Sunday, October 26, 2014

Children's Poems: For Bedtime

Angel Sleeping









There are angels all around us, complete with halos and wings. If you don't believe what I tell you, go into a child's bedroom and watch them sleep ... ~CJ Heck


Sleepytime Prayer

by CJ Heck

God bless my bedroom.
God bless my bed.
God bless the pillow
where I lay my head.

God bless my mommy.
Bless my dad, too.
They chase away monsters
that live in my room.

God bless my brother.
Bless my dog and my cat,
and, OK, my sister,
(even though she's a brat).

Thanks God, and Amen.
Now, up off my knees.
Wait! I forgot something.
God bless me, too, please.


("Sleepytime Prayer" from the book, "Barking Spiders 2 (sequel)", by CJ Heck)

More Poems from the Book



Bedtime Prayer

by CJ Heck

Now I lay me down in bed.
All my prayers and night-nights said.

Snuggle bunny, teddy bear,
toasty blankie, all are here.

Out with the light
so dreams will come.

Thank you, God.
Now ... where's my thumb?
(Night-Night)


("Bedtime Prayer" from the book, "Me Too Preschool Poetry", by CJ Heck)

More Poems from the Book



Night-Night

by CJ Heck

Night-night moon.
Night-night stars.
Night-night noisy
trucks and cars.

Night-night sand box.
Night-night toys.
Night-night other
girls and boys.

Night-night mom.
Night-night dad.
Night-night Boogie Man
who's not bad.

It's time to go to sleep now,
most all my night nights said.
Night-night blankie.
Night-night bed.


["Night-Night" from the book, "Barking Spiders and Other Such Stuff", by CJ Heck)

More Poems from the Book



“A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write.” ~CJ Heck


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Children's Poem: Dreaming

Dreams are Magic

Every once in awhile, I like to post a children's poem, written from a child's point of view.

Children have such an innocent way of looking at the world and their surroundings. If you listen, they have wonderful insights, too.


Dreaming

by CJ Heck

Did you ever wonder about dreaming?
How the pictures get in your head?
Why they’re only there when you’re sleeping?
Why they’re only there in your bed?

You can fly anywhere that you want to.
You can soar above houses and cars.
You can even go higher than that, if you want,
way, way up to the moon and the stars.

You can be someone great, someone special,
who has magical powers to use
to save your brother from monsters
... or not save, if that’s what you choose.

Dreaming is different from movies.
You don’t get dressed up and go out.
A dream can be different every night
You make up what the dream is about.

It’s too bad dreaming's for bedtime,
but that's how it's just gotta be.
If we walked around dreaming in daylight,
why would we ever need sleep?


[from the book, "Barking Spiders 2" (sequel), by CJ Heck]


"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

An Old New England Witticism ...

Pioneer Days

“Use it up,
wear it out,
make it do,
or do without.”

I have no idea who wrote those words, but I feel safe in saying it must have been a long, long time ago. 

I’m sure it was someone very wise, and I would love to have a sit-down chat with them. I have a few questions about what we are supposed to use up, wear out, make do with, or do without.  We live in such a throw-away world these days.

Line one: Use It Up. I suppose when it was originally written, it had to do with homemade soap, food, the deer dad shot and brought home, maybe even maple syrup. Everything else I can think of at the moment is date-protected and perishable.

That line certainly doesn’t seem to have anything to do with relationships. On second thought, maybe Use It Up could apply to a bad one.  You would feel used up emotionally, especially when we look at it like oil and water. If you keep the oil and water mixed, like in salad dressing, it will stay mixed as long as you‘re continually shaking it up, but who wants to function in that kind of instability?

Line two: Wear it Out. This seems pretty clear.  I'm sure it applied to clothes, shoes, pack mules, maybe even the Sears Roebuck catalog that only came once a year.  But I don’t I even want to touch this one with relationships. It’s way too obvious. In a bad one, you would feel totally, completely worn out.

Line three: Make it do. This line makes perfect sense, if we’re talking about old curtains, children's clothing, or an old rag rug that was handed down from great grandma, and maybe even the old mare we’re riding and sometimes hitch to the wagon: “Hell, Mary, she's still a good mare and she gets us around. 'Course she's grown awful swayback, but hells afire, we can make her do.”

Now, if you apply that same line and logic to a relationship, it pisses me off. I don’t see a place in any relationship for “make it do“.  Ever.

To my way of thinking, a relationship is like a bank account. Maybe that’s an arcane analogy, but bear with me for a minute. In order for a bank account to work, you have to put more into it than you take out of it. That way, the interest mounts up and with compound interest, you always have a positive cash flow.

When you only withdraw money, over time, the account dwindles and eventually bottoms out until there’s nothing left. For a relationship to work, both parties have to be putting more into it than they take out.

I realize that there are times when only one party is able to contribute. I’ve allowed for that. In a loving relationship, the other party is still contributing their share and often even more, so in the long haul, the relationship works, because over time, there is always more going into it than is being taken out   ... but you never, ever make it do.

Of course, if you have an always-giver paired with an always-taker and the giver doesn’t mind, they could possibly feed each other’s needs perfectly. In a sad way, I suppose those relationships can and do work.

Sometime ago, I had a relationship like that.  As the giver, it didn’t work for me. The “make it do” “wore me out” and to stay sane and stop feeling “used up“, like the obvious fourth line of the witticism, I chose to “Do Without” ... it was the best decision I ever made.


“A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write.” ~CJ Heck



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Pursuit of Happiness

Seminar Group Activity
Not long ago, I was told about a group of 500 business professionals who learned a valuable lesson, while attending a three day sales and marketing convention.

During the second day of the seminar, the main speaker suddenly stopped talking in what appeared to be the middle of his speech.  

He slowly scanned the faces in the crowd, noting the bored expressions and mounting impatience.

With a smile, he informed them they were going to do a group activity together. 

He began by giving each person a large orange balloon. Then he asked them to blow it up, tie it off, and to write their name across it using one of the black permanent markers in a basket on each table. 

All of the balloons were then collected and put into an adjacent room, which was totally enclosed in glass.  The sheer magnitude of balloons was an awesome sight.

Then the doors were opened and everyone was ushered into the balloon-filled room and told they had to find their balloon, the one balloon they had written their name on.  However, there was a caveat.  They would have only five minutes to find their balloon. 

In the vast sea of brilliant orange, people were frantically grabbing balloons, pushing, shoving, colliding with others, and there was utter chaos.

At the end of five minutes, not one person had found their own balloon.

Then the speaker asked each person to randomly collect one balloon and give it to the person whose name was written on it. 

Within a few minutes, everyone was holding their own balloon.

As the group returned to their seats, the speaker went back to the front of the room.  Then he said:
"This very same thing is happening in our lives today. 
Everyone everywhere is frantically searching for happiness. They can see it in others around them, but they don't know how to have it, or even how to find it. 
Our happiness lies in the happiness of other people. If you give them their happiness, you will find your own.   
This is the purpose of human life ... the pursuit of happiness."

“A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write.” ~CJ Heck


Monday, October 20, 2014

The Green Thing: Back in Our Day ...

An Older Woman ... from Our Day
Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to an older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags, because plastic bags weren't good for the environment. 

The woman apologized and explained, "We didn't have this new green thing back in our day."

The young clerk responded, "That's the problem our generation faces today. Your generation didn't care enough to save the environment for future generations."

She was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store then sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so they could use the same bottles over and over.  Actually, they were truly recycled. But we didn't have the green thing back in our day ...

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags that we reused for numerous things. The most memorable, besides household garbage bags and Halloween masks, we used the brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks.

This ensured that the books provided to us by the school, public property, was not defaced by our scribblings, as we creatively personalized our books on the brown paper bags. But it is too bad we didn't do the green thing back then ...

We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and we didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We didn't have the green thing back in our day ...

Back then, we washed the baby's diapers, because we didn't have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts. Wind and solar power really did dry our clothes. But we didn't have the green thing back in our day ...

Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady was right. We didn't have the green thing back in our day ...

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not one in every room. And the TV had a screen the size of a handkerchief, (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana.

In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand, because we didn't have electric machines to do it for us.

When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam, or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working, so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she was right. We didn't have the green thing back in our day ...

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty, instead of using a Styrofoam cup or a plastic bottle every time we wanted a sip of water.

We refilled writing pens with ink, instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor, instead of throwing away the whole razor, because the blade got dull. But it's true -- we didn't have the green thing back then ...

Back then, people took a streetcar, or bus, and kids rode their bikes to school, or walked, instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service.

We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?

Then again, maybe I really am just another selfish old person who needs a valuable lesson in conservation from a smart-ass young person ...

[Author Unknown]


“A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write.” ~CJ Heck




Thursday, September 25, 2014

What a Woman Should Have ...

Victorian Woman

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ...

enough money within her control to move out and rent a place of her own, even if she never wants to, or needs to...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ...

something perfect to wear if her employer, or the date of her dreams, wants to see her in an hour ...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ...

a youth she's content to leave behind ...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ...

a past juicy enough that she's looking forward to retelling it in her old age ...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ...

a set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ...

one friend who always makes her laugh ... and one who lets her cry...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ...

a good piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in her family...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ....

eight matching plates, wine glasses with stems, and a recipe for a meal that will make her guests feel honored ...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ...

a feeling of control over her destiny...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...

how to fall in love without losing herself ...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW ...

how to quit a job, break up with a lover, and how to confront a friend without ruining the friendship ...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW ...

when to try harder ... and WHEN TO WALK AWAY...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...

that she can't change the length of her calves, the width of her hips, or the nature of her parents, or siblings ...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...

that her childhood may not have been perfect ... but its over ...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...

what she would and wouldn't do for love, or more ...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...

how to live alone ... even if she doesn't like it ...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW ...

whom she can trust, whom she can't, and why she shouldn't take it personally...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW ...

where to go ... be it to her best friend's kitchen table ... or a charming inn in the woods ... when her soul needs soothing ...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...

what she can and can't accomplish in a day ... a month ... and a year ...



“A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write.” ~CJ Heck


Friday, September 5, 2014

Poem: Taps for my Soldier

Douglas "Doc" Kempf





In Loving Memory

Douglas Scott “Doc” Kempf
KIA Vietnam
September 5, 1969

Sp4 US Army
Combat Medic
199th LIB D4/12

7/12/1947 - 9/5/1969







Taps for my Soldier

by CJ (Kempf) Heck

A gentle breeze chatters the leaves
as birds sing their greetings.

The sun shines 
on a day like any other,
and yet like none before.

Two mirrored rows of uniforms
line up like blue dominoes,
white gloves holding rifles at the ready.

A lone bugle cries. 
Twenty-four notes.
Each note, slow as a tear,
blankets ears and heavy hearts.

In the silence between,
even nature holds its breath.

Gone is the breeze.
Gone are the bird songs.
Gone is her hold on composure,
all lost in the bugle's lament.

Solemnly a soldier approaches.
White gloves present a tri-fold flag,

and in one final mournful note,
legions of silent voices unite
to call a comrade home
and a young wife weeps.



[From the book, "Anatomy of a Poet", by CJ Heck]
  
"Taps for My Soldier" was included by an invitation from Master Sgt. and bugler, Jari Villanueva, for The Taps Exhibit, “The Taps Project”, Arlington National Cemetery, May 29, 1999.

"Taps for My Soldier" was included in the book, "The Other Side of Sorrow", by Cicely Buckley, Edited by Patricia Frisella (Poetry Society of New Hampshire, 2006).


“A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write.” ~CJ Heck




Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I Remember Autumn ..

The Autumn Leaves
Autumn is (almost) here. What a wonderful time of the year!

Temperatures drop at night, making sleep more comfortable and the days turn cooler and less humid.

Leaves cover the ground in varying shades and those that can, will be nearly nude again, even here in Florida.

This time of year I get pleasantly caught up in all of the things I love most about fall.

As a child, I loved the leaves. I remember building houses and forts, then playing hide-and-seek in the noisy piles that had been the walls.  But what I remember most was the pungent scent as they burned after daddy raked and then ceremoniously lit the piles with a match -- something the powers-that-be sadly don't allow these days.

There was apple picking at the orchard and choosing the perfect pumpkins for carving, and drinking apple cider from little paper cups while you waited for mom, or dad, to pay for your special finds.

My Hometown County Fair
And who can forget the county fair? In my hometown, small as it was, they even closed school for an entire week because of the fair.

I loved going on the rides, playing the games on both sides of the midway, and (ugh) the animal barns with the hold-your-nose smell of manure that followed you everywhere, all day long.

I'll never forget the sweet smell of cotton candy and I loved watching the guy behind the glass as he turned the white paper cone around and around along the edge of the silver vat and, miraculously, the cotton candy slowly grew on the paper cone into a huge pastel cloud -- and you just had to have some.

My favorite fair treat was the thick, long french fries you squirted vinegar on and ate with your fingers. Those fries to this day are my yardstick for measuring a really tasty french fry.

The coup de gras of autumn was always the haunted house, which was set up in one of the barns after the fair was over.  Ghosts! Werewolves! Dracula hiding in a closed coffin that suddenly popped open, just as you walked by!

Monsters in the Haunted House
Every autumn, I counted the days until the haunted house would open.

I remember walking through the doorway, my adrenalin pumping, heart racing, and my mind silently screaming ...

"Go ahead, scare me! Scare the living daylight right out of me!"

... and it always did.



“A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write.” ~CJ Heck


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