Forever Nine

My bare feet merge with weathered, knotty pine
As dripping swimsuit water cools the pier.
The day belongs to me, for I am nine,
With end of endless summer drawing near.
My tanned and sunburnt skin soaks in the sun;
My heartbeat hastens with adrenalin;
My back foot thrusts me forward as I run
And soar and plunge into oblivion.
The snow-cold lake enfolds me in her womb
And births me back into the world again,
Which picks me up and sweeps me like a broom
From boyhood back into the world of men.
A carefree day preserved in memory;
The child I was; the boy I’ll always be.



Summer Days

Beneath a broad-leafed maple tree, the sun
Spreads shifting green-shade shadows on the lawn.
As overhead, where new life has begun,
The chirps of hungry hatchlings greet the dawn.
The coolness of the morning dew belies
The mid-day heat that soon will sear the air
And fall like silent rain from cloudless skies
To bathe the earth in whispered, wordless prayer.
Yet underneath the tree a freshing breeze
Anoints the sheltered shade as sacred space
Where angels, dressed as butterflies and bees,
Descend as earth and heaven interlace.
And there the little child who leads them plays,
And idly whiles away his summer days.



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, Dwell Time, Light, Deronda Review, The Road Not Taken, Fevers of the Mind, Sparks of Calliope, Dancing Poetry, WestWard Quarterly, Society of Classical Poets, and The Chained Muse. He was honored with being chosen as the winner of the 2021 SCP International Poetry Competition.

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17 Responses

  1. Stephen Dickey

    I think these are both very skillfully done; I particularly enjoyed “Forever Nine”, which has an intense resonance for me. Thank you for that.

  2. Paddy Raghunathan

    Always a pleasure to read your poems James! Nicely done.

    Best regards,


  3. Cheryl Corey

    These are very pleasant sonnets and nicely capture the essence of what summer meant, or still means, for you.

  4. Paul Freeman

    Oh, yes, those summers of yore, and a skillfully picture to go with the poems.

    I enjoyed both sonnets. Very nostalgic and very simply told (which is an art in itself).

    I preferred ‘Forever Nine’ for its utter innocence, its amazing birthing imagery, and the title’s play on several film titles.

    With ‘Summer Days’, if you don’t mind me saying, I felt ‘freshening’ might sound better than ‘freshing’ – I don’t know about anyone else, but I tend to elide that second ‘e’, making ‘freshening’ two syllables.

    Thanks for the memories, James.

    • James A. Tweedie

      Paul, I have a love of words and a substantial vocabulary to draw from. I am also fully aware when I consciously choose to either give a word a new or nuanced meaning (where the context defines it), or create a new word (for the sake of alliteration or as an onomatopoeia) or to create an adjective or adverb from a noun or vice versa or to simply make something up out of thin air. Evan occasionally challenges me on such usage and sometimes (if I decide the word is too obscure or distracting) I will change it, but most often I have already carefully considered that possibility and choose to let it fly, which Evan then grants me the poetic license to do.

      The auto-spell-check on my iPhone won’t even allow me to type the word “freshing” without rewriting it as “dredging.” But I refuse to be bound by limitations imposed by Microsoft, Webster or even the 600,000 words in the OED.

      The fact that you immediately recognized the meaning of the word by associating it with “freshening” shows me that my use of its shortened form was successful.

      For the sake of illustration, I could also have easily used the phrase, “a freshet breeze” to imaginatively convey the same thought insofar as it would not only include the idea of “fresh” but do so by invoking the added image of a “small stream of fresh” air (instead of water).

      Call it wordplay, if you like, but words exist as means to an end, and if I can achieve my “end” through the “means” of a creative, imaginative, and expansive vocabulary, then I will continue to pursue the challenge of saying familiar (or even unfamiliar) things in new ways.

      I do, however, appreciate your comment and do not dispute that your suggestion reflects proper English usage. But, although my poetry is composed in English, because it IS poetry—even within fixed forms—I see no reason to believe that it must also be proper.

      I am also glad that you not only read and enjoyed my summer sonnets, but that you took the time to let me know!

  5. Roy Eugene Peterson

    “Forever Nine” and “Summer Days” are whimsical, wistful paeans that call forth our bright memories of youth. As with poems of love and romance, there is always a place for nature poems written with fresh perspective that allow us to fantasize about what once was and what we wish would always be. Beautiful and skillfully written like all your magnificent poems.

    • James A. Tweedie

      Thanks, Roy, and your use of the word “magnificent” (following related lines of thought from my reply to Paul) triggered an amusing memory of when I submitted “Forever Nine” to “The Lyric” poetry journal several years ago. The editors accepted the poem for publication but suggested that it would be improved if I shortened it by removing the closing couplet. For a variety of reasons I let them know that I wished the couplet to stay where it was. They accepted my decision and posted the poem as submitted. The amusing bit was that the poem—couplet and all—was subsequently chosen (by an invited guest judge) as the winner of the Lyric’s quarterly prize for best poem. Ha!

      • Roy Eugene Peterson

        I love that story, James. Thank you for sharing it!

  6. Margaret Coats

    James, I admire the turn in both of these summer sonnets of complex vision and multiple spheres of reality. “Forever Nine” is simpler; the plunge into the lake takes the speaker back to adulthood, where he uses the couplet to claim eternal boyhood, since memory is a power of the immortal soul. As critic, I get to explain that more fully!

    “Summer Days” falls away from the material scene a bit more quickly, as the heat falls upon the day in the fervor of prayer. Interesting that you use a downward momentum in both poems. Then a breeze consecrates sacred space by anointing. Naturally, the butterflies and bees there must be angels. Great opportunity to use the word “interlace” for heaven and earth in this situation. This interlacing is always or frequently present, though rarely noticed. We are not sure whether the child leading the angels understands that he is foreshadowing new heaven and new earth in accord with the scriptural allusion, but we who observe him idly playing can meditate on what is unknown to us as well. More profound that it looks at first, and highly appreciated.

    • James A. Tweedie

      Margaret your spiritual eye noted the allusion to Isaiah 11:6 which is, of course, the key that unlocks the door to the deeper meanings embedded in “Summer Days.” Children, for example, in their innocence seem to know when they have entered a sacred space wherever it may happen to be. As adults we try to create those spaces and invite God to enter the place we have prepared for him. God, on the other hand, chooses his own sacred space and invites us to enter the place he has prepared for US! As my poem suggests, Children are more likely than adults to sense the difference. They have to learn to find God in a church. On the other hand, like the child in my poem, they seem to know without knowing when they find themselves under the shadow of his wings.

  7. Gary

    James, I especially like ‘Summer days’. What a beautiful picture you paint. The word choice and flow are very good, too.

    A very fine sonnet. Well written, James!

    • James A. Tweedie

      Thank you, Gary. As I wrote the opening lines I did, in fact, imagine it as a painted picture.

  8. Paul Martin Freeman

    “The day belongs to me, for I am nine”
    Of boyhood ne’er you’ll find a finer line

  9. Shaun C. Duncan

    Both sonnets are wonderful James, but as father to a nine year-old I particularly enjoyed “Forever Nine.” As Paul Martin Freeman points out above, “The day belongs to me, for I am nine” is a sensational line, as is the “The child I was; the boy I’ll always be.”


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