Thursday, December 15, 2011

3 poems by author, artist, and poet Dodie Meeks

Dodie Messer Meeks has poetry in a couple of hundred journals and literary magazines and several anthologies. The Arts Alliance Center of Clear Lake published an illustrated collection of her work, entitled, “When I Got Dressed Again.” She is currently illustrating a children’s book of poetry for the publishers of The Lyric, which she describes as “the only poetry publisher older than I am, which is pretty amazing.”

The Friendswood Public Library carries a copy of Dodie's When I Got Dressed Again. See the Reference desk for assistance.


Outside the window of my room
Big creamy plates of bloom
Keep spilling charcoal seeds.
The bees are slurping out there, dazed,
In two hundred proof magnolia
couched in leathery leaves. 

All up and down the block
The neighbors’ lawns
Are clipped formica neat
But my garden
That they can hardly stand
Is all elbows and knees. 

Salvia slavering down the walk
Ivy shinnying up the stalks
Of three kinds of anemone
Rioting as anemone can
Each stem erupting into ten.
That hospital gift gardenia 

We gave a decent burial
Is pop-corned over with bloom
Enough for a funeral or two
Crowding a candelabra of lilies
Budded so aching tight
It hurts to look. 

Those roses that you sent
Claw through whatever this is,
With veins of tattered blue
On international orange.
And I know I never put in
This goofy garlic patch. 

That sad, young, wandering priest
We let sleep on our sofa for a spell
Was a fussy eater. These might be
From the kernels he threw out.
It’s taking on the mint.
Well. You know mint. 

Smells like a candy cane
Has the soul of a virus.
They said to contain it
But don’t tell me
What to do with my darn mint.
So here’s a carpet of that. 

Too thick to get a grip on
But for a leaf or two, for tea.
And here come some caladium
Unfurling burgundy veined with green.
The brass section. Aren’t they
Supposed to come back small? 

Where you are, in London,
Crocuses peek through snow.
In Holland the tulips are marching along
Row on proper row.
Like ads for laundry soap.
But they have that purple scent. 

It’s illegal to let poppies grow
In Greece. But they do, anyway,
Their hairy stems
Claw up through rock
Gasping for a breath of mist.
Boy. It’s moist here all the time.
I can stand in the middle of my house
And feel my garden buzz and seethe
Like mother, yanking on a sequined blouse
To wear to church. Saying whee.
 Whoop de doo, Jim. Whoop de doo.
 It’s just the gypsy in me.

Dodie Meeks


We are grown unaccustomed now to trees.

They lean above and breathe a trailing mist

that slides in on all sides. They sway and list.

We urban dwellers stand and stare at these 

as the Apaches did. They neared this mound

and signaled for silence. Quivering, intent

the shadowy riders listened, quickly bent,

slid down, and made their way around. 

They saw the shape embedded in this stone.

We are grown unaccustomed now to these

contrivances of seed, these symmetries

of bark and darkened overlapping cone. 

Was it some sudden silence shimmering

in rotted leaf and spears of splintered light

flickered the green gold sun as cold as night?

Or some large eye, half-open, glimmering?

Dodie Meeks

Advice for the Bride

Dear little ladies with dear little voices
Have ended upended on ant teeming slopes
Or, after a tiff, have been dropped from a cliff,
Or dangled forlornly on slow-turning ropes.

Girls who must have the last word every argument
Have eaten their words in a dank dungeon keep
Or languished in stocks or been fed glowing rocks
Or watched cablevision and given up sleep.

Ladies with tongues far less acid than mine is
Gurgled on guillotines, writhed on the rack.
All that I have to fear—tell me I’m lucky, dear—
Is the dank certainty. He won’t be back.

All my proud sisterhood, swearing you will be good,
Wishing indeed you could be still as stone.
Raise your arm. Make a fist. Swear to remember this:
Grammatical errors are best left alone.

All my proud sisterhood, knowing too well you should
Be ever so careful to leave it unsaid.
No matter what you hear always remember, dear,
Never correct a man’s grammar in bed.

Dodie Meeks
Other poems and illus. by Dodie Meeks:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

4 poems by teacher, poet, and naturalist Richard Peake

Richard Peake in an African village in
Sierra Leone on a birding safari.
A native Virginian, Richard Peake became a Texas resident after retiring from the University of Virginia’s College at Wise. He published early poems in Impetus alongside John Ciardi and in The Georgia Review. Collections of his poetry include Wings Across… and Poems for Terence published by Vision Press, which also included poems of his in A Gathering at the Forks. He published Birds and Other Beasts in 2007. A member of The Poetry Society of Texas he has recently published in Avocet, Asinine PoetryBoundless 2010 and 2011, Nature Croons, Ides of March, Raven Images, Skive, Sol Magazine, Shine Journal (one nominated for the Pushcart Prize), The Book of the Year PST 2010, 2011, and 2012,  The Road Not Taken, The Texas Poetry Calendar 2012, and elsewhere. A life-long naturalist, a father and grandfather, he teaches birds, Shakespeare, and writing in OLLi.

Richard Peake has been a featured poet at Friendswood Public Library poetry readings and we look forward to having him back in early 2013.

Electric Wings for Ars Poetica  

Like arctic terns in flight
from pole to pole
or swallows speeding to new nests
or metallic birds
that outpace the speed of sound
words grow wings
to fly around the world
as we let our thoughts migrate. 
For sad or happy thoughts
there is no transport like a poem
to speed emotions forth.
Across barriers of land or sea,
a poet’s words
can bring us serious things
or just a clever jest
to lift the poet’s wit with wings. 
With the speed of wireless phones
or the internet
words fly faster than terns or swallows
or sound-barrier-breaking planes
So let my poem
ascend on electric wings
to speed my praise
of a time to honor poetry.  

published in The Book of the Year 2010

My Cousins’ Fledermaus 

Their ID erred dismally.
I’m sure they didn’t know tequila can’t exist
without bats flying like night moths
to pollinate agave plants. And being only five
I was just as ignorant of the good bats do.
My aunt and cousins, confused by the German,
treated the poor flying creature
as if it were a mouse they dreaded
and might have stood on chairs to avoid
unaware that bats gobble night-flying insects,
not Mississippi women afraid of mice.
For them the flying mammal wandering in that night
brought dangers from a dark, bloody world
to tangle in their flowing locks
and suck their luscious virginal blood.
My cousins wielded weapons against this flying fury
whose fangs appeared ten inches long
to them, though to the young boy
hiding under a convenient table
the bat seemed fangless, distraught, befuddled
by the lights and by the brooms
belaboring it in awkward pursuit of its frantic flight—
a beast thought at the very least to carry rabies
from the haunts of vampires.
Screams and commands and deadly swipes
filled the room with eager mayhem
as bloodlust born of fear prevailed.
The flying mouse could not escape into the night.
Amazon warriors soon displayed to me its limp,
lifeless body—exulting in their victory
over the dark forces of the summer night. 

published in Raven Images, Nov., 2010

I Favor Three-toed Sloths
          for Theodore Roethke

Volcano watching, ungainly two-toed sloth
fell out of a scenic too-slender tree,
broke limbs, narrowly missing me—
clambered, slipperied back up with baleful wroth.

Clumsy two-toed, too-inquisitive sloths—
less careful how they climb and doze
than clever species with three toes—
should try pledging visitors troth.

Canny three-toed sloths know slow
moving. You might deem them smug
as they give branches a hug,
ex-as-per-at-ing-ly slow they move from high to low.

You jump and yell and try to wake them
but deep in sleep slowly they go
swaying in the breeze by their three toes
unheedful of your stratagems— 
they blink—you know they know they know.

published in Asinine Poetry, Feb., 2010

No Meals, No Songs

Unnatural landscapes breed no song,
provide little food for nestlings.
Like blue gum forests in strange lands
yards of aliens yield no songsters.

Insects loiter in native plants
not aliens they cannot digest.
Where no caterpillars devour
live trees and bushes, no birds sing.

Exotic herbs planted for show
live free of bug bites and cocoons,
free of warblers and tanagers
who find no insects to digest.

published in Nature Croons, Apr., 2011
More poems by Richard Peake:

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friendswood Public Library: 5th highest ranked library in Texas within our budget group

The Library Journal has ranked Friendswood Public Library the 5th highest ranked library in Texas within our budget group! That is 5th out of 70 Texas public libraries.

A warm thank you to everyone who makes this a great place to work and grow!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas Carols From Around the World Concert

Around seventy people came to the Friendswood Public Library last night to hear Christmas Carols from Around the World concert featuring pianist Stephanie Poyner and flutist Leslie Engle. The music was amazing with selections from English, Italian, German, Polish, Austrian, French, and American carols.

Stephanie Poyner is the Director of Music at Hope Lutheran Church in Friendswood, Texas. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Education Degree from Concordia University, Nebraska and a Master of Church Music Degree from Concordia University, Wisconsin. Leslie Ann Engle is a graduate of Butler University and is a long time Friendswood/League City resident who is passionate about people, music, and writing. For more than thirty years she has been an accomplished performer, instructor and published author who enjoys sharing her knowledge with individuals of all ages. Her background includes membership in choirs, bands, orchestras, and musicals in three states. Leslie specializes in flute, piccolo, recorder, fife, piano, voice; and music theory and composition.

Stephanie and Leslie will be back to the Friendswood library on Thursday, March 22nd at 7pm for A Performance of Johann Sebastian Bach

Leslie Engle on left, Stephanie Poyner on right

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

2 poems by author, poet, columnist, and teacher Donna Pauley

Born in a rural hamlet of 200 in deep East Texas, Donna Cozart Pauley grew up with a widely extended family that included ten grandparents, storytellers one and all.  She became a storyteller herself, first publishing several stories about her family and her hometown in the Houston Chronicle’s Texas magazine.  These included “A Nocturnal Visit,” “No Kind of Name to Wear,” and “Dinner of Their Discontent,” culminating in a cover story titled “Death of an Ancestor” about her nineteen-year-old great-great-great-great-great Uncle Henderson Cozart who was killed in the Goliad Massacre during the Texas Revolution, thus bringing her family to Texas to claim the land grant he earned with his death.  She has also published several poems, including first-place entries in Bayousphere and Marrow, and is now a weekly columnist for The Alvin Sun writing “Views from the Left.” 
            A high school English teacher, who was voted District Teacher of the Year and runner-up for Regional Teacher of the Year in the Houston area, Donna is currently head of the English Department at Alvin High School and teaches Advanced Writing in the evenings for the University of Houston.  She holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in literature.
            Donna Cozart Pauley lives on the Texas coast with her husband Mark; sons Corey and Cody; dogs Chaucer and Sammy; cats Boudreaux, Thomas Lafayette, and Eula Mae; a sneaky raccoon who likes to steal cat food from the bowls on her front porch; and a mysterious hawk who keeps watch on her roof.

Donna Pauley will be a featured poet at the FPL Poetry Series reading on Wednesday, July 18th at 7pm.

The Wyf of Bath

“Her hosen weren of fyn scarlet reed,
Ful streite y-teyed, and shoos ful moiste and newe
Bold was hir face, and fair, and reed of hewe
She was a worthy woman al hir lyve…”

Big Mama
flaming red hair curling close to her head
scarlet lipstick         stark against her pale freckled skin
wire frames circling merry blue eyes
in a round face atop a short neck
rolls of fat almost obscuring her Sunday-go-to-meeting pearls 
wide of hip 
              she was as round as she was t
her chubby fingers and toes accented
with Avon’s siren-red nail polish
she knew all the remedies for love’s mischances
          was well-versed in that old song and dance
her first husband
forty-four years to her fifteen on nuptial day
offered her pappy two mules for her hand
          a fine price for a dirt-poor farmer in Brushy Bottom
in a faded sepia-tinted photo
          little Mattie
          a plump schoolgirl
          with a sad smile on her face
          a giant bow on the side of her head
sits by her new spouse
          graying hair pomaded slick to his skull
          a handlebar mustache tickling his stern lip
          shirt buttoned tight to his brown neck

husband number four is newly dead
          buried in the Timpson cemetery
                    under a cool granite stone
a new four-door Pontiac
purchased with life insurance proceeds
sits outside her corner grocery store
a small wood-slatted building with fresh white paint
precariously resting on cement blocks
                              one lone red gas pump out front
my siblings and I love to go to Big Mama’s store
                    on Saturday afternoons
one entire side of the second aisle
jam-packed with candy of every variety
all of my favorites
          bright pink peanut patties
                    foot-long, thick peppermint sticks
                              candy cigarettes we hold between our
                              index and middle fingers just like Granddaddy
a Big Red or chocolate Yoo-Hoo to wash the sugar down

                    her daughter, our grandmother,
          red-headed and freckled as well
finds her one April morning
                                        dead on the floor
the customers fall away
s  c  a  t  t  e  r  e  d   like the autumn leaves
now that Miss Mattie no longer
mans the antique cash register or
holds court in her rocking chair at the front
          trading stories     belly laughing     chewing the fat
the old store surrenders to somber ruin as
pushy weeds crowd the front steps
paint peels revealing weathered boards beneath
a stray Ruby Red from her neighbor’s coop
          aloose from her Chaunticleer
                    scratches and pecks at the iron-rich dirt
the screen door hangs from one loose hinge
ready to give up the ghost
and join her in the Timpson cemetery
          a solitary stone
          now resting by her first husband
                    under his thumb for eternity

many years later
I will meet Big Mama again
in my senior English class
          on the illuminated pages of
                    Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

Harm Junior

                              Black hair slicked down for church
                              the scent of Old Spice haloes his head.
                              Long, narrow feet are stuffed into
pointy-toed cowboy boots.
                              Western shirt buttons tight
                              to the burnt umber of his neck,
                              as nicotine-stained fingers tap
                              on the Baptist hymnal in his lap.
                              The chorus of I Have Decided to Follow Jesus
                              floats in the air around the congregation.
                              Sitting squashed between me
                              and my big sister
                              in the third pew on the left,
                              his Choctaw-dark eyes
                              peer at a slight figure in front of us.
                              He had forgotten how to whisper
                              years before I was born.
                              “See that gal up yonder with
                              the coal-black hair?  It’s dyed
                              that color.  When she turns ‘round,
                              she looks ‘bout like a prune.”
                              The dried fruit turns to glare
                              as sharp elbows hit him
in tandem from both sides.
We have perfected our technique.
His ribs are quilted with
granddaughter-wrought bruises.

                                                  Donna Cozart Pauley

More poems by Donna Cozart Pauley:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ticket To Ride by Playwright and Author Margaret Symmank

Margaret Symmank has enjoyed a life-long career of writing and entertaining audiences. Her work has seen production on school, college, church and community theatre stages for over thirty years. Ms. Symmank is a member of the American Association of Community Theatres, Christians in Theatre Arts, and Texas Nonprofit Theatres. She lives with her husband, J.D., in south Texas. They have four children and five grandchildren.  

Margaret Symmank will be appearing with ANTHEM performing artists in a performance of her play An Odor of Sanctity; or...Something Smells in the Pews on Wednesday, March 14th at 7pm in the Friendswood Public Library Activity Room.



In the summers I never went much farther than I could walk.  I walked to the store for jawbreakers and comic books, to Bible school, where I sang, “Roll away, roll away, roll away – every burden of my heart roll away,” and every two weeks, I walked to the bookmobile.
     The road that led to the store and Bible school and the bookmobile ran three-quarters of a mile from our house to the post office – a narrow, rock-topped, too-hot-for-bare-feet piece of county right-of-way parallel to the Santa Fe Railway.
     From the road, I waved to accommodating engineers who traveled the rails from Galveston to Houston and Lord only knew where beyond that.  Very far, I was certain.  The boxcars swayed along the tracks – clanking when empty, bumping when full – headed for places distant and dim.  Roll away, roll away, roll away.    
     I’d been to Galveston for Christmas shopping, sampled the wonders of the candy counter in Sears, and roamed the endless, shell-spattered beaches in summer.  I’d seen Houston a time or two.  It was fast and noisy, and people wore their Sunday clothes no matter what day it was.  I knew I wasn’t ready for that.  Maybe someday – when I knew things.  Knowing things came from books, and books came from the bookmobile.
     It was an awesome creation.  Huge and square and green and tan, it parked itself in the shade by the post office two Wednesdays a month.  It had wheels and doors that opened like a school bus but bore no other resemblance to that very distant kin.  Inside, it was a room.  Not a vehicle at all, but a real place with shelves of books all the way to the ceiling, and lights and a tiny oscillating fan that stirred the dim air breathed by all the visitors in all the other places the bookmobile stopped.
     At one end of the room was a little set of steps that led up to the driver’s seat.  There was no rail or chain to keep people from going up the steps and having a look around.  Yet, such a trespass was unthinkable. The driver always walked over to the store for a Nu-Grape, then sat leaning against a sycamore trunk smoking Luckies while the line of applicants for library books snaked in one door of the bookmobile and out the other.  Ten, maybe fifteen minutes was the limit allowed inside.  The ever-present press of those behind, waiting their turn, frustrated the brief quarter-hour in the bookmobile world.
     A sustained and reverent hush filled the small cavern, its walls bumpy with book spines.  Visitors shuffled the length of the room, transfixed by titles, offering and receiving whispered counsel.
     “If you’ll check out Anastasia for me this time, I’ll let you get a book on my card next time.  If you get that one, don’t read it before you go to sleep, or you won’t.”
     The books were there for the taking, but choosing was agony.  Four. Only four at a time to keep for two weeks.  One had to choose carefully.  Trouble was, once the book had been read enough to know if it was the right one, there was little left to be read at home.  Yet it was impossible to put the book back on the shelf half-read.  Sometimes, the only thing to do was to act on blind faith, or maybe a word of wisdom from a fifth-grader whose name appeared on the checkout slip in the front pocket.
     My selections made, I faced the trial of the checkout desk.  The librarian sat behind it.  Serious and graying, she embodied all the authority vested in her by the Galveston County Library System.  She wore navy or brown, buttoned and cuffed even in August.  She would sometimes stop, rubber stamp lifted in midair, and peer deep into my soul to determine if the book I had chosen was on my reading level.  A second-grader dared not attempt to pass herself off as going into fourth.
     There were two ways to walk home.  I could trot along in the noontime heat on the dusty, narrow shoulder of the road – the quicker to arrive home and be at the tempting stories tucked under my arm.  Or, I could start reading as I walked, stepping too high or too low over the uneven ground while the words bounced in and out of focus, stark against the glaring page. Neither choice was satisfactory.
     The best stories happened far away, in places real or not so real. Places past the boundaries of the known world – beyond Houston or Galveston.  Places somewhere along the distant reaches of the Santa Fe Railway – across the bumpy brown waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Albuquerque, Shangri-La, the moon.  Places where possibilities were wonderfully frightening, where I might someday be plunked down to live out adventures and do great deeds millions of miles from chores or arithmetic or similar pressing problems.   
     My transport was simple and sure – long afternoons spent stretched on a quilt under the trees, lulled by the sway of leaf-filtered sunshine across the mesmerizing words on the page.  Roll away, roll away, roll away.  The effect was consistent, the results reliable.  Every burden of my eight-year-old heart always rolled away.
     By the time I could reach the top shelves without effort, standing head and shoulders above the better part of the bookmobile crowd, the summers had grown shorter. The world was miraculously reduced to a manageable list of continents and oceans suspended in a universe whose orbs I could comfortably name.  The engineers on the trains rarely waved from their rocking cars, or at least, not that I noticed.
     The books were thicker now.  The far-away places named within their pages were unquestionably real and had come frighteningly close.  Wounded Knee, Hiroshima, Auschwitz.
     More frequently I rode instead of walked.  With friends, with boys, or taking the wheel myself.  Once, during a summer storm, when I drove past the post office, the somber, dark form of the bookmobile sat beneath the thrashing sycamores.  Its doors were sealed against the rain.  It glistened and seemed oddly small.
     I don’t remember when the bookmobile stopped coming.  The last summer before I drove away, over the railroad tracks to places very far and very real, I think it may have parked there by the post office once or twice.
     Then the reading changed.  It was now the means rather than the once glad end I’d come to know in summers past.  I plowed through volumes etched with eye-squinting print – heavy, weighty, bound as though they meant business. Descartes, Kant, Nietzsche.  Sometimes the heavy books would slip onto the floor unseen by eyes closed beneath lids every bit as heavy. In dreams I rode the bookmobile.  Seated in the sacred seat, I steered along the railroad tracks, rocking off to some unnamed land, reading books on any level with wild abandon.  Roll away, roll away, roll away. 
     Through the years, I’ve seen a bookmobile once or twice.  Not mine.  A sleeker, fuel-efficient model, air-conditioned, tinted windows, slipping through the traffic en route to some nameless little town.  There must be children there.  Lined up.  Waiting.  Waiting for the bookmobile to take them far away.
Copyright © 1992 Margaret Symmank