I observed my first total solar eclipse today from a cemetery in Travelers Rest, South Carolina. It was quite impressive and I’m sure eclipses will be a theme in my poetry for the next several months. More on that later.

Reminder One: tomorrow (Tuesday) at 7pm is the launch party for my second collection of poetry, Milkshakes and Chilidogs, at Matthew’s Chocolates in vibrant downtown Hillsborough. Details on the Facebook event page.

Reminder Two: Wednesday at 8am I’ll be appearing on WHUP, Hillsborough’s low power FM radio station which also broadcasts planetwide on the internet.


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Science Cafe: Eclipse


Photo courtesy Tara Lynne Groth

We’re slightly less than one week until a Solar Eclipse graces my neighborhood of this planet and last Thursday my fellow Living Poets and I participated in another Science Cafe at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. Apparently this is a very popular topic because it was standing room only in the Daily Planet. They even piped the video feed into a nearby theater to handle the overflow. The poetry starts about 55 minutes into the show but the whole event is well worth watching.

Call me Endymion

When someone says
“Beautiful day”
I cringe.

I hate the sun!
Harsh, burning,
yellow, bright.
I wear eclipse glasses
all year ’round.

Call me Endymion.
I love the moon.
Her gentle light,
bathing the night.

I would give her my diamond ring
and a necklace of Baily’s beads
if only she’d hold
the sun in eclipse


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Milkshakes and Chilidogs Update

20170726_143509The launch party for Milkshakes and Chilidogs will be Tuesday evening, August 22nd, the day after the eclipse. We’ll meet at 7pm in Matthew’s Chocolates where so many of the poems were inspired. If you’re in the area, please join me. Facebook Event

I won’t be able to stay out too late partying because I’m scheduled to appear on WHUP the following morning around 8am, which is way too early for poetry. You can listen online, if you’re not in the transmitter’s range.

According to Amazon I’ve already sold some copies of Milkshakes and Chilidogs online. To whoever bought them, thank you!


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Milkshakes & Chilidogs!


I am proud to announce that my second poetry collection is now available for purchase on Amazon. It’s available both as an e-book and a real book but since it contains 24 food poems, grounded firmly in the sensual world, you want a paper book to stain with wine and chocolate. It’s only $4.95 or $1.99 for the e-book.

I am, of course, more than happy to sign copies. Send me an email or leave a comment below and we’ll figure it out.

Expect a launch party in the second half of August and my first big reading will be on Sunday September 24th at McIntyre’s Books in Fearrington Village south of Chapel Hill as part of the North Carolina Poetry Society series there.

Bon appétit!

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Solomon Parsons

The research has been difficult this trip. I think I’ve read all the surviving records and found all the marked graves of my ancestors in Ohio and Indiana. One of the few new finds from this trip is the newspaper clipping from the Muncie Daily Herald of 29 April 1890 about the death of my great great great great grandfather Solomon Parsons.

An Aged Madison County Farmer Meets Instant Death

20170717_101601The early train on the C. W. & M. which arrives at Anderson at 9 o’clock ran down an aged farmer by the name of Solomon Parson, a half mile north of Summitville, Monday morning. The accident was witnessed by no one except a small boy who gave the alarm. The engineer says he did not see the man and expressed much surprise when told that his engine had struck and killed a man. When the neighbors gathered at the scene of the accident they found Parsons’ body lying by the side of the track badly mangled. Life was extinct. The deceased was 83 years of age.

I visited the site of the accident, as best I could tell, and wandered through the nearest cemetery but there was no stone for Grandpa Parsons. There were plenty of stones which had been worn clear and lots of plain grass so he may have been laid to rest there. I don’t think I’ll ever know for sure.

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Pierce Davis

Is this the final resting place of Pierce Davis?


Two of my great great great grandparents are Pierce Davis and Mahala Cook Davis. According to their death records they were buried in Matthews Cemetery. I have wandered around that cemetery before and couldn’t find them but today, which coincidentally is less than a month from the 100th anniversary of Pierce’s death, I was able to have a look at the cemetery records.

I arrived around lunchtime and while the cemetery office was closed it offered a phone number to call. I left a message in hopes someone would check voicemail soon and started wandering around. Matthews Cemetery is still accepting denizens. Near the road were some 21st century headstones, so crisply carved and with designs that would have been impossible a hundred years ago. I noticed one grave which had solar-powered spots to light the stone overnight!

Fortunately for me, Greg from the cemetery had just finished lunch at his day job and had a chance to stop by and let me into the office. He showed me their records, an efficient database of index cards in an old library cabinet. I knew there were several Davis burials so we went through them all. One section of six plots was purchased by a Clyde Davis and one of the interments looked like it was for a “Piercy” next to a plot for “Mrs. Davis”. Clyde was the name of one of Pierce and Mahala’s grandsons but the other Davises buried didn’t look familiar.


Not the stone of Pierce and Mahala  Davis.

Greg took me out to the spot and there was not a stone for either of those graves. Did his grandson Clyde handle the final arrangements for 92 year old Pierce and decided not to get a stone until after Grandma Mahala died? If so, why no stone when she died two years later? This is why I love genealogy, every answer spawns at least two more questions.

Thank you for all your help, Greg!



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Schuyler Colfax

20170716_121238Since I was sort of in the area and the libraries were closed on Sunday I drove up to South Bend to visit the grave of U.S. Vice President Schuyler Colfax who served under Ulysses Grant.

It’s been a while since I last added to my dead president and vice president collection and with Colfax, I have 30 of the 41 dead vice presidents alongside the 34 of 38 dead presidents.

City Cemetery is a lovely old cemetery just west of the center of South Bend. Colfax’s grave is right at the entrance from Colfax Street, of course, but as I drove in, I was focused on finding a shady spot to park the car and thus missed it. That lack of attention made for a more pleasant visit since it was a beautiful summer afternoon for a walk among the tombstones.



I also found the graves of President William McKinley’s grandparents, who died on the same day, 20 August 1847, which was also their wedding anniversary, according to notes on a cemetery map posted outside the office.

I suppose once I finish my collection, I could start visiting the ancestral graves of the presidents so my affection for wandering through cemeteries doesn’t seem so odd.

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Barker Reunion and James Dean

20150717_121834The Barker side of my family gather in odd numbered years. According to my records, and I keep very good records, my grandparents, Ray Barker and Ruth Lloyd Barker, have 47 descendants so far. Of the 47, 43 are still alive and 30 attended the 2017 reunion.

As part of the festivities we visited Park Cemetery in Fairmount, Indiana, where Ray & Ruth are buried. We also admired a beautiful new stone erected by my cousins for their parents and I led a successful search for five other graves spanning three generations of more distant ancestors.

Park Cemetery is also the final resting place of the actor James Dean who died tragically young in 1955 at the age of 24. One of my uncles was friends with Dean when they were teenagers and Dean was living with his Quaker aunt and uncle on their farm just outside town. I’d always wondered if we were related to James Dean and I finally found the connection. James Dean is my sixth cousin twice removed.

That’s not entirely true. Dean was living with his uncle Marcus Winslow and aunt Ortense Dean Winslow so the relation is through marriage, not blood but since they were surrogate parents during his formative years, I’ll still claim him.


My cousins and I

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pickles-1512330-640x960We’re in quite a pickle,
here in the good ole U. S. of A.

Our body politic,
once a fresh firm cucumber,
has been swimming
in the green vinegar
of unlimited bribery
until well past sour.
We’re dissolving
in this marinade
of corporate money.
Rotten to our seeds.

Can a vegetable be unpickled?
We won’t know until we drain
the brine.


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Rhythm of Race


Photo by JM Olivieri

Saturday afternoon three of my fellow Living Poets and I wrote poems on demand at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences’ Rhythm of Race event. We only worked for a little over an hour but earned $41 for the museum by writing to the following prompts offered by our customers:

  • aloha
  • biotechnology
  • broken
  • butterfly
  • chaplain
  • complexity & sin
  • compromise
  • emerald
  • faith
  • fluorescent
  • happiness
  • hope
  • Michael Jackson
  • octopus
  • oyster
  • patience
  • paws
  • perseverance
  • plant
  • poetry
  • precious
  • science
  • second anniversary
  • soul
  • swizzle stick
  • siblings
  • Themyscira
  • vindicated
  • wonder
  • you

My favorite was writing “Science” and while I don’t remember it all, I closed with the lines “Science is the art of learning. Science reveals the poetry of life.”


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