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Friday, November 11, 2016

Signs






All around the city
sparrows fell.
Pigeons lay like litter
in the streets.
That's what it took
to make us stop, look
up and think
about
the end.

Is this how
it begins?
Not with a bang
but a flutter? When I came
across the turkey on
the north fork trail
I wondered
how long
we’d have.

The clouds hung
low, like dirty cotton,
a nagging ache
behind my brow.
I squinted against winter’s
stubborn glare.
Is it too bright? Or is it
darker now than ever?

If God’s eye
is on the sparrow,
where is his ear?
Is he listening?
A thousand
thousand feathers fall
like prayers from the sky.

And everywhere ~~ silence.


17, May, 2007

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Monday, October 3, 2016

For Tommy


How do you thank a lucky star
 1
for sending you what
 2
thought you'd never find?
 3
 
 
Where do you send a note of thanks
 4
when you've never believed there
 5
was anyone to send it to?
 6
 
 
No one to hear about your griefs
 7
or your joys but a big empty sky
 8
on a glittering black background?
 9
 
 
I'll thank the sky for holding
 10
out until I knew when I should
 11
reach for it.
 12
 
 
I'll thank the earth for holding
 13
me up so I didn't fall when
 14
I thought I'd never find it.
 15
 
 
I'll thank the trees for sheltering
 16
me from the waiting.
 17
 
 
I'll thank the water for listening
 18
to my silent, whispered prayers
 19
to myself.
 20
 
 
I'll thank you for being here
 21
With me.
 22
And trust that the universe understands.
 23
 
 
I love you.
 24
02/14/2008

Inheritance

An early memory. 

Ribbons
of smoke curling
past the lamp.
Gin and tonic
and lipstick on the glass
and laughter.

You, slender as a reed,
fraught with a need
to be more than you
can be.
Laughter brandished
like a sword. 

Smoke curls
up against the door,
circles three times
and makes its bed in
whomever you've become.

Your skin hangs
on your skull,
yellow teeth and pale
bones beat a dying rhythm.

I look into your eyes
pleading.
You look at mine.
Can you hear them scream?

~ Elodie Pritchartt, April, 2009

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Summertime Eats

                                   (Photo by Elodie Pritchartt)

This is one of the easiest, most delicious recipes I have, and perfect for a summertime dish.





Tomatoes & Brie with Linguine

Okay. I admit it. I'm lazy. But I've also got very snobby tastebuds. Pleeeease give me recipes that will indulge my inertia!



tomatoes, lots of 'em.

If you grow them yourself, even better. I use a variety of organic yellow, orange and red cherry-sized, teardrop and plum tomatoes. But chopped beefsteak is fine, too. Also I once used these little teeny, tiny tomatoes I discovered at Von's Grocery that are the sweetest I've ever tasted, and no bigger than a large blueberry. They're called Mini Charms and come from Victory Garden in Livermore, California.

1 lb. of Brie cheese, rind removed, torn into irregular pieces.

(The lazy soul that I am, I also discovered Alouette brand, rindless Brie cheese. It's delicious and soft and comes in one of those little triangular packages. Find it with those potted Alouette cheese spreads.  Let it come to room temperature so it's liquid. That way, you can skip cutting the rind off perfectly good cheese)




1 cup cleaned fresh basil leaves, cut into strips

3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced

1 cup best-quality olive oil

one-half teaspoon salt

(I prefer coarse, Kosher salt. Just tastes better)

one-half teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

One-and-a-half pounds linguini

(I like the fresh linguini, but am too lazy to make it myself, so I buy it at the market)

Freshly grated, imported Parmesan cheese (optional. I don't use it.)

1. Combine tomatoes, Brie, basil, garlic, oil, salt and pepper in a large serving bowl. Prepare at least two hours before serving and set aside, covered, at room temperature.

2. Cook the linguini.

3. Spoon linguini into small serving bowl and spoon sauce onto the pasta and EAT!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Knick-Nack Paddy Whack

I ran across this post when looking at some old Facebook posts.  It was 2010, and I was living with my dad in the country.


So yesterday I get up to let the dog out to go potty. Usually when she comes back inside she heads straight for the kitchen. But yesterday she ran back up the stairs and started barking to get back into the bedroom. Soooo....naturally I trudge back upstairs and let her in.

She jumps up onto the bed and starts rooting around in the covers. Then she pulls out this HUGE, nasty-looking bone. I swear it looked like a human femur. Probably a deer bone. Egad. This is the first time I've ever had a dog that likes to hide things. I keep finding doggie biscuits behind the sofa cushions.

So anyway, I get to work yesterday, and I'm rooting around in my purse looking for my chapstick when I find ANOTHER BONE in my purse. Right next to my favorite pink toothbrush. Hmm...most of the marrow was gone. You think it's okay to use that toothbrush?

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Waiting for Gustav


Saturday morning
 1
and the sky
 2
is gentle blue
 3
Has it been
 4
only three years
 5
since I watched
 6
a mother
 7
find
 8
her dead son's
 9
marine uniform
 10
in the ruins
 11
of her home?
 12
soiled in ways
 13
that will never
 14
wash out.
 15
The detritus
 16
of a nation's
 17
failure rubbed
 18
into the fabric
 19
of the world
 20
Politicians smile,
 21
announce the coming
 22
victory
 23
raise joined hands
 24
in triumph
 25
speak about a bright
 26
and shining future
 27
They do not see
 28
the haunted eyes
 29
of frightened souls
 30
fleeing from the coast
 31
and the sky
 32
such a gentle blue
 33
today.
 34

30 Aug 08

Friday, July 22, 2016

Immersion by Elodie Pritchartt



Like teabags poised
 1
over the roiling water,
 2
we dangled, by turns,
 3
from a rope.
 4
Pushed off the roof
 5
of the boat,
 6
swung out and dropped
 7
into the muddy mug
 8
of the Mississippi
 9
only to emerge
 10
laughing
 11
surprised
 12
at having survived
 13
the fall.
 14
Little mud mustaches
 15
etched the sepia
 16
memories of
 17
that river
 18
that day
 19
that summer
 20
that childhood
 21
into our skin.
 22
Now the sandbars
 23
whose soft embrace
 24
showed us the way
 25
rarely surface --
 26
the channel and our veins
 27
silted
 28
with the detritus
 29
of forty years.
 30
We have reunions,
 31
make note
 32
of those not there.
 33
Search name tags
 34
for faces
 35
we no longer
 36
recognize.
 37
We bury
 38
parents
 39
friends
 40
and fears
 41
of the undertow
 42
as the bank sloughs
 43
each spring
 44
rechannels
 45
our expectations
 46
and we emerge
 47
laughing
 48
surprised
 49
at having survived
 50
at all.
 51


Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Garter, the Sword and the Veil

























The Garter
“Guard this with your life,” said Stella Jenkins Carby as she handed over a scrapbook made for The Garter Girls, a group of women in Natchez, Mississippi, who began a wedding tradition around a bridal garter in 1946 that still continues. 

Stella’s daughter, Bettye Jane Carby, was the thirty-fifth girl to wear the coveted garter when she said, “I do,” to husband Charlie Roberts on December 13, 2008, at the Carby’s home in Natchez.

The garter was made by the late Mrs. Howard Pritchartt, Sr. for Buzzy Parker, when she married Bobby Crook in 1946. Buzzy and her friends, decided to share the garter, which would see them through marriages and births, war and peace, riches and despair, and beyond.

Rather than having the groom toss the garter, the girls decided it should be passed down to their children. 

They made some rules:

1. Can only be worn by a daughter or a son’s bride
2. Can be worn by Mabel (Raworth’s) children (an honorary member who was not part of the original group)
3. Can be worn once by any person to get married
4. Can be worn on 25th anniversaries (and now on 50th)

The first photo of the garter girls was taken by Mrs. Helen Jenkins, whose son, Sonny, was Bettye McGehee’s beau. He would later become her husband.

“She took the photo to send to Sonny in World War II,” remembered Sallie Ballard, one of the original Garter Girls. “He was flying the Hump in Burma. We were at the Beltzhoover’s pool at Green Leaves, and we were all sophomores, maybe juniors,” she added.

“The bigger girls at the pool all had cigarettes, so we all got cigarettes from them and posed. It was the first year two-piece bathing suits were available to the public, so it was kind of shocking.”

It’s too fragile now to actually wear, but is still reverently passed from one girl to the next, all descendants of the original seven girls, whose friendship lasted throughout the years — Mary Ann Brandon Jones, Bettye McGhee Jenkins, Virginia Beltzhoover Morrison, Sallie Junkin Ballard, the late Dunbar Merrill Flinn, the late Buzzy Parker, the late Mabel Conger Raworth and the late Alma Cassell Kellogg Carpenter.

“Once somebody had worn it, you kept it until somebody else needed it,” recalled Mrs. Ballard.“After [my daughter] Dix got married and the garter was hers, I remember telling [my late husband] Basil, ‘If by hook or crook our house catches fire, grab up all the family pictures and — whatever you do — get the garter.’”

Mrs. Ballard continued: “Basil looked at me and said, ‘I’ll go back into a burning house for family pictures, but not that garter. If it’s that important, you need to take it and put it in a lock box at the bank.’”

And that’s exactly what she did, as have many others burdened with the onus of such responsibility.


The Sword

“Be very, very careful with these,” said Joie Morrison as she handed over family photos. “Please don’t let anything happen to them.”

Standing in the hallway of a house that has been owned and lovingly cared for by her family since 1849, and surrounded by heirlooms such as bone china attributed to John James Audubon, a family Bible dating back to 1670, and old Natchez silver made by Natchez silversmith George MacPherson, it is clear that care should, indeed, be taken. The members of this family are keepers of the flame, stewards of history and tradition.

The story of the sword begins at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

“Unfortunately, this is all oral history, as the best stories always are,” said Ruthie Coy, Joie’s cousin and the niece of Joie’s mother, Virginia Lee Beltzhoover Morrison.

According to family lore, the sword was picked up after the battle of Waterloo by a French soldier whose grandson joined the Confederate army and was in Colonel Daniel Beltzhoover’s unit — Watson’s Louisiana Artillery. It was in Vicksburg where the grandson was mortally wounded, and as he lay dying gave it to “Colonel Dan.”

Can’t you just imagine the young soldier, mortally wounded, his lifeblood leaking out onto the Vicksburg soil, gasping, Colonel Dan, suh…cough!

What is it, son?

Mah sword, suh. Please, take it. It belonged to mah grandfathuh at Waterloo. Cough! Suh, guard it with your life!

Later, when Colonel Dan’s horse was shot out from under him, the bullet struck the scabbard of the sword and cracked the sword, itself.

“See, here’s the bullet hole,” said Joie, pointing to the scabbard. She pulled out the sword. “We still have the whole sword, but it broke it right in two.”

Still, the story has a happy ending: the family uses it to cut the family wedding cakes at Green Leaves.

“The first wedding that we know for sure it was used in was my mother and father’s [Ruth Audley Beltzhoover and Richard Conner] wedding in 1945,” said Ruthie Coy, “when he was on leave from the Army Air Corps during World War II. We have an account…of my grandparents’ wedding there in 1891, but no mention of the sword. The latest was my niece, Denise Conner Hiller in 2007.”

But if you want to use the sword to cut your cake, the keepers of the sword agree: get married at Green Leaves. The sword stays put.


The Veil

It was in 1848 when Fanny Turner married Lemuel P. Conner, wearing the beautiful lace veil that would also become a tradition at Green Leaves weddings.

“The weddings have been held at the church, in the parlors, and in the back garden,” said Coy. It was actually a Britton family [of Melrose Plantation] tradition, but then included us again when my mother and father married.”

Denise Conner Hiller, who was also the last to use the sword, was the last to use the veil, as well.
“Denise was the fifth generation to wear it,” said Coy, who included a list of all the family members who have worn the veil.

“My favorite part of the story is how jealous all her girlfriends were because she had all this fabulous ‘old stuff’ for her wedding.”

Ruthie recalled that when Denise wore the veil in 2007, the keepers kept careful watch.

“Oh, she didn’t wear it to the reception,” she said. “As soon as she walked back down that aisle, we snatched it off. Well, not really,” she laughed. She had wedding photos taken in it, but we weren’t going to chance it getting danced on.”

With their careful care the keepers ensured the veil will be here for future generations.

How does a tradition become a tangible link to the past and a generous gift to the future? 

You guard it with your life.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Parchman Prisoners Ponder and Paint

Icarus and His Sons by Michael Orell
9"-X-17"
Ink and Crayon

One of the artist's themes is that that crime (going too far) is passed down from generation to generation and it is all but impossible the break the cycle.
$200
As many of you may already know, I have a writer friend from Oxford, Mississippi, who teaches writing to prisoners at Parchman Prison.  Louis Bourgeois, whose own memoir — The Gar Diaries — was nominated for the National Book Award, teaches poetry, fiction and memoir to the inmates.  He and his class have just released their second collection, 

Unit 30: New Writings from Parchman Farm.  Click on the link to purchase at Amazon.  The book is very good.  It definitely gives one a glimpse of the humanity behind the inmate, and not only helps the reader to understand, but also helps the inmate get insight into his own life and behavior.  I highly recommend it.




One of Louis's students, Michael Orell is a very talented, self-taught artist.  He'd like to get an art program at the prison and toward that end, is selling some of his work.  The money will go toward the art program.  Louis Bourgeois is trying to help that dream come true and has agreed to offer the artwork for sale through his publishing company, VOX Press.

If you're interested in any of these works, please make payment to:

VOX Press
P.O. Box 2954
Oxford, MS 38655


More artwork below
Gods
by Michael Orell
9"-X-17"
Ink and Crayon
$100

This piece reflects Orell's fascination with pagan mythology

Totem
by Michael Orell

9"-X-17"
Ink and Crayon
$100

This painting demonstrates how Christianity destroyed the beauty of the Native American gods and belief systems.