Monday, March 16, 2015


Monday morning, before dawn.
The only sounds are forced air through vents,
the cat crying from room to room
wanting me to play with him,
and in the distance, traffic on the interstate.

On the table, my tie, which I probably won’t wear,
a turkey and cheese sandwich, an apple,
The Decay of the Angel by Mishima,
my briefcase in which to carry all this.
For breakfast, a glass of orange juice,
oatmeal and dried cranberries—the usual.

And, daffodils rising like the sun.

Sunday, March 15, 2015


Wind blows hard against the house,
rattles windows and the door.

Turned the garden this morning
anticipating warmer days.

Lunch of cheese and crackers,
celery, a glass of water.

Bask in the afternoon sun.
Nine daffodils in a jar mid-table.


Lenten rain washes away
the last vestiges of snow.
I should see it as a sign
of renewal and regrowth,
but it only brings thoughts
of cherry blossoms that will fall
before I walk with her again.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Harrison and Mildred

Now that the poems about John and Mary Ratcliff's lives are going to be published (Finishing Line Press, sometime in 2016), I think it's time to focus on the next phase of the Skimino Cycle.  Harrison and Mildred Ratcliff present two compelling individuals.  Mildred was a Quaker prophetess and minister who traveled fairly widely in her ministry and visitations with other Quakers.  She was well-known among Quaker circles in the 1810s and 1820s, and was vocal during the schisms that rocked Quakers in the early 1800s.  Her Memoranda and Correspondence were published after her death.  She led a public life.

I know less about Harrison.  For a time, he and Mildred lived in the Lynchburg, VA area, which suggests to me that he might have taken on running of the family's farm in that location.  Middle and upper income Virginia farming families typically had farms in Tidewater, the Piedmont, and out in the mountains.  I know that Harrison's father, William, owned land in York County (Tidewater) and Hanover County (Piedmont) as Quaker records list him in both locations at various times.  But, back to Harrison.  He was the first postmaster of Leesburg, OH in the early 1800s, which means he and Mildred were early migrants to Ohio.  When his uncle, William Harrison, decided it was time to move the extended family to Ohio in 1817, Harrison Ratcliff (then in his 50s) was sent to find suitable land to purchase and on which to settle.  In his obituary, Harrison is described as having a "fractious" personality.

Mildred was not a Quaker when she and Harrison married and, even though she attended Meeting with him, she questioned Quaker's beliefs (she was raised Baptist).  Harrison had lost his membership for marrying outside the faith, but apparently still attended meeting.  Mildred's conversion to Quakerism came in part after reading John Woolman's Journal, a copy of which Harrison owned.  Coming from a prominent Quaker extended family, Harrison probably had met John Woolman as he traveled among the meetings in the South.  I don't know much else about Harrison and Mildred.  I assume they were childless-- there is no mention of children in Mildred's writings or in either of their obituaries.  They both seem to have been strong-minded and strong-willed individualists.  Mildred certainly wasn't afraid to express her thoughts and opinions, and I imagine the labeling of Harrison as "fractious" suggests a certain penchant for going his own way as well.  There's also no mention of Harrison traveling with Mildred in her writings, which suggests openness, respect, and trust between them, and agreement that each should be able to pursue interests.

Mildred's life is "out there" to some extent through her published writings and the writing of others.  Harrison is less known, but as the husband and man behind the prophetess, just as interesting.  I think it's worth exploring and imagining his personality and life. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

February goes out with a fox: Day 28 sound poem prompt-- red fox barking

If March is coming in like a lion this year, then perhaps we should say that February went out with a fox-- the bark of a red fox, that is.  That was the sound clip for Day 28 in the sound poetry series hosted by Laura Shovan over at Author Amok.  My poem was just a little wordplay prompted by the bark and thinking about foxes.

Red Fox

Run, red fox, run.
The chase is on.
Riders in red pursue,
but cannot hear your cries
over blaring horns
and galloping hooves.
Go to ground, red fox,
go to ground. 
The hounds will clamor
at the entrance to your den,
while you, ever the clever one,
slip quietly out the back.