I will be spending Friday at the Salem Art Festival at Bush Pasture Park. A few hours sitting will pay my admission into a delightful buffet of creativity,  I really looking forward to that wandering park being filled with all types of amusements – art (both static and living), music, dance, food – in all stages of textures.

Which segues into today’s ….

Friday, July 20th prompt is “amusement park” 

With a childhood in San Jose, I often lived near two amusement parks

  • Frontier Village, a tiny rustic place my friends and I could walk to after school with nostalgic car rides & bumper cars
  • And the grand Great America which was the destination for special events like End of School year Field Trip of Church Family Night. Of course, at the time it was  Loony Tune themed – filled with Bugs Bunny’s & Daffy Duck’s & Yosemite Sam’s .

I’m looking forward to finding out which past shenanigans make their boisterous way into a poem.

And while we are on the subject of childhood & San Jose …

I am too often mining the bitter to write the sweet words. One day I needed to deliberate remember (and fix in my heart) the sweet days that made my childhood – they too had their own lessons for me.  Days when I could be carefree & silly,  precious hours when I could just be … a child. That winding remanence became the poem “Day” …


i’ve been trying to retrieve good memories
trying to keep from drowning in the din.
even my childhood contained moments of happiness
pauses when the future was joy.

before i was afraid of heights,
there was a cherry tree that i would climb and get lost in
handfuls of dark plump bings to treat myself to when i needed nourishment
there were cats and dogs to cuddle,
soft rabbits to nuzzle, goatlings to laugh at and play

in my fantasies of adventure
the pearlescent rocks in the backyard
were diamonds to carry back home
booty to sell to finance my whimsical wanderings

for four years, there was a kidney pool
soft green water with slide
true, it was the site where a brother threw me in,
a non-swimmer, and i sank to drown under six feet –
that’s when ariel was born –
but his dark haired friend jumped in and saved me;
i learned to swim that day and never forgot;
god, how i worshipped brad, that boy!
the water became my sanctuary, sliding into the water head-first
into its depths, hosting tea-parties on its floor;
i’m not sure my brother ever forgave me.

and my bold dear bestie, how we lived out star wars
sisters leading a rebellion against evil,
linda with her rich brown hair as leia,
i, her older sister, juggling the attentions of scoundrels with the weight of authority,
heading military forays and escaping with wit and bravado;
han solo’s mate. yes, i considered myself that;
even marrying leia, he could not resist me
for i was brave and smart and witty; damsel and hero
a sprite in space, capable of anything.

there was that night after singing tanya tucker songs
we saw a visitor hanging and zooming in the sky,
it’s bulbous shape glowing in the pre-dawn hours.
i think we were ten or eleven and, with the reality of it’s existence
space and adventure became a possibility then. and love.

at recess, at school, we were horses in the grove,
or cats lazing in the grass.
on the cafeteria benches
we were super-heroes – she electra-woman, me dyna-girl –
both battling little john and red-haired danny and rescuing them from villains.
when I moved away, john told me he loved me.
how did I forget that?
he didn’t know i was already broken – none of them knew that, i think;
even then parts of me were buried deep –
but the last time i saw him, he held my hand and said he always thought me his.
i can’t remember a time he ever hurt me.
perhaps that is why i thought i could rescue endangered tigers,
i always rescued him.

at lora’s house, there were toasted english muffins with melted butter
after school, long mazes of forts we built with her brothers,
we three were often allies.

and after i left, after my parents uprooted me from a warm city of friends
to the isolated country beside a foreign town
there was a creek and a river to keep me company
on my forays into space or deep jungle
letters from my leia,
spicy nasturtium blooms i would grow and eat
books to read and classic music on my radio.

and later, much later, to pull me out of my isolation
there was that kindred spirit
shirley, irreverent and kind,
a brash anne of green gables who pledged sisterhood;
my, how she pulled and led me all over town.
hurly-burly on buses, scavenger hunts downtown,
late night forays in wedding dresses down dark lanes
planning double dates with scoundrel lee & red-head steve;
sweet freckled steve, innocence personified.

even our moments of danger,
escaping the green river on his brief sojourn in salem,
held slippery deliciousness of courage and wit.
moments again when i was once again a plucky heroine and not victim;
it was worth the punishment when I got home-
a tale shirley and i had for the ages
yes, even this is a good memory.

it was not all ropes & beds, housework & belts;
there were winchell’ donuts and amusement parks,
dairy queen root beer floats and trick-or-treat,
trial runs of formal dresses and tiger-blood shaved ice,
fairs and innocent hands to hold. 

i can see the creations:
friends who stayed with me. 

i am that plucky heroine.
i am stronger.



See you at the Fair! As CC Willow, I’ll be at the Artists in Action booth from noon until 3; you can find me there! And maybe after we can share an elephant ear scone covered with cinnamon. Yum!