Archive for May, 2009

Sweet Perfume


Work in her garden every day
To her was just like child’s play
Shallow rows to hold the seed
Paper pads on which she kneed

Spade and shovel by her side
A length of string as her guide
Flats of flowers, packs of seeds
And things to battle all the weeds

She loved the smell of spaded soil
And did not mind the daily toil
Then when her flowers were in bloom
We all enjoyed the sweet perfume

7/17/05 Phyllis DeWitt-VanVleck

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After she was gone
I found scraps of paper
Each piece torn
from whatever was at hand
when thoughts possessed her mind,
or touched her heart.
Little reminders
jotted down when senses
stirred her to capture
a piece of beauty
or a fragment of emotion.
Words, phrases, ideas
upon which she would
later elaborate.
Drawing from those small
scraps, pages of stirring
discourse that could make
one lose himself
in laughter, or touch
one’s heart to tears.
Those bits of written
emotion reflect how she
found beauty in everything,
and she comes alive
in the words
she jotted down
Musing about their value,
I could not destroy them.

In my closet upon a shelf,
there is a candy box
that holds her essence.
It is full of life and love
recorded on scraps of paper,
reminding me of her.
She was a poem.

2/5/93 Phyllis DeWitt-VanVleck

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This is information I have collected for a poem. I have put it here as a quick essay.


She shuffled along slowly, her leathered
feet kicking up dust with each step. Her back
bent under the weight of a load of sticks.
That was To-ka-map-map-e, woman of the Nez Perce
who attained a niche in the lore
of her people, when her brave deed
had counted coup. And so it was,
before the Nez Perce fled from the hated army
of U.S. soldiers. Chief Joseph and his tribe,
displaced from their beloved Wallow Valley
in Oregon, were fleeing to Canada.
Suffering from the cold and lack
of food, and ill equipped for fighting,
they were vulnerable to skirmish attacks.
In one such attack, To-ka-map-map-e
was captured and carried to the front
for interrogation. Hands tied,
she was placed on a horse, behind her captor,
and as they neared the front, she was able to free
her hands. She slid the soldier’s knife
from it’s sheath, and before he could react,
she plunged it into his back. Slumping sideways,
he slid from his saddle. To-ka-map-map-e
turned quickly and rode back
through the battle to Chief Joseph,
informing him of troop positions
and the size of each unit.
Although the information was helpful,
cold, hunger, and lack of weapons
led to final surrender of the Nez Perce tribe.
Chief Joseph acknowledged his defeat,
with his immortal words,
“Where the sun now stands,
I will fight no more forever.”
The brave attempt of To-ka-map-map-e to help
save her people, failed, but she refused
to live out her days on the reservation.
And in time, she escaped. A photograph
gave her more notoriety than her heroic act,
and gave her the name
by which she became well know, titled simply …
Stick Woman.

10/7/96 Phyllis DeWitt VanVleck

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Mothers, daughters,
And sisters, too,
Can win one’s heart
By what they do.

I’ll not forget
Mom’s love for me.
I count it as
Her legacy.

Daughters, sisters,
All passed the test.
I love each one,
But here’s the best –

Granddaughters, four,
That I can kiss,
And hold real close,
Now that’s true bliss.

9/10/94 Phyllis DeWitt VanVleck

4’th … Arkansas NPD 1994

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Get the tweezers, quick


Long hair is definitely in
But not when it’s on my chin
Although this one curls
It’s not good for girls
So of course, it causes chagrin

08/1990 – Phyllis DeWitt-VanVleck

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I walked into her bedroom
Just the other day
And saw the stages of her life
In careless disarray

I stood there in the doorway
And with nostalgic sighs
I viewed the contradictions
Spread before my eyes

Around the room where Nursery Rhymes
Once hung upon the wall
Are posters of recording stars
I cannot list them all

But still in place of honor
In a small golden frame
Are Cinderella and her Prince
Of Fairy Tale fame

And over in the corner
Her dolls lie in a pile
She has not yet forsaken them
But will, in just a while

Lying adjacent to the dolls
And scattered on the floor
Are several current 45’s
And several things more

There are stacks of old comic books
And romance novels, too
Some bubble-gum wrappers
And a valentine or two

A sad bedraggled Teddy Bear
Now wears upon his pate
A dried and faded corsage
From a chaperoned date

Hanging on her bulletin board
Is a treasured little toy
And tacked right next to it
Is a note from some young boy

On a messy closet shelf
This is what I see
Skates, a game, an old jump-rope
Her diary, with its key

And tangled in among them
Is a blanket (pink and gray)
It once meant security
So she can’t throw it away

A lipstick lies upon her desk
And nail polish, too
There’s clasps to hold her hair in place
In shades of pink and blue

Her clothing is a mixture
Of pre and early teen
Her moods, in fact, dictating
In which she will be seen

She likes her pretty dresses
But loves the latest fad
So more and more, she leans that way
And it’s jeans in which she’s clad

Her room is a chrysalis
Where tot transforms to teen
And yet, there’s changes still to come
More transition to be seen

When comes the time that she matures
And my butterfly flies away
I’ll treasure memories of each stage
That saw her on her way

2/12/61 Phyllis DeWitt-VanVleck

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