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

Man of My Dreams

Robert Snyder. Photo by Cheryl Batavia.

Man of My Dreams

Wise like a hundred-year-old oak

growing in front of the county courthouse,

witness to the comings and goings

of humankind, a student of history.

Live oak tree. Photo by Iris4me from Pixabay.

Mind as nimble as an otter playing

“now you see me, now you don’t”

among the plants, above and below

the surface of the water.

Otter. Photo by Andreas Schanti from Unsplash.

Honest and forthright as a dandelion

springing up in a manicured lawn,

never pretending

to be a lily or a rose.

Dandelion. Photo by Jan Ledermann from Unsplash.

Conscientious like a honeybee

gathering nectar from summer flowers,

nourishment to sustain the hive

when winter fields lie fallow.

Photo by Michael Coltman from Unsplash.

Playful as a kitten high on catnip

unraveling a ball of string.

Peaceable as a sleeping puppy

with a tummy full of mother’s milk.

Photo by Natalie Spehner from Unsplash.

Reassuring and comforting

like the cycles of the moon.

Warm and loving

like the morning sunshine.


Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia


❤ Happy 74th Birthday, Robert! ❤


Robert is making steady progress after his pacemaker surgery twelve days ago. The strips of tape sealing the incision will come off in two more days. We thank everyone for your good wishes and encouraging words. ❤

Is Death as Beautiful as Love? & A Tale of Lovers’ Leap

Photo by Joao Jesus from Pexels.

Is Death as Beautiful as Love?

“Death is as beautiful as love.” I vehemently disagree with this closing line from a poem I wrote in high school. I tried hard to remember the rest of the poem and understand what was meant, but unfortunately, that is the only line I can remember. I will tell you right up front that I think there is nothing that is as beautiful as love.

Seeking insight, I tried to imagine what a beautiful death would look like, perhaps stepping in front of a bullet intended for someone else or dying in defense of your country. Those are selfless and honorable ways to die.

Making a living will ensures a peaceful death when there is no hope of recovery and provides an end to the sufferings of family members. That is a responsible and loving way to die.

Maybe it would be beautiful to die holding the hand of the one you love and plunging to your death from one of the many famous “Lovers’ Leaps.” Well, maybe that kind of death isn’t beautiful, though it might be preferable to being forced into a loveless marriage. Having heard tales as a child about a “Lovers’ Leap” in West Virginia, this is the sentimental favorite among the candidates for a “beautiful death.”

Death is natural and something we all will experience, but we shouldn’t expect it to be beautiful. I believe that what is beautiful is the love that motivated the people involved in the scenarios mentioned, and not the death itself. As I stated at the beginning, I don’t believe that anything is as beautiful as love.

Going forward, since I couldn’t reconstruct the original poem, I decided to write a poem that included the line from the original poem, “Death is as beautiful as love.” After many failed attempts, I settled for writing a poem about an imaginary young couple at Lovers’ Leap, a sort of “Romeo and Juliet of the mountains.”

Photo by Svyatoslav Romano from Unsplash.

A Tale of Lovers’ Leap

Hand-in hand, Darling,

we climb to dizzying heights

above the valley,

where our feuding families

have forbidden us to wed.

Sweethearts forever,

standing on the precipice

above our valley,

hand-in-hand, we’ll leap into

eternity together.

Will they weep for us

down in the valley of hate?

Will the feuding end?

Will they bury us side-by-side

down in a valley of love?


Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia

Personal Note: I began writing this post in the hospital waiting room while Robert was undergoing emergency pacemaker surgery on Wednesday. He came home on Thursday and is recovering well. I may have been thinking some dark thoughts as I wrote, but the sun is shining now! A full recovery is expected in four to six weeks.

Ode to a Young Jatropha

Zebra butterfly gathering nectar from a Jatropha Integerrima flower. Photo by Siala from Pixabay.

Ode to a Young Jatropha

A Florida favorite we revere

delights in winter sun and summer rains.

Jatropha blooms in scarlet splendor here

and blooming daily, honeybees sustains.

Beloved by spritely zebra butterflies,

a cheery view outside our windowpane!

Our balmy winters we gratefully prize.

Jatropha, welcome! May you long remain!

Jack Frost, unbidden, killed you to the ground.

I gave up hope, and soon declared you dead

when armadillos came and dug around,

But Robert watched and watered you instead.

In spring, you rose; in winter, you grew tall.

Jatropha, you were never dead at all!

Photo of an armadillo by Victor Miyata from Pexels.
Our little Jatropha. The shadow is of me taking the photo.
Robert with the Jatropha whose life he saved after it froze to the ground. Photo by Cheryl Batavia.

In just three short months our Jatropha grew from the roots to nearly six feet tall and wide. This winter, I will begin to prune and shape it.

Last spring, we planted another Jatropha in the front yard to replace a tree that died in the freeze. The nursery said that it was not uncommon for frozen Jatrophas to regrow. Our little shrub was newly-planted and vulnerable. Older Jatrophas in the neighborhood had minimal damage, and quickly recovered.

The last freeze in South Florida was in 2010. Freezes happen about every 10 years, and most tropical plants do survive. Let’s hope climate change does not make freezes more common here.

Copyright © 2022 by Cheryl Batavia

To my Blogging Friends,

Before moving, my son spent ten days with us. During his visit, I spent too much time outdoors in the heat. What started as an allergic reaction to soil molds became a sinus infection. Though I almost never have a headache, I experienced five weeks of severe daily headaches, some days all day. I also suffered extreme fatigue and brain fog.

When I realized I had a sinus infection, I called my doctor’s office for an appointment. My doctor wouldn’t see me and sent me to the walk-in clinic because my symptoms resembled covid. I was in the clinic for three hours being tested for covid and the flu. Both tests were negative. I got some antibiotics, and I am finally over the sinus infection and recovering my energy.

As I am able, I will begin spending more time on WordPress. I am glad to be back! ❤

Bipolar

Photo by Ivana Cajina from Unsplash.

Bipolar

Comforting sun that warms

can also burn.

Summer showers cool and soothe,

but lightning strikes sometimes.

The honey bee that captivates

can inflict a painful sting.

Cheery words spoken today

may become tomorrow’s curses.

Decisions are made,

changed, and changed again.

Promises are made

but not always kept.

Friendship smiles today,

but it may weep tomorrow.

As difficult as our friendship is for me,

what hell it must be for my bipolar friend!


Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia.


Mental Illness

Mental illness occurs in many forms. It can be very difficult to deal with someone who is mentally ill, but I believe they deserve our empathy and compassion. We may need to maintain good boundaries for the sake of our own sanity. It may help us in dealing with those who suffer from mental illness to remember that their illness is not their fault, and they may have little control over their feelings and behavior. They deserve professional help, and they deserve our understanding and support.

Bluebird of Happiness

The Bluebird of Happiness given to me by my sister. Photo by Cheryl Batavia.

Blue Bird of Happiness

My mother admired the glassmaker’s art;

the Bluebird of Happiness sang in her heart…

mesmerizing, sparkling, azure,

the iconic bluebird was Mom’s treasure.

To me, the bluebird was gaudy kitsch,

not something for which I’d ever wish!

My sister, however, had a different view

of the iconic collectibles in blue.

When the glassworks stopped operation,

my sister stocked up in anticipation

of spreading a lot of happiness around.

She offered me a bluebird; I turned her down.

One morning, having changed my mind.

I told my sister, if she would be so kind,

I would like a bluebird after all.

She certainly wasn’t expecting that call!

My sister sent me a bluebird in the mail,

and every morning, without fail,

like my mother and sister before me,

I hear the bluebird’s cheerful melody.


Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia

My Itty Bitty Ad in The New York Times Magazine

Don’t Worry!

Photo by Mohamed Nohassi from Unsplash.

Don’t Worry!

My life has been filled with terrible misfortunes;

most of which never happened.

__ Michel de Montaigne

I have been through some terrible things in my life,

some of which actually happened.

__Mark Twain

Photo by Alyssa Stevenson from Unsplash.

There will be an answer…let it be!

__Paul McCartney

Don’t worry…be happy!

__Bobby McFerrin

Photo by Jessica Felicio from Unsplash.

🙂 Good News! 🙂

Robert has undergone a new treatment and is doing well enough that his surgery was cancelled. Yay! The doctor said he could reschedule the surgery if symptoms recur.

My son’s rent had nearly doubled in the last two years and is going up again. There was very little available in Florida that he could afford. He was approved for an apartment, and he and his service dog, BABY will be moving in August to Louisiana, where rents are more affordable. I had hoped that he would be able to live near me, but it is good that where he is moving is within a couple of hours of his sisters. My son will be stopping by for a few days on his way to his new home. I will be happy to spend a little time with him.

❤ Thank You! ❤

A heartfelt thank you to all of my fellow bloggers for your concern and support during this difficult time. Robert and I will always remember your kindness.

Cheryl Batavia

Ringneck Snake

Florida Ringneck Snake. Photo by Bob Warrick,
CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Ringneck Snake

Last year, walking to the mailbox,

something black caught my eye.

It looked like a large earthworm.

“That worm will die on the hot

driveway!” I thought.

As I got closer, I could see

a red ring around its neck.

It was a tiny ringneck snake

warming itself in the sun.

I was glad I didn’t run over it!

This year, going to the mailbox.

I saw a tiny black snake with a

red ring around its neck.

It looked like…a friend.


Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia.

Florida Ring Snakes

Florida Ring Snakes are about 10-14 inches long, and are harmless to humans. They are so small that it is nearly impossible for them to bite you, but in the unlikely event that they do, their venom is too weak to harm you. Some people keep them as pets. Their coloring varies from gray to black, and the ring around their necks may be white, yellow, orange or red. Some of them don’t have any ring. Their underside may be a vivid yellow, orange, or coral. When they feel threatened, they curl the ends of their tails. Too small to prey on rodents or amphibians, they live on worms and insects.

This poem was written a few years ago for my Hanging Out with Wild Animals series, but I didn’t use it. Like all poems in that series, it was inspired by my real-life encounter with a Florida animal.

Update

For over a week now, I have been apartment hunting online for my son. His current rent has nearly doubled in the last two years, and he is looking for something affordable that will accept his dog, a pit bull. The search has been a challenge! Next week, Robert will be having his surgery. I am behind on my emails. Thank you for your patience. ❤

Wednesday, July 6, 2022. Robert found a successful treatment, and he is so much better that his surgery has been cancelled. The doctor said it could be rescheduled if symptoms return. Joe was approved for an apartment today. He will be moving to Louisiana where rents are more affordable.

Thank you for your support during this difficult period. It means a lot to me.

❤ ❤ ❤

Auras of a Proud People:

An Allegory

Photo by N Suma from Unsplash

Auras of a Proud People:

an Allegory

A heroic leader had inspired his people to fight valiantly to save their homeland from takeover by a much larger aggressor. That leader, Peter, was heartened by the bravery of his people and by their remarkable victory, but all around him, he saw the tragic devastation of his beloved country. Peter was deeply saddened by the suffering of all of those who had been wounded or who had lost their lives in the fighting. He wanted to help rebuild his country and bring the refugees home.

One night, Peter, in low spirits and exhausted, fell asleep and began to dream. In his dream, he was sitting on a park bench among green trees and fountains when he noticed that a very old man was watching him intently from a nearby bench. Peter smiled kindly at the old man. “How are you today, friend?” he inquired.

The old man, in a strong, quiet voice replied, “The sun is shining, and our country is free. I have survived on this earth for one hundred years, so I am doing well, but I see profound sadness in your eyes.”

Peter replied, “I, too, am overjoyed that our country is free, but I grieve for the many courageous men and women, and even innocent children, who have died or been injured. Our country is in ruins, and we need outstanding people to rebuild it, people of vision, skill, and determination.”

The old man’s face began to glow, and auras of purple, pink, green, blue, and white outlined his aged body. “You are a good man, Peter,” he said. “Tomorrow, when you awaken, I promise you that you will be able to find the people you need to fulfill every task.”

The old man rose to leave. “Who are you?” Peter inquired, but the old man did not reply. He smiled, then turned and walked away. That night, Peter enjoyed a deep, restful sleep. When he awoke, he went out into the street.

As he walked around the city, Peter was astonished to see that all the people he encountered were surrounded by bright auras of many colors. He went looking for the beautiful park with the green trees and fountains where he had talked to the aged man, but he could not find it.

Finally, Peter sat down under the cool shade of a tree and fell asleep. Soon, the hundred-year-old man appeared and sat on the green grass nearby, waiting for Peter to finish his nap. Gently, the wise old man spoke to Peter, “Peter,” he said, “You now have the gift of seeing auras, the colorful energy fields that surround all living things.”

“That is wonderful!” answered Peter with a smile, but how can that help to rebuild our country?”

The old man returned Peter’s smile and began his explanation, “If you need a person of imagination and creativity, look for someone with an orange aura.”

“Green and pink are colors of the heart. If you need someone with empathy and compassion, look for a person who has an aura of green or pink.”

A blue aura is the sign of a powerful mind. A person with a blue aura possesses unusual intelligence and insight.”

“If you are seeking someone endowed with confidence and charisma, choose a person with a yellow aura.”

“A purple aura signifies empathy, intuition, sensitivity, and great emotional depth.”

“If you meet a person with a red aura, you have found an individual who exemplifies honesty and boundless energy. That person has a burning desire to be the best at whatever he does.”

“A white aura, though rare, is evidence of a quick mind. People with white auras are in touch with universal energy and oneness and have a strong connection to something greater than themselves.”

“Beware of black or very dark auras. They are associated with fatigue, stress, depression, and mental illness,” the old man said, concluding his instruction on a cautionary note.

Then Peter began to speak,”When I was walking around the city today, I saw many people with bright, multicolored auras. Why do some people have auras made up of such an array of colors?”

The aged man’s face glowed, and a colorful aura shone all around him. He said nothing, only smiled and rose to go.

“”Friend, asked Peter, “can you stay and help us meet the great challenges that lie ahead? At least have some supper with me. We can sit and talk, and you can share with me some wise advice.”

The old man only smiled one last time and disappeared into the distance.

As Peter walked home through the streets of the battered city, he noticed many people with colorful auras. He began to feel that so many capable people working together could surely rebuild their country. Although the task was monumental, he was sure their efforts would result in a glorious success!

As Peter stepped into his home, he caught a glimpse of his reflection in the hall mirror. He saw a man surrounded by a shimmering rainbow-colored aura, and he was suddenly filled with confidence!

It may be that Peter saw the one-hundred-year-old man and all the colorful auras only in his dreams, but history will record the very real accomplishments of Peter and his people. They banded together, fought bravely, and saved their country from a powerful empire-building invader. From the rubble of war, they rebuilt their homeland better than before.

Today, the sun shines bright on the rippling fields of wheat and the green forests of a free and independent nation. There are cozy homes, excellent schools, renowned universities, beautiful houses of worship, state-of-the-art hospitals, well-stocked libraries, magnificent museums, and impressive public buildings. Businesses prosper, and ships come and go at the bustling ports. New airplanes fly in and out of modern airports.

Happy children laugh and play once more in playgrounds and parks. At school, they study hard to learn the skills they need for a successful future. People enjoy an abundant life with healthful food, comfortable clothes, convenient transportation, reliable independent media, and quality entertainment.

Peter and his fellow citizens are a proud people. Their love of country, courage, and devotion to democracy will forever be legendary!


Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia


Update: On the day before it was scheduled, Robert’s outpatient surgery was rescheduled! He is doing OK. I will let you know more in a couple of weeks. ❤

Morning Reflections

Ocean Dawn. Photo by William Farlow from Unsplash.
Foggy Morning. Photo by Yannick Pulver from Unsplash.
Ruella Daybreak. Photo by Cheryl Batavia.
A New Day. Photo by Gordon Beagley from Unsplash.

Morning Reflections

1. Ocean Dawn

Exquisite stillness…

Dawn breaks over the ocean…

Tranquil, bright morning.

Each day a new beginning,

each day a limitless sea!

2. Foggy Morning

Fog obscures mountains.

Burning sun will soon reveal

lofty horizons.

Inspiration surrounds us…

Your mountain is calling you!

3. Ruella Daybreak

Daybreak approaching…

Purple ruellas unfold,

inviting the bees.

Ruellas live for today.

Tomorrow, others will bloom!

4. A New Day

Morning dew sparkles

on spider webs in sunshine,

delicate but strong.

Slender threads of existence

adorned with glimmering hope.

5. Morning Sun

The day starts slowly,

sunlight building its courage

to face the new day.

Up over the horizon…

Upward to blazing midday!

Morning Sun. Photo by Courtney Cook from Unsplash.

Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia


Project News

One of the projects I am working on is submitting my five self-published books to traditional publishers through an agency. The Company is launching two new magazines and sponsored a literary contest.

This poem, “Morning Reflections” as well as the last post, “Serendipity” were entries in a magazine contest that did not get published. There is one more poem which won a special mention and will be published in the magazine soon. I will share the poem after it has been published. I entered a short story contest in the other magazine, but didn’t get published. I will post a story on my blog in the near future.

Another exciting thing is that a small ad for my book, Hanging Out With Wild Animals, will appear in an upcoming issue of the New York Times Magazine. I will share it with you after it comes out. My books will be featured in a variety of other media outlets in the US.

I will post updates about future developments. I am also working on a book series of poems from my blog. That is a long-term project, and I don’t have any plans to publish those books any time soon.

In addition to Robert’s ongoing dental appointments and the ultrasound therapy I am doing for him at home, Robert is having outpatient surgery on Wednesday, which will involve a couple more appointments and a few days of recovery time at home. I think I am too old for all of this activity! I am still trying to keep up with emails, but may continue to be somewhat erratic for a while.

Serendipity

Photo by Joe Hepburn on Unsplash

Serendipity

Our date

with fate,

improbable, but true.

Dreams long overdue,

serendipity times two.

Talking, our hands clasped,

how swiftly hours passed!

Our commonalities so vast,

soulmates meeting at last!

Forever calls, and heart replies.

Story emblazoned on the skies.

You are everything I fantasized:

Gazing into each other’s eyes,

together growing old and wise.


Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia


Hello, fellow bloggers. I am still involved in some longterm projects, so am not responding to as many emails as I would like. I will be sharing some results of these projects soon. Also, there are some technical issues to deal with. I know I am not the only one with this problem! Please be patient with me. Thank you so much. ❤