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Neil Carpathios


Contributing Columnist


Sometimes poets pop up in the least likely of places. Recently, I was in the downtown Portsmouth Kroger, in the cookie aisle, to be exact, where I usually linger and lose track of all time and space. I was struggling with the hefty dilemma of whether to go for the Oreos or Fig Newtons. A gentleman approached and said he recognized me from my photo in this column. He introduced himself and said that he, too, was a poet. Little did I know that this man was one of the most passionate poets I would ever meet, and that his story would remind me of poetry’s function as a tool of human connection.


Clyde Mowery was manager of Raytheon Corporation at U.S. Chemicals from 1960 to 1998. During that period he began to write birthday poems to his employees. He states that he found poetry to be a “means of appreciation for their efforts.” Little did he realize in the beginning that he would be writing four to five poems a day on some occasions and hundreds each year. He went on to say, “I am pleased to recall many of those who worked for me 20 years or more and how they kept each poem as a reminder of our association.”


I can honestly say that I have never met a person who wrote poems with such regularity and with such generous intentions.


Mr. Mowery later sent me a poem for this column. He states that it is a tribute to all mothers, but the source of his inspiration was his own mother—who sent a letter every day to her Marine son fighting in the South Pacific during WWII and who walked a mile to the cemetery every day to visit her daughter’s grave—Mr. Mowery’s only sister who drowned at age 16. Here it is:


Legends in Time


No one would take much notice if you passed her on the street


Slightly built and slow of step, her coat pulled close to meet


The winds of fall or winter, that pulls her fragile frame


No one would take much notice, but mother is her name


*


The lifetime of a mother, perhaps yours or mine


One who gives her very best the root that sprung our vine


Now like a sailing ship on seas of yesterday


No one would take much notice as she sails her lonely way


*


Memories to her like precious jewels, encircle every thought


More beautiful than precious pearls from any store be bought


No one would take much notice if you passed her on the street


But, life would have no meaning if some mother nere to greet


*


Perhaps if you should see her on some cold and dreary day


Nod your head or smile to her a greeting in some way


This gesture small takes little time yet meaningful they say


These legends we call mother can mend our feet of clay


I am inspired by Clyde Mowery’s dedication to the written word. I’m glad that my sweet tooth led me to the cookie aisle that day (by the way, I totally caved, giving in to the spirit of carpe diem and bought both the Oreos and Fig Newtons)—and to the chance meeting of this passionate, warm poet.


Send poem submissions and correspondence to: ncarpathios@shawnee.edu or Neil Carpathios, Shawnee State University, Dept. of English & Humanities, 940 Second Street, Portsmouth, OH 45662. (740-351-3478).


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