THERE MAY BE DAYS

There may  be days

when you get up in the morning,

and things aren’t the way

you had hoped they would be;

That’s when you have to

tell yourself that things will get better.

 

There may be times when people

disappoint you and let you down,

but those are the times

when you must remind yourself

to trust your judgements and opinions,

and to keep your life focused on believing in yourself

and all that you are capable of accomplishing;

 

There will be challenges to face

and changes to make in your life,

and it is up to you to accept them;

Constantly keep yourself headed

in the right direction for you.

It may not be easy at times,

but in those times of struggle,

you will find a stronger sense of who you are,

and you will also see yourself

developing into the  person

you have always wanted to be.

Life is a  journey through time,

filled with many choices;

each of us will experience life

in his or her own personal way.

so when the days come that are filled

with frustration and unexpected responsibilities,

remember to believe in yourself

and all you want your life to be

because the challenges and changes

will only help you to find the dreams

that you know are meant to come true for you.

 

Sandra Lee Smith

Originally posted, January, 2010,

Updated October 26, 2018

 

 

THE BOOT WAS….

The boot was made of very fine leather,

Tooled by an ancient Italian craftsman,

who had learned bootmaking from his father,

and his father before him,

generations of Italian bootmakers

who purchased the best leather

and refused to bend to accommodate the times.

A pair of boots might take six months to make

from start to finish,

With intricate carvings worked into the leather.

I was that boot, made of fine brown leather;

with a very dark wooden heel

and a great deal of design carved into the leather;

First I was worn by an Italian clothing designer,

a man quite fussy with his appearance,

Gay, you might say, but he took good care of me,

and I was cleaned and polished once a week

by his manservant.

When the designer changed his “look” I was

discarded but the manservant rescued me and

sold me, and my twin,

to a used clothing store

where a cowboy discovered us

and took us to America;

There I lived on a cattle ranch

and was often scuffed and dirty,

but it was an exciting life and I didn’t mind

the grit and soil.  When my cowboy removed

us from his feet at night, we all sighed with relief.

For a while we could breathe.

Eventually, the cowboy had worn down my heel

and there was a hole in my sole,

that no amount of cardboard could remedy,

the cowboy tossed me and my twin

into a dumpster, where we languished

for a time.

and then–a gardener found me and pulled me

out of the trash;

I do not know what happened to my twin.

The gardener took me to his home

and filled me up with dirt

and then added cacti;

I had a new life;

I was a planter,

willing to stand in the rain

or the sun

protecting the cactus that

happily grew out of the top.

 

Sandra Lee Smith

Originally posted June 5, 2009

Updated October 20, 2018

SAYING THE UNSAYABLE

How many times did he say the unsayable,

Before I finally got it?

“I’ve met the most wonderful woman

in the world” he said.

“I don’t love you” he said.

“I want to be single and free”,

saying the unsayable.

 

And the time came

When I said the unsayable.

“Fly and be free” I said.

“I am getting a divorce”.

“Oh, you say that now”

he said,

“tomorrow you will change your mind”.

But I found myself

After twenty six years

Saying the unsayable.

“I have to get on with my life”

I said

“and you aren’t gong to be a part of it”.

And now, when I reflect on those events

Which took place so many years ago,

And ponder on how much my life has changed

Because in the end

I was able to say the unsayable.

“I don’t love you anymore”.

And I knew it was true.

 

Sandra Lee Smith

Originally written

January 23, 2009

UPDATED October 20, 2018

 

 

 

MY EMANCIPATION

Now my story  can be told since we got

the emancipation and Mr. Lincoln done

freed all the slaves. He died for that,

you know.  That actor fella up and

shot and killed the President but we

had already been declared free. But

this all happened long ago and that

Great War seemed to go on forever.

afore that war ever got started,

we was slaves.

There was my brother, Moses, and me

and we escaped from Alabama, you

see, with just the clothes on our backs,

but Moses had a knife and I had my

banjo. I couldn’t hardly leave my

banjo behind,  you know.  Moses

laughed at me over that.

We snuck off in the middle of the

night, goin’ through rivers and criks

to throw off the dogs and I can tell

you, I was scared of the water

moccasins and alligators but you

are more scared of the dogs and the

men and their guns and ropes

so you just keep goin’ because  you

know, sure as God made lil’ green

apples that if you get caught you

will be beat to death or wish you had.

We just kept goin’.

I hated to leave Susanna behind like

that but she was a house slave and

a’sides, she was gonna have our

baby.  Moses and me, we made it to

Louisiana but you know, you are

still not safe.  We stole potatoes in

some fields and green corn that is

not too good to eat when you have

to keep moving; we just kept goin’.

Then from New Orleans, we headed

north following the big Mississippi river.

We didn’t always know which way to go

but we just didn’t know any better.

And we had heard tell  that if you

follow the big river long enough,

you will get away from the south

and slavery.  So, that’s what we did.

We hid in the grass and weeds by

day and we trudged forward,

north, by night.

sometimes we could hear the dogs,

from a great distance.  We was both

bit up from the mosquitos.  We

was hungry and we was tired but

we kept going, doing all that we

could to keep from  getting caught.

sometimes we laid down in the river

and breathed through reeds

whenever we heard anybody

getting too close.  It was a

terrible time, let me tell you.

In Springfield, we found refuge

and when a young white feller

said he was going to California

and that there warn’t no slavery

in that place, Moses and I ast

if we could go along with him.

He said we had to pretend we

was his slaves and tho’ Moses

and I didn’t much like the idea

We could see the sense of it.

This fella knew someone who

made up fake papers for us,

and got us some better looking

trousers and shirts so we didnt

look so raggedy, and we

traveled along some more

until we made it to St Joseph

where we joined a wagon train

going to California and we all

worked hard to pay our way

and be allowed to travel

with this group.  and our

friend, he turned out to be

a good feller.

At night there would be fires

around the wagons and I’d

get out my banjo and play

everything I knew and all

the white folks on that

wagon train, you know,

they all liked to hear my

music.

Come hard times, crossing prairie

and mountains and desert,

rivers and all sorts of places

on that trail that you would

not believe unless you saw it,

and those white folk would moan

and complain about how hard it

was, Moses and me, we’d just

smile to our selves ’cause white

folk don’t know nothing about

a hard road.  We could tell them

plenty about a hard road.

Acourse we didn’t try to tell

any of them anything.

Oh, Susanna, don’t you cry

for me. I had a dream and

you were running down the

hill to greet me and when I

had that dream, I told Moses

I knew you were dead.

Moses and me, we done

made it to the promise land.

It is called California. And

that feller who helped us out,

he found gold in California and

got rich.  He gave us our fake

papers and that helped us get by.

Nobody really cares about those

things in California. Everybody is

busy getting rich.

Moses and me, we worked

for a woman who did laundry

and got rich doing that.

Can you picture it?  People

got rich doing every manner

of thing, and at night we went

to the saloons and I played my

banjo for the white folk.  They

clapped their hands and tapped

their feet.  I played  Oh Susanna

don’t you cry for me  I came from

Alabama with my banjo on my knee.

 

Sandra Lee Smith

Originally posted May 26m 2010

Updated October 16, 2018

 

 

 

I’M SORRY

Why is it so hard

to apologize?

to acknowledge guilt?

To satisfy the hunger

in another soul’s need to know

that you regret,

being human,

and subject to

a human fraility.

My father never apologized.

My mother would get

a box of candy,

or a new vacuum cleaner

when he knew he’d been wrong.

That was as close as he ever got

to admitting he was sorry.

My ex-husband never apologized either.

But I never got a box of candy

or a new vacuum cleaner.

His sons nod their heads

and sagely say

“He never said he’s sorry”

 

Sandra Lee Smith

Undated poem, around 2009

Updated October 5, 2018

THE MONSTER SPEAKS

They say I’m crazy; they say I’m cruel,

To do all the things that I do,

They say I’m a killer, some kind of beast,

I’m pure evil, through and through,

They say I’m blood-thirsty,

They say I’m a monster,

Count Dracula’s got nothing on me!

They say I’ve made a pact with the devil,

I’m a serpent come up from the sea,

I know that I’m all this and really far more,

And there’s nothing to save me, to do,

but when I was a child, being molested and tortured,

Pray tell,  good people, where, then, were all of you?

Sandra Lee Smith

originally posted July 16, 2009

Updated October 2, 2018

 

 

FINDING MY PLACE IN THE WORLD

“Be patient  toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the   questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in  a foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. and the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will find them gradually, without noticing it, and live along some distant day into the answer–“Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a young poet

In my 72nd year of life (I am now embarking on my 78th birthday this month) I am discovering that I really don’t know who I am or where I belong. Oh, yes, I have some inklings  of myself–like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that is yet to be put together.

As a child my singular ambition was to become a writer.  When I was in the third grade (and barely literate) I sent a story to My Weekly Reader (written in pencil on lined school paper). It was my first rejection slip; my  father opened the piece of mail addressed to me–my father opened all the mail–and put the story, which had been returned–back into the envelope. He never said a word about it. To this day, I have no idea if either of my parents thought (or suspected) that I might have some writing talent. (When I sold my first poem to a religious magazine, I DID call my mother to tell her about the legitimate sale; I sold another poem to the same magazine about a month later. I really thought I was off and running…..I wasn’t.

I think I as about ten or eleven when my father bought an upright (non electric) Royal or Underwood typewriter, saying it was for my brother, Jim, and me to use doing our homework.  I don’t recall my brother ever using the typewriter. It quickly became mine and I mastered two-finger typing which served me well until I took typing classes in high school and had to unlearn two-finger typing. I wrote many single spaced “stories” with that typewriter.  I became proficient using the electric typewriters we had in school, and my teacher Mrs. Gusweiler, who was also a lawyer and worked downtown, encouraged my writing and sometimes read the stories.  Another girl, Carol, and I could do as we pleased in that class as long as we turned in all of the typing assignments on Fridays. We did all of our assignments on Fridays. I would work on my stories the rest of the time.  I know now how amateur my stories were because I kept them.

My American History teacher,  Miss Schwach, also read some of my stories and encouraged me to write. By now, one supposes, if I had enough talent, I would have written a book by now.  Instead y 3-ring-binders are packed with poetry and essays and most of my writing is on a blog.  I could use the excuse that I was married to a man (for 26 years!) who thought I had no talent (even though he never read anything I had written) and constantly discouraged and disparaged anything I wrote. When we divorced, I bought a computer and told myself NOW I AM GOING TO WRITE – and write I did even though none of what I envisioned for myself materialized.

I was “discovered” by a woman who published a newsletter for cookbook and recipe people, called Cookbook Collectors Exchange  and was given carte blanche to write whatever I felt like writing.  I took to heart the saying “write what you know best” –I knew cookbooks and recipes and found myself apt at producing articles about things such as white House Recipes, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (who gained her most success writing what SHE knew best–a place at Cross Creek Florida, for which she became famous writing THE YEARLING, CROSS CREEK and CROSS CREEK COOKERY. I wish I had known her.

I wrote about American P:ioneers crossing the wilderness of our country and what they cooked and ate–and called it Kitchens West. I wrote about the religious groups that formed in the 1800s and how their growing crops and making furniture and what they cooked–made an impact on this young country. I began writing about the cookbook authors I most admired.  I did this kind of writing for ten years when it folded.

I was discovered by a woman who wrote a newsletter for women and seniors–and began writing pieces about the kitchen.  Then the editor of Inky trail News, the newsletter for seniors, set up a blog for me so that all I had to do was start writing; I wrote over 500 articles on my sandy chatter blog–mostly cookbook reviews–then became unable to access that blog –so I set up another one that is all about poetry.  I have over 500 of my poems on sandyscookbookchatter.com.

what thrills me most is that gradually, over time, I have received messages on my blog from people who were related top or friends of the cookbook authors I have been writing about.  There is a wonderful validation in this.

So, is this how I am finding my place in the world? Maybe. Maybe not.

Maybe I have not yet found my real place in the world. How old was Grandma Moses when she became famous? How old was my Aunt Dolly (writing under Evelyn Neumeister) when she began to paint?  How old was my other, Aunt Annie, when she found a career midlife on the subject of graphology? Might I not say–I am only 77–I have only just begun.

People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates, – Thomas SZASZ.

*Anna Mary Robertson Moses (September 7, 1860 – December 13, 1961), known by her nickname Grandma Moses, was an American folk artist. She began painting in earnest at the age of 78 and is often cited as an example of an individual who successfully began a career in the arts at an advanced age.

 This is encouraging! I am turning 78 in a couple of weeks!  – sls