I disappoint some folks of whom I’m fond,
But I, in turn, am irritated by
The nebulous assurance that beyond
This life, in mansions somewhere in the sky,
I’ll have another chance to tell them why
I found myself unable to respond
To constant pleas. A rain gauge cannot lie:
The tearfall it confirms would fill a pond.

A magic wand’s the least that they would need
To make me act the way they think I should.

November finds me splitting cords of wood
To warm my bones and—later on—to feed
A fire. My sympathy’s not guaranteed,
And feeling guilty does more harm than good.




Though many of our neighbors wish us well
__And hope we live a life without distress
__As we move forward through the wilderness,
Some others wish that we would go to hell
And there, in brimstone fire, forever dwell.
__Intentions vary wildly is our guess,
__And therefore we should openly confess
That we have wished those others fates as fell.

Though this, of course, is not the way to live,
__However much our habits drive us there,
__It’s difficult at times to breathe fresh air.
Imagine being willing to forgive
__For nothing but to likewise be forgiven.
__Toward such a fair accord should one be driven.




We gather in the kitchen when it rains,
And we defrost some stew-meat for the pot,
Decanting amber spirits for our pains.
A festive celebration this is not;

It’s what we do while waiting for the sky
To clear. And when the sun at last comes out,
With neither us nor ground completely dry,
We head out to the barn to be about

Our chores. The livestock need some food and bedding,
And there are fresh-laid eggs we must collect.
We don’t exactly know where life is heading
Or whether all our bearings are correct.

While me and Jed pitch hay out in the barn
And carry buckets full of tepid water,
Our mother finds her needles and her yarn
And starts to knit, just like her own had taught her.

We traipse back to the house through clinging mud,
And as we reach the creaky backdoor steps
She yells, “Scrape off that stinkin’ barnyard crud
Before you come inside, you goddam schleps!”

Our father left us seven years ago,
And though our mother done the best she could,
We hope we’ll someday manage to outgrow
The hurt of Dad’s desertion—knock on wood.



C.B. Anderson was the longtime gardener for the PBS television series, The Victory Garden.  Hundreds of his poems have appeared in scores of print and electronic journals out of North America, Great Britain, Ireland, Austria, Australia and India.  His collection, Mortal Soup and the Blue Yonder was published in 2013 by White Violet Press


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17 Responses

  1. Joe Tessitore

    First Sally’s poetry, then Susan’s and now yours – can there be a better line-up than this?

    One technical question, C.B., your use of the word “fell” in line eight of “Turnabout”, would you please explain it?

    • Shola Balogun

      Thank you so much for your observation on the “fell” used in line eight of “Turnaround”. Subconsciously, I replaced the word with “well” when I got to the line. Hopefully I did not miss out on the intrinsic meaning due to my (mis) reading.

      In all, what we have here again today are great living poems.

      • James A. Tweedie

        “Fell” as an adjective can mean malevolent, sinister, evil, or ill. I have never heard the phrase “to wish them fell,” before, but it is clearly the right word, creatively and effectively used–a word I have used myself to good effect to what I believe was good effect.

        As always, well done, C.B. I am particularly attracted to “Fatherless” where you reveal an intimate vulnerability that gives us a glimpse into your heart (or, perhaps, a glimpse into the heart of a character that you created?).

        Either way, thank you for that. The sentiment touched me deeply.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Remember Shakespeare’s line about “That fell sergeant, Death…”

        The word means “frightening, horrible, fiendish, lethal.” It comes from the Late Latin noun FELLO, FELLONIS – an evil person. That’s also where we get the English word “felon.”

    • C.B. Anderson

      Joe, as any dictionary will tell you, “fell” is an adjective that means “of an inhumanly cruel nature.”

  2. Julian D. Woodruff

    Mr. Andersan,
    Thanks for these gems. Great technical control and, esp. in the 3rd, wonderful use of language.
    In the 2nd, what about a period or colon, rather than a comma, after “… drive us there”?; or am I mistaking the sense?

    • C.B. Anderson

      Julian, If you take the first & third lines of that stanza, you have a dependent clause preceding a declarative sentence. The second line is simply a clause that qualifies the first clause, so I think a comma is sufficient.

  3. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Each one of these poems is a shining gem and an absolute privilege to read on many levels. I fully appreciate the craft of each poem – the form, the rhymes, the rich array of language, together with the smooth flow of words that fit together flawlessly. For me, the craft (no matter how admirable) should never outshine the message, and, for me, the message conveyed in each poem has intrigued, engaged, and touched me. Very well done, indeed.

    • C.B. Anderson

      Thank you for the kind words, Susan. Strangely, I didn’t think these poems were all that good, but perhaps you are the better judge. In any event, I have no standing by which to dispute your opinion.

  4. Joseph S. Salemi

    In “Fatherless” Kip Anderson has adroitly placed two dialectical usages that add just the right touch of rusticity to a poem about rural life:

    “Me and Jed” instead of “Jed and I” (quatrain 4)


    “our mother done the best she could” instead of “did the best she could” (last quatrain)

    • C.B. Anderson

      It’s funny (peculiar) that you should say that, Joseph. At the time of writing it just seemed the right thing to do. I was a little bit worried that someone would point out that it was a bit odd that a rural denizen would use a Yiddish word such as “schlep.” Well, the old lady probably had a smart phone tucked away in her knitting basket.

  5. Peter Hartley

    CBA – I liked all three of these very much. The last lines of each well sum up the content of each. The dialect expressions, when easily comprehensible (as they are here) can only add more verisimilitude to the scenes they are there to illuminate.

    • C.B. Anderson

      Thanks, Peter. I must admit, though, that most of the good moves I make are accidental. I’ve become used to myself and certain responses to situations have become automatic.

  6. David Watt

    C.B., your first two poems flow like easy conversation, and tidily wrap up their case in the final two lines. “Fatherless” is more sentimental in nature, and highlights another side to your poetic skills.

  7. BDW

    On the Poetry of CBA
    by Wilbur Dee Case

    Remarkable the gain against the cost,
    the easy prosy feel and lessons lost,
    not metaphyic’lly done, nor embossed,
    but rather more or less like thawing frost.

  8. sally cook

    CB –
    These are fine poems with the added spice of recollection, which adds an additional and poignant dimension.


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