Category Archives: Joan

Material contributed by Joan Ryan of Brentwood, Missouri.

A Sadness Poem From Joan

Here is something, a rather nice poem that Joan sent me:

If Pigs Could Fly

If pigs could fly,
Then what would I
Desire for my serenity?
That wars would cease
And we’d have peace
Plus social equanimity.

And common ground
Could then be found
Tween factions of religions,
While now they pray
Unsure if they
Will not soon be clay pigeons.

If pigs could fly
The rich would buy
Less stuff for having fun,
And use, instead,
That cash for bread
For people who have none.

And companies
Would try to please
Their workers just as much
As stockholders
With prime folders; Standard and Poors and such.

If pigs could fly,
I’d cheer! No lie.
Cause that would indicate
Man’s inhumanity to man
Might cease, If not too late.

Though dream I might, Of pigs in flight, A sow is still a sow.
And man is man.
I doubt he can
Change what he is right now.

If pigs could fly,
Each man would try
To co-opt every pig,
And here we’d be
Again, you see,
Dancing the same old jig.

I liked the phrasing! Very eloquent, I thought.




Filed under Joan, Poetry

Joan On Osage Orange

Osage orange is found in and around Hannibal. Some very aged trees used as a property/wind break on what used to be my great grandfather’s farm in neighboring Rensselaer were uprooted in this summer’s mini-tornado. The root systems were as large as the tops of most trees around here.

Osage orange trees are found in St. Louis, also. My husband, who is ‘the friend’ in the following poem, had a great story:

Forbidden Fruit

The Osage orange fruit is quite large and quite green.
Though orange-like in odor, it’s not what it seems.
It is bumpy and pitted somewhat like the brain
So “brain-fruit’s” another weird Osage fruit name.

Plus “hedge apple”, “horse-apple”, “hedge ball”, “bois d’arc”
The namers of Osage fruit sure made their mark.
There is “monkey brain”, “monkey orange”, also “bow wood”
If fame rest in names then the Osage did good.

The tree is most useful, the Osage would say
For bows and ax handles and games they might play
But what is the use of the fruit of this tree?
Few animals eat it to any degree.

A boyhood experience told by a friend
Suggested a much less than savory end
To the question of uses of grapefruit sized bombs
But it’s hardly a story they told to their moms.

It seems that an inner tube fixed to a tree
Made a world class huge sling shot to set that fruit free
To land on the boxcars of oncoming trains
And to splat and to splotch them and leave them with stains.

Today if they caught you it might not go well.
Your fun-filled barrage might land you in a cell.
Yet I seriously doubt that they’d notice the stain
Among the graffiti that’s found on a train.


Filed under Joan, Photos, Poetry

Joan’s Smartweed

Here’s a poem and photo from Joan Ryan:


This Pennsylvania Smartweed 
Has settled next to us.
And we live here in Missouri.
Doubt it came by train or bus.
When someone said “Go west, young man.” 
Did Smartweed take its cue
And travel west with pioneers? 
That’s sure what I would do.

It’s a delicate wild flower
Or a weed.  It all depends 
If it’s growing where you’d like it
Or somewhere that it offends
Your aesthetic sensibilities,
Like right there in your lawn.
And no matter how you weed it
It is rarely every gone.

Yanked it up in early spring
And thought I’d seen it’s true demise  
But the next time that I mowed
I just could not believe my eyes.
It was back again, more hardy 
Than it was the week before.
And I saw that pesky plant
Each time I went outside my door.

Finally thought that I had licked it
When this fall I spied a flower
Snuggled next to our foundation.
Does it have some super power?
I have come to the conclusion   
That I’ll finally let it be.  
Cause the Pennsylvania Smartweed
Is just way too smart for me.


Filed under Joan, Photos

Suburban Grass (No, not that kind)

Here is some fine prose and poetry from long-time commenter and collaborator Joan Ryan. The dialog between God and St. Francis which precedes Joan’s material is of unknown provenance; evidently it has been knocking around the internet for years. I wonder who wrote it?

GOD: Francis, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there on the planet? What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistle and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colours by now. But, all I see are these green rectangles.

ST. FRANCIS: It’s the tribes that settled there, Lord. They started calling your flowers “weeds” and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

GOD: Grass? But, it’s so boring. It’s not colorful. It doesn’t attract butterflies, birds and bees; only grubs and sod worms. It’s sensitive to temperatures. Do they really want all that grass growing there?

ST. FRANCIS: Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.

GOD: The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make them happy.

ST. FRANCIS: Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it – sometimes twice a week.

GOD: They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?

ST. FRANCIS: Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.

GOD: They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

ST. FRANCIS : No, Sir, just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.

GOD : Now, let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And, when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

ST. FRANCIS : Yes, Sir.

GOD : These people must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.

ST. FRANCIS: You aren’t going to believe this, Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it, so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

GOD: What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn, they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. It’s a natural cycle of life.

ST. FRANCIS : You better sit down, Lord. They have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.

GOD: No! What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter to keep the soil moist and loose?

ST. FRANCIS: After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.

GOD: And where do they get this mulch?

ST. FRANCIS: They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.

GOD: Enough! I don’t want to think about this anymore.

As most of you know, Brentwood, formerly Maddenville, is a largely German community, and the term “Scrubby Dutch” is accurate right down to each tidy postage stamp front lawn. The sound of the hired lawn services for the more privileged is a signal for retirees and yuppies with puppies alike to sprint to their sheds, break out the weed whackers and Torros and mow like crazy. Lord knows, we can’t have our lawns looking unkempt.

During the last three weeks I have literally gone bonkers because my mower was in the shop. What will the neighbors think? Will I get fined by the city? At first I paced like a prisoner with an ankle bracelet. I could not go far from the house, even to water the flowers because of the intense heat, and was humiliated by my wild and wooly front lawn. Finally I decided to weed a little in the back yard, where the crabgrass killer and fertilizer are not employed. I can only afford to look good from the front. I yanked the more egregious weeds, like nut grass and crab, but also during this time, I re-discovered that old bromide that weeds are really just flowers growing where we don’t want them.

Today, the lawnmower was finally fixed. Braving (Well, it was not brave, but totally foolhardy) the 100 plus heat, I charged out and laid waste to both unruly lawns. I was feeling pretty proud of myself. But…be careful what you wish for. I find myself kind of missing the weeds. Nothing to photograph. No butterflies bouncing around the backyard. The rabbits, who were satisfied with the clover, are now looking pretty predatorily at my petunias. A blackbird or grackle or some species that looked like a Boeing 707 compared to my usual sparrows, actually uprooted and flew away with a small marigold a few weeks back. Trust no critter in a trimmed lawn.

Who knew I’d discover I had need for weeds? These feelings of uncomfortable nostalgia, along with the hilarious send up of our suburban lifestyle in the above dialogue between God and St. Francis which someone sent me, inspired this atypical (because it’s non-snarky ) verse below. I have my velvet Zoysia front lawn back as well as it’s stepchild, the more scrufty back yard. But something seems to be missing. Be careful what you wish for.

The Broken Lawnmower

Three weeks of rain mixed well with sultry heat
The yard a tangled jungle, weeds galore,
Wild strawberries invade my tidy turf
Small milkweed tendrils sprout where none before.

At sneaky snail’s pace, leaves the size of dimes,
Sly Creeping Charlie used to snake along.
Now multitudes of leaves replace each one
Their tiny notes have grown into a song.

Wild violets here are once again untamed.
Leaves sprout like fountains, small and pale and green.
And timid purple flowers crest their waves
Where formerly they would have been unseen.

Then, power mower, cured of balking blades
Their nemesis returns to battleground.
Soon not a single flower can be seen.
Decapitated blades of grass abound.

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Joan On Recent Tornadoes

My friend and frequent commenter Joan has written a poem about recent tornadic events — take a look:


(Culled from comments on the Good Friday Tornadoes)

Blame the end times that are near!
Hey!  It’s God whom we must fear.
Could, be Satan here, my dear
Sending out tornadoes swarming.
But we surely can’t be blaming Global Warming.

Blame the victims for their folly
Living in tornado alley
Way too dumb to heed the volley
Of those sirens of prewarning.
But we surely can’t be blaming Global Warming.

Maybe God’s targeting sinners
Are you saved? Then you’re a winner
Atheists He’ll have for dinner
It’s ‘those’ people,  He is harming.
But we surely can’t be blaming Global Warming

Yes, well what about the steeple
Blown from church where all God’s people
Met to worship? Pretty lethal
For a caring God.  Not charming.
Still, we surely can’t be blaming Global Warming 

Melting icecaps? That’s a myth
And the shifting ice-melt drift
Now you’re getting me real miffed
All these people here in mourning
And you’re trying to pin the blame on Global Warming?

Now our dialogue’s eroded 
As our tempers have exploded
And name-calling has corroded
This discussion that was forming
About why this can’t be blamed on Global Warming.

If he road to hell is paved
With those smug that think they’re saved
Cause their death was just now waived
From this catastrophic storming
Will they hold nostalgic thoughts of Global Warming? 


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Radio Daze

Joan Ryan submitted this poem in a comment, but I thought I’d “raise” it into the evanescent present. I have fond memories of peering into the back of a radio and seeing that mysterious orange cathode glow.

Radio Daze


Inside appeared a magic city

With glass high rises. Very pretty.

A futuristic cool fantasy view.

When one high tower tube grew dark,

No light, no power, not a spark,

You had a perfect plan for what to do.

Pull out the tube and take it down

To a repair shop in the town.

They would replace the bulb with one brand new.


It’s 2010, Surprise! Surprise!

We’ve all become transistorized.

Small radio in 55? Who knew?

Now you would need a microscope

And microchips,

You’d be a dope

Attempting a repair today. Oh pooh!

Till you’re instructed by the Gods

In fixing puters and Ipods

And radios, you’re more than likely through.

Unless you know how to replace

A circuit board in some weird space

It’s best to give it up and buy anew.


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Alien Encounter

cedar apple rust

Alien Encounter

I stepped outside after a rain
To check out my back yard.
The grass and trees looked greener
But alas, my view was marred.

My cedar tree had born some fruit
The like I had not seen.
Orange globules hung from branches
And their tentacles looked mean.

I touched one thing, but soon recoiled.
The ‘legs’ all felt like worms.
They had a wormy look and feel
But lacked the proper squirms.

Their overnight appearance
Coupled with their alien look
Unnerved me. So I headed for
The nearest science book.

Well, actually I hit the Net.
I’m not a patient soul.
And even with the World Wide Web
I wasn’t on a roll.

No category would appear
For “Icky Alien Fruit”
And ditto for “an orange thing.”
The web gave me the boot.

When finally I’d concluded
That my search was just a bust
I found on Google Images
The Cedar Apple Rust.

Actually, I felt somewhat vindicated after I read the following link.  I thought of aliens but this more pragmatic lady thought her kids were messing with playdough.

This poem, photo, and link were contributed by longtime commenter and friend Joan Ryan, of Brentwood, Missouri.  Thanks, Joan!



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