Musings from My Younger Self | My Mother

I recently rediscovered a poem I wrote about my mom when I was a teen. Her 86th birthday is the perfect time to share it on the blog. It is a simple poem, but it captures my mom’s temperament, lovingkindness, and character.

My Mother 
Chandra Lynn (Age: 14)

Patience and kindness
make up her face-
always taking her time,
never in haste.

A loving mother of ten,
grandmother of two-
so full of love
she doesn’t know what to do.

A dedicated mother,
a faithful wife-
it’s not wonder why
she enjoys her life.

Yes, we love her
all the same.
There isn’t a thing about her
that we would change.

This past year without my dad has been incredibly difficult for my mom, but God is clearly with her–as He’s always been–walking with her, holding her, and carrying her through the storms. She remains for me a beautiful model for responding to the dramas of life. Love her to pieces!

Happy Birthday, Mama!

#WednesdayWisdom | Some Days and Sunflowers

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I hope by tomorrow I can unscramble the load of words bumping against each other in my brain. For now, please enjoy the words of Ullie-Kaye. Her poem manages to capture my “some days,” which have been going on for a week or two. Thankfully, though, there were sunflowers.

some days
ullie-kaye

some days are hard. and when they are,
i allow myself to feel whatever it is
that my body asks me to feel and i respect
the time it needs to fumble and flounder
and fall a little. some days i am swallowed whole
by things too big for me to hold.
and so i set them down. i rest, knowing
that even when i cannot slay the beast,
i can lay aside my sword for a moment and
work on protecting my spirit instead.
some days my heart beats like thunder
inside of my chest. it is heavy. and loud.
and relentless. it does not listen to the
part of me that wants to silence the storm.
and so i take my eyes off of the noise and
fix them on quieter places. on music. and art.
and heaven. and trees. and i show myself
grace in the dark. even if i am shaking my
way through it. because some days i still
haven’t caught my breath from yesterday yet.


Note: You can find more of Ullie-Kaye’s work on Facebook or Instagram [click links]. You can also purchase her poems–which always seem to resonate–as 5×7 cards here: Ullie-Kaye Poetry.

The Storm

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I posted the poem above on my Musings Instagram page a few days ago. I marveled at how I sweetly captured my family’s intimate moment with a storm, and I was overcome with a flood of memories of stormy nights: the bunch of us (younger siblings) scared by loud claps of thunder piling into my parents bedroom; years later, my making a pallet on the floor in the hallway just outside their bedroom. 

I don’t mind rain, but I still hate stormy days and nights. 

The poem, written when I was 14, was tucked away in one of the folders in which I kept handwritten poem bits and drafts. Most of the poems were written between the ages of 12 and 15.

It’s funny that I knew long before becoming an English professor or even a writing student the importance of revision. I “preach” this to my students all the time—writing is revising is revising is revising. I’m not sure a work is ever in a final (that is, perfect) state. There are probably some New York Times bestselling authors who will pick up their books years later and see some things they wish they could change. 

I think I’ll have some fun with this poem and see where it takes me—not as a revision but as an adult take on the subject. Wait. Kate Chopin already did that! 😀 For a steamy “storm” story, see “The Storm” by Kate Chopin.

lightning by jplenio

Musings from My Younger Self | Three Country Heartbreak Poems

52Frames Week 10 Low Key

“Wilting Sunflower.” My submission for 52Frames Week 10: Low Key

Tonight I’m dropping in to make good on a promise I made last month—to share some of the “country heartbreak” poems of my youth.  I really have no idea what I was exposed to that made me write them. They might be based on songs I listened to, soap operas I watched, or even books I read. I repeat: I.have.no.idea.  By today’s standards, I lived a pretty sheltered life, so even though the subject matter of the poems is not comical, my knowing I had little to no first- (or even second-) hand experience makes these poems pretty funny to me. 

I wrote all three poems the same day, about a month after I turned 15. There was a note at the top of “Guilty” that “all grammatical errors were done on purpose.” 

Guilty! 
Chandra Lynn (Age: 15)

I turned my back
and you’re headed on another road.
Well, I’m glad you’re gone
‘cause I don’t want you no mo’.

Comin’ home late ev’ry night
wit’ whiskey on your breath;
I’m telling you now,
nothin’s happened, not jus’ yet.

‘Cause when I git started,
I’m gonna go rough,
‘cause it’s no-good punks like you
who make a woman’s life tough.

So when you’re found guilty,
don’t act like you’re surprised.
Your pathetic life
is gonna flash before your eyes.

Promises! Promises! Promises!
Chandra Lynn (Age: 15)

You promised you’d come back;
you said you’d be back quick.
You promised we’d get married;
you put me in a fix.

Well, now you are back,
only two years late;
now, you’re married,
and I’m not your mate.

You said you love me,
but how could you?
You’ve hurt my feelings
and double-crossed me too.

Now, here I am,
a heart as cold as ice;
I am so heartbroken
that I cry all night.

You made too many promises,
promises you didn’t keep.
You told me you love me,
but the love you had wasn’t deep.

Our Illegitimate Child
Chandra Lynn (Age: 15)

Life has no meaning now—
You have gone away.
I gaze out my window,
praying you’d come back some day.

Nothing seems to happen;
I guess, that’s how it’s meant to be—
I take two steps forward,
and you turn around and leave me.

Nothing or no one can replace you
or your smile,
only this one reminder—
our illegitimate child.

Yes. I know the poems are problematic and flawed, but as I told an Instagrammer who offered unsolicited tips on improving one of my “youthful poems,” adult me is going to let teenage me be who she was as a writer. If you’re not already following my Musings Instagram, click here to follow: Musings from My Younger Self.

Follow My Musings!

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Please forgive my unplanned three-week absence. My brain held me hostage and wouldn’t let me write posts. That’s a post for another time (maybe); for now, I am dropping in to let you know, I did a thing! 😀

I created an Instagram page just for the “Musings from My Younger Self.” I launched it earlier this month (on my birthday) and have been having a “fabulous” time going through the cringe-worthy writings of my youth. The plan is to post to Instagram as I am curating a collection or two or three!

I am slowly desensitizing myself to the “cringe-factor,” but I am finding that the hardest thing to do is not edit my younger self, to simply let her be. She was insightful, funny, and disciplined in her writing practice–I can learn a lot from younger me! 

I’ll be sure to share with you what I’m calling a few of my “country heartbreak poems” later this month. For now, please check out one of the poems of my youth in The Gumbo Collective, the online literary arts journal of Oakwood University: Purple Rose.

And if you’re on Instagram, be sure to follow my musings. Feel free to comment on the writings of the decades younger Chandra Lynn, even if you find them cringey too: Musings From My Younger Self.

Musings from My Younger Self | What Is a Friend?

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Yesterday I found another two folders packed with poems written by younger me. Apparently, at some point in my “teenagedom,” I put together an extensive collection of writings divided in five parts, complete with introductions. I even used Roman numerals. Whew! I might have been more focused as a teenager than I have ever been in my adult life.

Finding even more writing almost makes me want to extend sharing my musings for another week. No worries. I won’t, but I am sharing a poem from one of the folders this evening. 😉

What Is a Friend?
Chandra Lynn (Age: 13)

A friend is someone you can tell
your innermost thoughts to:
someone you can share your secrets and dreams with;
someone you can turn to for comfort
when things aren’t going as you wish;
someone you can trust;
someone who won’t let you down;
someone who’s there even when [s]he isn’t.
someone you admire and find joy in;
some who can give and take criticism;
someone who’ll understand when you face difficult problems;
someone who shares your tears;
someone to love. 

I was surprised to find this poem written shortly after I turned 13—before life got too complicated. Don’t you just love the innocence of youth? 

Musings from My Younger Self | Crucified

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Today, I am sharing two short poems, both written when I was 16. The common thread is their reference to Christ and the crucifixion. One is written from the perspective of a witness to the crucifixion; the other underscores how we participate in his crucifixion over and over again. 

I Remember
Chandra Lynn
(Age: 16)

I remember His face and His questioning eyes.
I remember the tear stains that streaked His face.
I remember the last words which He uttered.
I remember Him lowering His head to die.

Crucified, My Lord
Chandra Lynn (Age: 16)

The blood that spilled from His side
and from His piercéd hands
was more agonizing
than it was the first time—
I’d crucified Him again.

I don’t remember the context of my writing “Crucified,” but I do recall that “I Remember” was written for a creative writing class my junior year in high school. The assignment was to write a short poem, in which each line began with the words, “I Remember.” 

Be sure to tune in tomorrow. I’ll share one more “musing from my younger self” before moving to another topic in my effort to post every day leading to my blogiversary.

Ciao!