Possumhaw: A Little Book of Poetry

Shannon Bardwell

You can find poetry in your day-to-day life, in your memory, in what people say on the bus, in the news, or just in your heart.

— Dame Carol Ann Duffy, British poet and playwright

“I am not a poet and you will soon find out.”


Valentine wishes you a lifetime of love and laughter. Valentine’s Day is reminiscent of poems we’ve all heard in our lifetime: “Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet and so are you.” The original poem is attributed to Joseph Johnson compiled in an English nursery rhyme book titled “Gammer Gurton’s Garland 1784”.

While rummaging through our shelves, I came across a long-forgotten book, “A Little Poetry Book”, published by Starkville Writers and Illustrators Group known as SWIG and dated 2004. The collection was compiled by ten contributors in as part of a fundraiser for the Starkville Public Library. The poets were: Debra Allen, Allen Baswell, Valeria King Cain, Armando A. de la Cruz, Andrea Dinep, Judith Ewing, Jillian Emma Hatcher, EM McLemore, Kittye Dell Robbins-Herring and myself.

Published eighteen years ago, I guess some of the poets have pursued their heavenly reward or moved on to parts unknown. A quick check via the internet revealed that Allen Baswell lives in Ackerman and still writes short stories, poems, plays, has been a pastor and journalist. Appropriate for Valentine’s Day, here are excerpts from some of the poets:

D’Allen: Star of the night, bright star… Still shining brightly in the moon-kissed night. Can you answer the echoing and evoking questions? Through the depths of my heart. Is this the one I should dream of? Is she the one I should have and hold? Will she tell me I love you?

EM McLemore: I remember the day. I saw a young man walk away… My heart jumped after you broke. I wanted to follow you, watch over you, protect you. No, I couldn’t follow. Wasn’t that what we prepared you for after all… One last thing, your dog Ole Bob always hopes at the door, he waits for you there some mornings. We also hope and look forward to seeing you when you return. All my love, mom

Jillian Emma Hatcher: Oh, little bird, you are a ray of sunshine rising beautifully as if dancing for a queen. Tiptoeing on a soft fluffy cloud hidden in the fabulous blue sky. If I were a bird, I too would soar like you.

Armando A. de la Cruz: A form of verse developed by Armando consisting of an unlimited number of unrhymed 5-syllable lines between two Haikus – Cold chills the bones. The wind freezes the senses with numbness, polar thoughts return. Travel back in time: walk among penguins, sail around icebergs, slide on smooth glaciers…

From the Prairie: Green cabbage, carrots and tomatoes too. In Grandma’s pot, they make a stew. She picks them, cuts them, places them in the pot; then salts them, stirs them and heats them. Serves well in a special bowl, with milk and butter and a cornbread. I drink my milk and I eat my stew. Because also comes the pie and the ice cream.

Shannon Bardwell is a writer living quietly on the prairie. An e-mail reaches him at [email protected]


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