend her retirement at home but couldn’t because of the cost of her husband’s medications, so she had to work (nights was all she could get) just enough hours to be legally part-time so the mart wouldn’t have to provide health benefits, but that’s the way it goes these days. The cashier told Bernie this while she rang up the register, made change, and put his CD into a plastic bag—all this in response to his simple rhetorical question, “How are you tonight?”

It was after midnight when Bernie reached his assigned space in the downtown parking garage. He wanted to play the Billy Joel CD before nervously trotting the half-block to the gothic apartment tower where he temporarily resided, but first he had to pee. The garage level where he parked exhibited no traffic, so Bernie dared to do what had previously been unthinkable. He exited his car, walked to a convenient cement pillar, and relieved himself hard and pooling where cultured men should not go. The zipping up was not without a sense of reckless enjoyment, but Bernie wondered if his urine would stink with the sunrise and be blamed on some homeless man seeking refuge from the rain.

Since Bernie had identified no CD player in the penthouse shrine to the 1920s, and his Mercedes had a state-of-the-art sound system, Bernie fed the new CD into the slot, locked the car doors, reclined the power driver’s seat, and settled his nerves for the shock of Billy Joel’s rock and roll therapy. Bernie tried not to anticipate the music. His intent was to have it roll over him like a memory-bearing wave that somehow contained the psychological insight that Albert had touted.

billy-joe-piano-man

The first cut was Piano Man, a song that described a bar scene peopled with disillusioned characters who were revealed in terse verses by the piano man who recognizes the loneliness of crowded places where people gather to escape the perceived failures of their lives. The tempo of the song was upbeat, but the lyrics captured a sadness inherent in many modern lives. Yes, Bernie had to agree—Piano Man was an accurate psychological assessment of bar flies.

“Congratulations, kid,” Bernie said, like one of the inebriants dropping a dollar bill into the piano man’s tip jar, “you summed it up better than a psych grad’s master thesis.”

Say Goodbye to Hollywood contained a line that said goodbye to his “baby,” and that reminder annoyed Bernie. New York State of Mind was a song about returning to a person’s roots, to one’s own reality after being out of touch. Bernie, however, was unable to conjure up the same sentimentality for Baltimore and a neighborhood that he knew he would not recognize should he ever return there.

The next cut, The Stranger, was what Albert consideredbilly-joel-the-stranger a psychological epic. The lyrics were about the secrets of inner life, the self a person conceals even from a lover. Bernie could hear Albert’s commentary. “The secret self is about unfulfilled desires, things that we are afraid to reveal to each other. Our lover leaves us, and we can’t understand why. It’s not why! It’s who! On some levels we can’t communicate, so we will always be strangers to each other. And that’s how psychiatrists make a living—we bridge the gap. Billy Joel was right on. Hell, we hardly know the stranger in our self.”

“Oh, thanks,” Bernie said sarcastically to both Albert and Billy Joel. “Great analysis, but what’s the solution?”

The following cut seemed to provide a partial answer. Just The Way You Are was about relationship, acceptance, and commitment through good times and bad. The lyrical saxophone break provided moments for reflection, and Bernie recalled that he had often had to work at conversations with Joyce so as not to push her Southern panic buttons about race and class and the Democratic Party. In many ways, Bernie decided, Joyce had not been easy to talk to.

Before Bernie’s thoughts became too specific, the rush of Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song) overtook him. The song was about expectations vs. reality. In summing up what the songwriter observes from a working-class perspective, he asks, is that all we get from a lifetime of effort? His response is to roar away on a motorcycle rather than conform to so dismal a future. Bernie recognized the syndrome. Working-class kids witnessed the struggle of their parents living from payday to payday, and they rebelled. They wanted the lifestyle that they saw advertised on television, and they saw that obtaining it had nothing to do with social or moral virtues.

The teenage rebellion theme was repeated in Only The Good Die Young, that Bernie recalled as having been banned by the Catholic Church, and My Life, which became an anthem of the youth culture. Bernie drifted in attention through four other cuts that had imbedded messages relevant to his circumstances, but he missed them. Then the staccato beat of Pressure pounded him back on point.

billyjoelpressure

“Right,” Bernie said into the sound waves, “I’ve got all the advantages, but I still can’t deal with pressure. So what’s the benefit of a protected life of privilege and some ritualistic faith if you cannot deal with pressure?”

Pressure was one of Albert’s favorite diagnostic songs. Bernie supposed that Albert even played the song for certain dysfunctional patients as a kind of wake-up call to treatment. Bernie had given Albert a wooden sign long ago for his birthday. The lettering was deeply routed into the wood like an old-fashioned doctor’s shingle. The lettering read: Drexel and Joel, Rock & Roll Psychotherapy. It was given as a joke; but Albert beamed instead of laughed, and, to Bernie’s chagrin, the damn sign hung prominently in his office ever since.

billy-joel-allentownAllentown was another Billy Joel composition that Albert considered worthy of a graduate degree in either sociology or psychology. The song correctly encapsulated the failed promise of The American Dream for the children of WWII-era working-class parents. The post-war was industrial collapse, the loss of blue-collar jobs, and the resulting clinical depression was artistically rendered. Bernie did not treat these people because generally, they could not afford psychiatrists, and that reality forced Bernie to realize how disconnected he was from most of the working population of the country, how far removed he was from the desperate old woman cashier at the everything mart.

The following cut further isolated Bernie. It was another bit of Billy Joel genius that took the complex Vietnam experience and made it real and moving in less than five minutes. Bernie had avoided the draft and Vietnam combat by becoming a doctor. He had remained deferred until the war was over; but he had treated some of the inmates from that asylum and seen the consequences of their unnatural push into adulthood and horror, but Bernie had not experienced their bitterness, their loss. He had separated himself from his own generation, a generation going down into chaos together; and if he wept, he wept as an outsider to their torments.

Tell Her About It was a painful cut for Bernie to listen to billy-joel-tell-her-about-it
because it underscored his communication problems with Joyce. In the beginning of their courtship and marriage, he had told her his career dreams and his hopes for a cultured lifestyle; but as their life settled into the seamless routine of their class, what was left to share about feelings and emotions except their critiques of the performance arts?

Uptown Girl and The Longest Time played while Bernie tried to identify the moment of disconnect with Joyce. When had their respective appointment books rescheduled their intimacy into a ritual that mimicked obligatory church going? Why had the two of them settled for a closed provincial culture? Wasn’t their refusal to live in the greater society a kind of self-proclaimed aristocracy? In their rejection of modernity and all its underclass problems, hadn’t they just pretended that underclass desperation and criminality was not happening? And in building walls against contact with the great masses of the unwanted, had they not also walled themselves way from their own emotional sensitivity? The analytical questions continued until Bernie heard the familiar opening bars of You’re Only Human (Second Wind), a song that Albert swore by.

billy-joel-youre-only-humanAlbert considered that the Second Wind song provided excellent advice to patients suffering from depression due to feelings of inadequacy. The lyrics acknowledged the presence of heartbreak depression, but it then affirmed the arrival of a second wind and urged the listener to hang on. The song was both empathetic and encouraging to sufferers of a circumstantial depression, as differentiated from clinical depression such as a bi-polar disorder that requires drug therapy. Since many patients consulted psychiatrists for circumstantial, temporary disorders, Albert felt that the Billy Joel song had positive therapeutic value. Bernie, as a psychiatric resident student, thought that rock and roll had no place in the delivery of mental health services. Listening to the message of the song, locked in his car in a parking garage well after midnight, however, Bernie underwent a change of opinion.

billy-joel-the-night-is-still-young

The last cut on the Greatest Hits album was The Night Is Still Young; and although young people probably thought that the song was about sexual endurance, Bernie took it to mean that his life was not over at age fifty-five. But what next? This life as lived in Charlotte was over. He might continue the practice of psychiatry, but the comfort zone of country club connections and charity board networking among the deranged of high society was lost to him. Joyce and her cache of elitists would see to that. Consulting Dr. Selkin would no longer be fashionable. He would be so “last year,” so unpardonable, as if he had driven Joyce into the arms of Marcel Swann with a bullwhip. Her story, told to intimates in powder room whispers, would be a Faulknerian doozy that implied a hidden darkness of character that made life with Bernie sound like a slow ride through a carnival horror show.”

billy-joel-now

1 Comment

Filed under Entertainment, Famous People, Music, Writing

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.”

156-madisonbowl

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.

the-freewheelin-bob-dylan

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment, Famous People, Memoirs, Poetry, Writing

Dogs – Life’s Companions – Part 2 – Mili and Heidi

img_0496    It took a full year of mourning before Pat and I could consider another dog. Again we looked to the Watauga Humane Society shelter for an adoption. Pat made the heart connection to a small Pekingese-type female who had a distinctive under bite. As we processed the adoption, the shelter manager informed us that our new dog had been diagnosed with third-stage heartworms. Our adoption would require us to see the little princess through a risky two-stage treatment to kill the heartworms. We were warned that some dogs do not survive the treatment, which necessitated two extended periods of guarded non-activity. We accepted the responsibility and named our new family member Mili after a close veterinary doctor friend who had helped us care for Angel.

img_1232

Mili

Mili came through the heartworm treatment, and her personality emerged as a feisty little girl who was not easily affectionate. She nevertheless became Pat’s shadow as if she recognized the person who had chosen to save her. Mili regained her strength, energy, and endurance and became Pat’s companion on five-mile hikes from Bass Lake to the Moses Cone Manor on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, North Carolina. Our long-haired friend was never a lap dog. She rather had an almost cat-like posture of independence. Mili soon settled into our household routine as Pat and I worked the literary life from our home office. None of us expected the arrival of a second dog.

img_5995

I was sitting on the bench rocker across from Angel’s shrine when a medium-size, tan, short hair female hound-like dog came down our street and shyly entered our front yard. I spoke a greeting to her, and she approached and then jumped up on the bench beside me. I reached out to pet her, and she put her head onto my lap. That was the scene that Pat witnessed when she pulled into our semi-circular front driveway. We both had questions concerning our collarless visitor who demonstrated a sweet, affectionate disposition. We fed and watered her, but we would not take her into the house for fear of Mili’s reaction. Then with night coming, I retrieved a large travel kennel from storage and fitted it with blankets to warm the dog against an early spring chill. The kennel was placed outside our front door on a covered porch.

the-hills-are-alive

Heidi on a mountain hike

The next day, Pat began to search for the strayed dog’s owner. She did all the responsible things including posted and email notices, and “lost dog” newspaper ads, with no results. Pat then advised me that the dog’s teats indicated that she was pregnant or that she had recently had puppies. Her pregnancy was later confirmed when we took her for a vet examination. As the weeks passed, we were drifting into the “strayed and stayed” dog care category. When a freeze warning was issued for our area, we decided to bring the new dog, whom we had identified as a mountain feist breed, off the porch and into the house.

6-14-2007-02

Heidi and her litter of pups

The critical moment arrived as Mili confronted the new arrival. Mili may have smelled the vulnerability of the pregnant visitor whose size was not overwhelming and allowed the intrusion. Thus a new dog bed was provided for the stray that stayed, and she was named Heidi. Within a few weeks, Heidi birthed five puppies in our living room, with Mili in curious attendance. When the puppies were mature, they went for quick adoption at the Humane Society, but Heidi was too closely involved with us to go with them.

Mili and Heidi were frequent visitors to the Humane Society’s Arko Dog Park. Heidi was very social and ran free with the other dogs. Mili stayed close to Pat and could even dissuade a Great Dane who wanted to sniff her. Mili and Heidi were a pair of odd step-sisters.heidi-and-mili-2

The first time Heidi was taken on a hike, it was apparent that she had not been trained on a leash. She proved to be, however, a lovable companion who liked to be covered with a blanket when on the sofa or in her bed. No one could approach the house without Heidi sounding the alert. Mili would join the outcry, but Heidi got credit for being the major watchdog.

IMG_0932.JPG

Mili had been with us eleven years when she was diagnosed with bladder cancer. Our dearest friend, Tennessee veterinarian Mildred Bass, monitored the surgery progress and the subsequent holistic treatment, but our little feisty friend could not beat the cancer. Brave and remarkably active, she survived seven months longer than the surgeon’s most optimistic expectations. Pat’s constant care and Mili Bass’s recommended herbal medications, we feel, extended her life, and when she passed, it was mercifully only after a few hours of distress on her final day following her visit to the dog park. For weeks after, Heidi searched the house for Mili every time that Pat and I called her to go out.

Doggies in the Window 5-1-2015 2-05-00 PM 2353x1964.jpg

There is the possibility that we will outlive Heidi and that her loss will be another mournful event. Her cremated remains will be added to those of Angel and Mili on our property, and we will miss her. The emptiness of the house, however, will lead us back to the Humane Society shelter to find another dog companion. There are both responsibility and cost involved in living with a dog, but even as septuagenarians, we want to share our home with a four-legged friend.

 

3 Comments

Filed under Animals, Family, Memoirs, Writing

Dogs – Life’s Companions – Part 1 – Angel

Angel in the Driveway We never own our dogs. We only reside with them by ancient covenants that bond us. Life is defined by events that include both joy and pain. All human emotions apply in our close relationships with our dogs. It is thus appropriate that we honor these special friends as we would our beloved human family members with stories, photos, monuments, and sincere reflections of gratitude.

Pat and I have already had three canine companions in our married life, and they have been as dear to us as our own three daughters. A super intelligent Border collie came to us as an overnight guest after she had been spayed by the Watauga County (North Carolina) Humane Society. Pat, a member of the board at that time, and I were delivering blankets and needful supplies to the animal shelter when a member, who had just returned from the vet with a small black dog just out of surgery, approached us. She said that she did not want to return the still groggy female to the kennels and begged us to take her home for overnight care.Angel on sofa

We were then living in a rented condo that specified no pets, but we thought that we might get away with a one-night stay. We tried to bed the little dog down in a bathroom with a barrier at the door, but the dog jumped over it, and her incision site began to bleed. As a former Army veteran with medic training, I took the dog onto my lap to bandage her. She was so patient and trusting that we were amazed, and Pat remarked that she was an angel. That night we realized we were hooked, and that we must adopt her, so we arranged with our landlord to keep her at an added deposit fee. Her name was self-evident. She was Angel.

Angel and MontyAngel was seldom on a leash, and she went to work with us every day. At that time we had a retail store with an upstairs office, so Angel was both our home and office dog. Angel loved to leap into my lap as soon as I sat in my easy chair at home. She could be trusted to be let out to do her necessary business, never crossing the street or wandering off.

Angel was a wonderful hiking companion on the Blue Ridge Parkway trails. She kept us in sight and never got into trouble when presented with other dogs. In a high mountain meadow she delighted us as she raced in a zigzag pattern as if to raise quail or sheep from the high grass. For fourteen years she was our constant, ever faithful, ever loving companion. Her disposition was always playful and affectionate, and she was obviously the smartest dog we had ever known.

Angel gazing

The last months of Angel’s life, however, were challenging as she struggled with cancer. Her passing was mourned as that of a beloved family member. To memorialize her, we erected a wooden black silhouette of her wearing her collar and tags at the foot of a granite gravestone engraved with her name. The shrine site sits in a front-yard garden across from a two-person rocking chair bench. In this way, we daily honor and remember a wonderful friend who happened to be a Border collie.

IMG_5992

8 Comments

Filed under Animals, Family, Memoirs, Writing

Pete Fountain, New Orleans Legend

IMG_5338

Pete Fountain was an American music legend when my wife Pat saw him weekly in the executive offices of the New Orleans Hilton. She had returned to her position as the administrative assistant to the Hilton general manager following her marriage to me, the co-author of the Insiders’ Guide to New Orleans. Pat’s friendship with Pete led to one of the most memorable nights in the history of my family.

Pat had been in the Hilton executive office for the initial construction of the hotel towers in 1977 and had returned for the extensive Riverside addition in 1983 that made the New Orleans hotel the then-largest hotel in the South. Pat was thus well known to Pete Fountain and his manager Benny Harrell, who had been associated with the hotel since its opening. Pete Fountain’s Jazz Club would remain a Hilton mainstay until it closed in 2003 due to Pete’s (age 73) declining health.

New Orleans Hilton

New Orleans Hilton in the late 70s

In the fall of 1983, however, when my wife invited her new in-laws to the Pete Fountain show in the Hilton, Pete at age 53 was still in his performing prime. My mother and father remembered Pete from his performances on the Lawrence Welk ABC television show and other solo performance spots on the popular TV variety shows of the 1960s and 1970s. My sister Rita pictured Pete as a frequent guest (56 times) on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson and from some of the 42 hit record albums.

Pat, a native New Orleanian, related to Pete as a fellow native who had attended her same high school. Pete, class of 1945, was in the Warren Easton Alumni Hall of Fame. Pat, class of 1965, had been the homecoming queen.

Pete, as a gifted clarinetist noted for his sweet fluid tone,left New Orleans for a featured IMG_5333spot with the hugely popular Lawrence Welk orchestra. His roots in jazz and Dixieland, however, did not suit the traditional Welk arrangements. When Pete “jazzed up” the Christmas carol “Silver Bells” on the 1958 live-TV Christmas show, despite Welk’s instructions, Pete was not renewed for the 1959 season.

 

 

Back in New Orleans, Pete played with the Dukes of Dixieland and then led bands under his own name. By spring of 1960, he had his own jazz club on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter, and every movie and television star who came to New Orleans made a stop at Pete’s club. Al Hirt, the famed New Orleans trumpeter, had his jazz club down the same street from 1962 to 1983, so the public liked to imagine a rivalry between Pete and Al. They, however, were the best of friends, performed in each other’s club, and made many record albums together. If you saw one perform, you had to see the other to make your New Orleans jazz experience complete.

As a favor to Pat, Benny Harrell, Pete’s manager and son-in-law, booked our party of five at a ringside table for Pete’s late show. He understood that the visit was Pat’s first encounter with my parents and sister, so he wanted to help her impress them. The stage in the club is small and intimate within the arc of the café tables. Benny personally escorted our family to the table and our drink orders were immediately taken. People observing the VIP treatment must have wondered who these people were. That stage-front table was where you might expect to see Sinatra, or Dean Martin, or Tony Bennett and guests.

With an unexpected close-up view of Pete and his great fellow musicians, the show was magical. From classic jazz and Dixieland, to spirituals and show tunes, the pace of the performance had layers of musical satisfaction. Pete’s introductions and comments made our party feel like we were visiting in his living room and that the musical selections were spontaneous. The audience must have felt it, too, because they demanded three encores. The selections included our favorite Pete Fountain ballad, “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?”

IMG_5327

As soon as the show ended, Benny was at the table with gift albums for all five members of our party. Then he shocked us by asking us to stay seated until the band cleaned up from the sweat of performance.

“Pete has invited you to visit with the band in their dressing room. He will sign your albums there.” He also told us that he had taken care of the check.

 

IMG_5347.JPG

 

The dressing room was surprisingly large with the look of a luxury hotel suite. Pete could not have been more cordial and generous. He hugged the women, shook hands with the men, and praised Pat for her friendship and professional support. The musicians also interacted with the family and did not seem in a hurry to leave. Pete’s gift was perfectly orchestrated, and our family left with autographed record albums and treasured event memories that would last a lifetime.

Pat resigned her position at the Hilton in 1985 to follow me to North Carolina where I would write novels, biographies, and screenplays. That June, the Hilton gave Pat a classy going-away party with a gourmet cuisine buffet and many gifts. Two gifts from the hotel were framed posters featuring Pete Fountain. One, “Cookin with Jazz” (22 x 24) showed Pete with the great chef Paul Prudhomme.

IMG_5361.JPG

 

 

 

Another framed poster (24 x 35) titled “Pete Fountain’s Playing It to the New Orleans Hilton” was an artistic rendering of Pete against the hotel background.

 

 

 

Pete’s personal gift was a 6 x 8 charcoal portrait that he signed, “To Pat and Monty, Much Love, Pete.”IMG_5343

 

In 1992, the City of New Orleans governmental council conferred the title of Honorary Citizen upon us. The framed certificate and the mementos of Pete Fountain are attachments to New Orleans that will never fade.

IMG_5326

 

 

 

Our friend Pete Fountain died at the age of 86 on August 6, 2016. We immediately set out to create this blog as a tribute of thanks to him for his great musical talent and for his personal generosity to us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Writing

METRO Hampton Roads Magazine: The Editor’s View 1971-1978

Scope Sept 70

There were over sixty city magazines already being published in the United States when I sought the support of George A. Crump to start one in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. I met George in 1969 when I was producing a film for The Association of Colleges and Universities for International Intercultural Studies. George was on the board of advisors for the ACUIIS summer-abroad project at the University of Graz in Austria, and he and his wife Marj accompanied the students.

We had a great deal of social contact as I was also in Austria to direct the film, The Graz Experience. George owned WCMS, a reinvented country-music radio station that also staged the Hampton Roads touring events of country-music stars. But George was more than an entrepreneur; he was a visionary personality of many talents and interests.

Monty in Graz
Monty in Graz, Austria at a party given by George and Marj Crump

My first publishing effort for George was to produce WCMS SCOPE Magazine in September, 1970, which was essentially a 16-page, slick-page bi-monthly that promoted the radio station’s interests, which included their October Johnny Cash concert and the rise of Irvine B. Hill, executive vice president and general manager of the station, who was later to become the mayor of Norfolk. By the second issue of SCOPE Magazine, we were being threatened with a lawsuit for violation of trademark. The new sports complex in Norfolk that hosted the American Basketball Association’s Virginia Squires, was named Scope.

 

 

 

Scope Topless IssueThe first issue of a real city magazine under my editorship was named Metropolitan Hampton Roads SCOPE Magazine. It met my journalistic goals within its 24 pages in its first three feature articles: “Nursing Homes: Human Junkyards” (an investigative report); “I Remember Mr. Faulkner” (a cultural insight); and “Thanks for the Mammary: The Topless Scene” (a declaration that we would be different from anything else in the journalism marketplace). The magazine departments included a detailed listing of area-wide events, a restaurant review, a sports story about fishing with an infamous Norfolk traffic court judge, a women’s column article titled “The Liberation Thing,” and profiles on newsmakers that would, by the second issue, include black businessmen.

The second issue of METRO dated April-May 1971 established that our magazine would explore sensitive social issues and not shy away from the controversial ones. “Rape in Hampton Roads: The Facts and The Fantasy” and “The Refinery: To Have, or Have Not” were real pieces of open-minded journalism that would not have appeared in the politically dominated Norfolk newspapers of that day. The newspapers on the other side of Hampton Roads had a policy of not even showing black faces within their pages. METRO was out to challenge those parochial attitudes.Scope Refinery

From the very first conceptual day, we saw the six cities of Hampton Roads as a single economic and cultural marketplace. Divided as they were, the cities had little to offer national media buyers and site-seeking business and industrial developers, but taken as a whole, they comprised one of the 30th largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). METRO Magazine championed that realization with editorials, Virginia’s first monthly business column, and its first restaurant review columns. We became the first print media that journalistically covered both sides of the Hampton Roads harbor. We were also the first in Virginia to pursue investigative journalism and publish stories that changed both laws and social behaviors.

METRO Magazine was designed, laid out, and edited on my dining room table when we were a bi-monthly. I shared my work area with a wife and two children under the age of three. I shamelessly wrote whatever was needed to fill magazine space; but as freelance writers, photographers, and artists gravitated to us, editing, managing, and advertising sales became my primary function.

George Crump was a very unusual executive manager. Although he probably invested over $200,000 in the first two start-up years of the magazine, all our business interaction was done in person at his home, at private clubs, or in good restaurants. George came to my office only once in all the years that I worked for him. The lunch-hour office was empty except for our receptionist who had been firmly instructed to bar anyone from entering our art department where the secrets of our next issue were laid out on drawing boards. George introduced himself, but did not offer his title as publisher, as he attempted to walk through to the art department. His way was then blocked by the dutiful receptionist, and George politely withdrew and went away. I was mortified when George called me later that day to describe (in good humor) what had happened. I quickly amended our employee orientation binder to open with an 8 by 10-inch head and shoulder portrait of George with the caption, “This is George Crump. He owns the magazine!”

George Crump and Monty

Publisher George Crump and Editor Monty Joynes discuss business at the Harbor Club in Downtown Norfolk.

By 1974, METRO had arrived at its fixed name and logo. The magazine had grown to a 100-plus page monthly with national advertising and inside color. The circulation was approaching 20,000 monthly copies. I left METRO in 1975 to become the Associate Publisher of Holiday, the national travel magazine published by the famed Curtis Publishing Company. Within two years, I was the CEO of two Curtis subdivisions and a public face of the Holiday Fine Dining Awards and the Holiday Awards Cookbook.

In 1977, I returned briefly to edit METRO before founding, co-authoring, and editing five titles in the Insiders’ Guide travel book series. I later sold the series rights, and by 1982, I had turned full time to the writing of novels and other literary works. By 2015, I had authored over 20 published books and published award-winning short stories and poetry in anthologies, journals, and magazines. I had also written seven screenplays and an oratorio libretto that was premiered in France in January 2015.

My remembered history of METRO Hampton Roads Magazine has its focus on the remarkable feature stories that were published during my editorship. Here are a few of my favorites.

Metro Judging the JudgesEd Bacon, a copy editor for Norfolk Newspapers, wrote two of the most daring and provocative METRO cover stories that we ever published. We began discussing the possibility of his taking a detailed look at the judges in Hampton Roads courts in November 1972. By July 1973, Ed was using all of his personal time to observe the judges in their courtrooms and to talk to the attorneys who practiced before them. It took Ed an entire year to complete the assignment and write the October 1974 issue cover story “Judging the Judges.” The judges were judged on a scale from one to ten, with a federal district judge alone at the low two-point level. Only a couple of the judges were awarded a ten. Attorneys who had talked to Ed dove for cover and denied ever knowing him. The public dialog about “Judging the Judges” led me to publish Ed’s follow-up article “Justice in our Courts” as the November cover feature. It was another blockbuster. I paid Ed the maximum that we allowed for cover features—$300 each. He deserved thousands.Metro Justice in our Courts

With the entire state talking about our explosive series on the judges, Ed found himself in an uncomfortable position at Norfolk Newspapers. I had hoped that Ed would be recognized as a journalist of genius and given assignments worthy of an ace reporter, but instead, the powerful newspaper corporation pressured their employee union to change their contracts so as to block their members from writing for a labeled competitive publication within the newspapers’ marketing area. How can a monthly magazine scoop a daily newspaper? But we did—too many times. The new union restrictions robbed me of a lot of talent that was wasted at Norfolk Newspapers.

 

Airport Plane 1

The Dooby Brothers’ band plane burns toward total destruction. Photos by Bill Cox.

That November 1974 issue is also remembered for the feature “The Airport Fire Fiasco.” On September 1st, what should have been a routine fire in a grounded aircraft turned into a near catastrophe at Norfolk Regional Airport. Our staff reporters exposed the cover-up that Norfolk Newspapers missed and showed dramatically why the airport needed an on-site professional fire department. As it happened, a paramedic stationed at the airport was trying out a new camera, and he photographed the firefight after regular Norfolk fire department trucks had been turned back as unnecessary.

 

The fire got dangerously out of control before the volunteer airport firemen, mainly composed of baggage handlers and ticket agents, yielded to the recalled professionals. The twin-engine Martin had 800 gallons of fuel in its wing and belly tanks. It was waiting for the Dooby Brothers band and crew to board the aircraft after a Norfolk concert appearance. The engulfed Martin might have set off the entire flight line of private aircraft if it had not been contained.

Airport Plane 2

 

The Norfolk Paramedical Rescue Service, then a private company, had an active qualified paramedic patron in George Crump. He and wife Marj, who was also trained, served the rescue service as volunteers. George was thus brought the incredible photos of the airport fire, and I had two investigative reporters on the case the next day. The outcome was that our investigative story made the case for a huge federal grant that established a professional fire department at the airport. The Port Authority chairman, who had once cursed me, then invited me to a thank-you lunch.

Metro Feb 74

 

We had an idea to document all the murders that occurred within a single year in the cities of Hampton Roads. It took writer Joyce Copes the better part of a year to meet with homicide detectives and put “MURDER, The Victims of ‘74” in chronological order for our February 1975 4th anniversary issue. The Joe Friday “just the facts” style of the article startled readers as the 120 murders were described. The cases and the gun violence issues are as relevant today as they were in 1974.

Kathy Harley, a bingo fanatic, brought us an incredible story about the often-illegal $5 million in Hampton Roads bingo play. Her knowledge and research figures were flawless. We estimated that there were at least 100 civilian games and 20 military games in operation without any local or state law oversight. Most bingo operations

Metro Bingoviolated federal tax laws. Included in the extensive seven-page October 1977 cover feature were boxes on how bingo operators cheat, how bingo players cheat, and how to start a bingo. The METRO article shook-up the bingo parlors across the entire state of Virginia and resulted in local and statewide legislation to control this formerly overlooked form of gambling.

METRO Hampton Roads Magazine was for me a license to explore my home region and to share those discoveries with a reader demographic that could act on the information so as to improve our social awareness and our developmental interaction. In an era of dramatic social change, I thought that we played an enlightening role in the potential of our community.

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Writing

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.

Carl Sandburg bw National Park Service

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.

Connemara lake with Sandburg photo

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.

 

 

 

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under Animals, Famous People, Memoirs, Poetry, Writing