A Sunday in Spring


Drawing by Jane Conteh-Morgan

I have friends, you see, who send me things.
Not coins or cash but treasures of more rarity,
Snippets of beauty in words, sounds, and sights,
Surprising my soul one sprig at a time.

Where do they come from
And why are they here?
I will never know
And to ask is impolite.
This magic of life, it’s answer running too quickly to catch
Finds home with a robin or a thrush,
Then sits gently on a honey bee’s wing.

Never mind the value
For it is the worth that counts.
Avoid the income or yield,
Capture only the moment
As your palm tries to hold it, but fails.

Accept my thanks as I glory in
The greatness of your gift.
As it grows in wealth and purpose,
I gather, one by one,
The collection of your creative soul.

Charlene James-Duguid
Amissville, Virginia


happy.jpgThere may be no such thing but
I’m off to find it.
Under bushes, tangled in branches,
The most unlikely of places.
Sewing baskets, caramel wrappers,
Old men’s socks
Or caught in little girl’s’ curls.

If it is, what is it?
The best of times, the worst of times.
The less said, the better.
Eye on the prize.
Nose to the grindstone.
Pedal to the metal.
No rest for the weary.
California here I come.
A warm puppy, or
Cup of cocoa on a cold,
Snowy day?

One thing is certain.
If it crops up in my
I’ll share

Half to be mine
And half to be yours.


Charlene James-Duguid
Amissville, Virginia


dresser.jpgWhere do you keep yours?
On the top shelf of a forgotten closet
Reached only by a rickety ladder,
Or the bottom drawer of your prized, antique bureau.

Are they haphazard in a torn paper bag,
Or deliciously secreted away in a casket encrusted
With precious jewels, bedazzled.

Not like any others, yours buried in the
Cradle of days before words were formed,
When sights held all the answers,
But evaporated with every cry for milk.

Born to the universal joke,
Each telling, asking, “Keep
Or discard?”
Will you
Guard it with your life
Or label of no value.

Yours and yours alone,
You fashion your hours
And endless years on these things.
Tossing, by mistake, in haste,
Those most loved.

Second thinking,
Just in time
You salvage the best
Of the most
Carrying you through
Another day.

Charlene James Duguid
Amissville, Virginia

Joyce’s Dog

dog.jpgBear is an informed dog,
She looks at me asking,
“Which of us will die first?”
She with her bandy legs,
Or me without the juices
To sustain life.

What a dog!
Black Lab, of course,
Are there any others?
Sheer extraordinaire!

In that moment,
It was but an instant,
Her eyes glazed over, catching
Mine, astonished by her stare,
We examined, together, the question of

Dog years.
Human years,
Merely the passage of time
Till one of us calls it quits.

Not a contest,
Just the way it is.
Who comes in first or after?
How will it end, in peaceful slumber
Or chaotic outrage, with lullabies
Or brass bands.

That knowing dog surely has the answer,
But she doesn’t intend to share it with me.

Charlene James Duguid
Amissville, Virginia

Coffee Kiss

GettyImages-1214614109.jpgThe last one I gave him
Because he never returned
Or I didn’t survive
Was caffeine laced with almond creme.

If only I had flossed my teeth
And brushed my hair,
The memory might have been

parted us more happily.

As lovers we might recall passion
When the tastes were fresh on our tongues
Meeting mid-mouth, dismissing fears of

It was not the same as a peanut or chocolate
Kiss, with lasting power rolling round our mutual
Nostalgia morsels, transposing palpable yearnings
Into full-blown desire.
But it didn’t happen.

My locks were stringy
His beard unshaven.
A lackluster peck
would have to do till a strawberry milkshake
Smooch would smack us silly with desire
Until then.

Charlene James-Duguid
Amissville, Virginia

Dying Old

GettyImages-1157240898.jpgShe is on her way to die.
She will cease to care.
Stop eating.
Forget the time,
And slow down her heart.
Breath will be difficult
And coming hard, she will breathe more.
Malnutrition happens.
Her soul slowly leaking out.

Another dies.
A mere one,
A tiny one,
A lady
With her hats and three good stories to tell.

The honeysuckle is faint here.
All souls are alone now.
The breeze, so calm, tells
Tales to the grass
And waits for the sun to fade as it leaves.

I settle back to sleep.
Dream another world into being.
No empty benches there,
No birds without a song.


Charlene James-Duguid
Amissville, Virginia

Death by Papaya

papaya.jpg“Put’m up, Lady.”

“What! You’re not a Glock, you’re a papaya.
And how dare you invade my home,
Break down my door, and intrude
On my sleep.”

“Lady, I said hands up.”

“Well, it didn’t actually happen like that
But it might have, unexpectedly,
No notice, far from the ordinary reaction
To eating dried fruit.”

Who ever heard of an allergy like this.
Yes, I have moderate difficulty with
Cat dander, leaf mold, and dust
But not delectable tropical fruit,
Not an allergy to papaya.

Oh well, next it’s going to be
Yogurt, chicken soup, or
Green tea. Where will I be then,
Existing on air and water?

Sustaining life with no delights,
Victimized by this chemical plant
I call a body
Telling myself, if it happens again
I’ll take extreme measures, cut Trade
Relations with countries south of here,

Or at the least,
get a kiwi for

Charlene James-Duguid
Amissville, Virginia

Country Living

IMG_1956.JPGIt holds untold reasons for being.

Turkeys roosting in your trees,
Bears ambling by when least expected,
The gravel on your road echoing its own sound
With every boot-clad step.

You wonder how tall your trees are,
How many split rail fences each would make.
You speculate.
If it is possible to measure their reach to the sky
Without climbing to your death, would you?

And the birds, oh the birds!

Setting aside the spectacular varieties,
You spend a day watching a dark-eyed junco
Measure the acreage for her nest.
Will she select the perch
And not the fan blade, please.

Or, you can foolishly close your eyes,
Blind your senses.
Just a tree, just a bird, just a bear,
Missing out on the excitement of
Simple sounds,taking off en pleine air.

Charlene James-Duguid
Amissville, Virginia