Sunday, September 7, 2014

Quiet Time

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Quiet Time


When I was a youngster, I was at a friend's house, on a Saturday afternoon. We had just watched the Dick Clark show, American Bandstand, and were left with not much else on the tube except for a Shirley Temple movie or snow skiers tumbling down a hillside.

I spied an old picture book on the coffee table, and asked my friend if I could look at it. She said I could, but there was not much to see in it. It belonged to her grandmother, who was living with the family now that her husband had passed away. The grandmother still owned her house in East Tennessee, so most of her belongings were there, but the picture book was among the possessions she brought to Memphis.

Most of the pictures were of her children and grand children. Only a dozen or so photos of she and her husband were to be seen. As I was looking through those a second time, after we had gone through the entire album, I remarked to my friend, that it was a shame the couple never went anywhere, as all the images were obviously from around their home.

Can you imagine my surprise, when a voice from behind me said, that was not the case at all? Neither my friend or I had heard her come into the room. We had no idea she was looking over our shoulder. I apologized for my remark. She said that was not needed. Then she sat between, cradled the picture album and told us some stories.


Quiet Time


Perhaps you can tell, he was camera shy;    
He said "I would only do this for you,"    
Never stood still, rather wiggly and spry;
I remain challenged to explain just why.  
This is his best, in my humble review."

Taken on the night he chose to propose,
I can still see him there, on bended knee.
Dressed to impress in his finest of clothes.
How he stirred up nerve, only heaven knows;
Dreamed of the day he'd ask to marry me.

Life was quite hard in that small rural town.
See his heart's passion, plowed deep through that field;
A living carved out through green shares in brown
Sporting a Stetson, but held like a crown.
Unable to keep his love there concealed.

Here he is dressed for a game of baseball.
Traveling teams, came for barnstorming fun.
Cleats ripped his leg, an unfortunate fall;
Poured Coke over it, no fussing, that's all,
True healing magic, he hits a home run!

We're all smiles here at the sweet county fair.
My prize peaches turned blue-ribbon that day.
Look close, you can see me clutching a bear.
For years, we left it in sight without care
Our children welcomed to find it to play.

Bless his heart, he was born with two left-feet.
Here we are at a Saturday square-dance.
Refusing to give up and take a seat.
Got a mail-order lesson, set complete,
To learn how to Charleston, study his stance.

Here were are on our ride to meeting day.
Never missed a Sunday, not a time late;
I'd visit after, his patience at play.
Notice that porch swing, we'd sit there all day;
Each afternoon, like a wondrous new date.

You do not see, but he was in this scene.
He's the one doing the picture taking.
His hand was steady, his eyes were quite keen;
Said it was like viewing life on a screen;
Knowing well the memories he was making.

We never thought about leaving our home.
We had it all, never feeling alone,
Even when our kids went out on their own.
Neither felt burdened by an urge to roam.
I never knew quiet, 'til he was gone.

She closed the book, then set it on the stand;
Rose to her feet, giving a solemn stare.
There is not a place, I now understand,  
Where they had not spent time, just as they planned,
Except that one place.... He was waiting there.


Michael Todd (2014)


Disclaimer: I wrote the draft for this, back in the Spring, as a poem to give to Lainey. She likes Robert Frost. I was trying to write with a rhyme scheme that was similar to a Frost piece. I have seen Lainey do those, in a challenge, and she owns them.... When I realized, I was so far off the mark, rather than shelve the poem, I sent it to Lainey, asking if she would help me with it. What you see here is the finished product she provided. Seriously, I probably averaged a major mistake per stanza... So, unlike that Frost poem, where he came to a fork in the road, and chose one over the other... in my case here, I chose to turn around and go back, to get my bearings, which in this case, was going back to Lainey, in order to get it right. Hey, if she could teach me how to write a sonnet (she did), surely, in time she can get me to where I can do one of these all by myself. But, in the event I cannot, if is always good to know she is there for me.


September 10 is Lainey's Birthday.

80 comments:

  1. Hi Myke. This is Eliza. Heartwarming, nostalgic and tender, this short story and poem. I don't see Robert Frost so much as I see Michael Todd. As was he, you are a one and only, a true original. I love your writing.

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    1. Thank you, Eliza, for your very kind overview. I really appreciate that.

      And, of course... Nice FRISTING !!!

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  2. Myke, This is definitely a very very good Robert Frost style poem. I ought to know as it is one of my favorite styles to write it. I hope you are reading it Thursday night. I will be reading my birthday poem for Nyla...I loved every word of this

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    1. Thanks, Stormy Gail... This one was a long time in coming but was well worth the wait, for me... See you on Thursday.

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  3. Nice job with the form, although I think of nature when I think of Frost. A cool way to view the old pics. I love looking at old family pics. Happy Birthday to your friend!

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    1. I enjoy looking at old pictures, too. It is best when there is someone there who can give me back stories on the images. And, it is fun with there is not one else around, when I can make up my own back stories...

      Thanks for visiting, Wynne. Now that you have mastered leaving comments from your phone, you will have to show me how to do it.

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    2. Yes, I would LOVE to ask Grandma if she was dressed as a flapper girl in one pic, lol and some other questions, like did she like the love sonnets Grandpa used to write her?

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    3. Everyone loves love sonnets, Wynne... and, water is wet. :)

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  4. This is Carol Vaskelis. Loved reading this. I can just picture it in my mind. Hugs

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    1. Thanks so much, Carol. I love your reflections.

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    1. Thanks, Michael... and I won't tell we are talking America Bandstand, in detail, offline... :)

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  6. Beautiful tale about true, enduring love....when you have that, everyplace is like magic, a new place to visit....and you don't need to travel the world. Lovely Frost style poem, you are an amazing poet! :)

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    1. Really glad you took it down this road, Colleen. You are a nice person, a good friend, and an inspiration.

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  7. Life has such soft moments of love ... well written!

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    1. Yours is one of the most prolific, enduring lines I have ever read, and it is so true, Barbara. Some are obvious, others need to be shown, but they are all there for the seeing and sensing... Thank you. :)

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  8. This flowed beautifully, Michael. I could hear her voice throughout -- nice work on that! And good ending, too. :)

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    1. Thank you very much... I am all about closure. :)

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  9. Myke, Your thought processes and personal presence laced this most emotion provoking write in a most secure way. And Lainey's ability to work it into a poem with meaning and depth only gives testament to the fact that a Myke and Lainey collab poem raises poetry to heights only imagined by mortals such as I. I bow deeply to you and Lainey in this endeavor!

    Blue Dave

    P.S. Give Lainey a great big Birthday hug for me!

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    1. Thanks, Dave... Things always work out for the best, for me, with Lainey in the mix. Glad you enjoyed... I will make sure she gets your birthday well wishes. Who knows, she might even see them in person.

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    2. It would be great if she did see them in person. Be that as it may, I reread this and felt the tenderness that the Grandmother has in her for her husband. Thanks for allowing that emotions to shine in this write

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    3. Thanks, Dave... glad this resonated with you... and I do believe she will see all her birthday messages. I will make sure of it.

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  10. I've been running through a lot of old pictures lately, with one sister downsizing and another passing away.

    The boys had quite an afternoon and possibly the best education they will ever receive on gratitude.

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    1. I know this had to be tough for you to read, considering all you have been through lately, Christopher. Thanks so much for visiting, and for your personal observations.

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  11. Thank you for making sure I knew of this. I enjoyed the read tremendously. Your works have always been an enjoyment and inspiration.

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    1. Thank you for visiting, Rebecca, and for being such a good friend.

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  12. This was beautiful...bitter sweet.
    Until they meet again in that final place...see you there!

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    1. Same paths to a different destination, one just took an early detour...

      Thanks so much for stopping by to read and visit, Deanna. :)

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  13. As you've so eloquently and beautifully penned here, there is no place like home. When you have your one true love beside you, you needn't step foot anyplace else.

    I love this, and you and Lainey. Please tell her so for me <3

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    1. I will be sure to give your love to Lainey, Lisa... and as for how many times I have she and I have covered "There's no place like home," there is no way to measure. Thank you.

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  14. A"til death do us part" love story.....loved every word of it! Thanks for pointing me to your page out here in the blogosphere.

    And Happy Birthday to your dear friend Lainey!

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    1. Gosh, it is nice to see you here, Maggie. Thanks for your very encouraging overview of our poem and story, and I will be sure Lainey gets your birthday well wishes. :)

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  15. Excellent work poets! Frost did quite a bit of storytelling blank verse also, that would seem a natural fit for your style. Try rocking that form some!

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    1. Thanks, Mike... When it comes to the Book of Frost, Lainey owns it, and I just take directives. :)

      Very good to see you here, Sir.

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  16. Hi Mike, this is Maria, I'm not sure if my comments are making it through because earlier I unscyhed my accounts, so just hooked this one back up, but I keep ending up at 'reply;, so I hopefully, this goes through. I really enjoy your writing and this piece its so very relevant and touching..We always thing a picture tells it all but only when told by another perspective ,so we get the whole story. You really showed this couple lived a beautiful life through the simple daily shared moments they could count on, I love your opening and your close, Peace to you , Maria

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    1. Thanks so much, Maria... You, and your message are coming in clear as a bell... I appreciate you going to great lengths to find me and get us connected. And, Peace, Love & Happiness to You!

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  17. This is beautiful a story that took me to a place where I felt I was watching everything she described your pen took my mind on an adventure. Really enjoyed reading you btw this is cherry rose

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    1. Hello, Cherry Rose... Really happy you connected with this poem. I know, I did, as I was writing, and was hoping that would translate.

      Thanks for visiting. :)

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  18. Michael, how wonderfully touching your words are here. An not at all surprising so seeing that Lainey's gifted heart and soul touched your words too! She has such a tremendous gift.

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    1. Thanks, and very kind of you to say, Don... She is a tremendous gift. :)

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  19. You never cease to amaze :) -slj

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  20. This is Katherine such a wonderful and deeply felt poem with a wonderful rhymescheme and as always you are just amazing here... and is there a chance we will EVER get Lainy to FB lol wonderful work Michael

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    1. Thanks for your very kind words, Katherine...
      As for getting Lainey to Facebook... I have tried. Maybe someday.

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  21. Photographer is my role too. He is lucky that his someone still saw him when others failed. I hope she always sees you as well. Please wish Lainey happy birthday

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    1. Thanks, Stephany... Love what you said here. I hope so, too.

      Lainey will definitely get your Birthday well wishes. :)

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  22. Myke this is the first thing i read this morning. i just came back from zigzagging the sun streaked country lanes having dropped my little ones off, the morning sun still dancing in my mind ... to be slowly replaced by your words ... imagine all that and it is only a couple of minutes past ten! thank you my friend, your poem is a thing of beauty ... c. x

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    1. Caroline... The first thing I read today was what you said here. Thanks for the update, and your very kind remarks.

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  23. This was beautiful and touching. Made me teary in the sweet tenderness. I can feel a hint of Laney's romanticism, along with your amazing story telling...perfect. Please send my love and birthday wishes to that girl...I miss her and her poetry.

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    1. Thanks so much, DeAnna... very happy this poem resonated with you. And, I know what you mean about Lainey's touch. When I got this back from her, I was beaming, because it definitely has her stamp on it... I will be sure to pass on your birthday message.

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  24. So great to read you again. Superb poem, the melody blurs the edges between stanzas and highlights the end - home - harmony by any and every name is beyond and within :).

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    1. Lana... Your comment leaves me breathless... how you closed with your spin on harmony is pure poetry, in and of itself... Thank you! <3

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  25. I love when you don't stay quiet for long especially when there are so many beautiful things you have to share.

    Leigh.

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    1. I love it when you enter the room, Alba Leigh... Thanks so much for coming to visit. Now, this feels like home to me.

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  26. This is absolutely great, I do so admire anyone who can write in rhyme form as I am lacking in this. This poem stirs feelings of nostalgia within me. The Robert Frost style complements your writing very well. Thank you for the invitation to your group

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    1. Thanks so much for visiting, Linda. This place gets so quiet sometimes, I can hear the crickets chirping... not that crickets are bad, on the outside of the screen... I appreciate your very generous overview of this poem.

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  27. Oh Myke, I was in absolute AWE reading this. So clever of you,
    (and how good is Lainey)!!!

    What a wonderful story this is.
    THANK YOU for tagging me for this.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed this story, Teresa. Thanks for sayin'... and as for how good Lainey is, the answer is... without measure. :)

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  28. It's like old times reading about olde times. Quite the enjoyable read, Myke.

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    1. Talk about good times... having kingpapaj in the house is just that.
      Thanks so much for visiting. The next round of crawfish is on me. :)

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    1. Thank you, Linda. I really appreciate you stopping by. :)

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  30. Come on down, Myke.. We'll flip to see who buys.

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  31. Lovely to take a break and read this tonight.

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    1. You are so sweet to say that, Carol... Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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  32. Mike, this is a very poignant story, I really loved it and it brought tears to my eyes. Love of a lifetime and soon forever, wonderful!!

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    1. Love makes the world go 'round, Linda... all the worlds. :)

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  33. Myke, I have always enjoyed looking at old photos and hearing the stories behind them. You can tell that Grandma enjoyed her life and Grandpa was the love of her life. Well done :)

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    1. Gazing at old picture albums, that are not my own, is a great way to pass time, Laura. Glad you enjoyed this rendering. :)

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  34. This moves me in all the right ways, Myke! I miss Lainey a ton. It's odd that someone I never met could leave such a profound hole behind. I think that applies to you as well, Sir.

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    1. There are some things you get over, Matt, and some that never go away.
      Thanks for stopping by... much appreciated.

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  35. Such a beautiful, touching poem, Mike. Happy Belated Birthday to Lainey. She's obviously very talented as well.

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    1. Thank you very much, Debbie... Lainey had a fine birthday. She got to go to her home town in Alberta, for an extended visit. This is always a good thing.

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  36. This touched me so deeply...about assumptions and love and life...just lovely.

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    1. Being reminded of special moments in time, be they ours or others, is always special for me. Thanks for saying, Carol.

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  37. Your writing is magical Mike! If this was a book, it would be a 3 am read because I couldn't put it down. Bravo Mike!

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    1. Thank you so very much, Susan... I sometimes think about writing a book, but if I did, where in the world would I post it?

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