Friday, April 22, 2016

2 Minutes. Go!

Hey, writer-type folks. AND PEOPLE WHO JUST WANT TO PLAY BUT DON'T IDENTIFY AS 'WRITERS' - all are welcome here! Every Friday, we do a fun free-write. For fun. And Freedom!

Write whatever you want in the 'comments' section on this blog post. Play as many times as you like. #breaktheblog! You have two minutes (give or take a few seconds ... no pressure!). Have fun. The more people who play, the more fun it is. So, tell a friend. Then send 'em here to read your 'two' and encourage them to play.

I can hear him in there, grunting, dripping. I want to say, "get your fucking prostate checked!" I don't. I frown and think how this came to be, this giant midwestern cliche in my bathroom, dirt on the floor - I'm too fucking nice. That's it.

Your cousin is coming to the city? Sure, he can crash with me. But six fucking weeks? And I'm not even seeing her anymore. No, I'm seeing Hank, the red-headed cyclone who needs someone to stick their finger up his ass. Not me. I don't want to put my finger in his ass. My foot, maybe.

It's almost dark when the dripping and shower and bad renditions of Hank Williams stop. I've had a few drinks and I'm ready to say it. You gotta go. Three words. I'm ready.

He comes out half-wet with a towel around his waist. 

"Hank -"

He holds up a hand like a fucking traffic cop.

"Sorry to interrupt, son. I've been meaning to tell you something. I aim to do it now, but this isn't easy for me. I want to thank you. Hell, you been so good to me. You and Rose ain't even together anymore, but you didn't make me leave. I hate to overstay my welcome, but ... well, the divorce kind of fucked my head up. More than I thought. I'll never forget this. You've always got a friend in old Hank. And anytime you want me to hit bricks, you say so. I know how aggravating company can be."

"No, Hank. I want you to stay. As long as you need."

I said the words, but it took a minute to sink in - that I really meant them. I wanted him to stay. I smiled. We hugged, and then we got drunk.

When it hits six months, I'm asking for rent money, though. 

You can count on that. My benevolence has it's limits. 




  1. Aw, what a softie.... and thank God there are folks like that out there to catch us when we fall... a sweet vignette with punch. I like it!

    1. Nancy De Cilio GauthierApril 22, 2016 at 10:10 AM

      If it was me, I'd ask for rent after 3 months....LOL.

    2. Funny and sweet. Nice one, brother.

    3. Even the best visitors can get stinky after three days. Just like fish, they say. LOL

  2. A full moon morning, light even before the sun came up. The stars aligned in a peculiar way, and led the man and dog on a path unknown.

    First white, then orange, then red, the moon beckoned to them, and they followed. Needles of frost, tiny compasses in the land between dark and light, glistened and pointed the direction.

    “What is life?” he asked the dog.

    “Life is walking,” the dog replied.

    “What is joy?”

    “Joy is running free and fast.”

    The man considered these answers. Their path grew narrower.

    “What is loss?”

    The dog stopped walking, and stared the man in the eye. “Loss is the departure of something held dear, or the emptiness of never holding something dear at all.”

    The man stood still. He watched the dog turn his head in the direction from where they came. He started to turn around, too.

    “No, it’s best not to look backward. Better to look ahead. Better still to look where we stand.”

    Their shadows became visible as the sun rose behind them, growing shorter as the sun traveled the sky.

    “Will we die?”

    “That which is good never dies.”

    And when they came to the edge of the earth, where land meets water and sky, they sat.

    For hours, they watched the waves, and when the sun began its descent from on high, until it kissed the water, they spoke not. Their shadows fell behind them, and the man put his arm around the dog.

    “Will we know tomorrow?” the man asked as the last of the sun fell below the horizon.

    “There is no yesterday, there is no tomorrow.”

    The stars came out singing, “Today! Today!”

    And the man and the dog rose up, sang with them, and walked across the water, following their moonshadows.

    1. I love it when the MagicalRealLeland veers toward fable. The language is beautiful, but the mood and tone you create is surreal and fabulous. Love it.

    2. aw, shucks... you say the nicest things. Thank you!

    3. Nancy De Cilio GauthierApril 22, 2016 at 10:13 AM

      Really ethereal. Loved it.

    4. Zen canine. It's weird, given yesterday's sad news and the name associations, but I got a Little Prince hit from this.

    5. I love smart dogs. Wish mine talked. LOL This is so sweet and beautiful. I love the sunset kissing the water-heck all of it.

    6. So poignant and so sweetly written. Lovely!

  3. What Leland said. A sweet little turn there.

  4. The small-fingered man stormed into Calista’s office in a cloud of expensive cologne and entitlement. He crossed his arms over his chest and scowled. “I thought we had a deal,” he said. “I write the check and you take out who I ask. Why are you protecting that Bieber guy?”

    She rose, as slowly as she could. Making him wait. She knew how much he detested waiting. And just to toy with him, she gave him a slow blink and leaned against the edge of her desk, tapping one cloven hoof on the floor. “He wasn’t part of the deal.”

    He shoved his hands out. She dropped her gaze to his palms. He’d missed a few spots in the tanning booth. “So you just cancel my account?” he said. “Is that how you do business? We couldn’t have a conversation? Now, what, I’m gonna have to get my lawyers involved?”

    “Please. Save it for the cameras.” She stroked a manicured nail across her perfect strand of pearls. “I thought you’d display better judgment in your requests. Apparently, I was wrong. What was your beef with him, anyway? Or did you just get greedy?”

    The man’s face reddened. “I don’t gotta explain my reasons to you. And for the record, they were great reasons. The best reasons.”

    Calista snorted.

    His shoulders sagged and he gave a coy half smile. “Okay, I’ll tell you,” he said. “I needed more time. I figured if we kept the reporters busy talking about all the dead celebrities, it would take the focus off me for a while.”

    For a second, she could do nothing but stare. “I’m sorry. Did I hear you right? You wanted the media to look at something besides the clown-suited giant elephant in the room?”

    “That’s a little harsh, don’t you think? You gotta understand. I’m desperate, here. My new advisors are tellin’ me it’s gonna take at least a couple more weeks before I’m ready for prime time, if you get my drift.” He leaned closer and bathed her with what he presumed to be charm, but it just made her lunch want to make a hasty exit. “Come on, Callie. Just one more? All right, it doesn’t have to be Bieber, but can’t you throw a guy a bone? I’ll pay you double.”

    She narrowed her eyes at him, then flicked a nod. “Fine. I’ll do some research.”

    His grin widened. “Fantastic. You’re the best, Callie. The best.”

    And she watched him walk away, the yes-men he’d parked in the lobby snapping to their feet and following him to the elevator. Then picked up the phone and punched his speed-dial code. “Hi, Justin honey,” she said, settling in to chat. “How’s my favorite client?”

    1. and THIS is brilliant! and the tapping of the cloven hoof was genius... you gave me a big smile and chuckle with this one!

    2. Goddamnit, I love this piece! Man. This is so good. "The small-fingered man..." sets the piece up perfectly. Great opener regardless. I might steal it. ;)

    3. And what a fascinating name, Calista. In ancient myth, Calista (or Calisto) was a nymph loved by Zeus, whose jealous wife Hera turned her into a bear.

    4. Nancy De Cilio GauthierApril 22, 2016 at 10:15 AM

      Women do make the best assassins you know.

    5. Ha ha, tell it, sister! Short-fingered vulgarian, indeed. :)

    6. Wow. Powerful that Calista. Justin better watch it. Hilarious.

  5. Nicotine dreams, whiskey nightmares. His nights on the plains were in the company of cattle and a dog and his horse. He was a quiet man, grateful for quiet companions. When the clouds built up in the west, he knew it would be a night to listen for God, speaking in thunder, illuminating with lightning. He found a cave in the mesa, and sent a serpent scurrying from the shelter he hoped to occupy. He’d only kindled the fire when the rain began. The cattle lowed, and he looked at them, all facing east. Cattle always put their butts to the wind. His horse, at the mouth of the cave, faced into the storm. Like he did. And Lord knows he’d seen some storms
    The dog turned around three times, and lay by the fire, eyes open, watching the man. Always watching, but never judging.

    He rolled a cigarette. Almost out of tobacco. He unrolled his blanket and sat down. He opened a can of beans and put it near the fire, and then he drank a swig from his flask. Almost empty.

    And that’s the thing about cigarettes and whiskey. They’re never around long, and never when you need them most. The dog closed his eyes, and the thunder began.

    1. Alright, I'm just straight up jealous of this one. :)

    2. high praise indeed... thank you kindly!

    3. A lovely quiet moment. Gorgeous.

    4. So pretty. Like the beginning of a western. This one needs more after it. Now what happens? I really liked it. Easy, lovely reading.

  6. I like to watch fireflies, lightning bugs...whatever you want to call them. Frantic flights around the yard. Dipping. Soaring. Desperately looking for a mate? I don't know. That's what I imagine at any rate. What would you call the color of their luminescence? That kind of yellow-with-a-greenish-tinge hue. It's so fleeting. It's there and gone before I can really get a fix on the exact shade of color.

    Beautiful but ephemeral. Beautifully ephemeral.

    Like damn near everything worth anything.

    1. Beautiful... and filled with truth.

    2. Yup, I agree with Leland. And such economy of words/story. Wonderful. And you took me back ... I miss lightning bugs.

    3. Nancy De Cilio GauthierApril 22, 2016 at 10:47 AM

      Very rarely seen these days - lightning bugs. When we were kids we filled jars with them.

    4. Thanks, guys. It's strange that I enjoy reading authors like Michener yet my own writing tends towards brevity. That's why I love haiku so much.

    5. Brevity is the soul of wit! and it's why I love flash fiction so much!

    6. I especially love the cadence of those last six words.

    7. You describe it beautifully and though I've never seen a real one, you make it visual and clear. Thanks for this.

  7. Part 1.

    I came here to investigate your disappearance. Now I can't leave.

    There'd been some kind of terrible storm along the eastern seaboard and it had raged its way across the North Atlantic and was about to inflict the dirge-black swan song of its wrath on the Emerald Isle.

    Why I chose that moment to head for this one place, I'll never understand. Maybe Greta was right and I do have that death wish she always smelled on me, that vintage eau de corpse.

    My memories are like a desert canyon, undermined by years of slow erosion, revealed only to crumble. Only things I remember between Heathrow and here are a painted gypsy wagon and a halfway likeable mule. A dream of fuchsia hedges and narrow lanes. A couple baggies of weed, a blend, though more sativa than indica. The beginning of the rains felt like nothing. This is Ireland, County Kerry. When does it not rain?

    You must have had a reason to run away. That or you'd been stolen. And truth be told, my motives were murky as the Irish Sea in the oily, churning, briny history of that leaden ferry. Goddamn, I always hated loose ends.

    Remember Denny, how he smiled all the time and largely for that I could never trust him? Turns out I was wrong and Denny was solid gold. Too late now he's hightailed it back to Kidney Stone, Arkansas, or whichever buttfuck town he started from. Told us he was getting tired. Only he pronounced it more like tarred. I truly miss that smiling sonofabitch. I picture him tarred even now, spitting soft white feathers and grinning like he won the Alabama state lottery. Or was it Arizona?

    No matter. We're no nearer the answer, me reminiscing like this.

    I arrived, unsullied love stoking my heart's malfunctioning engine. A middle-aged dude with blameless intentions, yet a gawky kid whose pistons still stuttered, in some way I can't quite fathom or describe. I wanted to find you and help you. I know I did.

  8. Part 2.

    So, daytime, this place was paradise, I swear to God. Hell, no need to even swear: God shoulda known it, since he allegedly fucking made it. A cold clean prattling cobalt stream winding its patient way amid mossy shoulders of land, steep gray crags soaring beyond this emerald valley floor, with its dry stone bridges, its gentle boulders, easy greens and grades, sheep so billowy white you suspect shenanigans. The Gap of Dunloe, it's called. If anyone ever reads this scrawl, look it up. Follow the reedy moans of the phantom pipes. Pretty sure it's near Killarney.

    Which is pretty much the place the storm made landfall. The precise moment I knew in my stammering core I'd find you, the yowling wall of wind and rain hit. One point, a woman in a home built of the very stone that tent-pegged the terrain and warmed by the peat gouged right from the dark loam floor, flung open her door and ushered me in and poured a pint of honey-sweetened Jamesons, bitter dark roast, and thick double cream down my throat. She laughed when I tried to pay her. Slapped me hard when I insisted. Kicked me out for good when I flashed American dollars. Hell, don't judge: I thought the Irish loved green.

    So I reentered the shrieking premature night and was instantly drenched and made deaf by the sorrowing howl of a century at least of horrors: the raven on Cúchulainn's shoulder, the passing of the Tuatha Dé Danann, the Easter Rising, Bloody Sunday. I turned to you and said, "I know you're close, my love. This has been more worth it than I could ever have hoped." And you looked like you might answer until you blinked away the torrent that waterfalled your brows and then you blinked away your whole self, to leave me the one blinking, because I was alone.

    Which is when I glimpsed the chapel behind the cauls of rain, hunched and low-key in the backdrop of the downpour, a lap dog half-pondering a growl.

    Inside were people, not a one over thirty, making muddy coffee on camping stoves. They'd moved some of the pews to make a rough circle, and most sat either on them or within their confines. I saw no priest. I began to write these words, until you noticed me and screamed to rival the storm outside.

    "He's the one I told you about!" you shrieked. "The one who did those things."

    "But I came such a long way to find you, girl."

    "Don't you come near me!"

    And that's when I notice the circle has tightened and I'm looking into the close, placid faces of a dozen or more backpacking folk—bearded and north-faced; flanneled, unmoored, and barely bonded—all gripping sharpened hunting steel now they've placed their enamelware mugs on the scuffed hardwood floor, curiosity eclipsing malice in their blind and somber eyes, yet not a shade less terrifying.

    1. goosebumps... you give me goosebumps. I am wildly appreciative of your craft (too many awesome words and juxtapositions to point out), but it's how you weave them all together into a story... seriously awesome.

    2. Nancy De Cilio GauthierApril 22, 2016 at 10:50 AM

      Sounds like a set up for a good old fashioned horror movie.

    3. Yeah, what Leland said. I especially love this one. Such amazing imagery, and it fits with the pace and flow. It's amazing how you can fit it all so perfectly. Like a puzzle. And this: "...unsullied love stoking my heart's malfunctioning engine. A middle-aged dude with blameless intentions.." - Damn, dude.

    4. Thank you kindly, y'all. And Dan, you caught some of those internal rhymes; I found this one wanted to become poetry at times and I had to rein it in! :)

    5. Yeah, that was my favorite, but the lyricism of this one is so tight.

    6. Hey, thanks. Some great stuff again, already. Something Vickie said made me think: each week, we spark off of each other and these pieces don't exist in isolation, if that makes sense. It's a true collective. Ha, I'm such a commie. ;)

    7. The torrent that waterfalled her eyebrows. Wonderful imagery as always.

    8. Masterful from beginning to end. Your lyricism and imagery is spot on - as always.

    9. Tight as a drum. Beautifully written as always. And the Irish? You just don't mess with THOSE people :)

  9. I could see the knot of jaw muscle, the bulging eyes. His hands by his side were twitchy. Moving. Like he was squeezing invisible tennis balls. It was laughable. I didn't laugh. I did kick a foot back on the wall holding me up. I did light a cigarette with match under a hand-roof.

    I did flick the match at him.

    He didn't like it.

    "You're fucking dead. I was going to hurt you, but now I'm gonna kill you. And I'm gonna like it."

    I scratched my ass.

    "You're like a dime store novel. Keep going, it's entertaining."

    "You fuck."

    "Sometimes. Lately, seems like the ladies bounce off me. I don't know why. Must be too charming."

    "Shut your fucking mouth, Ty. How about I shut it?"

    "So? Go ahead. Dance. You and I both know you're not going to do anything or you already would have. I get it. I'm a wild card. No one likes a wild card. You? You're like that piece of toilet paper that gets stuck to your asshole. You just sit and talk and talk - it's aggravating."

    "And what makes you think I'm not going to do anything?"

    "You're a pussy."

    The silence was solid. It was like everything was suspended in Karo syrup. I liked it. It made my mouth dry, but my heart was bopping.

    He was doing some serious thinking. You could see it. It was hard for him.

    "I'm gonna kill you twice."

    I sighed. My skin was heavy. Itchy. I didn't like it. I slipped a hand into my pocket. The gun was a flash, and he was dead before I'd even really thought about it. I walked over. Kicked him. He was dead. No doubt. I smiled.

    "Now, maybe you'll shut the fuck up."

    I flicked the cigarette onto the couch.

    "Night, night. Don't let the hellfire bite."

    1. "match under a hand roof"... now THAT is awesome... and so is the rest of it, told almost entirely in dialogue. Well played, sir... well played.

    2. Nancy De Cilio GauthierApril 22, 2016 at 10:52 AM

      Good expression: I'm going to kill you twice.

    3. Love it when you go noirish, bro. Yeah, what the others said: hand-roof. Kill you twice. I laughed out loud at that. I especially love the detail of the heavy, itchy skin, like it's his own unique cue that he's gonna commit violence.

    4. Oh my a dual? I don't think toilet paper talks and talks but I still liked the action. :)

  10. Nancy De Cilio GauthierApril 22, 2016 at 10:32 AM

    You're a small child, maybe kindergarten age. Travelling on the subway, with your mom. Either going to or coming back from your grandparents place. You sit there, looking at the people you can see opposite you. People watching is a big pastime sitting on the subway. It's Winter and most everyone is wearing a coat - a real gosh darn coat. Not the time yet of puffy down jackets - that's far into the future. You notice one man sitting just about directly across - and at the hem a flap of his coat is turned over. You can't help but stare at it. So out of place, so wrong. It bothers you on a visceral level actually. Yes, you are a child; but you notice things that even most adults don't. Guess you were born that way. You itch to get up run across the narrow aisle and flip it back. But you are also frozen in place. What would the person do, or better still - what would your mom do. Which one was scarier. So you sit and stare, almost trying to wish the flap over. Of course nothing moves by itself, no matter how hard you stare and wish. You reach your stop, mom grabs your hand and you depart, trying to look back one last time to see if the miracle happened before the subway door closed. Nope. Now decades later you still retain that memory through the years. If only you had the guts to do just that, run across and flip it back straight. You were a skinny little kid, probably more than fast enough to do the deed without the person grabbing you. But then, there was mom again - she would have been so so angry at your bad manners. Shake her head wondering how she wound up with this child; when her other child an older boy was so well behaved and clueless (my observation) - LOL. Oh well, maybe there is an afterlife and you can then reach out, flip the coat and all would be right with the world.

    1. Wow.... and you're all in with the second person... this is good stuff...

    2. Nancy De Cilio GauthierApril 22, 2016 at 10:44 AM

      Thank you bunches.

    3. I love second person flash, and this is why.

    4. Yup. Gotta ditto this, lol. Great job.

    5. Small memories can drive us batty! I can relate to this as I was a precocious child.

    6. That world of childhood where small things seem so large. Great job!

  11. Love the function, hate the disfunction? No one even wanted to come to this party. Especially when it's not called a party. You want to be snotty? Got clever things to say? There are a whole lot of vacant minds to flay.

    Smoke circles the ceiling fan like those cotton candy abomination machines. Saccharine. Enough to make your teeth hurt. No one wants to eat your fucking crackers and cheese. Please.

    Here's how it plays out. No one gives a fuck about your story. No one except you. I'm not being mean. Same applies to everyone. We'll all stay until the booze is gone. No harm, no foul.

    In the morning, the sun will hurt our eyes. We will cover ourselves with lies. And Monday everyone will be talking about how much fun they had at the work "function."

    And it will still sound like they're talking about taking a shit.

    1. Five short paragraphs, and you've perfectly nailed almost every work function in the world. Now THAT is awesome.

    2. Nancy De Cilio GauthierApril 22, 2016 at 10:45 AM

      What Leland said.

    3. Hah! Exactly why no one commented on my piece last week. It's a party and we all had

    4. VERY well captured! My sis once said of the office Christmas party "Oh well, you know. It was kinds like faking an orgasm..." :)

  12. You can't fucking do that. You can't go on heroin silence for ten years and then send me emo stories that remind me you could have been a writer. It's not fair. I can't do anything with it. And I know you know what you're doing. Twisting my insides. I won't sleep right for months.

    And I want to help, but the only thing I can think of doing is beating your goddamn ass, but we're both pacifists, so it wouldn't be much of a fight. But I'm not your enabler. Not anymore. And I'm not your partner in crime. That part got crushed by common sense and time.

    I don't have any advice that you can hear. I don't have any answers, and I don't hate you or me as much as you hate you and me. I feel like I'm letting us both down, but you should probably feel like that, too.

    It takes more than one to fuck you.

    1. Nice. Way I see it is if pacifists fight, you know it's serious. ;)

    2. Pacifist DOES have the word fist in it...

    3. Ouch. Vaseline with doses of truth please. Lol.

    4. Heartbreaking. Frustrating. Truth, distilled.

  13. David's first line caught my eye and made my brain tick into something, so I owe him the first line.


    “I came to investigate your smile,” she said, but he knew the girl didn’t mean a word of it. He scowled beneath his black, woolly hat, flicking the dying ash from the end of his cigarette. Some lines worked; hers didn’t. Some girls intrigued him; her face didn’t even stir the corner of his mind.

    He trailed a steady fingertip along his lip and paused, glancing at her sideways until it turned into a stare, penetrating. It was a look he’d fashioned so long, practised, and he almost felt that lazy smile scurry its way across. Almost.

    Boredom fogged his concentration, evaporation needed no time to glue itself inside of him. The ash flicked again. She hadn’t moved. It was as if she expected something. So he would give it to her. And she wouldn’t even want to remember him tomorrow.

    In the morning she would want to bury him in a hole. And he would regain his soiled smile, inhaling the smoke that turned his breath stale. Like his reflection. Always a sidelong glance.

    1. Very cool... and it's a pleasure to read your words again!

    2. Thanks, Leland. You know, the last thing on my blog is in January!!!! And it was my first post of this year!

    3. Hey, it's an honour to spark you, Vickie! And this is excellent; such a consistent voice throughout.

    4. Thanks, David. I imagined this very bored man - bored with his life and himself.

    5. Oh those mysterious guys get a lot of ______.

    6. I agree with Antrobus. Rock solid. No cracks. Really, really well done.

  14. My spiritual heart sank deep, the physical one following, after so many others’ had gone silent before me.

    It barely treads above the surface now in the well where I could usually touch bottom, where I always poured my sadness, where the real indigo-to-midnight melaina kholé steals the light from my eyes, where my being sinks more each day. My fear is the only way I’ll escape is for the well to overflow with sadness, the dark madness that drowns and buries you before you even begin to die.

    And I can’t take on any more, it’s weight pulling me deeper with each handful of their graves’ dirt I grabbed on my way down. I’d call for someone else’s hand, but my voice has become a rasp, a scraping jet-black sound like a crow’s shadow against a stormy night’s cloud. That’s about all I can see from this tunnel of up to down, a dimming light, a day-to-day fight to recall what day today is, if day it is.

    And so I float, my face to what might be the sky, might be the last look at your eye, as we each search for the man who once straddled the penumbra, where light at least shone upon half his life.

    1. wow... filled with darkness, and all beautiful shadows...

    2. You so nail that last paragraph, Joe. It's absolutely perfect, like a dark melody.

    3. That's a great description of bleakness and melancholy-I had to re-read it several times because I liked it so much And because I've been there.

    4. Man, I like reading your stuff, Joe. And I agree with the above 100%

  15. Fuck it

    I can’t imagine the thing that makes you want to talk
    When no one desires to listen; the sound of your speech
    Breaking is a dumb guise – is this how you count
    The way to being?

    Dance in paradise, sleep in hell, despise yourself
    In a daze; count the ways, see you smile, shudder;
    Never writhe in the rain when you can walk in here
    Where summer never ends.

    Can you feel it – this bitter, hard-edged judgement?
    The trick in the leap of the rainbow never played;
    It arches and cries, despondent and dull, invisible
    Where we are.

    Can you find yourself still, beneath this haze
    Of waking, knowing no one will try to listen?
    Can you live with that? Of course you can.

    It’s a thing we learned so very long ago,
    So pull yourself up, stick a tongue out at this world,
    And go find where your rainbow hides.

    1. I love the heavy echo of "dull, invisible," and the last line is a perfect instance of sticking the landing.

    2. Cheers. I think it needs some reworking, but my favourite line is the end one :)

    3. Reminds me of that Peggy Lee song, "Is That All There is?" Only better because this one has a great suggestion at the end.

    4. I'm digging this one. And I'm a dittohead, but hell yeah, you stuck the landing!

    5. it's beautiful... and the closing line about rainbows... well, rainbows play a huge part of my life lately... so DOUBLE beautiful!

    6. Yes, ditto-ing. Tackling the big picture when the sybmols of such have almost become cliche...

  16. Time

    I count the minutes, not the hours,
    Then the hours, not the days,
    The days, but never the weeks,
    And you can forget about the years.

    I take the train, forget the bus,
    Prefer to walk when I could run,
    Spare my blushes for the sun
    When the rain throws me a smile.

    I am the morning, not the night,
    The stars that shine and never blight,
    I know your pain, your every fear,
    The memory of you sleeping here.

    I know the year will always end,
    But on this trick I can depend –
    To think of it as a zillion seconds,
    And there my eternity beckons.

    1. I like this. Time is our most precious commodity and you nail it.

    2. Agreed, and the rhythm and flow is so strong in this one.

    3. Agreed... and the moving rhyme scheme from verse to verse is clever, as well!

  17. The elusive

    It’s too slow to flow
    Far too fast to fly
    Never saying goodbye
    Dreading to stand still

    Pictures pass in flashes
    Faces never held too long
    Sentences always broken
    Paths never taken to the end

    It’s too complicated
    To stop, and think and feel
    Decide what now to do
    When tomorrow blinds

    To pause means to die
    Preferring the haze I flow
    As liquid trickles its way
    This hand will never stay

    Don’t try to catch this
    The movement I create
    The substance I escape
    In this mood ethereal

    I am this echo of breath
    A warmth upon the mirror
    Disappearing upon the air
    Lost on the ocean’s wave.

    1. Man, you can make words do the most amazing things.

    2. "Don’t try to catch this
      The movement I create" ... this is exactly how I think of poetry! like something moving past, untouchable, but it touches us... and this poem does that... thank you.


  18. Those who aggravate are aggravated. It’s part of the theory of relativity but heavier on Fibonacci sequencing-Google it. An absolute you can bet your life on while the house laughs with the gambling whores. Piss ‘em off and they turn to drugs, move to another country or sign up for a trip to Mars. There’s not much room for middle ground. Some are mad and filled with fire and ammo. Most are meek, kneeling, praying and keeping watch.

    But it’s all for naught, because there will always be annoyances and annoyers creating a cycle that began before Eden, before The Flood, on the precipice of time. There will always be Romans or those sonofabitches who act like Roman soldiers. Angry Caesars dressed in gabardine, wearing patriotic ties. There will be those who judge before they are judged casting hatred with spider-web nets; setting evil traps, destroying Trojan horses.

    Then there are those who wait. Like the timid looking man at your cardiologist. You can almost hear the Jeopardy music in the background and you want to shake him by the shoulders but he appears to enjoy waiting. It’s probably cooler than his apartment and the dog-eared magazines are great. A grinning receptionist says, “I’m sorry but the doctor is gone for the day.” She’s wearing nurse-like scrubs except the pattern consists of monkeys swinging on trees. “He’s playing golf in Myrtle Beach this weekend and next week he’s flying to Africa with Doctors without Borders.” You’re supposed to feel good about that statement, as if your health has everything to do with the doctor’s success and happiness. Maybe he’ll see monkeys swinging on trees before he buys another European sedan. Good for him.
    “Please have a seat while I reschedule your appointment.”

    The song changes to “I Want to Be Sedated.” You tap your toes to “Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam bam, bam, bam bam.” Mr. Patient smiles an annoying smile at you and that’s when you wonder whether you should change sides. Nah, the music’s pretty good and you’re more of a lover, not a fighter so you sit and wait. You daydream about Mars and wonder whether marijuana really is a gateway drug and whether you should move to New Zealand. “Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam....”

    1. It must be great living in your head. Wall-to-wall, hi-definition imagery all day long. Terrific!

    2. For real. I absolutely love this one. The European sedan. "Some are mad and filled with fire and ammo. Most are meek, kneeling, praying and keeping watch." Super!

    3. I Love it too! The lengths that we go to to NOT want to know...

  19. Waves piled against the ship's hull, heaping up highest at the stern.

    “I do believe we're making headway,” Fraser said. “I'm sure we're closer to that grey mark on the horizon. It's twice the size it was a couple of hours ago.”

    Jade nodded, pulling her hat tighter onto her head. “It's moved around too. Either that or the sun's changed position.”

    In truth, she was unsure. She was almost certain they'd been becalmed for hours. The ship's engines were silent and the clouds looked unchanged. The waves seemed to be moving but that could be just be her wishful thinking; they were capped with white but the only time she saw them change was when she noticed it out of the corner of her eye. It was all most peculiar.

    Fraser shaded his brow, scanning the horizon. His mouth was tight and his lips pale.

    “I'm sure we'll reach port soon. We can go ashore and take in some local atmosphere. Maybe have a meal: the ship's chef's got a very limited repertoire. You can grow tired of lobster thermidor – even if it's to die for.”

    “I'd like that. We can try some different wines too. You know how much you like your grape juice!”

    The two of them laughed nervously, looking away from the dark margin that framed them to the east. Large, sharp-edged and persistently oblong, it hadn't changed for as long as they could remember. It dipped down to the sea's surface and ran, unbroken, for most of their view in that direction, rising vertically to then cross the sky in a thick horizontal band. Whatever it was, it was persistent, but they were both just as determined not to see it. It didn't do to encourage the metaphorical – if you paid it too much attention, it might become real.

    1. Strong piece, my friend. I think you nailed the balance with this one. The imagery, the language, the unspoken.

    2. Yeah but such a universal idea. Where the certainty of intuition is like the elephant in the room/ocean...

    3. a good balance indeed... and the nervous dialogue avoiding the fear... well done!

  20. Words spew forth and tumble from your beautiful lips.
    Like passive guidance systems they seek and destroy my heart.
    Mission accomplished.
    We do our best, teach what we know and we learn while we live.
    You have taught me the true meaning of a Judas kiss and I accepted it willingly.
    Turned both cheeks and received for all to see even though I knew.
    I knew it.
    Misunderstanding, unspoken explanations, walls built higher than mountains.
    Invisible daggers slash my brain causing a short- circuit which replays the pain on an endless loop.
    There’s an unsteady thrumming in my breast and I hurt deep in my bones.
    I am weary.
    How can we know when we first look into new born eyes and an eternal flame is lit?
    If I sing you a rhyme will you give me a reason?
    If I burn my feet on the hot coals of sorrow will you forgive me?
    I wait and I wonder.

    1. This is awesome. And I love what you do here: There’s an unsteady thrumming in my breast and I hurt deep in my bones.
      I am weary." The second line, short, hard - perfect knockout after the set up. Well in, lady.

    2. the whole thing is beautiful, but this line haunts me: "If I burn my feet on the hot coals of sorrow will you forgive me?"

    3. This is filled with so much pain and emotional depth that it makes me teary-eyed.

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  22. You learn the strange dance steps of a guard at each elbow, shuffling your connected ankles. Why bother, you wonder. If they step off, try to let you walk on your own, where are you going? Where would they not recognize you, where would they not find you, dressed in orange and bound with chains? Where would they not know your face, beamed across the world, mocked on Twitter feeds and cheap evening entertainment shows? They know you. They claim to know you. You’re not allowed letters, or emails, but a few slip through. To taunt you or appease you, you’re not sure. “You’re my hero,” one says. “You’re, like, the revenge monster on all the bullies of the world.” And they make you sad. They make you want to swing your chained hands into someone’s soft flesh, damn the consequences. You’re no hero. You’re no paragon of the downtrodden. You just wanted someone to remember you. You grew weary of being unremembered. But that’s all over now. No one will ever forget what you did. And for some reason you don’t want to think about, that makes you smile.

    1. They will be remembered and paroled so they can repeat the 'high' they get from the attention. I liked the sound of those chains.

    2. Yeah... dittoing Dan's wow, and my mind is writing a hundred versions of backstory... well done!

  23. "We have a situation."

    She says it from the kitchen. Lips tight. You tell the girls to get out of the room. Harsher than you meant, but you're scared shitless, expecting a knife-wielding psychopath.

    "There's a dead hummingbird."

    "Keep the girls inside."

    And, be damned, there is a dead hummingbird, wet from the rain, still as a suppressed scream. And you want to hold it. And you don't want to touch it. And you wonder, what the fuck? And you don't want to know.

    It's beautiful and broken. You feel it - there is a wailing in your chest and you mock yourself. Then, fuck it. You like hummingbirds. You get to be sad about that. You get to let that fuck your mindset.

    You throw it over the fence because the six year old inside you thinks maybe it's just stunned. Even though you know, as you throw, that there will be one less flash of beauty visiting the feeder. And you mourn. And you thank the fates that your wife found it and not the girls.

    And part of you is glad she saw it first, so you could be prepared. Selfish? Yeah, but you like birds. And a dead hummingbird weighs so little it's fucking ridiculous. Because for something so weightless, it sure is heavy.

    1. This is so soft and beautiful and amazing... you do good words! and "it sure is heavy" is a brilliant close.

    2. I know how you felt. We had this happen once. :( Great story.

  24. She swayed back and forth on the rocker on the front porch. The wide brim hat served as shade from the noonday sun and was a necessity now to ward off sunstroke.
    In her youth she had sun worshipped with the best of them and her leathery skin was a testament to it. She still had dazzling eyes though, “Bluer than azure sky,” that’s what her Bobby used to say.
    She smiled at the memory. She missed Bobby so.
    Recently her daughter had asked her if she had made a bucket list. She hadn’t but she had been giving it some thought. The surprising thing was she couldn’t think of anything she felt she needed to do before her time was up, except maybe one.
    She wanted to slow dance in the moonlight. Her daughter had tut tutted and said, “that’s easy enough to sort out, mum. You can do that with anyone,” but Mave didn’t want to dance with just anyone, she wanted to dance with Hank the mail man.
    She didn’t tell her daughter this though, she wouldn’t approve after all but Mave had had her eye on Hank for more than a while now and had an inkling he felt the same.
    Of course neither one of them said as much to each other. Each day Hank would pass by her front porch and whether she had mail or not he would stop by and chat for a while. She always poured him a home-made lemonade and they discussed the weather, the way of the world and everything you could think of apart from how they felt about each other.
    How in the world was she supposed to get to dance with Hank in the moonlight when they only ever saw each other in the glaring heat of the day?
    That evening she sat out in balmy night air, a radio playing softly on the porch. Songs from another era took her back to happier times and she closed her eyes and rocked gently in time to the music.
    A warm hand closed around hers and a deep familiar voice asked, “may I have the pleasure of this dance?”
    She opened her eyes to see Hank standing nervously before her and she smiled broadly as he pulled her gently into his arms. The Platters, Only You, sang out from the radio and they moved together across the porch.
    It was as if they had always danced this way, so comfortably they flowed together.
    They were so wrapped up in one another and the music and the dance that Mave didn’t notice the shadow of the person peeping behind the south wall of the house,
    Her daughter watched for a moment then shook her head all the while smiling with tears in her eyes.
    “Mothers,” she whispered to herself, “They think we don’t know anything!”

    1. Terrific Piece! I Loved it! Nuanced, perfectly paced, and never once patronizing!

    2. aw.... and it made me smile and cry... beautiful!

    3. Yup. This is lovely, Audrey. Teresa's right. And Leland. I didn't cry though. Not me. I'm made of things that don't cry. (right...) ;)

  25. "What good are you?" she cried at the ghost. "You're not scary, even if they can see you. You can't hold a knife. You can't seem to do anything!" she shouted in frustration.

    *I'm so sorry my darling daughter. I suppose I'm letting you down yet again.* The ghost sighed, an eerie sound at best.

    The girl looked up sharply. "Do that again. That sound you just made."

    *Sound? But I only sighed.*

    "Do it again!" the girl demanded.

    Obligingly, the ghost drew in a non-existent breath to sigh once more.

    "Good," the girl said with growing excitement. "Not it louder. Much louder."

    Again the ghost's chest rose beneath her tattered gown. When she released it there came forth a banshee wail.

    "Perfect!" the girl said. "Come with me."

    1. Nice. I like unexpected twists.

    2. This is more touching than I thought it would be... a brilliant turning of expectations upside down... well done!

    3. Agreed. Cool concept, well executed.

  26. Part 1

    She sat in the eerie, perpetual twilight of the hotel bar, nursing some cocktail she couldn’t remember the name of. But it had been on the menu and so she ordered it, hoping the bartender would bypass her ignorance on the subject of drink. It came in a graceful sort of stemmed glass with a skewer of fruit and one sip told her it probably wouldn’t be enough.
    She’d come in on the red eye that morning and come straight to the hotel, only pausing to check in after she’d supervised the booth set up on the convention floor. It was her first time out at the new job; she couldn’t afford to leave anything to chance. Not after the way Ted had left her and the kids. Good jobs, any jobs were too hard to find.
    The posters and the free tote bags and all the silly swag were displayed in front of her on two tables like promises and she pinned her Hello my name is tag to the itchy jacket of her half price suit. For nine straight hours, she’d smiled and shook hands with a never- ending parade of potential customers. All with something like murder in her heart.
    “You gotta think of it like this, Kathy. “ Her cigar chomping boss told her on her first day. It’s Kathy, right?”
    She’d nodded.
    “Well, like I tell everybody. All the reps. Boxes aren’t as ordinary as you might think. Boxes are essential to everything getting where it needs to go. Every fucking manufacturer in the damn country needs to ship their shit in something, right?
    “Right.” Kathy hoped she’d sounded enthusiastic.
    “It ain’t just ordinary cardboard, you know what I’m saying?”
    “ So that’s why I tell all the new hires. You gotta think inside the box, y’know? Figure it this way: some company needs a gross of 12 x12s, right? Only another company needs the same product, with maybe their name on it and they need maybe ten times what the first company needs. That’s the reason we charge the big guy twice what we charge the little one. For the same product. Great, huh?”
    “Uhhm yeah. How do you mean? I mean, exactly.”
    “It’s Kathy.”
    “Yeah, whatever. It’s like real estate, you know? You got a nice little ranch in one neighborhood say 1000 square feet. You got that same damn house in a better neighborhood? You charge twice what it’s worth in the first one, see? Because, deep down…” he thumped his chest for emphasis. “We all wanna live in the rich neighborhood. Swim with them big fish. Get it?”
    “ Oh Frank,” Stella the chief administrative assistant piped up from her desk. “That metaphor? I swear, it was just elegant….”
    Frank clapped her on the shoulder, then let his hand linger there. “That’s why I got you, Babe. Pretty gal like you? You’re bait for some of them big fish out there. Go get ‘em!”
    “Oh Frank, “ Stella giggled. “ I got you Babe? You are SO FUNNY!”
    Now, Kathy sat alone at the bar, feeling like the marrow had been sucked from her bones. They did 150 hundred conventions a year. This was her fifth. It meant being away from her kids, but at least they still had a roof over their heads. Necessity is a mother. No kidding.
    By the time the fruity slime had all but melted and her memories had scurried back under the rock she’d overturned, a man appeared on the stool next to her. “Next Tech?” he asked.
    She nodded mutely.
    “You get any lunch?”
    “Naw,” she said.
    “Stay away from the Humdingers then, “ he said, indicating her glass.
    The bartender strode out of the shadows.
    “Absolut up two olives. Water back. And another one for her.”
    She nodded, mutely grateful for the intervention.
    “Wings,” He said with some authority. “Lotsa ranch. Some chips, and two stuffed baked skins.”
    The bartender hustled off.

  27. Back later or tomorrow for comments! I got a hot date for my Anniversary dinner! :)

  28. Part 2

    The man smiled at her with teeth like some billboard, his eyes as neon as the blue in a motel sign. She could not help but notice the muscles beneath his shirt, the confidence the emanated from him that in another moment might have offended, but now?
    He extended his hand. “Mike,” he said. “Southside Conglomerated. Seattle.”
    She took it, reveling in the sheer vitality that came from him, thinking that after the thousand hands she taken today, his was neither sweaty nor limp nor bone crushing, just warm. Just strong.
    He looked at her as he raised his glass. “And you are?”
    “Kathy, “ she answered. “Northside Corrugated. Jersey”
    The bartender appeared with the wings. Set child sized plates before them. Mike snatched up one and munched happily, in a way that reminded her of appetites in general. “Just so you know, “ he said as he wiped his mouth.
    “This isn’t about picking you up.” He grinned again and raised his glass as he motioned for another round.
    Unexpectedly, Kathy blushed, flustered that he might speak a thought she hadn’t even formed. “Uhhm thanks?” she said.
    “Though I wouldn’t mind…” he finished.
    “It’s just that on the road out here? Anything can happen. You gotta be open to it, you know? And right now? Eat something. Don’t let it get to you. First, you gotta survive.”
    And for the first time in what felt like years, she offered a smile that was neither desperate nor false but merely grateful, suddenly sure she had some kind of a future, whatever it might bring.

    1. This is a really strong piece. Awesome character development. And I really like this line: " Necessity is a mother." Well played.

  29. Instead

    Oh, such a beautiful day for a drive ... but I didn't
    Instead, I took time to visit with my sweet Sebastian

    The weather--so fine for a walk ... but I didn't
    Instead, I listened to the taped doctors appointment, taking notes

    The patio beckoned me to sit awhile, to enjoy the birds flitting by ... but I didn't
    Instead, I worked through my edit ... only a few more pages then the first round will be done

    The sun's rays washed along the branches of the trees, creating dappled light, beckoning me to pick up my camera ... but I didn't
    Instead, I stretched, thinking how tired I was from the day's activities

    The last rays of light flickered on the horizon; the moon dancing above, both inviting me to dance with them to celebrate the day's end ... but I didn't
    Instead, I grumbled that the day had gone by, so uneventful and filled with toil

    Climbing the stairs, I promised myself that tomorrow would be different. I would spend more time enjoying the day ...
    But will I?

    1. Ah...regrets. They will eat you up if you let them. So you shouldn't.

  30. Excellent variation on the whole carpe diem thing, Debra!


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