Stranger Things

Meet we ever after, Strangers,
Tokens of a time and place;
Souvenirs in silver packages,
At last I see your face.

By now I've drifted onward,
Floated past your pin-up girls;
Saw your face in crowds so many times,
And sailed around your world.

Aging dreams stacked on my shelf,
I relished all the dangers;
And planned the day might it ever come,
That we meet ever after, Strangers.

Copyright Kristin McKenna Clouse 2005

Running From the Winter

What can I do
With this frenzy, this fire
That goes to my head
I don't breath - I expire.

You're dashing like a train
Rolling along
We're one and going backwards
We're playing - a song.

We're dancing in my mind
I keep seeing your sleepy eyes
Touching your past, your imagination...

I'm watching you walk alone
You're wet with rain
Running from the winter
I keep whispering your name.

And I know I'm wrong, I'm wrong
But I just want this forever
We're up on the roof
In the night, with the lights - together.

We're dancing in my mind
I keep seeing your sleepy eyes
Touching your past, your imagination...

And I know I'm wrong, I'm wrong
But I just want us to be together
Forever - forever.

Copyright 1995 by Kristin McKenna Clouse


The name Rolfe means something to me.
Something binding, something sore,
But bittersweet,
Winding like a flame
Following a gas track down
The frame of me.
You see, Rolfe's still in control,
Though I turn my face to heaven
And plead
It not be so.
Dear God, I pray, if only I
Could be his friend...
But it's not to be.
He turns
(That Arian devil)
With ice blue eyes
(and heart)
And hails some unseen ghost,
Something I can never be.
And I melt alone
In an empty sanctuary of shame,
Into a puddle of 
Lasting only for
His sake.

Copyright 2008 Kristin McKenna Clouse

Why I Remember (or Memories of a Catholic Schoolgirl)

I remember...

Because a lofty, cold sanctuary folded
her arms about me.
Because I thought heaven was just through
the choir room door.
Because the stillness enveloped me.
Because the Italian widow knelt at
each Station and prayed.
Because the confessionals forgave me.
Because there was Drama
as we proceeded to Communion.
Because the gold and blue plaid
grazed my knees.
Because I pondered on holy water and praying
the Dead out of Purgatory.
Because when I there God really listened to me.
Because there was a Saint for each day of the year.
Because the funeral incense haunted me.
Because we toured the house where the Sisters lived.
Because Sister Bernice was good to me.
Because she said almost everyone went to Heaven.
Because the Body and the Blood became real
with the sound of bells.
Because the nuns said that
Latin was not a Dead Language and warned us that
not enough Young Catholics were becoming
priests and nuns
And the liquor flowed freely from the
Beer Garden at Oktoberfest
And everyone played Bingo on Friday nights and
The Germans wore read on St. Patty's Day.
Because Dad married a Protestant
and never took Communion again.
Because now as I sit in a pew I mourn all these things...

I've forgotten.

To Grandma’s House

Today I commemorate our meeting;
I rewind back to April 24th.
I was scanning the horizon
Of my colorless world.

All my girlhood dreams - collective - explode and dart!
Concerto of Southern charm, Freud's theory proved;
My innocent compliance, my romantic, daydreaming heart,
My nuptial state - an afterthought - so long unmoved.

And you, you landscaped my secret fantasies,
Mowed down the mundane, the weeds that strangled me.
I, Rapunzel, let down my hair.
You climbed up on 36 years of cumulate complacency.

You were the Wolf and I:
Red Riding Hood;
But I took your hand, touched your skin;
Would I so rashly betray my vow?

I would.

I did.

I can never go back
To being twenty-five,
To first love, to what God hath joined.

I put it asunder.

I lied.

Oh, but if I could rewind my life!
Stand strong, hold firm and tight,
And see that Devils sometimes masquerade 
As Angels of Light.

Then I'd still be young and satisfied
With a commonplace account.
And this time I'd run all the way
To Grandma's house.

copyright 2000 by Kristin McKenna Clouse

Irish Invasion

He spiked my dreams with ginseng,
His temper haunted me.
His gray eyes I know they spied
My past poetry.

I knew he was voyeur
When I looked into his face,
And he knew I had some secrets
That I could not erase.

What a cruel thing our grandparents did
Back in County Monaghan,
To make me crave the Emerald Isle
And long to know this man.

He heard my conversations,
One night he whispered my name.
I see his fingers move the guitar strings
And know I'll never be the same.

Kristin McKenna Clouse
Copyright 1994

70s Childhood

I know there is a fine line between living in the past and just relishing the memories. I’ve always loved to close my eyes and think about the way the world used to be, when I was young and had my whole future ahead of me, with no clue how complicated and painful adulthood could be. I think we’re all this way to a certain extent, and whatever decades we spent our youth in, those are the bits of nostalgia we treasure the most. I spent my childhood in the ’70s and my teenage years in the ’80s. Here are some of my fondest memories of my childhood in the ’70s.

My younger sisters and me before first day of school Fall 1978.

The First Microwave I Ever Saw

I guess it was around 1978 that my neighborhood friend, Dorothy’s parents bought a countertop microwave. I’ll never forget her saying, “Come on, I’ve got something really neat to show you.” We went into her kitchen and she explained that this strange contraption was like an oven, but that it cooked stuff really fast. She got out a couple hotdogs and a couple slices of Kraft cheese from her fridge, wrapped the hotdogs with the cheese, plated them and stuck them into this mini oven. She turned the knob and after what seemed like only a couple minutes, the cheese dogs emerged cooked, complete with melted cheese. I must have just stood there gasping at this marvel. “See? There all done already. So you don’t have to boil them anymore. Go ahead! Eat one! It tastes really good.” I reluctantly did as she said and to do this day I think those are the best hot dogs I ever ate (and I have always hated hot dogs!).

Continue reading “70s Childhood”

All Our Best-Laid Plans

Evan and Audra – Ridgecrest, NC

Today, March 21, 2020, I was supposed to attend the wedding of my oldest son in Candler, NC. Instead, I am sitting in the darkness of our finished basement, my laptop warm and glowing, trying not to think about what could have been, or the sheer strangeness of the times in which we find ourselves living.

Since Evan and Audra got engaged last fall, I have had their wedding on my mind almost every day. My younger sons couldn’t wait to attend the wedding of their older brother. Their chosen venue was a beautiful farm in the mountains where they were to be married in the outdoors they hold so dear. There are several beautiful cabins on the property where wedding guests had planned to stay and we had reserved our favorite. For months I played over and over in my mind how we would visit with one another on one of the cozy porches or perhaps stroll along the beautiful grounds. I visited every store in our area looking for a mother-of-the-groom dress. I wanted just the perfect dress — classy, not-too-old and not-too-young, the perfect fit, the perfect color, the appropriate length. Finding nothing to suit in the stores, I turned to scouring every dress I could find online. I found that most MOG dresses were either frumpy, totally inappropriate for our particular occasion, or just downright ugly. In early February, already feeling I was running out of time, I found a website that seemed like a dream-come-true. I loved almost every dress and now had a hard time deciding just which one I should pick. With the help of my daughter I finally narrowed it down to one. These were the early days of hearing about Covid 19. “Back then” most of us were just worried about not receiving orders from China (or receiving them contaminated) with all the chaos going on over there. This new coronavirus was still pretty far removed from us. After reading terrible reviews of this company online, I discovered it was in China and tried to push their beautiful dresses out of my mind. I made the decision not to order them solely based upon my concern that I wouldn’t receive my order in time for the wedding. I finally found 2 dresses at a well-known department store online and ordered one. It arrived on time and in perfect condition, except it was a size-too-big (never trust those online measurement charts) and covered in sparkles (that you couldn’t detect in the advertised picture). I returned it and stressed about them receiving the return and crediting me back the small fortune I paid for it. I then ordered my second choice dress, stressing that it wouldn’t arrive on time or that it wouldn’t fit or that the pale pink would wash me out. It arrived and it was perfect. I tried it on several times, imaging with what shoes it would look the best, with what jewelry, with what dainty little handbag. I imagined the mother-son dance with Evan, us dancing to Idaho by Gregory Alan Isakov, as we had planned.

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Best New Music of 2018: BACKTOBEFORE

BACKTOBEFORE       L to R: Evan Cole Barnes, John McLachlan, David Sparks, Michael Sparks, Tiffany Sparks

Music has been a HUGE part of my life from early childhood.  Growing up, I didn’t have the opportunity to learn to play an instrument, and so my imagination and creativity were redirected to writing.  All was not lost, however.  My son, Evan Cole Barnes, is a singer/songwriter for BACKTOBEFORE.  He is multi-talented and contributed acoustic, classical guitar, piano, electric guitar, as well as vocals to their first album, which just dropped December 24.  His band members are a group of amazingly talented musicians:  David Sparks (Lead Guitarist/Writer/Vocalist/Acoustic), Tiffany Sparks (Bass/Uke/Vox), Michael Sparks (Writer/Percussionist/Vocalist/Acoustics) and John McLachlan(Drummer/Writer/Vocalist/Acoustics).  They started writing this record years ago with the hope that one day it would come to fruition.  To quote Evan, “This record had no rules, no producer, and is an honest reflection of who we are as artists.”  Not only are these musicians incredibly talented, they have a heart for human beings.  All proceeds from this album go to fighting human trafficking:

Update (2020)  BACKTOBEFORE has officially changed their name to A Place To Rest.  Check them out on Spotify.

Or as BACKTOBEFORE on YouTube.

The Long Hot Summer

We really had no Spring this year in the lower half of Indiana and it’s been Summer since about mid-May, with temperatures staying steadily in the upper 80s to mid 90s.  Everything in my herb and vegetable gardens went from being tiny to gargantuan overnight.  I don’t remember ever having cucumbers, tomatoes, squash and peppers so early in the year.  For the first time in my ten years of growing tomatoes I have experienced some type of tomato fungus that has yielded us mottled, thick-skinned tomatoes that look and taste terrible, with most rotting and falling off the vine before we can harvest them.

My cucumbers seem to be babies one day and look like the Hindenburg the very next week, so big and full of seeds I’m not sure how to use them.  I have always been of the mindset to “let nature take its course”, but now I’m understanding that this resolve is not without its consequences.

I’ve been negligent and let my cukes get way too big!  But maybe I can make them into pickles or something…

As with everything in life, we have our good years and our bad years.  I am truly thankful for a great harvest this year of sun gold cherry tomatoes, beautiful grape tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, tomatillos, summer squash and cucumbers, as well as the usual abundance of herbs (which yield so much goodness with so little effort).

 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.