Nancy Rose

By Marie F. Martin

Poet Nancy Rose visited the February meeting of Montana Women Writers and read three of her poems to our gathering. I enjoyed her haunting cadence and choice of words so much I asked Nancy if I could share one of her poems on  our blog.  She kindly agreed. but then I had a terrible dilemma. Oh my, which one do I choose? I opened her book and began  reading.  This is the one I finally chose after a nice time in a comfy chair dwelling on her words.

Night Music
Hey, firelight music
Your playful beat says get up and dance
Move my body so freely
Every creak and groan is gone
Drum vibrations moving through me
Taking me out of my body
Into a wide night sky.

I’ve been wanting all summer
To climb into the Big Dipper
And swim all night in the star pool
Backstroking with the northern lights
Dancing overhead

I would come back
Resplendent in moonlight
Breathing deeply
Trailing stars
Oh, yes

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This is the start of her author blurb on the back cover. Nancy Rose is a rare flower of the Kentucky hills.

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Nancy now makes Montana her home. Her website is www.NancyRoseMT.com

 

(Originally published March 14, 2016)

 

 

 

 

My Grandfather’s Poem

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By Marie F. Martin

Some time in the middle 1930s, my grandfather Yeats wrote the following poem.  He homesteaded a Montana flatland spread just north of Gilford, near a town named Goldstone.  In the evenings after chores, he wrote the rhythms that ran through his mind while doing endless chores in his Red Chief tablet .  The ranch is gone, the town is gone but the poems live on.  I have several newspaper clippings from the Havre newspaper and tried to scan different ones, but the letters were too small to read.  I chose this poem to share because it shows determination.  My heritage goes deep into Montana soil, but also the desire to put words on paper was passed along.  In the photo is my father on the tractor and my grandfather on the combine.  This is before  Mom and Dad were married.  Yep, she married the hired hand.

Wheat for 40 cents

By William Yeats in the 1930s

Oh, please tell me how the farmers in Montana
Can ever pay their taxes and the Rents,
And keep their poor old trucks and tractors running,
When they have to sell their wheat for forty cents?
For at that price you cannot make expenses,
And keep your equipment up in shape,

When you know its worth at least six-bits to raise it,
You can’t help that you’re Just an ape.
Now the tractor needs a set of sleeves and pistons.
For the way it is pumping oil near breaks my heart.
And I’ve cranked and cracked, till my poor back is broken,
Trying to get that cussed thing to start.

The timing gears are rattling and banging.
The old crankshaft is getting mighty flat,
The radiator leaks like a spraying fountain
And nothing that I do seems to help that.
Twas many moons ago it shed the skidrims,
The broken worn out lugs have lost their grip.

And every time the plow hooks on a boulder,
The tractor stands still while the clutch does slip.
And the old truck isn’t faring any better.
To tell the truth, its nothing but a wreck.
And some day, crossing the O’brien coulee,
I’ll have to spill and break my dog gone neck.

When in the rattletrap I go ariding,
I thank the Lord, my heart is good and stout
As in the cab I sit with nerves aquiver
A listening for the rear tires to blow out.
Yes, it sure is great to be an honest farmer
A horny-handed tiller of the soil,

But right now, I’d pass for a first class scare-crow,
All smeared from head to toe with grease and oil.
Didn’t dare to go to church on Easter,
For through my shoes the folks could see my toes.
Indeed there’s very little joy in living,
When you’re wearing gunny sacks for underclothes.

They say, of everything there is surplus,
Just what to do with it nobody knows.
Now really, if there’s such an awful surplus,
Why can’t I have a suit of Sunday Clothes.
Oh, I’m sure if people only had the money,
There’d be an awful jam in every store.

They’d soon clean up that over-rated surplus,
And have them jumping round, a rustling more.

(Originially published October 16, 2013)

The This and That of a Writer’s Life by Marie F Martin

My Sis who has reached the ripe age of eighty has finally learned something she’s been searching for her whole life. Norma is a hefty strong gal who was a nurse in a major hospital for years called me and said, “Guess what? After all these years of searching for a twiggy body, I was just told by the ear doctor I have skinny ear channels. It’s the first skinny thing I’ve ever had.”

 

I was sitting in the doctor’s office waiting room with my cute mask on when an older gentleman came in. His eyes lit up a little above his mask and he said, “I’m smiling.” I said back, “I have lipstick on.” The other people in the waiting room cracked up. What a fun moment.

I try to take a thirty minute walk most days and I always wind myself through the the residential area near my house under shady maple trees. I usually pass a school about half way through my walk and have always sat on a bench there for a minute to rest. benchNow I just look at it wondering who has sat there, and if they were healthy, or a carrier of the Covid virus. I pause a little, but don’t sit down, just walk on by.

First harvest of green peas. Yummy in my tummy.

An Excerpt of Harbored Secrets by Marie F Martin

In selecting a short sample of my book Harbored Secrets, I mulled it over and over. I finally decided to share my character Didier Platt’s poem. He is striving to build a life for himself and his family by homesteading in the north eastern Montana prairies. My character is driven by loss and hardness. He writes this in his loneliness after the death of his wife and son.

The pictures are of the old Montana homestead along the Milk River my grandpa Yeats had. He used to write poetry that was published in the Havre newspaper. The pictures were taken on his place.

The man that was me wrote the unbidden,
The rhythm wouldn’t, couldn’t stay hidden.
Words flowed from exhaustion buried in he,
Earned by him doing what never should be.

His daughters sent away on rails of iron,
As he watched, hidden behind the grain tower,
Choking back bile in a throat way tight,
‘til the last of the train was lost to sight.

Unending grief, and he cursed at his trials
as his wagon rolled the childless miles,
moved by a team simply given their head
by a man with a spirit totally dead.

Finally, his fields, the ones of his own,
appeared in the dusk looking darker of tone.
Hues of caramel touched his over ripe grain.
He needed to harvest ‘ere the next rain.

But now he had time, he would hurry no more.
He’d gather the crop to calm his heart sore.
A house he’d rebuild, and find a new wife,
to sire sons and put an end to the strife.

He guided the team past his house all burned,
And away from the charred chimney he turned.
But magnet of sorrow it drew him once more,
And forced him to write of a lad and a war.

Mortar shells blew holes in houses of stone.
He ran and he ran, terrified and alone.
He fell near rubble, the church o’ his youth?
He saw the lone cross, a symbol of truth.

Oh God let this be your heavenly sign,
spare my family, they’re all that is mine.
Finally he reached the house he called home.
Part of the roof blown down on the loam.

Inside his mother and sister lay entwine
hugging in death as if they were fine.
The pool of blood that ran below them
was darker, far darker than ink from his pen.

Parts of his father scattered the ground.

The lad that was still wanders around
inside the heart of the man, that was me.

Harbored Secrets will be free on Kindle downloads on April 1 2020.

http://www.mariefmartin.com

 

 

 

PS a note from the author in today’s Covid 19 world: Here is an email I wrote to my buddies after I got home today from the grocery store.

Needed groceries. Left off my hearing aides and glasses so I’d have enough room behind my ears for my cute little homemade mask and for my cute little 1920s style Cloche hat. I wore a slick coat. Felt pure criminal.  I put on my plastic gloves, entered the grocery store and selected all kinds of stuff. The deeper into the store I got, the hotter that hat and coat were and I couldn’t breath through the damned cute mask. I finally got to the check out line and the pesky card reading machine kept asking me to reenter my code numbers for my debit card. Then it shut my card off.  ???  The young clerk, terrified to raise her voice above a whisper, kept repeating redo and I kept saying huh? Had to be the gloves. I don’t carry another credit card, its safe in my drawer at home. I also never write checks so my check book was safe in my desk. Well f-blank oh dear. Yep, I had to go home and get my check blanks and went back to the gracious store and paid for my groceries that will certainly not taste as good as they should.

Sister’s 80th Birthday

Norma

My Sister Norma

My Sister’s Eightieth Birthday Party

by Marie F Martin

I received a call from my younger sister, Doris, that we should throw our oldest sister, Norma, a birthday party because we gave Mom one when she was eighty. Sounded reasonable to me. Then my younger brother came up with the idea of doing a video for her about things she pulled as our oldest sister when we were kids. The following story is one of my favorite memories.

By the time we were in the fourth and sixth grades Norma was a complete through and through tomboy and the controller of our small Montana country neighborhood.              Norma-nator should have been her name. I was always meek and shy which drove her out of her mind.

We didn’t lack for playmates. Next door in a long green stucco house lived the Grilley boys, across the highway were the Nelsons. They were old, but their granddaughter played with us when she visited. The three Horner girls lived on the other side and on top of Saurey Hill lived the Saureys. This bunch of kids were who we played with or fought with depending on Norma’s mood for the day.

I loved to swim and fish. Luckily, a creek was only a half mile away. We would follow a country road north until we came to a spot where the creek passed under the road, made a bend and went back under the road. This area was ours. We fished and swam, built forts and ate picnic lunches there.

Shy Brookies lived in that stream. We caught them on worms and Schnell hooks, size number six. We crept, hush-hush, along the bank, not making a sound and making sure our shadows didn’t reflect on the water, as we cast our baited hooks into the water. The current carried the wiggling worms downstream under overhanging bushes where fish hid.

Norma caught her share as we all did, but woe be to any of us who made noise.

One day, walking ahead of me, Norma shrieked and high-stepped quickly in the opposite direction.

“What’s the matter?” I asked in a loud whisper. “You’re scaring the fish.”

“I almost stepped on a damn snake,” she answered.

“Not afraid of a little snake, are you?” I asked, surprised at her forbidden word.

“Of course not! I just don’t like them.”

Norma is afraid of the small green water snakes, my mind said. This was an enormous discovery! I now had an equalizer! I bided my time. Sure enough a few days later I had finally found the perfect spot to cast my line into the water.

She said. “Move that’s my spot.”

“No, it’s my spot.”

She balled a fist and ordered, “Go.”

Mumbling to myself, I trudged downstream and plopped on the bank. Movement caught my eye. I reached into the weeds and pulled out a wiggling, hissing snake. It was only a small water snake, but when I held it by the back of the neck, it dangled down a good foot. Wiggling. Mouth open and forked tongue sticking out. Perfect. I quietly circled around behind Norma and stood at her squatting back, holding the snake above her, the wiggling tail almost touching the top of her head.

She glanced up and saw what I held. “Yukkkk,” she screamed. “Get away!”

I held it closer.

She kicked and screamed like death was nearby. “Wait till I tell Mom what you did!” She ran for home.

A little guilt should have nagged at my mind, but fishing was good that day.