Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Today you're in for a special treat! Rather than any of my old creative musings, today's OSM backtrack offering comes courtesy of my good friend and poet extraordinaire, Michael Radcliff. (You'll have to forgive the formatting. SIGH! I couldn't get it quite right.)

I met Michael in Memphis, back in the late 80's. Our paths crossed during my brief and loveless tenure at a small and extremely chaotic non-profit organization. Mike befriended me right away and it didn't take us long to discover our mutual affection for the written word. My respect for Michael turned to awe the day he showed me a poem he'd penned, entitled "Dry Hill."

Even though he insists he's had no formal training, Michael estimates he's published 17 or so poems. "Dry Hill" first appeared in a 1984 issue of Poet Magazine, a small magazine that, sadly, is no longer in publication. So, without further ado, take it away Mike . . .


by Michael Radcliff

We call our place Dry Hill. It seems as if the rain always passes us by.)

Mama startles awake,
but settles back.
She thought she heard the yellow rumble of The Bus
rounding the corner on dust plumes -
brown in the early morning.
Our shadowy faces smile from the wall in the half-light.

She rises quiet as a moth,
leaving Daddy in his dream;
brushing across the carpet,
through the comfort of her keep...
the almost-paid-for-furniture.
She fills a pan with water from the tap
and strikes a match to light the stove.
The yellow glow illuminates her face as a candle would -- softly
but not quite all revealing.
It is a young face
even after many, almost-paid-for-years.
The face of a farm girl with ribbons in her hair.

She steps onto the summer porch
that Daddy built for her...(she helped).
It is Spring and cool
and a faint glow preaches the morning sun.
Careful of its creaking
she perches on the swing
and lifts the steaming cup to her lips.
Daddy appears in the doorway, yawning,
before memories can begin.
There is love there
that doesn't come from any touching of hands.

Daddy inspects for The Government.
He says they're unfair
and she believes him. He doesn't lie.
Mama inspects Daddy.
Every day she turns his collar down.
She cooks him eggs
and hot biscuits from scratch.
Their kiss is brief, but telling,
and she wonders after him
as he crosses the bricks she made by hand,
to the drive he graveled,
to the almost-paid-for car.

She steps into the shadowy, emerald backyard
carrying nuts and seeds
for squirrels and birds
that wait in hiding.
They chatter at the intrusion
but accept her offering as she walks away.
She gazes down the steep bank to where
Winter Creek waltzes through the woods.
She listens to the water's structured, intrinsic babble.
The water looks as cool as ice tea...
cool, clear, clean
and green like limes.

She tends the lawn and flowers,
petting and fretting over roses--
scruffy cuttings someone else had thrown away.

She snacks on buttermilk and cornbread
and naps in the hammock.

Afternoon passes and she gathers peas and radishes,
but in the evening, she is again,
among the roses,
and when Daddy returns to Dry Hill at dusk,
she blossoms from the garden
into his harvesting arms.

Copyright 1984, 2006 by Michael Radcliff

Come on y'all, let's show Mike some love! (Applause. Cheers. Big Grins.)


Pam said...

I love it Michael.
Your fond memories, incarnate... take me there.

your friendly librarian,
Pam O'Brien

Yvonne said...

It is Great Michael, and thanks to Lori for including it.
I really felt like I was there! Wonderful as always,

FeLicia said...

BEAUTIFUL!! I start my morning with a poem, so this definitely fit the bill.

Keith (aka African American Dad) said...

Ah yes, a vivid poem that looks upon "Daddy" with quiet love, appreciation, and admiration... I like that. But maybe I'm a little biased. :)

Michael said...

Thanks to everyone for their wonderful comments.