Tag: Life

Life’s Great Conundrum

Life’s Great Conundrum

‘Time flies’!

Remember when the concept of dying didn’t quite register with you and your life? Somehow, we were able to relegate dying to people much older than we. Death was all around us, but we never allowed the possibility for ourselves…dying was simply alien to our ‘think and act’ thoughts.

Now, here in the ‘Twilight’ years, I often consider more seriously the metaphysical aspects of death and dying. The ‘Cogito Ergo Sum’ ends at death, or, much of the world believes that is the case. Most of the time I end up muttering dumbly to myself, ‘I don’t know what I believe’! Many people accept on ‘Faith’ that when death comes for them their essence, their spirit, will go to a place where souls will live eternally, without worries. That’s a lovely thought and I want to believe that is the case.

The only evidence of ‘life after death’ comes from people who will claim they experienced a vivid vision of themselves as their spirit hovered above their death-bed, saw a bright light far-off in the black void, beckoning them to come into the light. Then, suddenly, the vision voids and they find that they are still of flesh and bone and heart-beat.

There are also accounts from some who have had Déjà vu moments, generally when some extraordinary event has taken place. For some seconds these people feel as though they have lived those moments before.

Here’s my take on death and dying.

My take is, you really were not expecting me to give some amazing new updates! One thing I’m not! I’m not an Atheist, for being an Atheist, one has to be first and foremost an arrogant ass if not an intellectual bore! Agnostic at times, I’ll grant, but no darned atheist.

I was born in Appalachia with the preacher pleading with the big congregation to come and denounce their sinful ways…this, during the heart-wrenching hymns, “JUST AS I AM” and “LET’S ALL GATHER AT THE RIVER.” Now, I was a little boy, maybe eight-years-old, and my little heart was telling me I was a terrible sinner and needed to get up and walk down that long aisle to the front of the church and allow the preacher to bless me and see me cry.

Well, as mentioned, now in ‘Twilight’, that ‘easy God’ may be gone but there is still a vestige of faith that has stayed with me through all my sins of a lifetime. The way I figure it, I’m not giving up a ‘vestige’ of Faith that maybe has in store for me a really nice eternal home, or, another chance down here on this orbiting craft of earth. Hey, if I’m right about an ‘After-Event’ of some kind, then, I made the right choice. If I’m wrong, well, hell, I’m not going to know it. Now, am I?

So, maybe a little ‘doubting Thomas’ at times, I’m going to believe those meticulous nine-months of a precision birth came from a divine and intelligent source and NOT A BIG BANG. I’ll just let pass the aggravating conundrum of ‘First Cause’, and believe I’m going to see again all those people I loved – just, maybe in a new form…this form I’m carrying to death with me has been fun at times, but I’m happy to trade it in for a new model.

Right about now, old Mark Twain would have a really funny come-back for what I’ve been trying to write here…oh, I don’t know, maybe: “The report of my death was an exaggeration.”

Hey, you reckon old ‘Mark’ could be in this body and mind of mine writing all this good stuff for me?

Well, Sam Clemons was a damned good writer, and, if he’s in my body and mind and writing my eighteen books, you sure ought to be buying them… Just saying…

Billy Ray Chitwood – February 5, 2019

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Junkyard Philosophers

Junkyard Philosophers
 
From whence came this yearning of my soul?
 
It’s only a question I ask every day of my life, fitting, I suppose, of one with dubious genetic structure and a mangled environmental beginning marked by too many turns and twists of emotional enigmas. Of course, my portal in the scheme of time must say volumes. Am I ‘matter’ that does not matter? 
 
Who am I? 
 
In thinking about the question, I’m an amalgam of insecurities and dreams. I love people but cherish my private times of aloneness and my writing for self-discovery plus self-therapy. I fail. I succeed. I get angry when the computer cannot keep up with the thoughts I’m typing, some words moving to paragraphs up the page from where they should be. 
 
Who am I?
 
I’m a dreamer, too lost to a past of incredible joy and love, of business victories and defeats, of consuming despair, fears, and regrets, with the painfully stark acknowledgement that more sags and wrinkles visit my body and refuse to leave. I love people but love more being at home alone with my wife…writing or watching a movie. I’m a lusty fellow when it comes to moving to a new locale – that makes me a wanderlust and my wife a haggard packer of boxes.
 
Who am I?
 
I’m a piece of ‘Everyman’, spread too thin to be a consistent devotee of something good and mostly reasonable. My writing is the one constant in my life, for it allows me many personalities to sketch and get to know. Those sketches give me glimpses of who I am. 
 
It’s my belief I must have brothers and sisters of the bond out there – not depraved and lost souls, just junkyard philosophers.
 
Billy Ray Chitwood – January 31, 2019
 
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Sought and Fought for Naught

Sought and Fought for Naught

-Nine Haikus All in a Row, with a Theme-

*

It was never clear

That dream-set inside of me

Along each new day…

 

The abstract nature

Of my humble beginnings

Ever in my way…

 

On the lonely trek

Were stark ugly mementos

To echo my past…

 

Then, into Twilight

Doubts and fears were soon to pass

As my mind could fast…

 

At last it did seem

That olden days meant little

To a now dull mind…

 

Ahead comes darkness

Morphing to eternal light

Perhaps, to happily dream.

 

But, if not to dream,

Then, perchance, darkness alone,

Shakespeare did foretell.

 

Demons come and go

Through dark eternal passages

Shadowed walls of Hell.

 

Doth Fate have in store

This horror scene, prithee tell,

What is heaven for?

*

-Nine Haikus with which to explain a Life-

By Billy Ray Chitwood – 01/26/19

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Custard-Filled Donuts & Sunsets

Custard-filled Doughnuts and Sunsets

Dreamers and Romantics have a keen sensitivity to life, some mysterious alchemy within their souls that mark their steps through time and dimension.

They see the sun pausing, creating a great palette of lucent magic as it makes its final descent into the morning on the other side of the world. Something stirs within the Dreamers and Romantics, and they must somehow celebrate this mystique that sight can only present. They cannot embrace this beauty they behold, cannot feel the orgasmic wonder that comes with the climactic end of two joined in making love.

There is an intense urge to capture this supreme moment of sunset, so the Dreamer and Romantic compose their lines of verse, their songs of longing and love. Words will come but they must be noble, virtuous, and worthy of this scene that has aroused   their souls.

It is so as well with the novelist, short story, and flash fiction writer. There is a need to express some inner desire, some exposition of a great notion or theory.

Are these Dreamers and Romantics special people among the masses?

Perhaps they are to those who like to read, who like the singular turning of a phrase, a poem, story – those who have other talents, those who design and build our great structures, our bridges, our roads, those who fly our planes, drive our buses and trains, those who sweep our streets, clean our houses.

I’m a Dreamer and Romantic! I love that sunset and a lovely woman with whom to share it. As Lord David Prosser might say, I want to hug that sunset! What I believe David is saying (if he were to say it),  The sunset is so beautiful that spoken words fail to express the exalted feeling…you want to hug it, make love to it, more than just say, it’s beautiful!

That is why we have Dreamers and Romantics writing, painting, composing music – and, at times, being real pains in the arses. Some can be rascals, malcontents, arrogant, pompous, perhaps thinking they are a special breed…well, actually, they are! Otherwise, no dancing, no reading, no sculpting, no painting – well, you get the idea.

Can you believe it? All of this came from eating a custard-filled doughnut this morning – I saw the sunset in my ‘pictures’ file.

Billy Ray Chitwood – March, 2016 & January 10, 2019

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The Fool I Came To Be

The Fool I Came To Be

It wasn’t all that difficult becoming the fool I am today. Well, it wasn’t and it was. It was possible that I become a bigger fool than I am today. All the ingredients were there. In fact, there were many times along the way when anyone looking for the fool in me would have easily found him.

Dwelling on all those wasteful habits and motions that portrayed my life during the critical years would be time wasted and to no one’s benefit, very likely just another ‘pine and whine session’ unworthy of the print. The stories have been written about the young man and/or young woman who was abused in one way or another in childhood.

There are the ‘positive’ stories of the young man and young woman who escaped their childhood’s abusive environment and went on to succeed in her/his chosen field of work and in the development of their own children.

My story belongs somewhere, maybe in the ‘positive’ column, but not without some serious editing. It is true that my childhood witnessed too much abuse and trauma in the family disconnect, too much detritus in the emotional play-by-play that I could never fully fill-out my adult world with the talents that were left to me. Oh, there were successes here and there, but never the ‘big hit’ that scored storybook success.

It seems I was too busy as a young man trying to find some nebulous ‘white buffalo’, my silly euphemism for ‘home, picket fence, family’. That search for the WB found me in gin mills wooing, or, trying to woo the women, and, if keeping a ‘batting average’, it was likely in the above average range. Blessed with decent looks and, with a few libations that gave me courage, I scored often. In fact, I found it relatively easy to fall in love and marry…several times! Thank the good Lord, that search is over. Julie Anne and I have been together for thirty-five wonderful years. Love is there, and life is steady…

That more or less covers the ‘bad-boy’ imagery. In work, I cheated my employers by not giving them all I had to give. Otherwise, I would no doubt have ended up a president of a large company. As it was, with my cheating, I made it as far as a National Sales Manager. Again, that ‘gift of gab’ led to a modicum of success – even managed some acting in film and commercials along the way. So, yes, there were small victories here and there.

I’ve written about most of this in my memoirs, but, during this holiday season, I felt the urge to regurgitate for the few fans that I have gained through my writing efforts (and, for me). In those efforts I’ve managed some eighteen books – and, counting…most of the novels are in the genres of mystery, suspense, thriller, romance, strong women, many inspired by true criminal cases (some now ‘cold cases’ unsolved).

This is my ‘Holiday Card’ to all who might be passing by the site where this shows up. https://brchitwood.com

There, I feel a bit better about myself this holiday season.

If I didn’t add cheer to your good seasonal fun, at least, have a libation and, with me, let’s celebrate a great new 2019.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, ONE AND ALL!

Billy Ray Chitwood – December 31, 2018

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Life With Some Luxuries

Life With Some Luxuries

It is supposed that most of us have heard the expression, ‘I felt sorry for the man without shoes until I met the man with no feet’.

It is supposed that one living in the proverbial lap of luxury, say, in a penthouse on a lovely sea, has the world by the ying-yang! That is, perhaps knowing the ‘dark negative side’ and knowing the ‘bright positive side’ of life. Or, not.

It’s doubtful that anyone ‘has the world by the ying yang’, but so many do know and can clearly distinguish between the two. My friends are farmers, pest-control people, and some wealthy folks as well. You can find that kind of living quite often in the small town scenario. Everyone is treated equally, though the register might show some big deficits in terms of wealth.

Take me, for example, I was born in Appalachian poverty and remember so well the kerosene lamps, bed chambers, and the occasional trip in dark of night to the outhouse.

Now, that doesn’t buy me a ticket anywhere, but those memories surely make me duly appreciate of a nice home with some luxury features. Those memories are always with me and they provide a ‘stop’ measure if there comes a time when I so easily ‘wear’ luxuries and forget how life can be in the lower rent districts…I’ve lived there, know them well.

In fact, I can track my memories and remember some lovely simple moments of youth, like, when my grandmother held me on her lap in an old stuffed chair, her spittle can on the floor next to her. She would cut a big red apple in two halves and with that knife ‘mush’ that apple up it into her version of apple sauce, then fed it to me…

I can remember when my Mom was a boarding house cook, when we had a room across from the kitchen, and, as I sat listening to a radio broadcast of a baseball game she brought me a plate of her wonderful cooking – kissing me on the cheek and saying her love words to me…

I can remember my club-footed cousin JD and I playing ‘cowboys and indians’ on those old country roads, exploring around the old sawmill watching for copperheads…

I can remember my grandpa coming around the mountain on an old railroad track tooting the old steam engine’s whistle, announcing the arrival of another bunch of logs from the other side of the mountain.

Well, I grew through those early days and experienced the comraderie of my football and basketball buddies in a gated historic city there the ‘Atomic Bomb’ was built, and on the periphery, watching my Mom struggle still with the rent payments and a sister that was growing too fast, age fifteen, going on twenty-one.

So, why all this rummaging through the past, the ‘ying and yang’ of living? Here in ‘Twilight’ there is time to reflect likely too much on the past and the present, how people make their adjustments as they play out their lives. Compared to those long-ago days I’ve fared very well in the pre-twilight years, not a ‘fat-cat’ by any stretch but will likely be buried with a bit of legacy for the kids. I’m envious of no one, but I still have my dreams as an author of a ‘best-selling’ book. My 17th novel, “The Pickett Factor” is being launched in a couple of weeks, and I like its chances…if I get some help from my friends.

As I ramble here, I’m just hopeful that people can understand that where they are on any kind of measuring chart, financial or otherwise, it’s basically where your heart and mind are that truly matters.

Billy Ray Chitwood – October 30, 2018

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The Final Curtain1

The Final Curtain1

        I’ve always been a Frank Sinatra guy and “My Way” has accompanied me on many romantic adventures. “My Way” has been one of those ‘etchings’ to enjoy with someone special at the end of a candlelight and wine dinner, a song that can be parsed and qualified in so many ways…guess that’s my best reason for the blog title.
 
      It isn’t so much that those lines in the song, “The Final Curtain,” need to conjure up morbid thoughts and ‘let’s all be sentimental’ thoughts. In fact,”The Final Curtain” can conjure up joyful thoughts, those that lift the spirit and put an extra swagger in our strides.
 
          I’m pretty much a ‘romantic’ with some life dreams realized and some that still wish to be. Mostly, these days, my writing speaks to me in so many ways, telling me so many truths about myself. Through the characters pecked out on the laptop, in their actions, reactions, interactions, there are glimpses of me, mini-portraits never seen before. Some are scary. Some are strangely uplifting and gratifying. Some glimpses make me sad. Some make me happy. Some make me confident. Some make me doubt myself.
 
         There is this ‘thing’ that always keeps me rooted to some true genetic spot: we can be no more in life than what we are intended to be. So, what’s with all the gibberish about “The Final Curtain1” and the writing and the glimpses? Truth is, I’m aging with a great deal of reluctance, going through the ‘pages’ past, present, and future, still searching for the elusive and the unattainable, trying very hard to make up for some wasted moments in this passage.
        I’m here in the ‘wings’ and the curtain has not closed. I’m wanting to come out ‘center stage’ and ‘sing’ like ‘ole blue eyes’ my thoughts with wide-ranging themes, present the 17 books I’ve written and tell you a bit about them, perhaps share why I feel that in the fictional stories and memoirs I pen, there is that kid who was I somewhere on and between the lines. 
 
         One of my favorite poet/writers is an ex-priest named James Kavanaugh. Among all his work, he has written two beautiful books of poetry: “There Are Men Too Gentle To Walk Among Wolves” and “Will You Be My Friend?” There is so much of his verse with which I identify. His words speak to me with the most marvelous clarity. With my Appalachian bible-belt roots, there is little wonder. James Kavanaugh is gone now, this gentle man who ultimately quit the Priesthood, got in his little yellow volkswagon, drove to California and beyond, took his voice to the people in the streets, in the pubs, in those places where men and women congregate and among themselves seek reasons for their lives.
 
       Sinatra and Kavanaugh are my two favorite ‘etchings’ with some Kahlil Gibran thrown in, each of them fodder for the romantic and soulful parts of me. There is of course nothing wrong with our different tastes in music. There are those who like the brassy groups, the rappers, and the new gents and ladies of song — most of my soul dances favor the ballads. We can’t all like the same music. And, yes, of course, age, time, and place carry our predictable favorites.
 
         Now, ‘will you be my friend?’ Are you a ‘romantic’ – dreamer – pragmatist – young adult – baby boomer – timid – out-going… How do you approach the page on which you are about to spill your guts — or, your character’s guts? How much of you do you leave on the written pages of your books? You tell me, and I’ll tell you.
 
      I’m going off stage now but I’ll be lurking around the ‘curtain’ to see if someone shows up on stage. I’ll keep hoping you will read synopses of my books at the website address, pick one or two to read. You will find me on and between the lines of those books.
     There’s a lot of time before the final curtain.
 
Billy Ray Chitwood

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The Restless Spirit

The Restless Spirit

(Written in 2012 while on The Sea of Cortez – TN & KY Since!)

Under a pale blue morning sky a long plume of white misty cloud softly touches the Sea of Cortez, and I ponder the spirit of the restless.

In fact, it is my own restless spirit that dictates this post, given energy by the ghosts from an Appalachian youth of mobility and uncertainty, by my own selfish need to describe the nature of my beast. This restless spirit is not something that embarrasses me or shames me in my eyes. It is a constant companion which I have nourished all my life with impulsive, spontaneous acts. It is something I accept as I do the color of my hair, my skin, the whole DNA networking inside my body walls. It is likely not so distinctive as one might expect. This restless spirit, this wanderlust component, must reside in legions of us.

This post began with a description of the beautiful sea that displays its gaudy deep green beauty outside my windows. This sea, this constant sun, this life style is the stuff of dreams. How could anyone be restless watching the sail boats, the ski jets, the parasailers high above the crystalline water, the people frolicking along the long stretch of sandy beach? Grab a Corona, a Tequila Sunrise, and live your dream, right? Well, that great big sea reaches out to a far horizon, and, after a few Coronas and Tequila Sunrises, the restless spirit can start its gnawing litany of thought… What’s beyond that horizon? Where have I not yet been? What have I not yet done? I’ve been here for a few years now. Is it not time to go? Even Paradise has its limits!

Okay, here’s the deal! I buy a new car. In a year I tire of the car and want another make and model. The same with living quarters! After a few years I want new quarters. It does not matter to the restless spirit that it is contemplating giving up ‘heaven’, its life style of which other people can only dream. In this case, it is a stunning, luxurious two-level penthouse where the host of the restless spirit has come to retire, where the only really pressing decisions to make daily are food selections, social media caretaking, and the book-writing periods. There are people who live in the same house in the same town in the same state all their lives. Not me! In the past thirty years, I’ve lived in twelve different places. You do the math! I’ve probably lost count.

Yes, I’ve still got a lovely wife who is a polar opposite. She is calm, patient, puts up with me, would have been happy to live our lives out in that first place thirty years back. Guess she loves me to keep uprooting her the way I do. Is this crazy, or, what?!

So, anyone interested in a 3600 square foot penthouse? I’ll buy yours. You buy mine. I’ll be fair, even leave all the furniture, utensils, everything, totally turnkey — just bring your clothes and a toothbrush. You will have constant sun, constant sea, constant beauty. The only catch is, you need to have something equally as nice, something that turns on my restless spirit, and your place has to be free and clear like my place. Any takers?

Worried about Mexico and all the media hype? Been coming here from Arizona for over forty years. I’ve felt safer here than any place I’ve ever lived. The people of Mexico are friendly, helpful, kind, and appreciative of our US dollars. Crime, drug cartels? I’m sure they’re around somewhere in the country, killing off themselves, mostly. One could be reminded that my great country, the US, has its share of drug cartels and crime…

But back to this restless spirit thing… Do I wish that it was not there? ‘Yes’ is the honest answer, but there is an honest qualifier. The books I’ve written, the poems, the songs, the posts, all the penning? Are they worthy? Of course, I think so, but the true judges are the readers and the lovers of poetry and song. But ‘worthy’ is not the point I’m making here. The point is, maybe all my words would not have been out there in print and Cyberspace had I not had the restless spirit — not that one cannot write without it. But, me, could I have ‘done all that’ in ‘my way’ without that restless spirit.

I’m just saying…

Billy Ray Chitwood – October 8, 2018

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Family Love

17904346_10212604998622427_8835160309080360115_n (1)   e15241296_10210589180546815_7619236045342556019_n (1)                               Billy Ray and Julie Anne

Family Love

Upon the laptops across the globe, authors take to their keyboards to peck out their stories, opening their hearts and their very souls to seek some arcane knowledge of their own existence. It is a two-way street, I believe, this writing business. Authors surely wish to entertain their readers. Authors are also writing in many ways to find themselves in their narratives. At least, this one is…

Take me, for example, I put my life under many of the microscopes of readers almost daily in search for the essence of the man behind his words. On the surface of those words I believe it easy to discover some superficial nomenclature to describe myself – a man who ate some emotional soup in childhood and has spent a lifetime in search of himself, that essence, the reality of his soul. Of course, I can immediately acknowledge in all my lucid candor that the simple ‘nomenclature’ I’ve discovered at best can only scratch the surface of who I am, what and where I’ve been. The ultimate truth lies out there in the void of the ‘dark veil’!

What I can be certain of is what I label, ‘my orbital truth’. It is a truth I’ve dodged most of my life as a wanderlust, what many would call a ‘romantic’ or a ‘lotus-eater’, a man hungry for the fruits that can be found in the nether world of women and song, in and out of love, playing the role of dismayed man sorry for himself, or the role of a poet and soothsayer – ‘hey, look at me, am I not a good and solid actor in this not-so-great B-level  Movie’?

My children, two of whom I present to you above, love me for some obscure reason for I was absent for days, weeks, months, and years of their lives – sitting likely in a motel room writing about them on cheap stationery, how I missed them, how much I loved them, only to es-cape the motel room for more women and song. They are wise enough to know all of this and most of them are now closely-knit families with lovely children of their own.

My daughter, Shelley Jean (top picture), her handsome husband, Greg, are shown above, below them, my son, Scott and his lovely wife, Carla. Another son, Brandon, is a PhD in Literature, a professor living in Minnesota, unmarried at last report. There is a school teacher daughter and two engineers in the mix – Chemical and Electronic. All have wonderful children of their own… As a sad footnote: One of my sons, Steven Ray, was lost to us because of his life on the dark menacing streets of Las Vegas in drug dealing and use. If one might presume I could have made a difference in his life had I been there more, you would be presuming correctly… I carry that ignoble deed to the black void mentioned earlier.

With this righteous candor, I can say in honesty that all of the other children now have families and a good life. Shelley and Greg rejoice in their God and their blended family. Scott and Carla, having lived productive business lives, spend most their time in a Utah mountain retreat. The engineers and teacher whom I love come to me via Julie Anne, my most generous and loving wife of some thirty-five years. They are all family-oriented and have clearer truths for living than their father.

So, why have I shared all of my children, myself and wife with you, my compatriots on the writing circuit and some few reading fans? Surely, you did not need to read this, to hear it, as it were. No, of course not! It is all for me, this long missive of contrition. I’ve made you, the readers, my altar of remorse!

 It seemed necessary for me to share the larger truths of my life. Somehow, with the allocation comes ablution, some semblance of playing straight without falsely presenting myself. I served honorably in the United States Navy, have a loving and cherished wife, and felt the simple need to share the beauty that now pervades my life…the children, their families, their devotion to their own families and their charitable aid to others.

In pondering my life’s rather rascally environments at times I’m reminded of how truly lucky I am to have so very much love in my life.

That’s really comforting here in ‘Twilight’, where I plan to live until age 105 and write many more novels…

Surely hope those novels get read… 

No groveling, please, BR! 😀

Billy Ray Chitwood – September 1, 2018

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Time Ticks

©Time Ticks

Your vanquishing ticks

Of time

Have betrayed me with

Your surly

Constancy!

Have held me hopeful

Of some special

Equity!

Your metronomic ticks

And tocks

Of lazy

Tones

Corrupt and beguile!

You spoil the

Dreams

Fashioned by Love

And Romance,

Hold your

Meaningless Wake

When I can

No longer

Hear

Your merciless

Monotony!

Divine,

You are!

And, Evil

Still!

When the final

Tock is

Ticked,

I shall be

The Victor

In

Eternity!

 

Poem by BR Chitwood – Aug. 13, 2018

 

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