Jacki Kellum

Juxtapositions: Read My Mind

Tag: Moonlight

Old Tent Revivals, the Moon, & Me – Jacki Kellum Memoir

When I was very young, my rural hometown had a small movie theater, but it wasn’t there long. While I was growing up, my little cotton patch of a town was growing smaller. Poverty was in the process of boarding the Bootheel region of Southeast Missouri shut, but when I was a child, my little town was more than adequate. It was the spot that helped me weave a nest of memories, and that is more than enough.

A few years after our movie theater closed, someone temporarily set up a big tent and sold tickets to watch old movies. It seems to me that the tickets cost a quarter, but the cost of admission may have been less than that. The tent was golden yellow, and it looked just like the one that my grandmother’s church used for tent revivals. Not long ago, I walked outside and looked at the moon that was cradled above my back garden, and I remembered my childhood, its tent revivals, and the moon that has always enchanted me.


Full, But Hazy Autumn Moon
by Jacki Kellum 

Tonight, the moon is perched high in the sky, directly above the garden–just outside my back door.

Tonight, when I first got downstairs and looked out the sunroom window, my first thought was that it must be the moments just before dawn.

Everything around was fairly brightly lit, and I could faintly see the plants that were brave enough to have continued blooming after the cool, October air had tucked their neighbors into bed. Everything in my garden had a soft, muted, and faintly-colored, shimmering glow.

As I looked around, I thought: Tonight, the moonlight is bright, but this is not one of those hot-light nights like the ones when I used to walk home from church, well after sunset, and the hum of the locusts was so loud that the air seemed to rattle a song.

And tonight is not one of those nights when ladies in the church would beat around their faces with cardboard fans that had Jesus painted on them.

Yes, Lord, tonight’s moonlight is not like that when I used to go to the tent revivals with my grandmother, and I stood up and sat down beneath bare light bulbs that were strung across the top of the tent and dangled. And everyone sang. Shall We Gather at the River? 

Tonight’s light is not like that of the summer nights when my neighborhood friends and I would dart about the yard, playing tag and hide and seek. We would  run until the sweat dripped from our clothes. Then, we’d sit down and giggle on the back porch, drinking lemonade from rainbow-colored, aluminum glasses.

Tonight is not like the summer nights of my childhood. Tonight, there is no hot, blaring, bugle-like, jazz-singing, summer moon.

Tonight, there is only a soft, hazy, autumn moon–a cornstarch moon–kissed by honey, hanging in the dark.

Full but Hazy Autumn Moon ©Jacki Kellum October 28, 2015

©Jacki Kellum August 6, 2017


A Dreamer Finds His Way By Moonlight But Sees Dawn Too Soon

“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” – Oscar Wilde

The Moon has always enchanted me. I suppose that much of the moon’s charisma has to do with the fact that it is the light that balances the darkness of night and therefore, it has a certain mystery about it. In fact, the filtered and hazy glimmer that is whispered by the moon is what lends a mystical quality to the night.


I like the way that the moon washes the world in a soft and alluring light–one that is not too harsh and not too bright. To me, a moon-lit night has the same kind of ambiance that a room has that is lighted only by the flickering flames of a fireplace or by the warm glow that falls beneath the shade of a lamp.

I write a great deal about denial. I criticize the people in denial and say that they have no feelings about what is happening around themselves and thus, they have no empathy. As I look around more, however, I am realizing that more people are wearing blinders than there are those who seem to see. Perhaps most people are in what I call a state of denial, and the artists and the writers of the world are the only people who see.

Picasso said, “Je vois les autres,” which means, “I see for the others or I see things that other people do not see.” I am certainly no Picasso, but I feel the same way about myself–I believe that I see things that other people don’t see, and I have written several posts in which I share the fact that all of my life I have felt apart from everyone else because of that.  In the following poem, I talk about how I feel isolated in a world of people who I believe can only look at outward appearances–if they look at all.


When I talk about “looking” as opposed to “seeing,” I am referring to different levels of perceiving the world. Even flies look. The thing that distinguishes a thinking man is his ability to “see,” and as Picasso has suggested, there are levels of seeing. As Oscar Wilde has suggested, an artist’s ability to look more penetratingly at life and to see more than the surface is enhanced because the artist is able to wrap reality in the moonlight and to look at it beneath the sheltering shade of his perceptions.


Deep Within the Pool, I See
by Jacki Kellum

Deep within the pool I see,
An outline view of me.

I smile.  The water thinks me glad.
I frown. It thinks me sad.
The water has no way to know
The kind of day I’ve had.

The water has no brain to think.
It has no heart to feel
It only views my outer shell.
It looks with eyes of steel.

How very like the water are
The people passing by.
They glance at me, They never see,
They never hear me cry.

Drop a pebble in the pool.
Watch the water spin.
Best to watch the water crack
Than love the shell within.

© Jacki Kellum December 7, 2015

After my divorce, I became depressed; and for a short while, I sought a psychiatrist’s advice. One day, I said to her that I wished that I was the type of person who was unphased by how other people perceived me and who was uncaring about whether or not I had caused other people pain. I added that I wished that I myself could navigate life without feeling pain. Her response was very true, “People who do not feel pain also do not see the rainbows,” and that is very true.


In the same way, the people who do not feel do not notice the dew, as it touches their toes in the mornings.


And the people who do not hear miss the sound of the rain as it filters through the trees and then taps the tin roof and slides from it one drop at a time.


Likewise, tThe people who do not hear also do not notice the whisper-plinking as the snow begins to drift toward the ground and begins to cover the earth with a velvety whiteness.

The Snow Begins to Fall
by Jacki Kellum

Grayness is so thick that you feel its cotton breath reaching around you,
Blowing slivers of ice against your face.
Quiet and still—almost silent, except for a faint brushing tap,
Crystals touch the ground.
There are no cars out tonight, but I see a lone street light,
and in the golden circle that it makes, I watch the puffs of white–
…………………..Falling out of sight,
……………………………….Beyond the orb.

I stand outside my house, and
Gradually, the corners of my window pane fill,

The Christmas lights next door are turned on.
Gray-muted blueness soon becomes a pyramid of powder.

©Jacki Kellum October 14, 2015

The people who do not see also do not notice the way that the soft and glowing light of the moon transforms the darkness of night.

Pale Yellow Moon
by Jacki Kellum

Pale Yellow Moon,
Hazy, Milky Magic:

Mostly Cornstarch,
Kissed by Honey,
Whispering to the Dark.

© Jacki Kellum October 14, 2015

As Oscar Wilde has pointed out, artists and writers do see more of life and they see it long before the rest of the world takes note. But the unfortunate flip side to this kind of vision is that they are also quicker to notice when things begin to fall apart and they hurt more than others. The ability to hurt deeply is the punishment for being born an artist. Artists and writers truly experience both the agony and the ecstasy of life, and if I could not have one without the other, I would still elect to have them both.

“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” – Oscar Wilde



© 2017 Jacki Kellum

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