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. Cheryl Batavia

Reflections on Thanksgiving

Native American Corn, Photo by Marcus Winkler from Unsplash

Reflections on Thanksgiving

1620 was a year of tribulation.

The Mayflower voyage was no vacation!

In America, one hundred Pilgrims arrived.

By spring, only fifty-three remained alive.

Befriended by a Native American tribe,

they grew corn and learned to thrive.

1621 was a year of jubilation,

harvest time at Plymouth Plantation,

when the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag

gave thanks together and got along.

A time for gratitude and celebration,

plans for peace and co-operation.

Peace and cooperation were transient,

but Thanksgiving was a hopeful event.

Brotherhood, the spirit of Thanksgiving,

can transform our way of living!


Copyright© 2020 by Cheryl Batavia


Harvest festivals have been observed all over the world since ancient times. Several States claim to be the site of the first Thanksgiving in the US, but Plymouth, Massachusetts, though probably not the first, is the most well-known. Native Americans rescued several struggling American colonies in the early days. The Wampanoag befriended the Pilgrims at Plymouth, teaching them to grown corn and celebrating Thanksgiving with them.

The history of our country, as in many countries, has been blemished by racism, persecution of indigenous peoples, slavery, and religious intolerance. Many people have fought these evils, and many wrongs have been righted. The fight continues. The first Thanksgiving at Plymouth Plantation is a hopeful example of brotherhood and peace.

Abracadabra!

Photo by Ameen Fahmy from Unsplash

Abracadabra!

Questions work magic!

Great discoveries appear

when we seek answers.


Copyright© 2020 by Cheryl Batavia


This poem was written in response to Ingrid’s EIF Poetry Challenge #8, and was awarded third place. My sincere thanks to Ingrid for posting the challenge on Experiments in Fiction and to Jaya Avendel of Nin Chronicles, who judged the challenge.

New Era of Optimism

The Jefferson Memorial, Washington, DC, Adobe Stock Photos

New Era of Optimism

New leader chosen…

New era of empathy,

integrity, and truth.

New rule of law,

new dawn of democracy…

Call for unity.

Quell the violence.

Preserve the environment.

End the pandemic.

Rejoin the global family

in achieving common goals.


Copyright© 2020 by Cheryl Batavia


Joe Biden was declared President-Elect of The United States of America today, 10/7/20. Inauguration Day is 1/20/21.

Grandma

Grandparents & grandchildren, Photo by Aletia2011, Adobe Stock

Grandma

Our Grandma, Frances Ellen Tustin,

had to babysit, so she left after two years of school.

She had learned to read! She used that skill

to educate herself and lived her life to the full.

At twelve, Grandma worked as a hotel maid.

Married at seventeen, she had two sons.

She and Grandpa worked hard to support

their family during the Great Depression.

Our grandparents moved a lot, flipping houses.

Grandma wallpapered, painted, and plastered.

The last house they renovated was her childhood

home, using all the skills they had mastered.

Photo by Brett Jordan from Unsplash

Grandma lived there for more than thirty years,

raising chickens, planting grapes and fruit trees.

She grew asparagus, strawberries, and flowers,

and cultivated her garden into her eightees.

Grandma decorated her home with hooked rugs,

handmade quilts, and afghans she crocheted.

Her grandchildren were always proud

to wear the beautiful clothes she made.

Photo by Mae Mu from Unsplash

Cooking in restaurants and caring for the sick…

Grandma had many jobs over the years.

She was a long-time Sunday school teacher

who had earned the respect of her peers.

We always ate well at Grandma’s house…

Everybody loved her black walnut cinnamon buns!

Grandma fed us chicken cacciatore and cookies.

We gathered eggs in the henhouse. That was fun!

Photo by Natasha Skov from Unsplash

In summer, Grandma gave strawberries

to friends and neighbors and made strawberry pies.

A huge bowl of strawberries waited for us at

Grandma’s. We couldn’t eat them all, but we tried!

The Raggedy Ann and Andy Dolls Grandma made

were in demand at local gift shops.

The dolls she made for her great grandchildren

were always loved a lot!

Photo by Non Vay from Unsplash

Most of my generation wanted to be like Grandma.

Great granddaughters, and great nieces, too,

are named “Frances” or “Ellen” or “Tustin,”

a gentle reminder: Be known by the good works you do.

Reprinted from Life in Inspiring Places


Copyright© 2019 by Cheryl Batavia

Two Armadillo Poems: Armadillo Neighbors/ Armadillo Territory

Photo by Victor Miyata from Pexels

Armadillo Neighbors

We lived near the beach

with armadillo neighbors

…not too neighborly!

At night, they dug grubs,

leaving holes and piles of poop…

We never saw them!

We filled holes, scooped scat.

They gnawed watermelon rinds

we left out to dry.

One evening at dusk,

I saw two dark shapes walking

along the hedgerow.

As I got closer,

I saw they were not raccoons…

Yes, armadillos!

They scooped out a den,

lived under our shed, eating

watermelon rinds.

One day they were gone.

We never met their children…

There were no goodbyes!


Copyright© 2020 by Cheryl Batavia


Armadillo Territory

Photo by Skeeze from Pixabay

Armadillo Territory

Our new neighborhood

is wooded…armadillo

home territory!

Out walking one day,

I met three armadillos

digging up breakfast.

They were cute, half-grown.

I stood there chatting with them…

They never looked up.

Recently, I saw

an armadillo stroll by,

armor slick with rain.

Undisturbed, he walked

along the edge of our yard

and into the woods.

One day I followed

a busy armadillo

all around our yard.

She went on eating,

politely ignoring me,

as she fed on ants.

She did not fear me…

No one shoots armadillos

around here, I guess!

That night and the next,

the armadillo dug dens

and abandoned them.

Armadillo’s gone!

House hunting in the woods?

We said no goodbyes…

An armadillo digs its way

into your heart.

Maybe she’ll be back!


Copyright© 2020 by Cheryl Batavia

Fright

Photo by call-me-fred from Unsplash

Fright

Masked monsters and ghouls

brought no fear last Halloween…

Now, fear grips us all!

Now it’s the unmasked

we fear at the food market…

Covid’s stalking us!

Oooooooooh! wear your mask in public!

Eeeeeeek! Keep six feet betweeeeen us!


Copyright© 2020 by Cheryl Batavia


For a nostalgic Halloween poem read, “Ghosts of Halloweens Past/Ghosts of Halloween Present” if you missed it.

Scary statistic: a recent study found that 20% of grocery store clerks have undiagnosed Covid19 without symptoms and are capable of spreading the disease.

The Benefit of the Doubt

The following poem may be disturbing to some readers. The examples given are fictional.

Some people seem to have everything we want and don’t have. We might not be eager to change places with them if we knew their secret heartaches.

Many people have problems we don’t know about that would explain their negative behavior. Some may need professional help in solving their problems. Others could benefit from just a little kindness and understanding. Judging them isn’t helpful.

Although people must be held accountable for their actions, some circumstances call for a little leniency. Everyone accused of a crime deserves due process.

Photo by Khadeejah Yasser from Unsplash

The Benefit of the Doubt

Give everyone you encounter

the benefit of the doubt.

You don’t know all their circumstances,

and maybe you’ll never find out!

Photo by Zach Lucero from Unsplash

The woman who wears too much makeup

may be trying to hide

bumps and bruises inflicted

by her drunken husband last night.

That student who sleeps in school

may have spent the night

listening to his mother and her boyfriend

have a knock-down, drag-out fight.

Photo Courtesy of allgo-an-app-for-plus-size-people from Unsplash

That girl who weighs too much

may be comforting herself with food

over nightmares of childhood abuse,

and diets don’t do any good.

The boy who robbed the liquor store

has never harmed a fly.

He may be raising money for treatments

and hoping his mother won’t die.

Photo by Brent Gorwin from Unsplash

That guy who brews your coffee

may be sleeping in his car

and feeding an addiction that takes

all he earns at the coffee bar.

The man who hanged himself

maybe hadn’t figured out yet

any way to repay the bookie

an overdue gambling debt.

Photo by Matthew Schwartz from Unsplash

Give everyone you encounter

the benefit of the doubt.

You don’t know all their circumstances,

and maybe you’ll never find out.


Copyright© 2020 by Cheryl Batavia

Gandhi, Hitler, a Book, & Dog/God by da-AL plus Cheryl Batavia’s poem

Happiness Between Tails by da-AL

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” — supposedly Mahatma Gandhi said that. (Isn’t this picture of him great? He’s drafting a document at Birla House, Mumbai, August 1942. My novel-writer side can’t help but wonder if he knew that writing longhand enhances creativity — and I bet intelligence!) First off, he didn’t….

Gandhi drafting a document at Birla House, Mumbai, August 1942. By Kanu Gandhi – gandhiserve.org, Public Domain.

Second off, if anyone said it, is it true? I love animals and have followed a vegetarian diet for years. All the same, I’m definitely nowhere near a saint, particularly given my now-and-again deviations into the hypocracy of eating fish. My father was wicked to his family, yet tears rolled down his cheeks when he heard that local geese were slaughtered. Hitler and was a vegetarian for the last part of his life. And he adored his dog…

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