I just received my results from Ancestry DNA. The results confirmed the research I’ve completed over the last 20 years that I am officially a displaced European “Mutt”!


For nearly two centuries, my genes were created by a indiscriminate breeding of the cast-off population of Scandinavia and Germany.  That my ancestors ended up in the Midwest portion of America by choice or a lack of direction is still under review. What is known is that all arrived seeking a better life for themselves or their family, not unlike the current crop of immigrant settling around us now.

My family history includes stories of young men and woman escaping war and famine. Some came for opportunities not available in their crowded homeland. Some were following their dreams, while others arrived because they drew the short straw! Whatever happened that made them take to the sea in the mid-eighteen hundreds, they all ended up as farmers and shopkeepers on the dusty plains of Dakota.

Together they survived because of a rugged independence imbued on them by the conditions they chose to settle in. They were a stubborn, some would say obstinate, people who made the best of their situation. (Who else would think that rotted cabbage and dried up whitefish (Sauerkraut and Lutefisk) could be cherished as the makings of a holiday treat?)

The fact that I still live happily in the rural midwest could be considered a testiment or a curse of the genes that shaped my being.

-CJ Holm

In Loving Arms


4 Generations – Myself, My Mother, Grandmother, and Great-Grandmother – On the Dakota Prairie, Summer 1953

Those sweet memories
Of the way it used to be
When I was safe in my mother’s arms
On the infinite Dakota prairie.

Where life could be hard
And money was in short supply.
But, love would surround me
While adversity passed by.

Passed between these ladies
I clung to their arms
Knowing they’d protect me
From dangers on those family farms.

They were with me when I was young
Advising, suggesting, sometimes stern.
Leading protectively on the long dusty roads
Teaching me lessons, they hoped I would learn.

                                                                                       -Clarence Holm

Thought Again Of Prairie Fields

I thought again of prairie fields
And remembered warm summer suns.
I felt the wind that blew back then
And played with my family again.

The big front yard, the pasture gate
Sweet memories swirl around me.
I hold the thoughts tighter now
I’m scared that I won’t remember.

Baseball games at reunion parks
Our families played there together.
The children ran, while old folks looked
And the winners called for their treasures.

We grew older then and some moved on
Black and white pictures replaced the elders.
The family picnics are much smaller now,
I’m missing so many aunts and uncles.

To return once more to yesteryear
Will have to wait for awhile.
I have dreams to share and kids to hug
Before I walk my final mile.

-Clarence Holm

I Can’t Wait For That

Our Rockwellian Family

Our Rockwellian Family

A Thanksgiving Quintet

-Clarence Holm

baked giblet stuffing
cranberries on my turkey
such a special treat

friends round the table
faithful dog beside my feet
autumn’s chill outdoor

loosened belt buckle
mom’s potatoes and gravy
pie for after nap

dishes cleared away
boring football halftime show
sneak a piece of bun

cinnamon cider
hot apple pie with whipped cream
smiles share the table

Late to the Gait

I stepped in footprints left behind
Of my older sibling’s stories
Hallowed memories of family times
Before I joined the clan.

I shared clothing that was left behind
By older siblings who are long grown now.
Distressed shirts featuring faded idols
Whose luster now’s a diminished star.

Repeated stories of my family
Before I came to be.
Memories spoken late at night
Familiar – but not quite mine.

Early family portraits
Leaving spaces where I should be.
Notes of celebrations
Before I came to be.

Footprints that my siblings left behind
I’ve tried hard to follow right
Grasping at the memories
That were never really mine.

-Clarence Holm

Shared Throughout The Years

Great Grandma's Peonies

Great Grandma’s Peonies

These peonies were tended by my grandmother,
Brought from her home faraway
They were planted by her mother’s hand
In another yard many years before.

They in turn were passed on to my mother
Who carried them to a new home
Where she coached the buds to blossom
Just as great grandma many years ago.

Now it’s my turn to tend and feed them,
Cultivate and weed them so they will grow.
So the next generation can share the tradition
Of the beauty that we’ve sown

I’ve told my children how they must follow
The examples of the previous generations.
To continue the needed cultivation
Allowing their family to bloom and grow

-Clarence Holm

Life’s Paths

Bridge to Infinity Original Acrylic Artwork By Stuart Glazer

Bridge to Infinity
Original Acrylic Artwork By Stuart Glazer

“We do not remember days, we remember moments.”

– Cesare Pavese

Life’s Paths

I walked this path just once before,
With my father’s advice to follow.
But this time I alone will lead
My children will come tomorrow.

The steps I make leave a record
Of details I feel are essential.
Of what I think they will have to know
And forget the inconsequential.

I hope they pay attention to
The harmony that surrounds them
And hear the distant overtones
Instead of meaningless problems.

For what’s a journey with no goal,
Just lonely wonderings of a soul
Who lost the path and have gone astray
And crash into the distant shoal.

– Clarence Holm

Little Princess (I’ll Be Home)

Little Princess

Lovely daughter on the wall
Daily problems block your view
Little girl just learned to crawl
Couldn’t be there – you’ll get through.

Little princess wait for me
If your willing pause today.
Grow up slowly just for me,
I‘ll be home soon come what may.

You always say there isn’t time
The child you love is here today .
Check your watch and take some time
Or miss the smiles sent your way.

Little princess wait for me
Daddy’s work is in the way
Happy thoughts are my decree
Hope they work in my place today.

As my girl grows up so soon
She’ll find others to fill my place.
I shouldn’t wait till it’s opportune
Early memories will soon erase

Little princess wait for me
Piles of work are in my way.
I’ll be home just wait and see
I’ll finish work and we can play.

– Clarence Holm

Dear Santa – S’il Vous Plait

It’s that time of year again, when tradition has me compile a list of items that I most desire. However after years of endless requests and items duly received, this year I’ve only one small wish that I would like granted—

I have no need for a bike tonight,
Or sweater that’s tailored tight.
A simple wish I make today
That’s all I need from Santa’s sleigh.

In fact, it’s a message for you to carry,
To my friends and family making merry.
I think it’s time to tell each and every one
How much in life they’ve really done.

For every occurrence, each little tussel,
Gave us all a little hustle.
Each made an impact that’s plain to see
So thank you all for what’s been given to me.

To Jack, the eldest of the tribe this advice he freely offers,
Including this financial gem, guaranteed to fill our coffers.
Never turn down “refills and top offs” poured by neighborly clans
Especially at reunions with plentiful cookie stands.

To Jerry, the only one among us not dependent on Obamacare.
Who made a life most true with his carpenter’s square
Whose year is lived in different countries,
Says switching locations is a breeze.

Next there’s the one that holds us all together
Our sister Joanne who acts as the family’s tether.
Who’s defied the odds using incredible guile
Cracking the whip wearing a cheerful smile.

Following in the family organization,
Is our expert in commercialization.
Jim has skills that we all agree
Has suffered through years of corporate conferees.

Lastly my little brother Gene,
Whose family has grown umpteen.
Unfortunately Boston’s Red Sox, and the New England’s Pats
Have let him down with sickly stats.

Before I wish a pleasant Christmas eve
I have to say as I take my leave
I’ll miss you all as midnight’s strike
As Santa calls to all good night.

Pete, Chuck and Tap

Pete, Chuck and Tap
Are our most recent resident cats.
And although they weren’t my personal choice
They’ve settled here, that’s that.

These three arrived from varied sources
Invited by family who’ve since departed
To dorms and rooms– so far away
To life apart, so quickly started.

Peter, Charles and Tapioca
Do their best to fill the void
They run and play and make a mess
Their antics, we’ve enjoyed.

To each I’ve said, “I like them best!”
And at the moment it seemed well-founded
But as things changed, lives rearrange
It appears my choice was ungrounded.

To those who think, I’ve settled for
A furry substitute household
You don’t know me or my growing heart
Or the joys I’ve left untold.

Pete, Chuck and Tap
Are our most recent resident cats.
And although they weren’t my personal choice
They’ve settled here, that’s that.