Posts by Cheryl, Gulf Coast Poet

A retired teacher, I live with my significant other on the Gulf Coast of Florida. I enjoy the beach, walking outdoors, movies, and reading. Hanging Out with Wild Animals is a book series of photos and poems about my encounters with Florida animals. Wonders is a book of poems inspired by the men I have known and loved. Life in Inspiring Places is a book of photos and poems about the places rich in history and natural beauty that I have called home. Excerpts from the books and additional poems can be found on my website and blog. Cheryl Batavia

Fatigue; Time to Take a Break!

Sleeping Hippo. Photo by Tim De Pauw from Unsplash.


Refusing to stop,

counting on powering through;

just keep on going!

What arrogance to ignore

the body’s urgent message!

Living in a fog,

forgetful, disorganized,

zero energy.

What arrogance to ignore

the body’s urgent message!

Copyright© 2023 by Cheryl Batavia

Time to Take a Break!

Stress, medical and dental appointments, health issues…all easily resolved problems, I believe. It’s time to pause and regroup.

I will miss my blogging friends every day. ❤

Beautiful Ukraine

Kyiv, Ukraine. Photo by Chaiwat Hanpitakpong from Unsplash.

For Eugenia’s Moonwashed Weekly Prompt #143-5/16/23, Picturesque

Beautiful Ukraine

Pastoral landscapes,

wheatfields and sunflowers…

Exquisite Ukraine!

Picturesque small towns,

lovingly tended gardens…

Enchanting Ukraine!

Modern cityscapes,

historic landmarks, green space…

Elegant Ukraine!

Brave Ukrainians

enduring, working, defending

Beloved Ukraine!

Envisioning peace,

time to restore and rebuild

Beautiful Ukraine!

Copyright© 2023 by Cheryl Batavia

War Image. Drone Photo above Lutsk, Volyn, Oblast, Ukraine. Photo by Ivan Serediuk from Unsplash

Beach, Odessa, Ukraine. Photo by Sasha Mattveeva from Unsplash.

Honeybees Pollinating Sunflowers, Ukraine. Photo by Audrius Sutkus from Unsplash.

Historic Opera House, Lviv, Ukraine. Photo by Pavlo from Pixabay.

Ukrainian Child in a Field of Poppies. Photo by Viktor Kondratiuk from Pixabay.

Work Songs

Know any Sea Shanties, anyone? Tall ship, Europa, in Nova Scotia, Canada. Photo by Wayne Linton from Pixabay.

Written for Colleen M. Chesebro’s

TankaTuesday Weekly #Poetry Challenge No.320, 5/15/23

Work Songs

lonesome drudgery

comraderie of work songs

brings exuberance

Copyright© 2023 by Cheryl Batavia

About Work Songs

Work songs are traditional songs found in many cultures that coordinate the efforts of people working together. They also provide relief from monotony and form bonds among workers.

I first became aware of work songs as a nine-year old piano student learning to play “The Volga Boatmen.” As a young adult working in a clothing factory and in a printing company, I heard other workers singing along with Loretta Lynne and Elvis Presley as they did their routine work.

Here are some examples of work songs:

Wellerman (Sea Shanty)

Nathan Evans

Pick a Bale of Cotton

Lead Belly

The Song of the Volga Boatmen

(in English and Russian, with beautiful paintings)

Paul Robeson

A Message to My Children

My three children: Ellen Maher, Joseph Batavia, Katey Batavia, and Joe’s dog BABY.

A Message to My Children

To my oldest daughter,

Before you existed, I wanted you.

You were conceived in love;

The next morning, I sensed your presence.

Before you were born, I loved you.

When I felt you move, I was overjoyed.

As your father placed his hand on my belly

and felt you move, I knew we were a family.

Hearing your first cry, I cried tears of joy.

You were named for my beloved Grandma.

As I nursed you,

I wished you a long and happy life.

When you gripped my finger in your tiny fingers,

I was filled with wonder.

Watching you first begin to crawl,

I knew I would have killed to protect you!

Your first word was not “Mama” or “Dada;”

You looked me straight in the eye and said, “Hi!”

Oh, the delight of that first conversation!

For a while after that, you mostly listened.

People wondered why you were so quiet…

Then everyone was amazed to hear you

suddenly speaking in complete sentences.

As you took your first steps,

I was proud of your growing independence.

With every little illness, every accident,

I felt your pain.

When you went off to kindergarten,

I had high hopes for your future.

As you grew, your every milestone

filled me with pride.

As you made a life of your own,

I watched with admiration!

To my adopted son and daughter,

though you were never in my body,

I always loved you, just the same.

You were often in my arms,

and always in my heart.

I loved you before I met you,

and I have loved you every moment since.

Your father loved you deeply

for the rest of his days.

As I have watched you grow,

your struggles have been mine.

Your every accomplishment

has earned my admiration.

Your wishes for the future

have always been my wishes for you.

Your kindness and empathy,

your courage and determination

fill me with pride.

To my three children,

Thank you for loving me.

Know that I am grateful to be your mother;

You mean the world to me!

I will always love you equally,

always be proud of you, always hope for you.

I will be cheering you on

with my final breath!

Copyright© 2023 by Cheryl Batavia

Happy Mother’s Day to Mothers Everywhere!

We celebrate our mothers. ❤

We honor the memories of our mothers. ❤

Photo by Waldemar from Unsplash.

Of the Water

Gulf of Mexico, Englewood Beach, FL. Photo by Eve Ellen Maher.

Of the Water

We exist, submerged

in the womb, that inner sea,

until our first breath.

In our veins flows blood

with the sea’s salinity…

seas…where life began.

Water in our cells,

water in our mother’s milk,

water in our tears.

We are of water…

bodies more than half water.

Water sustains us.

Water in rain clouds,

streams, rivers, lakes, seas, oceans,

aquifers, ice caps.

Beauty of water

soothes our spirits, inspires us…

Water refreshes.

Every living thing

needs clean, life-giving water

for body and soul!

Boat wake in Biscayne Bay near Miami, Florida. Photos by Eve Ellen Maher.

Copyright© 2023 by Cheryl Batavia

Saving Mother Earth

Mother Earth. Image by Vogue 0987 from Pixabay.

Saving Mother Earth

We find ourselves now

in daunting circumstances…

No time to give up!

Optimism propels us…

Innovation and effort!

Copyright© 2023 by Cheryl Batavia

Image by Jasmine 777 from Pixabay.

For a cautiously optimistic view of saving our planet, go to YouTube and type “Chasing Carbon Zero/PBS/NOVA/Full Documentary.” in the search bar. This worked for me. (When I tried posting the URL, there was a message that the video was unavailable.)

Photo from NASA.

Make Every Day Earth Day!

Birds Fishing in the Mangrove Forest

Arctic terns at Ten Thousand Islands, one of the largest mangrove forests in the world. The green shrub on the left is a mangrove, and the green in the distance is a very large mangrove island. Photo by Ellen Maher.

Birds Fishing in the Mangrove Forest


mangrove island,

safe perch for arctic terns.

Inches above the waves, they find


Osprey, also called a fish hawk, feeding its chicks. Photo by Richard Lee on Unsplash.


create islands,

green in a sea of blue.

Ospreys soar majestically in

blue skies.

Anhinga, also called a snake bird for its long neck. Photo by Mac Weaver from Unsplash.


anhinga dives

to fish underwater,

spreads water-soaked wings to dry in


Great egret flying and two snowy egrets wading in the water. Photo by William Foley from Unsplash.

Snow white

egrets stand motionless,

fishing in the shallows,

alert, their long, sharp beaks poised to


Pelican in Everglades National Park near Ten Thousand Islands. Photo by Ellen Maher.


pelican flies

at Ten Thousand Islands.

Seeking a little bedtime snack,

he dives!

Pelican flying near Ten Thousand Islands at Everglades National Park. Photo by Ellen Maher.


mangrove forest.

Ecosystem threatened

by global warming’s rising seas.


Copyright© 2023 by Cheryl Batavia

Happy Earth Day! ❤

I Am the Moment

Sea turtle hatchling racing to the safety of the ocean. Photo by Christopher Farrugia from Unsplash.

I Am the Moment

I am that flash of green as the sun goes down.

I am the crest of a wave before it breaks on the shore,

a lightning bolt that ushers in a clap of thunder.

I am the moment of a butterfly’s first flight,

the rush of sea turtle hatchlings to the safety of the sea.

I am the moment when lovers’ eyes first meet.

I am that half-forgotten melody that lingers in your mind,

a half-remembered dream that eludes you when you wake.

I am that pang of regret for a kind word left unspoken.

I am the blink of an eye, the shadow of a smile.

I am that rare, pivotal moment when opportunity knocks.

I am the moment…and then I am gone!

Sea turtle hatchlings. Photo by Ricardo-Braham from Unsplash.

Copyright© 2023 by Cheryl Batavia

To My Fellow Bloggers:

This poem woke me up in the middle of the night a few nights ago, so I got up and wrote a rough draft before going back to sleep. You may also have had similar experiences. I would be interested in hearing about writing inspirations from your dreams or those that wake you up demanding to be written. ❤

Earth, a Fragile Paradise:


Extinctions & Recoveries;

Pollution & Climate Change;

Finding Environmental Solutions;

Earth, A Fragile Paradise

Whale Mother and Baby. Photo by Max Lissenden from Unsplash.

Earth, a Fragile Paradise


In the early days, Americans

burned whale oil in their lamps,

wore fragrances made with ambergris,

(a waxy substance produced in whale intestines),

and laced themselves into corsets

stiffened with whale bones.

Whales, once threatened by hunting…

became popular attractions

for the eco-tourists of today!

Racism, genocide, and greed

decimated the bison,

mainstay of Native Americans

living on the Great Plains.

Hunters killed them for their hides,

leaving carcasses to rot on the plains.


drove Native Americans onto reservations.

Wanton slaughter

brought bison to near extinction.

Some bison today are domesticated;

others roam free in National Parks.

Whims of fashion:

egret feathers adorning ladies’ hats,

alligator shoes and luggage,

elephants, slaughtered for ivory tusks,

baby seals, annihilated for their skins,

glamorous women in leopard coats,

fashionable men in beaver hats.

Many species, once threatened, now recovered;

battles to save leopards and elephants…


Appetite for wild meat is threatening

many species, including humans.

Diseases cross over from animals to humans:

ebola virus, thought to have originated

in bats, chimpanzees, gorillas, and antelopes;

bats in animal market blamed for Covid pandemic;

AIDS reportedly passed

from chimpanzees to humans.

A desire for exotic pets

brought many alien species

to Florida’s Everglades National Park…

abandoned when they grew too large,

escaped, or were released into the wild.

One species is hunted there once each year…

Burmese pythons, grown enormous

preying on deer and alligators!

Everglades rabbits, easy prey for pythons,

soon disappear when reintroduced.

Sadly, prolific pythons may be permanent

Everglades residents.

American Bison. Photo by Jonathan Mast from Unsplash.

Extinctions & Recoveries

Relentless hunting famously

caused the extinction of the dodo bird.

Some American birds have also disappeared.

Carolina parakeets no longer inhabit

the Eastern United States.

Passenger pigeons are gone forever,

Ivory-billed woodpeckers are no more.

The American flamingo and the wood stork

have re-established themselves

in the United States

after being absent for many decades.

Whooping cranes are still hanging on,

supported by conservation efforts.

White-tailed deer were reintroduced

into Shenandoah National Park.

Predators that used to

control deer populations are gone.

Feeding programs now prevent deer

from starving in winter

or being shot in cornfields outside the park.

Wolves, a bounty on their heads

for preying on livestock,

long absent from some of their range…

successfully reintroduced a few years ago

to Yellowstone National Park,

restored the balance of nature.

Monarch butterfly numbers dwindling,

Milkweeds and wildflowers vanishing

along monarch migration routes.

Pollution bleaching coral reefs,

habitat of marine animals and fish.

Wetlands, nurseries for sealife,

disappearing due to development…

Just a few examples of many animals

endangered by human activity!

Great Egret Family. Photo by homecare119 from Pixabay.

Pollution & Climate Change

Bald eagles, emblem of the United States,

barely escaped extinction.

In the years after DDT was banned,

bald eagles repopulated their former range

and can now be sighted

in every American state except Hawaii.

Ugly faces of pollution:

animals foraging in landfills and garbage dumps,

sea turtles entangled in plastic debris,

seabirds coated with oil, fish whose mercury content

makes them dangerous to eat,

microplastics in the food chain, now found in fish

and in humans who eat them.

Red tides, massive algae blooms in oceans,

blue-green algae blooms in rivers.

Toxic overgrowth, caused by pollution,

results in massive fish kills,

deaths of dolphins and endangered manatees.

Aerosolized red tide neurotoxins cause

respiratory irritation and illness in humans.

Exposure to blue-green algae

may result in permanent liver damage.

Everglades, stressed by climate change,

recent hurricane damage…

small communities struggling to rebuild.

Everywhere in Everglades National Park

staff gauges indicate water levels,

warn about effects of rising water.

Just a few more feet of water,

and beautiful mangrove forests,

home to alligators, dolphins, birds, fish,

and endangered manatees,

will be gone forever!

Global warming

is melting arctic ice at an alarming rate,

stranding polar bears on shrinking ice floes.

Can they survive global warming?

Can life on earth survive?

Polar Bear Cubs at Play. Photo by Hand Jurgen from Unsplash.

Finding Environmental Solutions

Zoos, once prisons

for kidnapped animals,

have become a refuge

for endangered species.

Captive breeding programs seek to

re-establish animals in the wild.

Shrinking habitat is being augmented

by setting aside land

for wildlife parks and preserves.

Magnificent animals of Africa and Asia,

tigers, snow leopards, and elephants,

require large territories.

Preserves protect them from extinction.

Tourists on safari now hunt with cameras.

Poachers are punished.

Villagers are compensated for livestock

killed by protected predators.

Europeans take great pride

in preserving vintage varieties of livestock,

cultivating heirloom flowers, fruits, and vegetables,

maintaining animal preserves.

Florida panthers, symbols of Florida,

inbred and endangered,

were infused with new genes

from Texas pumas, a closely-related species.

Florida panthers require large territories.

Land has been set aside;

tall fences now protect panthers

from collisions with cars.

Unlike reclusive Florida panthers,

Florida bobcats,

adapted to living near humans,

are frequently seen strolling through

suburban neighborhoods.

Blackouts on Florida beaches

protect sea turtles during nesting season.

Manatee zones shield

manatees from boat propellers.

Many programs rescue

injured manatees, sea turtles, and birds.

What’s it all about? Photo by Chen Lei from Unsplash.

Earth, a Fragile Paradise

Earth is a fragile paradise…

experiencing both environmental

degradation and preservation;

some people destroy; others rescue, restore.

Life on earth is threatened.

Working together, people may yet

save this fragile paradise!

Copyright © 2023 by Cheryl Batavia

Please Note: This post was written from my own experiences in Florida. I learned about environmental topics from news and documentaries, and I did some basic research while writing poems about Florida animals. I am not a scientist, just a retired elementary school teacher who cares about the environment.

It’s a big world! Please feel free to provide additional information from your experiences and perspective in the comments. Thank you. 🙂

Let’s Celebrate Earth Day All Year Long!

Earth Day, April 22, 2023


Boca Chita Lighthouse, Biscayne National Park. Photo by Ellen Maher.


Lighthouse, beautiful

in daylight.

Unlighted replica landmark

gracing Biscayne park,

starlit after dark.

Island in Biscayne Bay,

park where boaters play,

enjoying a sunny Saturday.

Miami seems worlds away!

Boca Chita Island visitors adore

picnics, music, pristine sandy shore,

climbing lighthouse stairs to explore

blue-water vistas, serenity restore:

sharks, rays, dolphins, many more!

Boca Chita Lighthouse, Biscayne National Park. Photo by Ellen Maher.

Staircase inside Boca Chita Lighthouse. Photo by Ellen Maher.

Katey Batavia & Ellen Maher at the top of Boca Chita Lighthouse.

Biscayne Bay viewed from Boca Chita Lighthouse, Biscayne National Park. Photo by Ellen Maher.

Copyright© 2023 by Cheryl Batavia

This is an example of a Ziggeraut poem, named after a step pyramid. This one reminds me of a lighthouse.

Title is one word.

Lines one and two have two words.

Lines three through five have three words.

Lines six through nine have four words.

Lines ten through fourteen have five words.

Rhyme Pattern: aa bbb cccc ddddd