Poetry Book Arrives at Perfect Time

If you haven’t told your best friend how much you love them recently, call or write them a note and tell them now. Tomorrow might be too late.

Perhaps you noticed my weekly Monday blog post never showed up last week. My nearly life-long friend, Kay Jewett Nalbone, died on Sunday. Although not unexpected, it was difficult to accept.

When you’ve been friends for 57 years and shared each other’s joys and struggles, you have a bond. What it boils down to is that I no longer have a friend with the same memories I have.

Another long-time friend from my graduate school days, Ray Griffin, didn’t know Kay and was not aware of her declining condition. It was serendipitous that Ray’s new book of poetry arrived in the mail on Monday. If ever I needed a collection of poems to sit down with and relax, it was Monday and Tuesday.

The name of Ray’s book is Winsome Morning Breeze: A Collection of Sonnets and Tanka. It is available online or you can request it at your favorite independent bookstore. It is beautifully illustrated with watercolors by Marti Dodge.

Many selections in Ray’s book resonated with me for different reasons. Having lost two good friends since February, the last two lines of “I Was a Fool” on page 21 has special meaning for me:

“To live one’s life most fully and with zest,

One must not ever let the moment rest.”

“On Dragon’s Tail” on page 19, on the other hand, brought a smile to my face as Ray eloquently wrote about his experience of driving the portion of US-129/TN-115/NC-115 in the Appalachian Mountains known as The Dragon’s Tail due to its 318 curves in 11 miles. It is a favorite of motorcycle and sports car enthusiasts and a fun drive for those of us who love to drive in the mountains. What fun!

Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

And here’s a lovely turn of phrase from Ray’s sonnet, “Fallen Leaves” on page 109: “I feel as though I am within a large kaleidoscope.”

“Daughter” on page 107 brought tears to my eyes as Ray recalls the birth of his and Ida’s daughter 31 years prior. I remember sitting on the floor and playing with their precious daughter when she was just four or five years old.

Ray and I studied political science and public administration. He had a successful 26-year career as a city manager. He is now an adjunct professor of politics in Virginia. His poems, “Barbara Jordan” on pages 85-87 and “I’m But an Old Man” on pages 73-79 are as heartfelt as any pieces in the book. I could hear Barbara Jordan’s distinctive voice from the Watergate hearings as I read the poem he named after her.

I hope I’ve shared just enough from Winsome Morning Breeze: A Collection of Sonnets and Tanka, by Ray Griffin to whet your appetite. It will be a book I will reach for often. I will read it over and over, and I believe you will, too.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. I’m reading Shiner, by Amy Jo Burns and We Wear the Mask: 15 True Stories of Passing in America, edited by Brando Skyhorse and Lisa Frazier Page.

If you’re a writer or other artist, I hope you have productive creative time during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Be safe. Be well. Wear a mask in respect for other people.

Don’t be shy. Share my blog!


19 thoughts on “Poetry Book Arrives at Perfect Time

  1. Janet, my heart goes out to you. I’m so sorry for the recent loss of your friend. May your memories help. I’m also sorry for the true loss of missing that memorial service, a chance to grieve more fully, and to remember in the safe embrace of others. I too have missed attending the memorial service for a dear friend (and mentor). Was that a new loss or did it just make me feel the original one more deeply? Either way, I feel your pain. Thank you for choosing to stay safe.


  2. Thank you, Janet. Not being able to be there to console friends and be consoled in the way that comes naturally — that safe embrace you spoke of — is truly something I grieve for as well as the loss of the friend. Thank you for your thoughts and concern.


  3. I’m so sorry for your loss, Janet. You’ve written a beautiful tribute to your friend. You have certainly enticed me with this poetry book and you made me want to take a ride on Dragon’s Tail. I hope you are enjoying Shiner. I have read so many good things about that one.


  4. Thank you for sharing.

    On Mon, Jul 13, 2020 at 6:49 AM Janet’s Writing Blog wrote:

    > janetsm posted: ” If you haven’t told your best friend how much you love > them recently, call or write them a note and tell them now. Tomorrow might > be too late. Perhaps you noticed my weekly Monday blog post never showed up > last week. My nearly life-long friend, Kay Je” >


  5. Beautiful thoughts, beautiful words that reach into the soul and caress and make the sad things, the hard things that we must face in life a little less sad and a little less hard. I will await your next post as I too try to reach in and find words that transcend and reach the heart. All the best, stay safe and wishing you a lovely weekend,
    From Spain,


  6. Thank you, Jennifer. I am enjoying Shiner. I had to force myself through the parts (and there are plenty of them!) about snakes, but the characters are compelling and I couldn’t let the snake-handling scare me away.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi, Neil. Yes, a life of 100 years even seems short the older I get. It makes me realize that we really aren’t very far removed from those who lived two or three hundred years ago. Stay safe and well.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you for your lovely comment, Francisco. You have such a gift when it comes to words! Stay safe and well, and I hope you will also enjoy your weekend. Best wishes from a hot and humid North Carolina. Janet


  9. It is so sad how we take life, family and friendship for granted until something happens, I know I have. I am so sorry Janet that you lost two of your dear friends and I am happy you shared Ray’s book.

    Liked by 1 person

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