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A Promise Comes

For some reason this poem came to mind this morning. I wrote it in 2006 but it seems appropriate I should share it again today, the day after Labor Day.

I was taught at a very young age: Never give up. Never quit.

~~~~~~~~~

A Promise Comes

 

The sunburnt harvest moon slowly rises

on the porch

Picture courtesy of Google Images

In the east on this late day in fall

A gentle breeze moves the porch swing

In the distance a whippoorwill calls

 

The neighbor’s dog down the way barks

While lightning bugs blink in the yard

Serenity wraps ‘round us like a shawl

‘tis forgotten that life is so hard

 

From the children’s room, soft giggles

As they play with their simple toys

Their lives are filled with struggles

And yet, they hang on to their joy

 

In evening dim we dream of olden times

The way it used to be

To go and come and just walk about

In a place called land of the free

 

We rise each day and do our work

As to the Lord, and not as to man

Doing as we are told to do

Singing hymns, we work the land

 

We know not if our wait be long

But know alone, we won’t carry this load

And soon we’ll rejoice and praise our Lord

A promise comes down the dusty road

 

Copyright © 2006 C. Mashburn

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Don’t Go There

the veil(2)It’s happened several times in the past, but it seems to be happening more frequently as I get on in years. I’ll be sound asleep in the early morning hours when a voice—clear and audible—awakens me with but one word; my name. “Charlie?” Yes, it comes in the form of a question; an almost searching but perhaps curious lilt to it. Sometimes I feel as though the voice is asking for my help, other times it seems to be reaching out to help me; as in, What are you doing, Charlie? Don’t go there.

I’m never quite sure who the voice belongs to, but after I’m fully awake for a few moments I discern the voice to be my mom’s. Always though, I’m never certain.

Afterward, I feel no fear or dread, but it does make me wonder. First, I wonder if there’s something wrong with mom—she lives 400 miles away—and then, sometimes, I wonder if there’s something wrong with me. This morning, for the first time since this began happening, I wondered if this happens when I come to close to “the veil”, as in dying.

I know, it’s a morbid thought, and maybe nonsensical too, but it came to me this morning, so I’m writing it down. What if—for reasons unexplainable—I approach death in my sleep and God uses Mom’s voice to call me back from the edge because, quite simply, it’s not my time to go.

I wonder.

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Many Years Later

boysMy new book, Just A Boy, will be coming out in a month or so, and I hope you’ll read it. It’s mostly about growing up in a small town during the 50s and 60s but it’s also about growing up in the dark shadow of an angry, confused man. The book is full of good stories, some of them funny, and some of them about me just being a kid, but I felt like the other stuff–the bad stuff–had to be touched on as well.

When I’m beginning a new book, my thoughts wander in a random and jumbled fashion (Don’t say it, Gary Williams) and then they start forming sentences, paragraphs, and pages. And usually, that’s when the book begins. While the first book was about a boy, the second will tell the tale of that boy becoming a man (Gary!). That said, this morning I woke with the following thought on my mind, and thought I’d share it with you. I’m quite sure the following paragraph will, in some form, appear in the second book:

I realized what had happened when I was a child was my dad made me fear him, which made me angry at him, which made me hate him, which caused me to become like him. And then, many years later, I realized all that had happened when I was a boy, then a boy becoming a man, had eventually helped make me a better me. I’m certainly not trying to say I’m a good man, mind you, but I will say this; I’m not afraid, I’m not angry, and I don’t hate.

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Soup in My Fly

I thought y’all might could use a little Monday morning giggle!

A Fly In My Soup

 

There’s a fly in my soup, I shouted 

A hush fell over the room                       

The big cook with one lazy eye                  

Stared straight at me…. I assumed

 

Slowly, he walked to my table

A pin dropping could not have been heard

Said, say it again ‘bout the bug, my friend

And it may be your very last words

 

Well baloney, I thought and then I said, what

To me you’ll not speak to like that

He gave a big grin, looked right at me again (I think)

Then the soup hit my lap with a splat

fly in soup

Laughter uproarious filled the room

I blushed and then leapt from my seat

Looked up at my huge assailant

And then hastily beat my retreat

 

Arrived at the house much disheveled

The wife said, oh me and oh my

Dear I must ask you this question

Did you know you’ve got soup in your fly?

 

Copyright © 1998 C. Mashburn

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A Fathers Day Tribute

My grandfather, Luther “Bunk” Stringer, was a man whose life, in my opinion, was of historic note, and his story deserves to be told and remembered. He was by far the best man I ever knew and he was my hero. If I’m one day considered to be even half the man Bunk Stringer was, I, too, will have had one hell of a ride.

One Hell of a Ride

 

Come over here and sit for a spell

Lend an ear, I’ll give it a bend

I’ve been known to tell a tale or two

Of things that were, or might have been

 

With words I’ll paint a picture of days

When I was young and I was lean

Of days I sat tall in the saddle

Long ago when just a teen

 

I’ll tell of the time I met a girl

Who made me blush and act the fool

The most beautiful girl in Texas

Was no mistake they called her Jewel

 

I’ll tell you about the sunlit days

                              Out on the north Texas plains

Where I chased the steers that wandered

                                 ‘cross the hot mesquite filled range

 

I’ll tell of how I sat atop my mount

         On a hill as I pondered and dreamed

             Dreams of what lay beyond the hills

                   Far places I’d never been

 

I’ll tell you ‘bout some of those places

For a bit of traveling I have done

                                Oh, I wandered from ocean to ocean

                              In pursuit of that brighter sun

 

     But all roads lead me back here

                         Now I’ve lost the lust to roam

And so you find me here on this porch

       In Texas, my home sweet home

 

No, I don’t have much to show

                               For the eighty some years I’ve lived

For I lived hard and I loved hard

                            I gave this world all I had to give

 

But cry not when you look upon

             The few things I leave behind

My life was full of love and laughter

            And I had one hell of a ride

Copyright © 1996 C. Mashburn

 

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I Want To Be Like Billy

This is a repeat, but it bears repeating. God puts people in our paths to show us the way. I wish I could’ve realized it sooner; maybe I would have paid better attention. Fortunately, the lessons he showed me with the people he sent my way took root. It just took me awhile to realize it.

Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. Psalms 25:4

God sends special people into our lives for us to learn from. Today, I’d like to tell you about three very special ones He sent my way.

Judge Billy Meck was my Sunday school teacher when I was ten. I didn’t spend a lot of time with him, but he left a lasting impression on me. I remember him as one of the kindest, perpetually happy men I’ve ever encountered. I want to be kind and always happy like Billy.

just us kids 2

In case you can’t tell, Billy Ray is the one on the right. The other two are pretty special too. (I’m the beanpole on the left. Kenny is the hot dog below me, and sister, Patsy is the beautiful little girl in the middle.

Another Billy who left a lasting impression on me was my little brother, Billy Ray Mashburn, who died at fourteen in a car accident two weeks before I graduated high school. Billy Ray could look at you with those big blue eyes—fighting back a smile, so as not to crack his forever chapped lips—and you couldn’t help but smile back at him. Billy Ray loved everybody and everybody loved Billy Ray. I want to love and be loved like Billy.

My oldest son, Billy (he goes by Bill these days, being grown up and all) is the Billy I admire these days. I don’t know anyone who can match his work ethic or his love for his family. He’s a good man, a good husband, and the most devoted father I have ever seen. I am so very proud of my son. I want to be a good man like Billy.

I’m working on it.

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Speaking of Gary Williams

What? … Oh, I know we weren’t speaking of him, but I saw a post his sister, Karen, put on Facebook, and it made me want to share this with y’all again. He’s a fine fellow, and he just loves to poke fun at me about some of the adventures (incidents) I write about. I don’t mind; the old fart is getting along in years, and his memory isn’t that sharp anymore, so I let him prattle on. I know he doesn’t mean any harm, and when it comes to being quick witted, he’s pretty much a non-threat. But enough about that; let me tell you how me and ol’ Gare squared off for the tennis championship one fine spring day.

………………

minion tennis I was a junior, and Gary was a senior (again). He’d been on the tennis team all six years he was in high school, and because of the longevity of his career, he was the best player on the team. Of course, everything is relative, and you have to understand that nobody played tennis at our little high school in those days—except girls… and Gary. He was the only guy on our tennis team, and thus, as I said, the best we had.

We did, however, have to play tennis in PE class. It wasn’t something most of us enjoyed—except Gary—but it was only for a few weeks each year, and we tolerated it. Gary hated it, because most of us—even some of the freshmen—could beat him. He was, by the way, undefeated in conference play. The school refused to haul him to away games, and none of the other schools in our conference would bring one guy to our campus just to play Gary. But! He never lost!

It was pretty comical when tennis season would roll around in PE class. We all had to wear the basic PE uniform; blue shorts and a white T-shirt, but not Gary. No way! He showed up in his starched white shorts and dazzlingly bright white polo shirt, with this red scarf around his neck. He kind of reminded us of Snoopy when he does the Red Baron thing, except—thank goodness—Gary wore pants.

Gary somehow fell mysteriously ill during PE tennis season his senior year. Rumor was he had mono, but we all knew he couldn’t possibly have that. It was common knowledge you got it from kissing girls, and there was no way Gary could have gotten it. Just sayin.

Due to an unfortunate miscalculation on his part, Gary showed up for the last day of PE tennis. He tried to fake a fainting spell and get excused but Coach Ramsey just grinned and said he’d have to play. It was the last day, as I said—the day we had our tournament—and as you might guess, I wound up playing against Gary for the championship. It wasn’t like we had a big double elimination tournament or anything like that; we simply blasted the ball around the court until most everybody got tired and took a seat on the benches beside the court. Gary and I happened to be the last two on the court.

I walked up to the net—Gary stood back at the serving line, eyeing me warily as I approached—and when I arrived at the net, I said, “One game for the championship?”

Gary looked over at all the other guys and Coach; they were all grinning at him, and he turned red as a baboon’s butt in the summertime, then yelled at me in his high-pitched voice, “You’re on!” It was more of a whine than a yell, but I’m trying to give him some credit for at least accepting the challenge.

I won’t bore you with the details, but I beat him pretty soundly. Not that I was any good at the game—I wouldn’t admit it if I was, because it wasn’t cool to be good at tennis in those days—but, truth be known, Gary was simply too big and slow for the game. He likes to tease me about how slow I was back then, but I heard one of the baseball coaches laughing one time and saying how Gary was slower than a moose in a mud bog. It was sadly true.

So there you go; the story of how I beat the school tennis champ at his own game.

 

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