Being a writer is being a window – an interface between inside and out.  On one side, you can see into the other.  Inside, from outside – point of view.  Inside, a fire, cocoa warm bath with whip cream bubbles.  Outside, from inside a dry winter, or cold drizzle.  I sit from the inside well and warm, look to the outside icy death.  I stand on the outside with elements on my skin, staring into the interior-life.  Sometimes, when I look through the window, nothing is there – no one…sometimes, I can tell someone has just been there by the bits of clothing strewn near the overturn lamp.  Strange how something is the same about being in or out – – point of view.  I always recognize there is ‘some other place.’  Somewhere where I am not.

Being a writer is being a window – touching both places: simultaneous.  One side old with rain worn paint, the other radiating heat.  It is the interface between.  Itself remains clear.  When it is dark, outside a window, inside (often) there is light.

Allison for the Poplar Grove Muse

Of Summers Gone

A candle flickers in the dimming last light of a summer night and the sweet smell of citronella and lemongrass float on the air as I sit on the back deck, smoking cigarettes with my mom.  Inside, in a puddle of lamplight, a little girl in bare feet and a floral nightgown is perched at the kitchen table, her long dark hair still wet from the bath, the slightest citrus scent still lingering from the detangling spray.  She is eating a bowl of chocolate ice cream in big heaping spoonfuls, so big in fact that they cannot pass her lips without leaving brown skid marks at the corners of her mouth.   A little brown dog, just a baby of a dog, is asleep in my lap, her head heavy and hanging a bit off the edge of my leg as I stroke the smooth space of her neck, down her chest, to the plump little belly and its bare spot of warm skin.

These nights, I know there is still much to be done – there are puppies and girls to feed and raise and teach and train.  But I will get to that tomorrow, and for many a tomorrow.  But for these blessed moments at the end of a summer evening, when the dishes from dinner are already being wizzed clean and the bathroom floor has already been dried, and Ariel and her friends are drip-drying on the edge of a clean tub.  These moments before goodnights and sleeptights, are perfectly in between, as the candle light dances and flickers in the dark.


~DRH for The Poplar Grove Muse

Soul Collage March 2017

Duality Times Two

I am one who dreams of morphing
into at least four of me:
One, the me who feathers my nest with memories;
feeds my family and friends laughter and love
and lots of soup.
Two, the me who watches Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy
with my lonely mother;
fries skillet-size corncakes for her
and slathers them with butter.
Three, the me who throws myself with vim and vigor
(probably more vim than vigor)
into political action—
marches, carries signs, maybe even gets arrested
with a dozen other grandmothers—
for peace, equal rights, and justice.
Four, the me who writes poems and stories,
letters and essays and songs,
and aspires to perform, to sing,
and (one of these days) to piece together a book
from my heaping scrap pile of strung together words.
I am one who strides forth with confidence (sometimes)
and good intentions (always),
giving as much of my one true self as I know how to give
to whomever or whatever calls my name
at any given moment.
My fantasy (duality times two) hovers near my left ear,
whispers affirmations, reminds me
of possibilities and limitations,
teaches me about balance:  the complementary strengths
of dark and light, male and female,
earth tones, sky tones, and the bare bones
of the one me that is wrapped up in the duality
of what it means to be a human being.


I Breathe and Pray

      I plant my feet on spongey soil between knobby roots of Grandmother Sycamore.  I plant my hands on spongey moss-covered bark. I breathe, breathe, breathe.

      I breathe my legs, my feet, my toes into forest floor—stretch, reach, burrow them down, down to the deep, vast aquafer below.  I breathe my body into the trunk of the tree, as thick and solid as twenty of me, my heart into throbbing heartwood, my blood into life-giving sap.

      I grow tall and call to the spirit of all living things as I breathe my arms, hands, and fingers into touching-sky branches.  Liquid sky.  Living sky.  I feel the blue as fragile and silky as butterfly wings between my fingertips.

      I breathe my prayers, my cares, my fears and tears, my carefree play and earthborn-sacred up through ice-cold-water-sucking toes to my sky-dipped, blue-tipped fingers.  I rest my forehead against moss and cry saltwater tears.

      My breathing, praying, singing draws all that I love and cherish—hummingbirds, human beings and humpbacked whales; ground-hugging violets and redwood giants; my red-blooded, blue-blooded, green-blooded family—up through my soles, in through my lips, down through my fingertips and into my soul.

Into my soul.
Out to the world.
Into my soul.
Out to the world.
I breathe and pray.
Breathe and pray.
Breathe and pray again.

Glenda Breeden for The Poplar Grove Muse






Blank Slate


Iona is a blank slate.

So much of her is non-color.

Flat gray stone as canvas,

backdrop of sage green hills

warming to brighter days.

I am drawn again to the fire station

and its rusty brown stone wall,

and flash of shiny red on the doors.

As I walk along I spy the inside of a half-shell,

pearly like the back of a baby’s neck.

And I look toward the bay at a fishing trawler

with its startling orange floats popping

on the deck like the erupted skin

of a teenage boy

just before his first date.

In the air floats a gull

over tinseled water, sun shining its whitest white

on its charcoal tipped wings.

Then the dissonant sound of the cruise guide,

“yellow tags line up here” and no one pays attention;

no one lines up in their

sensible brown shoes

and their green waxed coats.

And I walk back toward the Argyll Hotel

with its gray, grayer, grayest stone walls


and its windows and door

outlined in delphinium blue.





I Am Gannet


I am gannet, seabird,

soaring with my gray,

white and yellow-feathered body

off the volcanic shore of Iona.

The sparkling waters

in Martyrs Bay

tempt and tease me

as they race over

their bounty hidden

deep below the surface.


I climb skyward high

over the bouncing waves

as they strive for shore.

Now. Turn. Somersault.

Beak first, speeding straight down

wings sleek along my body,



Capture one shiny silver fish.

Burst up through the waves.

Slowly and steadily I balance

on top of the water. One gulp.

Fish gone, sustenance begins.

As I’m being nourished

rich nutrients coursing through me,

my mind clears, my eyesight sharpens

I open my beak to call out gratitude.


Rebekah Spivey for the Poplar Grove Muse