Saturday, July 30, 2011

Nuffing on My Plate

Today's blog, I'm going to dedicate to my niece, Katie Craig Wean.  I remember visiting my sister, Claudia, years ago, in Dayton, Ohio, when Katie was about five years old.  Both families, (her six and my five) were all seated around her dining room table filling our plates and talking.

I looked over to my left and there sat little Katie sniffling quietly, with huge tears making their way down her cheeks.  I leaned over and asked, "Katie, what's wrong, honey?"

Katie wiped at her tears and softly said, " I don't like (sniffle) nuffing on my plate (sniffle-sniffle)."

That one precious comment made its way to my heart and I never forgot it.  This poem is lovingly dedicated to you, sweet Katie ...

Nuffing on My Plate
by CJ Heck

I’m sad, I don’t like nuffing
that’s laying on my plate.
Maybe it will go away
if I just sit and wait.

I sure don’t like the liver
and I never, EVER could.
Can I have peanut butter
with grape jelly? That is good!

The smashed potatoes are okay,
yucky gravy it is NOT.
It’s like having icky oatmeal
and I hate that stuff a lot.

I almost like the green beans,
they’re green just like my frog,
but NO ONE likes dumb broccoli,
not even Hank, my dog.

Uh oh, mommy says we’re having
chocolate pudding for a treat.
Maybe if I hold my nose
stuff won’t taste so bad to me. 

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, July 23, 2011


I have the coolest friend. His name is Rusty Daily.

We met on a writing website years ago where we both wrote poetry for children.  Like me, Rusty is still just a big kid with a few more years on top.

Anyway, Rusty and I decided we would like to write some poems together. We did and I would like to share one of our favorites with you:

Pulling a Wedgie


by Rusty Daily and CJ Heck

You know what makes me laugh
and puts me into stitches?
It's when I grab ahold and pull
the waist of someone’s britches.

It’s fun! It's called a WEDGIE
and what a super name,
just pull and yell out WEDGIE!
It‘s really the coolest game.

Hmmm, I wonder who I'll get,
lil sissy or my big brother?
Or maybe, I should get my dad,
but definitely NOT my mother!

I'll NEVER do grandmas or grandpas.
To do that, you‘d have to be nuts,
'cause everyone knows, old people
don't even have any butts.

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

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Growing Up A Girl

I don't know about you, but as a child, I was happy most of the time and I felt relatively normal. I know it was that way all through elementary school.

By the time I went to junior high, though, my normal didn't feel so normal any more.  For one thing, I wore thick glasses.  I was also very shy and a late bloomer, so I started to have some real doubts about myself, especially when I saw the changes all my friends were going through.

I remember one day after school Mama asked me, "Honey, what's the matter? You seem so quiet today. Is everything okay?" 

Once that door was opened, I ran through it at full speed ... metaphorically speaking, of course. What follows is the conversation between Mama and me that day ...

Me -- Elementary School Age

Mama, Am I Pretty?
by CJ Heck  

Mama, am I pretty? 
"Why do you ask?" she said. 
She held me gently to her, 
and kissed me lightly on my head. 

"Your clothes are neatly ironed. 
Your face and hands are clean. 
You’re such a sweet child, little one, 
what does your question mean? " 

Mama, am I pretty? 
I really need to know. 
Am I pretty like the other girls 
at school where we all go? 

"You have a very loving heart, 
You’re gentle, kind and good. 
Your friends all think the world of you, 
anybody would." 

But, Mama, am I pretty? 
Sometimes, kids point or stare. 
I’ve got these real thick glasses 
that I wish I didn’t wear. 

Mama said my time would come, 
be patient and I’d see. 
The things that really matter 
were there, inside of me. 

But, Mama!  Am I pretty? 
(I didn’t mean to shout). 
Then Mama smiled and told me, 
"Sweetheart, yes, inside and out."

[From the book, "Barking Spiders 2", by CJ Heck]

Buy at Amazon

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

Monday, July 11, 2011

Do I Remember You?

There's a true story behind the poem I'm posting in the blog today.  I wrote it in 2000, after I received a letter from someone I hadn't heard from in over thirty years.  

I lived in San Francisco back in the early seventies, and I was a flight attendant with the now defunct airline, TWA.  This was what I had decided to do, after my husband, a combat medic, was killed in Vietnam the year before.  What I discovered very quickly, after moving so far away from my family in Ohio, was that grief follows you, no matter how far away you  move.  I couldn't understand why it still hurt so badly and I thought there must be something wrong with me.  

People didn't want to hear that my husband was killed in Vietnam.  Vietnam was wrong!  Vietnam was what people were protesting!  People said he shouldn't have gone and "get over it".  And yet, there I was, having a terrible time even coping with being alive -- I loved him, I missed him, and I wanted to die, too.  We didn't know about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) back then -- so I couldn't have known that I had a form of PTSD.  I've come to see that mine was caused by the trauma of Doug being killed, by the trauma of being informed by army personnel, (strangers), in my living room, by the trauma of having to wait sixteen more days for his body to be flown home, and probably because I was young, only twenty, and the anti-Americanism crap only added further to the problem -- it was as if they were bragging that Doug died for nothing, for no reason at all ...

I met the nicest man in San Francisco, within about six months of living there.  From Oregon originally, he was tall, very handsome, and we enjoyed each other's company very much.  He didn't tell me to "get over it" when I was overcome by my feelings.  As a matter of fact, he encouraged me to talk about Doug, lent me his shoulder and held me when I cried, and this unselfish comforting was all he seemed to expect of me.  He was my friend.

I don't remember now what happened, why we went our separate ways, but we did.  Knowing what a difficult period that was in my life, I was probably the one who broke it off.  But it wasn't until I received his letter in the mail thirty years later, that I found out that he had loved me, and I was stunned.  He had never told me.  When I read that, I remembered having feelings of my own, too, but over the years, I came to see those feelings more as deep gratitude, for being such a wonderful, caring friend when I desperately needed one -- and also for his strength of character, by not taking advantage of a grieving young widow.  

I'm happy to say, we've kept in touch since that letter came in 2000 -- email is a fantastic invention.   Now, I dedicate this poem with love, to my friend, Lee:

Do I Remember You?
by CJ Heck  

Do I remember you,
you ask, 
from so many
years ago?
(Who? The man with
a gentle touch
and loving hands?
The man whose
arms once
saved my life?
The man with
a caring shoulder
that welcomed
a widow's tears? 
Budding passion,
almost lovers,
undermined and
rent by fate?)

Many miles away
the years have passed.
Our mirrors echo 
younger faces, 
all gone now,
lives lived on
tandem shores. 
Silent hands reach 
through the ages 
spanning years 
from then to now, 
while fingers 
ply the keyboard
to fill in the
time between. 

Love and memories
come flooding into
present from the past
and I cry from
just one letter.
Yes, I do 
remember you ...

(c) 2000 CJ Heck

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Chippendales

Today, I decided to post one for the ... er ... the mature ladies of the world.  

I don't know if you've ever gone to see male strippers, but I've been there.  Well, to be honest, it was only one time.  

My friends took me to see them on my 40th birthday, but it truly was wild and sexy and it implanted some really nice memories.

Sexy Mail Stripper

Visiting the Chippendales
by CJ Heck

Back when I turned forty, 
some friends took me 
to see the male strippers. 

I never knew 
there was a place 
you could go 
where there was 
so much action 


We were small dots 
in a sea of faces, 
distorted by the 
strobing lights 
set to music, 
sexy, seductive, 
and LOUD,
but it had to be loud 
to hear it above 
the screaming women ... 

(BOOM ta da BOOM ta da BOOM) 

“Take it OFF! Throw it HERE!” 

(BOOM ta da BOOM ta da BOOM) 

“Shake it, Ooo baby! Take it ALL off!” 

(BOOM ta da BOOM ta da BOOM) 

while a tan, muscled,
sexy young stud
humped and ground 
a well-packed G-string 
in a woman’s face


I remember thinking,
what if I’m next?

Mama always told me
'look but don’t touch' 

but somehow, 
the not touching 
was SO much easier 
when I was five ...

[From CJ's book, "Anatomy of a Poet"]

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

Friday, July 8, 2011

Lady Bug

My Lady Bug 
by CJ Heck

Hi there little lady bug,
whatcha doing on my arm?
Please don’t fly away.
I won’t bring you any harm.

I’m glad to have you with me.
I was feeling so alone.
Somehow I got me turned around.
I can't find my way back home.

I only took a little walk
behind a pretty butterfly.
Now I’m really scared and lost
and I think I’m going to cry.

Stay with me my lady bug,
please don’t fly away, 
and when my mommy finds me,
come home with me and stay.

I’ll let you share my bedroom
and when it’s dark at night,
Mommy leaves the lamp on.
Monsters hate it when it’s light.

Hey, that sounds like Mommy!
It is! She’s calling me!
Now you'll get to meet her.
You’ll like her, wait and see.

Lady bug, where you going?
I'll bet you're going home too.
Thanks for being lost with me.
Bye lady bug -- I love you.

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Preschool Poem: "Ten Little Piggies"

Ten Piggies

Ten Little Piggies

by CJ Heck 

Ten little piggies
standing in a line.
Mom and daddy told me
the piggies ALL are mine!

One by one we point to them.
Every piggy gets a name,
and then a place he goes to.
I really LOVE this game!

When Mommy sings the song,
I see ten piggies wiggle,
then when Mommy kisses them,
it makes me smile and giggle!

When the game is over,
we put them in warm socks.
Hmmm ... just how many piggies
does a mom and daddy gots? 

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

Monday, July 4, 2011

Short Story: In Honor of Life

Beautiful Flowers

by CJ Heck

It was Memorial Day and, as she did every year, Sharon Cleary drove to the Eternity Gardens Cemetery with three of the prettiest spring bouquets she could find.

She took this day seriously. It was her private, personal time to honor family members who died in war. It was her way to show she cared.

One bouquet was always for Great-Grampa, "PJ" Mullerton, who died in a bunker during the first world war. Another bouquet was for Uncle Theo Tarns, who was killed when his bomber was shot down in the second world war.

She had never met Uncle Theo, but she was still fiercely proud of him and, as with great-grampa, forever indebted to him for his service. The last bouquet of flowers was always the most difficult for her. She always made sure this bouquet was the largest and most colorful of the three. This one had to be special. It was for Daddy.

Sharon was only six when she hugged Steven Cleary's neck tightly for the last time at the airport in Stewartsville. She remembered crying and pleading with him to stay. "Please, Daddy, don't go. I will miss you and so will Mommy. Please stay with us. We need you." She knew her father had been just as sad to leave them. She saw the tears he silently wiped from his cheek after he hugged her and then turned to hug and kiss her mother.

Steven had been killed in action in Vietnam six months later, a decorated soldier and a hero. Her mother, Sarah Cleary-Buddig, had eventually framed his medals and they still hung on the wall beside his picture over the fireplace. Sharon remembered what a sorrowful time that had been, after the family learned of his death. But as sad as she had been, she had never felt so completely helpless as she did, hearing her mother sobbing into her pillow at night and not knowing how to comfort her.

Sharon had been so lost in thought that she nearly missed Uncle Theo's grave. She had to turn and walk back two rows and she chided herself for not paying more attention. After she finished her prayers and was done talking to Uncle Theo, she took a deep breath -- it was time to find Daddy. Her heart always felt like it was in her throat as she walked the steep path to the upper section where her father rested in the Cleary family plot.

Just as she reached the top, she noticed an elderly woman bending over one of the older headstones on the left. Sharon watched in silence as the woman tenderly kissed a folded paper and then slipped it under a vase of roses on the flat marble headstone. Then she adjusted the small American flag that was stuck in the ground to the right of the marker.

As she stood, she suddenly turned and their eyes met. Sharon was stunned. She could almost feel the woman's thoughts through the look on her face and what was in her eyes. Then just as quickly, the moment was gone and the woman had turned away.

How amazing, Sharon thought, as she watched the woman walk slowly back down the path towards the entrance gate. The woman was crying -- I could see her tears, Sharon thought -- but she had the most beautiful smile on her face at the same time. Sharon felt compelled to go over to the headstone and read the letter the woman had so carefully tucked under the vase.

"To my husband, my lover, my friend:
I will always love you.
I hope you like the roses.
All my love forever,
Your Maeve"

She read the short note and, now crying herself, the words filled her with a beautiful new awareness. She could almost see the wheels of time turning the days and months to years, and then you realize that it's been a whole lifetime that a loved one has been gone. One day, like a bucket with a hole, you can see the sands of grief sifting slowly through, and instead of mourning their death, you begin to celebrate everything they meant to you in life.

Sharon closed her eyes and, as she replaced the letter under the vase of roses, she quietly thanked the elderly woman and walked back to her family plot. Then she placed her third bouquet on the engraved marble monument for her father.

And as Sharon thanked Steven Adam Cleary once more for being her father, she remembered the love and the good times they did have together. This time when Sharon cried, she could also smile -- and the tears were tears of joy.

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

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Ride, Buffalo, Ride: by John A. Roof

John on Lisa
It was getting close to the fourth of July and there was always a big celebration in Cimarron, New Mexico. At the time, I was working as a burro wrangler at Harlan Camp.

We had been in the high country for three weeks and I was hoping that Bill Leach, my Camp Director, would let me have a couple of days off around the fourth. I always enjoyed going to the rodeo and, of course, checking out the girls.

Cimarron was a small town located at the mouth of the Cimarron Canyon and on the Cimarron River just on the edge of the high country and the plains which lead to the Texas flat lands and Lubbock, Texas.

I was going to college there at Texas Tech University, and working on an art degree in studio painting, which my father considered to be a waste of time.

This was also my third year at Philmont Scout Ranch and, in my mind anyway, there was no place greater in the world to be than there.

Later that day, Bill Leach said I could have the Fourth off, if the staff would let him have July 20 off so he could watch the first moon landing. Steve, the other staff member, had no problem with either one of us having our desired days off. He just wanted to have three days later that month so he could go to Denver for a weekend. So it was set. I would have the fourth off.
The problem with being in the high country camps was, even if you had the day off, you might not be able to get in because there was no traffic to the camps. So you would have to hike in or wait for a ride to show up.

I decided to take a different route. I was going to ride my horse, Lisa, in to headquarters. It was faster than hiking and I thought it would be a great experience, being on horseback for part of the day alone, and taking in the beauty of the landscape from the back of a horse. As a little boy, I had always dreamed of being a cowboy -- back then, I think everyone wanted to be.

The day of my departure, I grained the burros, cleaned the corral, gave a lesson on burro packing and showed the scouts how to tie a diamond hitch so their equipment would not fall off. 

Then I gathered my things, shoved them in the saddle bags, checked out with Bill, and headed for the corral. I saddled up Lisa, tied on the saddle bags, swung into the saddle and I headed out. I was really looking forward to this ride.
I followed the trail which led to Camp Cimmarroncito, between Deer Lake Mesa and Antelope Mesa. I had hiked this trail many times, when I was a Ranger, but this was the first time I had on horseback. I was hoping I wouldn't run into any bears.

I had been riding fence a couple of weeks before and Lisa and I ran across a bear at one of the stock ponds and she really gave me a ride. I don’t think she likes them very much.

I checked my map and ahead was a cut off that would lead into the pasture and on down to headquarters. I found the cut off, it was old and not used very much, so it was like unexplored territory. I followed the trail till I found the first fence gate, dismounted, opened the gate and went through. I rode for the better part of an hour and then came to two gates. Without checking my map, I took the gate to the right, figuring that was headed the correct direction towards Headquarters.

After a while, I saw some cattle up ahead and I thought I would investigate. As I got closer, I pulled my rope and thought maybe I would do a little roping. “Wow! Those are some big Angus cows!” I spoke out loud to the open spaces. I didn’t know the ranch had any Angus Cattle. The closer I got, the bigger they looked. “Those are the biggest Angus I have ever seen!” I said again out loud to no one.

Then in a flash, it came to me. “Shit! I'm in the buffalo pasture! Oh hell ...” this time, speaking even louder, again to no one.

For the next few minutes, all you could hear were my spurs singing as I pushed Lisa into a hard run and headed for the nearest gate.

Coming up on a small rise, I dismounted, making sure I was not being followed by any of the buffalo. Quickly, I checked my map and located the closest gate out of the pasture and headed straight for it.

Once I was out of the buffalo pasture, I again spoke out loud, but this time it was to my horse, “Okay, Lisa, this is OUR little secret. We won’t tell ANYONE that we were in the buffalo pasture.”

We continued our ride to headquarters and then had a great Fourth of July.

The whole time I was in headquarters, and while I was at the rodeo, there was a smile on my face. The ride back on July 5 was not as exciting but it was a ride back in time and the beauty of the west. I was in the saddle early that morning and I am still in the saddle, in my thoughts.

An Honest to God True Story
Happy trails.
John A. Roof

About the Author

John and Betsy Roof
John Roof graduated from Texas Tech in December, 1973, with a BFA in studio painting.

Bill the Calf and the Ride Down the Road

The Walk: Short Stories of a Teenage Boy in the 60's

Visit John's Website

John and his wife, Betsy, live in their home amid  the wildflowers and fruit trees in Staples, Texas, where they are accomplished artists and photographers.  They also love to build and restore antique furniture together.

He's one of the nicest and most regular guys you'll ever want to meet.

John is fond of saying, he has found his garden ...

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

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Defining True Beauty

"Oh, that's so beautiful!" This is what we say, or think, when we watch the sun set over the ocean, see a spectacular view, a flower garden in full bloom, or even a good-looking man or woman.

But, where does our appreciation of that beauty originate? Where does our ability come from to understand what beauty is? It's in our own consciousness.

The essence of who and what we are is beauty. That can't be found in the sunset, a face, or a view. Those only awaken the essence of beauty within our own spirit. It's something we sense within ourselves.  It emerges in our character as virtue, and in our life as care. What is virtue, anyway, but love in action?

Can beauty be defined with regard to people? Sure it can. There are two types of beauty, physical and spiritual. Physical beauty is subjective. We want to like what we see in our mirror. It can be bought through plastic surgery, cosmetics, clothes and so on, if you have the money. Physical attractiveness is appealing to the senses, but it's a fake beauty, based on society's superficial standards. 

I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to look and feel our best. Everyone does something for beauty, but that isn't true beauty.

Spiritual beauty is true beauty, because it comes from within the heart and the soul of a person. When someone has a beautiful soul, their presence can be sensed by others.

Spiritual beauty comes through awareness and from knowing there is a higher power who gives us the strength and confidence we need to live the best life we can. With it comes peace, confidence, and inner happiness. Spiritual beauty gives us an inner glow that others are drawn to, because they also sense and  feel the awareness and beauty.

Feeling good spiritually has other benefits, too.  It makes us want to take care of ourselves and our health, which, in turn, is good for our overall physical appearance. We gain inner balance by knowing who we are, and knowing we are beautiful, spiritually. As a result, we attract spiritual people into our lives, people who love the whole of us:  our mind, our body, and our soul.

The next time you say, "Oh, that's so beautiful!"  Remember, you speak of yourself.  It is you who are beautiful. You always were. You always will be.

Now that's beauty ...

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