Category Archives: Poetry

The Summer Wind


A southern breeze was born

far before the central Oklahoma horizon.

Darting across the prairies, bumping over the lakes

it grew in strength and unpredictability.

By the time it reached my four-room home

the wildness forced a path through our porch screen door,

under my bedroom window sill covered in cracking pale blue paint,

and around the corners of white vinyl siding

imprinted with tiny ridges.

Whooo-OOO bellowed the gales.


My four year-old eyebrows lifted, while my legs chased

the noise through my home’s center

and out the back door.

Practically falling down the back steps,

my chase ended as I saw the noisy blusters

take shape by lifting and expanding sheets hung on the

steadfast clothesline wire.

As the fully masted linens released the

grass-scented air with pops! at their hems,

I chased that wind until my scrawny legs gave way to fatigue.

The wind was older, stronger and faster.


Collapsing into the prairie grass-covered pasture,

I closed my eyes and listened.

The wind hadn’t gone after all.

Its infinity caresses passed over the tufts of Love grasses,

rattling the small dried seed pods.

Its fingers played with the wisps of my summer-colored hair

on my forehead and cheeks.

The folds of my ears created a new

whistle for the breeze to play,

to slide across, finishing with a high G-sharp.

The noise vibrated the membrane in my ear.

“I am here,” the whistle told me.  “I’ll always be around.”


The wind became my friend that day

and when the occasional draft bursts across my face now,

I want to dance with it on the prairie,

accompanied by the percussive rattle of Love grass seed pods,

until I fall into the sweet pasture’s arms

because my legs have no more strength.

Oklahoma Poets: Leah S. Taylor

Leah, during our 2011 philosophical summit. It appears we have reached the dessert course and are doing just fine. Sending you my love, Leah...RDK

Editor’s note: I now have an annual ritual, having completed it three years in a row.  During the week between Christmas and New Years, I meet with my former mentor, Dr. Leah Taylor, and my current neighbor, Lisa Red.  We talk about the year, waxing philosophical about the ground we’ve covered. Then we talk about the next year, waxing philosophical about the ground we hope to tread.  During our most recent meal, Leah shared that her brother was ailing.  It seems now, however, that he is near Death’s door.  When Leah feels the need to love someone very deeply, one of her ways is by writing them a poem.  She’s agreed to share the two poems she has written to support her brother in his process of dying.  One waxes philosophical about the ground from where he came, and one about the higher ground to where he is soon going. ~ [kelly]

To My Brother

You were a young boy

Your mother’s lap your own

Her loneliness your wound

Her universe your home

Now all the moons and stars

That know you in your story

Are thankful in their sending

For giving them their glory

You are healed, my brother

Love will sweep you into grace

As spirits come to join you

In the journey you now face Continue reading Oklahoma Poets: Leah S. Taylor

FROM THE VAULT: A System Worked and a System Failed. How Illness Impacts our Dear Friends…and Us.

Editor’s Note 1/30/12: Dear all…I was so pleased this weekend to read a “Caring Bridge” entry re: my friend Sammye.  To even begin to share the challenges she’s experienced since this post was written 1.5 years ago would be impossible.  If you’re interested, you can check on her entries here.  But most importantly, I read this paragraph early this morning:

“HIP HIP (left hip, not right one) HOORAY!  PET scan taken at the end of last week shows no malignancies!  Dr. Hollen is as happy as he can be and of course I was relieved, happy, grateful, prayerful, thankful, and every other positive emotion one can think of!  All is well…inside and out!  My visits with Dr. Hollen will continue every three months with scans every six months.  The hip (right one) is still no fun but I’m getting around and focusing on all the things I can do, rather than the things that are still tough.  I’ve lost weight and as more comes off (sounds easy, huh?) I am sure that the hip will show even more appreciation! “

This post was well-read 18 months ago, so I’m sharing it again “from the vault” to remind us that personal things…even haircuts…have histories much bigger than just a word. Love, RDK


Editor’s Note:  We have two “impact of illness” perspectives to share with you this morning.

♥  One comes from Sammye Cravens, CFO-COO of Public Strategies, Inc. in Oklahoma City.  On June 4, 2009, she was diagnosed with Malignant Lymphoma, Diffuse Large B-Cell Type.  She used a wonderful tool called to communicate with her friends, family and supporters. What a day of celebration there was when her body said “yes” to the treatment and she got through every step of the process.  She has opened her journal, now, to the public and recently wrote an essay on the “chronology of her hair” to share with the community.

As we know, hair can be a fairly precarious concept when getting through cancer treatment. I hope you are endeared by Sammye’s history of hair.  I know I was.

♥  The second came in my mailbox at home, and now I’m sharing it with you.  Holly Foote grew up in Oklahoma and attended my church until she graduated from high school.  She earned her Masters in Nutrition at Columbia University and recently finished medical school at Touro College; she’s now wearing a white coat.  Her best friend Amy, also one of our former “church kids,” contracted Type I diabetes when she was only nine.  She died in May of 2009 and the events surrounding that tragedy were medically incoherent.

You can read about the “broken system” that misdiagnosed and mistreated Amy in Holly’s blog entry, “Failing Heart.” The card I received explains a bit about her grief experience and was a way to touch back those who had tried to reach out to her during her difficult time.

I thank both Sammye and Holly for sharing their funny and/or vulnerable real lives with their friends, and for giving permission to post their thoughts here at the RDC.

Sincerely, Red Dirt Kelly

~~~ ~~~ ~~~


by Sammye Cravens Continue reading FROM THE VAULT: A System Worked and a System Failed. How Illness Impacts our Dear Friends…and Us.

I Love You More Than The Sun Loves The Sky

A friend and co-worker recently lost her mother to cancer.  The day of her mother’s death, my friend posted to her Facebook page, “I love you more than the sun loves the sky.” 

I’m sure I’ve heard this before, but I started thinking about moms and daughters.  In seconds, I attached quite a bit of imagery and emotion to the phrase, knowing what it’s like to be the center of my mom’s universe but also having the experience of being a mom and devoting myself wholeheartedly and without regret to my kids’ needs.

While I’m not the most skilled poet and it’s been many years since I’ve attempted to write in this genre, I felt compelled to pen some thoughts on the theme. 

Hug your mommas, dear friends.

I Love You More Than The Sun Loves The Sky

The sun is often credited for the brilliance of the sky.

Mesmerized by a dance of whimsy, we watch her daily rise and fall.

Even the sky delights in the sun’s performance,

Smiling as she holds court in majestic rooms of gold.


Mankind claps an ovation of praise, a tribute to all things beautiful. Continue reading I Love You More Than The Sun Loves The Sky

Silent Sunday: Poetry and Flowers

Today I’m providing a photo or two from one of my gardener friends, Alice Woodrome.  I’m also sharing a poem written by a family friend, Marvellena Scott, for her husband, Kermit.  Both of these guest contributors clearly have the wisdom and beauty of more years of life and love behind them than I.  I’m so glad to share their work with you today.  Happy Silent Sunday ~ Kelly

Taken at the Dallas Arboretum a few years ago - By Alice Woodrome of Oklahoma City.

Together Still

by Marvellena Scott

Let me hold your hand as we go downhill,

We’ve shared our strength and we share it still.

It hasn’t been easy to make the climb,

But the way was eased by your hand in mine. Continue reading Silent Sunday: Poetry and Flowers

A Moment With Sheldon S. Stout, Oklahoma Poet

Rooftop Flower Girl

Sitting on the rooftop ledge

She threw petals to the wind

Watching as they slowly floated






A soft rain of color

Covered the street below

Adding color

To her world of black and grays

~ by Sheldon S. Stout, 2008, From “Pop, Punk or Pulp Poetry?”– 2008

Sheldon Stout was born in Enid, Oklahoma (OK). He grew up in Medford, OK and currently resides in Alva, OK with his wife Bethany and his four daughters: Amber, Autumn, Isabella and Zowie. He has written three books of poetry: Pop, Punk or Pulp Poetry?: A Collection of Poetry by Sheldon S. Stout , Call It What You Will, and Mystical Tales of the Lost & Found: The Poetry & Prose of Sheldon S. Stout

Why poetry? In Jr. High I wanted to be a rock star. So I started writing songs. None were very good. Then we had to write stories for an English class. So I wrote some stories. I continued writing throughout Jr. High and high school but it wasn’t until I was a Junior in high school that I started getting into poetry. It was in Mrs. Innis’s English class in 1988-89 that I really found my calling, so to speak. We had to write some poems and I got a good response from the teachers and other students. So I wrote more. I found it to be a nice escape from my problems and a good way to vent my frustrations with the world.

Continue reading A Moment With Sheldon S. Stout, Oklahoma Poet

Day 33: God Created my DNA and He Reminded Me of the Code in St. Mary’s Cathedral

As a young girl, my parents prepared my brother and I to seek an expansion of perspective beyond that which our own community had to offer.  Comprised within this family plan were experiences of art, travel and educational enrichment.  The mode of delivery usually meant we were loaded into the farm truck and driven to some event in Oklahoma City…despite any resistance on our part.

These “field trips” might have included a classical concert or perhaps a lecture from an archeologist who had discovered pitch clad shards of gopher wood on a limited time-window excursion in Turkey.  Sometimes, the evenings were capped off with an ice cream cone at Kaiser’s in the heart of downtown.  At the time, I’m sure the ice cream was my favorite part.  I do recall, however, feeling the hair on my arms lift as I touched the Lucite bound tiny pieces of what I thought might be Noah’s Ark.

My K-12 formal educational journey was also important in how I began to view the world.  I learned of fairness and the magic of discovery from the effective teachers, and of injustice and constriction from those less able.  The good must have outweighed the challenging, however, because every cell in my body seeks new understandings to this day.  It’s in my DNA, and God reminded me of this by giving me a gift on Day 33 that I’ll never forget.

This past Sunday I attended The University Church of St. Mary the Virgin. Expectations had already been set on my part simply knowing that C.S. Lewis had preached his “Weight of Glory” sermon in that very hall.  John Wesley spoke there on many occasions, and before the College system sprang up in Oxford, the church served as the location for the educational exercises such as group lectures or exams.  This was at a time in the 13th century when scholars actually lived with the professors to receive their education.  This church is central to how the entire educational context was set throughout Oxfordshire.

Eucharist began at 10:30 and I came in the door at 10:32.  I was handed a Hymn book and a guide to the service, was shown an available seat and sent on my way.  Being an evangelical, I’ve learned to watch the other attendees and the pastor carefully when participating in a service such as that offered at St. Mary’s.  There is standing, sitting, standing…and sitting.  And standing.  There is also a participatory portion that the audience reads by following the service guide.  All these machinations are unfamiliar to me, but easy to follow.  I’m glad, because it left much of my mental energy available to absorb everything else. Comments continued after the photograph…

I’ll not provide the entire sermon, nor all my thoughts during the service.  Indeed, some were too personal, too humbling, too set on the holiness of our Lord.  However I will share a bit of that for which I am grateful:

1.  I’m grateful for the chance to have heard the message delivered by the Reverend Canon Brian Mountford, Vicar of the University Church.  From the moment he began to speak, my rapt attention zeroed in on his outline and it was one of the best sermons I’ve heard in my life.  Scripture, poetry, philosophy, education, human suffering and regard – all these concepts and perhaps more were laid before those attending and asked to be considered on behalf of our Creator.

2.  I’m grateful for a greeting time wherein the only task was to reach out to those around us and utter this simple phrase, “Peace to you,” or respond, “And to you as well.”  This made me cry – the simplistic form of a gentle greeting and a gentle return. Wonderful.

3.  I’m grateful for a communion service where each person was reminded with one phrase, “The body of Christ,” that which they were taking as they were handed a piece of bread.  And I’m grateful to have been given the chance to drink from a community cup real wine, the edge of which was wiped with a cloth and given the person next in line.  I’ve never shared a cup with others, and it is a compelling experience.

4.  I’m grateful to have had the chance to sing all verses of the selected Hymns, generally written in Old English verse, accompanied by an organ whose song filled the highest corners of the cathedral.  I know the notes lifted up our voices and sent them to the Heavens.

5.  And, I’m grateful for the reminding affirmations for all who participated, each time we read along during the service. An example: “We are the body of Christ.  In the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.  Let us then pursue all that makes for peace and builds up our common life.”  Another: “Great is the Mystery of Faith – Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.  Blessing and honor and glory and power be yours for ever and ever. Amen.”

With every affirmation stated by the audience, my faith was affirmed and deemed a righteous pursuit.

I don’t know if I’ll get to attend a service at St. Mary’s again.  However, for me, it was as if my spirituality had attended an inspirational conference – – a conferring or communion with God.  A renewal was given to me and for that I am grateful as well.

I’ll leave you with a poem that was read during the sermon.  The discussion was about how one person might say a leaf is green due to the chlorophyll, another because the evolutionary sea life was purple – so green was refracted, and another – a poet – might say “because it means renewal.”

Peace to you.


The Trees

The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.

Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too.
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

Philip Larkin