My New Adult Poetry Book:
"Anatomy of a Poet"
A little girl clops in mommy's heels,
her dress, a floppy hat.
The borrowed pearls she's chosen
dangle halfway down her back.
Her face a shining rainbow,
ruby lips, cheeks tinted pink,
blue splashes on both eyelids,
powder snowflakes in the sink.
She'll go twirling in a ballroom,
a princess with her knight.
Or better still, be mommy
out with daddy Friday night.
In a child's imagination
everything is crystal clear,
yet the truth beneath the surface
is revealed in mommy's mirror.
That little girl is all grown up,
clothes and shoes are now my size...
but the mirror of maturation
… is my own daughters’ eyes.
I Remember Mama
I remember Mama
blowing chewing gum bubbles
to entertain us while she ironed.
I was too young for school,
Sesame Street wasn’t invented yet,
the rain was pouring outside
and I was awed.
I remember Mama
sewing at her machine into the
when she had to get up early for
patching my favorite pair of cutoffs
'just one more time'
or putting pockets on pants
because my little brother adored
and I still hear her words,
‘There’s all kinds of ways to say
I love you.’
I remember Mama
teaching us that beauty on the
was more important than on the
‘A kind word to a stranger
might be the only kind word
that person heard all day’
and how good it felt
finding out she was right.
I remember Mama
telling us to hold onto our dreams.
Make them happen and never say
and how funny I thought it
when she said
the world was our watermelon
and all we had to do was
grab it and take a bite.
I remember Mama
who taught us best by example
with her unconditional love.
Love isn’t love until it’s given away
and it’s in the giving that we know
it truly does come back ten-fold.
I remember, Mama.
Life is full of crossroads,
the hard lefts or rights,
and little pathways
of curves, this way or that.
Each way has its own set
of bumps and potholes
and the occasional hairpin turn.
I've wondered at times
how my life might have differed
had I taken a different route.
I could have used
a few more straight stretches
but at least I made choices,
some good, some not so good.
How sad for those
who merely hitchhike along
never daring to choose at all.
When I Finally Close My Eyes
When I close my eyes
for the last time,
I want to have lived,
I want to know I've tasted
the smorgasbord of life,
having relished the good
and spat the bad back out,
knowing at least I tried it.
When I'm done here,
I don't want to wonder
whether someone caught
the kiss I threw,
I will know.
I don't want to leave this life
with a heart as empty
as my pockets have always been.
I want to know, without a doubt,
I've left something of me behind,
-- something that's good,
for never making a difference.
When I close my eyes
for the very last time,
I would like
someone to remember
... I was here.
Rockin' the Boat
Fishin' is a lot like marriage.
Both are great things to be doin'
and the rewards are
well worth the time spent,
but you can sure get into
a lot of trouble with either of 'em
by rockin' the boat ...
A Butterfly's Lesson
Oh Mama look, a flutterby!
(her tiny hand held out to me)
She'd grasped it firmly in her fist,
afraid to set it free.
Lovingly I showed her
one of life's most painful tests ...
sometimes the ones we love the most
we hurt more than the rest.
The butterfly was still alive,
although its wings were bent
this tiny miracle of grace,
its rainbow all but spent.
The magic dust was there to see.
Tears welled up in her eyes.
I hugged her to me and explained
that real love never dies.
We spoke that day of letting go,
of holding love less tightly.
To hold it gently in our hearts
shows love much more, when lightly.
That day when she was very small,
we more than mourned a butterfly.
We shared a magic, tender moment.
I'll always thank the flutterby.
Taps for My Soldier
A gentle breeze
chatters the leaves
as birds sing
The sun shines,
a day like any other,
and yet like none before.
Two mirrored rows of uniforms
line up like blue dominoes,
white gloves holding rifles
at the ready.
A lone bugle cries.
Each note, slow as a tear,
blankets ears and heavy hearts.
In the silence between,
nature holds its breath.
Gone is the breeze.
Gone are the bird songs.
Gone is her hold on composure,
all lost in the bugle's lament.
Solemnly a soldier approaches.
White gloves present
a tri-fold flag,
and in one final mournful note,
legions of silent voices unite
to call a comrade home
… and a young wife weeps.
Websters Dictionary: Changeling:
1. One who, or that which, is left or taken
in place of another.
At dawn, I looked
with eyes wide open.
The color of his hair had
to winter gray,
the dark crowded out
to who knows where,
perhaps to join
a master work
in perfect granite,
his finite features
raisined to roadways
buckled into nose
and cheek and brow.
by nature's cruelty
are steel blue eyes,
eyes that walk my dreams,
and lips that taunt and tease.
Where was I
when all this happened?
Here, a changeling, too,
and robbed as well?
Today, when morning
to kiss my eyelids,
I felt blessed
it reached across
to touch his too.
in bits and pieces
like soap on a rope.
but just out of reach,
till the right words come
to breathe them to life.
Precise and unexpected,
at times they fit,
chosen as I might choose
the flawless petals
of a perfect rose,
the words to be glued
in that same perfection
from a blemished heart,
-- a writer's humility
for a reader's pleasure.
Footsteps on the staircase
handprints on the walls
tiny fingers dripping things
up and down the halls.
Voices all in unison
calling out my name
arguing and pointing
and saying who’s to blame.
Dishes in the sink
couch cushions on the floor
clean and dust, then fall in bed,
tomorrow will bring more.
Those times are etched in memory
the children now are grown,
but I’ll gladly have it all again
when the grandkids all come home.
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Anatomy of a Poet
Go in through the eyes of a poet,
deep into her alphabet mind.
Ideas like flotsam and jetsam
dodge poetry fragments and lines.
Beware the dark shadows of memory,
knife-sharp and bloodied by time,
or gentle, orgasmic and sensual,
swirling eddies, some without rhyme.
Softly notice the spirit in hiding.
Tiptoe past the bruised heart mending
knitting poems, pearls strung on a
unfinished jewels everywhere.
Take note on your tour of this poet,
the outside no different, you see,
but inside, my God, a passion abyss,
the poet, the woman, the me.
A Nickel for Thoughts of You
I wish I had a nickel
for every time I think of you
watching TV on the couch,
chin parked on your chest,
not sleeping, just resting
your eyes for a minute;
or with your brows furrowed,
chasing an errant whisker
on the face in the mirror;
or your hands on the keyboard,
and the amazing speed
of the intricate thoughts,
considering the size of your hands;
or you secretly watching me
from across the room,
and me secretly catching you
secretly watching me;
or your gentle touch
when you pass my chair,
just because you're glad I'm here.
Love is measured
in so many little minutes.
It's important we not miss them,
for who knows,
life might be metered in hours.
It isn't really about the nickels,
-- but it would be fun
to see the almighty pile of coins.
The Rose Tattoo
She had a tiny rose tattoo
just an inch or so in size.
After years of deliberation,
her courage finally materialized.
She's the only person
who will even know it's there,
unless, of course, she wanted
them to see it and she shared.
A tiny rose and nothing more
she chose to symbolize
a difficult and bumpy life
so please don't criticize.
The branch behind, her long lifeline,
its thorns to show what's past.
The bud is for what's yet to come,
some peace and hope at last.
The tiny rose is painted
deep red to show her passion.
Its petals soft and gently bloomed,
red for love, a celebration.
It's just a tiny rose tattoo,
an inch or so in size.
A tiny rose, that's all it is,
her whole life to symbolize.
“The role of a writer is not to say what
we can all say, but what we are unable
to say.” ― Anaïs Nin
The Role of a Writer
To say what others cannot
is truly a mark of greatness.
But have all the noble poems
been written by classical masters
and the gifted poets of today?
Are there meaningful works
still left to pen,
not merely big words
from our swollen egos
spilling their contents
at the whim of a moment,
nor with the simplistic meanderings
of joy, or grief or love?
To answer my own question,
I say write on, dear poets.
Allow not your words
to decay unwritten
in the brilliant minds of today
where they'll lie barren and unread
only to wither and crack and parch
as clay in the desert.
I do believe there are jewels
left to be written.
But if we must write,
it should be for the future,
for the common man
who will gain most from
these words he cannot write.
We have an obligation
to write in a way
that he may glean what he can
from writings of poetic merit,
not stumble through
obscure words which are,
to him, as bird droppings
on a splintered windowsill,
left to die in obscurity
gathering nothing but dust.
If we must write,
let us write for those who are unable,
so the future might find our words
alive and fertile, their tilled soil
begun as thoughts and feelings
first seeded in keen minds,
then sown into black and white,
rich and green and lush,
to live on in future hearts and minds
even as we crumble, ashes to ashes,
and blow away, dust to dust.
May we always write
not to say what we can all say,
but what we are unable to say
-- not just for the now,
but for forever.
Anatomy of a Poet
Introduction from the Book:
"Like a rose with many petals sharing its sweet aroma -- this is how I see and I feel about the love of my life, CJ Heck.
She is my electric blue-eyed girl. She can be both little girl, or strong woman, whenever and wherever the situation
calls for it. She is both sensuous and exciting, and soft and affectionate.
Tragedy struck her life early with the death of her husband in Vietnam. This experience laid open the very core of her
heart and soul and opened the channel to a well of compassion and sensitivity deep within. Her pain was the fertilizer that
helped her bloom as a writer.
Her poetry is not a surface observation, but a soulful interpretation of the events and people that inspired her. She writes
both eloquently and simply of things that touch her heart, things she wants to share. She is gifted at painting a picture
with words on the heart and imagination of others, thereby communicating not just an image, but a life experience.
I feel very honored to have been asked to write this introduction and share my feelings about CJ Heck. She is the water
for my soil,
the sunlight for my petals and the nurturer of my growth.
Sit back, open your heart and enjoy the journey as revealed through her words, images and emotions. You are blessed by
this opportunity to know her in words, as I know her in life. ~Robert S. Cosmar, Author
"I purchased Anatomy of a Poet today...I could hardly put it down! The poetry is filled with a pleasant mix of emotions. I
have plans to use several of CJ's poems with my sixth grade students! A great read...I encourage everyone who enjoys
poetry to buy this book. Love it!" ~Joyce Bowling
"CJ, I thoroughly enjoyed looking inside your book! Too often poetry is written so abstractly that it leaves the reader
with more questions as to the point of the writing, rather than the insight, or inspiration. This is NOT true of your poetic
verses. Your words are indeed poignant, resonating feelings to the reader intended by you, the writer. Words from the
heart that penetrate the soul!" ~Sharla Shultz
"I am not a poetry critic, so I cannot compare CJ's poetry with others, evaluate her mastery of the language use, or
classify her to any particular school of poetry. But having read the poems in her preview, I felt something. The messages
she conveys are clear and direct. She does not go through mental elaboration and her poetry touches the heart. Reading
her poems made me feel nostalgic and longing at the same time -- as if nostalgia and expectation are one and the same."
"After reading your preview, I wanted to read more so I ordered the book. My kind of poetry ... wonderful, marvelous
poetry that touches on the realities of life."
~Jack Henry Kraven
"This is my kind of poetry. Direct, beautifully expressed and without a hint of pretension." ~Allison Cassidy
"CJ, you have a beautiful way of writing that obviously can get in touch with people and provoke them to think about
what you are saying, which is a very difficult skill to grasp. Congratulations on the amazing work." ~Lyrael Myrna.
"CJ, what a gift you have. Every word imparts a vivid image that fills the hearts and souls of your readers with a
remembering. Yes, it's the littlest moments that you paint so well and spell out with glowing simplicity." ~Adryan
"CJ is predominately viewed as a writer of works for children, but CJ now carries over her approach to more adult
themes. In doing so, she presents a profound world that is deeply sad, incredibly humorous and sometimes intimate."
"I have known C.J. Heck as an very talented author for well over a year now. Her words are enlightening and
charismatic to people of all ages. It has been a privilege and honor knowing her and reading her prolific pen. I highly
recommend her work to all." ~Janet Caldwell (COO Inner Child Press)
"CJ's writing ability is a testament to talent and passion. Her ability to craft words into emotion and movement is
~Lexy Page (Owner/Freelance Photographer at GA Page Photography)
"CJ is a writer that comes through as a great communicator but you also have a strong feeling of friendship with her and
her pen. She touches your heart in special ways. She makes you feel like you have lived this story." ~James McCraney
(Owner, James McCraney Financial, LLC)
Poetry can be daunting and hard to understand, but it doesn't have to be. A
poet has an obligation to write so that everyone can understand.
Poems should flow through a poet's words, so their meanings touch the
heart and mind of its reader. If a poem comes from the heart, it will reach
other hearts. ~CJ Heck
"Anatomy of a Poet" was over a period of nearly forty years. The poetry is
rich with memoir, rife with humor and, at times, very sensual in nature.
Some is ... pure fiction.
The Story Behind the Book:
"There is a brokenness out of which comes the unbroken. There is a shatteredness out of which blooms the
unshatterable. There is a sorrow beyond all grief, which leads to joy. And a fragility out of whose depths emerges
strength. There is a hollow space too vast for words through which we pass with each loss, out of whose darkness
we are sanctioned into being." ~ Bri Maya Tiwari
That quote astutely describes not only my life, but the poetry in "Anatomy of a Poet".
One of six children, I grew up in a small Ohio town and married my high school sweetheart at nineteen. A
Vietnam War widow at twenty, I went on to marry twice more. I made a lot of choices, some good, some not so
good, but as my poem, "Choices", ends,
"... at least I made choices. How sad for those who merely hitchhike along, never daring to choose at all."
"Anatomy of a Poet" was written over a period of nearly forty years. The poetry is rich with memoir, humor and,
at times, it is sensual in nature.