“When I Became My Words” by Zachariah Claypole White

March 20, 2015

"At age 9, Zachariah had just won first place in the Carolina Parent Magazine writing competition, and his prize was to read his story at The Regulator Bookshop in Durham. (He needed a stepping stool to reach the podium.) After the event, the wonderful Cathy Davidson asked how it felt to read his words. In response, Zachariah wrote his first poem. He hasn't stopped writing and performing his words since…”  Award-winning novelist Barbara Claypole White
“At age 9, Zachariah had just won first place in the Carolina Parent Magazine writing competition, and his prize was to read his story at The Regulator Bookshop in Durham. (He needed a stepping stool to reach the podium.) After the event, the wonderful Cathy Davidson asked how it felt to read his words. In response, Zachariah wrote his first poem. He hasn’t stopped writing and performing his words since…” Award-winning novelist Barbara Claypole White

When I Became My Words

by Zachariah Claypole White

I stepped up to my fate

All my work lay before me

My legs were shaking

My heart was quaking

My hands became a mouth

And I became my words

My skin became pages

My heart became a pencil

And I wrote my soul

My legs were shaking

My heart was quaking

When I became my words

©2004 Zachariah Nigel Claypole White

Barbara Claypole White with her talented son, Zachariah, this past  Christmas.
Barbara Claypole White with her talented son, Zachariah, this past Christmas.

Zachariah’s bio:

Zachariah Claypole White is a multi-published poet and an award-winning singer-songwriter.  His poems have appeared in numerous publications including Highlights Magazine, and both his poems and lyrics have received many awards including a silver medal at the national level of the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. He is a former winner of the Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poetry Series (middle grades) and was featured in the Durham Magazine as one of the “best and brightest” high school students in The Triangle area of North Carolina. In honor of his openness about fighting obsessive-compulsive disorder, the magazine dubbed him The Warrior Poet. He is currently a student at Oberlin College, where he is majoring in creative writing. YouTube video of Zachariah performing one of his slam poems about OCD: ttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdCxeUFupCc

 

The Unfinished Garden by Barbara Claypole WhiteEnglish born and educated, Barbara Claypole White lives in the North Carolina forest with her family. Inspired by her poet/musician son’s courageous battles against obsessive-compulsive disorder, Barbara writes hopeful stories about troubled families with a healthy dose of mental illness. Her debut novel, The Unfinished Garden, won the 2013 Golden Quill Contest for Best First Book, and The In-Between Hour was chosen by SIBA (the Southern Independent Booksellers) as a Winter 2014 Okra Pick. The In-Between Hour by Barbara Claypole WhiteHer third novel, The Perfect Son, has a publication date of July 2015. For more information, or to connect with Barbara, please visit barbaraclaypolewhite.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Herod’s Babies

Mary Elizabeth Todd was moved to write “Herod’s Babies” after learning that a woman everyone trusted in the animal rescue world was arrested for ill treatment and neglect.

Herod’s Babies

The stories I heard wretched my heart;

The pictures seared my mind, and

The faces of the survivors scarred my soul.

It is the pictures I see when I close my eyes

Of tiny kitten feet lying in the rooms,

Alone and how their mothers must have hurt for them.

 

I saw the eyes of the mothers who grieved their little ones.

The depth of their loss was so deep

I could not perceive.

I thought of a story I heard- some say it is not true,

These forlorn mother cats and their lost kittens

Reminded me of the baby boys that King Herod killed.

 

King Herod heard that a new king was born;

He could not have that happen.

He sent his men to make sure that it did not occur,

For if this king dies as a toddler or a baby.

He could never be crowned king,

But he forgot about the mothers.

 

Mothers can be fierce when their children

Are at risk. The soldiers did not expect this-

Women obeyed and did what they were told,

But these women fought because they were mothers.

We never hear when the story is told

Of how those mothers had fought.

 

Those mothers whose infant sons were ripped

From their arms, and killed before their eyes.

Mothers who died trying to guard

Their toddler sons from the slicing swords of men.

Men who grew sicker of their task,

And just wanted it to be done.

 

When it was done the soldiers rode from town

With images of mothers weeping over their tiny boys,

Of mothers lying dead beside their infant prince

For in a mother’s heart her son is always her prince.

They reported the job was done but in their heads

The images never went away.

 

It is the images of those kitten feet

And the eyes of their haunted mothers

That stay with me and make me wonder- what went on in that house?

 

Mary Elizabeth Todd

July 1, 2014

 

One of the saddest stories is about Big Boy. He was a big white cat from Greenville County Shelter. He was the staff’s favorite and was a big white hunk of love. The officers there at the house heard noises coming from the underneath the house, and they opened the crawlspace door.  Big Boy walked out and fell down. He died in route to the shelter.
One of the saddest stories is about Big Boy. He was a big white cat from Greenville County Shelter. He was the staff’s favorite and was a big white hunk of love. The officers there at the house heard noises coming from the underneath the house, and they opened the crawlspace door. Big Boy walked out and fell down. He died in route to the shelter.

Mary writes: “On June 19, 2014, the trust we had was shattered. Since she has not been convicted, she allegedly neglected the cats in her care and was arrested and charged with a felony act.  From her house 50 plus dead cats and kittens were removed and 32 were removed alive- four of which died since then. They were starved and had no water. Some were never even removed from the carriers when they were handed over to this woman. The others are now in rescue with various degrees of medical issues. 

I saw these Cats on June 26, 2014 at Anderson County P.A.W.S., the shelter that had them at that time. 

 

There was one mother cat whose eyes haunted me. 

I have seen pictures of her from the shelter. She was a protective mother and had lovely eyes. Now she was battle-scarred and losing one of those lovely eyes but the depth of her sorrow spoke volumes. She had no heart to live for. I believe it was broken.  She died over the weekend. 

Ash Truesdale compiled a massive photo album of these poor creatures rescued from shelters of their photos from the shelter.  There was close to 500 photos from at least 16 shelters over the southeast from approximately April 2013 until June 2014.  One friend had been to what most of us call the house of horrors and took pictures the Sunday after she was arrested with the landlord’s permission. The house and its lovely hardwood floors are ruined. 

It is what I saw in these pictures in almost every room (the deceased cats were removed by this time) that has haunted me: tiny kitten feet. 

Many of the rescued cats have medical issues, and the shelters are full. If anyone wants to help, please send me a private message on Facebook and I will get you information on how you can help.” ~ Mary Elizabeth Todd in Starr, SC.

http://www.examiner.com/article/prominent-anderson-county-animal-advocate-charged-with-ill-treatment-of-animals

Bio:

Mary Elizabeth Todd wrote her first poem when she was ten years old. Her father was also a poet, and she remembers growing up observing him composing and reciting his work. Her poem “Hiding Axes” was published in the Oberon Poetry Journal.  Mary is a retired foster care worker with the Anderson County Department of Social Services. She worked in that capacity for twenty-eight years. A 1974 graduate of Erskine College, she began doing cat rescue work in 2013. She lives in the woods in Starr, South Carolina.

She’s Come Undone

"She's Come Undone" is my interpretation of this photo. What is yours? Feel free to post in the comment box below the poem.
 Maybe she is all of us who’ve ever come back from grief, hardship, disappointment or simply discovered that we’ve entered our  second childhood.   

8/27/13

 Stepping out of the pool

wearing nothing but a dare,

she looks around.

No roofers in sight,

only the neighbor’s cat

curled under the Mimosa 

and a gecko doing pushups on the fence.

She crosses her arms in front of her

covering herself like a shield.

It’s the Pilgrim in her you know.

Then slowly, she drops the facade,

lifts her arms wide

and does breaststrokes in the air.

The stars aren’t even out,

high noon howls at her back

as she glides this way and that,

barefoot in the sun,

pirouetting in grass that’s still green

until the scarecrows come out.

 A hawk flies overhead,

his high-pitched keeee calling her

to join him.

She takes off across the yard

and decades fall behind her,

shedding the years until she is five

and running through sprinklers.

 Diving into the blue,

she torpedoes through the water

propelled by an energy

she hasn’t felt in years.

 When she comes up for air,

she spots two lily pads of cloth

floating nearby…the discarded suit.

 Flipping on her back,

the buzz of a light plane catches her attention.

And she laughs at the moment

 when she defied convention.

 © Kathleen M. Rodgers