written in celebration of the 100th birthday on May 16th of the Poet’s mother, Marjorie Tweedie, a resident of Walnut Creek, California

I have a good imagination.
In my mind’s eye, a spotted, black and white carnation’s
As tangible as flaming neon-pink Dalmatians;
Each one as clear and real to me
As anything that I can see
With my own eyes.

It comes as no surprise
That I can picture things that I have never seen,
And in my mind see places I have never been;
And even things that never were,
I see them all as sure as sure—
As clear as day.

And if you took away
The Eiffel Tower, Mount Everest, the State of Maine,
The Matterhorn, the Zuider Zee, and all of Spain . . .
And then removed each grain of rice,
The kangaroos, and polar ice;
A world laid waste . . .

And if you then erased
The works of Homer, Shakespeare, Milton, Pope, and Poe;
The art of Titian, Rembrandt, Turner, and Van Gogh;
Mont San Michel, the Taj Mahal;
A world emptied of them all
I could imagine.

A world without you would be
Unimaginable to me.



James A. Tweedie is a retired pastor living in Long Beach, Washington. He has written and published six novels, one collection of short stories, and three collections of poetry including Mostly Sonnets, all with Dunecrest Press. His poems have been published nationally and internationally in The Lyric, Poetry Salzburg (Austria) Review, California Quarterly, Asses of Parnassus, Lighten Up Online, Better than Starbucks, WestWard Quarterly, Society of Classical Poets, and The Chained Muse.

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16 Responses

  1. Peter Hartley


    Your mother must be unimaginably delighted with this paean, and you certainly do have a good imagination. These words might have come straight from Lear or Carroll, your images from Miro or Dali.
    (And I prefer Van Gogh to rhyme with Poe. In the U.K. I try to remember to rhyme it with clock, of course, but I think according to the Dutch we are both wrong!). I imagine your mother is looking forward to her bicentenary (or bicentennial in USA) for the next panegyric. Don’t forget.

  2. Julian D. Woodruff

    Mr. Tweedie,
    This is like Sacher- or Schwarzwaldtorte with 100 self-removing candles.

  3. Sally Cook

    Dear James –
    Your poem is beautiful, both in format and intent. So often I think of my mother and things she said to me which didn’t seem to have more than a casual meaning, but now, in light of my increased maturity, were subjects I would now give the world to discuss with her. You can still do that!
    Pkease, will you give her an extra kiss on the cheek from me?

  4. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    James, I love the intriguing layout and the smiling playfulness of the words… right up until the heart-touching closing couplet which captures the depth of your love for your obviously adored mom. This poem is a beautiful gift on a glorious day. My congratulations and warm wishes to Marjorie Tweedie, and her talented son, of course.

  5. James A. Tweedie

    Thank you all. We had a small celebration with my mother and she enjoyed the attention! At 100 she is more alert and cogent than I am although slightly less energetic. Still semi-independent and not yet in assisted living. I wrote a second poem for that was sung to Schiller/Beethoven’s Ode to Joy that began with the words, “Whoever thought you’d live so long . . .”

    She said, “I hope I don’t have to do this again in another hundred years!” We all assured her it would be unlikely!

    My mom retains her wonderful sense of humor.

    Happy Birthday, Mom!

  6. Gail

    I used my imagination all through it. Your imagination will come in handy later whenever you wonder what your mother would’ve thought. Mine has been dead for longer than my children have been alive, yet they have learned to wonder . . . ‘I wish I knew what Grandma Sandy would’ve thought!’

    Very enjoyable–I wish I could hear the song!

  7. Margaret Coats

    Congratulations, Marjorie Tweedie!

    James, the concept of this poem is quite a feat of imagination. The hyperbolic wasting of the world seems a scary thing, but it well expresses the indispensability of a beloved mother.

  8. Yael

    What a lovely and delightful birthday poem! Happy birthday to your mom and congratulations. Have you asked her to what she attributes her longevity?


    James, this poem is an absolute delight! So much fun and topped off with so much love! Well done Congratulations! And a hearty congratulations to your mother!

  10. David Watt

    James, your mother must be rightly proud of your lighthearted, yet touching birthday poem. I’m sure your mother’s sense of humor is a major factor in her reaching this milestone.

  11. Aatif

    Amazing poem with best wishes! This birthday I wish you and your family abundance, happiness, and health. May lady luck come especially for the birthday boy/girl


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