Dogyote Jabberwocky





Coyodelers  in the early evening
Yipflapping at each other
“Oh solome, Oh aloneme,
I am so furlone !”
The dogousins reply
Answering in longing dogsobs
“We heare, come set us free
So we can fleeway
From our manasters
Who pentie us to their houlses
And call us their ‘best friends’.”
Caninetimes I hear them
And am tempted to
Shed my own humafur
And run
With them.

Bev Hartford

Breaking Trail

During our recent double-snow-ice weekend extravaganza, my husband was away, and I spent many hours out in the aftereffects, shoveling and walking the dog.  It was a wonderful opportunity for embracing cold and silence, and for observing the snow-covered wonderland.

  1. Silent Night

It snowed all night, and into the next day,
Snow falling, silence falling, deep and deeper.
Alone for some days, myself and the dog,
Ventured out into the muffled dark.

The quiet, overwhelming, enfolded us.
The world was ours, this whiteness ours alone.
My pup, a black blur, hurdling soft heaps,
Twirling and arcing, ecstatic in the drifts.

It stills the mind, this blanketed world,
Cars disappeared under new-mounded lids ,
Paths gone, my track made new, and difficult,
But in a simple way, a way that pleases.

Frost and Stevens with their minds of winter,
Heard darkness, deepness, in their empty woods,
Wind in bare trees, or death, or nothing.

I hear my own footsteps, breaking  trail,
The muted celebrations of a dog in fresh snow,
Our footprints weaving together and apart,
My thoughts, loud in my head and heart,
All the world a silent new beginning.

  1. Snow Sparkle

The following brilliant day, this scene ablaze,
We break our trail again, now barely there,
Obscured—no soul has braved this glittering path.

My dark companion, bolder in the light,
Is everywhere, inhaling, marking  scent
For fellow travelers who’ll widen our way.

The dazzle blinds me, penetrates my core
With light and lightness, burns my senses clean,
Displaces thought with glistening crystal glare.

I stoop to parse the mystery, this diamond field,
The luminous, shifting sparkle spread out wide,
A million mirrors answering the sky.

Mary Peckham for The Poplar Grove Muse



I am a middle-aged runner, a person who by some inner compulsion began long distance running in my mid-30s.  I’d always imagined myself as a long distance runner when I was a kid.  In this vision, I’d be running towards the sun down a long asphalt road by myself wearing soft soled shoes, and the air would be dry and easy to breathe.   In this vision, I had a long gold ponytail that swayed back and forth with each step.  I was medium height with gangling limbs and had a heart-shaped face with a soft smile.  I was a girl who barely sweat even in the hot sun with tan legs and no boobs.  In the reality of my youth I was awkwardly tall, disproportionately chunky on the bottom half of my body.  I was a girl crying in the bathroom at my grandma’s house at nine because I was too developed to “not wear a bra anymore.”  I wore the weight of always being picked last to scrimmage on our girls’ soccer team.  From the coaches point of view, I was smart, had vision, but lacked speed and endurance.  And from the other girls’:  the girl who had a butt so fat that it looked like it was churning chocolate while she ran.

So I visioned myself as someone else.  Not only did I vision myself as a distance runner, but also a basketball player.  I could see myself, a certain version of myself, being able to jump up and touch the rim of the basketball net while laying the ball through the hoop.  In reality, my personal trainer at the National Institute of Sports and Fitness was trying get me to be able to jump to even graze the bottom of the basketball net. I never reached the bottom of the net.  I remember the afternoon Dan had to go over and manually lower the basketball hoop so I could touch the net.  Maybe he saw in my eyes, what I thought only I could feel.   I needed someone to give me a break, to offer me the opportunity to feel some kind of achievement.

Maybe this running now, too, is about that, a feeling of promised achievement.  My present self fulfilling a promise it made to that little girl: one day things won’t be this bad.   And it turns out, I was right.

Today, I ran my familiar training track, a dirt path lined by tress on two sides.  The tree-lined path used to be a railroad.   One and a half miles down path, the tree line opens up to a clear flowing creek.   I’ve run this track for several years, this stretch of land has become my friend.  I like how details of terrain jump out to me on a long run, and how I notice the passing of time like when the mulberries are ripening in late May.   My cells are excited to breathe in different qualities of air and know for certain if rain is in store.

Funny thing is, I thought this running was going to be about her, about the girl; maybe that’s where something began, but there’s so much more.  The clear flowing creek is frozen, it is the first time I’ve ever seen it like this.  I briefly notice its contours, the pattern of water has been frozen into what looks like a swirl, small air bubbles line the surface just underneath the ice.  I see the ice and the frozen bubbles, and in that moment I am back looking through the eyes of me, as a girl, the real me.  Not a vision of me, looking down from somewhere else, but me.

I am a girl looking into a frozen puddle on Creekwood drive.  I wonder about what makes water freeze in those patterns, and what will happen if I crush the ice under my foot.  I lift my knee high to my belly and drop my foot down, the ice shatters and I feel omnipotent.

Allison for the PGM

Gratitude à la Ross Gay

Hear ye! Oh hear ye!

I have a husband with lips lush and thick, that pucker, really pucker when he comes in close for a kiss. Which he does, earnestly, every time I enter or leave the house. And he is a man who does the dishes wearing purple rubber gloves, and folds the laundry before I get home, and finds a way to use the frozen liver in the freezer that his aunt gave us when she moved to Florida. Pâté, my friends, pâté on toasted sour dough bread topped with jalapeño jam.

I have a daughter with eyes of piercing blue, who won’t take no shit from nobody, not even her mom. Who told me today as I was cleaning her poop out of her panties that I am angry a lot. How do you know? I asked. Because you look mad. You don’t say things in nice voice. And you fight with daddy. What do we fight about? I asked. You fight about work, who gets to go to work. Come here. I told her. Please. And I looked her in the eye. You are right, my dear. I don’t say things nicely a lot of the time. And I’m sorry. I’m not angry. I’m not mad. I’m just not as patient as I should be.

All this to say, I’m grateful for my daughter, and boy do I have a lot to learn about how to love her well. I’m grateful for tomorrow when I’ll be with her again, and can try again, with a quietness, a gentleness, to guide her not control her.

And my Leo, how he bumbles and sings, his voice lilting with joy. “Sure!” he exclaims when David asks him if he wants to stomp through the snow to check on the chickens. He’s a flitter, a flutter, a jumpy wild little thing, with slobber slurring his words and watering his shirt. I talk harshly to him too, I know. But there is tomorrow, there is tomorrow. And tomorrow will be the day I will be more present. I won’t try to get anything else done. I’m already grateful for tomorrow.

Hear ye! Oh hear ye!

I have this little yellow house with a living room just the right size. With kitchen cabinets that I painted in two-tones, a deep gray and a bright pastel turquoise. The walls are yellow too, painted by Joy and Craig who came one weekend, unbeknownst to me, with brushes and old clothes and set to work moving the big pantry shelf and taking all the things off the walls. They turned a red kitchen yellow with their love.

Gratitude, my friends, gratitude.

— Laura Lasuertmer for The Poplar Grove Muse


Holding it in,

stuffing it down,

for years.

Journeying from adored to ignored

and damaged.

Alone in a house

swimming with people.

Boisterous brothers, too bothersome

to bother.

Symbiotic older sisters,

loved and loving,

but leaving the nest and me.


holding it in,

stuffing it down,

with their business,

and busyness.

Too broken and spread too thin

to notice,

to see.

Together when drama and trauma

focused the view, for a time,

for births and deaths

and defects,

while secrets were buried and lies told.

Holding it in,

stuffing it down.

Gaps in memory,


Choosing to forget,

filling the story with blank pages.

Creating sanity

living in the chapters of others.

Choosing the drama,

the love in hard times,

preferring the scars.

Holding it in,

stuffing it down.

Screaming through the invisibility,

See me, see me.


Sherri Walker for The Poplar Grove Muse



We Must Take Utmost Care


We must take utmost care,
to be aware as we awake
to each new day,
that we are obligated
to share this planet,
to care for this planet
as if our lives depend on it—
because they do, you know.
No ifs, ands or buts.

it is written…
in the book of Genesis,
chapter 1, verse 26:
“Let them have dominion
over the fish of the sea
and over the birds of the air
and over the cattle
and over all the earth,
and over every creeping thing
that creeps upon the earth.”
“Them” means you and me.

Pardon my heresy, but No!
We should no more dominate the earth
than the worms that burrow through it,
or the chickens that scratch its topsoil,
or the whales that fill its oceans with song!
We belong to the earth!
We are one of a million billion
lifeforms that share the air,
the water, the food, the space.
Human race—yes—
but not top dog,
except in the fog of our own
misconceptions, shaped by
misdirections of biblical writers of yore
and scores of money-grubbing vultures;
by cultures saturated with bad habits
and unreasonable expectations—
as if the earth and her abundance
are forever, no matter how much
we drill, mine, spray, pump gas
or pass the buck by saying:
What’s my little bit of care worth
when military giants guzzle oil
and feast on the spoils of war
in their race to dominate the earth?

We say no shame, no blame,
but shame on us if we fail to see
the big picture—the web:
crossed, crisscrossed,
angled, draped,
and secured with silver threads
from sea to shining sea,
from mountain peak to mountain peak,
from pole to pole
and dipping down, down into
earth’s deepest holes.

Others’ mistakes, ignorance,
crimes are not ours to rest upon.
We must do what we can,
our own small or big part—
we have to start somewhere,
in our minds, in our hearts,
in our souls’ best intentions.

The web of life:
not our web,
not a thing to be owned
or sucked dry,
or put high on a pedestal
to worship or deny.
The blame of its demise
would surely land on us…
“Unless” (to quote Dr. Seuss)
“Someone like you cares a whole awful lot.”
Unless we, each one of us,
care a whole awful lot!

So, let’s rise up with strength
and celebration, determined
to take utmost care, determined
to be aware as we awake
to each new day,
that we are obligated (and blessed!)
to share this planet,
to care for this planet
as if our lives depend on it—
because they do, you know.
Our lives and
the fish of the sea
and the birds of the air
and the cattle
and every creeping thing
that creeps upon the earth.
And don’t forget the trees,
the flowers, the fruits, the nuts,
the very air we breathe.
No ifs, ands or buts.

Glenda Breeden for The Poplar Grove Muse

Names I Have Been Called (To My Face) And the Me’s That Resulted From Them

Rebecca (with two c’s) Sue Riebsomer Snedegar Rebekah (with a kah) Spivey Hocke Spivey



I was born Rebecca (with two c’s) Sue Riebsomer.

When I was very young my family called me Becky Sue.

My teachers called me Rebecca.

As I grew to the towering height that I am now, my family began calling me Becky, dropping the Sue.

My Grandpa Wentz called me Sis and when we were grown, my brother called me Sis.

Beck is my favorite nickname. It feels independent and strong.

And then there was a special someone who called me Becky Beck, when he was in a certain mood, if you know what I mean.

For twenty-four years my married name was Becky Snedegar. A name I strongly identified with as a part of that family and the business we ran together. My name was known in ditch-digging, gas-line laying circles, and racing circles. A me I have no connection to any longer. Another lifetime.

When I had been divorced for a couple of years and back in school full-time at the age of 47, I decided to re-invent and rename myself. I liked Rebecca and didn’t want to change that but with names like Riebsomer and Snedegar I was really tired of always have to spell my names and listening to the butchering of said names. So I changed Rebecca with the two c’s to Rebekah with the kah and chose my paternal Grandmother’s maiden name Spivey for my new last name. She was a strong role model for me and I loved honoring her in that way. Of course, some people insisted on pronouncing it Spivvey as if it had two v’s. Or, totally missing the mark, in the case of the telemarketer who pronounced it Reebekah Spivay.

My second married name was Hocke. H O C K E. In 1996 I married an Englishman, whom I had met when I lived in Scotland; his name was Tom Hocke. My mother insisted on pronouncing my new last name Hokey, turns out she was right. Tom’s father was Czechoslovakian and my friend James wondered if Tom and I got a divorce, would he be a returned Czech. After four and a half years of marriage, he did, indeed, become a returned Czech. And that brings me back to Spivey.

In my writing community I’m known as Rebekah Spivey, it feels like a writerly kind of name. It sounds grown up, Becky Spivey, not so much, too sing songy. I like having a grown up sounding name, even though I may never achieve that status myself.

Each of these names represented the me I was at the time I carried that particular name. Each had its own weight, sense of responsibility, gifts, and challenges. I wonder who I’ll become next.


Rebekah Spivey for the Poplar Grove Muse

















It begins with a whimper.

A small crack

That we hardly notice.

Perhaps just a pinhole

Quietly waiting

Innocent .

A small accident.

Nobody’s fault,

But a fault,

Even if not owned.

Just a whisper

No need to hush

Because after all

After all

What harm can such a tiny defect

Do beyond that

Miniscule imperfection.

And so it is ignored.

We cannot see

The spreading spider web

On the weakened surface,

Do not look for it

Until the whimper

Is a low groan

Of pain

And still the groan

Seems unrelated


Like the groan

Of a tree limb

Sagging just a bit

Under the burden of

The ice, weighing it down.

A crack, unheeded,

Between it and

The trunk that bore it

So many years ago.

One small part

A little injured

The whole seeming

Still strong

Nothing to worry about.

And then the season


The cold sets in

And settles in the crack.

Frost finding a home,

A place of refuge

And a place where

Its presence will expand

To make it fit .

The spider web cracks

Cannot abide.

And the whole

No longer stands.

The limb falls.

The glass breaks.

The world is not

As we believed.

The whimper is a shout.

We are all shattered.


Bev Hartford


Riding the Wave

This morning page is forming in the cocoon of the great windowed room, of the green chair, the purple couch, the sleeping dogs and slow risings of dear visiting sister-friends, their twin drums against the wall, and my husband risen early to greet his busy day. Crows cackle in the pine trees, my body has unstiffened in a warm shower, the coffee is good enough.

We pull Motherpeace© Tarot Cards to center a bit of writing and conversation. Yep. It’s something we do/I do some days when I’m not sure where to focus my thoughts or guide my own intentions.The six of cups. Six women are rising on a cresting wave, cups like lanterns held aloft. As always, I have no memory of the deeper significance of cups –or sixes (although there’s a symmetry to the number, a sort of balance there, and in this image, a feeling of vanguard, of promise of safe landing with the sun at their backs, and sturdy horses underneath). I choose to see this card as a sign of rising, empowerment, of riding the wave. Which, aren’t we now?

Whether the riders on the high crest of the wave stand the chance of bowling over those who find themselves lower in the upswell might signify something to be wary of in this moment is unclear, I ask myself what I should be paying attention to this season. The cautious me pays attention to both the crest and the upswell, knowing full well from experience that trying to catch a wave too soon, might mean you’ll simply be washed over by big waters, smashed down and tumbled by the boulder wave. Catching it in time, can mean a thrilling ride to the shoreline, a sleek, streamlined landing.

I have lots of questions at the moment about what shoreline I’m hoping to reach or whether there’s a shoreline in sight at all in the ocean of upheaval we’re all swimming in. Riding waves takes effort. There are rip tides and deep swells. Going back again and again to catch the perfect wave is an awesome metaphor for a rat race I’ve long ago left behind. Knowing the ins and outs of floating or fighting the currents is an acquired skill. Still, I’m a sucker for fun for fun’s sake, and riding in to shore for a rest at the end of the day. I could use some of that!

After many years now of circling with women in service to our stories, the empowerment, the waves, the troughs, the sometimes still waters of the journey to find and speak our stories….and on the cusp of the cultural zeitgeist of so many of us telling things that disturb the waters of patriarchy, I’m also old enough and tired enough to suspect that this current fierceness can and may very well be met with some of the worst of the destructive powers of men. The universe is shaking, if you haven’t noticed. So I gird my loins a bit in anticipation of the boulder waves that might be coming our way.

AND…we are Brave AND Brokenhearted (read it here) Women I know who move in waves to change what is…have seen the sun shining, the waves rise and crash. And still, as Brene Brown says, we rise. And rise again. It’s part of the pattern. I’m at peace with that.


Beth Lodge-Rigal


Random thoughts in December

  • I have begun practicing yoga and my favorite pose is called cobbler’s pose–the pressing together of the souls of the feet with knees bent out. Favorite because I can do it fairly easily—unlike say lunges or tree poses—and because the sensation of pressing the souls of my feet together is utterly unique. You think you know your body, you spend your whole life in its shell and then at 52 you discover that the souls of your feet have never met each other. They are complete strangers and they shouldn’t be.  They should have met and touched years ago and what kind of a beast am I to keep these two lovely body parts apart for so long.  The souls of my feet get together all the time now, and I am much the better for it.
  • I love my annual Christmas tree ritual. Throughout the year when I am traveling or having an adventure, I buy an ornament as a souvenir. Then in December, we put up a tree, and I decorate it with memories of travels with my family or special events. Mornings when I am up alone, I love to sit in the dark by the light of my tree, drinking coffee and enjoying the peace. After the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I have come to refer to this time of year as the long dark teatime of the soul.
  • (I am shocked, simply shocked to hear that men assault and manipulate women to get what they want at work, at church, at home, at the doctor’s office, on the street…)
  • I can never see Elf enough times. I especially love the last scene where Santa flies over everyone’s head and Buddy waves to all the former non-believers below.  It makes me cry every time.  Ahh, Christmas magic. Candy, candy canes, candy corn and syrup.
  • In my early 50’s, I have come to have both chronic pain, chronic indigestion, and hot flashes. My body is truly feeling the tears and tatters of age but inside me, I feel as giddy and insecure as a 12 year old. How can that be? When does emotional age begin to equal bodily age? Or maybe it never will. Or never should.  Will I be sitting in my old age home, feeling like I want to skip and have tea parties as they insert the catheter?  I guess I will have to wait and see.
  • One of the great un-spoken pleasures in life is chocolate cake with black coffee.
  • My lovely daughter is what I would describe as a sensate. She takes pure pleasure in serving her senses. I notice it because it is the opposite of my way of taking in the world. From the earliest age she refused to wear pajamas to bed. The cold feeling of sheets on skin was magical for her. She loves soft fleece blankets and cannot go by a blanket or stuffed animal in the store without stopping to luxuriate in the feeling of tuft on hands and face.  Her love of softness has given rise to a blanket collection each one softer than the last. She also loves submersing herself in water, and bending her body in gymnastic configurations; she begs to burn incense and smell the thick cloying scent, and has a constant soundtrack of pop jingles playing in her head. I wonder what it would be like to inhabit that kind of body.  Although I do take great pleasure in the taste described above, I am less a sensate. I wonder if bathing in our senses is learned behavior or just simply intrinsic to who we are.  I must practice more hugging and eating chocolate cake.
  • Today my yogi, at the end of our time together says, “Everything is as it should be.” Adriene, you sweet naïve yogi, how can you say that?! Everything is not as it should be.  Black men are getting killed in the streets. My government has just mortgaged our country for the sake of 1% of wealthy Americans. My president is a fool.  I have nightmares about nuclear holocaust.  Not to mention person woes, aging, aches and pains, endless worries about the kids.  How can you tell me in this transcendent moment of Zen that everything is as it should be? And yet, when I carry that thought through the day, it gives me power and strength.
  • I love the final moment of yoga when the teacher bows his or her head in prayer and says to the class “Namaste.” I return the greeting in earnest.  It means something to me.