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I Became Ohio Country

12 April, 2021: I Became Ohio Country

Read a Poem

I Became Ohio Country

By Tim Richards
— COVID-19
 constant quarantine / social separation
April 6, 2020
While I rode its winding ways,
I became Ohio country
Early, one Spring afternoon.
Faded paint on old farm houses,
Age-worn buildings falling down,
Complement red barns that lean.
The lengthy painted yellow line
That disappears atop each hill
Divides the asphalt two-lane roadway,
Then reappears before me
As I crest above each hill.
The posted county road signs  
Direct me past the furrowed fields
Of cropless lands that stretch between
The stands of Winter’s leafless trees, 
Where fallen timber lies beneath 
Their bending boughs o’er matted leaves 
That pad the wooded farmland floor.
"I Became Ohio Country" by Tim Richards from Common Threads 2020. Ed. Steve Abbott. Ohio Poetry Association Press. 2020. Used by permission of the author. 

Tim Richards is the author of five books: The Richards and Barry Families; Ship Happens! A Tiger Cruise Tale; Warm Water, A Collection of Memories; Buggy, A Fictional Account of Generational Family Abuse; and Afternoon Tomatoes, Accessible Poetry, a collection of reader-friendly, easy to read poems. His poetry has appeared in Common Threads (Ohio Poetry Association), and Hessler Street Fair Poetry Anthology, and his prose, poetry and photography have been published in Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review. Richards is an active speaker, reciting the spoken word in the Cleveland area, and has appeared as a featured speaker several times. He is currently writing a novel titled Tony Bugno.

Write a Poem

Draft a poem about the passage of time through a personal means of measuring it: a grandparent’s face, a childhood neighborhood, a garden or house. Go back to your draft and cut any clichés that crept in.
Tim Richards
Lawrence, A very clever, funny poem, one I'd like to write and own. Nice job!
4/25/2021 12:08:09 PM

Growing Old is Quite Difficult
I find growing old is quite difficult,
One of life’s most grueling chores,
Falling makes me think, they’re made harder now,
I’m talking here about floors.

I misplace things in my household,
Waste plenty of time, in re-finding,
Including the notes , my pockets now keep,
A place for my remindering.

Just let us forget all technology,
Please let us leave it alone,
It’s quite enough for me, just phoning,
Enough, to find my phone.

And the computer offers pseudo- miracles,
Not like those of Luke, Mark, Matthew, and John,
But it’s deader than even the Dead Sea,
When forgetting how to turn it on .

Remembering names? Forget it.
Is calling you “ Bud,” such a bother?
As long as I always remember,
If you are my sister or my brother.

Aches and pains, they certainly do add up,
We each have been given our share.
Some sympathy or some understanding?
Many folks often serve them rare.

But not to end on a sour note,
All in all, life has been quite grand,
And it’s nice to know that the final act,
Is safely in God’s loving hand.
4/12/2021 6:11:46 PM

Time Passes

Day 12: Today’s prompt: Time Passes

A tip of tongue in my ear,
a grandmother whisper…another poem.
Time kindles impatience. Everything is moving.

My school: little girls tie chain-weapons against their waists.
They’ve gained weight over the summer. Nothing budges.
Now they’re spitting out drama to lose pieces of themselves,
to fit snugly between corridors and band practice.

Everything’s become a word-picture
starting with The Perennial “P’s”.

Pursue. Practice.
Perform. Pretend.

The eighties.
An unexpectedly dumb-ass decade for the most part;
yet, I stopped anticipating dialogue.
Instead, I said “good-bye” a lot.
Time passed, so it didn’t matter what was said.
Not really.

Poetry is an excellent jumping off point.
For example, Nelly Sachs bitch-slapped Sylvia Plath
back into the 1960’s.
That was a time sensitive harangue!
In fact, the tip of my writing tongue disappeared deep into my left ear.
We didn’t meet up again until well into the nineties.
Thank you Nelly! Time passing
brings out the stars in the night sky, doesn’t it?

Poetry? Jeeze! What a practice;
or maybe performance. Something one pursues; pretends to appreciate.
In other words, just the right poem survives.
That’s a lot of “P” sounds.
That’s what school taught us.
Repeat your sounds—diversity is slightly overrated.

But that’s American-English for you.
It always sounds like muffled choreographed meter:
time becoming wet like rain clouds,
a stench you’d release into a gutter alongside Gower Avenue,
for crying out loud.

It’s a cinch nothing dangerous
ever grew from high-school journalism classes.

Might as well let time go somewhere it’s needed.
Leave words behind. Be a mis-print. Let time wander.
Kill-off dead-friendship-laughter once and for all;
miss yourself in a passive manner
as if nothing belonged to you or anyone else in the first place.

Oddly, once the century ended
grandmother-whispers piled up and graves took over.
Words mattered like warrior bullets on the verge of discovery.
Eventually, every whisper was re-written.

Time passes.
You know what happens to a poem when time is moving?
It starts to beg.
It goes something like this:

Read my tongue gently, just the tip.
Tell everything through silence like a grandmother-whisper.
Brush everything into its place, its time.
Nothing should remain that might burst open a constellation of graves.

© Tovli 2021
4/12/2021 4:16:24 PM

I have driven to southern Ohio many times, and you've perfectly described my journey.
4/12/2021 1:19:28 PM

Another nice one, Sierra. Almost narrative--a little story.
4/12/2021 1:11:20 PM

RE: "I Became Ohio Country" Awesome imagery!
4/12/2021 1:09:53 PM

Sierra Polsinelli

Where did the time go?
Has it been that long?
36 years.
Watch the changes.

The Pin oak started at
20 feet
Now it towers over us all.

The backyard fence was a pale cedar
its boards and posts
perfectly aligned!
Now it is gray
heaving in spots
leaning in others.
Chips and cracks
and loose boards.

The grass was lush
now it is sparse.
The old tree next door
once had plate sized leaves.
Now it has empty branches.

The rose garden, long dead
has one stubborn plant
grown wild over time.

We were young
our children babes.
Now we are old
children grown and gone.

Time to plant a new backyard.
4/12/2021 1:09:42 PM

Bill Ritz--I loved this line in your poem: "Time gone by - things rearranged..." Thank you for posting it--a truly "philosophical song."
4/12/2021 1:08:42 PM

Bill Ritz
“Time Gone By”

Where’s that tree that grew so tall
Across the street back when?
All the leaves have made their fall,
And boys grew into men.

What’s that game we used to play
So many years ago?
To me it’s just yesterday
The sun began to show.

Where’s that girl from down the street
Who’d call me on the phone?
She fell ill and moved away;
She’s living all alone.

Where’s that boldness that we shared -
Danger was our friend.
Wisdom came and changed our minds;
Now safety is our end.

Time gone by - things rearranged;
Nothing is quite the same.
Our perspectives slowly changed,
As nightfall slowly came.
4/12/2021 10:54:29 AM

Laura Kennelly
Enjoyed this all the way until I got to "cropless lands"--try "fallow lands" since letting land lie fallow is actually part of creating land good for growing crops. Great flow and truth here.
4/12/2021 10:49:07 AM

Lawrence Brenner: such a sweet narrative-like poem!
4/12/2021 10:34:25 AM

lawrence brenner
It was somewhere I didn't want to go
To meet someone I really didn't know
But, I thought I should
Since I promised I would

It was a blind date
And I had nothing on my plate
Nothing to debate
So why should I hesitate

When I arrived, I looked around
Trying to find her in the crowd
Above the music's pounding sound
I heard her call my name out loud

I said "Hi" knowing it was her
Then she became just a blur
When I saw someone I'd prefer
Standing right next to her

Maybe I was immature
Probably unkind
Feeling like a saboteur
Leaving my blind date behind

I'd seen her friend many times before
But I never asked her name
That girl I was reaching for
The one and the same

When we touched she moved away
From my getting in the way
As her roommate walked away
Leaving me to seize the day

So I moved in without thinking
And kissed her on the lips
My heart pounding,
my heart sinking
Thinking apocalypse

But my world wasn't ending
Just the start of something new
A brand new beginning
Happening right on que

Because I went somewhere I didn't want to go
To meet someone I really didn't know
We now have our family tree
All because you married me
4/12/2021 9:49:26 AM

Barbara Sabol
A really lovely, visual and rhythmic poem.
4/12/2021 9:48:58 AM

READ + WRITE: 30 Days of Poetry is a collaboration between Cuyahoga County Public Library and poet Diane Kendig. Our thanks go to Diane and the poets of Northeast Ohio who allowed us to share their poetry.