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Dancing on Morrow Street
I remember when the birds danced. Back when I worked two jobs, I rose early in the morning. As I picked up the newspaper to take with me, I turned to see the trees filled with birds. Somewhat unnerving, the scene reminded me of a moment from the movie, The Birds. Then they rose as one, moving in formations, dipping and swooping together. First a circle, then an oval, and finally a teardrop as a few dropped closer to the earth. Soon all followed, diving toward the ground like airplanes massed for an air show. Now up, up, all together whirling and turning in one body. The only music was in my head as a few drove toward the ground again, soon followed by the entire ensemble. Twisting and turning, the mass settled into trees further away as if to rest back stage. I took the paper and continued on my way. Often I would see the bird dance at dawn. Yes, I know, they are feeding on insects swirling, invisible in the morning dew. Still, I prefer to believe that the birds in Marshall on Morrow Street dance in the morning light.
Penelope Brooks Callaway Athon
from Saline County Structures and Stories, Volume II © 2017
First Signs for Ella and Carmen
The crocus are not blooming.
The grass is not green.
The trees have not started to bud.

Snow covers the ground.
The ice continues to crunch
But spring cometh soon, I just know.

So how do I know
When the signs seem so sparse?
It's very simple, you see.

There is hair on my floor
And hair floating in air
As well as the hair on my clothes.

For those in confusion
Who lack understanding,
Let me explain just a bit.

For us ailurophiles
The first sign of spring
Is a shedding that just won't quit.
Penelope Brooks Callaway Athon -- February 2007
What Irritates Me
Sometimes individuals, usually children or teenagers, try to get my attention by either poking my arm or pulling my clothes. I find this very irritating. Often it is accompanied by the repetition of name. For instance, "poke, poke, Ms Athon, Ms Athon" or "pull, pull, Teacher, Teacher", the latter rendering me nameless.

Correcting this behavior with people is easy. I just say, "please don't poke or pull." That usually works. However, with some students it becomes necessary to repeat loudly, "don't touch the Teacher."

After I retired, I thought I would relax into a fairly poke-pull free life. Not to be. I have two cats. I've always had cats, but these two are very polite. They hardly ever just jump into my lap or join me when I am lying down. I really appreciate my little vibrating heat sources when my back hurts; however, they always approach, put out a paw and go tap, tap, tap; then tap, tap, tap. Problem is they don't understand "please don't do that." After all, it is a cat thing, and they are polite in their demands.

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.
Penelope Brooks Callaway Athon -- August 2006
Christmas Meditation
Hark, the Herald Angels sing.
But are we listening?
Do we really hear?

We talk about such frivolous things.
Do we think it should be a Christmas tree or a Holiday tree?
Do we see enough gifts to give or receive?
Do we enjoy gathering together with friends and family
Or has it become a chore?

So are we listening to the Angels sing?
Do we hear God's voice?
Or a voice we only think is God?

In ages past in the beginning with Abraham,
God says "Hear O Israel!"
Not see, not think, not feel,
But "Hear O Israel!"

So put aside the rest and listen!
Can you hear the Angels sing?

Hark, the Herald Angels are singing.
If you listen carefully, you may hear the
   True voice of God.
Then you may find your way to the Christ child.
Penelope Brooks Callaway Athon -- December 2006
Thoughts come. Ideas are formed.

The mind is ready, full, inspired

Pencil poised over paper

And …… the words don't come

They just stick there

Right there

And don't come out.


Emotions grow. Feelings are thoughts.

The heart is ready to deliver.

Fingers poised over keys.

And …… the words don't come.

They just stick there.

Right there

And don't come out



Son's songs come. Music grand.

Soul is glad, feels inspired

Computer ready to accept

And …… the words don't come

They just stick there

Right there

And don't come out


Penelope Brooks Callaway Athon -- January 2005
Joe Athon, son of Penelope Athon, released his new music album in December, 2009. Joe was a 1990 graduate of Marshall High School and a writing student of Authorene Phillips. After graduating with a BA and Masters from Central Missouri State University, Joe now lives in Shawnee Mission, Kansas with his wife Melissa and two children, Ted and Ella. More of his writing can be found in Marshall MOments © 2007.

The album "Portrait of the Man" can be found on Amazon, Amie Street, Itunes, eMusic, Jango, LimeWire, Napster, Nokia, Shockhound.


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