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Joan Barrett Roberts

Joan Barrett Roberts


POEM: Forever Here I Walk These Hills
by Joan Barrett Roberts

I walk these hills
On this November day
Cool mist layered air
Rich in harvest smells
Pine needles among the oak leaves
Sharing and relinquishing pungent oils
Peacefulness and blessings to this day
Forever here I walk these hills
I walk these hills
On this November day
Baked Honey Crisp apples and apple cakes
Warm camp fires
With embers wood smoke
Smoldering smells of Hickory Nuts
And Black Walnuts
Forever here I walk these hills
I walk these hills
On this November day
Pecan stands in the corner grove
This earth cups its hands
From the harvest red rubies and gilded golds
Thanksgiving for this day
Forever here I walk these hills
I walk these hills
November’s content
Knowing this low ebb
Playful dawn of winter’s slumber
Leave this restless heart behind
The silvery mercury of the day
The sun moves these labored hands
Forever here I walk these hills

Shadowleaves Blog, November 15, 2012
Bears Pont, Lake Ann, Bella Vista, AR

Hi, Joan. What a gorgeous poem! Tell us a little about yourself. I am a retired public school science teacher and a very new beginner poet! I live in the beautiful Ozark Mountains on Lake Ann in Bella Vista, AR. This natural setting has inspired my writings as well as my ongoing recovery with my personal health struggles including a chronic heart disease and Lupus. I only mention my health as it has been life changing for me over the last ten years.
After we moved back to Arkansas, my older sister, Katy, and brother, Mickey, passed just six months apart. This began my most difficult time in my life and it has become a personal journey back to finding joy each and every day.
Through social media such as Twitter and Facebook, I have met poets from all over the world! By discovering and writing poetry, it has truly opened a new chapter in my life and shown me once again that beauty is always with us each and every single day, if we just take time to see what is ordinarily invisible!


So very true!
How do you usually become inspired … image, emotion, music, video, or meditate?

Inspiration comes many times just by something that moves me, I see or notice. Sometimes it is just allowing me to be in a space, observing life. Sitting in silence discovering what’s around me.Yes, I love music and art – emotion inspires me. Focusing on the present moment, really listening and seeing; I need to be immersed into my environment and simmer for a while. Also, my dreams sometimes wake me up with a whole poem or a thought I must write down before it’s gone.

If you had to choose one word to describe your poetry themes, what would it be?
Ozarks! I’m in love with the place, I find it is where my heart is, my home. Also, my heart is moved by issues of poverty and the things we abandon.

What makes a poem to you?
Carl Sandburg says, “Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.” I love that definition – as shadows and light are one of my inspirations too. Also, William Wordsworth says, “Poetry is a spontaneous outflow of powerful feelings.” Tell me it isn’t so? I find personally poetry is a way to move feelings into thoughts. To try to understand myself and what I am feeling. I believe everyone is a poet, an artist, a musician, a singer . . . a soul painter!

Free verse or form and if form what one and why?
I tend to write in free verse as it comes in a suddenness allowing a flow of emotion not constrained — all at once words just come. However, I do appreciate learning about form and the challenge of writing in a particular way. I gravitate toward Haiku and Tanka forms. Also, I love to paint a picture, story or an idea using just a few words, capturing a special moment in time asa feeling becomes thought!

Do you remember the first poem you wrote for the sake of writing poetry, and not an assignment? Do you still have it? I don’t remember my very first poem. I didn’t ever write poetry until college. My first three writings, Chicago Sidewalks, Roadside Signs and Exiled, Picking Eggs for $2 a Day, focused on social and environmental issues. It wasn’t until recently that I have considered myself a poet.

What direction do you feel you would like to go with your poetry?
My next steps will be to walk through my previously written poetry and find ones to share with others. Becoming more active in author and writing circles, attending a Writer’s Residency at Dairy Hollow Writer’s Colony in Eureka Springs, AR this year to make my first chapbook! Also, hoping to start a readers group sharing and editing poems to include in a first book of poetry.

POEM: Exiled Picking-Eggs for $2 A Day
by Joan Barrett Roberts

President Obama makes a rose garden announcement
for 800,000 immigrants under 30
you can stay
“It’s the right thing to do”
temporary work permits for two
a reprieve – a temporary fix
you won’t be deported
banned or driven out
we raised you
we worked your parents
picking eggs at $2 dollars a day
hauled in by company greyhounds
recruited and brought to the USA
by good ole’ American companies
giant bill-boards placed – signed up the great American promise
for a better life
after WWII congress passed a bill
placing immigration rules on hold
to allow companies to hire
immigrants to work in our fields
and meat-processing plants
they said not enough American workers
we must fill the gap of unwanted jobs
you have always been invisible
hidden and brought to our streets
people talked
but you didn’t speak
trying to make sense of it
with no questions asked
just wondering whether they would send you back
and close the door
underage no problem
the whole family worked
even the small children
what a bargain
a modern day caste play
slavery newly recreated
educated by federal dollars
flowing into town
spent locally on anything but migrant
new rules helped aim the mark
but if students missed 10 days or more
they would be dropped from the rolls
exiled to the farm
abandoned to work
no need to graduate
you were needed for work
instead of learning
housed you in the fields
in abandoned shanty houses
no running water and a mud floor
up on the mountain tops
–where no one would ever see–
educated you and fed you
let you be our football stars
and shoot our hoops
played with our children if only in school
joined in our armies and fight our wars
heroes came home and some not
dated your kind and married
worked our labored fields
built our houses
everything was fine
until you left high school
now it ain’t’
nothing works
can’t get a decent job or even apply
no social security number
no driver’s license
your are an illegal, no papers
can’t even enroll in school
thought you was an American
but no, not
didn’t even know
some parents became American citizens
you’re not, cause you’re underage
with no way out
chasing the American dream
kicked along the roadside
exiled and feeling the pain
the American dreamers
held hostage by unpassed dream act
banished from participation
marooned by the streets
found living between coming and going
living in the shadows
spoken of no more
forgotten by choice
can’t even describe the scene
left undone
banned, ‘I can’t come around no more’
working only for the man’
at a low paying wage
no protection under the law
–because you’re an exception–
stuck unwanted
by the very country who let you stay
to pick their chickens and fields of hay

~First published on Shadowleaves Blog, June 19, 2012
~Also published in Poetry and Prose Magazine, November 2012, Edition on-line  p.40
Writing Notes:
Twenty-five years ago, I was a migrant education teacher in Hunstville, Arkansas where corporations such as Tyson’s and Swift’s actively recruited across United States borders and provided transportation to immigrant families from Mexico with promises of jobs, housing and medical care!


Thanks so much for your beautiful, profound words, Joan. If anyone else has questions for you, they will appear in the comments below.

Where to find Joan: LINKS–>
Facebook Page Shadowleaves

Bears Cove Joan