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Updated: Apr 25, 2019


Before revealing what we're doing for Mother's Day this year, I want to share a story that I posted to our Facebook page last year... the story of how I became a painter.


My mom's gift to me (top) and my rendition (bottom)

"My mom, Libby Perkins, was an artist. She mixed her paints on an aluminum tray, which I suspect was originally meant for food as it had shallow compartments similar to some Styrofoam plates. I was fascinated with that tray and relished peeling dried blobs of paint from it. I stored the blobs in a shoe box because they seemed too lovely to throw away. Some I glued to a sheet of typing paper, arranging them in the shape of a peace sign. Mom entered that thing in the Warren County Fair and it actually won a blue ribbon.


On my twelfth birthday, Mom called me into her bedroom to tell me she'd been feeling too sick to shop for a present and that she would like to give me one of her paintings as a gift.


Above her bed was a painting of a terracotta crock filled with flowers. She took it down and wrote on the back "To Marynell Perkins, given to her by her mother." She dated it, then hung it back on the wall for safe keeping. Thirty seven days later, Dad woke us up very early in the morning to tell us Mom had died during night.


Among Mom's belongings was an old tackle box filled with partially used tubes of acrylic paint, a bunch of brushes and an easel. I latched onto those items and began what proved to be, for many years, a love/hate relationship with painting. You see, I wasn't painting because I loved to paint. I was painting because I loved my mom. There's a huge difference. It took me a long time to recognize that and come to terms with it. By that time, I was totally in love with the process of painting in and of itself. I've no doubt that was my mom's wish for me all along."


I don't know why my mom started painting, but we lived in the charming town of McMinnville, Tennessee at the time. My nephew Jason, who lives there still, thought it would be wonderful for me to return there for an art show... of both my paintings and my mom's. I am so deeply touched by his idea I can hardly stand it! So that's how Matt and I will be celebrating Mother's Day this year!


Stephanie Fish has graciously offered up her awesome studio, The Doodle Fish, for our mother/daughter show. If you are in the area, we sure hope you'll stop by.


Show Location: The Doodle Fish Studio, 102 W. Main St., McMinnville, TN 37110

Show Dates/Time: May 10th and 11th, 2019

Show Times: 6-9 pm





Start with a simple descriptive piece about an image that captures your imagination. It's springtime (in the northern hemisphere, anyway) so go outside into some wild place and look all around you. Use all five senses to really experience the world. Pick something out. Don't try to make it "poetic" at this point. Just write down some descriptive lines...i.e., Old grey shattered tree with moss and young flowers growing in its hollow trunk.


Next, write down what the images you describe might symbolize -- in this example, maybe death giving life to the living, renewal, some such. The cycle of life. Next, write down how you feel about all of it. This is how you want to help the reader feel. You are conveying an image and evoking an emotion. Keep it simple and direct.

Then, once you have these materials, go home to your scrivening cave and invent a ritual that you will use every day to write poetry. Sit in your comfy chair and pour a glass of wine (or root beer if you're a youngster) or pack a pipe. Light incense. Whatever you like. Sharpen your pencil (always use pencil), practice zazen, anything that helps you become calm and focused. Do it every day in the same way. Repetition is essential. Look at your notes and try to figure out how they might go together. A visually descriptive line followed by a sad line followed a lovely and hopeful one. Some such. Once you've got a structure you can start searching for better adjectives and nouns. This is where you really get to start being "poetic." Make something that seems like a poem to you.


Next, get people to read it and give you some honest feedback. Did it work? Did they like it? Was it confusing? Collect some critiques and see how you feel about them. Use them for whatever purpose they can serve. Rinse and repeat.


Oh, and read my book. Heheh. See what I did there?

  • Nell

A couple of months ago, Matt demanded of his Facebook friends that they "write a poem right now." Several of them did, and we were absolutely blown away by some of the poems they submitted. The one I share with you today is by the incredibly talented Morgan A. Herbold. Without further ado, I give you...


The Mayor of Coffee Town

by Morgan A. Herbold

We each and all pull down the vast indigo curtain and we flick the switches that turns on the myriad lights

He yearns to punctuate his boozy stupor with some friendly hot caffeine, but she beckons the weary and burned out man from off the streets of restless city nights with candles, incense, Mary Jane and the promise of open naked love

She knows better than to try and elude the bloodshot eyes of routine and judgment

She is the constant pilgrim, the aimless and endless wandering little star, the broken wind on the fallen leaves in the park across the street

And through it all, twenty-four seven, three sixty-five, I’m the Mayor of Coffee Town

He lights the day’s last cigarette and throws the pack away about ten feet from a trash can

She asks him for the night’s first light, dreading the drone and the drain of his life story to come

Those who oversee the commencement of yet another evening, they do so somewhat dutifully, but ultimately vacantly and with heavy-lidded eyes of sullen acquiescence

They take our orders and our menus and they give us our odd and sorted change as they give us the receipts of our over indulgence and they say that they wish that we could have a good night

Well, I oversee the dull and down-trodden overseers in the dawn to dusk to dawn again as yours truthfully, the Mayor of Coffee Town

I walk not a fine line all the time, but always a narrow and one way sidewalk where somehow, I always am the one who has to make way

I can seldom meet all of you half way with the exact change you always seem to need and I seldom seem to owe, but I always speak of compensating you in my most civic and forward voice

I say ‘please’, ‘thank you’, ‘pardon me’ and ‘good night’ to the sprawling yet distant valley basin of still and stubborn indifference and I am only answered with trembling and reverberating near silence

I helplessly watch in awkward slow motion as my clouds of Dominican smoke storm over the suddenly throbbing headaches and the rueful glares of maximum annoyance

But I’m only just so consoling and influential in my diminishing capacity as the Mayor of Coffee Town

We find the chords on too tight and tenuous strings in the wrong music we make

We hang ourselves nightly with our own and each other’s raw and rough ropes

We uphold the haphazard and meaningless infrastructure of our everydays together with frayed and corroded cables, presumably attached to assumptions and wished-for outcomes

We find the cords on the rig were insufficient to tie down the payload that would have substituted nicely for precious cargo; but chains seemed too severe and drastic

All of this endless work and useless worry for the Mayor of Coffee Town

Coffee is the warm and welcome commodity exchanged between new and old acquaintances for unspoken debts, new or way past due

Coffee is the language of the newly ancient (and more or less honorable) order of the day shifters and the nightly phantoms

Coffee is the channel—the line of encoded communication—transmitted to the tentative and cautious receiver and decoded with gradual cream and sugar

Coffee is the time and the place of the halted and stammering apology, the scorched and twisted or frozen and hollow confession, the quivering and blinking affirmation and the weary and nonplussed blessing

Coffee is, of course, not truly black, but reveals itself to the grateful smeller and sipper to be at first, a rich and deep dark brown and then finally, a single translucent drop and line of rust at the end of the conversation

Coffee is the breath and the blood, the single tear and the clumsy piss and coffee—bittersweet as it invariably is—always feels welcome, even in its gradual acidity; so don’t fuss and bother making room for cream and sugar, which can always be added as we go; just make room for steam

Time and place are not always of the essence within these city limits

Thought and action are not always as crucial as the bodies in the machines of the road constantly insist they are

Patience and protocol can sometimes be satisfied by those among us who are students of the constant traffic and who are true friends of the road

Love can take on a quieter, even stifled cadence and tone and love can even serve a lesser, more inconsequential purpose off of the rush and the rumble of these indifferent streets

Sometimes ‘good enough’ is good enough for me, the man with no apparent term limits; for me, the Mayor of Coffee Town

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