Purple Mountain Majesty

Katharine Lee Bates was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970 and in 1893 as a Wellesley College professor she traveled to Colorado Springs to teach summer school.  While there, she visited Pikes Peak, the highest summit of the southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.  The view inspired her to write the poem that would one day become the song ‘America the Beautiful’, which is one of the United States’ most famous patriotic songs.  The words, particularly the phrase “purple mountain majesty,” are said to have been inspired by Bates’ stay in Colorado.  ‘America the Beautiful’ first appeared in print in the weekly journal The Congregationalist, on July 4, 1895.

As Katharine Lee Bates was looking at the view of the Rockies from Pikes Peak, she saw the sea-like expanse of fertile country spreading away so far under those ample skies, that the opening lines of the hymn floated into her mind.  When she left Colorado Springs the four stanzas were penciled in her notebook, together with other memoranda, in verse and prose, of the trip.  The Wellesley work soon absorbed time and attention again, the notebook was laid aside, and she did not remember paying heed to these verses until the second summer following, when she copied them out and sent them to The Congregationalist magazine which was founded in 1872 and contained Methodist stories that inspire, inform, and uplift used for people to connect.  The hymn attracted an unexpected amount of attention and it was set to music by Silas G. Pratt.  Other tunes were written for the words and so many requests came to her, that in 1904 she rewrote it, to make the phraseology simpler and more direct.  The poem was sung with a variety of tunes, but a tune composed in 1888 by Samuel A. Ward ‘Materna’ that was previously known as ‘O Mother Dear Jerusalem’ was adapted as its melody.

Katharine was a prolific author publishing many volumes of poetry, books on her travels to Europe and the Middle East and stories, verses and plays for children.  She also published several books on Shakespeare and pre-Shakespearean English Religious drama.  Perhaps her second most famous piece of work Goody Santa Claus on a Sleigh Ride, which was written in 1889 added to the legend of Santa Claus by giving the fabled old man a wife who actually accompanies him on his Christmas Eve delivery rides.  Katharine Bates invented Mrs. Claus because she thought that Santa could not possibly do all of this work by himself.  Mrs. Claus takes responsibility for the sleigh and the reindeer while her husband makes his deliveries via the chimneys, but on this one occasion she was actually allowed to descend a chimney herself to spread her own bit of Christmas magic.  Bates died on March 28, 1929 at the age of 70.

Written for Sue Vincent’s Thursday photo prompt.

Take Four Birds

In the Koran, Abraham questioned Allah as to how he would give life to the dead.  Allah told Abraham to take four birds, tame and train them so that they depend on you, slaughter them, cut them into pieces and the set a portion of them on each hill, then call them and they would come flying to you with haste.  Maybe I have gotten this all wrong, as for me the Koran is not very easy to read, but it seems like a very similar story is being told in Genesis.  The descriptions of Abraham’s life as found in the Koran are strongly influenced by Jewish traditions, as they both incorporate Abraham’s disputes with his idol-worshipping father and his conflict with the wicked king Nimrod who cast him into a fiery furnace.

Abraham was told by God that he and his offspring would possess the land as God had promised, and when he requested some reassurance the Lord told Abram to bring five specific animals before Him, which Abraham did.  Abraham carries out a bloody-but-purposeful covenant ritual as he cuts the heifer, goat, and ram (all three years old) in half and he to lays each half opposite the other.  He did not cut the turtledove or pigeon in half.  The birds were able to soar up to heaven, thus representing salvation and healing and meaning the covenant could not be separated.

Written for Sue Vincent’s Thursday photo prompt.

Sinks with the Boat

You only need to know a few folding tricks in order to make your own vessel to navigate the water’s currents.  I wanted to watch my paper boat which I painted green, as it made its way out to sea, that is if it didn’t get stuck in those waterlilies.  I opened up a bottle of Yoo-Hoo, because I wasn’t able to get hold of my dad’s rum and I poured some of the contents onto the bow to christen my boat Sea Biscuit, but I was not sure if would sink or float.  I launched it in the creek just under the bridge and since my favorite toy was Gumby and I knew how much he enjoyed going on adventures, I put him in my boat.

Gumby was flexible enough to pilot Sea Biscuit past the waterlilies and he looked like a champion as he steered past the rocks that were jutting up, making a classic move around them that showed his skill.  The rocks created turbulent zones, but Gumby maintained control as he went past a frog that just grabbed an insect with his long tongue.  I ran through the field alongside of the creek and I almost stepped on a snake which made me fumble my candy bar, which I got from the market.  That sneaky snake was a master at deception, but I was sipping on subterfuge as I knew his camouflage was no match for me.

The water started flowing more rapidly and I could hear the water falls ahead and I wanted to have a good spot to watch Gumby plunge over the falls.  Gumby was my favorite toy, but I had grown tired of him and besides that my friends made fun of me for having a stupid toy that didn’t ever do anything cool.  Well this would be a cool end for him and it would make me happy to see him bash his rubber head and drown.  I would not miss him, or get the Blues from him not being in my life, but on the other hand we were friends for many years and he would not be forgotten.  I wondered if Gumby might be eaten by a lobster after he sunk with the boat.

Written for Sheryl’s Daily Word Prompt – Fumble, for the Daily Spur prompt – Champion, for FOWC with Fandango – Classic, for May Writing Prompts – Sipping on subterfuge, for Ragtag Community – The Blues, for Reena’s Exploration Challenge #136 prompt – Painted “Sinks with the boat” where we are supposed to write about any one line from her poem, for Di’s Three Things Challenge prompt words – Field Skill Market, for Sue Vincent’s May 21, 2020 Thursday photo prompt and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Forgotten.

Crop Circle Phenomenon

Many people believe that the first crop circles came from Satan himself around 1678, yep that guy with the horns and pointed tail using a scythe to make these mysterious designs in a field of oat.  In 1966, near the small town of Tully, Australia flying saucer nests were located, after a farmer heard a hissing sound and then claimed to have seen a flying saucer rise from the swamp and fly away.  The farmer saw a roughly circular area of debris and apparently flattened reeds and grass, which he assumed had been made by the alien spacecraft (but which police investigators said was likely caused by a natural phenomenon such as a dust devil or waterspout).  Further investigation revealed another hidden among the thick swamp grass, which was smaller than the first.  One was swirled clockwise and the other anti-clockwise.  Also found was a completely bare rectangle in the reeds, in which the plants had been uprooted and disappeared from the vicinity.

A round impression in a lawn or grassy area is not necessarily mysterious (as anyone with a kiddie pool in the back yard knows).  Indeed, mysterious circles have appeared in grass throughout the world that are sometimes attributed to fairies, but are instead caused by disease.  The sun sets on a field in and when it rises again the following morning, that field has been transformed into an enormous work of art.  A large section of the crop has been flatened into a pattern of circles, rings and other intricate geometric shapes.  Are these crop circles the work of alien visitors those little green men, or a natural phenomenon, were they created by electrically charged currents of air, caused by the earth’s magnetic field, made by mini-tornadoes, or are they elaborate hoaxes perpetrated by savvy, talented and very determined circlemakers? Believers and naysayers each have their own theories, but the truth remains elusive.

I will never tell, but to get to the right location, a person could follow that well-trodden pathway made by the farmer’s tractor through the field of mown wheat and then use stilts to conceal their footprints and avoid marking the crop.  Once this circle maker gets to the middle, they could use a combination of stalk-stomping techniques to flatten the crop, marking the outside perimeter of the circle by planting a stake at the center, and attaching a string to the top of this center stake so they could walk carefully around in a circle.  They have to make sure that they hold the string taut, or otherwise the circle will look sloppy.  It might be a good idea to bring along some night-vision goggles so they can see where they are going in the dark field, and to keep from getting caught this should be done on a moonless night.

Written for Sue Vincent’s March 19, 2020 Thursday photo prompt.


She was afraid that her top would come undone, so she tested out her bathing suit under a torrent of water and to her surprise it held up.  She was not sure if she should embrace or conceal her feminine traits.  She loved the way her new bathing suit looked on her, but it was so revealing and she was basically a shy girl.  She wore it because it was in style, and girls all across the country started wearing bikinis.  She thought about wearing it as a mutiny against her parents, as her mom preferred her to wear more subdued clothing, which always made her feel as though her body was something to be ashamed of, and this caused her a lot of humiliation.  The suit would work out great for being in the water, but it did not hide an inch of her body, instead it exposed so much of her, all of those girly parts that she never wanted anyone to see.

She always heard people say that there was no need to have breasts any bigger than a mouthful, but at sixteen, she was still flat as a post.  The truth often hurts and she was tired of wearing A-cup size bras, but she knew there was no method available for her to flex her chest muscles to increase her breast size, as this could only be done by improving her posture, and pushing her breasts further forward to make them appear to be firmer and fuller.  She would never win a beauty pageant title and she was OK with that, but she had to get off this merry-go-round of hiding her body in public.

Written for Sheryl’s Daily Word Prompt – Mutiny, for the Daily Spur prompt – Post, for FOWC with Fandango – Top, for March Writing Prompts – The truth often hurts, for Ragtag Community – Afraid, for Reena’s Exploration Challenge #125 prompt – Women and womanhood, for Di’s Three Things Challenge prompt words – Flex Title Merry-Go-Round, for Sue Vincent’s Thursday photo prompt – Torrent and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Country.

Astronomical Monuments

Standing stones are found all over the world, and most were erected in the Stone Age between 5000 and 2000 BC, although in Western Europe their major development occurred in the third millennium BC.  The monuments are set in stone so that they specifically to line up with the movements of the Sun and Moon, although scientists and historians continue to debate their purpose, construction, and meaning.  A lith is an indicating stone or rock like a megalith that is used to construct a structure or monument, either alone or together with other stones.  A menhir is a tall, vertically placed standing stone, whilst a dolmen is a table-like structure comprising a large slab laid horizontally on two smaller stone supports called orthostats, which are large thin slabs.  A cromlech is about the same thing as a dolmen and they were the first stone structures to be built in Wales and they even pre-date the pyramids in Egypt!  How were these enormously large structures built with those extremely heavy stones long before the creation of the wheel, let alone any other modern technology?

Sticks and stones may break my bones, and words may conflate to form a different meaning.  Aristotle and Galileo both observed swinging stones, and where Aristotle saw progress toward a state of rest was achieved, feeling that the sideways perturbations were accidental, while Galileo saw the swinging to be essential and the eventual cessation was accidental, caused by the phenomenon of friction, which was only first studied by Leonardo Da Vinci.  Some stone structures are thought to delineate a sacred space, perhaps leading people toward an area of worship, while a popular legend says that the wizard Merlin turned rows of people into stone.

Working with stone is regarded as a primitive skill and nobody really knows or understands the reasons why these complex structures were built.  It certainly took a lot of skill, and workmanship to accurately place and position these formations.  It is hard to resist thinking about how these great big stones were transported to the site where they were finally erected.  These ancient gregarious people certainly were full of zest, enthusiasm and energy and this must have been personal for them and they probably felt like a star is born, when they were completed.

Ancient people may have been just as smart as we are today and the Polynesians who built the stone statues on Easter Island were probably able to focus better than us, because they weren’t affected by the distractions that we have today.  The monuments will last for a long time, but they will eventually become spoilt by erosion.  In the photograph above, the stones appear to be dark and although their presence dominates the landscape, the absence of color exists in most of these structures.  I find them to be scrumptious, and I developed an appreciation for stone after I helped my father construct a stone barbecue pit for the backyard of our summer home up in the Poconos.  It incorporated a hand turned spit, which could easily accommodate a whole pig, but I would have to split a lot of wood to cook something that big.  A stone reading desk is very rare, but they do exist in some very old churches that were built in the thirteenth century.  Legend has it that a headless horseman rides by one of these churches at midnight and there is a pot of gold lying at the bottom of a dark pool guarded by an evil presence at another church, but you can’t believe everything that you read on the internet.

Written for Sheryl’s Daily Word Prompt – Conflate, for Roger Shipp’s Daily Addictions prompt – Desk, for the Daily Spur prompt – Resist, for FOWC with Fandango – Zest, for Christine’s Daily Writing Prompt – A star is born, for Linda G. Hill’s ‘Life in progress’ JusJoJan prompt – Scrumptious, for January Writing Prompts – The absence of color, for Ragtag Community – Gregarious, for Di’s Three Things Challenge prompt words – Spit Split Spoilt, for Sue Vincent’s January 9, 2020 Thursday photo prompt – Presence where the image shows an old photograph of a pathway lined with standing stones leading through a flower-filled meadow and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Personal.


I sat on the kerb with Herb, or if you are from the US, you might call it the curb, but me being from Brooklyn I spell it as curb, but pronounce it as kerb.  We watched as the lot across the street started burning and we were appalled that someone had started this fire in our neighborhood.  When the police came, Herb started singing, “We didn’t start the fire, it was always burning since the world’s been turning.”  It did not take much of an impulse to trigger Herb into putting on a performance, as he was always willing to take the leap and accommodate a crowd of people, ever since he was the lead Munchkin in a play about the wizard of Oz.

The trees in the lot were bare of leaves and it had been a very dry Summer, so this lot was ripe for a fire.  When it wasn’t so dry, we would see green, orange, puce, and yellow hues, the colors most often associated with earth and nature in this lot, but now all we saw was a brightly lit pall of white smoke showing through the trees and like all boys do, we tried to discern the pattern it was making.  The fume had a strong smell and I am sure that it was dangerous to inhale, but we were lucky as it was not blowing in our direction.  I told Herb that I could see shadow monsters in the smoke as it looked like the head of a dragon leading the smoke up, up and away.  Herb said it looked more like Pegasus because the smoke was pure white.  I started to get hungry, so I said to Herb, “We should go to Pegasus Pizza, because they flat out have the best crust.”

Written for Sheryl’s Daily Word Prompt – Impulse, for Roger Shipp’s Daily Addictions prompt – Play, for the Daily Spur prompt – Performance, for FOWC with Fandango – Accommodate, for Christine’s Daily Writing Prompt – The wizard of Oz, for December Writing Prompts – Shadow monsters, for Ragtag Community – Puce, for Di’s Three Things Challenge prompt words – Crust Kerb Flat, for Sue Vincent’s Thursday photo prompt – Fume where the photo shows a line of leaf-bare trees outlined against a pall of white smoke, brightly lit from within that appears to take the shape of the head of a mythical beast, for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Tale Weaver #256 hosted by Michael – Trigger and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Leap.

Change Your Evil Ways

As I was in dreamland last night, the ghost of Christmas future came to me with an offering that she would let me see what fate had in store for me, if I promised to stop beating my wife.  I was prone to violence when she got me mad, or didn’t do what I told her to do.  I have been known to hit her, kick her and I have even chocked her on a few occasions, but each time she got on my nerves, so she deserved it.  It started on our wedding night, when I saw her sucking face with her cousin, who does that, so I smacked her around to get her back in line.

I grew up in an abusive house and my father always made sure that he kept power and control over my mom, so I figured that my behavior was normal.  I stopped hitting her after she got pregnant, but that lazy bitch loafed around the house all the time complaining about how much her feet and her back hurt her.  It took a lot of restraint for me to keep from going off on her during this time and my rage just continued to build.  After the kid came, I started beating her again, mostly because it made me feel good to know that she lived in fear of me.  This became a vicious cycle, one which I was not able to stop, even though I did feel bad after hitting her some times.

One day she called the cops on me and I was arrested after the police saw all of her bruises.  I had to spend a night in jail and get bail money from my brother the next day.  My wife changed all the locks on the house and when I told her to let me in, she responded by telling me to call her lawyer.  I lost my job after the news of my arrest got back to my boss.  My life was in the toilet and my spirit was being flushed into the sewer.  Everything became crazy as destiny caught up with me.

The ghost held out her outstretched hand which contained a bowl filled with a magical elixir and she told me that if I were able to repent for my sins and transform my life, that this potion would change the shadows that were currently plaguing me.  I shook my head and agreed, as I was too frightened to talk.  I drank from the bowl and the ghost shrank out of sight.   I woke up all full of sweat and found out that I was back in the present and it was Christmas morning.  I saw that my future would be bright ahead and I would never beat my wife again.

Written for Sue Vincent’s December 26, 2019 Thursday photo prompt – Offering.

This is the Place

I was told to drop the dead body here, because nobody would ever find it. I am a hit man working in the modern version of Murder, Inc., which is an organized crime murder for hire organization that is contracted to spread corruption and eliminate any threats.  I recently did a hit in the Ukraine and I may be called in for questioning on the impeachment hearings, which I will have to plead the Fifth Amendment, as I am sworn to secrecy, knowing that my life and that of my family is under constant intimidation.  I grew up in the Gambino crime family one of the five families that dominate organized crime activities in New York City and I was engaged in gambling, loan sharking, extortion, labor racketeering, fraud, money laundering and narcotic trafficking, until I realized that I had a talent for killing people and then I became a hit man.

The decomposed body was discovered by a fisherman who pulled her into his boat and investigators are trying to pin it on me.  They have started to call her the “lady of the lake” and publicity is building up because of this name.  Nobody knows who she is yet and she didn’t have to die, but she wouldn’t give up the information that I was told to get from her and it was sort of an accident when she slipped and cracked her head open.  I weighted her body down in the spot that was selected and this area is not known to be good for fishing, so it was felt she would never be discovered in this secluded bay.  I should have cut her up and dumped her into the sea, but it is too late now for second guessing.

Written for Sue Vincent’s November 14, 2019 Thursday photo prompt.

I Should Have Flown South

It is such a long trip to make
Temperatures are making me shake
Harsh winter came early this year
The magpie said with a tear
My feathers don’t cover my legs or feet
This will take the joy out of my tweet
I should not have been so lazy
If I catch a cold that will drive me crazy
I hope that I don’t start to sneeze
Or catch some awful disease
The last thing I want is the avian flu
If I get that, I won’t know what to do

Written for Sue Vincent’s September 26, 2019 Thursday photo prompt.