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“Barbie’s poems are reminiscent of Shel Silverstein, but totally unique to her sensibility. They are infused with a bright spirit, a heart that seeks and explores, and a gentle insight. Even though the poems are about the gamut of human emotions and the subtle twists of perspective that happen with repeated experience, her words are never proselytizing or lofty. Her ‘anthropomorphizing’ of feelings (‘irony tastes like fudge’) is quirky and engaging. I imagine children and adults both will revel in her work—both her poetry and her wonderful drawings.” –Rosanne Cash “Art is about oblique angles—seeing things in ways we’ve never seen them before. Barbie has a gift for that, and this book is a generous invitation to the rest of us to climb inside her quirky head for a delightful ride.” –David LaMotte
Roasting Questions by Barbie Angell
poems & drawings
Grateful Steps Asheville, North Carolina
Grateful Steps Foundation 159 S. Lexington Avenue Asheville, North Carolina 28801 Copyright ÂŠ 2012 by Barbie Angell Library of Congress Control Number 2012951328 Angell, Barbie Roasting Questions Illustrations by the Author Author photo & hat by Jude Lally, hatmaker www.celticsoulcraft.com ISBN 978-1-935130-61-7 Paperback Printed in the United States of America [Printer and Address] FIRST EDITION All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author. www.gratefulsteps.org vi
This book is dedicated to Lennonâ€™s eyes & ears . . . They are the most direct route to his brain, his smile, & his heart.
A portion of the proceeds from this book are donated to Mooseheart School & Child City, in Mooseheart, Illinois.
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Ode to Shel Silverstein Who are you when you’re with me? Are you the you you’d like to be? I’d like to be with you, you see and be the me I’d like to be. And if we two, that’s me and you, were the “we” we wanted to, would we be happy instead of blue, if I were me and you were you? But if I were you and you were me oh what chaos that would be. So you be you and I’ll be me, and all will wish that they were we.
Fairy Tale? Once upon a time, (or so the story goes,) in a land so far away, (or right here for all we know,) there was a great occurence, (or a mediocre one,) a turmoil on the moon, (or perhaps it was the sun.) This country was in ruins, (or it may have been okay,) but Iâ€™m sure it was a country, (at least thatâ€™s what they say.) and the hero was a girl, (or it might have been a guy.) and they lived happily ever after, no wait . . . I know they died.
The Dream Maker Wendy Lou will stitch your Dreams, one dollar at a time. Make sure you get there early, there’s always quite a line. For 50 cents she’ll make repairs, or you can start from scratch. She barters if you need to, but of course there is a catch . . . You have to bring your Wishes. You must trade in all your Fears. Strong Dreams are made with Kisses, she’ll even take your tears.
So go create a Dream for you or to give to someone else. Just take your Hopes to Wendy Lou . . . ‘Cause Dreams don’t make themselves.
New From Milton Bradley It’s a world of utter mania on an endless shopping spree. It’s what no one ever told you, it’s exactly what it seems. There are no grand surprises on the witness stand of life. Its design is based on choices not just the rolling of the dice. And when it hands you lemons, time and time again, relax and put your feet up, ‘cause it’s a game you’ll never win. It’s all about direction and being honest with yourself. It’s not about reflections or the fickle fate of wealth. But don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying that you’ll lose. Be everything you can be. Be the best you find in you. So when the curtain finally falls and the yodeling is done, it’s whether you have lived your life, not if you lost or won.
Scared? I’m scared of the day when the sun is new and nothing is hidden from my view. No nice, murky shadows to scamper inside. I can’t feel safe, with no dark place to hide. When I go outside, I’m scared of the ground, so I climb a big tree to calm myself down. The higher I scramble, the better I feel, as long as I know that the distance is real. I’m scared of my bed when nighttime comes. I crawl underneath and suck my thumb. The top is too awful, with pillows and sheets. The blankets are heavy. They strangle my feet. Though I always work hard to not be afraid, sometimes what scares me is hard to evade. I have lots of fears, stuff I worry about, but I try to be brave, and it’s trying that counts.
Overpacked I packed too much again you see, I do this every time. I fill my bag up to the top so I must leave things behind. I have some extra memories and precious souvenirs. I left behind a wish or two and lots of empty fears. I took a ton of snapshots which are stored inside my mind. But I packed too much again you see
. . . and I left my heart behind.
Super? I met a superhero while I was in a bind. He was really super strong and very super kind. He said he had two super kids and a lovely super wife. And they had a super dog to complete their super life. He told me all about the super things he’d done. He’d saved the world five hundred times... once using just his thumb. For hours, while I dangled, he spun his super tales. I listened to his bragging; turning minnows into whales. It seems he’d rescued everyone that had ever been in peril. He’d been honored in a thousand towns for being such a hero. He said he was the real deal, and not a super fake. But he couldn’t save me right away because he was on a break.
A violin and a fiddle arenâ€™t really the same.
Theyâ€™re exactly alike but they have different names.
Insatiable Appetite I had a misunderstanding today with relish on the side. I washed it down with courage but just could not decide... Do I eat the fat-free plate of guilt? Or leave room for a grudge? I guess you probably didn’t know that irony tastes like fudge. I’ve swallowed my pride. I’ve eaten my words, complete with mounds of disdain. Did you know that love and chaos taste pretty much the same? And if everything’s topped with common sense it’s all a little bland. But the bitter drops of hatred are more than I can stand. I’d like to bake a special cake, filled with happiness. Serve coffee covered kisses with an upside-down apple wish. I’d like to buy the world a laugh and put it in their tea. All the magic that surrounds us is found in you and me.
Long Live the King In days of old when knights were bold when damsels were distressed, there was a king who used to sing while he was quite undressed. The king of nude he was quite rude for he cared not who was near. He sang the blues in just his shoes with his court just to the rear.
She chased Happiness down the stairs and then out the back door. She lost him in the street down by the record store.
I don’t know why she sought him out, why she didn’t wait for him, but on and on went her pursuit though she could never win.
She caught him two weeks later and he quickly got away. So she followed him discreetly to find out where he stayed.
Without another option, she wandered out of town, her world a mess, like all the rest, ‘cause someone let her down.
She tried to trick and trap him to keep him by her side. But every time she turned around, Happiness would hide.
She sat alone and cried there. She knew this was the end . . . Then Happiness approached her and asked to be her friend.
Eat at Joe's The menu is deceiving. The descriptions are benign. All the reasons that you salivate are ringing in your mind. Though it’s all well represented and the pictures are concise, the problem with the menu is that nothing’s that precise. In reality it’s different. Nothing’s ever that surreal. And the menu doesn’t show you how things taste or how they feel. A question doesn’t smell the same if it’s roasted on a fire. A grudge is bland without regret. There’s no icing on desire. A slice of life is way too big to eat all by yourself. And nothing’s quite as tasty as a piece of mental health. This menu is a reference point to help you to decide what makes a perfect entrée or what’s good on the side. Our prices are quite decent, the portion size is good. The diet plate is stir fried lies and “I don’t really think I should.” But don’t rely on what you read, or the pictures that they show. Just grab a menu, have a seat, ’cause you can’t get it to go.
The Hop Ice Cream Shop Enter a world of delight, where vegetables taste like treats. Waffle cone-scented happiness. The atmosphere drizzled in sweets. A place where caramel is salted and spinach can be an ice cream. Sorbet, almond milk or chocolate, every scoop is a bite of a dream. The flavors are always homemade. Each cake has a filling of love. A family-friendly community that should be covered in fudge. Free music swells to the walls. Magic and poetry breathe. All that is whimsical calls . . . Just one nibble and you will believe.
The Wishing Tree Two hundred years ago, in a land so far away, there was a legend told to the children one spring day. The wizard of the town told the story of the sky. He said the moonâ€™s a crystal ball with one all-seeing eye. He said there is a fence, with a tree along the side and the moon had seen a girl, who sat beneath and cried. And the moon, he felt compassion for the girl beneath the tree. He cried a lonely tear for her, which fell into the sea. The tear looked like a star, shooting in the night. The young girl gazed upon it, as it fell far from her sight. And aloud she made a wish, and the moon above her smiled, and he granted her that wish, for her faith was as a childâ€™s. And ever since that night, the moon has watched that tree, so if you ever sit beneath, please make a wish for me.
Iâ€™m really quite skinny , this is a fact. If my stomac h gets itchy . .. I just scratc h my back.
I Forgot . . . I forgot who I was for a moment and I lost what I wanted to say, but I’m certain it was important, the one thing so you’d want to stay. Just look on the floor all around you. Just check on the stairs and the ground. ‘Cause I know when you hear all about it, you’ll be happy that I’m still around. The words that you gave me are safe though, tucked in my leather backpack. They’re the paste that’s holding my dreams, I’m afraid that I can’t give them back. I’ve misplaced the sentence I wanted, the reason I wanted to smile. So search out the places around you. I know you’ll find me worthwhile. I forgot who I was for a moment. I forgot who I wanted to be. If you find the one phrase that I’m missing, please remember that it was from me.
Wanting Nothing I’m getting used to wanting nothing, and it’s harder than I thought. It’s made from unobtanium and nothing can’t be bought. I have nothing when I wake up. I have nothing when I sleep. So I figured that I’d give up on the somethings I don’t need. And nothing can be small. It won’t take up any space. And if I ever lose it, it’s quite easy to replace. I have some nothing no one gave me, and I keep it in my mind. There’s lots of extra room in there, so it’s easier to find. And I’d like to give you something, but I like you more than that. ‘Cause everyone gives something when they don’t know where nothing’s at. So here’s a piece of nothing. Please keep it close to you. If you find you’re out of something, it’s nothing you can use.
Tea Party Welcome to my shell. Please make yourself at home. Hang your coat on my Insecurity. Set your hat on my dusty, old phone. Wipe your feet on my Self-Esteem. It’s lying in front of the door. I just can’t show you my Beauty; I forgot to pick it up at the store. There’s some Sanity there on the table . . . not much, but please take what’s left. I’d show you my heart, but it’s being repaired. It was broken by my last guest. Could you please hold this Grudge for a moment while I check on the cake of Despair? And let me know if you’re feeling weak, I have plenty of Strength you can wear. There are Wishes in an old cookie jar. I made them myself last night. Or I can brew up a pot of Bitterness, if you’re more in the mood for a fight. I can’t offer intelligent chatter. My Brain died while I was in school. But if you’re hurting for entertainment, I’d be more than happy to play the fool.
Creative License Paint me a smile. Draw me a dream. Sculpt me emotions that I’ve never seen. Write me an ending. Script out romance. Hold off the credits so I have a chance. Sing me an hour, a chorus of time. Play all the memories I cannot find. Act out the person I want here with me. Knit me a promise that you’ll always keep. Sketch out a hope and crochet in a kiss. Stitch me a quilt of the secrets I’ve missed. Laugh me a symphony crescendoed and swirled. Make every difference you can in my world.
The World's Greatest Chef Little John Christopher made a mud pie. It stretched to the sea and it rose to the sky.
The crowd became silent, the town grew quite still. His hands deep in soil, he toiled and tilled.
He worked every day â€˜till the sun went down. Soon a crowd gathered from all over town.
And then he was finished, his masterpiece done. He knelt down beside it while it baked in the sun.
He used everything from dirt to fresh cloves with a secret ingredient that nobody knows. He sprinkled in flowers and towers of seeds. He sifted in sugar and avoided all weeds.
The audience cheered and then slowly cleared out. John Christopher pondered then was left without doubt. And after some time, that pie went to waste. That scrumptious mud pie, that no one would taste.
Making Wishes I’m weaving a wish out of peace and a prayer, and a warm summer sky, and a day at the fair. I’m weaving a wish from threads of the truth, a beautiful smile, and an hour of youth. I’m weaving a wish to use as you please, with the strength and the power of a really good sneeze. And I’ll send it to you. It’s for you to keep. Put it under your pillow when you’re going to sleep. There’s more where that came from, I’ll be mailing them soon. I’m just weaving up wishes and they’re woven for you.
Have you seen Tomorrow? Tomorrow was kidnapped so I’m stuck here for now. I’m trying to find him but no one’s sure how. I’ve looked for a note. I’ve searched for the clues. I’d be glad to pay ransom, but they may just refuse. He was standing alone at the start of the end, when Today didn’t finish so he couldn’t begin. And then he was gone, no trace of him left, so I came to ask you what you think is best. Without him around there’s no future at all. The police are no help, so don’t bother to call. They think he’ll show up, that Tomorrow’s just fine. He just can’t be rushed. I should “give it some time.” But I’m worried you see, and I really can’t wait. I know I’m impatient, but Tomorrow is late. And I’m done with Today, and I have to move on, so if you see Tomorrow, will you tell him I’ve gone?
Bedtime Story Come hear a story children, and help me make it real. Take the path that Alice took and spin the golden wheel. Come chase that odd, white rabbit down to the Mad Hatter’s place, then search for the grinning cat who somehow lost his face. Let’s go meet Cinderella. Let’s shake the Prince’s hand. Let’s take the yellow brick road and fly to Neverland. Come meet Christopher Robin. and nap with Winnie-the-Pooh Lets fret with Piglet and Eeyore and romp with Tigger and Roo. We’ll fight off witches and dragons and see a ticking crocodile. Let’s find out where the sidewalk ends, then sit and rest awhile. We’ll drink from a chocolate river and care for Paddington Bear, then stop and watch the tortoise outrun that lazy hare. Just listen to the stories children, and listen to them well. Just sleep and we will go there to see them for ourselves.
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I start and I stop, and I try it again . . . The unending fight to live up to my pen.
Author's Notes Violin Note:
I only met Emily Eliot-Gaines once, at my friend Wendy Lou’s house. She was there visiting Wendy’s daughter, Jae. The 16 year-old violinist was a bright and funny girl, immediately likable and memorable. Emily passed away in December 2011, and at that time, I was still editing the pieces for this book. This poem just popped into my head one day and I decided to put it into my book. In this way I could acknowledge the spirit and quick-wit of a sweet girl whose life brought smiles to everyone who met her . . . including me.
Fiddle Note: Since there was a violin for Emily, there needed to be a fiddle which was named as well. Nicky Sanders was an easy choice. As a member of both Steep Canyon Rangers and Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers, Nicky has graciously accepted my online humor about Mr. Martin and both bands. While he is labeled as the fiddle, Nicky is actually quite an accomplished violinist as well. I happened to see him while I was working on the illustration for this poem. He kindly gave me direction to keep it from looking like an upright bass. Hop Ice Cream Note:
The Hop Ice Cream Cafe is a real shop located in Asheville, NC. Owned by Greg and Ashley Garrison, their focus is to make the best homemade treats using locally grown ingredients whenever possible. Both The Hop and The Hop West provide free, familyfriendly entertainment and often donate proceeds from these events to local charitable organizations. I have had the honor of performing at both locations.
Dream Maker Note:
Wendy Lou is a real person and a dear friend. This poem would not be possible without essential edits from another amazing friend, Catherine Wells.
Eat at Joe's Note:
The sun was drawn by my little man, Lennon. He drew it after I drew the other artwork & he was so proud of it that he asked if it could be included in my book . . . of course, I did not hesitate to find a place for it.
R.O. Franks Hot Air Balloon Company, Par-T-Perfect Asheville, Dreamspider Publicity Jerry Nelson Photography, Sav Sankaran, Grateful Steps Publishing, Tim Culberson and Asheville Aerial Photography, Julianna Finch, John Hayes
The Sidewalk isn’t cracking. The Attic Light won’t dim. The world that Shel created, is where my world begins.
Acknowledgements I had considered just listing the people I don’t want to thank, as it would take up far less space, but given all the support that I’ve received from so many friends, they deserve to be acknowledged. Thank you to those who have been behind me from the beginning, even if they’ve sometimes made faces behind my back: Rick & Carol Barnes, Frank Dockstader, David Skeleton, Cici Dockstader, Rikki & Patrick Goodwin, Jon & Ian Barnes, Brad Stefl, Linda Goodall, Jerry Dellinger, Rhys Lovell, Christopher Friedli, Steve Alley, Tina Balay, Dr. Pat Van West, David Foster Wallace, Todd Ballowe, Paul Yoggerst, Amber BrewsterGraning, Jon Watkins, Jim Chuporak, Galen Cundiff, Dean Franks, Reverend Tom Riemenschneider, Jane Fermazin, Rose Quaresima, Melissa Traum, Tom Kuster, Chris Zeter, Peter & Kate Birk, Dan Knestaut, Amreen Kahn, Kara Albrecht, Herb Cott, The Open Mic That Wouldn’t Die, the many fine coffee establishments in Bloomington/Normal, Illinois, and all of the amazing & wonderful people at Mooseheart Child City & within the Loyal Order of Moose. Thank you to those who came along after my move to Asheville, NC: Alex Zendel, David LaMotte, Laura Blackley, Jimmy Landry, The Grey Eagle, Bean Streets, LOFT, Tressa Thornton, Stephen Wolff, Greg & Ashley Garrison, Zen & Helen Sutherland, Dennis Jones, Joe Kendrick and the fantastic folks at WNCW, Jay Sanders, Purple Mountain Gallery, Karen Bell, Ty Hallock, Jessica Stouder, Gary Charles, Katie & Travis Skinner, David Frary, Robe Kane, Fisher, Justin Raybuck, Roberto Hess, Robert Henry, the lovely people at Charlotte Street & Biltmore Starbucks, Nicky Sanders, Rosanne Cash, Steve Martin, Ten Cent Poetry, Wordfest, Mark & Angie Penzkover, Adam, Beth & Willy Casto, Shane Remmington, Cate Peterson, Kendall Weaver, Butch Hall, Darren Marshall, Sandy Maxey, Julie Atallah, Robin Plemmons, Kelby & Mike Carr, Jenna Farelyn, Thomas Beckett, Chuck Satterlee, Jeremy Carter, Fairway Outdoor Digital & Joel Hurst, Zach Seifts, Bombs Away Cabaret, Art Space Charter School, Wendi Loomis, Jude Lally, Jerry Nelson, Jarrett Leone, Sarah Benoit, Lana Phenechka-Spahr, Andrew Fletcher, Morgan Harrell, James McKenzie & Jonathan Ammons. For their seemingly endless well of support & assistance & for helping this book come to life: Thank you to Bobby & Lennon Angell, Wendy Lou & my minions: Jae, Tres & Donovan, Catherine Wells, John Hayes, Joseph Barcia, Erin Scholze, Rachel Simon, Matt Mulder, Laura Hope-Gill & the amazing people at Grateful Steps Publishing. I could not write or draw without a soundtrack, & these people were there with their brilliance when I needed them: Steep Canyon Rangers, Steve Martin & Steep Canyon Rangers, Nuno Bettencourt, Josh Phillips Folk Festival, Rosanne Cash, Peter Gabriel, Counting Crows, Sam Lewis & David LaMotte. To my Twitter & Facebook friends, whom I interact with daily & to my Google+ friends whom I never see . . . I thank you for your support. To my nieces, whom I also never see; Cami Dockstader, Melinda Paige O’Keefe, Athena Dockstader, Evening Dockstader, Tiffany Morrow & Brooke Morrow . . . I hope I’ve made you proud & that you know how much I care about all of you.
Finally, to Shel Silverstein, for paving the sidewalk so that writers like myself could continue to the journey where he left off.
Author Bio Barbie Dockstader Angell is a poet, short story writer, satirist and artist in Asheville, North Carolina. Born near Chicago, Barbie grew up on a farm in Yorkville, Illinois, until moving to Arizona at age 10. After her parents divorced a year later, she spent time living with family and friends until, at the age of 13, she was placed in Mooseheart, in Aurora, Illinois. Known as “The Child City,” Mooseheart is a home for children whose parents are unable to care for them. It is sponsored by the Loyal Order of Moose. While her first Christmas there was difficult, one of the gifts donated to her was a diary that would change her life. Since an orphanage is not a place where one can have privacy, she chose instead to hide her thoughts in poetry. Barbie’s writing flourished and was recognized by a first prize award during her senior year. After graduation, Barbie attended a small, private school near her family. Having had her sights set on being a lawyer since the age of 6, the attention her writing garnered there was not enough to change her career choice—until her mentor, Lincoln College’s theater director Jerry Dellinger, sat her down for an honest discussion. “So here’s the thing.” Jerry said, “You want to study to be a lawyer, but that’s not right. You’re not going to ever be a lawyer no matter how much you study, because you are a writer. That’s what you’re good at and that’s what you should do.” This discussion changed her major— and her life. In 1994, Jerry convinced her she should perform her poetry in order to grow as an artist, and Barbie gave her first live performance at the Bloomington, Illinois, Barnes & Noble. In 1997, she began successfully performing at a local bar, and also started “The Open Mic That Wouldn’t Die,” which she ran until moving to Asheville in 1999. Her words took her to a poetry competition in DC in 1997 as well, where she placed 12th out of 1400 poets from around the world. Barbie has performed in coffee houses, bars, ice cream shops and outdoor venues. Her goal has always been to reach people who don’t know they like poetry, and convince them that they do. In addition to live performances, Barbie has sold over 500 copies each of three previous self-published volumes of poetry. Barbie is a writer who rhymes, and her affinity for rhyme is not surprising at all—she grew up devouring the works of Shel Silverstein and Lewis Carroll. As a child plagued with illness and severe asthma, she spent quite a bit of her time alone. As is often the case with writers, her love of words is derived from the fact that books were her closest friends. And now Barbie is following in Shel’s footsteps again, with her first book of children’s poetry and illustrations, Roasting Questions, being published by Grateful Steps Publishing House in Asheville.
I’m incredibly humble, everyone agrees. Any prizes for humility should always go to me.
The end you will find, can alter your mind,
and help you discover your dreams. 35
Published on Nov 30, 2012
A work-in-progress publication of the remarkable, inimitable children's poetry of Asheville's beloved bardess, Barbie Angell. Available for...