Hillbilly Zen – Old Hippie


Old Hippie

There is an old hippie who lives on a hill.

She’s been blessed by the heavens with acres to fill.

Stray critters all know they can come to her place

for a kind word, a cuddle, or to just feed their face.

They’re all loved and cared for above and beyond,

Some in the house, some the barn and the pond.

She’s all about critters and that seems to suit her,

but there’s not much room left now, so please….

Spay and Neuter!


1play dead

Hillbilly Zen – Lazy Poet’s Lament

Photo courtesy of Llano Lodge

Photo courtesy of Llano Lodge

Lazy Poet’s Lament


Waking from prescription sleep,

I move through molasses to the window.

Entranced by the fog, fields

smudged and damp with not-quite-vapor,

“I’ll write,” I think, anticipating

peace on a page.

But I’m too slow.  By the time coffee’s ready

my cocoon

is desiccated by sunrise,

swept away by wind,

housekeepers hell-bent

on tidying up the morning.

Harsh new clarity exposes

neglected chores that glitter with guilt.

A strand of spider-spun silk

arcs gently in the breeze,

an elegant tether from tree to earth.

Screw it.

I smile and put pen to paper.


Hillbilly Zen – “A Ballad of Hell”

I remember reading this poem when I was nine or ten years old, in a book my grandfather salvaged from a trash bin.  He worked on the county road crew, whose duties back then also included industrial trash collection.  He would often bring home items he’d found and deemed useful; he was a “picker” before picking was cool.  Knowing how much I loved to read, one evening he presented me with “Exploring Life Through Literature”, a high school textbook.  Age appropriate? Not so much, but I was reading way above my grade level and was able to comprehend most of the essays, plays and poetry it contained.

I still have that book, and even now I’ll pull it from the bookcase and dive in, immersing myself in the brilliance contained between the battered covers.

A friend’s remark triggered the recollection of this piece by Scottish poet John Davidson.   It’s a ballad of heinous betrayal and tenacious redemption, with an undercurrent of wry wit.  I love the Devil’s line “My dear, I never lie outright”.

A Ballad of Hell

‘A letter from my love to-day!
Oh, unexpected, dear appeal!’
She struck a happy tear away,
And broke the crimson seal.

‘My love, there is no help on earth,
No help in heaven; the dead-man’s bell
Must toll our wedding; our first hearth
Must be the well-paved floor of hell.’

The colour died from out her face,
Her eyes like ghostly candles shone;
She cast dread looks about the place,
Then clenched her teeth and read right on.

‘I may not pass the prison door;
Here must I rot from day to day,
Unless I wed whom I abhor,
My cousin, Blanche of Valencay.                                                           

                                                           At midnight with my dagger keen,
                                                           I’ll take my life; it must be so.
The Love Letter by Nina Hardy  Meet me in hell to-night, my queen,
  For weal and woe.’

  She laughed although her face was wan,
  She girded on her golden belt,
  She took her jewelled ivory fan,
  And at her glowing missal knelt.

Then rose, ‘And am I mad?’ she said:
She broke her fan, her belt untied;
With leather girt herself instead,
And stuck a dagger at her side.

She waited, shuddering in her room,
Till sleep had fallen on all the house.
She never flinched; she faced her doom:
They two must sin to keep their vows.

Then out into the night she went,
And, stooping, crept by hedge and tree;
Tea Roses by Albert AubletHer rose-bush flung a snare of scent,
And caught a happy memory.

She fell, and lay a minute’s space;
She tore the sward in her distress;
The dewy grass refreshed her face;
She rose and ran with lifted dress.

She started like a morn-caught ghost
Once when the moon came out and stood
To watch; the naked road she crossed,
And dived into the murmuring wood.

The branches snatched her streaming cloak;
A live thing shrieked; she made no stay!
She hurried to the trysting-oak—
Right well she knew the way.

Devil's_Hole_Creux_du_Vis_Jersey    Without a pause she bared her breast,
    And drove her dagger home and fell,
    And lay like one that takes her rest,
    And died and wakened up in hell.

She bathed her spirit in the flame,
And near the centre took her post;
From all sides to her ears there came
The dreary anguish of the lost.

The devil started at her side,
Comely, and tall, and black as jet.
‘I am young Malespina’s bride;
Has he come hither yet?’

‘My poppet, welcome to your bed.’
‘Is Malespina here?’
‘Not he! To-morrow he must wed
His cousin Blanche, my dear!’

  ‘You lie, he died with me to-night.’
  ‘Not he! It was a plot…’  ‘You lie!’
  ‘My dear, I never lie outright.’
                                                ‘We died at midnight, he and I.’

The devil went. Without a groan
She, gathered up in one fierce prayer,hell2
Took root in hell’s midst all alone,
And waited for him there.

She dared to make herself at home
Amidst the wail, the uneasy stir.
The blood-stained flame that filled the dome,
Scentless and silent, shrouded her.

How long she stayed I cannot tell;
But when she felt his perfidy,
She marched across the floor of hell;
And all the damned stood up to see.

The devil stopped her at the brink:
She shook him off; she cried,‘Away!’
‘My dear, you have gone mad, I think.’
‘I was betrayed: I will not stay.’

                                                         Across the weltering deep she ran;
Demon and Angel With Tamara's Soul by Mikhail VrubelA stranger thing was never seen:
The damned stood silent to a man;
They saw the great gulf set between.

To her it seemed a meadow fair;
And flowers sprang up about her feet
She entered heaven; she climbed the stair
And knelt down at the mercy-seat.

Seraphs and saints with one great voice
Welcomed that soul that knew not fear.
Amazed to find it could rejoice,
Hell raised a hoarse, half-human cheer.

                    John Davidson

Hillbilly Zen – Hazelnut Coffee and Pancakes on a Stick

I’ve had what I thought was difficulty writing before: no inspiration/motivation, trying to find  just the right phrasing, sweating a deadline, etc.  That all pales in comparison with this last week.  What began as a simple writing exercise morphed into a maelstrom the likes of which I’ve never experienced.

Surgeons are discouraged from operating on family members, detectives aren’t assigned to cases involving relatives or friends, judges and juries are dismissed from deciding the fate of anyone with whom they’ve had prior contact.  So why is it that writers are driven to fill pages with visceral thoughts and feelings?

I’ll ponder that later.  Right now I’m going to seek out the most mindless recreation available, while drinking hazelnut coffee and scarfing down a couple of pancakes on a stick.  The reason for these neuron-numbing, pound-producing indulgences?  The “Haiku for Two Trees” series is finished.

The story it tells may be impossible for anyone but me to follow, but I hope readers will find some beauty in the words.  The memories and emotions that swarmed from this Pandora’s Box have been duly noted and properly dealt with, for now anyway.  I know they will always haunt me, but they are less strident, less accusatory.  Grief has been softened by retrospection.  A fringe benefit of that inexplicable writer’s drive, I suppose.

As stated before, this series was inspired by a photo posted by lovinchelle.  I admit that during this last week I vacillated between wanting to thank him and wanting to throttle him for starting all this.  Now that it’s in the rear view mirror I can sincerely say it’s the former.

If you’d like to see the series presented in one chronological post, it’s here.  I’m still debating whether to use the subtitles or go with I, II, III, etc., and would greatly appreciate feedback.  Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to all who have visited and shown their encouragement.

Online Bingo, here I come.

Hillbilly Zen – Haiku for Two Trees (Sunset)

Haiku for Two Trees (Sunset)
                                     Photo courtesy of lovinchelle


                       In memory of C.R.Q.


Hillbilly Zen – Haiku for Two Trees (Seasons)

Haiku for Two Trees (Seasons)
                                        Photo courtesy of lovinchelle.

Hillbilly Zen – Haiku for Two Trees (Mistrals)

Haiku for Two Trees (Mistrals)
                                          Photo courtesy of lovinchelle

Hillbilly Zen – Haiku for Two Trees (Scars)

Haiku for Two Trees (Scars)                                          Photo courtesy of lovinchelle

Hillbilly Zen – Haiku for Two Trees (Rhythms)

Haiku for Two Trees (Rhythms)
                                       Photo courtesy of lovinchelle.

Hillbilly Zen – Haiku for Two Trees (Seedlings)

Haiku for Two Trees (Seedlings)

Photo courtesy of lovinchelle

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