Valentine’s Day

unidentified photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

According to an account [of Douglass’ birthday celebration] in the Washington Evening Star, the event was held on February 28, 1888. After the other dignitaries spoke, Douglass took the stage as he twirled his glasses.

“I understand from some things that have occurred since I came in that you have been celebrating my seventy-first birthday. What in the world have you been doing that for? Why Frederick Douglass. That day was taken from him long before he had the means of owning it. Birthdays belong to free institutions. We, at the South, never knew them. We were born at times: harvest times, watermelon times, and generally hard times. I never knew anything about the celebration of a birthday except Washington’s birthday, and it seems a little strange to have mine celebrated. I think it is hardly safe to celebrate any man’s birthday while he lives,” Douglass said.


Twenty Word Tuesday

Through the fall, I have been participating in a weekly poetry project called Twenty Word Tuesday which appears mostly on Instagram and via the hashtag #twentywordtuesday. It was begun and has been moderated by Charissa Sylvia who is herself and exceptional poet and writer. You may follow her on Instagram HERE.

Here is a piece I wrote at the beginning of October which was inspired by this beautiful 120 year old chestnut tree I came across while walking one afternoon.

Standing here
I begin to believe
It would be enough
If all I left behind 
Were the trees
I’d planted.

Randall Edwards 2022

And here is another twenty word poem written in response to what I think is my enneagram personality type. Piglet may be the most enneagram six there ever was, and the title is, Six.

You asked me for 
my Enneagram number,
And I replied, 
“There are so many ways
This could go wrong.”

Randall Edwards 2022

Wisdom’s Call

Here’s a sonnet for Sapientia which is December 17. It draws its inspiration from Proverbs 5:7-23.

Now sons, listen to my words, do not stray
Or linger at loose love's door, nor forget
My words; do not fall, become Folly’s prey,
And pour out your life in bitter regret.

But stray here, browse among your lilies’ love
Along green banks ‘twixt passion and promise
With your dear, your secret highland dove
Who is your well's fullness, spring, and solace.

Why then my heart, do you wander exiled
In furtive fancies from wild wood to wold
Why, where eas’ly deceived and beguiled,
You languish in lostness, lonely and cold?

Here I am, Lord! You see and ponder all;
Make me love Wisdom, delight in her call.

© Randall Edwards 2023

Elegy for Farmington

November 20 marks the 54th Anniversary of the Farmington Mining Disaster. I am reposting in honor of miners and families who died, survived, and who still grieve.

An Elegy for Farmington
November 20, 1968

There were ninety-nine miners who tried
In the Consol Number 9
To earn their wage, punch the clock
Ride the slope, pick the rock,
Descend into the invisible fog
Released by the pile of Gog.*
Ninety-nine miners who worked inside
The Consol Number 9.

On the 20th day of November
The cold and the damp and the weather
Pushed the air down
To hang heavy inside
The Consol Number 9.

A blast shook the earth
As the third shift worked
Ignited the depths of the mine,
Trapped seventy-eight miners,
Farmington’s pride,
In the Consol Number 9.

Rescuers searched while their families prayed
Only 21 made it alive.
For a week they worked trying to find
The miners who were trapped inside.
Trapped inside but trapped alive,**
In the Consul Number 9?

Llewellyn belched a hellish smog***
It filled the valley with fog.
To stop the fire, they sealed the mine
With the seventy-eight miners inside
The Fathers and brothers, 
Farmington’s pride,
In the Consol Number 9.

To this day, the families remember
That cold 20th day of November
The seventy-eight miners we worked beside,
The nineteen whom we never did find,
Our friends, our fathers, the brothers who died
In the Consol Number 9.

*A mine’s Gog Pile is the coal mining rock refuse which may release hazardous methane gas.
**Though many held out hope that miners would be found alive, after the initial blasts not many felt any would have survived.
***Llewellyn is the mine shaft where the explosion exited.

1. Number 1 fan shaft James Matish
2. Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
3. Rescue crew entering the mine, from NMHSA
4. Miners rescued by a bucket photo by Bob Campione
5. Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
6. Coal miner testing for methane gas photo by John Brock
7. From an article on 49th anniversary of the disaster by Brittany Murray/MetroNews

© Randall Edwards 2021

Eye to Eye

The Poetry Pub’s Day 13, prompt was “eye contact.” Here’s my response to the prompt, and it is offered in light of the fact that November is Diabetes Awareness Month.

The poem is a recollection of the day my daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes which is an autoimmune disease that attacks the pancreas and leaves the individual insulin dependent. For many years it was called Juvenile Diabetes because the disease most often manifest in children.

Our daughter was seven when she was diagnosed. Here’s a picture of her in the ER awaiting admission to the hospital. It was December 7.

I remember that evening in Brenner’s
When I gave you the first shot of thousands
Of doses of insulin. How with
Trembling heart I resolved to see done
What must be done. And you? You braced yourself
To see to what you must do.
Make no mistake it was still a shot 
With alcohol swab and drawn syringe--
A fact that, on me, was not lost.
We looked each in the eye, and we knew
We had to.

I rubbed the spot and pushed the needle in;
Then, finished with fear and pain and tears,
We went to play in the playroom where you
Looked for something special to relieve—
Assuage the painful news of the day.
Your eye fixed on the inflated, plastic
ScoobyDoo Punching Bag and you
Hauled off and beat that bag
As if you had to. That’s when I knew
We saw things eye to eye.

© 2022 Randy Edwards