Category Archives: Poetry

Creative Juice #230

Creative Juice #230

Twelve tantalizing articles to spark your imagination this weekend.

Two Historic African-American Poets


The first ever African-American to have a book of poetry published was Phillis Wheatley. Her master submitted the manuscript to the publisher along with a letter that explained:

PHILLIS was brought from Africa to America, in the Year 1761, between seven and eight Years of Age. Without any Assistance from School Education, and by only what she was taught in the Family, she, in sixteen Months Time from her Arrival, attained the English language, to which she was an utter Stranger before, to such a degree, as to read any, the most difficult Parts of the Sacred Writings, to the great Astonishment of all who heard her.

The book’s preface states:

THE following POEMS were written originally for the Amusement of the Author, as they were the Products of her leisure Moments. She had no Intention ever to have published them; nor would they now have made their Appearance, but at the Importunity of many of her best, and most generous Friends; to whom she considers herself, as under the greatest Obligations.

Here is one of the poems from her book:

 O N  V I R T U E.

   O Thou bright jewel in my aim I strive
   To comprehend thee.  Thine own words declare
   Wisdom is higher than a fool can reach.
   I cease to wonder, and no more attempt
   Thine height t’ explore, or fathom thy profound.
   But, O my soul, sink not into despair,
   Virtue is near thee, and with gentle hand
   Would now embrace thee, hovers o’er thine head.
   Fain would the heav’n-born soul with her converse,
   Then seek, then court her for her promis’d bliss.
        Auspicious queen, thine heav’nly pinions spread,
   And lead celestial Chastity along;
   Lo! now her sacred retinue descends,
   Array’d in glory from the orbs above.
   Attend me, Virtue, thro’ my youthful years!
   O leave me not to the false joys of time!
   But guide my steps to endless life and bliss.
   Greatness, or Goodness, say what I shall call thee,
   To give me an higher appellation still,
   Teach me a better strain, a nobler lay,
   O thou, enthron’d with Cherubs in the realms of day.

After publication of her book, Phillis Wheatley’s masters emancipated her. She married, and bore three children, all of whom died in childhood. She herself died in poverty at the age of 31.

Alice Ruth Moore Dunbar Nelson was a teacher, author, and social activist. The following poem is from her first book, Violets and Other Tales, published in 1895:

Alice Ruth Moore Dunbar Nelson

 Dear God, 'tis hard, so awful hard to lose
 The one we love, and see him go afar,
 With scarce one thought of aching hearts behind,
 Nor wistful eyes, nor outstretched yearning hands.
 Chide not, dear God, if surging thoughts arise.
 And bitter questionings of love and fate,
 But rather give my weary heart thy rest,
 And turn the sad, dark memories into sweet.
 Dear God, I fain my loved one were anear,
 But since thou will'st that happy thence he'll be,
 I send him forth, and back I'll choke the grief
 Rebellious rises in my lonely heart.
 I pray thee, God, my loved one joy to bring;
 I dare not hope that joy will be with me,
 But ah, dear God, one boon I crave of thee,
 That he shall ne'er forget his hours with me.

I learned about both of these poets through the Project Guttenberg Project, which publishes works in the public domain online so that they may be discovered by new audiences. Here are links to Phillis Wheatley’s Religious and Moral Poems and to Alice Ruth Moore Dunbar Nelson’s Violets and Other Tales.

Creative Juice #227

Creative Juice #227

Topics serious and entertaining:

Creative Juice #226

Creative Juice #226

It’s the beginning of a new era. Hallelujah!

A Cowboy’s Prayer by Charles Badger Clark

A Cowboy’s Prayer
(Written for Mother)

Oh Lord, I’ve never lived where churches grow.     
I love creation better as it stood 
That day You finished it so long ago     
And looked upon Your work and called it good. 
I know that others find You in the light     
That’s sifted down through tinted window panes, 
And yet I seem to feel You near tonight     
In this dim, quiet starlight on the plains. 
I thank You, Lord, that I am placed so well,     
That You have made my freedom so complete; 
That I’m no slave of whistle, clock or bell,     
Nor weak-eyed prisoner of wall and street. 
Just let me live my life as I’ve begun     
And give me work that’s open to the sky; 
Make me a pardner of the wind and sun,     
And I won’t ask a life that’s soft or high. 
Let me be easy on the man that’s down;     
Let me be square and generous with all. 
I’m careless sometimes, Lord, when I’m in town,     
But never let ‘em say I’m mean or small! 
Make me as big and open as the plains,     
As honest as the hawse between my knees, 
Clean as the wind that blows behind the rains,     
Free as the hawk that circles down the breeze! 
Forgive me, Lord, if sometimes I forget.     
You know about the reasons that are hid. 
You understand the things that gall and fret;     
You know me better than my mother did. 
Just keep an eye on all that’s done and said     
And right me, sometimes, when I turn aside, 
And guide me on the long, dim, trail ahead     
That stretches upward toward the Great Divide.
—Badger Clark

Link: Let All Earth Give Thanks

Link: Let All Earth Give Thanks

Are you thankful for nature? Click the link and scroll down to hear the author read her poem.

OctPoWriMo Day 31


My goal for OctPoWriMo this year was 16 poems, one on every odd-numbered day. I’m happy to say I only missed one, for a total of 15 poems.

Today’s prompt is light, dark, and shadow. The form is a new one for me, parallelogram de crystalline.

Embrace the light
 darkness reigns
 unworthiness shames me
 I hide among the shadows cold
 my only protection 
 is silent invisibility
 spark ignites
 hope and love surprise me
 writing me a new biography
 I step forth
 boldness overcomes fear
 I embrace the light, defeating dark 


Creative Juice #214

Creative Juice #214

Interesting ideas.

OctPoWriMo Day 29


The prompt is railroad.

Image found on
 Train ride to Flemington
 when the kids were little
 we didn’t have much money
 I remember one summer outing
 I drove the oldest three kids to Ringoes
 and we took the train to Flemington
 I think it was their very first train ride
 now, Flemington had once been
 a recreation of a colonial town
 with costumed weavers and glassblowers
 and the Stangl pottery factory
 but by then it was only a quaint village with shops
 I remember we rode in an open air car
 we chugged along fields of goldenrod and Queen Anne’s lace
 and our allergies kicked in
 we didn’t have much money
 but I gave each kid a dollar
 I don’t remember what the girls bought
 but Matt, age 6, got 10 monster finger puppets with wiggly arms
 he called them the Boogie Brothers
 they were hilarious 
 when we got home
 Greg admired Matt’s puppets and gave them all silly names
 Matt calmly told him he was wrong
 Greg held up each puppet one by one
 and said, “What’s this one’s name?”
 and for each one Matt answered in all seriousness “Matt”
 while I laughed until tears rolled down my cheeks 


OctPoWriMo Day 27


Today’s prompt is magic/magical, but I’m going with mystic/mystery.

Form: Terzanelle

 help me see the mystery
 far more exists than what I can see
 reality hidden by a veil
 for what exists is more than I see
 I wander along a rocky trail
 how do I reveal the truth I sense
 reality hidden by a veil
 wandering a path from ages hence
 how do I live the truth I reveal
 how do I reveal the truth I sense
 how do I live up to the ideal
 I long to discover my true soul
 how do I live the truth I reveal
 how long until I am truly whole
 and use my power as intended
 I long to discover my true soul
 my life so far has been pretended
 far more exists than what I can see
 I use my power as intended
 for what exists is more than I see