Sep. 24, 2012: Granny’s Little Creek

Granny’s Little Creek
by Roger Darnell

Once, we had no sense of the free-flowing excitement,
the raw and sometimes bone-chilling coolness of the water
as it flowed there, just behind Grandpa’s Smokehouse.
Often less than a trickle, that creek was a haven of life to us kids. Read more


March 26, 1988: Grandpa’s Gold

Today I went looking through my writing archives to find something written on or near this date in the past, and I found a poem written about 24 years and a week ago. It’s not particularly great nor too profound, but it does connect me with an important moment going even further back, to a golden day spent with my grandfather, Urban Lee Ridings. The day was sunny and warm, I remember, and I must have been somewhere around five or so. Grandpa instructed me to go and shake his money tree, and I could still walk you right to the very spot where the young sappling had stood at that time. As I shook, the sound of metal rained around me faintly, and pops occurred in the dirt and grass. Exploring them with my fingers, on my hands and knees, I found coins, and looking up into the dazzling sunlight there was Grandpa’s face beaming, too. We kids really knew he loved us, due to special moments like that one, which I will never forget.

Grandpa’s Gold

by Roger Darnell Read more


April 6, 1992: Careful

Beth and Roger in Orlando, 1991.

Thinking back on my life 20 years ago, I have to say that today seems so much simpler. I wrote about that key personal era in “Arc of the Poet Part 6,” and although I think it makes for interesting reading, recalling those days is rather bracing for me. I had so much to prove to myself and the short list of others whose opinions really mattered to me, and although I was confident in my strengths and abilities, I was unsure about so much more. While I had come very far with the gifts provided by my family, as well as those I was earning for myself, the new chapters seemed to hold promises I was almost afraid to hope for. Within weeks of writing the poem below, I began my new role as the husband of Beth Darnell. That dream-come-true continues today, thanks in part to the instincts revealed below which made me realize that the opportunities I was facing were precious and must be handled with care.


by Roger Darnell

There could be a
limerick or something
back there,
something quick and terse —
elucidating, uproarious,

But I just want to say
everything’s going so fast;

you know, not in every way…
but in most,
it really is.

Can’t say much more
than that.
Although I can fit in

and about
thanks, and graciousness,
and pay attentions.
And carefuls.


Arc of the Poet, Part 7: Home Stretch

Nearly a year after our spectacular wedding, May of 1993 found me, Beth and pretty much everyone else in our family continuously thinking about my brother, his daily perseverance in recovering from his July ’91 diving accident, and his successful return to a more normal lifestyle. By then, he and his girlfriend had their own place, on my dad and step-mom’s farm and within earshot of their home. From every angle, Scott was making us all very proud, and showing the kind of resounding inner strength we all hope to have when faced with unimaginable adversity.

At one point right after the accident, my mom wondered aloud if we would ever be happy again. Illinois has always provided a powerful attraction for me around my birthday in May, and I was especially thankful while driving there on May 6, 1993, that I was feeling real joy. You can find a poem I wrote back in 1988 about those annual treks to my native homeland here. Read more


Arc of the Poet, Part 1: Life Poetry

To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure that I’m capable of summarizing my childhood in just a few lines, but I do want to paint enough of a picture here to be able to show the ways in which poetry factored into my early life, and came to be something I saw as my ticket to success. Here goes.

Like all kids of the late 1960s, I was exposed early and often to Dr. Seuss, and those fantastic rhymes of his really made deep impressions on me. But there were other rhymes my older brother and I were exposed to, which had accompanied my mother’s upbringing in a rural setting in Southern Illinois, at the hands of her Tennessee-born parents. From early ages, we heard this favorite time and again, inspiring our many adventures in the woods, and framing them in our minds.

Out in the forest there’s a great big tree
with a hole in the middle that just fits me
so I climb inside and pretend I’m a bear
and I growl and I grumble and I rumble there.
Read more


May 9, 2010: Granny Bea Photo Tribute, Ramble #7

I’ve written here before about my “Ramble” creative writing project. On Dec. 30 of 2009, I sat down to write a Ramble entry for my late grandmother Beatrice Ridings, who was widely known to many as Granny Bea, Aunt Bea, or Ms. Ridings. I had two wonderful grandmothers who have now passed on, and luckily for me, Grandma Eileen Darnell, who we called Bam, was also tight with Granny Bea, so on more than one occasion, I was able to enjoy them both simultaneously. At long last, I have published a separate collection for Grandma Bam, and below, I am very proud to share my tribute to Granny Bea. Read more

Blog, Feature

Urban Lee Ridings and “Who Lives Alone?”

Recently I was going through a folder I’ve held onto over the years, which has some of the poems I wrote the old-fashioned way, with a piece of paper and a pencil or pen, along with some similar keepsakes. Among the other pieces in the collection, my mother is a major contributor. She has always had a great way of giving things that feel special enough to make me want to keep them forever. Read more


January 17, 2008: Ramble #17

The ‘Bumper Crop’ series has at least one more entry, but requires a bit more work on my part before I can post the rest of the story. In the meantime, I wanted to share something from a more recent work. After we moved to the Blue Ridge Mountains almost exactly seven years ago, I found my creative writing energies more or less depleted. Soon, being a father added a new dimension to my life, and the one creative project that stayed on my agenda was to write an epic poem for Amelia, detailing the first day of her life from my perspective. That took over a year, and eventually it may find its way on here. After finishing that, in the moments when life and work settled down, I began to wonder what should come next. The answer found me in the form of a new project I conceived, and dubbed “Ramble.” Read more

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