When I was a boy the school building my mother attended was closed down. It had been a one-room school. She went to the public auction. She and others wanted the bell in the small steeple on the roof. There was general disappointment when it was announced that the bell could not be sold because it could not be removed without tearing down the steeple leaving a hole in the roof and that could not be done. To satisfy herself to have something from the school she bid on, and bought, a section of blackboard.

This blackboard was large, but there was one space on one wall in our house where it could fit, so that is where it was hung. In moments between jobs, if there was chalk available, I was allowed to draw pictures. If there was time, I would fill that space with drawings, elaborate scenes, landscapes, intricate houses and whatever else I can’t now remember. I would beg for praise, but my little brothers would erase parts and draw their own cartoonish pictures without anyone seeing mine. This did not encourage me to continue as an artist.

When I was junior high age paint-by-number sets were all the rage and I was given some for birthdays and, or Christmas. I would get up early in the mornings before anyone else in order to have time to pain them. With the left-over paints I even painted designs on bits of broken class to make my own wind chimes. I loved the sound, but was not allowed to have a manufactured set. The “paintings” all eventually disappeared, but I still have the set of wind chimes I made.

Out of college, I decided I wanted to try “real” painting, bought some canvas, brushes, and paints, and tried to paint pictures. I had no instruction, but experimented. I was not satisfied with the results, nor with the amount of time that painting required. And, it was very discouraging that the paint would dry while I tried to decide what to do. I eventually gave it up.

I turned, or returned, to words. I had wanted to “make stories” from the time I was a small child before I was able to read or write, but writing also took time and I had other responsibilities to fulfill yet words on bits of paper would wait from one scarp of time to another. There was certainly not enough time for a short story, but eventually, I might be ale to completer a poem or two. Squeezing out more bits of time, I was able to send a poem, or two, off to magazines. Eventually, some accepted and published them. I was now a published author! Amazing!!!

From that time to now, I have not stop. Jobs for income, raising a family, building a house, all took time from the writing I wanted to do, but I persevered. Eventually, over the years and decades, the bits of time in which I could write added up, and so did my writing. Because of my dyslexia and ADHD, I could never remember what I had accomplished, so I began to make lists: what I had written, where I had sent it, what had been accepted and then published. Now, those lists are too many to count, and so are the page of each (but with computer files, there are no longer any “pages.”). And, I keep on writing. The following poem, published in 2022 by Gonzo Press, tells where writing fits into my life:

HANDS FOR ME

My hands have done so much,

so much I didn’t want

to do,

not my choice.

I could not control

my mother’s orders.

I had to work

for her

beginning at age two.

My hands are tired now

and ache.

Sometimes, now,

they learn to rest

in my lap

motionless,

as I look out

to see flowers grow –

a strange activity

but now I’m tired,

learning to rest

seven decades on,

yet

writing now, at least

with hands that do,

with time now,

what I want

for me.

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