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

I Remember Rainbows

Photo by Harry Quan from Unsplash.

Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul

And sings the tune without the words

And never stops at all

Emily Dickinson

Many people are wondering whether it is too late to restore the environment to health. I don’t know the answer, but I HOPE that it is not too late! The poem below is the last of my three environment-themed Halloween Sonnets.


I Remember Rainbows

I live today on earth, a shabby place,

in dreary post-apocalyptic haze,

but I remember glowing rainbow hues,

and sunny skies above, quite clear and blue,

and even if my skies are grey today,

lush rainbow colors flood my dreams always!

No fish are swimming in polluted streams;

in dreams, clear rivers flow to shining seas.

No birds are singing in the leafless trees,

but dream-birds nest in trees of verdant green!

Though even weeds can’t bloom in sterile clay,

I dream of vivid flowers every day

where dream-bees feed in joyous, playful scenes,

and I remember rainbows in my dreams.

Photo by Angelo Casto from Unsplash.
Photo by Nuno Antunos from Unsplash.

Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia

Pact with the Prince of Darkness:

A Halloween Sonnet Fantasy

Photo by Gursimrat Ganda from Unsplash

Pact with the Prince of Darkness:

A Halloween Sonnet Fantasy

Forlorn, undead on dying planet earth,

humanity extinct, I curse my birth.

Alas! I sold my soul and cannot die!

For eons, I have roamed the earth and sky

by noxious seas that drowned the firmament,

beneath vile haze that cloaked earth like a tent,

all now restored to lucid sea and sky.

Though void of life, the new-formed land is dry.

Millennia have wiped all stains away.

How slowly life evolves until the day

when humans walk this precious world again!

I dread the evil deeds I must do then,

to serve the Fiend who bought my worthless life.

O Gods, please pardon me and let me die!


Copyright © 2021 by Cheryl Batavia


Satan, Beelzebub, the Fiend, the Devil, Lucifer, the Prince of Darkness…There are numerous names for the personification of evil. Many classic myths and stories portray a character who promises to serve the Devil in exchange for granting them a favor. In this case, the character sells his soul to live on after all other human beings become extinct. The poem also tells a tale of the destruction and regeneration of the earth.

At approximately age five, I remember marching in a Halloween parade wearing a Devil costume, red with horns and a tail, and carrying a pitchfork! My siblings subsequently grew into the costume.

Photo by Mikail Nilov from Unsplash.

Alone in a Lost World

Burned-out boat on display at Bombay Beach, a ghost town by the Salton Sea in California. The Salton Sea is a dead body of water that is slowly drying up, and the town is now a sort of art museum. Photo by Design Class on Unsplash.

Alone in a Lost World

Bright rainbow hues have faded now away;

I waken in a world of cheerless grey.

Accursed, I walk beside a stinking sea

where once the dolphins came to swim with me.

From heights I view the valley that was home,

a city veiled in haze, a silent tomb.

Bereft at night beneath a blackened sky,

I seek in vain the twinkling stars on high.

No plea restores the music of the night;

the crickets sing no more! I curse my plight

and long for kindred souls to share my days.

I pray to rise on wings and fly away.

Beloved spirits smile and beckon me

to Heaven in the world that used to be.

Photo by Dottie Maybry from Unsplash.

Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia


Halloween Sonnet Festival

Ingrid’s Halloween Sonnet Festival inspired me to learn to write sonnets. Few things scare me more than the impending doom of global warming, climate change, deforestation, species extinction, and pollution. We need to change our ways NOW if we hope to prevent the ubiquitous doomsday predictions from coming true.

Check out the Halloween Sonnet Festival on Ingrid’s blog, experimentsinfiction.com!

No Time For Fears

Photo by Ryan Gagnon from Unsplash.

“He who hesitates is lost!” / “Look before you leap!”

Somewhere between the two proverbs is the advice to calm your fears.

Happy Halloween!


No Time for Fears

[

I Choose

to assess risks and act judiciously.

I choose never to live in fear, to live joyously,

sleep soundly, and focus on my goals.

I have no time for fears.


Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia

Security Guards at the Masquerade Ball

Masquerade Ball. Photo by Michael Cochran on flickr.

Security Guards at the Masquerade Ball

At masked balls, Mack, the guests all look a fright!

Look sharp for party-crashing thieves tonight.

A movie star! We can’t arrest Charlie Chaplain!

Now, Sherlock Holmes has seen us watching him.

It’s hard to tell about the yeti; he smells okay!

There’s Cleopatra, wearing a wig, I’d say.

I’m sure Dracula’s no genuine vampire;

he’s with the Queen of Hearts beside the fire.

King Kong, right there, is getting pretty tipsy.

Look how he’s dancing with that buxom gypsy!

Saint Nicholas may be our man, eh Jack?

Let’s go and see what’s in that great big sack.

He’s pinched some fruit and wine off the buffet.

Ho, ho, ho, Santa! No crime in that, I say!

Masquerade Ball. Photo by Michael Cochran from flickr.

Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia


This is my attempt at a Halloween Sonnet suggested by Ingrid at experimentsinfiction. Ingrid is sponsoring a Halloween Sonnet Festival. Sonnets are not my forte, but I thought it would be fun to participate. Thank you, Ingrid, for a bit of Halloween fun. 🙂


Thank you to all of those who kindly responded to that test post from WordPress! ❤ It was intended to track down an email of a post that WordPress sent me. The test post was not supposed to be visible. I am sorry for the inconvenience.

Americans Move West

I. Timeline: 1783-1869

II. Poems of the Westward Migration

III. My Favorite Classic Westerns

A Vintage Conestoga wagon with a water barrel on the side. Photo by Larry Costales from Unsplash.

Map of US Territorial Growth. Photo from flickr.

Timeline: 1783-1869

1783

The Thirteen Colonies won their independence from England. The United States of America at this time consisted of thirteen states which extended to the Mississippi River on the west. Territories to the south and west were controlled by Spain, France, and Russia. Canadian borders were being established to the north. Of course, Native Americans already lived in the Americas when Europeans arrived, a fact Europeans often chose to ignore.

Mountain men were fur traders and trappers who explored the American West. They lived among the Native Americans, learned tribal languages, and often married Native American wives.

1803

The Louisiana Purchase. The US bought the Louisiana Territory from France. President Thomas Jefferson sent the Lewis & Clark Expedition to explore the West. Their journals recorded the topography, Native American tribes they visited, and plants and animals they found.

Sacagawea, a sixteen-year-old Native American guide and translator, joined the expedition with her French Canadian explorer husband and infant son. She was invaluable to the expedition, and in 1794, a one dollar coin was first minted in her honor. On the coin is an image of Sacagawea carrying her baby on her back.

1803-1841

The Western Expansion. Settlers moved to land West of the Mississippi River, traveling on foot, on horseback, and by canoes, river rafts, and Conestoga wagons.

The US continued to purchase territories. A doctrine called “Manifest Destiny” stated that it was ordained by God that the US should occupy all the land from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.

Native Americans resisted the takeover of their land. There were many conflicts and wars between the Settlers, US soldiers, and the Native Americans. US soldiers manned numerous forts along the trail to protect the wagon trains and the settlers who now lived on the Great Plains.

1841-1869

The Great Migration. During this time, 350,000 settlers traveled to California and the Oregon Territories. Steam-powered riverboats and eventually stage coaches became available. Telegraph lines soon linked East and West. The US now stretched from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.

Many new states had been admitted to the Union as settlers moved west, some where slavery was legal, and some where slavery was illegal. This was a tumultuous time in American history which culminated in a bloody civil war.

1849

Gold was discovered in California, and the California Gold Rush began. “Forty-niners” went to California in search of gold. A few of them did “strike it rich.” Many more did not.

Towns sprang up where gold and silver were discovered. When the mines played out, the towns were abandoned. Ghost Towns still exist in the American West.

1861-1865

The American Civil War was fought between the Union (Northern States) and the Confederacy (Southern States.) It was a devastating and bloody conflict that centered around issues of slavery.

1869

The First Transcontinental Railroad was completed, joining East and West. This marked the end of the Era known as the Great Migration.


Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia


Poems of the Westward Migration

A creek in Yosemite National Park. Photo by Michael Hirsch on Unsplash.

Mountain Men

Mountain men roamed the wilderness

and lived among the tribes,

learning tribal languages

and taking native wives.

They knew the animals and seasons

and walked the forest ways,

trapping beaver along the rivers

in long, solitary days.

Gentlemen in London and Paris

wanted to make the right impression.

American beavers died for the sake

of fashion’s beaver hat obsession.

Mountain men gathered

when the season was through

to trade their furs and celebrate

their yearly Rendezvous.

Black Foot, Standing Bear, and Big Eagle, three members of the Sioux tribe. A Sioux village with tipis, 1898 photo from the Boston Public Library on Unsplash.

Native Americans

Native Americans, on many occasions,

helped European settlers survive,

but goodwill soon evaporated

when the multitudes arrived.

An endless stream of intruders

settled on ancestral lands.

Smallpox and measles took a toll.

Others died by White men’s hands.

Native Americans were pushed

further westward for years and years.

Their lands were seized, and they were

forced to walk the “Trail of Tears.”

Treaties dishonored, promises broken.

Natives were confined to reservations.

Their children were sent to far-off schools

for White man’s education.

Modern-day campers and a replica Conestoga wagon. Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash.

Wagon Trains Go West

Carrying the settlers’ worldly goods,

Conestoga wagons crossed the plains.

For protection against Native American

attacks, they traveled in wagon trains.

A wagon master led the wagon train

and guided settlers on their way.

He knew where to ford the rivers and

where to camp at the end of the day.

Many settlers walked along the trail

to spare the oxen and lighten the load.

At night they circled the wagons and

cooked their suppers beside the road.

Babies were born along the trail.

Settlers played music and danced.

Couples were married on the journey

after a wagon train romance.

Dreams were big, and hopes were high,

but there were hardships every day.

The trail was littered with broken wagons,

and graves were left along the way.

Vintage steam engine. Narrow gauge railroad. Photo by Adrienne Merritt on Unsplash.

The Great Migration

The US army manned a series of forts

to defend the wagon trains and

protect the settlements springing up

across the western plains.

Gold was discovered in California.

Settlers traveled the Oregon Trail.

Stage coaches soon headed west,

carrying passengers and mail.

New states were joining the Union,

some slave, and some free.

It was a dark and turbulent era

in American History.

Five years of civil war

brought widespread devastation.

The Transcontinental Railroad

ended the era of Great Migration.

There has always been a special bond between a cowboy and his horse. Photo by Rodnae Productions on Pexels.



Cowboy Life

Cowboys riding the open range

under a wide blue sky,

we keep an eye out for rustlers,

loaded guns by our sides.

Many more miles to ride,

many new calves to brand.

We sit around the campfire,

eating beans from a can.

Singing sad songs, swapping

tall tales, just hanging around.

We unpack our bedrolls

and fall asleep on the ground.

Morning comes early. Drink your

coffee and saddle your horse.

Looks like good weather today…

I’ve seen a whole lot worse!

New horses to be broken

out in the corral.

Getting ready for round-up

and a big cattle drive in the fall.

Cookie’s got provisions.

The chuck wagon’s ready to go.

Our last night in the bunkhouse…

Telling jokes and playing dominoes.

This cattle drive is endless,

riding hard and swallowing dust,

eating biscuits and gravy

until we’re ready to bust!

Tomorrow, we’ll drive the herd

to town, and head for the saloon.

We’ll play some cards, drink some

beer, and listen to some tunes.

A modern-day riverboat on the Mississippi River near New Orleans. Photo by Bernard Sprague from flickr.

Scoundrels of the Old West

Scoundrels were irresistibly drawn

to the riches of the West.

Card sharks prowled the riverboats,

putting amatures to the test.

Traveling medicine shows

sold worthless potions and elixers

to an unsuspecting populace.

What a shameless bunch of tricksters!

Claim jumpers lurked in the gold fields

to seize somebody else’s claim.

Crooks in preacher’s collars robbed

congregations in God’s name.

A few crooked agents on reservations

sold cattle the government sent,

growing rich on the profits, while native

families ate the bread of discontent.

Unscrupulous prostitutes robbed

customers who fell into their hands.

Rustlers stole cattle on the range,

altering the original brands.

And then there were armed outlaws

committing robberies with guns,

holding up stages, trains, and banks,

living their lives on the run.

Vintage western schoolhouse/church. Photo by Dan Myers from Unsplash.

Old West Towns

Any self-respecting town

had a saloon with a piano player,

hotel, general store,

jail, and undertaker.

A livery stable and a blacksmith

were absolute musts!

Every town needed a doctor

and a banker they could trust.

Most towns had a one-room school

with a schoolmarm to teach

reading, writing, and arithmetic…

and a circuit rider to preach.

Kids learned the ten commandments

and the Golden Rule.

Frontier towns didn’t want to raise

a generation of lawless fools!

Some towns had a seamstress,

Chinese laundry, barber, and baker,

railroad station, telegraph office,

and town newspaper.

Add to these a brothel

to spread a little joy

among all the lonely sinners,

miners, and cowboys.

Ghost town. Photo by Kevin Wheeler on Unsplash.

Ghost Towns

Western towns sprang up like mushrooms

near gold and silver mines, and

when the mines played out,

mining towns fell on hard times.

Out in the desert you can visit ghost towns

and think of days gone by.

Hear eerie music, see shadowy ghosts…

At least, it’s fun to try!


Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia


My Favorite Classic Westerns

Into the West, a six-part series from executive producer, Steven Spielberg. Available on YouTube.

Two families, one Native American and the other White, live through the events of the American westward movement.

Little House on the Prairie, TV series based on the Little House series of books by Laura Ingals Wilder. Story of a family growing up on a farm near a small prairie town.

Michael Landon, Mellissa Gilbert, Karen Grassle, Melissa Sue Anderson.

Bonanza, TV Series. A rancher and his sons are involved in many issues of the day.

Lorne Greene, Michael Landon, Pernell Roberts, Dan Blocker.

Oklahoma, a movie musical about a girl coming of age on an Oklahoma farm.

Shirley Jones, Gordon McRae.

Paint Your Wagon, a movie musical comedy set in a Gold Rush mining town. A Mormon woman marries two men.

Clint Eastwood, Lee Marvin, Jean Seberg.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, a hilarious movie musical with critically-acclaimed dance sequences.

Howard Keel, Jane Powell.

Jeremiah Johnson, a movie that tells the story of a mountain man and his encounters with grizzly bears.

Robert Redford, Will Geer.

Dances with Wolves, a movie about a Civil War hero who is eager to see the old West and is assigned to a fort. Arriving at an abandoned fort, he gets to know a local tribe of Native Americans. He spends time in their camp, going on a buffalo hunt and falling in love with a white woman who lives with them.

Directed by and starring Kevin Costner.

River of No Return, a movie about danger, romance, and redemption on a river raft headed west.

Robert Mitchum, Marilyn Monroe.

Sarah Plain and Tall, movie. A mail order bride from New England becomes part of a farm family in the West.

Glenn Close, Christopher Walken.

McClintock, a hilarious western comedy movie reminiscent of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew.”

John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara.


Westerns on this List

The majority of the westerns on this list were chosen for authenticity. They allow the viewer to experience the American westward movement and life on the American frontier. Many of the westerns listed feature iconic actors and gorgeous western scenery.

Excellent documentaries about the old West have been made. Though they are not listed here, I like watching them.

The classic westerns listed are widely available on television, cable movie channels, Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime, and similar venues.

I hope you find something you enjoy!


For further information, try Wikipedia, a helpful source of information used for this post.


Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia

Little Creatures

Photo of a slug by Timothy Meinberg from Unsplash.

Little Creatures

A slug is a lowly creature

traversing diverse terrains.

A body of solid muscle,

he makes smooth and steady gains.

Monarch butterfly caterpillar. Photo by Lasclay from Unsplash.
Monarch butterfly. Photo by Gary Bendig from Unsplash.

Butterfly, a patient creature,

is chewing leaves as time crawls by.

Cocooned in sleep, she dreams and waits

for glory days when she will fly!

Honeybees on honeycomb. Red dot marks queen. Photo by Cool Calm Design from Unsplash.

Honeybees are social creatures.

Exchanging messages, they dance,

sharing locations of flowers…

Honey bees leave nothing to chance!

Photo of an ant by Peter F. Wolf from Unsplash.

Ants are industrious creatures…

Mighty for their minuscule size.

Co-operation builds communities…

Working together is so civilized!

Turtle and fireflies. Photo by Brittney from Unsplash.

Fireflies are delightful creatures,

illuminating the dark.

Unassuming in the daylight,

as nightlights, fireflies make their mark!


Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia

It Means a Lot to Me…

Robert Snyder. Photo by Cheryl Batavia

It Means a Lot to Me…

While some look for easy answers,

you thirst for knowledge

and seek truth.

While some are at war with themselves

and their neighbors,

you live in peace.

Some struggle to keep track of their lies.

You simply tell the truth…

You have my trust!

You say you love me

and show it every day.

I love you too.

Though life is filled with challenges,

you face each day with good humor,

a smile, a joke, and a wink.

If I am sad, you make me smile.

When good things happen to me,

you share my joy.

When something breaks, you fix it.

I never have to do the dishes alone…

That means a lot to me.

You were not born to make me happy,

but every day is a happy day

because I’m with you.

I don’t believe in fate, but it does seem

to me that we were made

for each other.

Robert, wishing you lots of happiness

on your seventy-third birthday

and always.

Love, Cheryl ❤


Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia

Insomnia

Photo by Alexandra Gorn from Unsplash.

Insomnia

Not sleepy…TV movie…

Can’t believe its a series!

One more episode…

Tossing and turning.

Nearly two in the morning…

eggs at the diner.

Sleepless? Walk with me

under the glittering stars,

silver crescent moon.

Wakeful at four AM…

Early morning impulses…

In the mood for love.

Can’t sleep…word-obsessed.

Poem marching through my brain…

Get up and write!


Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia

Cicadas & Snowbirds


Cicada. Photo by Shannon Potter from Unsplash.

Cicadas & Snowbirds

Late September now…

Cicadas singing swan songs,

summer’s last hurrah!

Still rainy in Florida…

raindrops dripping from palm trees.

Photo by Roberto Vivano from Pexels.

Hurricane season

giving way in October…

Birds migrating south,

nesting and raising their young

in Florida’s bright blue days.

Photo by Marisa Howenst from Unsplash.

November. Snowbirds,

fleeing winter’s snowy blast,

also migrate south.

Their nesting days are over…

Grandchildren come to visit.

Photo by Tima Miroshni from Pexels.

Holiday visitors flock

to warm, Florida beaches

in sunny December.

On the beach with grandchildren.

Radio plays “White Christmas.”

Beach in Fort Myers, Florida. Photo by Sarah Granger from Unsplash.

January days.

Bermuda shorts and sweaters

on the golf course.

Delightful weather!

February…still golfing!

Florida Golf Course. Photo by Mick Haupt from Unsplash.

In March and April,

snowbird thoughts turn northward

to dogwoods in bloom.

Snowbirds take their flight

to their summer homes up North.

Dogwood Tree. Photo by Jonathan Hana from Unsplash.

May…hot and sunny.

Cicada chorus and rain

June through September.

Hurricane season waning.

Cicadas sing finale.

Cicada. Photo by Stephen Walker from Unsplash.

Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia


Katey and Joe Batavia visit their Snowbird Grandparents, Renee and Gabe Batavia. Boynton Beach, Florida, circa 1996. Photo by Cheryl Batavia.