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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

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May 23, 1992: Hoot Owl Holler, Episode 2

On the 20th anniversary of the best day of my life (the day I married Beth Kiefert, and she became the now-celebrated Beth Darnell), it’s a sincere pleasure to invite you to enjoy this second installment of “Hoot Owl Holler.” In this video presentation that uses more footage shot by my dear cousin Bart Ridings, you can hear some of the fun-loving wise-cracking from our loved ones who gathered together on May 23, 1992, in Greenville, Illinois, for our wedding. Also shown are too many others who are no longer with us: They are all missed greatly. On we proceed through life, still recalling the words we printed in our program, and the high sentiments which set the tone for what has so far been a spectacularly wonderful adventure together.

Joy, Shipmate, Joy!
by Walt Whitman

JOY! shipmate—joy!
(Pleas’d to my Soul at death I cry;)
Our life is closed—our life begins;
The long, long anchorage we leave,
The ship is clear at last—she leaps!
She swiftly courses from the shore;
Joy! shipmate—joy!

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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.

Careful

by Roger Darnell

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

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

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

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Sep. 28, 2011: Grandma’s laugh

Growing up, I had two wonderful grandmothers: Beatrice Travis-Ridings or “Granny Bea,” who passed away just a few months before Amelia was born in 2001… and Eileen Darnell-Houser or “Grandma Bam,” who left us in 2009. Back in 2010, I wrote about Granny Bea, and this post on Grandma Bam is long overdue.

My life has been keeping me very busy lately. Outside of my daily activities focused on taking excellent care of my family and clients, free time has been extremely scarce. This week, my father celebrated his 70th birthday — and with my stepmom, their 36th wedding anniversary — while my big bro arrived at birthday number 48. As I thought about things I could do in their honor, I remembered the video interview I did with Grandma Bam back in 2004, and decided to share some of its contents with them and our other friends and familymembers on Facebook. Read more

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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

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Arc of the Poet, Part 5: Wake-Up Call

We kept the afterburners on and blasted into 1991, with me clawing my way forward professionally and growing up further alongside my sweetheart. I wrote an original short script for producer/director Bill Waxler, and his plans to produce it brought together a very talented group of production professionals and friends. Entitled “Bumper Crop” that project gained steam through the Spring, and by June 29, we were on location, ready to shoot it on 16mm film. I’ve written about this project in the past, beginning with Feb. 22, 1991: Bumper Crop, Part 1.

Part 2 of that series recounts the unforeseen drama of June 29. Read more

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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

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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

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February 1, 2009: Brother a keeper

Ramble #10
by Roger Darnell

Every step of my life, you have been here.
Our shared life experiences as siblings
is what made me want it for my children…
even with all we have been through, bro.
I really can’t imagine my life without there
being a big brother, and you being him.
And now, on the verge of you achieving
something monumentally spectacular and
completely self-driven, I am awestruck,
and exceedingly proud. Rock on.

Ramble
January 17, 2008: #17
January 18, 2008: #16
February 1, 2009: #10
April 27, 2009: #9
October 3, 2009: #8
May 9, 2010: #7
August 18, 2010: #6Arc of the Poet, Part 14: Ramblings (#5)
Arc of the Poet, Part 15: Being (#4-#2)

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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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