What is Normal


Our free range playgrounds of childhood have died.

We no longer live connected, but rather side by side

We know each other by first name only

Some live isolated and feel quite lonely

Gone are the days of front porch swings

Where friends may gather as evening begins

And lovers sit swinging hand in hand

It was wonderful // Life was grand

Our doors never locked and curtains seldom pulled

Kids ran free and no threat while at school

Played in the woods // climbed trees without nets

Disappeared all day and played with their pets

And if we ever needed help from a friend

We knew who to call // that neighbor round the bend

Seems the new normal arrived long before Covid

As life had already changed  // no matter what we did

Photo: Dwight L. Roth


This poem came to me after reading Reena Sexons poem:


Nothing is Permanent


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I was sad to receive word last week that that my childhood neighbor had passed away at age 94. He was such a creative and talented man and father of a my childhood friend and playmate. When I saw him two years ago, he still had many good memories to share. It reminded me once again of the impermanence of life.
100_0192 (2)        It has been over fifty years since I lived next door in my childhood home, which now gives the impression of impermanence as you can see. This evening Merril, at d’Verse Poets Pub, asked us to write a poem that reflects on the significance of impermanence.

Nature reminds us
Everything in life changes;
The sun still rises.
But houses deteriorate;
And good friends and neighbors die.
Photo: Dwight L. Roth

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Night Fliers

Masontown Neighbors sledding 001 (3)

Sixty years ago, when I was twelve, we loved to go sledding in the moonlight. The bright full moon shone down on us as we sailed down the hill, past the mail boxes, on our sleds. All the neighbor kids joined in for a fun evening in the cold. Those were great times.

Mem’ries of snowfall
Bright Wolf Moon shines down on us
Sliding down the hill

Photo: from our family album

Frank Tassone asked us to write a Haikai poem that alludes to the Wolf Moon in January.

Join us at: https://frankjtassone.com/2020/01/04/haikai-challenge-120-1-4-20-wolf-moon-okami-tsuki-haiku-senryu-haibun-tanka-haiga-renga/

The Joy of Friendship

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Today, I am grateful for friendship. Over the years I have had some of the best friends anyone could ever want.  Friends come and go, but the feeling of connection is always there. In the photo above are two friends who live down the street. Danny is my age and is blind, and David lives right across the street from him. They both wanted me to teach them to play the guitar, so last January we started to get together twice a week.  We play and sing all of the old songs of our past. David learned very quickly, but Danny has taken longer due to his sight disability. We have adapted, by letting Danny play the home chord all the way through the songs, while David and I play all the chords. The clash of chords is not noticeable most of the time. We have great fun together.

Grateful for friendship

Young and old bring me much joy

Thanksgiving is here


Photo: Vera Payne

Today at d’Verse, Frank asked us to write a Haibun using a form of gratitude as our prompt. There are so many things in my life that I could be grateful for, but right up at the top is friendship. My connection between friends is second only to family.

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The three amigos (2)
She grew up in the bush of Alberta
I grew up in the sticks of Pennsylvania
With a very unlikely chance of ever meeting;
But, we merged at a confluence of lives;
Education in Virginia brought us together.
Moved to North Carolina to create a new life…
Flowing through time // working // raising children
Traveling back and forth like an ebb and flow;
Visiting our families separated by time and space.
All this the result of an educational confluence
He grew up in a small village in Barbados
She grew up poor nearby… washing clothes on a washboard
They moved to London // then to New York City.
He lost his sight later in life due to diabetes
She lost sight in one eye as well
Now we and they live down the street from each other
Where another confluence of lives and friendship emerged
The girl from Alberta // the boy from Pennsylvania
The girl from Barbados // the boy from Barbados
What are the odds of this unlikely friendship…
After fifty years of ebb and flow?
I now teach him guitar lessons each week;
Along with the young boy next door…
Whose mother is from Puerto Rico.
At age seventy-two we both have much to gain
In this rhythm we call life.

Teaching guitar to Danny and David (2)

Photos: Dwight L. Roth

Amaya, at d’Verse asked us to think about the ebb and flow of the earth as a living thing. The people and organisms are constantly flowing from one place to another. The migrants on our southern boarder are an example of this. Most of us in the US have families that came here from somewhere else. Today, I looked at my life over the years, and the places where the flow has come together in the most unlikely confluences.

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Red Brick Schoolhouse


When I was growing up, this little red schoolhouse sat just across the field from our home. When my oldest brother was five, he remembers wandering across the field to play with the school children at recess. Very soon after that, it was converted into a house. Our friend’s, the Kosacks, lived there with their daughter and a little black bulldog named Bowser for many years! It is amazing that 80 years later it is still standing; and people are still living in it. I took this photo in September, when I went back to visit my old home place, which did not fair so well.

Little red schoolhouse

Winter // children walked to school

Now a family home



Photos: Dwight L. Roth

Rationalizing Vice


Today we explore the seven deadly sins and the seven virtues (Vice and Virtue). Amaya challenged us to look inside ourselves and evaluate one of each. As I looked down the list of seven there was more than one I could have chosen. I decided to hit home and challenge myself with this one. These signs have appeared in welcoming yards across the country, since President Trump put limits on immigration.  Where do you stand,,, on the side of vice (Greed) or on the side of virtue (Charity)?

I must confess when I read the sign something inside me resisted

The Pharisee in me reared its ugly head // made me back away

Possessive greed required my allegiance // rejecting some who are different

Surprisingly, open arms and welcoming seemed foreign to my spirit

Questions arose: are they legal, are they dangerous, or perhaps the wrong color?

The story of our nation reveals

How quickly we took from welcoming native neighbors

Burning villages // killing them off // Relocating them to far away places

Out of sight // out of mind // the problem was now solved

We live here in luxury with guards, walls, and gates

Disinviting all who are different from us // closing eyes to the problem

Is this what it means to “Make America Great Again…”

Hedging ourselves in // using them to do our bidding

Or can we move from our vice to virtue with charity in our hearts

Saying,” No matter who you are // where you are from,,,

we are glad you’re our neighbor”


Sign Photo: Dwight L. Roth




Today on d’Verse~Poetry Pub, Paul asked us to write a poem about drinking! It could be alcoholic or not, or metaphorical. I decided to write about a childhood experience of playing with my neighbor and going through his basement where his father kept his empty beer bottles. The smell of the fermenting beer in the empty bottles has taken away the appeal to drink beer of any kind. To this day I have never had the desire to taste one. Here are three limericks that compose one poem.


When I was just a little tyke

Still riding my three wheeled trike

I passed through the basement

Where beer bottles in casements

Left foul sour odors in their wake


My neighbor really loved beer

To drink it gave him good cheer

Always Carling Black label

Bottles sat on his table

Empties sat in his basement it was clear

See the source image

Those sour beer bottles I remember

The smell the basement always rendered

It affected me so much

That I never did touch

A Carling Black Label // not one single


Top photo:  collectablesonlinedaily.com

Second Photo:    midwestsupplies.com

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One Eye Open, One Eye Shut


The neighbors were ejected from their home a few weeks ago. It was very sad to see. An eviction notice had been issued a couple of months ago. Most of us live in our homes without this threat. We have jobs or income to sustain us. But there are many around us who are not so fortunate. They tend to rotate in and out of our neighborhoods. Then there are homeless who have not means of getting a home. The situation is so enormous and overwhelming that in our minds we delegate them out to churches, community shelters or social services. Personally. I have very mixed emotions about this. Sometimes it is easier to close my eyes to it than to try to find a way to help. What do you think?

One Eye Open

One eye open the other eye shut

Through life we go

Friends and family all around

We love their exuberant hugs

Enjoy their joyous laughter

Welcome them into our home

But on the other hand…

We close one eye

Hoping not to know

Wishing not to see

The struggles others face

Who live nearby

Perhaps next door

Keeping to themselves

Sharing only first names

Telling no more

Until one day the sheriff comes

Ejecting them // putting a sign on the door

Amid loud voices and frustrated shouts

No jobs // no money to pay the rent

Now they are gone // the house is empty

Cleaned and prepped

For the next unknown family


Photo: Dwight L. Roth


Riding the Groove

Masontown Neighbors sledding 001

Growing up in Pennsylvania, ice and snow were a given every winter. We loved riding down the hill past my house. Those who did not have sleds rode double with us and we all enjoyed the fun. Sometimes we would come out at night on full moon and ride in the moonlight. Lillian from the d’Verse~Poetry Pub gave us the prompt groove for us to use in a poem. I hope you enjoy riding with me in the groove. The photo above shows all of us sledding on our hill. Can you guess which one is me?

Riding the Groove

Snow is falling the road is white

Packed down by cars’ spinning tires

Night has fallen, the temperature drops

But still the snow inspires

Out on the hill the neighbors gathered

Undaunted by chill in the air

Kids on sleds loaded down for the ride

Are seeking their thrill out there

Run and jump on, ride all the way down

Past the mailboxes garden and fence

Each time it seems to go faster now

We all watch how far they went

My Lightning Glider is ready, I know

As two at a time we go

A big push, he jumps on my back

Riding that groove of ice in the snow


Photo from family album: Our Gang!!

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