Ya’ll I Swear: The Lost Art Of Eavesdropping



Ya’ll I Swear: The Lost Art Of Eavesdropping

The girl in our tiny little library said she had no friends
(Picture the children’s section of Barnes and Noble
’bout the same size)
So in my defense
(Don’t pity the library for its size
Looks are deceiving)
Earshot and all that
The man on his cell phone was eighty or ninety or just old
Some folks can’t understand
Some of the folks around here
This part of the world has its own language
Like it washed up on the shore
Walked into the hearts, bless ’em,  of the people who came and never left
Who made it home
Still do
I swear I come home sometimes and ask my husband to translate
I swear he knows the language of the souls around here
‘Cause really he’s a better listen than I am
Beauty never sounded so lyrical, sticky sweet like pralines on Market Street
(Except really the sweet potato pies they sell at the bake sale for the church at the Shell Gas station are sweeter so that’s a better comparison
And the Cow Tales are sweeter than that)
Ya’ll I swear I stare with my ears when I hear Geechee
Gullah sounds like it drips off the tongue
(Like honey, ’cause nothing drips like that, but it fast drips
So honey sped up)
Breathless, like there are not breaths or periods or punctuation
And it just drop-drips off the lips, like a honey freight train
The Wiki people say its unethical
But then they show a painting by Henri Adolphe Laissement
Of the Cardinals eavesdropping in the Vatican
So I’m confused because
How can I know their stories if I don’t listen
(Plus when you are pumping gas you don’t have anywhere to go and we don’t have the tv on the pump like they do in Mt. Pleasant)
The librarian told me the girl was just joking
(She, the girl, didn’t speak Gullah or Geechee
She just talked boring like me)
‘Cause after she left and I was still picking out a book from the teeny weeny library
I said I was sad for her
She kind of put my in my place, she was the head librarian so she was in the know,
And I looked really gullible when I said if the lonely girl was still here she could do the 10,000 piece jigsaw with you
Which I am, gullible and an over-feeler
But the man at the BP station where I was pumping gas
You know the one who was just plain old
Well he wasn’t speaking Geechee real strong
So I heard him ask what anemia was to the person on the phone
And I wondered why he didn’t know and why he didn’t Google it
But then I worried about his data plan
And how sick he really was
And I swear I wanted to go tell him ’cause I knew
Sometimes the weight of the world
The truth and the fiction
They get all heavy and jumbly
And I swear ya’ll I want to plug my ears and sing Mary Had A Little Lamb
But I’d miss the music
And the stories
The good ones, the true ones
And I swear ya’ll I don’t know what is more unethical
Listening and caring or not listening and not caring or listening and not caring
I have to go back to the library to return my books
I hope the girl who said she didn’t have any friends
Is there again
‘Cause I want to be her friend
But I don’t want to do a 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle
‘Cause I don’t like that kind of puzzle











When Art Imitates Art Imitating Life

When Art Imitates Art Imitating Life


Will you hide is sometimes code for will you be writing today
Creativity fueled by art, cinematic in this case
She can’t shake the storyline
Don’t be fooled the she is thinly veiled

And the film breathed new life into her own
Somehow the story of salvaging it
Saving it
Calling it valuable
Stirred her soul

Somehow the cinematic fueled the
The visual, the literary

And the chicken and the egg argument
Raises its ugly head
Well it’s not ugly
Just a little cliche

And with all the pain providing a Crimson backdrop
To the day
Art does wash
Poetry does restore
Words do renew

His code for hiding
Is her code for making sense of it all

Even if it is just last night’s movie about
Europe, old men and a war

And it all comes round again
Europe, men and war

She thought
Hiding sounded like a form of
Buried deep inside her words
Making sense of senseless acts
Carving beauty from the ash

She decides to answer yes
I will be hiding out today
Pen in hand, armed and ready for
A chance to write a line of
In a world of pain

Continue reading “When Art Imitates Art Imitating Life”

This Post Is Not About Anything: A Guest Post From Christie Purifoy

I have the honor of having my new writing friend Christie Purifoy guest-posting here today. If you don’t yet know this beautiful soul and her art, you are in for something simply wonderful. Though I have only known Christie for a short while, I feel I have know her as long as her Victorian home, Maplehurst, has been providing a backdrop for living in southeastern Pennsylvania. Christie is real and fresh. And her writing speaks for my own tired soul on days I can only mumble, “me too”.

You will hear a deep thinker but one who is unpretentious. And you will fall in love with the art and the heart of this woman. Christie, I am honored.

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The close of day one of Daylight Savings found my husband Jonathan and I washed up like wreckage on our old green sofa. We could hear all four kids still awake in their rooms. Maybe that is why we left the dinner dishes on the counter and the toy dinosaurs on the floor and simply sat right where we happened to be. We were too tired and too irritated by the noise to attempt anything productive.

We had no energy for choosing or making a plan, but the evening chose something for us. Something lovely. Jonathan opened the laptop left lying on the floor. He hit play on a recent episode of Austin City Limits, and we let the sounds of one of our favorite musicians wash away every irritation and tired distraction.

Listening to these songs, I remembered that the lyrics have always been indecipherable to me. I have no clue what this singer is singing, and yet these song have been some of my favorites for years. They are soaked in beauty, drenched in emotion, and, listening to them, I found myself floating in a rich sea of meaning.

I don’t know what they are about, but I seem to know just what they mean.


Living my ordinary day-to-day, I often find myself tripping over the same question. Something like, what is the point?  What is the point of sweeping this floor, what is the point of baking this bread, what is the point of putting the toys back in the basket? The floor will be dirtied again in minutes, the grocery store sells bread, the basket will be upside down in no time at all. If my life is made up of these seemingly pointless activities, then what is my life about?

I am afraid that my life is not about anything beyond time wasted, tasks repeated and minute-by-minute survival. Yes, the minutes might be adding up to something good, but when the minutes are messy I can never feel sure.

But what if I am not asking the right question?


The film critic Roger Ebert used to say, “It’s not what a movie is about, it’s how it is about it.”

These are important words for more than just movies. These are words to remember for novels. For poems. For paintings. Whether we are making them or enjoying them. These are words that help us appreciate the wholeness of a work of art as well as the small grace notes.

These are words that honor the joy of creation.

We do not ask ourselves what the sky is about. I has a purpose. It is far from pointless. But its meaning is blueness. Spaciousness. Openness. Its meaning is shelter and canvas. Its meaning is the joining of heaven and earth.

What is my life today about?  I don’t know. But how is my life about this thing called living?

My life is about fresh clean skin after a shower. My life is about butterfly kisses on my baby girl’s cheek. My life is about lighting a candle. Brewing tea. Even the back and forth beauty of my arms holding the broom.

I focus on the how, and I am convinced.

My life–yours too–is about great things.


Christie Purifoy writes at an old desk in the parlor of a Victorian farmhouse called Maplehurst. After earning a PhD in English literature from the University of Chicago, she traded the university classroom for a large kitchen, garden and a henhouse in southeastern Pennsylvania. When the noise of her four young children makes writing impossible, she tends zucchini and tomatoes her children will later refuse to eat. The zucchini-loving chickens are perfectly happy with this arrangement. The chickens move fast and the baby even faster, but Christie is always watching for the beauty, mystery and wonder that lie beneath it all. When she finds it, she writes about it at There is a River (www.christiepurifoy.com)


Joining Jennifer Dukes Lee for #tellhisstory and Emily Wierenga at Emily Wierenga dot com for Imperfect Prose

The Masters, The Knuckle Ball and Writing It Down and Out

The last few days have been filled with marvelous metaphors. But then I love most metaphors. They help me see, really see what is unfolding and stirring around me in the days of breathing in and out. And after the metaphor has come and gone, I am left to  linger longer. I wrestle with thought. For I am a processor and  a bone-picker of words. I savor the salt, eat the marrow and the gristle. Hoping to find a  nutrient fiber for my soul. Pulling it off the bone piece by piece. Picking it clean.

I jumped on my bike yesterday. Took a fast ride and then a slow one on my turquoise and yellow cruiser. The child in me was peddling down the streets of this fishing village. My hair blew crazy as I rode through the puddles and dodged one or two cars. The town is small, the traffic barely exists. When you ride a bike on a cool spring day your mind gathers speed like a train leaving a small town. The all clear is given and suddenly you pick up some steam.

I caught a thought like I caught that purple wisteria fragrance, sweet and strong. Writers write the past to help with healing. And they write the now to process living. Before I picked up the pen, I was a volcano left for inactive. No one saw it coming. Least of all me. Until the words came, erupted even. And they were hot, flowing, and alive.

After I parked the bike I felt the wind and the blood. My heart beat faster. There was enough fresh air in my body to infuse a soul with green spring life. It was Sunday and that’s a good day for recounting a week and picking it apart. Checking back on the highs and lows like the game we played at dinner with our kids. We aren’t that original. The idea came from a movie about a marriage in crisis. We have been there too. We like the game and it works well to help five souls process a life.

Last week a woman I admire served me up some words that I digested for days. They tasted like the  bittersweet variety. And though I don’t know caster oil personally on my tongue, I know it’s good for you. It is good for you but tastes like the devil. And her words were a balm, a healing tonic. I needed to hear the gentle tough served up with a sugar cube chaser. The spoon hit the teeth and the tangy metal tasted pungent, but the truth was in the tonic.

She said, “I want to push you as a writer.” I blinked back hot and felt the investment of a talented writer cool me down. And I sat on this phrase for days.

He has a story that will break your heart in two if you have one. I sat frozen like a slab of red meat from the freezer hanging on his ebb and flow of words. Riding wave on wave of his life story being told, as it waxed and waned, crested and fell. Amazed by his life story. But the knuckle ball part left the biggest mark on my tender places. Bruising me with its strength.

After his struggles in baseball, he needed a game changer. So he upped his game and mastered the knuckle ball. And he has it perfected. No one can touch it or barely catch it. He stuck with his passion, stayed with it and pressed on and forward into the living of his dreams and love of the game. So I am looking for my knuckle ball, inspired by R.A. Dickey .

I want to hold the pen in my hand and release details, descriptions and a style of writing that screams it’s me, it’s me, its no one else. That throw, that grip, that certain way of sending the ball over the plate, its how I want to send my words out into the world.

And if Dickey’s story wasn’t enough to set the pen in my hand on fire, the story of The Masters this year and the sweet victory of an Australian propelled me out of my funk and into the fire.

The story is out there and I don’t need to tell a story that’s not my own, but winning in sports after dry spells and hard work are a perfect storm of inspiration. And so I hold these stories of victory, passion and accomplishment in my soft insides and let them knead the dough of my writing life. Press it, shape it, pound it and roll it out.

And I thank my friend who gave me a few words that could be life changing. She said some more that I am having a hard time chewing on. Sometimes good is hard to swallow. I am humbled by them mightly and I can’t stop chewing on the potential in them.

I want to go hop back on my turquoise bike and ride off into the wet April day and dream of where to go and how to get there. I want to go back to the healing and processing parts of writing. The place where I vowed to see it all, to not miss a speck of dust or dirt in the day. To see so clearly the dots and dashes of the days that I could count the webbing in a spider’s home and taste the tinny metal in a bronze statue.

To pick up details and fine points like scattered laundry across a house full of messy living. It is all to be picked up most of it used. The raw, the real, the rich details of the everyday. The simple, the comlex. The every last piece. Nothing left for dead. It all beats red with living.

And I need to count the folds, count the hairs and count the cost of dulled senses. Of the bland and milk-toast words on a page. I have to pump the crimson blood back into the veins on the page, the lines that thread through my words and give them life.

Thank you my friend. I feel the push. I am off to pedal slow on my turqouise bike with yellow flowers, rusty rims, and a Hershey chocolate brown-leather seat. I have a metal wire basket on the front. Some days it is the seat for my Papillon. And we are two butterflies flitting down the back roads. I am going to pick up life and put it there too. In a notebook.

Thanks for the push. I feel the hands of encouragement on my back. There is muscle on that hand and it is wrapped in tender flesh of love of work, hard,  Authentic. Rich. I feel the pulsing love of words, carried through the veins. There is fire in the belly. There is fire in the words. The knuckle ball is coming over the plate. Duck.



joining Laura at Laura Boggess dot com for her Playdates At The Wellspring, Heather for Just Write and Jennifer for SDG