Muse in the Gift Box

Muse in the Gift Box

Each year, the Florida Writer’s Association publishes a collection of member’s writings inspired by a theme.  This year’s theme was “Where does your Muse Live?”

I entered and was one of sixty selected out of hundreds of entrants for publication in this year’s book. The cover is at left, and the book will be launched at the Florida Writers Convention in October.

You get to see my entrant first!  Here it is:

My muse resides in a gift box under my hat; that’s where it’s at.  “Imagination” is her name.  She begins to percolate and germinate ideas and rhymes that are released when one of the four following “keys” opens my box:

1. Observation.  If one is going to be a great writer, artist, or speaker, one must become an observer of life and the world around him.  When it gets dark, and coincidently, when we sit down for dinner, five toads gather on the window by the dining table to catch insects attracted by the light.  We delight in watching them wait motionless, and suddenly jump to grab something.  Toads on the window. That’s unusual. Maybe there’s a rhyme there.  Rhyming is my fun gift.

Five toads on our window,
What did they do?
They tried to catch bugs and millers to chew.
And sometimes they caught a mosquito or two.

They joined us for dinner, and to have dinner too.
We watched them eat; did they watch us too?
Our time was up, and dinner was through,
We left the table, and the toads left too.

2. Visualization.  Forming a mental image of things that cannot be seen seems to get my “imagination” working. After reading in the Bible about going to Heaven forever, I began wondering what would I do for eternity.  What would I be happy doing forever?

They say that we’re going to Heaven,
With wonderful things there to see.
But what can we do for eternity?
What’s Heaven really going to be?

I know there’ll be sailboats in Heaven,
And a beautiful deep blue sea.
There’ll be bells to ring, and songs to sing
Because Heaven is made for me.

I’ll play my harp in Heaven,
And sing with the angels ‘neath the blue.
There’ll be music to play, and rhymes to say,
For God knows what I like to do.

My time in this world is not over.
There’s lots more to do and to see.
I don’t wonder or worry about Heaven,
Since I know God, and know He loves me.

3. Determination.  I started a poem, and then couldn’t find a rhyming word to finish the stanza.  Perhaps call it persistence, not inspiration, but there is work to change and search, to try different words, to change the other lines, and to work with other words until there is a rhyme.  Sometimes inspiration comes under pressure, and is released by effort.  My wife said, “Can you write a baby poem for our friends baby shower to go with her gift?  I need it Saturday.  That gives you two days.”   Two days!  “Imagination”, where are you?”  It took some work, but I made the deadline!

A new baby on the way;
Wonderful news! Wonderful day!
Nine months wait will soon speed by,
And then you’ll hear that newborn cry.

Doesn’t matter girl or boy,
Either way it’s a joy!
New life is an awesome thing,
Your heavenly gift will come next spring!

4. Recollection.  I remember when I was in high school, I would go to the country club on weekends to work as a caddy.  A beginning caddy got $1.25 for carrying a bag for eight holes.  The best part of working as a caddy was that at the end of the day, we could shoot a “round” of golf ourselves.  I loved being on the golf course, and the challenge of the game!

There is no sport that I can name,
That lifts the spirit like this game.
I’m as happy as can be,
As I step up to the tee.

I smacked a drive, a perfect shot,
Straight away, right in the slot,
Right down the fairway — watch it roll,
To bounce right in, the waterhole.

I hit the ball right off the tee.
It flew so far, I couldn’t see.
When I found it, woe is me,
It’s sitting right behind a tree.

My favorite ball hooked in the rough.
Finding it is really tough.
I wonder what that dog is doing?
Hey! That’s my ball he’s chewing!

The greatest pleasure I have seen,
To watch a ball bounce on the green.
Then make a beeline for the pole,
And go right straight into the hole!

I feel my racing heart swell up.
When the ball drops in the cup.
What can a game of golf be worth?
A touch of Heaven on the earth.

“Imagination” lives in my gift box.  I believe that God created my gift box, and put the gifts inside.  Now I know exactly where my muses reside.

Once I Was A Kid – get the whole book!

It all began when…

I raised my foot to stomp on the ants on the big rock by the house, when Mom grabbed my arm and said, “Wait!  How would you feel if you looked up to see that giant shoe coming down on you?”  I squinted my eyes shut as I looked up into the bright summer sky, and imagined the bottom of my tennis shoe gradually filling the sky above me.  Scary!

Mom and I got down on our hands and knees and watched the ants going back and forth.  She asked, “What do you suppose those ants are doing?  Look at that one, he’s carrying something.  Maybe it’s food for the queen.  Imagine how important you would feel if you were carrying food for the queen!”

Yes!  Imagine!  Imagine, indeed!  My lifelong journey with imagination, and empathy for God’s living things had begun. 

Come enjoy with me some fun things I did, and happy days I had, as a child growing up on my grandfather’s farm, in the whole ebook: Once I Was A Kid With the Wild Things On the Farm.

Once I Was A Kid can be purchased at an introductory price of $0.99  wherever ebooks are sold.

Example:  If you have an account with Amazon – go to their website and type in the search bar – “Once I Was A Kid Robert Z Hicks” – to bring up the book.   If you don’t have a Kindle app – you can download their free app and the book will be downloaded to your device (computer, phone, or tablet).

OR  use the link below to all the ebook digital stores where Once I Was A Kid is available.  Click on the digital store of your choice. Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook),  Apple (iBooks) etc.

https://www.books2read.com/RobertZHicks

If you are inspired to write any comments on the site where you got the book, in their “write a review” section, it would be much appreciated.  It will really help get the book listed on the sites sales records.

115. “Hello” Barney

115.  “Hello” Barney

One spring day I rode my sister’s bike a half-mile down the highway to the hunting and fishing shop.  I met a kid there I didn’t know who had found a young crow that had apparently fallen out of the nest and been abandoned.  The kid had clipped the crow’s wings so he couldn’t fly, and tied a string to his leg so he couldn’t get out of his bicycle basket.

The crow was a forlorn sight, with wings drooping and head hanging down.  When the kid said his dad was going to help him slit the crow’s tongue so it could learn to talk, I knew he was really ignorant and had no feelings for the bird.

I traded my old baseball glove for the crow and took him home to show Mom.  I knew what she would say, we’d keep him until his wing feathers grew out, and then let him go.  I also knew that Mom would work her special magic with creatures to nurse the crow back to health, and temporarily at least, I had a pet crow!  I named him Barney.

I must admit, I was surprised when Mom fixed a nest of clean rags for Barney on top of the old refrigerator in the back room in the house.  The room was a small unheated workroom that housed laundry tubs, workbench, pantry shelves, and the old refrigerator.  Barney perked up right away with his high “command” position, good chicken feed, and lots of tender loving petting.  He must have felt safe because he didn’t try to get away or leave his nest.

Mom confirmed that slitting a crow’s tongue was a cruel myth, and wouldn’t make any difference.  In fact, after I said, “Hello” to Barney a few dozen times, he clearly answered, “Hello.”  When my sister tossed a little red rubber ball at Barney, he caught it in his beak!  He dipped his head, and flipped the ball back toward us.  It didn’t go very far, but a crow, playing catch?  Amazing!  Imagine that!

After Barney was better, I took him outside and we ran together up and down the driveway.  His feathers had grown out, but I didn’t know if he could fly or not.  He probably didn’t know either.  I gave him a little toss in the air and he spread his wings and coasted down, that’s all.  Then one day, we heard crows cawing in the tall maple trees by the side road beyond the orchard.  I tossed Barney up, and he flew away in their direction. “Well,” I said, “there he goes, I’ll never see him again!”  However, a short while later, Barney came flying through the orchard and glided down to land at my feet.  He never flew away again.  I don’t know if the wild crows rejected Barney, or if he didn’t recognize them as his relatives.

So Barney lived out his days as a pampered pet, always on the ground, and living in a cool spot on top of the refrigerator in the house.  I guess Barney never knew he was a crow.

BARNEY THE CROW

Barney didn’t know
That he was a crow.
He never perched in a tree.
He just walked with me.

Barney didn’t fly.
We all wondered why.
We all thought he would,
But didn’t know he could.

I tossed him way up high.
I thought that he would fly.
He circled once around,
As he floated to the ground.

“Barney! You’re absurd!
You really are a bird!”
I suppose if he could talk,
He’d say, “I’d rather walk.”

Barney learned to talk,
He didn’t make a squawk.
He really said, “Hello,”
Amazing for a crow!

He finally met a crow!
He flew up to say, “Hello”
Way high up in a tree,
And then flew back to me.

I guess the other crow
Didn’t know, “Hello.”
Barney came back to me
Where he preferred to be.

Barney and I had fun.
We’d walk and talk, and run.
He never lived in a tree;
He lived in the house with me.

Why didn’t he fly away?
He wanted to stay and play,
‘Cuz, Barney didn’t know,
That he really was a crow.