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Monthly Archives: March 2012

A Bright Orange Trumpet Vine…

~Excerpt from “Childhood Sanctuary” by C L Gillmore

“Next to the sweet peas, a bright orange trumpet vine winds up and over an
old T-clothesline pole. The thick, coarse vine is twisted and gnarled and reminds me of the ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ picture from my second grade reader.

At the end of each trailing vine are clumps of orange, trumpet-shaped flowers. This is where the ruby-throated humming birds wage ‘hummer warz,’ as they guard the precious flowers from all intruders.

Carefully I pull blossoms from the vine, one-by-one, and place the orange trumpet over each of my fingertips. Spreading my blossom-covered fingers wide, I wave my hands in the air in front of me and screech! “I am the good witch who frightens away all bad people who dare to take the princess from her castle!”

Squinting my eyes and turning slowly around, I survey the yard in every direction and decide there are no bad people here today. I let the blossoms fall from my fingers onto the grass and lick the sweet yellow nectar from each fingertip.

Honey. It takes like honey.”

I Still Remember…

~Excerpt from “Childhood Sanctuary” by C L Gillmore

In a row next to the forsythia bushes are several clusters of peonies, in pink, rose and white. I stop, bend down and cup one of the multi-petaled flowers between my hands and inhale. The perfume is sweet…permeating and envelops my face like an evaporation of sugar water. Black ants crawl over the unopened buds and onto my fingers and hands. I shake them off. Grandma told me they were good ants because they help to open the hard, round buds each spring so the flowers can bloom—those hard, round buds I cut off one morning to make pretend soup.

I gathered things from Grandma’s kitchen that morning…shears and a round blue and white enamel dishpan. Inside the dishpan I placed a long-handled metal spoon, two soup bowls, two soup spoons, two tea cups, two cloth napkins and an embroidered dishtowel…and headed out toward the peony bushes. I cut off each round bud with the shears and dropped them into the big dishpan, added water from the garden hose and mixed it with that big metal spoon. I tried a pretend taste and added some pretend salt and pepper. Delicious.

I carried two wooden lawn chairs from the back porch and dragged an old metal washtub from Grandpa’s shed for our table and arranged them under the persimmon tree with the washtub in the middle and a chair on each side. I covered the washtub with the dishtowel, set the peony bud soup in the middle with the big metal spoon resting inside of the pan. Then I placed a soup bowl, napkin, soup spoon and teacup on opposite sides of the washtub…and went to get my grandma.

There were no beautiful peonies to see or touch or smell that particular spring. But I remember Grandma smiled and told me how lovely everything looked and tasted as we sat under the backyard persimmon tree and shared my peony bud soup. She made me smile too.”

The Leader in Me

Everyone can be a leader in his or her own way
By helping others do their best through what we do or say.
It doesn’t really matter just how we look or talk
Or if we’re in a wheelchair, or if others help us walk.
Just by simply being here we help those around us see
That by gladly serving others we can find the leader in me.

~from Of Roots, Shoes and Rhymes by C L Gillmore

The Dance

A tentative waltz – sway, rise and fall.
Forward, side, back – a reflective recall. 

Letters and words now carefully framed.
Each thought rehearsed again and again.
No turn or nod is left up to chance.
Steps have become a well-practiced dance.

Cues and timing both cautiously guarded.
The familiar rhythm lost and discarded.
Each dancer wary of crossing that line.
A closed position of mutual resign.

How far the distance traveled in a beat?
A tentative waltz left incomplete.

by CL Gillmore

Forever Sunflower Friends

As a teacher of multiple disabilities children for over 25 years…the words to many of my poems came through inspiration as I watched their daily struggles…

Each and every letter I penned
Began in much the same way:
“On behalf of seventy special students today
Could you help and be a Sunflower’s Friend?”

For over the years, our numbers have grown
And now we need a place of our own.
A place where wheelchairs can come and go,
And fragile friends can swing to and fro.

A place to explore on hand and knee,
With things to touch when eyes cannot see.
Where trickling waters and fine white sands
Sift and flow over stiff, small hands.

A place where a special child can just be a kid.
To watch, to play, to dream at their bid,
With the sun in their faces, and the wind in their hair.
Unique gifts from God’s hand with so much to share.

Words seem so inadequate and somehow don’t relay
Just how very thankful we are to all of you each day.
For you truly caught our vision, you truly saw their need.
And now you will ever be forever Sunflower Friends, indeed!”

by CL Gillmore
Poem from the collection “Of Roots, Shoes and Rhymes”

Poetry and Painting

We hope you are enjoying our monthly presentation, our gift to you.

“Third Generation”
by Kathryn Henneman

by C.L. Gillmore 

I wait for them
Beginning in quiet,
Drifting along, silent
Through dappled streams of sunlight
Hovering along the surface of remembrance
Translucent visions from the past
Linking across, still
Ending in whispers,
They wait for me

Kathryn’s paintings and Cheryl’s poetry will soon be available in note cards and will comprise a twelve-month calendar for next year…2013!

View Kathryn’s paintings at


Listen, Look and Remember

“Listen for me on those quiet early mornings as waves lap and fall
Upon the shores while a hawk glides and soars gracefully over all.
Look for me in the whispered glow of a sultry summer night
As the waning light of a brilliant sunset fades quietly out of sight.
Remember me as winter’s laced, gray fingers secret away the sun
And sprinkle icy snowflakes on an eager, outstretched tongue.”


~excerpt from the poem “Listen, Look and Remember”

from Of Roots, Shoes and Rhymes”


Parallel Tracks Layed Long Ago…


~ Excerpt from  A Friend Request
by C L Gillmore Chapter One

“Parallel tracks laid long ago
Beginning at a place called yesterday,
… Where daydreams first began to grow
And tomorrow seemed so far away.”

Rockton, Illinois
Fall 2007


I watched as Ben trekked from the idling school bus, across the graveled bus yard and headed in my direction, his breath trailing back and then fading into the crisp, cold morning air. He was a big guy. Always was taller than me, even though he was two years younger. At six feet, he still looked pretty damn commanding in his faded green Army field jacket. The Green Bay Packer’s stocking hat added another couple inches. Nice touch. Ben Chapman always was a classy dresser.

Not quite as classy as Jake Richardson though. And then I caught a glimpse of myself in the rear view mirror, hair sticking out in every direction from underneath my faded, frayed Chicago Cubs baseball hat. Classy. Yep, I was a real class act this morning.

Geez, that field jacket had to be an antique by now. Hell, Ben and I were antiques now.

I remember when Ben came back from Vietnam in 1970 after being discharged out. He was wearing that M-65 U.S. Army Military field jacket when he stepped off the red, white and silver Trailways bus from Chicago. The jacket looked worn and frayed, used—like it had been through a hell of lot—and so did Ben. He aged in those two years. Not just physically. He was much older now than all of us he’d left behind.

He told me months later how very strange it was being in the jungle one day and the next on his parent’s porch back home as a civilian. I think that jacket helped him during the transition period. He’d worn it nearly every winter since then. He never talked much about Vietnam, what he’d seen or been through, and I never asked.

Hell, I still remember when he left for Vietnam. It was winter 1967. Ben was 18. I was twenty.

I’d just moved in with a couple of buddies, Jerry Parker and Max Reed, at Parkridge Apartments in Champaign. We were all taking classes at U of I during the day and moonlighting in a band called Common Bond at night. Jerry played bass guitar, Max played keyboard and I was the lighting and sound guy.

I think all the band members lived at Parkridge back then. Maybe. Hard to remember. It was a long time ago.

Ben and I go way back. Played together as kids. Both local boys who grew up fishing and hunting together in the green, fertile farmlands along the Rock River where our parents and grandparents homesteaded and farmed.

Ben was still living at home in Rockton when he called and told me he’d been drafted. I hated hearing that word, drafted. Somehow it made me feel guilty for my Class 4F status—registrant not acceptable for military service. I flunked my physical a few months earlier due to both a wool and metal allergy. I never had to worry about being drafted or about going to Vietnam. Lucky me. Not so lucky for Ben.

I wanted to see Ben before he left…in case he didn’t come back. That was a real possibility during the Vietnam War. Even in the small towns surrounding Rockton there were already young men who left and didn’t come home. They didn’t come home to their families, their farms or their lives. They died young and alone in a country nearly 10,000 miles away. A country none of them even knew existed before they stepped off the plane to defend it.

Ben hitched from Rockton to Champaign. Something only an 18-year old kid would do in the dead of an Illinois winter. But hitching back then was different than now. It was relatively safe and you were pretty much assured of a ride. And if they knew you were heading for Vietnam, you pretty much had a guaranteed ride to the front door of your destination and a hot meal on the way.

Ben turned up on our doorstep a couple of days following the phone call, suitcase in hand. A local farmer and his wife picked him up not too far out of Rockton and brought him all the way to Champaign, stopping only once for gas and cheeseburgers. Their son was already in Vietnam.

Ben stayed with my friends and me at Parkridge Apartments during those two weeks before he shipped out for Nam. God, what a fucking great two weeks we spent.

Spent. Good descriptive word now that I think about it.

After a couple phone calls, Jerry fixed Ben up with this tall, leggy redhead that first night he showed up at our door. What was her name? Laurie? Gina? No…Gloria. Yes, that was it. Like the song by Shadows of Knight…G-L-O-R-I-A! Gloria was just the ticket for a young man leaving for Vietnam.

It was a party from then on with Ben and the leggy redheaded Gloria, Jerry and his girlfriend Karen, the lead singer Cash and his wife Sam, and Max with somebody’s sister. Can’t remember whose sister.

Maybe Sam’s.

And me.

And Rose.

We partied hard, non-stop, day and night, for the next two weeks—tripping on mescaline and acid, drinking beer and wine, eating pizza and cheeseburgers and getting laid as much as possible—sleeping only after we passed out or from sheer exhaustion.

When you’re young and in love or lust the possibilities are sweet and you figure your time is endless. I think that’s what I figured anyway.

At the end of the two weeks when Ben left for Vietnam, he was wiped out, hung over and sporting the biggest smile of his young life as he climbed on the chartered Greyhound bus heading for Basic at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

There were eight of us huddled together for warmth that morning at the bus station—Cash, Sam, Jerry, Karen, Max, Gloria and Rose and me.

We watched through the fogged up bus windows as Ben walked down the center aisle, situated himself near a window and despite the bitter cold, slid the glass window open as far as it would go.

We shared a few last comments, jokes and bits of advice with him, trying to keep the conversation light for as long as we possibly could. He and Gloria held hands through the window. She sporting his big, clunky class ring on her left hand. She promised to wait for Ben and he believed her. He believed her because he loved her.

Could you actually be in love at 18 or even at 20? I knew the answer to that then and now. Love can happen at any age. There are no rules when it comes to affairs of the heart. You can fall in love just as hard and as deep when you’re young and inexperienced as you can when you are older and filled with experience. The capacity for the heart to love another shows no age preference. Love is timeless.

That morning our short time together passed in a blur of nervous laughter, forced smiles, fleeting promises and freezing temperatures. And before we knew…it was time to go.

Ben wiped tears from his cheeks with his free hand, clutching Gloria’s hand with the other, as we said and then waved our final good-byes. There were no dry eyes that morning, only frozen tears on bright red cheeks.

Tears for the lost innocence of us all.

Ben reluctantly let go of Gloria’s hand and then her fingers as the bus slowly edged away from the terminal and away from all of us…tires crunching in the snow, the smoky gray exhaust plume spiraling behind.

The open window framed Ben’s smiling face as we watched his right hand and fingers form the peace sign. In turn, we smiled, raised our gloved hands and flashed the sign back to him. We could still see his hand, raised in the peace sign and extended out the window as the bus made its final turn at the end of the block.

Peace. Love. War.

“Time it was and what a time it was…it was

A time of innocence a time of confidences.”

Simon and Garfunkel. Old Friends/Bookends. How was it that I still remembered the words after all these years?

“Preserve your memories…they’re all that’s left you.”

Our friend, my childhood friend, Ben was gone. We went back to our apartments, our part-time jobs, our college classes. Ben went to war in the jungles of a country called Vietnam.

It was a reality check for all of us that day. It was winter, 1967.

And Gloria, the leggy redhead—who made a fleeting promise to wait for him, like a thousand other girls did back then—sent Ben a “Dear John” letter after one month, along with his clunky class ring. She explained she’d met someone else and that she was sure he would want her to be happy. Right. War was hell and circumstance broke a young man’s heart in more ways than one back then.

Words to live by. Then and now.

By the time the Vietnam War ended in April 1975…58,226 service men and support personnel would not be coming back. One in ten would be killed and 11,465 of those killed would be under the age of 20. In the State of Illinois alone 2,934 would die.

This time Ben was lucky. He wasn’t one of the statistics. My friend came back. Back to Rockton, Illinois. Back to his future.

Little Special Boy

Little did I know that a year or so ago
A little special boy would bring my life such joy.
He started out shy, but as the days went by
He worked his magic from the start and stepped into my heart.
“How’s your dog Stanley?” he’d say.  “And where’s your husband today?”
And I became his forever fan when he announced, “I’m Basketman!”
For me he had made each day so bright, a truly little sweet delight!
A shooting star from up above who trailed to earth to share his love.
And now he’ll always be a part of me and forever I will see
His sweet face, filled with joy, this little special boy.

Poem from “Of Roots, Shoes and Rhymes”

by ~ CL Gillmore

One Act Play

Dim the lights, raise the curtain…let the action begin.
The one act play is about to spin…again and again and again.

Intimate moments remembered,
Down to the smallest detail.
Whispered fantasies softly stirred.
Gently he pulled back the veil.

An outlined script created,
Rehearsed on the stage in his mind.
Adapted from lines that were fated,
Performed once then left behind.

Dim the lights, raise the curtain…let the action begin.
The one act play is about to spin…again, and again, and again.

~ Poem excerpt from “A Friend Request” by C L Gillmore