From Oaken Branches Hang

By Susan Allen

Grey moss, from oaken branches


As sheets of cold and heartless


Pour down out of a sky so drear.

Rain pounding, drowning,

yet I hear the sound,

of thunder crashing all around,

so forlorn, the winds do howl

as though embittered, temper


Without, the sounding timpani.

Within, the dying silent me.

From dawn to dusk and night to

morn I, trapped within this

tempest, torn.

Torn to pieces, ripped to shreds,

But not for me a tear is shed.

No ,insignificant am I,

and swinging from this oak

will die.

Like the moss there in the trees,

hanging, blowing, in the breeze.

A Sadness in the Wood

Run your fingers down the railing 

Whilst descending to the floor.

Feel the smooth and satin surface

Of a tree which grows no more.

As it sits atop the balusters,

Securely set in place,

Turning ever upward,

In this grand palatial place.

Yet, it still remembers, 

The smell of forest air,

Lovely leaves and branches, 

days both dull and fair.

Now, alas, forever, 

What was once a mighty tree

Is joined into the staircase 

And forevermore will be.

So, as she slowly places

A foot upon each step,

She hears sighs of mournful sadness,

As the boards beneath her wept.

Yes, the sadness in the wood

Felt the touch of life once more,

But only for a moment,

Then she walked out the door.

Now, in the still and empty silence,

Wind echoes down the corridor.

The wooden boards remember

The life that is no more.

“… enjoy the honey-heavy dew of slumber” – William Shakespeare


Susan Allen

In the early morning hours

When the world’s still asleep,

And I’m snuggled under covers

Quilts, comforters, and sheets

If I had my druthers

I’d lie abed all day

Secure and out of harm

And wish the world away

While all the while, around the world,

Is sadness, loss, despair.

I feel it in the wee small hours,

And in the frosty air

Yet, I am safe while my cocoon

Encapsulating me.

Shields arrows, bullets, scorn, and ire.

I’m safe as I can be.

Alas! Alack!, it will not last.

The moment has now gone.

The sun has risen in the east,

The sparrows sing their song.

I must arise and start the day,

Another has begun.

I’ll toil away, come what may,

Until my time is done

And when the evening finds me,

Lying here once more,

In bed ‘neath sheets, and blankets,

With lock upon the door,

I’ll gladly say a prayer then

And rest my weary head,

As I drift off to dreamland,

In my nice, warm, cozy bed.


I have returned from my trip to England with a feeling of triumph and a sense of accomplishment. However, there is still so much more to do before I can truly reach my goal. So now, as my balloon deflates, I sit here once again, with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, stuck between the life I had and the life I want.
As though suspended in time, I am trapped in the way-station between where I’ve been and where I’m going. It’s my own personal purgatory. I have escaped from under the weight of years of accumulated objects, my load is lightened and I’m ready to go. However, I have one final weight to remove before I can be truly free, and it’s as big as a house. In fact, it is a house! 
My once overstuffed home sits empty and hollow. My footsteps reverberate as I walk down the hall. It is waiting for someone to choose to breathe life back into its rooms, cover its naked walls with family portraits, and invite music and laughter within for holiday celebrations. Yet here it sits, like me, sad, lonely, and empty, waiting for the next chapter in the story to begin. 
I can clearly see the path before me. It’s beckoning me to come, promising everything my heart so truly desires; the freedom to travel, make connections, try new things, taste different foods, and learn as much as possible, all with the hope of finding peace within and spreading love throughout. My goal is becoming clearer as my path comes more and more into focus. I suppose it was always there, I just never believed I could attain it. As a mother, I tried to instill my goal in my children, in hopes that perhaps they would find a way of accomplishing what I could not. I’ve always had more confidence in them than I’ve ever had in myself. 
Yet, as I do my time in this quiet place, between what was and what will be, I am finding the courage to hope. I hope that at last I will be capable of accomplishing this goal myself. The task I ultimately hope to accomplish is to make a positive impact on this world. I want to feel that in some way, no matter how small, my actions have mattered; that I have mattered.
Once I have been released to continue on my journey, I am certain I can accomplish what I have set out to do. That is the thought which will get me through this time of trial. Yet the waiting is wearisome as the clock refuses to tick on.

The Fame of The Bramley Festival Spreads!

Bramley Festival

The adventure begins! One week from today, I will be in Southwell reading my story Mary Ann and the Apple Tree to the delight (I hope) of all who gather to listen. On the flip side of that hope, is the fear and trepidation I feel, clawing it’s way up from the pit of my stomach. What if they don’t like my story? What if I fail to keep their attention, what if they become indignant? After all, who am I, but a foreigner, an outsider, coming to their festival, horning in on a tale which rightly belongs to them. They could become incensed at my audacity and ride me out of town on a rail! I am visualizing scenes from Frankenstein and The Music Man all rolled into one! 

If only I had someone with me; my dear husband, my mother, any one of my three children, to support me in my hour of need (should the pitchforks and tar and feathers indeed materialize.) No, not even one of these will accompany me on my quest. Should I fail, I do so alone. 

However, I suppose the positive is, if I do bomb and survive to tell the tale, I can spin it any way I wish! After all, if an author stinks to high heaven, and no one reads her words, well… did she really stink after all?

I suppose there are some who will never know!


Once I walked in silence

Upon a sandy shore

And you walked beside me

But there I’ll walk no more

For the tide has shifted sharply

And where we two once tread

Waves lash out at sand dunes

With a force which causes dread

And the thunder of the ocean

As it echoes in my head

Creating fear and chaos

With a mounting sense of dread

In place of peaceful silence

A cacophony resounds

Churning like the ocean

When a storm upon it pounds

Bashed and battered by the current

Pulling further out to sea

Body, soul, and mind and memory

Desperate, lost, and lonely.

For alone along the shoreline

You have left me here to die

With no word of warning

And what’s worse, I know not why

So, when next I walk in silence

It will be on distant shore

Where the sky meets the horizon

And my heart will beat no more

My Empty House

My Empty House
I sit inside this empty house

And listen to the sound 

of silence echoing throughout,

as I look around.

I see bare walls where once there hung,

Portraits from the past.

Just as the years have vanished, 

They disappeared so fast.

My life’s sped by,

It’s almost done,

So I look toward the door.

I’ll leave this empty house behind,

And come to it no more.

There’s nothing left to hold me here, 

I take a final glance 

and quickly stand to exit, while I still have the chance.

With nothing left to hold me,

With nobody to grieve,

Alone, I came into this life

The same way shall I leave.

Walk out the door and lock it,

That life is done I know.

What waits outside’s a mystery.

I take a breath and go.

Leap of Faith

Have you ever wondered what people would say about you after you die? I have often lay awake at night imagining my own funeral; who would give the eulogy, what would they say, who would attend? I wonder if most people do that or if it’s just me. Anyway, lately I have had the eerie feeling of watching, as a ghost might from the other side of that gossamer vail, as my whole life is put on public display. There out in the open sit all my worldly goods, judged, weighed, and valued by others; perfect strangers who haven’t the vaguest idea of the true worth of those things which, over the course of my life, made me who I was.

Over the last few weeks, Emily has been an absolute angel, getting my home ready for our upcoming estate sale. She has spent hours sifting, sorting, and organizing the chaos in my home. She has patiently guided me to separate the wheat from the chafe and step away from it, so that I can be free of those encumbrances which have weighed me down for so long. One night last week, she brought with her two gifts. On that evening, we set about the difficult task of sorting through my books, a project I have been dreading. Although I am fairly certain Emily did not consciously intend the symbolism, it was there all the same. One of the items was a bottle of champagne, the other a bunch of helium balloons. With the effervescent bubbles floating ever upward, I was reminded that I too must rise, overcoming these obstacles in front of me. Likewise, the helium balloons remind me of how, by eliminating the weight of my possessions, I become light enough to float away toward new horizons.

However, I can’t shake the thought of being a restless spirit, rattling about in my home, after my earthly body has been buried. A scene from Dickens, A Christmas Carol, keeps playing over and over in my mind. In that scene, Scrooge is taken by the ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, to see his home. When he arrives, he sees his neighbors carrying off all of his worldly possessions. He finds that he is powerless to stop these people from looting and plundering his home, because in fact he is dead. I feel very much like Scrooge right now; a restless spirit, rattling about, an observer of my old life being torn apart and scattered to the wind.

I know that I am not dead, but somehow I feel like the life I have had to this point is about to be over. A new life is coming very soon, but I am certain that ending my old one is going to hurt more than I can even anticipate. I know this is necessary to begin anew, and I know it won’t be easy, but I have to believe the new life I am about to begin is worth all of the pain and loss. I just hope this happens quickly, like pulling a bandage from the skin. I suppose it’s going to take a leap of faith; One, two, three, …steady…and…jump. I hope those helium balloons can handle my weight, because the bottomless abyss is what awaits below if this doesn’t go off as I hope.

Until the End of the Line

One by one they came into my life; each in his and her own way. Filling a void, changing my life in ways in which, at the time, I didn’t even notice. I was so caught up in the moment; changing diapers, chasing toddlers, kissing boo boos, quelling sibling spats. The years speed by, until today, when I catch myself shocked at the speed of the passage of time. How quickly those bits and pieces, those fragments of my life, have flown by.

I stand here alone on the empty train platform now,  nothing but the tail wind of a life gone by, to give even a hint of the locomotive upon which I once road. At times I was the conductor of that train, as well as engineer, station master, and passenger. It was my train and I decided who was allowed on, for how long, and where we went. I kept everyone safe and looked out ahead for trouble on the track. Occasionally I had the opportunity to sit quietly and look out the window at the passing scenery, but those times were few and far between. Now that train has steamed on and I have been left behind at the station.

My children have all now grown. My eldest chose to stay with his grandparents when I moved a number of years ago. It was difficult to be so far away from him, yet I knew he was well looked after, and that put my mind at ease. My youngest decided to leave me to live with her father not too long ago. She felt it would be a better fit for her there, and I agreed. Besides, I still had one more at home to see to, to fill the emptiness. However, the day I have dreaded for so long has come at last. My last child moved out today, leaving me standing on the platform, waving as she disappeared from sight.

The empty spaces in my house, rooms where her things used to be, echo the hole I feel in my heart. Knowing she’ll not be back home tonight or ever again, is the most gut wrenching feeling, akin to the feeling of the death of a loved one. For, it’s not so much for the other person one grieves, but for the sense of loss one feels within oneself. I have tried to prepare myself for the eventuality of my last child leaving me, by thinking back to when it was my time to move away from home. I remember how I felt to be young, just starting out, with my whole life ahead of me. I’m happy for her, I am truly happy that she will have the opportunity to grow up and be a responsible adult. However, a part of me would rather keep her here with me. I know it’s purely selfish. I have to let her go. It’s her turn to be the conductor of her own train and take it wherever she will, with whomever she chooses. However, I hope all three of them know that, although I may not be on their train, my heart is with them always.

A Glimmer of Hope

After six months on the market, my house didn’t get a single offer. In fact it only had four showings in all that time. As discouraging as that is, even more so is my inability to take control of the things I do have power over. The task of sorting through, and parting with my stuff has gone nowhere after nine months of failed attempts. Therefore, it is time to step back, reevaluate the situation, and search for a grimmer of hope that I might someday soon accomplish my goal. 

Taking a deep breath, here I go again, diving back into the pit of doom, otherwise known as my quagmire of belongings. Although I truly have been actively trying to rid myself of these shackles which are holding me tethered to this place, I remain buried in this spot. Unable to get any traction, I remain alone, at the bottom of this grave. It is, admittedly one I have dug for myself. None the less, I am buried beneath the mounds of random objects which continue to suffocate me. My cries for help, seemingly go unheard, and I sit alone, trapped, and despondent. I feel I have tried every available means of escape, but without result. If anything, I have only sunk deeper into the pit. The light at the top is very dim now. I fear if I don’t get help soon, all hope will be lost. 

With this thought in mind, I pick up the phone. My new real estate listing agent, Jessica could see right away that I needed help, when she walked through my home. The house was fine, but the things in it have to go, if we are going to sell it. She gave me the number for an estate sales company and told me to call. I felt like she had just given me the lottery ticket that just might hold the winning numbers.

The next morning, first thing, I dial the number on the sheet of paper in my trembling hand. A sweet, young voice answers, reminding me of my daughter, Ariannah. She sounds confident and helpful, understanding, intelligent, and friendly; all of the things I so desperately need to save me from my fate. She says she can come over tomorrow! My hopes rise! Maybe there is still a chance that I will succeed in escaping from this quagmire. As I write her name on my calendar along with the time, I smile and make a wish. Please Emily, please help me make the stuff go away. Please, throw a rope down the well and get me out. I can’t wait to meet you tomorrow.
Maybe there is a glimmer of hope, and maybe it’s name is Emily.