The Chamber Magazine

I am super excited today! I submitted 2 ghost stories about a young woman who is a sensitive, or someone capable of feeling the presence of paranormals. The first story called The Cold Spot will be published on April 2nd at 10:00 am. The second story will appear on April 9th in that next edition online. It is simply called Stull. Stull is the name of a paranormal mecca, a gateway to the underworld located outside Lawrence, Kansas. Both ghost stories are works of fiction but inspired by true locations in the Kansas City area.

Here is the link to The Chamber Magazine. They are seeking submissions like poetry or short stories that involve horror, dark subjects, gore, ghosts, monsters, etc. To learn more, check out their site:

New Stories, Poetry, Interviews, and Articles

It Has Been 10 Years Since the Joplin Tornado

The Joplin tornado hit in Southwest Missouri on May 22, 2011. I can still remember it like yesterday. We were living 20 minutes drive from Joplin. Everyone was in shock at the devastation. The walls of the Home Depot collapsed inward. The Walmart was just a torn up mess of debris and dangerous wires everywhere. A huge swath of the Rangeline shopping district had been ripped apart. The St. John’s Hospital was completely destroyed. Cars were crushed and tossed here and there. People were stuck in their basements trying to get out. Homes were wiped out. Bodies were here and there. It was bad. Unlike anything I’d ever seen since 9-11.

My friend Jordan and her husband Dr. Fox headed down there immediately to help triage patients. My husband Dennis drove as fast as he could to Joplin to help Kelly, his brother-in-law. Their house was obliterated, all but the bath tub pretty much. They survived. Alot of people did not.

There were stories told. Awful stories like a mother that heard about the tornado too late and went to get her daughter who was playing outside only to find the girl had been swept away by the winds. Then there was the story of the boy that was sucked through the sunroof of his car while his Dad tried desperately to cling to him to no avail.

Yes, I have lived in tornado alley most all my life. We sorta scoff at them naders as we call em. Ain’t scared a no nader. But the truth is we all remember Joplin. It will be something we will never forget. Some of us still can’t even communicate our feelings fully about that day.

Tornado season is approaching. This weekend, we’ll clean up the basement a little and put pallets down in case of too much rain. We’ll put the usual chairs and table in the storm shelter and leave the back door open for any neighbors that need to seek shelter underground quickly with us. The storms have grown more frequent and harsher than I remember as a kid. Perhaps it has to do with climate change.

I, myself, have only encountered a severe wind storm tottering near level 1 tornado. But it was enough to scare the heck outta me. There was no time. It came up very fast. The lights went out. I ran from my bedroom to my children’s room. Things were hitting the house. Lots of things. Very loud. I pulled my sleeping children off their beds. I put them underneath me in a pile. We were all suddenly scared. I remember the sound of the wind in the dark as I looked up at the popcorn ceiling. There was no time to pray or for sirens. There was just a tremendous sucking noise as if something was gonna lift the roof clean off. My only thought was, “This roof is gonna come off us.”

It lasted maybe thirty seconds. I heard the timbers busting in the roof. I heard stuff hitting the house. Big stuff now.

And then it was gone. Just like that. We sat in the dark huddled together and in the distance a lone tornado siren began to sound a few minutes later. It was eerie.

The power came back up the next day. My Dad came to our house about 2 am with a lantern. He said, “Don’t go outside until the morning. You’ll step on something.” I don’t know how he managed to get through all the debris to us. The first thing he asked is if we were okay. I nodded. The kids had gone back to sleep.

The next day I saw the neighborhood. Whole trees were uprooted and tossed into homes or sheds. Trampolines were all bent and twisted up and thrown around. Alot of roofs were busted up, including ours. We had several broken timbers in the roof and there was a dent in the ceiling above my bed. The mall was a mess. Signs were thrown everywhere or toppled over. Even stuff was busted up in the cemetery. I had never experienced a night like that before and I hope to not again in the future. They say when you might die, your memories flash through your mind but all I could think in that moment was “dang, this roof is about to come off.” Anyway, we moved from that place. Found a place with a basement shelter and we love living here. If we can just only get through that dang tornado season….

I have one more tornado story to share. A few years later, we were heading to Colorado in an old RV bumper pull. We had two flat tires back to back. It was getting dark in the sky and the winds were picking up. We were on our way to Dodge City. We had to limp the RV slowly into a little town called Kinsley, a place I’d never heard of. There were tumbleweeds blowing strongly across the road as we made our way there. We stayed in the only spot we could, a little park on the outskirts of town where the Farmers’ market would be held the following day. That night the winds really picked up strong and rocked the RV back and forth. We eventually fell asleep.

The next morning we opened the door of the RV and the people from the Farmers’ Market were set up with tents and wares all around. They helped us get the tires repaired and gave us breakfast. They were very kind to us, especially my children. They told us we were lucky to find Kinsley. Some semi trucks further on down the road to Dodge City had been picked up and thrown off to the sides of the highway overturned. We asked why Kinsley was important. They said it was an old Indian settlement surrounded on three sides by a ridge. It was near Greensburg. They said tornadoes hit all around Kinsley but never hit the town. It was protected. It was a special place. I guess those flat tires were a good thing after all.

Here’s some old footage of the Joplin tornado. It will be 10 years this May 22nd.

Virtually Kiss the Blarney Stone

St. Patrick’s Day is fast approaching! This is a wonderful holiday full of cheer and good tidings. I love the Irish blessings I see passed around every year on Facebook. Here is mine for you:

Since you are a writer, a poet, a blogger, an artist, a musician, or a dreamer perhaps….here are some pictures of the Blarney Castle for you. It is said that if you kiss a certain rock while hanging upside down at the top of the castle…you will be gifted with the finest eloquence the world has ever seen! Here’s to you and yours this wondrous St. Paddy’s Day. May you have love and laughter all the days of your lucky life.

I know I include music quite often in my blog…perhaps too much but I play this song often for my children in the car. It reminds me of an old Irish blessing. It was played for me on the day I graduated high school. This song has a special place in my heart from that day. I intend to play it for my son and daughter the day they graduate from high school too some day. Listen to it and have a wonderful St. Paddy’s Day!

The Firefly’s Secret: A Story for Children

By J. Speer

The firefly was once merely a little bug who loved the sun with all his heart. Every day he flew through the valley. He greeted his friends in the sunshine. Wally the water buffalo would say, “Hi!” Then, he would continue munching lovely green grass. There was also Greg the Giraffe who tottered high and tall near the trees. The little bug would fly past the lion, the cheetahs, and even the hyenas. He would skim across the waters of the river and visit the hippos, the crocodiles, and fly over the rhinos. The little bug loved his valley. He loved the river, the trees, the rocks. In fact, his home was a big rock on the biggest hill to the side of the valley. It was a perfect place where he could see all, including the sun which he loved most of all.

Every day, the sun rose with beautiful light. The sun burst light everywhere onto every inch of the land. It glowed. It radiated. The sun was brilliant. The little bug admired the sun. When the sun was around, the fly was happy.

But every evening, the sun had to go. The little fly did not understand why. He wanted to play in the light of the sun. The sun would lower toward the horizon and the little bug would look at it sadly. It was time for the sun to go.

The little bug would fly back to the big rock where he could look over the valley. His friends all went to their places to sleep too. The little bug sat on the rock and sighed. He was very sad. Night after night, the little bug would sit on the rock and wait for the sun to return. One night,in the glow of the moonlight above him, the little bug began to cry.

The moon watched the little bug, sad and alone on the rock. The moon lowered in the sky to glow a soft light onto the big rock. The little bug looked up at the moon and sadly smiled.

“Why do you cry, little bug?” Asked the moon.

“I’m sad. I want the sun to come back,” said the little bug.

The moon looked at the little bug with compassion. She lowered closer to the big rock and glowed a beautiful night light.

“I have a secret to tell you. It is the secret of the sun and the secret of the moon and now it will be the secret of you…if you are ready,” said the moon.

“I am ready,” said the little bug.

“One time, a long, long time ago, the sun was all alone in the dark. He sat in the darkness and he was very sad just like you. He longed for a friend. He wanted someone to help him. He was very sad. Then, one day, he grew tired of being sad. He started to focus inside himself. He created light, a tiny spark made of self-love in his heart. He focused on that tiny spark and it grew to be a bigger spark. He kept fanning the flames of the spark within until it became bigger and bigger. Now he shines with the most brilliant of lights. His light of love shines everywhere and makes everyone happy around him. That is his secret. He had to create it within before he could shine it outside.”

She continued, “Shining the light within can be exhausting though even for the sun. So he must leave to rest and recover so he can continue to shine it the next day. The sun doesn’t want to leave you, little bug, he has to leave to rest.”

The moon looked fondly at the little bug. If she could hug her little friend, she would.

“I was once like you. You remind me of myself. I too missed the sun at night. We all did, the stars and I. One day, the sun told us the secret of his ability to shine. The stars and I tried very hard to find the spark within, the light of self-love, and slowly one by one we began to light up the midnight sky. I glow for me. I love my glow. It is soft and dreamy. I have a beautiful light within…and you will too now that you know the secret of how to shine for yourself and thereby, for the world.”

She smiled, “Goodbye, little bug. I wish you the best. Shine on.”

The little bug sat on the rock alone in the dark and thinking of the moon’s words. He sat on that rock for many, many days as he tried to find a spark of love inside his heart too. He finally found it and the spark grew and grew and grew until he glowed all over with a soft, pretty light.

“Wow,” he said. He flew over the valley shining his beautiful little glow everywhere for himself and thereby, for his friends who admired it.

He passed down the secret to his children who passed it down to their descendants.

Today, as the sun starts to sink into the horizon, the fireflies come out over all the valley to glow soft little lights. They light up the valley. They are so beautiful.

Now, also the fireflies are all over the world too. Little children love and admire them. They chase after the gentle, glowing bugs. They laugh when a little firefly lets them catch them. They open their hands in wonder to stare in awe at the glow of the little firefly.

How do they glow? The children ask themselves this question.

What is their secret?

Now you, little one, little child…you know the secret of the sun, the moon, the stars, and the fireflies. The secret is within you. The secret to shining for all is self-love.

Now, how will you shine your little light inside. Focus on it. Find it. Help it to grow and you too will soon learn how to glow. And when you glow, the whole world will be a happier place.

You Cannot Break Love

Love does not come from the heart.

Rather, the heart comes from love. 

The heart may break but the origin of the heart is eternity.

When you understand this,

You understand love. 

For love flows through all things and all times. 

It permeates everything…

The raindrop, the ant, the mountain, the tree.

Why do you cry, silly girl?

Why do you hang your head low? 

Do you think you have lost love?

Do you seek it?

Do you ask yourself when will you find it?

Love is within you.

Love is near, ever present surrounding you

In the winds, the foods, the waters, the books you read, the poems you write, the thoughts you think. 

Love is in all that you do and all that has been done before or will be done in the future. 

Love is life.

Love is reality. 

Love is the past.

Love is the present.

Love is the future. 

Love exists through creation, destruction, and renewal.

Love was there in your first breath and will be there for your last.

Love was there for your ancestors and will be there for your descendants. 

All creations of love will return to the source and then flow out again. 

You cannot lose that which is never lost, never broken, never entirely destroyed. 

Dry your tears. 

Stop dwelling on sadness.

Don’t expect another to provide you this love.

Open your eyes and see love for what it truly is…immortal.    

Connect to that source that flows through you

And no man shall break you anymore.      

Love amid the Lanes

This is my Valentine’s Day gift to you! I wrote a piece for a love contest. Here is the entry. It is supposed to be a heart-warming story about love in a Midwest bowling alley. Picture Kingpin meets Romeo and Juliet.

I hope you have a wonderful, romantic Valentine’s Day! Stay warm too, my friends!

Imagine Me and You

by J. Speer

In 2018, there was a little bowling alley in Hot Springs, Arkansas.  It was a popular locals’ joint and featured 12 open lanes for 12 unique teams on league night each Friday evening.  People loved going to the little bowling alley to unwind from a long week of work. 

The bowling alley manager was named Bill Casey.  He had owned the bowling alley since 1987, the year Patrick Swayze dirty danced with Jennifer Grey having the time of her life.  Bill had three great loves in his life: the game of bowling, his deceased wife Maria, and their one daughter she had named Jennifer. 

Jennifer worked the bowling alley counter.  She also was the top bowler on a league team named I Can’t Believe It’s Not Gutter.  Jennifer was a vibrant woman though still unmarried.  For years, she had looked in vain for that one true love of her life. Her team of friends was several fun colleagues from diverse occupations who shared the one commonality of being from different minority groups.  They all agreed on one thing.  They disliked the other competitive league team at Lane 1 called Split Happens

Split Happens consisted mostly of what some might call “a redneck hillbilly crowd.”  They were dang good bowlers.  The best player on the team was a handsome eligible bachelor named David Huxley.  Every Friday night, the team at lane 1 and the team at lane 2 would spar good-naturedly trading continuous barbs or pranks at each other’s expense. 

Every year, inevitably, these two teams would face off against each other in the annual Championship for the Big Balls trophy, a much-esteemed achievement.  For the past three years, Split Happens had held the title of Champion on the grandmaster board.  This was dedicated to all the great bowling league teams through the years since 1987. 

There were other teams in the league too that stood a chance at winning a prestigious spot on the leader board.  The group in Lane 3, for example, was a hardy team of independent feminists.  Their team was named Got Ya By the Balls.  In lane 4, likewise, was a team of fun-loving LGBT friends named The Sexy Strikers.  There were other lesser teams as well, such as the comic book fan team called the X-men at Lane 7.  They loved all things high tech.   

David Huxley and Jennifer Casey had grown up together, attending the same classes at the same elementary school and high school.  David had always admired Jennifer from afar.  Jennifer, for her part, held in high esteem David’s ability to hit multiple strikes.  He carried his team to victory again and again.  They, however, were adversaries on opposing teams.  For some reason, through all the years, the two had never really dated.  But that all was about to change…

It was a cold, blustery Friday night in February just before Valentine’s Day.  The league games had just ended.  Split Happens and I Can’t Believe it’s Not Gutter both defeated their opponent teams.  The sore losers for the night were taking off their bowling shoes and turning them in to Bill at the counter.  They were heading out the door. 

Jennifer wandered over to the old arcade that held the ancient Atari games and racing games.  David was already in there with a few friends.  She took some quarters out of her pocket.  She eyed the old air hockey game to the side of the room.  David looked over at her mildly with interest.  He always seemed to notice her.  She caught his glance and smiled.  Cocking her head towards the air hockey, she asked him, “You up for a game of this?  Haven’t played it in a while.”

“As I recall,” he said, “You used to be pretty good at this one.”

She laughed.  “I’m a little rusty, I’m sure.”

They put the quarters in the slot and the air hockey game commenced a humming noise indicating it had started.  The two squared off against each other on opposing sides.  Jennifer scored the first point and grinned.  David grinned back.  He quickly scored the second point.  Jennifer rolled up her sleeves to try again. 

Several minutes of aggressive play continued with David scoring three more points to Jennifer’s frustration.  She eyed him coolly at this point.  She set the hockey puck down on the table ahead of her.  She rapidly scored the next point. 

David watched her more intently.  He noticed every little detail about the way she bit her upper lip as a tell that she was getting ready to strike or the way she squinted when he would come close to scoring again.  The hockey puck went back and forth more urgently.  David noticed too that she looked quite pretty that night with her curly black hair tied back at the nape of her neck, her crew shirt, and slim jeans accentuating her appearance.  She scored another point and he let out a slow whistle. 

“Damn,” he said under his breath.  The game continued.  He ended up winning and smiled mischievously.  Although defeated, Jennifer had to admit to herself that she loved that smile.  David had always been handsome and loved to have a good time. 

“Alright, I guess you won this time.” She admitted.  They both shared a brief moment.  She figured she needed to help clean-up so she started to turn away to leave the arcade.  David frowned just a little.  He finally said the thought that had been in his head through most of the air hockey game. 

“You doing anything later tonight?”  Jennifer blinked.  She looked around at the others in the arcade for a moment. 

“No, no plans.  Why?”  She said bluntly surprised.

They agreed that night to maybe go out to the local coffeehouse after she finished work. 

Later that night, they sat together at The Bluebird coffee shop downtown and pretty soon were exchanging fun stories and engaging in entertaining banter.  Jennifer felt comfortable with David, although they both worried a little that at any moment, they might be seen sitting at the same table.  They agreed to go on a few more dates after that.  The romance started out a little slow and then quickly picked up steam.  One date was a dinner, another was a movie, and soon they were spending a lot of secret time together while still bowling as adversaries on League nights.  It soon became obvious to both parties that they might be falling in love. 

The secret rendezvous exchange continued.  It led to passionate embraces and nights spent lovingly in each other’s arms.  Neither one was sure what to say to their other team mates.  They agreed to keep things hush for the time being.    

Then, one night as fate would have it, they were discovered.  Jennifer had another secret admirer, a pretty woman from another team named Leslie Shaw.  Upon encountering the couple holding hands in the mall parking lot outside a local delicatessen, Leslie dropped her jaw in shock. 

“Holy cow,” she muttered under her breath.  This is interesting she said to herself with a slight twinge of jealousy. 

Leslie Shaw wanted her team, The Sexy Strikers, to win the leader board position too.  She devised a plan to blackmail the two lovers, threatening to expose them to everyone unless they both agreed to throw their games in the semi-final matches, allowing Leslie’s team to move forward to the Championship game.  Jennifer and David reluctantly agreed.    

Split Happens went first in the semi-finals and Jennifer watched sadly as David “accidentally” threw gutter ball after gutter ball forfeiting his team’s place and frustrating all his teammates to no end.  They shook their heads in disgust.  Some team members from Lane 2 scoffed at the losers with delight.      

As the second semi-final game commenced, a sudden fight broke out in the nearby lounge room between Team 1 and Team 2 players.  This spilled over quickly to an all-out brawl in the crowded league night bowling alley.  All the divided teams were fighting and carrying on.  David searched for Jennifer across the crowded room.  Jennifer tried to keep her sights on him too. 

Somehow in the midst of all the quarreling, David got hit by a thrown bowling ball.  Jennifer called out to him in alarm over the ruckus.  She rushed towards him.  She quickly helped him back to his feet. 

“You, ok?” she asked with concern and the two embraced.  All around them, people noticed and the room went still. 

“What?” she said defensively while looking around.  She reached hesitantly for his hand.  His fingers enclosed around hers too. 

“What the heck?!” said a few shocked onlookers.  David and Jennifer looked around awkwardly. 

“Yes, ok, we’ve been dating…” David began.  He then proceeded to explain the story of their relationship and what happened with Leslie.  Leslie looked down embarrassed.  She slinked off to the side a bit. 

 David looked around and back at Jennifer holding his hand.  He smiled at her. 

“I know we all have our differences,” he said hesitantly.  “But the truth is I love this woman.  Jennifer Casey, will you marry me?” He asked her as he started to get down on one knee.

The crowd completely stopped fighting.  Everyone waited for the reply.   When Jennifer said, “Yes!”  her teammates were among the first to clap alongside the team mates from Split Happens.             

Soon the folks that had been looking to start trouble were ashamed of their behavior.  The whole room clapped then, even Bill Casey who clapped the loudest.  It was decided that the couple would get married at the bowling alley later on that month. 

Bill Casey disbanded the league teams.  He took down the leader board which had caused so much animosity among the different groups.  There would be no more league nights, no more winners and losers.  Everyone would play as equals.    

On the wedding night, David Huxley and Jennifer Casey married at Lane 5.  He wore a tuxedo.  She wore a white wedding dress.  They kissed happily.  She tossed the bouquet.  Leslie Shaw managed to capture the bouquet too alongside a beautiful bowler named Sara.  Leslie and Sara smiled shyly at each other.  For Leslie, it seemed fated.  That’s how Leslie found her new love interest in life. 

That night, the bowlers at Bill Casey’s little bowling alley in Arkansas all bowled together as friends in a big diverse party.  Bill Casey turned the lights down low.  He set everything to Cosmic Bowling.  He turned on the music.   Happy Together by the Turtles filled the air and everyone was truly happy in that moment, especially David Huxley and Jennifer Casey. 

The Reaper

A few years ago, my daughter and I developed this outline for a Grim Reaper story. It is an apprentice story with a love interest and involves an interesting figure from the Bible. I never got much further with this piece. Here’s what we developed thus far. Maybe some day we will get back to collaborating together on something like this.

Outline for story:

A young boy’s parents die in a car crash.  They are coming home from vacation when the car is hit by a semi-truck and forced off a bridge and falls below into the forest.   The boy is the only survivor of the accident but barely.  He is really close to death.  He witnesses a dark entity near his parents. It is the Grim Reaper. The Grim Reaper takes the souls of his parents.  He thinks it is a hallucination and he is trying to focus but is in and out of consciousness.

The dark entity comes closer to him. The image is burned in the back of his mind and he wonders if he really did stare death in the face that night.  Death chooses not to take the boy because he sees something special in him. The entity leaves.  

Later on, the boy goes to a foster home.  He grows up in Detroit. He later joins a gang in a bad neighborhood he lives in but he only joined the gang to survive on the streets.  One night, one of the gang members goes too far and wants to steal from a shop.  A cop comes to the store from out of nowhere.  The gang member wants to shoot the cop but the boy says no and he jumps in front of the cop saving the cop’s life.  He starts to bleed out on the streets.  The other gang members run away.  The cop is with him talking to him but the voice fades as he begins to feel the presence of some thing he felt so long ago……alone in the forest. 

He closes his eyes.  He is in his subconscious, in a Midwest field.  Death is sitting there and offers him a spot.  Death says, “Sit down, we have much to talk about.”  The boy asks, “Am I dead?”  The reaper replies, “Close, but not entirely.”  Death gives him a choice to go and rest in peace with the other retired souls or to become the next Grim Reaper, his apprentice.  In return, the Grim Reaper will retire. 

The Grim Reaper plans to go where no man can find him until he finally passes on into nothingness.  The Grim Reaper explains his origin. 

He is, in fact, Abel.  He is the first man murdered and betrayed by his brother, Cain. He was the very first person to die here and his spirit wandered in loneliness and despair until he found a place of respite for souls.  He chose then to become a spirit guide to aide other souls that have passed on. He helps them to find this afterlife. He wears the dark cloak to disguise his true identity. He has allowed the horror stories of his alter-identity to perpetuate over the years in order to protect himself and the afterlife souls. He is actually a force for good in the world.

The Grim Reaper is, in fact, essential to our planet.  There must be natural order in the world and he helps to preserve it against the evil deeds of Cain’s descendants.  He needs a young apprentice to carry on his work though as he has grown weary. 

If men could live forever, the world would be chaos……there would be overpopulation and the world would be run by old and hardened souls.  It would be a place of darkness and greed.   The world needs the younger people in order to keep the world full of light and hopeful, pure, and innocent.   

The boy apprentices and Abel disappears into retirement.  But there are men, these descendants of Cain, who want to live forever and they are plotting to destroy the Grim Reaper’s apprentice.  A secret organization plans to eradicate the cycle of life and achieve immortality.  They seek to capture death.  

The secret organization wants to rule the world.  They take the unwanteds in society – the homeless and the downtrodden and orphans – they harvest their souls in order to stay younger in this life.  The Reapers, both the boy and Abel, have seen what they do but are helpless to stop it.

The secret organization goes after the apprentice.  The apprentice meets a young girl from a house fire.  Rather than reap her soul, he rescues her. Eventually, they fall in love.  

They search for the retired Abel.  They find him but the secret organization has been tracking them.  Abel is captured and defeated.  He begins to fade into the shadows and tells the young apprentice that it is his turn now and the world needs him.    

The young boy and girl escape the secret organization but he is still not ready.  He must learn more and acquire more skill and discipline.  He must find a way to stop the descendants of Cain and in the mean time, he will continue his reaping and training.  The girl has chosen to join him on his mission.  In the final scene, the young reaper and girl head off together. 

If You Love Poetry…

If you love poetry…

I’ve found a great place to submit your work! It is a little newspaper called The Webb City Sentinel located in southwest Missouri in the Joplin area. The submission process is simple and free. If your work is approved by the poetry editor, it will be shown on the online portion of The Webb City Sentinel. Here is the announcement on their site. I love this. I love what they wrote:

“I’m a great believer in poetry out of the classroom, in public places, on subways, trains, on cocktail napkins. I’d rather have my poems on the subway than around the seminar table at an MFA program.”

Billy Collins, 2001-2003 United States Poet Laureate   

We want your poetry. We want poetry from your children and your grandparents.We want poetry from seasoned poetry veterans and those just putting ink to paper (or, finger to keyboard).

We want to feature them here in Webb City’s “newspaper.”  Then, we want you to print them out and slap them on your refrigerator, carry them in your pocket, give them to someone special.  We want your poetry on the school bus to Mark Twain and Eugene Field, while you’re waiting in line at Crazy Llama and the Sub Shop, and while you’re walking around King Jack and the Frisco Greenway Trail. 

We can’t wait to see what you’ve got.

Here is the link to the submission board:

I was super fortunate to be listed on their site recently. Here is the poem I submitted:

Little Pawn

by Janea Speer

My whole life, I admired the King and Queen.
Serene, graceful, and applauded.
Powerful and strong….aggressive.

Yet hiding behind the defenses of the lesser pieces.
As I became older, I pondered the knight or the bishop,
how they could think outside the box and level the playing field.

But, in my older years, I admire the pawn.
The one to first enter the fray with honest courage.
Who risks much although so little…..
One by one, swiped from the board unceremoniously and yet…
Relentless, undeterred, defiant against odds so stacked heavily against.

Yes, some days even the little pawn sees glory
when faced with such intimidating adversaries.

With this blog, I also wanted to do a shout-out to the poetry editor there. I met him in Fall 2019 at the Joplin Writers’ Fair at the Joplin Public Library. There were many great local authors there showing their books. He was at a table across from mine and was nice and friendly. We talked about publishing books and Ray Bradbury and joining writing clubs. It was fantastic to meet someone with an avid interest in reading and writing and helping other authors. He recently published a new work to help authors too.

His name is F.C. Schultz and here are a few links to some of his books. Type in his name on Amazon and you will find, on his author page, a large group of books he has written or co-written.

My daughter read the book titled The Rose Weapon and she did think it was quite good. It is a Viking story about fire-breathing dragons. There is a sequel to this book as well called When Embers End.

Little Pawn

My whole life, I admired the King and Queen.

Serene, graceful, and applauded.

Powerful and strong….aggressive.

Yet hiding behind the defenses of the lesser pieces.

As I became older, I pondered the knight or the bishop,

how they could think outside the box and level the playing field.

But, in my older years, I admire the pawn.

The one to first enter the fray with honest courage.

Who risks much although so little…..

One by one, swiped from the board unceremoniously and yet…

Relentless, undeterred, defiant against odds so stacked heavily against.

Yes, some days even the little pawn sees glory

when faced with such intimidating adversaries.

Maj General Nathanael Greene

One time while I was visiting my grandma at her farmhouse in Kansas, she showed me a bookcase full of old books. First she gave me a book she liked when she was little. It was called The Trail of the Lonesome Pine. I looked it up recently and saw online that this was turned into a movie at some point….I think with Henry Fonda. I read the book and liked it. Afterwards, she took me to the bookcase again. She told me that she had a special book. She pulled it off the shelf and gave it to me to keep. She told me it was about my ancestor.

I looked at the book. It was an old yellow book with yellow pages. The first pages were a map of Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, and South Carolina. It appeared to be a map about the Revolutionary War and showed images of Loyalists and Revolutionaries.

The book was called The Sound of Chariots. It was written by Helen Topping Miller. I still have this book to this day. I keep it in my own bookcase and showed it to my own children recently. My grandmother passed away sadly 5 years ago in Topeka, Kansas.

Her name was Ruth Margaret Green. She was married to Otis Patterson, a retiree of the U.S. Postal Service and WW2 vet. He was a crew chief for bomber mechanics at Wendling AFB in England. Basically, the planes flew in from bombing Europe and it was his job and his men’s jobs to repair the planes overnight and then they would fly out again in the morning for other bombing raids. He only flew over Europe once at the end of the war to see what Dresden looked like.

Grandma said we were related, though not directly, to a guy in this book called Nathanael Greene. For years, I truly did not understand much about this guy. He is considered to be one of the least known generals of the Revolutionary War, probably because he passed away just years afterwards in Georgia. He was a Maj General who led several battles in the south. He is considered a strategic leader of the war and a close personal friend of George Washington. From what I could read, he would attack and retreat over and over again against Lord Cornwallis forcing him up north to Yorktown where George Washington and his Army swooped in and defeated the British, forcing a surrender and final end to the war. Supposedly, Greene was a very smart guy. Nathanael Greene is also connected with the trial of Benedict Arnold and with the establishment of Westpoint Military Academy.

Grandma belonged to the Order of the Eastern Star and Grandpa was a Freemason. She also worked with Job’s Daughters. Grandma researched our background and said she tried to join Daughters of the Revolution but could not prove direct lineage.

This is what I know from Grandma. Her father’s name was Jesse Dale Green. Her grandfather’s name was Ira Weston Green. He lived during the late 1800s. That’s as far back as I can trace on this side.

From Nathanael Greene on Ancestry.com and other online websites, I traced down to his grandson, Nathanael S. Greene who lived from 1809 to 1899 in Bristol County, Rhode Island. On his tombstone reads the names of two wives and perhaps he had a total of three wives. The first wife listed on the tombstone is Sarah A. Munro from 1808 to 1832. The second wife listed on the tombstone is Lydia T. Cory from 1812-1880. From there the trail grows cold but there is one website online, a registry from St. Michael’s Church in Bristol County, R.I. The registry shows marriages, births, and deaths of parishioners. Under deaths, Sarah Munro is listed in 1832 as well as a son of Nathan Greene in 1843 in January and another unlisted child in 1843 in March. For births, it shows two entries for May 24, 1837. Apparently, these were twin boys named George William Greene and Francis Stanley Greene. It is not clear which woman is the mother of these two listed.

So from about 1837 to the late 1800s, there is an unexplained gap. I can’t seem to find out what happened to George William Greene or Francis Stanley Greene…..although I did find some records related to the Civil War military registry for a George William Greene but it is not clear if this is the same person.

Bottom line, I can’t find a definitive connection. I want to believe what my Grandma told me long ago but there’s a 60 year gap in the information provided. If we are related at all, it is probably either very, very indirectly or perhaps, illegitimately. It is hard to tell. Also, it is not clear what happened to all the children of the other wives listed on the tombstone for Nathanael S. Greene, the grandson of Nathanael Greene.

Some day, I hope to visit the birthplace of Nathanael Greene and find out more information possibly. Maybe I’ll bring that old book with me too. To this day, there are many counties in the United States that are named Greene or Green County and supposedly this traces back to the Maj General. For example, in Missouri across the border from here, is a Greene County where Springfield is located.

I looked online recently and saw that there are not a lot of statues of Nathanael Greene but one was involved with some controversy back in June or July of this year. I can understand why. From what I read, he may have had a plantation shortly after the war but then died soon afterwards. The Founding Fathers were definitely far from perfect role models for generations going forward. Yet, without the bravery, courage, fortitude, resilience, and brilliant military maneuverings of these men and women……we could still be a colony with restricted freedoms, rights, and privileges. Some, nowadays, may shy away from being affiliated with a person like this. I am happy to think that possibly somehow we could be related to this man they call “the strategist of the Revolutionary War.”

Maybe we are related. I hope. Some day, I ‘ll visit Rhode Island and maybe I can learn more.