Blue Haze

September 17, 2009 at 6:15 am (Poetry, RefleXions)

Do not contaminate the blue haze

of mountains that stretch across the miles

with thoughts of morality

or protests of who should own what part.

It seems a sin to carve such grandeur into squares

to satisfy whims and greeds of men.

Rather to imagine, like Lennon,

there would be no need for greed or hunger here,

no breath of air not pure and free.


Never question the harmony

of life lived with clouds

not dedicated to God but given without thought,

and not beyond gentle, gracious simplicity.


A placid silence filled with whispering pines

this place the dream of angels devine,

no less than the essence of souls.


A breed of people, made here, apart

bound by boundless blood and timeless time.

Small against endless shades of blue

that blend water with earth and both with sky;

humbled by the knowledge that this is what surrounds us all.

© 2009 C. Harter Amos

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Tumbling into Oblivion (for Gayle)

April 18, 2009 at 1:04 am (Poetry, RefleXions)


In the thickness of fog she had no beginning or end,
     only a humbled bubble, she twirled,
 round and soft.
      At the edges of her vision,
           a ghost; dismal and dull.
Then came the jingling of a bell:
        an angel, she thought, warning of hell.
Curiosity overcame her fear
as she stood up to peer into solid grayness toward the sound
where suddenly in front of her a hound bent on some cause,
self-sent or spirit-led,
stopped for one moment to raise his head
                as if he understood the trip she travelled on.
     With tags jingling, he left, heading toward silent oblivion,
                everything, again full of emptiness,
                               she was gone, dear sister-friend, tumbling into nothingness.


© 2009 C. Harter Amos


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Self Inventory

March 28, 2009 at 6:38 am (Poetry, RefleXions)



My mirror tells the truth.
I like it. 
I have to face the “me” I’d pushed aside, 
Recreating a new self built on the ashes of the old.
I remember not being broken,
being proud,
being fearless enough to be always gentle and kind,
when smiles and music blended and ruled,
dating someone for four years thinking it was forever,
thinking I knew the ways of the world.
Now humbled and beaten down,  
I fail. I fall. I get up and try it again.
But there’s no one there to meet me.
No one there to hold out their hand.
For years, I walked in circles, a Helter-Skelter rut always one step behind myself,
Like a tiger who blindly chases its own tail,
So proud to have caught what it chased at last
Only to find pain in the taste of blood in its mouth.
My blood: thick and brackish, filled with salt and pesticide.
I finally, and at least, realize it was a worn down circle path.
I can see beyond the milk carton I was in.
So erased that I wasn’t even pictured on its sides.
The mountain in the far distance
Is as appealing as it is indifferent
I’ve never reached out.
I don’t know how to let go of my hold on the rocks.
My hands and feet bleed from the climb.
I am a forever student so my attempts are clumsy, hesitant.
There is no one to teach me
Only books and old thirty-three and a thirds on vinyl.
Only traditions and a heritage of gentleness left over
From social systems that crumbled and turned to dust
Long before I was born. 
I am boring, I admit. I cut away the games
Before the rest of me was taken away.
The dainty monster within me died a horrible death.
I am not owed the world, I am simply rebuilding myself
From pieces I’m still finding
Abandoned on the floor.
Like everyone, my pages are filled
With my own story.
It is me inside this skin.
Read my story or don’t,
But don’t assume to know it.
Each of us, no matter how famous or forgotten, is our own story
Inside our own brain, creased with private memories, private thoughts
A private us that no picture shows, that no private investigator could uncover.
Like it or not, indifferent or not,
You are peripheral to everyone,  
No matter how much you are loved,  
No matter how many times we desperately try to fuck ourselves into oneness
      with someone else or multitudes of others.
No matter how many times we yell at each other
      or confide in each other’s ear,
Each of us indeed enters and exits life’s stage alone.
Don’t pretend you haven’t done your own strutting upon it.
As I have, as we all have.
Like homage to the absurd spaghetti god
The holy stain from the holy sauce
Was always there as a reminder that I was humbly bowed before you.
My china broken. My youth broken. My world broken.
Next to the stain, the hole from a knife blade
            that took any pretense away. 
“Leave and you die,” you yelled over and over, and I knew it to be true.
Only a woman
Only a wife
Only a mother
Only a mistress and maid.
Only a “slit bottom”.
No matter how many “A”s I could make
(“It’s not real life”)
Or chess games I could win
(“It’s just a board game”)
No matter how well I played Rachmaninoff
(“What good is music”)
No matter how many years
I could calmly sit at a board meeting
Full of purpose and aplomb;
The promoted woman 
In a room of tailored suits,
The way their ties reminded them they were civilized men
My skirt reminding me of my husband’s taunts.
I would never be more than his
Never enough in this world designed, made, and run by men,
“Only a slit bottom bitch”
Too much the hot house plant to plow the fields
As his mother had
Too everything
And always nothing.
But an object of twisted love
And the protector of the children.
I meant to leave, I meant to leave!
(“You better hide under a dark rock.
 I’ll find you and take the children.
                        You’ll never see them again.”)
There are no more lies to tell myself
It was not alright to be the whore and the slave
‘till death do us part and the children are grown enough
            to tell their Daddy no,
                                    and not to listen to his lies.
The antithesis of self-absorption.
Nothing so grandiose as a martyred lamb
Or even a damsel in distress.
Just a simple doormat. A slave and nothing more.
I’ll fly a freak flag if it’s really necessary,
But I’m one of countless writers, artists and musicians.
We all know ourselves to be different
We all know the pain
And I’m not in hiding anymore.
I’m in semi-isolated peace and contentment.
I’m retired from the fight. Not necessarily a whole remade self,
But not suffering narcissism, not clueless.
Perhaps too clued. Trying to regain enough self.
Angry that I let myself become what I am:
What’s left of someone who was a good person.
The backbone of my ancestors calls out encouragement.
And I listen to every sound from the mountain.
I’m a great believer in sound.
I watch every change of season, every fallen leaf.
I applaud successes. I cry at the pain. I meditate. I wish
     to find some humbleness left behind your wise wall.
I write, I bleed, I breathe, I care, and I love.
The mirror doesn’t lie.
If I’ve learned nothing else in my life
I’ve learned you can never know the life of someone else
       By what you see, or hear, or read.
             Believe it, there are well hidden stories
Behind the most public and most private lives.
It’s not for me to question yours.
It’s not for anyone to assume they know mine.


© 2009 C. Harter Amos

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A Smile and a Drawl

February 7, 2008 at 8:21 am (Poetry, RefleXions) (, , , , , )

Rainbow Row

 Charleston, South Carolina has a heartbeat all its own,
     Steady and slow,
The sound is St. Michael’s bell that has rung like clockwork
     For three-hundred years,
     Like an uncracked Liberty Bell
          Through two wars, slavery and civil rights,
And always it sings, “sweet freedom” as it tolls the hour
Over cobblestone streets and tourists taking carriage rides.

Couples still do their promenade on the Battery,
First down from their homes and back
     on Sundays after mandatory church,
With sea spray splashing on white fancy frocks
     and white planters’ suits,
The sound of Palmetto branches rattling
     In the sultry breeze,
          barely audible between the roaring roll of waves.

Rainbow Row, its softly rainbow colored houses
     Turned sideways to the road
     Each facing a garden with intricately designed wrought iron gates,
     And walls of tabby, oyster shells
          peeking out from accidental artistically placed patches.

It’s a matter of pride that only a few blocks away
Porgy met Bess and sang “Summertime” from a porch
     less well kept but sideways to the main road.
          It’s Charleston, after all.
And there’s always ambiance, a smile and a drawl.

© 2008 C. Harter Amos

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After All These Years

January 16, 2008 at 7:00 am (Poetry, RefleXions) (, )



I don’t know why after all these years,

I’m still surprised

When the purity of your voice,

The purity of your talent,

Wraps me in a womb

Of calm, warm alpha waves

That fills the holes in my heart


To mould a song from thin air

That you coax to grow,


Like giving birth to a thing of perfection,

Its notes a double-helix of DNA notes

With not a single protein out of place,

Not a rest or a sixty-fourth note wrong

Or misshapen.

It’s a miracle indeed.

The sound takes me to

So many places

In the center of a universal soul

All placid and full of downy soft dreams.

With never a sharp corner or ragged edge

To tear my peace asunder.

I don’t know why after all these years,

I’m still surprised

When the sparkle in your eyes

Tells me you’re happy

Long before the words are said.

Somehow, the world would hold

Hands beneath you if it could.

It’s karma, I think…

For all the wounds you’ve healed

For the hearts you’ve held in your hands

And failed to crush when you could have.

So many want nothing more from you

Than to know that you’re happy.

It’s a miracle indeed.

© 2007 C. Harter Amos

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Sackcloth and Ashes

November 30, 2007 at 5:00 am (Poetry, RefleXions) (, , , , , , , )


Bravely he dared to take his child to see what ignorance looked like in the flesh. Was there flesh or unearthly demons hidden beneath bright white hoods? Anonymous men pranced in the flickering glare of a bonfire in the moonless night. The wicked cross, never again a holy thing, was aglow with the Baptist minister’s promised brimstone. The surrounding woods  ghostly lit, the rounded hard steel cars reflecting fire, parked everywhere in straight lines like a simple drive-in. They were putting on a show, like a movie after all, weren’t they? With wide eyes and nose pressed against the window, my breath came fast and hard, to form innocent condensation that I wiped with lily white hand.

It terrifies me now, to think how close I stood to the oozing maggot-eaten decay that a clean white word like ‘prejudice’ fails to convey. This one-dimensional word sits on dictionary’s page and doesn’t kick ribs and thrust bitter blades into human flesh, then stand there smiling, self-satisfied.

Virile Nubian youth, simple gift to man and wife, a near-man of sixteen, had chastely kissed his date goodnight, they say. It was by chance alone that he was who chose to walk the railroad tracks whistling a happy tune, they say, at ten p.m. as the others hid, these white pillars, with hard-ons of anticipation, before they circled like hounds of hell determined to make a point. It was a warning, they say. Later no one squealed on anyone.

“There’ll be crosses burned in yards.” Even spoken softly his low voice rumbled. “Let’s hope there won’t be one in ours,” he whispered and Mama didn’t move or speak. There were times he’d been able to help, been more closely involved, and no one guessed, she knew. His sapphire blue eyes barely hid horror laced with shame, and with wide eyes I pressed my nose to the window to watch for the burning crosses he said would be there that I still see in every campfire’s glow.

© 2007 C. Harter Amos

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Winter: A Southern Perspective

November 17, 2007 at 1:05 pm (RefleXions) (, , , )



People from Omaha say this is an extremely mild winter so far.  Even so, it freezes almost every night, which would be a major cold front in SC or Texas, but a fact they take for granted here.  I have no frame of reference.  It feels like the dead of winter to little ol’ me.  I keep hearing people complaining that it hasn’t even snowed yet. Some decades, I’ve failed to see snow.  I gather Omaha is suppose to be knee deep in gray by Thanksgiving.  My daughter says that’s what she doesn’t like about Nebraska; the constant gray from first snow to Spring.  I’m not really sure how I’ll like it, but know one of the first things I’ll do is freeze myself building the biggest snowman I can.  I’ve only twice had enough snow in my life to have a snowman.  This should be a good year for snowmen.  I have three grandsons to have a snowball fight with…AND Christmas should be white.  I’ve never had a Christmas when we didn’t have the windows open and a warm breeze blowing the tinsel on the Christmas tree. Never a white Christmas though one year it snowed north of us. My two girls were young and my husband and I drove two hundred miles so they could see snow.  It was about two inches, but we thought it was a miracle on Christmas.  Maybe I’ll change perspectives, but I’m singing Christmas carols already!

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Here’s to Sean

October 26, 2007 at 5:42 pm (RefleXions) ()



     My grandfather was a planter during the last days when cotton was king in the lower South.  He owned a mercantile store filled with things you see in museums and antique stores, but he also took trips by train to Texas to buy horses he then shipped back to South Carolina to train and sell. My Mom always laughed that she’d named me right to name me after him since I seem to have his “natural way” with animals.  I really consider my first baby to be my first horse, Sean.  He was a black quarter-horse with one white stocking and a white blaze; a gift from an aunt three days before he was born. We were more than “owner and horse”.  I don’t know how to describe the connection. I have Indian blood, though you can’t tell it to look at me and maybe it’s that part of me that “communes” with Nature so well.  Sean trusted me enough to do whatever I asked of him, and sometimes it seemed he had radar where my wants were concerned.  Then again, I trusted this huge animal not to hurt me and he obviously went out of his way to try not to. 

     I trained him myself the way I was told to: very easily and slowly, one non-traumatic step at a time over months. Then I sent him to Blanchard Poole, one of the finest “cowboys” you could ever meet.  Blanchard & his wife Debbie became good friends during those two months.  They said Sean was a blast to work with because the work was essentially done and Sean had such an easy way of wanting to learn whatever you asked of him.  He came home knowing tricks that I’d only seen Alsatians do. 

     When I went off to college, I began to look for places to board him. Partying was priority and what was the hurry? I never expected the call that told me Sean was dead.  He was diagnosed with Brucellosis.  His death was harsh and brutal, he grew weaker & weaker until he simply couldn’t get up.  They didn’t tell me he was sick until he was already gone, and I never forgave myself for leaving him behind.  After spending every day with me for hours morning and night, he must have thought I’d abandoned him forever.  It’s the one fault I find with animals; you can’t explain things to them like a sudden absence.  You’re simply gone and they can’t fathom why.  They can only “know” in feelings.  Sean must have waited for me to appear each morning, to return each evening, like I always had, until he gave up.

     Sometimes I “visit” Sean in my sleep.  Mainly it’s when life is stressful for some reason and my spirit needs a rest.  Last night I spent my dreamtime with Sean, going into the cold of an early morning in winter to break the ice on his water, to feed him the sweet smelling oats and to pull off clean smelling, green hay from a new bale. The simple pleasure of cleaning his stall while he ate. The steady rhythmic crunching of his contented chewing. It’s almost comical.  Then to ride.  To feel the cold north wind in my hair and the power of this beautiful, sweet baby gathering his muscles and moving beneath me in a oneness of body and spirit you might feel with a lover on the rarest occasions.  To cool him down, to curry him out, brush him, clean his hooves and share his breath.  To watch him running in the pasture with the pure delight of being alive, to put him in his stall at night knowing he’s safe.  To pat him a loving goodbye and hear the soft whinny as you walk away. 

     They say you have only one “special” horse in your lifetime.  It’s like saying you only have one true love in your life.  I don’t believe it’s true.  I’ve fallen in love twice.  But then again it is true, though I’ve owned and cared about other horses, I’ve never had that special relationship with another horse since my first one. Here’s to Sean who died in October 1971.

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The Church of the Who-not What-not

October 25, 2007 at 5:15 am (RefleXions) ()



     My dog plays with his toys by himself, and gives me a plaintive look as if I’ve lost my mind not to at least toss his ball around for an evening romp in the backyard. 

     Blogging.  It implies I should have something profound to say, but the round and round of my thoughts bores even me.  After all, I did this back in the sixties & seventies: this crisis of faith that ends in some mix of Taoism, absolute Capitalism, and I suppose Wicca for lack of a better word.  It’s a mute point, but today I found my Pagan pasts roaming freely through my thoughts.  All the Tao and the parts gleaned from Nietzsche and what-not/who-not all mixed in and not even trying to hide their communal head.  It was like taking one step left and two steps right, doing the “boot-scootin’ boogie” in some sort of insane dance with myself from the past. The surety of atheism that surrounded my teens and early twenties, then the Tao and Nature itself…My Baptist God was spelled with a small g and put to rest back when I was ten. I test the word Nihilist and the absolute apathy and amorality it implies. I have the morals of an Ayn Rand character at my very worst.  If there is no God, I still do unto others as I would have them do unto me.  People question my sincerity because I care.  They make up ulterior motives for my honesty…I still believe that if everyone does their best, the world survives in peace and harmony.  “Imagine”, John, wherever you are.  Flash that light in the distance…But then you did, didn’t you. 


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