Tag Archives: Colorado Springs

AFTER THE FIRE…The Power of the Pen

(Public mural painted on the entire brick side of a building in Old Colorado City by talented artist Allen Burton in 1999 and enjoyed by tourists and locals.  Photo by Marylin Warner)

Dear Mom,

Until the last decade or so, you were always writing. Maybe you don’t remember, but I do. You wrote articles and essays; you wrote children’s stories and often illustrated them.

And you wrote poetry. All kinds of poetry expressing happy occasions, interesting people you watched, places you and Dad traveled, and narrative poems that told stories. Some of the story poems were about nature and animals, and some were were lessons about life. Your poems covered real life, joys and sorrows.

This summer, Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Region suffered a horrible fire that began in Waldo Canyon and spread quickly, out of control. It was the state’s most destructive wildfire, destroying nearly 350 homes and killing two people. It’s over now, but the cleanup continues. When we finally had a long-needed rain last week, the Colorado air was crisp and clean for awhile, but the burnt areas were flooded, black soot overflowing across roads and damaging more homes.

Colorado Poet Laureate David Mason wrote a poem about what happened here. I want to share it with you because he is a fellow poet, experiencing life fully, watching and recording, sharing the details through his poetry. When I come to Kansas to visit you this month, I’ll bring some of your poems along and read them to you again. Maybe, if we talk about ideas, we’ll try writing a poem together.

We love you, Mom. You’ll always be our family’s Poet Laureate.     Marylin

~      ~     ~

The Fires: A Poem by David Mason, Colorado’s Poet Laureate

Here is a house, here is a neighborhood.

Here is a street, a door, a window, a room.

Here is a drought, here a beetled pine.

Here is a wildfire leaping from limb to roof.

There is a law of lightning, law of wood.

There is a need to burn, to lose, to grow.

There is the charred scar, there the flying ash.

To dwell is not to shelter, we should know.

Here are the people packing their cars to flee.

Here are the photos in frames, the pets on leashes.

Here are the children bewildered, coughing smoke.

Here are the firemen climbing the hills in the heat.

We are the street, we are the neighborhood.

We are the garden living and dying to bloom.

We are the parched yards, we are the trembling deer.

We are the long walk looking to find our home.

(Practice-stitch sampler, used by owner’s permission. Photograph by
Marylin Warner.)


Filed under art, Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, making a difference, memories for great-grandchildren



Happy Birthday, Mom!

Six weeks after I turned 18–which was more than 2/3 of my lifetime ago—I was initiated into your P.E.O. chapter in Fort Scott and presented my gold star. My initiation that day was a thoughtful and beautiful ceremony, and the only surprise was when the secret word was whispered in my ear. I remember you smiling at the look on my face because I’d spent years making wrong guesses and concocting my own answers, and the secret work meant much more than anything I’d come up with.

Because  Fort Scott is only a twenty-minute drive from Nevada, Missouri, I knew all about the beautiful red-bricked, white-trimmed campus of Cottey College. Sponsored by P.E.O. chapters all over the country, Cottey is the only nonsectarian college owned and supported by women. Students attend from 40 states and 15 countries. While I was growing up, International students couldn’t always go home for holidays, and I knew that they often received invitations from P.E.O.s. Because of your welcoming heart, Mom, we had Japanese and German students staying with us at Thanksgiving or Easter.

What I didn’t know all those years ago was that wherever I would go–away to college in Kansas and then to graduate school and to live in Colorado—there were always P.E. O. chapters to welcome me, and wonderful women who would become good friends.

This year, on your 94th birthday, the members of my P.E.O. Chapter BW in Colorado Springs send you warm and loving birthday greetings. When I told the group you had a birthday soon, immediately they posed together, waving for the camera and calling out greetings. Through the years you’d visited and attended meetings with me, but very few of those sisters still remain. Your “new” sisters—we all wear the same star—reach out to you with genuine affection and well wishes.

It’s come full circle, Mom.  You brought me into a Kansas chapter of P.E.O. sisters, and now I bring you warm greetings from my sisters in Colorado.  Heart to Heart. Star to Star. Happy Birthday!


The P.E.O. sisterhood was founded at Weslyan College in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa in 1869. Seven students who believed in women joining together as friends formed a sisterhood that went on to support and encourage other women to reach their educational goals.  Today there are more than 250,000 members. Student loans and international scholarships are available.

~ for more information:  http://www.peointernational     http://www.cottey.edu/


Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, making a difference, memories for great-grandchildren


Thanks to everyone who wrote a poem for this contest.  We had entries posted on all three blogs containing the contest information, and many more were emailed directly to me.  There were rhymed, free verse, Haiku and narrative poems; some were humorous and some were poignantly sad. Some taught a lesson, some recreated a memory, several recounted a frightening or heartbreaking experience, and others used similes and metaphors to express emotions, struggles, and loss.  To all of you, my sincere thanks for sharing your creative spirits with us for this contest.

And now, special thanks to the four judges who volunteered their time, energy and talents to select the following winners:

$25.00 First Place ~ Laura Horsfell, Great Bend, KS


There he sat, in his black robe.

There I stood, shaking like a leaf.

I didn’t want to be there

But knew I’d done wrong.


When his gavel hit the table,

The damage had been done.

One year of probation.

Life without fun.


$15.00 Second Place ~ Vivian Kirkfield, Colorado Springs, CO


Childhood often invades adult life.

Fears laid down early create later strife.

Afraid of adventure and trying new things,

Mom constantly cautioned: Be careful! Life stings!

To conquer that panic is my fervent wish.

I’ve parasailed, skydived and swum with the fish.


And a special “Educator, Thank You” award for a GED teacher in Junction City, KS who wrote this poem as an example for his students…and as a tribute to his wife’s nonexistent domestic skills.  (But she’s a soldier at Ft. Riley, so none of us really cared that she can’t cook!)

To teacher Jesse Nicholas the judges present $10 so he can buy his own chicken dinner!


You tried to make chicken

It did not come out finger licken

The children and I

Sat down and did cry

Because what was served

We did not deserve

Only to those

You wish to poison and die


To the King we did go

To secure a feast

My children and I

Were saved for the moment at least


Author Jaye Manus is again graciously publishing the contest winners on her blog, http://jwmanus.wordpress.com   You will learn some valuable writing and publishing information from Jaye, so be sure and visit her blog.



Filed under lessons about life, writing