Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Jewel of the Garden

Two backyard planting beds,
A few half barrels,
And four fruit trees
Was all it took
To ignite her imagination.
“This year we’ll put up
Heirloom beans, crookneck squash,
Amaranth, garlic greens,
Rhubarb and zucchini (remember zucchini for future reference),”
She announced, setting cases of canning jars
On the kitchen counter.

She pored over web pages
Of native seeds,
Open-pollinated and bee-friendly.

She composed her garden in her head,
Much like her sonnets and haiku,
As if she could craft it
To end in so many syllables.

The plums came first:
Jams, first runny and then rock -solid.
Then the zucchini.
Remember the zucchini?
One or two or many more every day,
Until the neophyte farmer burst into tears.
So many zucchini and not much more.
Barely a purple bean or garlic green.
Frozen zucchini, shredded, pickled, wrapped in bacon.
Banish the word zucchini!

Who would think that this gardener
This permaculture wannabe, this homesteader on a mission —
Would end up delighting
In ornamental flowers?
“Rose of Sharon jelly,”  she read on a favorite blog.
Half-pint jars of delicate pink glaze.

She doubled down and harvested
The red and white hibiscus blooms,
As worker bees hovered all around —
Ladies in the last weeks of their lives,
Who would work themselves to death
For the sake of the hive.

The next morning, the would-be farmer
Stood at her kitchen window and
Held up a jar of fragrant pink jelly
That prismatic jewel with
A perfect, delicate texture.

She wondered how many worker bees
Had survived the night,
And she left the best
Rose of Sharon blooms
For the ones who returned.

Judith C Evans (c) 2018

Words and Muses (for John)

They read over his shoulder
And shyly watch his fingers
Tap the keyboard.

They tentatively step closer:
First one, then a few more.
“When will he notice us?”

He sighs over the keyboard
As a weight he was never meant to bear
Bruises every word
That appears on the screen.

They watch without speaking
And wish he’d turn around.
One reaches and softly brushes a tear
From his cheek.
Another wants to speak
But thinks better of it.

They stay with him as he sleeps
These verses and phrases that wait for their friend.

One finally catches his eye in a dream.

At 2am he awakens, surprised at his optimism.
“Must be the sound of the crickets,”
He muses.

With coffee in hand,
He sits up straight at the keyboard.

The others wring their hands
As one steps forward and
Taps his shoulder —
These new words and characters
Who live only for him,
So that he can breathe life
Into their unheard stories.

Judith C Evans (c) 2018

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Holy Week (On Returning to Church)

On a Dark Friday
Image by Jackie via Flickr

Stained glass shards
Cut my heart.
Mary's brown eyes
Draw real blood.
I mourn her
Unattainable ideal
Of womanhood.

Black-robed men
With collars high,
Tell me when
I may speak,
Where I may stand,
What I may do, and
What I may wear
When I'm doing it.

I'd hide in a cave
Like David
But the man after
God's own heart
Would be lying in wait,
Watching me bathe.

"I'm not like other guys,"
Says the still small Voice,
Soft as a robin's breast,
Rich as mother's milk,
Commanding as Orion's knife.

So Holy Week
Brings me back
Through sanctuary doors.
Thursday night
All is purple
Like royalty,
Like the bruise
That drew
My Savior's blood.

Friday sings the blues.
Women wail,
But they stay.
Their grief slays,
But they stay

The hot wax smell
Draws me in,
Draws me down the center aisle
To the table laden
With candles, bread
And grape juice.
Most of me stays
In the back pew.

The rest of me lies
At the table:
By my own hand,
Needing to be fed
By the body and blood.

We eat and drink.
We are all
Women at the well:
Exposed, relieved,
We sigh
As our lies


Judith C Evans © 2017 

Friday, March 3, 2017

Waiting for the Words

Grand metaphors elude my pen
As mocking, phantom lines flow.
Waiting for the phrase that will
Stun the jaded ear,
I drift from page to page,
Sure I've a arrived too late.

Judith C Evans © 2017

Give Up and Write

When the puppy is fussing
And the shelves need dusting,
The shrubs need trimming
And those jeans ain't slimming,
Give up and write.

Is the line too long?
Do you hate that song?
So the meeting is boring,
And you can't keep from snoring?
Give up and write.

Pen, pencil, keyboard or screen
Will do their job
If you say what you mean.
No more resisting,
No turning or twisting.
Give up and write.
Just give up,

Judith C Evans © 2017

New to Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace,
Forgive me if I don't yet have the words down.
I am new to this ancient, million-voiced chorus;
New to Mary, ageless mother of countless names.

Bead by bead, I unwrap graces.
I think of Mary at unlikely moments:
As I look through the latest Avon brochure,
Write a memo for a freelance gig,
Or take the puppy for a walk by the church.

She's a woman, like me, whose blood-soaked words
Appear faithfully as the monthly flow,
Whose sorrow and tenderness hide a warrior princess heart.

New to Mary, I dare to laugh with her,
In ways that make the faithful cringe.
But Mary knows.

New to Mary, I reach for her hand
And take my place
In the spiral dance that never ends.

I awkwardly finger the beads
As the day cools down,
Before I savor peaceful slumber,
New to the practice,
New to Mary,
New to me.

Judith C Evans © 2017

Thursday, February 23, 2017


A couple of weeks ago, my mom found a stack of papers in her room, containing sketches and poems she had written. The poems capture memories from our lives in southeastern New Hampshire and Flagstaff, Arizona. Happily, she has agreed to let me post some of her work on my blog. My mom's name is Judith, but she is known to our family as "Majude." 

Since winter is winding down here in Idaho (we hope!), I thought that this poem would be a good start. It reminisces about hurried preparations for late winter storms in southeastern New Hampshire, as well as the hope of approaching spring. Enjoy the accompanying sketch, too!


"Roses are red, violets are blue."
It will be spring, before it comes true.

Snowstorm is coming.
What should we do?
Bring out the shovels
And mittens too.

Gas up the blowers
To make the snow fly;
Catch flakes on our tongues
And in our eyes.

Fill the bird feeders
With crumbs and seeds;
String gobs of suet to
Decorate trees.

Make sure our larder
Has plenty of food,
With lots of cocoa
Carefully brewed.

Drive to the sand pile
Near the center of town:
Sand mixed with salt
To spread all around.

Generators are ready,
Filled with gas.
Can is empty --
We need more,

Three containers are filled,
And we leave the line
Of neighbors waiting to
Fill up in time.

Not a bad storm,
Just enough to savor
Peace and quiet
Before the labor.

Yesterday's plow lines,
Neat and straight,
Rained on and frozen --
Spring may be late.

Walls of snow banks
Outlining each drive
Reduce in size and
Grass comes alive.

The loftier rays from
A warmer sun
Will do the job
Before we're done.

The sky is blue and
Birds are chirping;
Snows become puddles
That dogs are slurping.

Nature releases its bounty
Of white;
We'll stop to admire
And smile with delight.

The racket of blowers and
Neighbors at play...
All these things
Make a holiday.

"Roses are red, violets are blue."
We'll see it through...
And so will you!

Judith H. Chiarito "Majude" © 2011