A Bumblebee Bowling Ball

Just a little something, only slightly heavy–ten or twelve pounds, I reckon–to roll around the backyard of your mind on this stormy Sunday afternoon. (I wrote this Sunday afternoon, April 15, 2012)

Sharing this on dVerse Poets Pub’s Open Link Night ~ Week 40

 A Bumblebee Bowling Ball


Unflappable metal wings, ever still

Between the big tree

And the Vinca

Survivors of last year’s brutal summer


                                                            Bright yellow stripes

                                    Between peeling-paint black ones

                         Or is it the other way ‘round

              Doesn’t matter, I suppose


Tree house, long abandoned

       Between limbs and leaves

                  Boards rotted and loose

                          Laughter of children still echoes


                                                          A bowl full of petunias

                                              Between empty chairs

                        Wonderfully made; standing firm

         As storm winds begin to blow


Old fence, slightly leaning, so fragile

          Between two yards

                     People; miles apart, it seems

                               Nameless faces that live next door


                                 The occasional wave, a casual word

                     Between them, an unseen veil

      Hangs silent and still; keeping two worlds apart

Like stripes…  

                  on a bumblebee bowling ball


Copyright © 2012 C. Mashburn



  1. Sherry Mashburn said

    thought-provoking and moralistic. Good Job, Charlie!

    Note: the bumble bee bowling ball was from our friend Cynthia in San Marcos.

    • Thank you, Honey Bee!
      Sherry, by the way, collects bees (not real ones!). She started collecting them when she was City Secretary at the city of Bee Cave, Texas.

  2. irene said

    A great bumblebee bowling ball if I may add. *smiles*

  3. Mary said

    I enjoyed reading of this scene which I assume is in your backyard. The treehouse looks wonderful. Sad that it is no longer inhabited by children. Times come and go. And neighbotd that one only occasionally waves to. Sad, isn’t it? I have some like that too.

    • Yes, it is our backyard–one small corner of it–and we love it. Four boys grew up here–the family before us–and we still find their baseballs and other assorted toys hidden in shrubs and under things. Yes, sad that neighbors don’t interact. We only know a few of ours, and some we seldom ever see. We lived in a small community on Lake Travis for almost ten years, and right from the beginning we knew almost all our neighbors. We miss that; most of it anyway. Sometimes a neighborhood can be TOO close-knit.
      Thanks for the visit and great comment, Mary!

  4. All the rain we were suppose to have most of the day, last about 10 minutes. As I was digging up St. Augustine carpet out of the beds to the bare “yard” … I enjoyed hearing the neighborhood sounds … including the wind flapping the basketball goal board across the street … I can relate to the last two stanzas from the Old Fence … There is a leaning chain-linked fence between us and the neighbor — he has a huge Greyhound Bus parked in his driveway — so we rarely see him … we do the occasional wave as he drives off in his pickup truck! Still discovering what survived the drought and what hasn’t.

    • We got no rain. Lot’s of hype, but nary a drop!
      Thanks for the visit and comment, Becca!

  5. There’s an echoing emptiness resounding in this poem but at the same time an awe of beauty. Loved this…” Between empty chairs

    Wonderfully made; standing firm

    As storm winds begin to blow”

  6. Misky said

    The last stanza is wonderfully vivid and really drives this one to clarity.

  7. Mr. Walker said

    I like the movement around the yard, and then to the fence – that barrier – and then back to the bumblebee bowling ball – and the “keeping two worlds apart”. A delightful read.


  8. JulesPaige said

    Nice verse and excellent use of recycling! Too many fences.
    I wrote an Elfje only slightly related to your piece:
    Thank you for your visit…I do so like your marbles!

  9. terri0729 said

    LOL!! I loved it, along with your back yard too!! You can come do mine next 🙂

    • I’ll have to take a look at my schedule!
      Thanks, Terri! Your visits and comments are always aprreciated!

  10. like stripes on the bowling ball…pretty cool back yard you have there sir….the nameless neighbors…i remember a time before that was the case…when we all knew each other…

    • Thanks, we dig our backyard. Fell in love with it when we were house hunting, and have improved it considerably since.
      As for the neighbors, we actually lived in a neighborhood from 2000-2009, where everybody pretty much knew everyone. It was like going back to the 50s and 60s. Small community on Lake Travis, and the lake is what kept us all close; we had a common meeting place. Cliques and groups for sure, but it was still pretty cool. Not the same in the bigger towns.

  11. chris said

    Love the photo, the poem, and your back yard! You’ve captured so many things, from so many angles, in just a few stanzas. Great write.

    • Thanks, Chris! We like the yard, too; a lot!
      I’m glad you enjyed the poem, and I appreciate your visit and comment!

  12. Some people simply don’t want to be friendly anymore, as if more than a wave is invading too much of their privacy. Sad isn’t it. Lovely imagery and great pic of the Bowling bee. 🙂

    • Yes, it is sad. And it seems to spread. We kind of withdrew into our own little world when we moved here.
      Invited the whole neighborhood to our house for our annual Christmas tree decorating party, and three came. Most of them don’t even wave when you drive by.
      Thanks for the visit and comment!

  13. ain’t that ending the truth. moved into this house in June, have met two of the neighbors

    • Yessir. I sure wish it wasn’t like that, but we’ve tried, and people just seem to want to be left alone.
      Thanks for the visit and comment!

  14. tashtoo said

    Amazing isn’t it…the space that can be constructed despite physical proximity…I’m buying an island and building Poetopia!

    • Great idea! When can we start packing?
      Thanks, Tashtoo! I appreciate the visit and comment!

  15. You know, Charles, my brother lives in College Station–teaches there–I heard much of the brutal summer–I don’t know about neighbors–he has a great support locally though in his church–people very committed. You have a very deft touch here, and always an engaging tone. k.

    • Thanks for the compliment/comment, K. I aprreciate it very much!
      Does your brother teach at A&M?

  16. Zouxzoux said

    I think New Orleans is one of too few cities where people still sit on their stoop in the evenings and chit chat with the neighbors and passers-by. Too bad. America is in way too big of a hurry. I really like how you’ve highlighted the decay of casual socializing.
    And I love your garden! I want to sit in one of those chairs with a cold cocktail and chat with you a while!

    • We love to sit out there, and we have a huge deck by the house with seating for about 20. Come on over!
      Thanks for the visit and great comment!

  17. That is my neighborhood…just a silent wave or two. Enjoyed the ride through your back yard ~

  18. ayala said

    Enjoyed your backyard 🙂 nicely done !

  19. Truedessa said


    I enjoyed this one and can feel a sense of memories floating in the air. The picture stimulates the visual of the poem. A nice presentation of the words. Did you create the poem around the picture or the picture around the poem? In either case very well done Charles!

    • The bumblebee bowling ball inspired the poem, and I took the pictures to go with the poem after I wrote it.
      Thanks for the interest, and the visit and comment!

  20. This is so sad, but so well done. It echoes for me something terribly sorrowful not just in society, but tragically often in families and marriages. So much brokenness and pain around us…

    • Thank you for the visit and comment, Zoe.
      Yes, it is very sad that we have become isolated, even in our relationships. It seems odd, too; so many you see everyday have a cell phone to their ear, or are reading one, or texting on one, and yet, they are oblivious to those around them, and in a way are distancing themselves from those they are communicating with.
      There is something to that line of thought, but I’m getting it tangled up in my sill ol’ brain. Going to haave to ponder on it, then probably put it to the page.

  21. You did a masterful job here of describing the scene, and taking it in an unexpected direction. So much truth is shared here, and I love the way you closed, coming back to the “bumble-bee-bowling-ball” to further illustrate the distance between neighbors who have “fences.”

    • Thank you very much! I just looked at that bumblebee bowling ball, and it said, “Poem.” Kinda spooked me when it spoke, but…
      I do that quite often–start with a subject/object, and then finish with it. I must’ve read a poet that does it somewhere along the line.

  22. Nice… it is funny how you can be so close and yet so far apart…do love the tree house… I always wanted a treehouse… 🙂

    • We had one when we were kids, but the reality was, we didin’t spend much time in it. There was way more better things to do on the ground, so who wants to sit in a tree?

  23. hobgoblin2011 said

    thoroughly enjoyable and thought inspiring write. I’m a big fan of how a poem is presented and use the stuttering of lines, different page originations, spaces etc…that said I really like the way you did this here. Very pleasing to the eye, as well as assists in presenting the notion of movement through natural flow. Excellent piece. thanks

  24. Gay said

    ” People; miles apart, it seems

    Nameless faces that live next door

    The occasional wave, a casual word

    Between them, an unseen veil

    Hangs silent and still; keeping two worlds apart”

    These lines struck me. As a fellow Texan who has done a fair amount of traveling, I think we are the “oddest” of neighbors. I live on a street facing a park. I moved into the house in 1970. There are now three houses on the street with the original occupants; the rest have changed. We nod to each other, we take things over if we “know” if there’s a need or if someone has died (nearly every house has had a death) but we aren’t like other neighborhoods which become like families in many places, particularly large cities. I think it’s rooted in the history of Texas, stamped on us like open spaces, fear of the unknown, the pioneer independence, the wait-and-see if the neighbors can be trusted mentality. Even immigrants from New York City seem to change when they arrive. They say we’re “friendly” and so we are in saloons, beauty shops and department stores but our houses are our refuges, our forts and we don’t invite people in too casually. At least that’s my experience. Well penned work – love the way the bumble bee bowling ball rolled around the periphery of your mind!

    • Another thing that makes my street unusual, is that the houses across the street have an alley behind them, and their garages are in the back. Only one of them EVER comes out into the front yard (if they do, it’s when I’m not around.) So, for all intents and purposes no one lives in seveen of the eight houses across the street from us. The other thing that bothers me about our neighborhood, is none of the houses hve living rooms, dens, or dining rooms with windows facing the street. Most of the houses don’t have front porch areas either, and you never see anyone sitting out front of their house. It’s as if the houses were designed for maximum privacy, which equates to maximum seclusion. I could go on and on, but you probably know what I’m saying before I say it. It’s definitely sad, and I don’t like it, but, what can we do?
      Thanks for the great comment!

  25. Steve E said

    Next door neighbor and I wave, and utter an occasional “Hello” or HOW ARE YOU…FINE! Today I decided we would pull down that curtain, paint the bowling ball ONE color–no stripes–and we had coffee, and find our abour each other…he is more than. much more than “FINE!”

    Aside from that inspiration from your piece, it is so well written, almost as an organized afterthought. Thank you, Charles.

    • Wow! That is really cool that you did that. And double cool that it turned out well!
      Thanks for the great visit and comment!

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