Sunday, October 2, 2016

Raven Ever After


People make fools of themselves around people who are in mourning.  They just do.  Some of the gaffes are honest mistakes.  You don’t know what to say so you start spouting platitudes.  Anyone who has suffered, really suffered, finds the one about God not giving us more than we can bear to be, well, unbearable.  That quote isn’t even in the Bible, is it?  I just looked it up.  It is a spin off a verse in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that says you won’t be TEMPTED more than you can bear.  That’s another thing altogether than getting smashed with horrible experiences.  I am sorely TEMPTED to smack some people in the nose for spouting platitudes, but I can handle it, I can control myself.  The temptation does not exceed my capacity to bear it.  But the grief, I don’t see how my family can bear the grief of losing Raven.  They are strong, they will bear up the for the sake of each other, but they are broken and no platitude will fix that.

Then there are the people who want to set a timer on grief. Last night I came on to Facebook to find requests from Raven’s mother and grandmother to flood Facebook with remembrances of Raven because some dimwit said that they shouldn’t keep posting Raven pictures since we lost Raven at the beginning of August and it is now October.  Time to move on, the dimwit reportedly said.

Hello?

Let me tell you something.

When I die, somebody sure had better mourn me loud and clear for longer than that.  Okay, I’m not as sociable as Raven was, so I don’t expect wide spread sorrow for me.  I’ll be happy if five people show up at my funeral, sincerely missing me, provided I even have a funeral, which I’m not really thinking I will.  I figure to just sort of fade into the mist as though I was never here, leaving only a few wonderful books behind and several awful oil paintings -- whereas Raven’s funeral was like a funeral for a princess.  Even Lilly Pulitzer sent a representative.  Yes, the Lilly Pulitzer clothing company, who did a special design for Raven because so many people wrote to them telling how much she had loved their colorful fashion line. So I don’t expect to have as big a chorus mourning me. 

But the thing is, when a person bothers to get born and become a person and live a life, it is the least a person can ask is that someone remembers them, sings them, dances them, speaks their name, posts their photographs and memories for a whole lot longer than two months after they die.  Raven lived sixteen years, and by all accounts and according to the pictures, every one of those years was a joy and delight to those close to her.  So I would say that she has at least sixteen more years where it is appropriate for the family to flood Facebook with Raven memories.

At least.
~~~~~~~~~~~ 

In memory of Raven Alexandrea White, great grandaughter of “Garnet” in PRECIOUS JEWELS, A SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST FAMILY SAGA.  Raven died while boating at Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

INSIGHT MAGAZINE AND THE “NOW” GENERATION

Groovy and cool were the words of the day, and Do Your Own Thing was the mantra of the “Now” Generation, that is my generation of cool, groovy long-haired cats and chicks.  Guitars were always around, whether one played them or not, blue jeans were a sign of rebellion and not to be worn on religious campuses.  It was in this era, circa 1970, that the Seventh-Day Adventist church realized that it had to get hip if it was going to appeal to the youth culture
What did the Adventists have to appeal to flower children living in the moment, counting the petals on daisies, tripping out on cloud formations?  THE YOUTH INSTRUCTOR, the only Adventist magazine for teens at the time, had been started by none other than James White, husband of Ellen G. White of prophetic fame, before the Civil War.  1852, to be exact, not even ten years after The Great Disappointment when the Millerites had scheduled the Second Coming of Christ and been stood up, not once, but twice as William Miller recalculated all the signs and numbers. 
I remember THE YOUTH INSTRUCTOR.  In my time, they didn’t hand it out in Sabbath School because, perhaps, they knew it was boring to teens.  I remember my grandparents subscribing to it.  Mrs. White was still alive when they were children, so they were in tune with THE YOUTH INSTRUCTOR.   By 1970,  other Christian ministries were targeting my generation with psychedelic posters of a smiling Jesus in love beads.  The One Way arrow figured prominently (One Way To Christ).  Books such as JESUS THE REVOLUTIONARY were being published to show how hip Jesus was.  It was time for a cool,  groovy replacement of THE YOUTH INSTRUCTOR before our entire generation lost interest and split the scene, man.
            And so INSIGHT MAGAZINE was born, its covers featuring guitars and warped fonts in hallucinogenic colors.  This magazine was proudly handed out in Sabbath School, and I would surreptitiously read it from cover to cover during the church service that followed.  My ambition was to be a published writer, but I had no idea how to make that happen beyond writing stories, which I did with pen and paper, later on a Smith-Corona manual typewriter that was older than I was.  If I wanted a second copy of anything I wrote, I had to use smeary carbon paper and hope I didn’t make too many typos on the original.  Some writers claim they prefer a manual typewriter to computers.  In my opinion, that is seriously deranged.
            I was seventeen years old in 1973, one of an elite handful of students who had been chosen by Southern Missionary College to enroll in its Honors Composition Class.  I forget how they discovered me.  I was extremely withdrawn, traumatized by years of bullying and other personality-shriveling experiences.  I had never been on the Honor Roll in academy, and certainly didn’t graduate with honors, having focused instead on my notebooks filled with my handwritten fiction.  Apparently, rays of brilliance leaked out somewhere, somehow, in a detectable form, because I ended up in the honors class which was taught by the rather exotically-named Dr. Minon Hamm.   
            I still have the papers I wrote for that class.  Among them was “The Chase,” an action-adventure car chase story in which my father’s road rage ended up in a terrifying encounter with another driver who also had road rage.  In the story, I never identify my driver as my parent, and Dr. Hamm wrote a note on the margin that she found it intriguing that I never say who the driver is in relation to me.  Another story was “The Hearing,” in which a white child yearning for affection accuses a black teacher she admires of having slapped her.
            Dr. Hamm said that all of us could “write circles around her.”  She was a warm, enthusiastic teacher who loved mentoring us.  The most exciting feature of the class was that before we finished, we were required to submit one of our stories to INSIGHT MAGAZINE’s national writing contest.  If I’m not mistaken, it was their first writing contest ever.  If not the first, it was the second, for sure and certain.  At any rate, it was a new feature, this contest, and I was wildly excited (in my subdued, withdrawn way).  Dr. Hamm was submitting a story, also.    
            I submitted “The Shell.”  The story had happened the summer before, and I was, even then, struggling with the conflicts that would end with my leaving the church and rejecting all organized religion.  I wanted to believe, so I was in a wistful state of mind, when I wrote the story about an incident on the seashore involving the faith of my eight-year-old cousin.  She had found a shell, fallen in love with it, only for it to slip between her fingers.  The sun was setting, the wind was wild, and she was praying to Jesus to help her find the shell.  I didn’t think she would ever find that shell, and I was saddened that she might lose her faith at such an early age because I knew what a painful process that is.  The story was very short, only a few paragraphs long, describing the search on the beach, my inner conflict, and my shock when the little girl screamed with joy that she had found the lost shell.
            Now, the desired ending would be a reaffirmation of my own faith, but real life is more complex, or it has been for me.  Instead, I ended the story on a more haunting note: Then I hear another cry. It chills through my wet clothes to my heart. I hear the bleat of a lamb. Spinning around to face the roaring sea, I see the gull. It opens its beak and utters the bleat again, gliding and dipping to touch the water.
            The reader is left to draw an independent conclusion, one that I do not spell out except in my subtle reference to the bleating of lambs and the crying of gulls.     
            We in the composition class critiqued each other’s stories.  I think Dr. Hamm thought “The Shell” would win the contest.  Maybe she gave all the students the impression that she thought their story would win, and that was the mark of a true mentor.
            I don’t remember the other students’ stories, but I remember Dr. Hamm’s.  It was titled “Uccello.”  In the story, a group of students are spending a summer studying in Italy.  When they arrive, they find that they are staying two to a room and must choose roomates.  The narrator ends up rooming with an unpleasant girl named Robin. The story was beautifully written with bird motifs throughout, the birds on the rooftops of Italy, the tortured, birdlike soul of Robin, the Italian word for bird, uccello.  In the course of the summer the narrator and Robin build a rapport and as a result, Robin begins to open her heart to Jesus.
              I remember “Uccello” because it was well crafted, but I also remember it because Dr. Hamm was put in an uncomfortable position when she had to inform the class that “Uccello” had won the writing contest.  She apologized profusely.  I don’t think any of us held it against her because we knew that she had competed with us because she considered us worthy competitors.  Besides, it was clear to me why INSIGHT chose her story over mine.  Mine had a cool, hip teenage protagonist, but Dr. Hamm’s story had an exotic location and a tidy, religious conclusion.
            Several years later, I found my writing groove.  It was a new age, the hippies were a vanishing breed, quickly replaced by yuppies and the word groove was going the way of the vinyl record album.  I came back to the INSIGHT contest and won it several times.  There was a new editor at INSIGHT, so eventually I dug out “The Shell,” and what do you know?  They published it for the kids of the nineties. To use 1990s speak, Sweeeeet!





Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Maggie Boo


One night I found myself flying across the Green Swamp on one of those sage grass brooms that I remembered from my childhood at the old Malpass place.  My great-grandmother, Miss Ellen, and great-aunt Esther would use these brooms that were made of the tall yellow grass that grew wild outdoors, tied with a string.  I don’t recall their brooms having a handle, just bundled grass, and since the grass was tall, so was the broom, taller than me, standing up in the corner of the shadowy hallway of the old Malpass place.
I used to try to make my own grass brooms but there was more to it than I understood, so mine were never any good, making a floor more messy than when I started sweeping.
That night, I was flying on one of those brooms over the land of my childhood, over tall yellow grass and marshland, with a dark river winding under me, edged with trees that grew in the water.  It was a glorious night. 
I wasn’t exactly me, but that wasn’t strange because I often dream through the perspective of other people.  I’ve dreamed myself into different time periods and different parts of the world.  I’ve dreamed myself as men and women, old and young, different races.  Some of the dreams are so vivid that I cannot forget them, such as the dream where I was a brown man in a desert landscape, riding a large shaggy animal which I have tentatively identified as a wooly mammoth.  I remember the animal’s hair was ropey, somewhat dreadlocked, and that I was as dirty as the animal I rode, kneeling on a dirty rug across its broad back. Memories like that stick with you, even if they are only dream memories.
Sometimes I recognize where I am, but at other times I seem to be in civilizations that have been lost to time, such as the wooly mammoth rider’s time.  The dream of flying over the Green Swamp was that sort of dream, one I would not forget, although this time I recognized the time and place.
My destination was one of those weathered old houses they used to have in the Green Swamp, the kind that sit on stumps and never see a paintbrush.  It was about the size of the Malpass house but the roof was different and it had an attic room with a window.  A little blonde girl was waiting for me at the window, and I felt a deep love for her and a knowledge that this feeling was returned.  I knew that she was the only person in the household who was expecting me, and I wondered why. 
Other things were afoot in the dream.  There was about to be a wedding.  There was a threat to happiness.  The little girl was worried, and I had come to save the day.   The dream slipped forward as dreams do, and I saw myself lifting up from the front porch and flying over a wedding party arranged in the yard for an outside wedding.  Whatever was happening was about to happen now and it had to do with the bride and the groom.  But something happened and instead of saving the day I veered off course and crashed into a weeping willow tree.
I woke up with all this clear in my mind, but with so much missing information.  Whose wedding was it?  What was the threat to happiness?  What had I tried to prevent from happening and why?  Why did no one seem to welcome me except the little girl?
And just as important…
What happened next?
How could I find out?
There was only one way.
Write the story.
So I began at the beginning, well, no, I began before the beginning, at the point where the little girl defies her elders and invites me to the wedding.  Of course they didn’t want me there.  I was an embarrassment to the family, flying around on a broom and causing attention to myself. 
And who was I?
I was…
Maggie Boo.
And who was the little girl?
Annie Doodle, Maggie Boo's niece.
Who was getting married?  The little girl’s older sister, Minnie Carol.
And what was the problem?
No clue.
So I kept writing.  Maggie Boo arrives, flying over the Green Swamp, and suddenly other characters started showing up the narrative.  Granny June with her red beaded purse, and Crazy Jim with his tarantula that he wore on his head.  And then another character entered.  And she was trouble.
If you want to find out what happened on Minnie Carol’s wedding day, you’ll have an easier time finding out than I did.  I had to dream it and then write it.  All you have to do is click on a LINK and order a copy!



Tuesday, March 17, 2015

DNA Testing -- Not for the Racially Prejudiced!

I have seen overt prejudice against people of color decrease significantly over the generations in my mostly Southern family.  But if you still have those feelings – and you’re thinking about doing a DNA test through ancestry.com or its equivalents – be ready to deal with your feelings about race when you look in the mirror.

I was fortunate to have parents who chose not to bring me up as a racist.  Yet, racism was all around us, those feelings and expressions, and to some extent it was in even our house.  I remember my mother explaining to me that my friend from the Lumbee tribe had nothing to be ashamed of because she was mixed white and Native American, and as a result I defended her at school by shouting to the bullies “She is not black!  She’s Indian!”  So racism was there, even where we tried to keep it out.  If you were Southern, racism was like a wind that whistles around the house and it would sneak in like a bug through the tiniest crack in the structure. 

But in comparison to most of the people around us, my parents were quietly progressive, although they were by no means in the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement.  Still they taught me that people are people and that it is only society that discriminates.  Lucky me!  For I have just discovered that I am not completely 100 percent white, and my nonwhite percent isn’t Native American.

It is just a drop of African descent which I possess, one percent for me, three percent for my father.  But I can remember when “one drop” was significant, and it is significant to me--as in Significantly Interesting.  I wanted to know more.  How could it be that out of those tediously monochromatic ancestors of mine that there was, somewhere, a person of color?  And when did that line of ancestors turn white?

The first clue was an ancestor named Cornelius Davis who was listed as a “free colored person” along with his household in the 1840 census in Brunswick County NC, as were his closest neighbors.  But on the 1850 census, Cornelius, along with his household, was identified as white while his neighbors remained colorful, and that was his story, and he stuck to it through all the census taking to come over the next forty years. 

I was curious how Cornelius achieved this precarious freedom while still classified as a person of color in the antebellum South, and I believe I have made the connection that tells the story. 

I have tentatively connected Cornelius “Neal” Davis on the basis of location and time, surnames of neighbors, and recorded ethnicity to Richard Davis, a “mulatto” who was an artilleryman in the Revolutionary War.  Richard and his mother, Grace, were freed in the late 1700s by a slave holder named John Davis.  In the words of the 1791 petition filed by Richard and Grace Davis to the state of North Carolina upon the death of John Davis, they were determined to “continue to enjoy all the rights of a free Woman and the Privilege of a Freeman.”  

What a story those few documents tell!  And oh, the secrets we kept and took to our graves, burying the bones, burying the skin tones for what seemed to be forever! Until a new age comes when people are learning to embrace all their ethnicity and coincidentally we have the ability to raise those buried secrets from the DNA of our ancestors.  I belong to this new era, and I celebrate the African American history in me.

Friday, March 6, 2015

DNA Research: Prepare to Shake Up Your Family Tree


I haven't written much about my father's side of the family, partly because much was unknown, and partly because much was of a sensitive nature, but now and then I return to the story of my Grandma Annie, as I did several years ago when I blogged about lying to a genealogist in "The Facts Ma'am, Just the Facts."  There, my mother lied about my lineage because Grandma Annie was still living at that time and was still telling people that my father was her brother instead of her son.

Now, all these years later, we have a new page of the saga:

Grandma Annie was fifteen years old, unmarried and pregnant in a rural Southern community where everyone knew everyone else. I don’t think she ever dealt with what happened straight-on, so the only thing we know for sure is that she tried to reinvent her past by leaving everything behind and marrying a young man in South Carolina that she had known for about a week. She chose well that time. Roy Turner eventually learned that her little brother in North Carolina was her son, and when I came along he loved me as though I was his own grandchild. But Annie was always a haunted person.
I had always been told that a certain person was my biological grandfather. I knew who he was and where he lived, and sometimes I saw him sitting on his shady front porch when we drove past his house on the highway. I knew he didn’t claim me as his grandchild. My mother explained everything to me when I was about six years old and was asking the wrong questions. I learned that there are truths that you live as though they are not so.
The writer in me found it interesting to be part of a scandal that everyone knew about and didn’t mention. I was always very curious about this grandfather and his daughters who were supposedly my aunts; and they seemed curious about me, also. It seemed that everyone in the old neighborhood looked at me in a special way. I can remember walking into Matt Dale’s country store, and hearing people murmur, “Mason’s girl...” People speculated about which of the aunts I resembled. They said I had the wide-open eyes that are characteristic of that family. All this made me feel like sort of a celebrity.
In the later years of Grandma Annie’s life, she denied that the man with the shady front porch was my grandfather. Several possibilities came up and she flatly denied that one fellow in particular was my father’s father – which in hindsight, was significant. By now my father and I were both old enough that our characters were pretty well formed, so we told ourselves it didn’t matter who the missing father/grandfather was. But it did matter. And it wasn’t just our mystery. It belonged to the whole community, a generations-old story that is still talked about.
So to make a long ramble a little shorter, my father sent his DNA through ancestry.com. 
Of course it turns out to be the man that Grandma Annie said it most certainly was NOT. This new grandfather – we never knew him or his other family, and I never even saw his front porch. He was long gone from the area fairly young and may have never known he left a son behind much less a writerly granddaughter.

So now I’m in sort of mourning – because I had developed a life-long fondness for that old rascal on his shady front porch and I thought he was mine even though he never acknowledged me. I’m going to miss him in the shady area of my family tree.

Photo: Grandma Annie and my father

Saturday, August 23, 2014

I SING THE BODY ELECTRIC (OR NOT) -- Why I fear electricity

 

I fear electricity and electrical storms.  At my worst, I hover under the stairwell during storms.  I flinch with each lightning strike at my best. This is at least understandable to those around me who go about their normal business without a quiver.  But my phobia about plugging stuff into electrical sockets is downright peculiar, not to mention inconvenient, and it hasn't improved with time.  

Those who have read Precious Jewels, a Seventh-Day Adventist Family Saga and Fireflies know that my grandfather, an aunt, and an uncle were all struck by lightning, and there are more distant members of the family who share in this legacy of the stricken by lightning on the Denton side of the family.  One of my earliest memories is of my Uncle Lester lifting his t-shirt to show me the zigzag lightning mark on his lean torso.  

I remember coastal storms where the air hummed with electrical charge. It was during one of those storms that a ball of electricity wandered out of an electrical socket between my mother and me when I was at the crawling stage of life.  "Don't move!" cried my mother, and I was obedient, or else I might number myself among the family stricken. I admit I probably don't remember this incident, but my mother told the story so often that I can see it in my mind.  This isn't the only reason I don't trust outlets.  I remember clearly Grandma Denton yanking an entire electrical outlet in flames from the wall. (Grandpa Denton's wiring was among the first in the Green Swamp, but it was a bit eccentric.) 

But that is mild in comparison to what happened later. Two of the most terrifying incidents in my life involved electricity. 

The first incident was when my parents, driving home one rainy night from Wilmington NC, tried to pass a store that was burning in a tiny one-street town, and drove into a hail of falling electrical wires.  Daddy and I have compared memories of this incident over the years.  Daddy's reflexes were normally, er, lightning fast, but he admits that the situation overtook us so quickly and in such a horrifying manner that he froze at the wheel, and we went neither forward nor backward for a period of time which we disagree upon.  Child time and adult time being different, Daddy says it was less than a minute.  I swear that I counted backwards from 100 to 1 before I took action to save myself.  When I saw that we were still sitting there and the wires were still going crazy around us, I opened the car door, and leaped about twenty feet (again, kid math) and started running in superhuman bursts to safety, dancing over wires that hissed like snakes and soaring over fallen branches that writhed like prehistoric monsters.

I was nearly clear of the conflagration when Daddy yelled at me to get back into the car, which he later agreed was probably unwise, but who has the luxury to think these things out while a catastrophe is occurring?  I obeyed, because that was the way my parents trained me.  I turned around and faced the snapping jaws and hissing snakes again and leaped back into the car. All I remember for certain immediately after that was that the car was now moving and Daddy was informing me that I could have been killed the second I left the car if a wire had been touching the metal.  One thing has remained with me, other than the fear of electricity. I cannot forget that I abandoned my family in order to save my own life.  It was pure logic.  I could not save them, so I acted in order to save myself. 

The next terrifying event happened about 25 years later when Kevin and I were trying to bring our first home up to code.  Those who know us well already know that we are insane, but for those who know us less well, I will mention that we moved into a derelict house on the side of Lookout Mountain.  The hundred-year-old house had no doors or windows, plumbing or electricity, and we squatted there until we had permission to inhabit temporarily; and, without any money to speak of, determined to bring it up to code so we could get a mortgage on it before we were thrown out.  

At the same time, we were under attack by the outlaw family who had once inhabited the burnt shell of a cabin next door to "our" house, and had a weird fixation on the whole property.  It was they who had stripped the house we were in, and probably they who had tried to burn it down (judging by the burn hole in one bedroom and the scorch marks in the hall), and it was they who kept creeping around, sabotaging and burgling us.  But we were determined save the house and live in it. 

Well, we required electricity in order to run power tools to repair the house, so Kevin ran a wire from our fuse box into the fuse box of the empty house on the other side of us (with permission of the absent owner).  All went well until the outlaws set another fire to the already-burnt cabin back on the other side.  While three fire trucks and the general hubbub around them had our attention focused on the cabin, one of the arsonists sneaked between our house and the house that hosted the electricity and cut the wires in between, probably intending to steal them for the copper.  This could have killed them which would have served them right, but there is no accounting for the behavior of electricity.  The fire trucks had left the cabin and gone down the mountain when we discovered more fire-- wicked, billowing black smoke and brilliant sparks erupting from the fuse boxes of our house and  the house we had plugged into, as a result of the severed connection in between. 

It was the Wilmington highway all over again, only this time we were about to burn down two houses.  "We'd better call the fire trucks back," I said, but Kevin reminded me that the fuse boxes currently blowing up were illegally connected.  Personally, I might have preferred being hauled off to jail than to watch Kevin wrap a shirt around his face and plunge into hell to disconnect the bare wires from an exploding fuse box.  I had a broom in my hand ready to try to knock him away if he got electrocuted, but I can't swear what I would have done if he'd electrified because half my mind was on the Wilmington Highway, and we all know what my instinct was there.

These are only the most dramatic of the traumas that feed my oversensitivity to all things electrical.  In addition to that, I have had two microwaves blow up on me for no discernible reason.  No, I didn't put metal or other forbidden objects into the microwave.  No, I didn't do anything stupid or against the instructions.  It is one of the unsolved mysteries of the universe, and apparently more rare than seeing a UFO for I have yet find anyone else who admits to having had a microwave blow up for no apparent reason.  (much less two microwaves)

So the trauma of electricity has happened and re-happened in various horrific incidents throughout my life, giving me more than enough reason to have developed a full-blown, embarrassing and inconvenient aversion not only to lightning storms but to the normal things that people do with electricity.  I haven't given up on overcoming my problem even though I recognize that this could be more than a phobia--rather, it is a deep-seated reasonable reaction to repeated trauma related to electricity.  

I have to work on the problem in my own way and in my own time.  There are times when I think I'm almost cured, but one unexpected spark can send me reeling back to my original condition. It cannot be forced. It cannot be willed. So I just carry on, face my fears when I can face them, and give myself permission to retreat when it is too hard.  I spare myself from the stress of electrical sparks by using power strips with on and off switches wherever possible. One learns to be creative in order to function in a world where everything runs with electricity.

But in the meantime, if you need something plugged straight into the wall, and can't reach it yourself, and I'm sitting right there… 

…well…
…don't look at me. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Carolina Mourning Dove

I can't imagine life as a person who isn't driven to create.  When I was younger, I wasn't convinced that my talents were really gifts because they never gave me a moment's peace and not that much obvious reward.  A part of me always knew that because of my creativity, I would never suffer boredom because I am constantly experiencing things with newborn eyes, ever preoccupied with what to do about what I have witnessed, seen, experienced.  Not being bored is a good thing.  Bored people are sad, dull creatures.  I was delivered from that.  My creativity also helped me remain somewhat sane. I have always had a place to channel the stuff that makes some people go bonkers, become axe-murderers, and other destructive possibilities.  I don't claim complete and total sanity, but I am steady enough as I go that people forgive my eccentricities as being something cool rather than deranged.  That is a good thing.

One thing I don't consider myself is a poet, although I have written verse all my life.  My first real, honest-to-goodness published work was a poem, so maybe that counts for something.  But I never took seriously the idea of trying to get someone to publish more of my poems much less to self publish.  I am going to blame my Aunt for the upcoming book, she who is "Garnet" in Precious Jewels, A Seventh-Day Adventist Family Saga.  It is her fault that I wrote Church School Blues, also, so she deserves full credit for pushing me into this new endeavor.  Because of her, I finally looked at my collection of poems that span literally a lifetime, and they fall into two clear categories for the most part.  I'll tell you about the second category later, but the first category is that of poems of longing for coastal North Carolina, written from the age of 16 and continuing through all my decades in which I considered myself an exile from my true home.

There are thirteen poems in Carolina Mourning Dove, with photographs and drawings.  In some ways this is the most personal book I have put out there for all to see because in the poems I opened my heart and wept onto the pages. If you have ever been homesick, if you have ever been an exile, the poems of Carolina Mourning Dove will speak to you and cry with you.

I will let you know when it is available online.  First I have to get a proof copy and see if my aunt approves.