Monday, October 3, 2011

A day on the farm

“She told me she just couldn’t take it anymore.  She’s so distraught she doesn’t know what to do.”  The little hen clucked and preened and pranced, knowing that the dog was fully absorbed in her story.

“Really?”  The dog’s huge eyes watched the hen closely, measuring her posture against her words.  The hen was known for overdramatizing a situation.

“Well I just don’t know how she has managed thus far!”

Two puppies came tearing around the corner of the barn, nipping at each other’s heels and yipping with glee.  The sow rolled over, eyed them carefully, and closed her eyes again, confident that they were headed off in another direction.  “Lordy, someone should take a cane to those pups.  For their own good, of course.  One day they’re going to run right under the tractor.”

The rabbit watched the hen and dog from his cage, hopping from side to side, anxious to contribute something to the discussion, but aware that he had absolutely nothing to say.  So he danced, hopped, and scratched, hoping to draw attention to himself and divert the conversation.

The donkey ambled into the barnyard and cast a doleful look around.   “Just as I thought.  No one has anything worthwhile to say.  Always talking about other animals.”  He turned and wandered off in the direction of the pasture, content to spend his time alone there rather than suffer fools.

The cat lounged in the shadow of a bench beside the barn unnoticed, taking in all the theatrics and confusion.    Her day would be spent napping, visiting the cows and catching mice, as had all her days since before she could remember.  That was a good life, she mused.  No need to tell the others how to live, or report on the perils and misdeeds of others.  Her whiskers twitched as she caught a quick movement nearby.  From her languid posture to a full pounce in a second, she snared the mouse and crossed the barnyard to deposit it on the farmer’s doorstep.  Her satisfaction with a job well done was evident.

“Isn’t that just like her.  She parades around the farm with dead things in her mouth, like it’s some sort of badge of honor!” clucked the hen.  “It’s so disgusting, and she behaves as if she’s so much better than we are.   And that stupid farmer!  He praises her and gives her a saucer of milk!  And here I feed his family and never a word!  It’s just not right!  I deserve better!”

The farmer’s wife stepped out of the kitchen door of the farmhouse and headed to the barnyard.  She strode straight over to the hen and grabbed her by the neck, swinging her once around her head, snapping her neck instantly.  Off she went back to the farmhouse, to prepare dinner for her guests that evening.

The sow opened one eye, and remarked “I told her she ought not make such a fuss or she’d be the next one in the pot.” 

The dog trotted off to find the puppies, intent on quieting them down lest they be next.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

The essence of nothing

The list of things leaking out of my life grows longer.  It is a simplification process – or do I rationalize? 

Am I resisting because I am too connected to the material, because my spirit isn’t properly enlightened?

Or is it because I’m afraid that after the distillation process, when I am reduced to my essence, I will find that there is nothing left?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Clara was too young to comprehend.  Daddy’s little girl with the platinum blond curls and omnipresent smile stood at the attic window swimming in utter confusion as she watched her father walk away from the house, get into his car and drive away.  Once again she tried the attic door – why would he lock it?  Clara had never been locked inside a room before.  At only 4 years old, she had never been left alone in a house before. 

Her gaze swept around the attic of the old house, stuffing the cracks in her soul with the shadows and cobwebs, trying desperately to prevent the tears that might leak out.  The chill of the attic seeped into her, threatening to drown her, suffocate her, to break the thin thread that tethers existence to sanity.  A creeping panic arose deep inside her that she quickly squashed, feeling more fearful of the panic than of the circumstances. 

Something scurried in the far corner and Clara crept over to investigate.  She had never shied away from wild things, and subconsciously needed the company now.  Whatever she had heard was much less interested in her than she was in it – there was nothing to be found amongst the debris in the corner.

Throwing herself down on a dusty, moldering sofa she began to cry – no sobbing, only quiet tears streaming down her cheeks.  The feelings of abandonment and betrayal consumed every ounce of energy that might have been used for a good cleansing tantrum. 

Years hence, and for the rest of her life, she will wonder whether that really happened, or whether it was a vivid nightmare, indistinguishable in a young child’s mind from reality.  Each fall the emotions of abandonment and betrayal will hang over her like a pall whenever she sees an attic window in an old house.  By early December the feelings will have evaporated – drops of water on the wood-burning stove – the memory of the incident (or was it a nightmare?) gone again for another year.

But the years of her life will be marked indelibly with this annual anguish – the literal and figurative chill of that betrayal.   And she will often wonder if the fingerprints of that experience can be found over all the aspects of her life.  Waiting invisibly for someone to dust for them, explain them, and then wipe them away.  Wishing she knew how to do it herself. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

The rock stacker

The decisions to be made are pounding on the door, demanding an audience.  Possibilities are endless, true enough, but making a choice is such a heavy burden.  There is so very much riding on each choice. 

The level of concentration required of me has me chewing the inside of my lower lip to shreds.  A nervous habit I can’t break.  securedownload

Some day, before too long, I will sleep through the night.  I will listen to classical music again.  I will eat a meal without indigestion.  I will hear the phone ring without feeling sick.

In the meantime, I will stack rocks, one on top of another.  I will focus on the balance, the beauty, the patience of the practice.  I will imagine the rocks taking a yogic breath as they struggle to maintain their positions. 

And when they fall, I will stack them again.  And again.  And again, ad infinitum.  Until I am no longer needed as a rock stacker.  Until I am needed elsewhere.

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The rock stacker

The decisions to be made are pounding on the door, confusion reigns.  They are demanding an audience.  Possibilities are endless, true enough, but making a choice is such a heavy burden.  There is so very much riding on each choice. 

The level of concentration required of me has led me to chew the inside of my lower lip to shreds.  A nervous habit I can’t break.  securedownload

Some day, before too long, I will sleep through the night.  I will listen to classical music again.  I will eat a meal without indigestion.  I will not feel sick when the phone rings.

In the meantime, I will stack rocks, one on top of another.  I will focus on the balance, the beauty, the patience of the practice.  I will imagine the rocks breathing a yogic breath as they struggle to maintain their positions. 

And when they fall, I will stack them again.  And again.  And again, ad infinitum.  Until I am no longer needed as a rock stacker.  Until I am needed elsewhere.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Brevity is the soul of wit. 

And of pleasant house guests.

And hugs with smelly cousin David.

And sermons.


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Monday, September 12, 2011

The old linden

The old tree suffered a difficult summer.  Weeks without rain, record high temperatures, and hurricane remnants ravaged it and left it looking tattered.  The leaves at the end of the branches are withered and brown.  Ragged stumps remain where gracious limbs once swayed in the breeze. 

But there is a small, timid creek that flows beneath it.  The slanting morning sun reflects off the water and onto the underside of the leaves.  The effect is breathtaking.

This cool September morning I recognize the strength of that metaphor – sometimes the true beauty is underneath.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Faint breezes caress the tired, dry leaves of the ancient maple in the yard.  Russell sits on the front porch in his wool sweater in spite of the early September heat.  Arms crossed over his chest and chin lowered, he nods his head gently – remembering picnics at the beach, the sepia photo of himself in front of his first car, the day his first child was born.

The baseball game on the radio fades in and out; Russell leans a little closer.  The hint of a smile on his face broadens into a grin as he remembers his first professional baseball game, the pretty girl he took with him and the smell of her perfume.  The armed forces commercial brings back the day his son returned from Korea, the scented love letters he received from the army nurse in WWII.

A dog barks in the neighbor’s yard down the street.  Russell thinks of the Pekinese dog his daughter adored – the one that followed her everywhere, and the baby duck she nursed back to health after finding it the park with an injured wing.  He remembers the sleep overs his daughter had, loud rambunctious laughter ringing through the house til the wee hours; he recalls taking his younger son to baseball practice and the pride he felt when he was offered a spot on the minor league team. 

These are the fleeting thoughts that fill his mind this day and every day. 

These are the only things worth remembering.

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I love you, a bushel and a peck

“I love you, a bushel and a peck, a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.  A barrel and a heap, yes a barrel and a heap, and I’m talkin’ in my sleep about yoouuu….”

Jill stopped short, almost unable to breathe when she heard a young mother singing that to her toddler, complete with hugs and nose rubs, just the way Jill’s grandmother had done for her.  She hadn’t heard that in 40 years, and the tidal wave of nostalgia that came with it nearly knocked her over.

The young mother noticed Jill’s discomfort and nervously gathered up all the paraphernalia that accompanies toddlers, and the toddler herself.  As they left the park bench, the young mother cast glances behind her as if she expected Jill to follow.  Once they were beyond the playground area and out of sight, Jill sat down.  Behind the park bench she spied a small fuzzy thing, familiar looking and worn.  The toddler’s toy had apparently fallen off the seat in the scurry to gather her up. 

Jill reached down and picked it up, the catch in her throat returning.  It was Spareribs, her toy dog from childhood, worn fur and missing left eye.  It couldn’t be – that toy was destroyed in the house fire that killed her grandmother.  But it was, she was certain.  Her grandmother had made that stuffed animal.  There wasn’t another one like it anywhere.

Jill’s phone rang, startling her back to the present.

“Jill!  I’ve been trying to reach you for hours!  Why did you check yourself out of the hospaital?  Where are you now?”

“I’m…I’m…”  The strangeness of the day wouldn’t release her voice.  “I’m at the park.”

“Stay right where you are – I’m on my way.” 

The phone went dead and Jill was catapulted from awed confusion to dread of the disapproval of her therapist.  She looked down at the small furry thing in her hand.  It was a dead squirrel.  Tears began to stream down her cheeks and she set the squirrel gently on the ground.  It twitched, jumped up and ran off. 

Jill’s head began to pound as the sounds of the park changed to colors, and then to tastes.  There was nothing to do now but lie down on the bench and wait for the therapist.  Maybe this time she could convince her that her grandmother was obviously not really dead.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The grace of pain

Sometimes death enters the room in padded slippers.  Sometimes he crashes through the gate on a glossy black steed.  It doesn’t matter how he arrives.  The result is always the same.

I have seen his various methods of arrival - pompous and pretentious, sudden and surreptitious, acquiescing and accepting.  Death gets bored and needs to mix it up. 

Those left behind know that hearing his footsteps helps you prepare for the loss.  It gives parameters to the hole in your life.  It helps you make sense of the loss during your grief.

They also know that when he storms the gate and rips your life into shreds, there is really no repairing that tear.  That gaping wound is yours for life.  It will ache less in ten years, even less in twenty, but it will cling to you like a spider web. 

The problem is that modern life makes no room for that clinging sorrow.  We knew once, as a species, that there was a place for that sorrow.  It served a purpose.  It made us aware, sentient, compassionate.

Now there is no time.  Hurry up and snap out of it.  There is life to live, money to be made, fun to be had.  There is therapy available, drugs to take, partying to assuage the pain.  Pain = evil.  Pain = weakness.


Pain is necessary.

Enduring pain makes you human.

Surviving pain with grace makes you divine.


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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cricket wisdom

The crickets get a little louder each evening.

They seem to know their days are numbered.  They are clamoring for attention, begging for someone to hear their song, desperate to tell their stories. 

Time is short, and the wisdom is fleeting. 

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Larger than life



Some moments are larger than life, bigger than the space allotted to hold them.  Some moments give more than they take, leaving behind a sense of emptiness, for the next moment is bound to disappoint. 

But those sparkling moments, ripe and full and rich, hold all of eternity in their grasp.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011


The pine trees lining the driveway murmured amongst themselves, the inconsiderate bastards.  Don’t they know it’s rude to exclude people from a conversation?  I need to know what they are saying.  They might be plotting an ambush on my car during the next storm, hosting a flock of insolent birds with digestive troubles, creeping under the driveway with their roots, preparing to burst forth and tear the pavement into pebbles. 

That’s alright.  I have a lot of patience.  And a chainsaw.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Opus 27, No. 1

The sound of the Nocturne hung in the room, coloring the very air with its sadness.  Kelly sat motionless at the piano bench, frozen in the last moment of the music, unwilling to let go of it.  The echo filled her ears, her lungs, her fingertips and she ached to bring it back.

Evan finished his sherry and rose from his chair.  “I don’t suppose there’s any cake left?”

A light creak issued from the piano bench as Kelly turned slowly toward the open window.  Having tried discussion, Kelly was hoping that the music could convey the pain that her words had failed to impart.  But all he wanted was cake.

With appalling certainty,  Kelly realized that while she had thought people were listening to her words or her music, they were usually just waiting their turn to talk.

Evan left the room in search of dessert, and found the room empty when he returned. 

Screams floated through the open window.  Evan wandered over to see what new calamity was taking place on the street below his 15th floor condo.  Kelly’s twisted body lay on the pavement, surrounded by horrified onlookers. 

Evan’s first thought was “Damn it, Kelly!  Why didn’t you say something?”


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A choice

One and one half miles.  Hardly makes one an elite athlete, but a long enough walk to get the blood pumping, work out the kinks in the back from sitting all day.  The route was the same every day, the familiarity beginning to breed contempt.

I came to the first intersection, where I always made a left turn, and stopped.  Staring off to the right I felt a pull – a queer physical feeling, as if my heart were attached to a string that was being pulled in the opposite  direction of the way I intended to go.  I stood still – pondering, hoping, yearning.  Wondering if it could possibly make a difference, if somehow turning the other direction could change my life, give it direction and meaning.  Could it feed the hungry, house the homeless?  Could it find homes for the stray cats, conquer my heartburn, make my cantankerous mother apologize?

God damn Frost – generations will stand at that divergence and wonder, certain that whichever path they choose will be the wrong one.  His mother apparently never told him the adage about jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I turned around.

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Friday, August 19, 2011


All at once it was clear – this year had been the intermezzo.  Julie thought that this year had been the beginning of a new road, a new life, a way of being.  She had embraced it, as she believed she should.  But it had not hugged back. 

The relief was palpable as Julie now realized that this year had only been the short entertainment between acts to distract her from set and costume changes.  This year – with its upheaval and strain, triumphs and trauma – had not been the new scene, but the diversion while larger forces were at work.  

There was a thread that ran unbroken from earliest remembrances to the present.  The feeling of being cut loose, unmoored and drifting for many months had been an illusion. 

Now to sit back and watch it unfold, for after all, “the play’s the thing.”


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mummy says…

The curtains shivered gently in the breeze.  Sally sat on the stool, staring out the second floor window, as she had done every day since her mother died.  Not a word, not a caress, not a look had she given a single human since that day.  Trays of food left on the table by her side were toyed with, nibbled at, shoved aside.

Twice her nanny had tried to take the china baby doll from the sideboard.  Twice she had quickly returned it, the hair on the back of her neck standing up, electricity flickering through her body.  Sally had named the doll Lolly.  The nanny was certain that Lolly was had something to do with the difficulty her ward was having coping with her grief. 

Then came the morning the nanny entered Sally’s room to find the curtains billowing, and the doll gone.  Sally sat on the stool, facing the door as the nanny entered, blood on her hands and chin, staining the front of her pretty nightdress.

“Mummy says things will be better now that Lolly is gone.”  Sally’s eyes were wide, intense, staring.  “Mummy said Lolly wasn’t nice to me, so she had to be done away with. You’ll be nice to me, won’t you Nanny?”  A grin spread slowly over her face, showing a small tuft of doll hair caught in her teeth.


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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August morn

The light has changed.

The seasons develop an identity crisis before releasing their hold on the year.  It is mid-August, but the golden slant of the morning light hints at late September.  The sun is no longer breaking through the trees and onto my face to serve as alarm clock.  Crickets sing as they did in June, but now their song is a sad one, an elegy for the fullness of summer.

It is mid-August, I can’t relinquish the summer yet.  But the light has changed.


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Monday, August 15, 2011

The critic

Waiter!  Garcon!  Waiter!  Yes, yes, come here please.

I believe I ordered the filet mignon.  Medium rare.  This is not filet mignon.  In fact, I am absolutely certain this is not even beef.  Or pork, or lamb or chicken or even cleverly disguised tofu.

Please take this back to the kitchen and tell the chef that he should not have quit his job at the prison, because I’m sure his fine cuisine was greatly appreciated there, but in a five star restaurant, this will never do.

The restaurant guide clearly stated that this establishment offered some of the finest cuisine in the city!  I must have satisfaction.  Waiter!  Where are you going?  Waiter?!


Very well, you leave me no choice.  I will alert the media.


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Friday, August 12, 2011

And when she was good…

“There once was a girl, who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead.
And when she was good she was very, very good.  But when she was bad she was horrid.

There was a catchy little tune that went with that.  Abby’s father thought that was funny.  Abby always thought it was a horrible thing to be told, catchy tune or no.

Well, if one has a reputation of being ‘horrid’, even if only occasionally, one might as well give it some substance, right?  What a shame it would be to have such a reputation without any of the fun that comes with acquiring it.

Abby tossed the suitcase in the back seat of the BMW and tore out of the parking lot.  The 405 was lightly travelled at this time of night – she wouldn’t stand out, but she had room to maneuver. 

She spotted the police lights in her rearview mirror, changed lanes right in front of a car that looked much like hers, and exited almost immediately.  Six quick turns off of Wiltshire Boulevard and Abby found herself deep into a residential neighborhood.  She turned off her lights, cut the engine, and coasted into a driveway.  She ducked, invisible in the front seat as the cop car rolled past.  After counting to 100, she peeked over the seat, saw that the street was now empty and put the car in neutral, rolling out of the drive.  She started the engine and headed back the way she came.

Abby smiled as she imagined Rembrandt’s portrait of An Old Man in Military Costume, removed just that evening from the Getty Museum, screaming from inside the suitcase, banging on the inside of the bag, gasping for air. 

Yes, when she was bad she was horrid.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Can you?

Can you walk comfortably into a room
in which the only theme is diversity?
In which there is no agreement of politics,
religion, sexual orientation?

Can you carry on a conversation
in which the only theme is tolerance?
In which there is no judgment of parenting skills,
pastimes, choice of literature?

Can you empathize with others
when the only theme is anger?
In which there is no condemnation of dissidence,
frustration, blind rage?

Can you?

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Recipe for disaster

Take a hugely complex and important issue.  Whittle away at it, cutting away all the things you don’t want to agree with, the things you don’t understand, the things that make you examine your own actions in an uncomfortable way.  Toss it into a pot with the similarly achieved opinions of coworkers, neighbors, friends.  Simmer very briefly and then serve cold to everyone you meet on Twitter and Facebook.

Wonder why it seems the world has gone to hell in a handbasket.


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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The dead tree

There is a dead tree by the neighbor’s house.  Too close for comfort, really.  With each strong Midwestern storm that blows through, the neighbors hope and pray that the tree stands, that this is not the storm that brings it down on their home.  The skeletal nature of it casts a long shadow, a seeping anxiety, and tempers their laughter.  They know it is not a matter of whether the tree comes down, but when.

The family lost a child last year.  A sweet little girl, with huge eyes and a ready smile.  She had been sick for years, leukemia stealing her away from them a little piece at a time, until finally there was no more to take. 

After the funeral, family and friends congregated at the neighbors’ home, the gathering presided over by the dead tree.  Branches clicked against one another in the chilly breeze, providing the percussion to the sighing of the dry grasses.  The overcast sky matched the mood of the mourners.  They seeped out of the gathering quietly, softly, wandering back to their warm and cheery homes with no dead trees in the yard.

Winter will come again and strip the rest of the trees bare.  The neighbor’s will watch and wonder if this is the year that an ice storm brings down the dead one.  Their friends will ask them again why they don’t have it cut down.  The neighbors will never be able to explain the love they have for that dead tree, that played such a beautiful dirge for their daughter.

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Monday, August 8, 2011

The Shortcut

David took the shortcut through the woods on his way home from Terry’s house.  There were always things spied in the woods that he couldn’t explain when cutting through, so he nearly always avoided it after dusk.  Maybe it was his imagination, maybe not.  But tonight he was hurrying home because he knew he was in trouble.

David’s mother had warned him before he left that she would ground him if he didn’t get home in time for dinner tonight.  David and Terry were often having such a grand time playing baseball with the neighborhood kids that they lost all track of time.  When David realized that the reason he couldn’t see the pop fly was because the sun was going down, he took off through the woods hoping to minimize the damage.

Although the route was shorter than taking the road, it wasn’t a straight shot.  The path wound between the ancient trees and ran along a seasonal creek bed for a bit.  David ran as fast as he dared in the semi-dark, and tripped on something unseen just as he reached the creek bed.   He stayed perfectly still, listening, wondering at the sound that filled his ears.  It was water running.  But with the lack of rain this summer, the creek had been dry since May.  Slowly he rose up on his hands and knees and peered at the creek.  It was as dry as could be.  But the water sound seemed to be getting louder.  Certain that the sound was coming from behind him now, he ran at top speed toward his house - branches smacking him in the face, brambles grabbing his ankles, spooked owls screeching and fluttering off nearby tree limbs.

The search started shortly after.  His frantic parents looked everywhere, checked every house in the neighborhood, all the paths through the woods.  Near dawn the next morning they caught sight of a bright red object caught on an exposed tree root in the creek bed.  It was David’s baseball cap, and it was soaking wet.

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Friday, August 5, 2011

A day in the life

Slouched on the sofa in front of the video console, Josh managed to erase all conscious thought.  His mind and body became pure electric impulse and simultaneous action.  It was a thing of beauty.

Entire civilizations were saved, puzzles solved, outrageous slam dunks performed.  There was truly nothing Josh couldn’t do.  There would soon follow a reality TV show, an NBA MVP - hell, even a Nobel Prize was within his reach if he applied himself.

His life was destined to be chronicled by bards in the decades to come.   History textbooks would tout his accomplishments, parents would tell their children bedtime stories of his exploits. 

“Josh, are you still here?” his mother called from the garage where she had just pulled in after work.  “You’re already half an hour late for work!  Get your ass off the couch and get going, while you still have somewhere to go!”

Josh’s mind snapped to – a sinking feeling told him he’d once again lost himself in a parallel universe, where the only thing that mattered was reaction time and the speed with which you could press buttons.

“That bitch ruins everything” he muttered as he snatched the keys from the counter and headed off to work another dreadful shift at Jack in the Box.

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Thursday, August 4, 2011


The questions are so deep, and the answers are so personal…that is, if they exist at all.  Perhaps there aren’t any answers.  Only questions. 

Or maybe I’m just asking the wrong questions.

Or maybe you’ve lost the ability to answer them in a truthful, forthright way. 

Or maybe I’m asking the wrong people.

Fruitless years of searching for those answers has eroded my soul.  The edges are now like sandpaper, rough enough to rip a layer of skin from you if you get too close. 

Does that make it even less likely that I’ll get my answers?


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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The metaphor

“She cast the journal overboard, into the inky sea.”

“What a load of dog crap.  Why can’t anyone come up with a decent metaphor anymore?” Amy wondered as she perused the stack of short story submissions for the magazine.  Maybe it’s true what they said, there is nothing original under the sun.  Umberto Eco recognized that to be true, Shakespeare said so – hell, it’s even in the bible. 

“Maybe it’s unrealistic to expect something new.  How many possible word combinations do you suppose there are?” she muttered.

“Scolding your manuscripts again?”  Ed had entered the room soundlessly, startling Amy and sending her into a rage.

“For Christ’s sake, Ed!  Why do you keep sneaking up on me?”

“The fireworks are unmatched.”  Ed replied.

Be careful you don’t lose an eye.”

Ed grinned his shiteater grin.  Amy knew that meant he was feeling magnanimous because he was about to dump a project on her that he should really be taking care of himself.

“J. W.’s nephew has coughed up a hairball and I need you to edit it and make it printable.”

“Ed….” Amy paused, trying desperately to keep  her temper under control.

“I know, I know.  You aren’t a grade school tutor.  Just remember who signs your checks.”

“….and yours!  How do I get stuck with stuff?  Will you look at the stack of manuscripts I have to get through this afternoon?  Let me guess, you just got back from a three martini lunch?”

“Well, you’re a weepy drunk, my dear, so better me than you.  J. W. wants this in the next issue.”

Ed left the room as soundlessly as he came.  Amy scribbled on her notepad “and with that, the tribulation set out in search of other souls to badger.”

“Eh.  Dog crap.”

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011


tar heart

Sometimes even the spattered tar on a city sidewalk has something to say.

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Monday, August 1, 2011

The answer.

“This has to stop!  You can’t end violence with more violence. Every injustice, every innocent wronged, every insult piles up one upon another until the violence becomes all consuming.  There has to be a way to break that cycle.  You have to find it.”

Jerry’s eyes were glazed as he listened, swaying slightly, trying to wipe the blood from his hands.  She had always been such a little snot, a know-it-all.  She didn’t understand that none of this was a choice he’d made – he was simply the vehicle.  Who held the controls?  Who cares?  He only knew it wasn’t him. 

“Jerry, please.  You know I’m right.”

A hard edged glimmer returned to his eyes, his breathing quickened.   He felt rather than saw that his sister tensed, knowing she had said exactly the wrong thing.

Drawing himself up to his full height, he took a deep breath and stood motionless for a fraction of a second – the time it took his brain to communicate with his abdomen, pierced by the bullet.

“I’m sorry, Jerry.  I guess maybe violence is the answer.”


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Friday, July 29, 2011

Lara’s new day

The dawn brought a beautiful sunrise.  Shades of pink, coral, salmon shifting to tangerine and lemon as the sun rose.  The gentlest of breezes played a background to the song of the mourning dove outside Lara’s window.

Lara’s calico cat stood up at the foot of the bed, stretched and began to purr.  The thin shaft of early morning sun coming through the window formed a halo around her.  Lara covered her head with the pillow and pushed the cat off the bed. 

Nothing trumps the determination to be melancholy.

durer  Albrecht Durer
Melancolia I

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Choices are hateful things. 

Seldom will you find that you may choose one thing without saying no to other, equally enticing possibilities.

Or you may find yourself stuck between two equally repulsive choices.

And there is no getting out of it – as the band Rush once said “If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice.”

But I want it all.

Choices are hateful things. 

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Regretfully yours,

Dear Jim,

I don’t understand how you have developed such a different view of reality over the years we’ve been together.  How is it that you recount the same occurrence with such a different slant?   How is it that you don’t even remember that I was there when telling that story?

I can’t fight this anymore.  Your reality no longer matches mine.  I guess this is what they mean when they say “we grew apart.”

Have the stories your way.  I have taken the job in St. Paul and leave on Friday.  I hope someday when you look back you’ll see that believing something is real doesn’t make it so.  I can’t fix this, and I can’t carry it with me anymore.  The pain is not mine if you lay your hand on the hot stove thinking it is a rock wall.

Regretfully yours,



Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A summer night

A locust splits his skin and bursts free

Into a brand new existence.

He sits in the tree and sings his song of triumph.

From the porch I wait and listen

Trapped in my skin, my life.

I sit in the rocker and hum an old folk tune.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

The subway encounter

Jane and her son boarded the subway train and found a seat.  It was mid afternoon, and the car was nearly empty.  At the next stop, the door opened with a whoosh.  In came a middle aged man, dressed in possibly every piece of clothing he owned, carrying a box.  Jane and her son looked at each other, eyebrows up.  The man sat the box on the bench opposite the door, jumped back and shouted “Whoa!”

Nothing happened.  After several moments, the man started a strange dance – part twitch, part bounce.  He seemed unaware that anyone shared the subway car with him as he began talking to the box in unintelligible tones. 

Jane and her son left the train at the next stop. They stood on the platform watching as the doors closed.  The dancing man, suddenly still, turned and looked at them for the first time, tears streaming down his cheeks as the train pulled away.  At the top of the stairs they heard the blast.

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Friday, July 22, 2011



The difference between literature and pop fiction. 


The difference between Glenfiddich and Wild Turkey.


The difference between a pas de deux and a dance.


The reason we yearn.  The reason we seek.  The reason we love.

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ship of fools


Whither they go, they know not.  Whence they came, they care not. 

No concern have they but who is most fit to guide the rudder.

The shoals ahead whisper to deaf ears.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Near the end of a 9 hour drive (this last leg heading right into the sun), I prepare to merge onto the interstate.  Checking the side mirror the way looks clear.  I look over my left shoulder, drifting ever so slightly toward that lane, and see a small car in my blind spot.  Righting myself in my own lane I watch the young man speed past me yelling, bobbing his head, and gesturing wildly as he drives past.  His license plate reads AUNT BEBE.

With no one directly behind him, I merge in, just a little close for comfort (because I’m a jerk) and watch him looking in his rearview mirror, bobbing his head and gesturing at me.  I ride there for a couple of minutes enjoying the show, until the highway divides and he veers to the right.  As I pass him on the left, I see he has a peace sign sticker on the door to his gas cap.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A definition, because the search for truth is waiting for us.




1.  confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another's ability.

2.  belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.

3.  belief in god or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.


That’s all it is; belief or confidence or trust.  That’s it. 


It is not truth.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011


“Explain this.”  Frank threw the photo on the dining table.

Maura closed her eyes and took a deep breath.  “Where did you get that?”

“That really doesn’t make much difference, does it?  I have it, and I expect an explanation.”

Maura gazed out the french doors, watching the dragonflies by the koi pond.  How did it come to this?  If only she could go back, she would have been more careful.  If only she could go back, maybe she could have repaired the damage, or at least have been more honest.

“Maura, damn it!  Answer me!”

“Frank…”  There was no way he would believe that she broke his mother’s funerary urn by accident.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Because you loved me, I found a reason to keep trying. 

Because you believed in me, I strove to be more than what I was.

Because you wanted me, I cared for myself.

Because you accepted me, I am free to be an individual.

You took a pointless life and made it matter.  Thank you.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Heat waves

Sitting on the back porch, feeling a bit like steamed broccoli.  The hot, humid weather is seeping into my pores and washing away toxins, worries, and all traces of motivation.

On a day like this the speed of modern life, multitasking, rushing from one place to the next – those things become mere concepts, impossibilities that echo down the corridors of my mind. 

I wonder why they seemed so important yesterday.

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Written just for you

Very short fiction is becoming more and more popular, I imagine because of the trends of social networking.  Communications everywhere are becoming more truncated.  People are less likely with each passing year to spend the time to read a longish short story, essay, or even a long blog post.  So one could view the challenge in terms of how to communicate what you want to tell someone in fewer words, while still keeping the meaning true to your message.  Alternatively, you could frame the challenge in an entirely different way.

That is my goal here – not to simply chop words off of sentences while still saying the same thing, but to find ways to communicate a story or the theme of an essay using language that implies things not spoken, providing information that would otherwise require more words.  I realize that by doing so, each person’s story/essay is different from the next person’s, depending on how their experience, education or culture colors their reading.  Some might consider that a problem, but I love that!  You could consider that every story I write was written only for you, because no one else will read into it the exact same details and inferences.

I hope you enjoy this method of storytelling and essay writing.  And by all means, please continue to leave feedback.

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Friday, July 8, 2011

A change

The interior of the car must have been 110 degrees.  He’d forgotten to leave a window cracked this morning.  Starting the car, four people on the nearby sidewalk turned and gave him a dirty look when his muffler roared to life.  Pulling out of the lot, the fuel light came on. 

“Peachy.  That’s just peachy.”  He flipped on the radio in time to hear the last 8 bars of his favorite song, and six minutes of commercials. 

At the gas station, he stepped in gum and spilled gas on the hem of his trousers.  He sighed.  If this was instant karma coming to bite him on the ass, he was having none of it.  He was a good man – considerate, thoughtful, always tried to do the right thing. 

As he started the car, Sheryl Crow’s song “A Change Will Do You Good” came on the radio.  He pulled out of the station, turned the opposite direction of home, and kept driving.

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Saving sanity


…a cool dip in a gorgeous seaside pool,

…an afternoon spent in the shade of a large maple tree,

…listening to fabulous live blues on Bourbon Street,

…taking the T to Fenway Park,

…curling up in bed with a great book,

…the scents of an herb garden in the heat of the day,

…bonfires and bourbon

…facing the dawn with no regrets.


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Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Marilyn and her carpool mates pulled into the driveway.  They met at Marilyn’s house.  Because of her trouble with motion sickness, Marilyn preferred to drive – besides, the mileage check from their employer was generous, and she had the newest car of the bunch.  Just about dinner time, they arrived back at Marilyn’s, and found that Kara’s car wouldn’t start. 

“Oh crap, I left the lights on!”

“Well, I’m pretty sure I have jumper cables.  Let me look.”  Marilyn said.  “Does anyone know how to use them?”

Jane blinked.  “Are you serious?”

“I have never used them – I don’t know how.”

“Well I do.  It’s not rocket science.”

Marilyn went in search of the jumper cables while the rest of the crew gathered around the comatose car.

Diane said, “How did you learn to use jumper cables?”

“You guys are kidding me, right?  It’s not something you have to take a class for.  You connect the red cable to the positive terminals on the batteries, the black one to the negatives.”

“Well, I guess you’ve always been so independent, you know how to do lots of ‘guy’ things.”

“Guy things?  Really?  When did knowing how to get your car started in the event of a dead battery become a guy thing?”

“You’re so touchy!”

“I found them!”  Marilyn yelled.  “Let me pull my car up next to yours.”

Marilyn lifted the hood of the car, and all four stared at the engine, utterly bewildered.

“Where the hell is the battery in this thing?” Jane asked. 

Marilyn pointed to a single red knob with a plus sign on top.  “I think that’s it.”

“That can’t be it!  Where is the negative terminal?”

“I dunno.  I think that’s it.”


Just then, the next door neighbor appeared on his porch.

“We need help!” Marilyn yelled in his general direction.

“What the hell are you doing?!?” Jane hissed under her breath.  “Isn’t that the guy you call the ‘banty rooster’?”

“Yeah, well he think’s he’s pretty hot stuff, but we need a man to take care of this.”

“Oh. My. God.  I think my ears are bleeding.  You know, having a penis doesn’t magically endow a person with mystical knowledge of all things mechanical!”

“Jane, you’re so coarse!”

The little banty strolled over, “How can I help?”

“Find the battery.” Jane spat out.  “And that’s not it, that box has fuses in it.”

“Jane, would it be easier to jump Kara’s car with yours?  Do you know where to find the battery in yours?” Marilyn asked.

“Of course I do.”  Jane brought her car over, and the struggle began.  “I’ll open the hood – the latch on this is different.”

The little banty didn’t move.  He kept fumbling around, trying to find the release mechanism.

“I’ll get it.  No really, let me.  Dude, how many times have you opened this hood before?  Why do you think you know more about it than I do?”

The little banty finally stepped aside and Jane opened the hood, but while her back was turned, the jumper cables were snatched up and one end attached to Kara’s battery.  Jane opened her mouth, but thought better of it, and got in her car to start it.

After a few minutes, Kara’s car was running, and the little banty solicitously unhooked cables and closed hoods.  “Anything else I can do for you ladies?”

Marilyn fawned over the little banty and thanked him profusely while Jane went in the house to wash her hands, shaking with annoyance - not at the little banty, but at Marilyn.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Atrum locus

There is a dark place in the heart of man.  It exists in everyone, no matter the race, gender, or age.  No matter the religion, creed, or philosophy. 

There is a dark place, where fears run to hide when the light of a new day breaks. 

There is a dark place, where insecurities breed like rats, and distrust eats at the structural confidence of a human life like rust on the girders of a bridge overpass.

The longer this dark place is denied, the deeper and darker it becomes. 

There is a dark place, and you must go there.

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Monday, July 4, 2011

Bel ennui


It seems that in conversation I find myself at a loss for words more often than I used to.  Maybe it’s just part of the aging of the mind, or a greater concern about making my meaning clear, but I think it’s more likely because our world speeds past at an ever accelerating rate.  There is no time to search for exactly the right word for a discussion, because by the time it is found, the conversation is light years ahead, subjects changed and forgotten. 

I ran across a marvelous article on Danse Macabre, an online literary journal, that represents an exquisite antidote to our “modern dilemma.”  I warn you it is not short; it breaks the rules that this blog established, but I live to break rules.  And you will be glad if you read it.


Bel ennui

La Sonnambula


We have come to a grim impasse, my friends. We are far, far too busy, so busy that many of us no longer remember how to daydream.
Our wretched American busyness is in part due to three-plus decades of bizarre political choices, a sort of Puritanical mass-mania that has allowed us to vote against our own best interests time and time again. Many of us now work two jobs or more to keep the creditors at bay. Mothers no longer stay home with their children, and the widespread expectation of comfortable retirement, it is now clear, was a historical aberration; the best investment you can make today is a down-payment on those titanium hips and nickel-plated knees you’ll be needing mid-century. Take care of your feet, too. You will be on them for a long, long time to come.
Economic factors are only one slice of this nasty pie. We are driven as a culture by unexamined values of busyness and positivism that have us crazed and exhausted half our lives, upbeat and grinning and foaming like blown horses even in those few moments when we’ve somehow slipped the harness. We have allowed ourselves to become so busy that those efficiency experts masquerading as self-help gurus, the ones who tell us how to maximize our time and our ambitions and the fearful greed pooling in the inky depths of our acquisitive, thieving, monkey-dark hearts, yes, even they tell us it’s time to slow down.
Do not be fooled. Their euphemisms for rest are “taking the machine offline” or “downtime” or “sharpening the saw,” noxious phrases that reveal our ultimate roles as units of production, personnel assets to be managed properly (read: worked not quite to death). They don’t want us to use this putative “downtime” to daydream, to imagine, to immerse ourselves in the wonder of this glorious life. Of course not. They want us to “cocoon” for the weekend in order to increase our productivity Monday morning.
Don’t blame them because it’s not their fault; it’s ours. They are merely opportunists grasping for bandwidth in the flood of infogarbage in which we willingly drown ourselves day in and day out. This is what we have done to ourselves, and it’s perhaps the most insidious part of our busyness; the time we could be spending in communion with our innermost selves and the rest of the cosmos is filled to the brim with ephemera that not only wastes our precious time but deadens our wits such that we can’t simply daydream. Unless there’s a damned app for it. I’m waiting for the app that kills the smartphone and the user himself upon detection of the death of the soul. KA-BOOM!
It’s all brave talk, but it’s all nonsense because we won’t act upon it. We know we won’t. We mustn’t let them catch us being dreamy. Whatever we do, we mustn’t buck this lockstep parade, this ruthless tooth-and-nail fight to the middle. Some of us do this maddened dance in paisley and turquoise, and some of us pretend we don’t care about money and fame, but “above-it-all” is perhaps the most self-revelatory imposture of all; mind well the poet who says she doesn’t care about wealth or recognition because she will chew her own arm off — or yours — for status in the critical semicircle.
The rest of us keep the idiot grins, put Bluetooth devices in our ears, and never admit that deep in our hearts, despite telling others that our true passion is our abstracted devotion to ideals of truth, justice, and equity in human relations, we really live for beauty (we must never say that out loud) and that we still live for our childhood dreams. No matter what, we do not get that faraway look, nor do we allow ourselves to appear unproductive or melancholy. If we do, they will convince us to medicate ourselves to within an inch of our lives.
We’ve known the dangers of being caught daydreaming since grammar school. We learned to hide our hearts by the time the adults finally convinced us to sit up straight and to hug our frightening and malodorous older relatives. We learned how to get along by watching performing chimps get gold stars. We observed that adults considered melancholia a foul, pernicious disease, perhaps the root of sloth and masturbation, and that melancholia, dreaminess, moping, mooniness — all such antisocial and counterproductive behavior had to be eradicated. In fear, in deeply intuitive and well-justified fear, we learned to imitate the ideal of perky, punctual realists, bright-eyed pragmatists armed with malleable ideals and a voracious capacity to accrue more than our neighbors in a world of constantly diminishing returns.
We’ve done it too well, my friends. Now, no one can show us the way back to our daydreams.
Getting off the grid does not ensure wonder, and simply opting out of the rat race does not quiet the mind enough to let it wander, to let it drift, to let it daydream. Distracting ourselves with writerly-workshoppe/retreat busyness hasn't helped, either, even though scribbling responses to “juxtaposition prompts” has prepared us to write submissions for those ¼-cent-per-word themed flash anthologies.
There’s always a silver lining. Now, get cracking on that.
Not even the French can tell us how to get back to our daydreaming. They’ve started to gather data on ennui as part of their annual labor stats because they understand that the creativity they want from their workers is born of a profound and beautiful boredom, a bel ennui. Even the French had to wait till Steve Jobs built a special room for daydreaming to admit the contradictory truth that boredom, sloth, doing nothing, being slightly empty, is the only way to become full.This is our wonder, the bel ennui that heralds wars in Heaven and exquisite ironies in Hell, all accompanied by the golden peal of trumpets here on earth, all while you’re standing there in a somnambulistic daze with fabric softener in one hand and a dustpan in the other, thinking: Jesus, that’s a good line. I’d better write that down…
That’s the grand reward, liebchen: emptying the mind such that something not quite you makes itself heard. If you’re like us, you live for those moments.
The French have been stymied in their research by Google’s refusal to give them stats on searches for terms like “nihilism,” so we shouldn’t wait for Sarkozy’s ennui squad to draw us a map.
Nor can we draw you a map to bel ennui, but at least here at DM, you’re free for a few hours of each month to be dreamy, to be hungry, to be somber, somnolent, or even melancholy. We encourage it, and we love you for it. We can’t draw the map, but month after month, we humbly present the works of those who have been there, and we hope their work will free your dreams and inspire you to seek bel ennui, the satiation that breeds appetite, the emptiness that fulfills, the gateway to the only state of grace we know.


James Kendley

Senior Editor

Danse Macabre

An Online Literary Magazine™


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Make me a life

Make me a cup of coffee
Make it strong
Serve it black, unsullied by decadence.

Make me a cake
Make it white
Serve it with buttercream and candied violets.

Make me a home
Make it warm
Serve it with friends and a calico cat.

Make me a life
Make it long
Serve it with joy, mirth and impermanence.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Ted and Karen

“You know this was his fault, I don’t care what the doctor said.  It couldn’t possibly have been unrelated.  Ted needs a 12 step program – that man needs some serious help.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, he’d quit after step ten when he ran out of fingers to keep track of them.  What he really needs is to meet a real bully in a dark alley to give him a taste of his own medicine.”

“He’d wet his pants.”

“If that was the extent of his humiliation I’d be disappointed.”

“Karen kept telling me it was her fault.  It makes me so mad I want to cut off his balls, put them in a pillowcase and beat him with them.”

“He would have to grow some first.  He beat her because of his own insecurities and self-hatred.”

“Well, it was a lovely funeral though, wasn’t it?”

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Paper or plastic?

It’s really not fair to say I “hate” e-readers.  After all, I’m coming to you through the magic of electronic media.  But my response is usually a little reactionary whenever someone mentions their fondness for their Kindle. 

I see the value of a Kindle, Nook, what-have-you if your lifestyle requires large expanses of time spent in a moving vehicle.  But they are not, and can never be, a proper substitute for a book made from paper.

A quote from the legendary Ray Bradbury in which he addressed a writer’s conference some years ago sparked this train of thought. 

‎"You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads."

This is a man after my own heart.  A large part of the appeal of a paper book is in the smell.  New or old, doesn’t matter, one whiff takes me back to childhood when my public library was magical – to adolescence when I discovered Poe, Shakespeare and Arthur Conan Doyle, devouring every Sherlock Holmes story.  Twice.

I’m also one of those crazies who lends her books out to friends (but only the ones I REALLY trust) and keeps a list of who has what, so I can be sure to have it returned.  I have, in fact, snuck into a former friend’s house to pinch a book I had loaned her after she insisted she had already returned it.  And I do, on occasion, return to books I have read to look up a passage that affected me, quote a passage that inspired me, or prove my husband wrong. 

Printed words on paper seem so much weightier as well.  Perhaps it’s the prejudice of the internet, where Wikipedia not only contains some wonderful discoveries, but honest mistakes and manipulations of willful ignorance.  Scammers and spammers abound, and Truth in Advertising laws seem impossible to enforce. 

No, e-readers can never hold a place in my heart.

And yes, I see the irony in that.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Charlie’s big nothing

The Grand Canyon was the biggest nothing Charlie had ever seen.  There was something tangible, palpable about that nothing.  It was almost an entity unto itself.  Photos he’d been shown gave an approximation of the depth and the width, although even the photos were deceiving.  But the reality of it was something else completely. 

A gentle breeze swirled; no threat of gusts shoving him off the edge but nonetheless, he was wary.  Those breezes, even they seemed preternatural!  Occasionally (no, surely not) he heard his name whispered into his left ear.  He’d heard nothing in that ear for 11 years.

Something echoed in the canyon.  Dusk painted the walls of the canyon the colors that his art professor told him didn’t exist in nature.  Could she have been so wrong?  But there was his name again, most certainly in his left ear.  Charlie began to sway.  Feeling dizzy, he backed away from the edge of the canyon.  His unhearing left ear never detected the truck.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Nostalgia is a harsh mistress.  The rhythm of her dance weaves between your heart strings, tangling itself inextricably if you let it.  Her veils waft over the pain, the heartache, the loneliness.  The bright light of remembrance gleams off children’s smiles, full moons over the ocean, family gatherings full of laughter.  Fears are masked with bright Mardi Gras masks, gilded and bedecked with grand peacock feathers. 

Beware.  Nostalgia is a harsh mistress.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Interference pattern.

Sometimes a life doesn’t come together in a neat and orderly way.  Sometimes the things that you find meaningful and important don’t play well together.  It has been suggested that a certain level of maturity corrects that, but I disagree.  I think it can only be corrected by a certain level of apathy.

I’d rather have the interference pattern of a rich and varied life.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Words to live by

“She burned sorrow and fear like fuel…”

The words of Claudia Roth Pierpont, describing Zora Neale Hurston.

Intended as a poetic description of a life full of struggle, it also serves an accurate portrayal of anyone who would survive this existence without total capitulation to hardship, loss and betrayal.

They are, in fact, words to live by.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The White Rose

white rose1

It turns its face to the sun, radiating grace and purity, with its roots in dirt, compost, cow manure.  Such beauty arising from such filth.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

No tears

Claire wondered how she had acquired the reputation for making people cry.  Or rather, she wondered why people seemed to weep so easily over such relatively unimportant things.  There was no question that people cried in her presence with some regularity.  The tears frequently came on the heels of something she said, and she was always surprised when it happened.  What did people hear in her words that she couldn’t?

Perhaps the question wasn’t why did other people cry, but why didn’t she?  From the time she was very small she had wondered why she didn’t cry much.  Even in situations where it would be expected, there were no tears.  When she tore her knee open deeply enough to expose ligaments in a bicycle accident, there were no tears.  When her father died leaving her with an uncaring stepmother during her teenage years, there were no tears.  When the first man she ever cared for date raped her and then tossed her aside because he chose a life of drugs over her, there were no tears. 

So now, having seen so much pain in the world, in her own life and in the lives of others, there is only irritation when tears flow because a woman gets no empathy describing her descent from debutant and privilege to middle class school teacher.  There is only irritation when tears flow because Claire stands up for herself when wrongly accused.  There is only irritation when tears flow because circumstances prevent her from attending a friend’s function. 

This, then, is how Claire acquired the reputation for making people cry.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011




                     --- Carolyn Nicole Phillips




the light of wonders growing dimmer,



evil's victory chance getting slimmer...

For in this hand I hold a key,

before a door of ancient stone,

where shines a light of the cosmos.

On the other side,

I see a cosmic waltz,

of celeste and spiriters,

in shimmering ecstasy.


Shimmer like these,

with stained glass colors bouncing off your eyes,

waves of glitter trickling down your thighs,

Shimmer like diamonds dancing in the skies,

Beams of soul drenched wonders spouting lovely lies...

I feel a spiriter coming to me,

shimmering like the rising sun,

cutting up the colors of man,

red, yellow, black, and white,

all lovely a sight...


Coruscate all the colors!

As the sea emits sparklers of salt,

on sand so white,

on a beach that holds a promise...


like the cool lyrics of the eternal drink,


like the waters of Constance,

Constance and beauty behold our brotherly, sisterly link.

I shimmer

With winged angels three,

I shimmer

as we venture out to the Constance Sea,

I shimmer,

I feel the Spiriters taking over me.

I shimmer like the jade of an ivory mist,

I shimmer,

like the fire of ancient souls...


as my body is turned to gold.

I shimmer.

I glimmer.

As the universe around me grows dimmer.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Crucible.


A hot wind blows today.  This day would be a crucible, if I let it.  It could transform me or it could destroy me.  I wait in the corner, watching myself from a distance, waiting to see what I will decide. 


Monday, June 20, 2011

The Lavender Quiche


Setting:  A charming small town in middle America; brick streets lined with trees, art galleries, used book stores and upscale boutiques.  An outdoor cafĂ© on a perfect Saturday afternoon.


WAITRESS:  How was your lunch, ladies?

SHE: (big smile)  It was just fine, thank you.

Waitress smiles and leaves.

ME:  Why did you tell her it was fine?  You didn’t like your lunch.

SHE:  What was I supposed to say?

ME:  That you didn’t care for it.  Or that you made a poor choice, that it was interesting, but not to your liking.

SHE:  What difference would it make?

ME:  Well then at least you wouldn’t be a liar.

SHE:  (pauses…and then laughs heartily.)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

It’s not what you think.



You must write in ink.


Cross words

It’s not what you think.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Being the center

It’s a small shift in thinking.  Self-help gurus and yoga teachers remind you to “stay centered,” implying, at least, that you stray from the center pretty regularly.  That you have to take action to come back to the center.

But it occurs to me that you can’t “come to the center” or “stay centered” because you are the center.  You are the center of your own life.  You have no choice.  You are already there.

Friday, June 17, 2011



--by Harold Monro (1879 – 1932)

Slow bleak awakening from the morning dream 02228_sonomacoast_1680x1050
Brings me in contact with the sudden day.
I am alive – this I.
I let my fingers move along my body.
Realization warns them, and my nerves
Prepare their rapid messages and signals.
While Memory begins recording, coding,
Repeating; all the time Imagination
Mutters: You'll only die.

Here's a new day. O Pendulum move slowly!
My usual clothes are waiting on their peg.
I am alive – this I.
And in a moment Habit, like a crane,
Will bow its neck and dip its pulleyed cable,
Gathering me, my body, and our garment,
And swing me forth, oblivious of my question,
Into the daylight – why?

I think of all the others who awaken,
And wonder if they go to meet the morning
More valiantly than I;
Nor asking of this Day they will be living: 
What have I done that I should be alive?
O, can I not forget that I am living? 
How shall I reconcile the two conditions:
Living, and yet – to die?
Between the curtains the autumnal sunlight
With lean and yellow finger points me out;
The clock moans: Why? Why? Why?
But suddenly, as if without a reason,
Heart, Brain, and Body, and Imagination
All gather in tumultuous joy together,
Running like children down the path of morning
To fields where they can play without a quarrel:
A country I'd forgotten, but remember,
And welcome with a cry.
O cool glad pasture; living tree, tall corn,
Great cliff, or languid sloping sand, cold sea,
Waves; rivers curving; you, eternal flowers,
Give me content, while I can think of you:
Give me your living breath!
Back to your rampart, Death.

I Believe I’ll Change My Name.


The Jeep commercial tells me my name is what makes me unique.  That it says who I truly am.  I think not.  It’s just another label.  Another way by which people categorize me, put me on a shelf, and then direct their attention to more important things.  Like themselves.

A name is a way for someone you’ve just met to place you into a slot so they can remember you.  So they don’t have to think too much about where you fit in.  Is your last name ethnic?  You belong in this slot.  Is your first name gender specific?  You belong in that slot.  Does your name remind them of a character in a book they hated?  Slot number 3, please.

Maybe I’m overly annoyed by this because I’m about to slide head first into a mid-life crisis.  Or maybe I’m just tired of having others tell me who I am and what’s important to me.

Or maybe, just maybe, I want someone (anyone) to see me just once without judgment, without trying to reduce me to a few labels that can be quickly filed away.

Yes, I believe I’ll change my name.