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By Denise Graham Zahn

The heavens would woo her for her eyes alone.  Penetrating blue they are, wide and wistful. The eyes are set in a wedge-shaped face, now creased with dark furrows crossing the brow.   With lightness, each footstep glides, as though the air would be enough to support her body, no longer lithe and strong.  A slight leaning to the right and a cocking of her head are the only visible clues of a stroke she suffered several years before.  She would not speak of it, however, if you asked her. She adjusts. 

An aura of grace surrounds her. She speaks and those around her listen, so not to miss the melody.  In gentleness she moves—knowing that no harm will come to her.  Her trust runs deep, and who would dare betray it?  A clever manipulator she is, with the wisdom age has given her.  She is not so old, though, that she shuns a frequent romp.  I think that is how she has kept her vibrance and vitality. 

More than anything, she is a friend from whom I could not bear to part.  She is a jewel, a treasure, a pearl of great price, who came to be my friend in the guise of a cat. 

By Denise Graham Zahn

I am a poet. Laugh, you may, but it is true.  There is so much in the world that needs to be told, and I am a teller.  Who better than a poet can tell of the beauty, joy and sadness in living?  You’ve never read my poetry, and perhaps you never will.  Nevertheless, I vow that I am a poet, and I will tell you why.

I see massive grey clouds rolling across a darkened sky and images of armies past marching to destruction appear in my mind.  A melody may touch my ear, and I flow with the beauty of the sound.  The sound begets a myriad of fantasies which fill my mind explosively.  Sometimes a feeling grips my body.  It is an indefinable sadness.  I shiver.  It pulls me—somewhere that I do not want to go.  It passes, but I remember.  These things I see and hear and feel as a poet does.  I put them all in storage for use on another day.  Now does this not a poet make?

Well, I’ll convince you yet.  There is a voice to be heard and that voice is mine.  My poetry is vocal, you see.  The voice can tell a story by the sounds it exudes.  A voice that ripples, flows, then lingers here and there is the voice of a poet. Words are so much more than groups of letters.  Words are beings without life until a voice fills them up and out.  A voice puts meaning in a simple word.  A voice can change that meaning over and again until you think it is not the same word at all.  I am a poet. I can do this, and I’m not a magician.  It must be clear then what I am.

But what is a poet without the words?  Well, I have those too!  I write what my heart designs. I do not speak of fineness or finesse.  I move to a rhythm no one hears, and I follow where it leads.  Without the words, what good the heart and soul with wells so full they’d overflow?  What good a voice with nothing to tell?  I am here.  Those words will come. Now, surely you know what I am.  Tell me I’ve convinced you.  There is no doubt, you see.  Poetry is not what I do, but it is what I “be.”

By Denise Graham Zahn

This information is based on a recent study to determine exactly why solitary shoes, though sometimes pairs, can frequently be found along the highways and bi-ways of our nation in seemingly outcast devastation.  The results may surprise – and horrify you.

While on the surface, these shoes appear to have been cast out for some unknown and indiscernible reason, the reality is far worse.  What research has shown, in fact, is that these shoes have not been cast out.  Far from it, these shoes, in true desperation, have, in reality, escaped. Yes.  It’s true.  They have escaped!

The question, then, is escaped from what?  What could be so horrific, as to cause these shoes to risk their very lives? This researcher has found, in fact, that an incidence of  single shoe escapes takes place once in every 100,000 pairs of shoes sold in America – most of these shoes belonging to teenagers.

Findings show that in most cases one shoe will escape its owner, leaving its mate behind, to seek what it believes to be a better environment, usually asphalt or pavement at the side of a highway or on a median strip.  Sometimes, however, if both mates risk everything and escape together, they dangerously seek the higher elevation that power lines offer.   This is an example of ultimate despair, however.   They simply hurl themselves across the lines in a death struggle that they will undoubtedly lose.  There they remain exposed to all inclement weather until their complete demise or till rescued by the power company.

These escapees are extremely aggressive in pursuit of freedom, projecting themselves from moving vehicle windows or truck beds, while their owners frantically wave their arms, leaving their mates useless without a critical left or right.  So determined and desperate are these aberrant shoes, that they show no remorse and will endure snow, sleet, rain and storms to remain in that environment—often for years—before being captured and sent to shoe Hell, the trash heap.

This information is dedicated to assisting parents in determining just which shoes their children are wearing may try to escape.  Be careful.  Even expensive shoes cannot be trusted to remain with its mate and teenaged owner.

The reason these shoes choose to escape their faithful owners to find a better environment can only be surmised, but often escapee shoes can be found to be less odiferous, as well as more sanitary than shoes owned by the teens—leading this researcher to believe that the life of a teen’s shoe is hard, and the only relief -- escape.

By Denise Graham Zahn

Approaches golden Helios
Upon the Wings of Morn
Resplendent saffron optimist
Inspiriting the dawn.
Prospectus of meridian
On Wings swift to convey
The harbinger of evensong
To yet another day.

Poised in quiet repose she sits watching the passing of time as one generation begets another within the safety of her arms. Protectively she watches as the transient black wheels of progress move into and out of her portal gates—stopping only for a moment to see, perhaps, but not feel.

That is my hometown of Attica, Ohio, if I may be so bold as to call her that, because actually my home was located five miles southeast of Attica.  We, I mean my parents, sister, brother and I, only lived there four years, the years when I attended Attica High School, fell in love and married.  Even then her arms stretched wide in all directions, reaching beyond her bounds to grasp my heart.

Her “Square” is located precisely at the intersection of US 224 and SR 4.  From there she has magnanimously guided the way for many truckers enroute west to Chicago and eastward to Akron, Youngstown, and even the mountains of Pennsylvania.  She has seen many a summer tourist heading north for a day of fun at Lake Erie, the African Safari or Cedar Point.  And just 80 miles south of her borders lies Ohio’s capital city of Columbus.

Attica is small, not as small as some towns, but still, she has only one stop light (two if you count the one that jauntily winks its amber eye at you, except during school hours when she commands that you stop).  Attica has all she needs to survive, though—a corner drug store, Decker’s Furniture, Sutton State bank, Heimlich’s Ice Cream, a truck stop, a grocery store—and a funeral home.  One never need leave her doors, if warmth is what you’re after.  Indeed, many have remained to raise their children as they were raised.

I took the truckers’ route westwad to Chicago, but Attica, Ohio and my home in the country hold many precious memories.  In truth, thought I left her many year ago—she reaches for me yet.

My high school years were spent living in a farmhouse in rural northeast Ohio.  Those years and that two-story house hold many memories for me.  Even now I can picture my hand on the newel post of the oak wood stairway banister leading up to the bedroom, which was my sister’s and mine.  In particular, I remember that bedroom.

The doorway into the room was on the east wall toward the southern corner.  Opposite the doorway was a window which overlooked the front yard.  Our twin beds were separated by a window on the north wall.  Across from that were two small closets at either end of the south wall with a small alcove between them.

On the windows were white Priscilla curtains.  My mother always seemed to have Priscilla curtains.  They gave the room a dainty, delicate look—an ethereal appearance when then sun shone through them.  It was a bright room, as those curtains allowed much sunlight in.  In good weather the opened windows let the fresh breeze in as well.  Even the walls seemed close to nature. They were covered with a million tiny yellow flowers on a white wallpaper background.  During storms the room became God’s drum as the tin roof rattled and rippled above us.  More than anything I remember the alcove.  The previous description of its location belies its significance to me.  It was mystical, or perhaps mythical.  The depth was about three feet (the same as the closets it separated).  The width was about four feet.  Set back in the alcove was our vanity, an old dresser with a mirror attached to it.  The dresser was painted white with springish yellow knobs adorning it.  The alcove was rimmed, as could be expected, with white priscillas.  It was an illusion from a fairytale.  The “alcove,” it even sounds like something from a story book.

Looking out of the room from the northern window, I could see the remnant of an orchard.  What was left were dead trees overgrown by a tangled web of sticker brush.  My mother spent many hours bringing that orchard back to life.  Beyond the orchard was a farm field, and further north was a creek which flowed in a southwesterly direction.  The other window opened to the front yard on the west.  There were a number of large trees in the front, and many birds considered these their homes.  When the windows were open, the birds’ noisy chirping was an inevitable alarm clock in the mornings.  The front yard was deep. At the point where the yard met the road were two very large lilac bushed on either side of a gravel drive.  A typical rural mailbox stood on a post just off the road.  On that road traveled the yellow school bus which took me to and from school during those years.  It is yet a vivid picture in my mind’s eye.

Those years, that house, and especially the view of my room and form my room made a strong impression on me.  Even now I love bright, sunny rooms and Priscilla curtains.  Perhaps the actual influence was my mother and not the room, but that room embodies for me a statement on life.  Everything I seek, all my dreams, are interwoven with my perception and recollection of that room and what it meant to me.