Georgic: How to Start a Black Walnut Tree Farm


This poem was written as a response to one of the prompts from NaPoWriMo, the celebration of April as National Poetry Month. The prompt was “Georgic”, a poem which could be a simple set of instructions on how to grow or care for something, but it could also incorporate larger themes as to how land should be used (or not used), or for what purposes.

Step I:

Have one tree already growing

On the property you are eyeing

For the farm.

Step II:

Make sure at least one squirrel

Lives nearby.

Step III:

Let the ripened nuts

In their prickly

Green husks

Fall to the ground.

Step IV:

Leave them there.

Step V:

Watch the squirrels pick them up

And bury them nearby.

Step VI:

Watch the ones

The squirrels forget about

Sprout the next year.

Step VII:

Let them grow for about

Four years

Then thin them out

So that the stronger ones


Step VIII:

Harvest the smaller ones

And sell them to folks

Who make them into

Pen barrels

And other small objects

Which are sold as

Much desired possessions

To folks who have everything.

Be mindful, though.

Those pens may be used

To sign Presidential Executive Orders

Bev Hartford







Remembering As I Go

How many moments in your life can you recall  a time you were doing practically nothing, when a sharp sense of “I need to remember this” came over you? Perhaps you were ten. You could have been younger.  Some feeling washed over you that indicated time was passing, that the beautiful, sun-dappled sidewalk you were moseying along, the spring breeze,  so lovely,  would be different or gone in 10 years. That the moment was pretty perfect.  You needed to somehow capture it; to remember it exactly as it was that day for your older self later, in case she forgets.

There was a large double swing at my College that hung from an enormous tree on front campus. Swinging with my best friend one pristine autumn day my freshman year, I was free and smart and at peace with my new-found (though sheltered) independence, knowing I’d probably never be so completely un-encumbered and on the cusp of infinite possibility again.  “Remember this.” I thought, “You’ll need to remember this one day.”

 Paddling shirtless in the upper Ontario wilderness a couple years later: “Do not forget you were this strong, this connected to water and sky.”

 Pregnant after pregnancy losses, looking out at the pines from a back porch Carolina rocking chair when it looked like the baby inside me would be born soon: “This is what you’ve wanted, don’t forget what life growing inside you feels like, your profound terror, this absolute certainty”.

The one or two or maybe few days of any given year that assure you that you are a living witness –not just to an event or in some cases non-event, but to the feeling you want to remember about it: the astonishment of holding the feet of your dying friend, her struggle, her release, your sense of calm in letting her go. Or of observing the kindness of the busy fresh produce guy, patiently helping the non-english-speaking grandma at Kroger sort out one pepper over another, the way it made you cry with gratitude for a simple kindness in a crappy world. The couple in a long embrace at a corner, the man with his dog, asleep under a blooming redbud in the park.

My girl self, communing with the 18-year- old who left home, ”Don’t forget that home”, she said. “The people who lived there. The person you were”. The 20 -something me who spoke to the young Mother me, overwhelmed by her cluelessness, her loss of self. “You knew yourself under stars alone in the wilderness, you’ll know yourself here.” The younger mother I can barely remember, (so much has happened in the past two decades), told me recently that mothering was the best work of my life. And I think she’s right. And the 10 year old me, reminding us all again, it’s right to remember as you go, so you can tell yourself later how it was and what you know because of it.

I’ve been accused of being overly nostalgic. Maybe, but I think I’ve simply had a knack for keeping track and keeping all the girls and women I’ve been in my life in touch with one another.

Today the dogwood blooms in the backyard where my daughters once climbed trees and made forts. One dog, three rabbits, 2 rats, 2 hamsters, and the ashes of 2 other dogs are buried here. As I moved dirt, and cleared a new path through an overgrown section I imagine making into some kind of meditation garden, I thought “I need to remember how great I felt today, whole and happy in my slightly- aching body, losing track of time while clearing and making things. At 57, I still like finding the shape of something new in the familiar, changing ground under my feet”.

I hope we’ll all be together in another 10 years. All the pieces of me remembering together, so none of us forgets.


BLR for the Poplar Grove Muse

The Bread

The Bread


Our guide in Jerusalem took us into the Muslim Quarter—through the Lions gate—into the Old Walled City. He took 49 pilgrims down a narrow stone street and told us to walk into a bread shop to look and see where they baked the bread. We saw big bread ovens with hot sweaty Arab men tossing big sheet pans of bread in and out of stone ovens. It was a rainy day and the warm bakery seemed dark and a long way from the Kroger bakery that was familiar.

Then he passed around loaves of hot fresh sesame bread which he called Kai. He told us it was the best bread in the old city. We stood around the alley eating warm bread. 

He said, “I would be a bad Arab if I didn’t show you hospitality. I want you to feel like this is your home too.”

He referred to his home as the entire area in the old walled city. All of it. The shops and the stores and the churches. He gestures above us. More than once he reminded us that this was a living city. He showed us antennae and laundry and children on their way to school. We ate bread in the rain, awkward tourists, communion.


Later that day as we stood outside a street that marked where he lived as a child he talked more about the bread. Our tour guide, said, “Remember the bread I gave you? Anywhere you go in the old city you would get bread as good as the bread I gave you, but outside the city the bread is the same but not as good to eat. Why is that?”

He always asked us rhetorical questions, so we squirmed uncomfortably not sure of the right answer, and then he answered his own question, “Perhaps they are just better bakers in the city, or perhaps it is the spices and dust from ancient days in the air that mingles with the bread and gives it a special flavor, or perhaps it is the spirituality in the old walls–the religion of two millennia that gets baked into the bread. Whatever the reason, the bread, made by bakers in the old city is the best bread. Don’t you agree? “

And we did.

Amy for the PGM


A “secret” Facebook community of WWf(a)C writers participates in NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) each April/National Poetry Month.  Many of us look forward to this communal wordfest all year.  This is my second full-fledged, all-in experience, and I LOVE IT!!

PLEASE, if you have any inclination to do so, join us!  It’s only Day 6. Interesting info on poets, poetry, different forms and formulations are posted fresh each day at: Contact me or any other participant for an invitation to our page, and see where it might take you!

Here are two of my favorite personal efforts from this month.

Day 3: Elegy

Elegy for a Killshot

She comes to me more
and more often
in dream.
Embraced again
in the comfort
of her shining,
made whole again,
as from childhood,
I ache
with longing.
She never wavered.

In those last nights,
as she faded
from herself,
occasional terror,
and a never-before-seen
of sharp intellect
on a world unprepared.
a glimpse into where
that killer croquet shot,
on her grandfather’s farm,
even on her own
small, surprised children,
lived unimagined.

Day 4: Enigma

You came
from nothing, and,
they say,
to nothing
you will return.

We rubbed two sticks together,
ancient, archetypal rituals,
et voila,
you were.
A miracle,
a sudden, startling
presence in the room,
fiercely observant,
utterly there.

We do our very best,
pour ourselves
day upon day
into the miraculous
vessel, the presence
that day after day,
becomes more resplendent,
resonant, responsive.

And then, seemingly as soon
as you appeared,
you are nearly
out of sight,
on the horizon,
almost mirage.
like absence,
but for your indelible
imprint of unbearable love.

Mary Peckham for the Poplar Grove Muse