Sunday, May 28, 2017

A Poem for Memorial Day

In Honor of Our Troops on Memorial Day

Image credit:

For Cpl. R. J. Roberts, USMC
America At War In Iraq – March, 2003

The message on my computer screen
said click on The Presidential Prayer Team –
the Adopt Our Troops link
and be given a soldier to pray for
until the end of the war

I didn't know any soldiers
stationed in Iraq, personally
soldiers who startled us with Shock & Awe
soldiers who endured stinging sand
blazing days and shivery desert nights
Didn't know any who engaged in combat
manned planes, ‘copters and tanks
or risked biological warfare
during that arduous trek to Baghdad
Didn't know any at all
so I clicked on the website
…but was unable to access the link

When the morning paper arrived
the front page held a full color photo
of a British medic
examining a newborn Iraqi baby
cradled in a cardboard box
with the flaps torn off
I placed my hand upon the soldier

Jesus, bring him home, whole

laid my hand upon the infant

O Lord, please have him grow up
safe and strong
in a land free of terror…

At work, later that morning
a co-worker approached my counter
softly singing a hymn
How lovely to hear singing
in times like these, I remarked

My son left Tuesday, she said
Our eyes locked
mother to mother

I'd like to adopt your son, I told her
I'll pray for him every day
until he comes home

He is a Marine, she said
serving in the air delivery platoon
Cpl. R. J. Roberts
He'll be on the ground
distributing supplies in Iraq

I know he'll return

Our pastor prophesied
a few years ago
that R. J. will become a preacher

He's not a preacher yet…
though I suppose
there's a very good chance
he may be preaching right now

When I got home
I fastened a yellow ribbon
to my front porch railing

Maude Carolan

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Irises in Bloom!

It's time to stroll the iris rainbow
at the Presby Memorial Iris Garden
in Montclair, New Jersey.

Presby Memorial Iris Garden, Montclair, NJ


I delightedly strolled
along an iris rainbow
one effulgent Sunday in May
while would-be VanGoghs
painted under sunbrellas.

God could’ve made irises gray,
but He’s as lavish with color
as He is with love.

Maude Carolan

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Remembering Mom on Mother's Day

Frances Longo Walsh

In loving memory of Frances Longo Walsh (1915-1966)

I recall the way
my mother’s whole body jiggled when she laughed,
her sweet, shy smile,
that she understood Italian, but never spoke it,
the utter simplicity of her desires...
never asking for or receiving much
and not once complaining.
She had all she wanted, a home and family.

I remember the helpmeet working side by side
with our father, clearing the land
and building our stucco home.

My mind’s eye sees her plucking
chicken feathers in the backyard,
walking uphill home from the bus stop,
huffing, puffing;
scratching her itching back
against the bedroom door frame;
camping, just to please us children,
though it was more work than fun for her.

Recall, as if it were yesterday,
the flowery apron over her housedress
with its chain of safety pins
and her elastic band bracelets,
and Mother, standing at the stove, stirring
the bubbling red sauce in the big enamel pot.

Little Mommy, four-foot-ten and overweight—
She served herself the skimpiest portions,
never ate dessert, but occasionally gave in
to one indulgence: a crusty Italian bastone
from Minardi’s, sliced and spread with a pat of butter.

Hindsight reveals her quick on her feet
in the yard goods department at Quackenbush’s,
where customers remembered her
for smiles as quick as her feet.

When she arrived home, she changed her clothes
and aired out one of her two work dresses
on the clothesline off the back porch.

In retrospect, I see her
rolling her dark hair back into two neat curls
above her forehead,
applying red lipstick to her upper lip,
bringing both lips together to transfer color
to the lower, then, blotting.

Never attended high school, but
she could add columns of numbers
rapidly, in her head.
She read the newspaper nightly,
and completed the crossword puzzle.

My memory flashes to her relaxing evenings
in our parlor, in the old tufted chair,
watching Alfred Hitchcock or Lucy or
Barbara Stanwick in, “The Big Valley”.
She never missed the easy crooning of Perry Como.
He was her favorite. (He’d been a barber, like her father.)

I remember it pleased our father
that she always waited up for him
till he arrived home after working
the night shift at Wright’s.

Yes, I still see clearly, her dear kerchiefed head,
which Gramma remarked, made her look
like a peasant in a babushka.

Remember trying to convince her to hike her hemlines,
wear “Kiss Me Pink” lipstick, update her hair style,
learn to drive.

Flashback to hear her inviting my date
to come in for a cup of tea at our kitchen table
when he brought me home.

Vividly, I recollect the day
she was curled up tight on the couch.
She didn’t want me to call the ambulance,
though her hernia was strangling,
didn’t want to spoil plans
my sister and I had with our friends.
I disobeyed. The doctors operated just in time,
before gangrene set in.

My mind’s eye still sees tears in her eyes
when she came to my wedding
without my father.

And I remember her joy
to learn both daughters were pregnant, however,

she died before her grandchildren were born.

Oh! How much her grandchildren have missed
for never having known her—

which is one of the reasons
I’ve written this poem

Maude Carolan

Happy Mother's Day
to all moms, everywhere...
God bless you all!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Alana's First Communion Day

God bless my granddaughter, Alana,
who celebrated her First Holy Communion, Saturday,
 at St. Mary's RC Church, Pompton Lakes, NJ.

Alana Dulce Muniz

The following poem goes back, back, back in time 
to when my sister Carol and me
celebrated our First Communion in 1950.


It was a long, long time ago, but
I remember as if it were yesterday—
My sister Carol was six; I was seven
Viola, my mother's best friend
sewed lovely white dresses for us
Mine had a bodice of white embroidered flowers
and a shimmery organdy skirt
Carol's, just the opposite
had an organdy bodice and flowery skirt
We wore crinoline slips
and pristine white stockings
shiny white Mary Janes
and tulle veils adorned with sprigs
of lily of the valley at the crown

Carol and I practiced walking
with hands in prayer
down the long church aisle
to receive the Little White Host
at the altar rail

We each nervously whispered
our first confession to the priest
in a dark confessional
the size of a small closet
We said the Act of Contrition
received absolution
and prayed our penance prayers
all in anticipation
of our First Communion Day

…but, my sister became ill
She had the measles
so I received my First Communion
without her, but with all the other
First Communicant boys and girls
of St. Bonaventure Roman Catholic Church

We were well prepared—
schooled in the liturgy
the songs and prayers
Most importantly, we all truly loved Jesus

As I sat, quiet and still
like a pure wingless angel
in the old wooden pew
gazing at the stained glass windows
listening to the Latin Mass
and the ringing of the Offertory chimes
my stomach began to feel queasy
I had fasted, as was the custom
from midnight, the night before—
the first fast of my life
so I thought I was just hungry
but I developed chills and felt faint
and wanted to go home

Nevertheless, I said the prayers
and sang the songs
and received the precious Holy Bread
from the hand of the priest
upon my tongue, happy
that Jesus now lived inside of me

After Mass was over
I went home and straight to bed
Little red spots dotted my face and body
…Measles, of course

Two Sundays later
Carol and I dressed up
in our beautiful white finery--
Two healthy little brides of Christ
and received Holy Eucharist, together

Maude Carolan Pych