Friday, December 14, 2018

2 Minutes. Go!

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.

On tender feet, she waits for me to call

Singing with dry lips that curse the dark night

She knows my weakness, knows how I will fall

Sipping, slipping into sated respite


Her coral skin shines bright in mid-day sun

She shimmers beauty through the window pane

She sings as softly as a stream doth run

The red blood that courses through villain vein


I am helpless in the shadow she casts

Dependent on the sweet relief she brings

I am the pain that, still enduring, lasts

Mocking peasants, paupers, false knights and kings


To quench my thirst, I reach for her again

And in so doing, return eternal sin

*Yeah, I wrote a sonnet. Bonus points for correct interpretation. ;)

#2minutesgo Tweet it! Share it! Shout it from the top of the shack you live in! I will be out most of the day, but I'll be back...#2minutesgo Tweet it! Share it! Shout it from the top of the shack you live in! I will be out most of the day, but I'll be back...


  1. Well done! A sonnet, my goodness... my guess is the subject is something to do with alcohol, perhaps wine?

  2. This one's for Leland, who addressed this magic of the season over on Facebook today.

    Stille Nacht, 1914

    Liebe Mama, the letter began when she opened its mud spattered
    paper, unfinished, like the life that penned it. On the other side
    of The Channel it read Dearest Mum. And then their stories began
    of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day when the guns ceased
    their booming bursts for that time and young men
    peeked over the mole-run, rat-hole front lines
    with no fear of dying without a head to send with their bodies,
    home to Liebe Mama and Dearest Mum.

    They told of going over the top clutching tobacco and biscuits,
    candy and sausages, instead of Enfields or Mausers,
    to trade season’s greetings instead of death.
    And carols were heard instead of the screams of the shells,
    the wails of the wounded, unanswered calls to Mama and Mum.
    But these were mud soldiers, the ones whose bodies would fertilize
    the poppies one day, perhaps, when church bells would ring
    for Christmas services and not to bury mein junge or my boy.

    It’s said the clean uniforms at the rear called a cease
    to the cease fires in later years, because such fraternization
    was not in keeping with victory for King and Country.
    And so barely again did boys in Khaki or Grau join hands
    in the brotherhood of men who looked alike covered
    in the mud of Flanders or to the addressees of these,
    their last letters home. For after the final strains of
    Stille Nacht, there’d come no more silent nights except
    where now poppies grow, between the crosses, row on row.

    The Christmas truce, Weihnachtsfrieden in German, was a series of widespread but unofficial ceasefires along the Western Front around Christmas 1914. In the week leading up to the holiday, German and British soldiers crossed trenches to exchange seasonal greetings and talk. In areas, men from both sides ventured into no man's land on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to mingle and exchange food and souvenirs. Maybe this free write poem is a reminder that it can be done, if only for a short while, with hope for something more permanent someday.

    1. This is lovely, the pictures so vivid, the language and the thought that we are so much alike under our skins...heartbreakingly beautiful. Thank you.

  3. PART 1

    Never in a million years, would I have thought I would someday be wrestling a seven-year-old’s hair into an acceptable level of neat confinement. But then I never figured Jen might die before I did. I never expected our daughter Melissa to have a baby by “that guy.” Never dreamed that child would become my day job and one of my only reasons to get up each morning, once I retired.

    Yet here I was running a spiky brush through Mimi’s coarse, tightly curled hair, as she wriggled and whined that I hurt her when my brushing would slide and stop with the discovery of yet another snarl.

    “I’m sorry, Mimi. I’m trying not to hurt you, but your mother would kill me if I let you out of the house with your hair full of knots,“ I said as I worked the brush with my right hand and held onto my neat harvest of frizzled hair. The hair she inherited from her father, but her sweet little face was a café au lait version of her mother’s at her age.

    “I hate my stupid hair, Grandpa,” Mimi said as I finally contained most of the subject of her dismay with four twists of a hair band at the back of her head. 

    As I withdrew my finger from that elastic mini-tourniquet, I said, “Now why on the world would you say that?” 

    I know, at that moment I wasn’t too fond of her hair either. But it was the perfect crown to her angel face.

    “It’s just…just…all over the place. I hate it. I want hair like Taylor’s,” Mimi said.


    “You know, Taylor. She’s the most beautiful girl in my class. Everybody loves her and she’s really nice and I want long straight, shiny blond hair like Taylor’s,” Mimi said with a defiant stamp of her foot on the floor that I felt through my slippers. Yes, I’m retired, so now I wear slippers, moccasins, around the house.

    “Mimi, everybody loves you, too. You’re sweet and smart and musical and you look just like my little girl, which means I think you’re absolutely beautiful,” I said with a touch of my hand on her chin. Which was sticky.

    “What the heck is on your face?” I asked her while I went to fetch a wet wipe from the white plastic container on the counter. She smiled. And that’s when I saw the brown stain on her tooth.

    “Fig Newtons, Grandpa. I traded with Taylor. She wanted my ‘Nilla Wafers.”

    “And when did you eat these Fig Newtons? You took your shower last night. I cleaned up the water after you were done, Miss Squeaky Clean.”

    “In bed. I snuck ‘em under my pillow. Some of the crumbs got kinda itchy, but I still slept okay.”

    “I see. Well, why don’t we both march to the bathroom and you can brush your teeth,” I said with a gentle hand on her warm little shoulder. Though I could see she was getting bigger every day.

    “Okay, but I still hate my hair. I want to be as beautiful as Taylor, beautiful like a flower,” Mimi said.

    “You already ARE beautiful. Here, let me load up your toothbrush. Now brush, and listen.”


    “I know you think you’re not as ‘beautiful,’ as Taylor,” I said, emphasizing beautiful with air quotes. I’m sure they were wasted on a seven-year-old, but I was out of practice with that age. Boy, with Melissa at work, did I miss Jen (again) right then.

    “But sometimes beauty is more than only looks, of which you have plenty, little lady. There’s a city on the other side of the world called Singapore. And in Singapore is this stunningly beautiful park. EVERYBODY says it’s one of the most beautiful parks in the world. Now at the center of this beautiful park are these giant metal frames that look like trees. They’re made of twisted bars of steel that reach way up like redwoods and spread out at the top like another tree I’ll tell you about in a second.”

  4. PART 2

    Mimi spit into the sink and said, “Is this gonna be another long story, Grandpa?”

    “Keep brushing and listen. Now on these frames of metal trees, beautiful vines and flowers climb and grow. Just like the grapes do every year on Grandma’s arbor in the yard. But inside these phony trees that everyone says are so beautiful are these concrete towers, just like you’d see in Charlotte or Raleigh or even Washington. They aren’t beautiful but the beautiful phony trees cover that up,. Sometimes outside beauty isn’t the whole story about something. It’s just…outside.” I said, hoping I could get this next part through to her.

    “Uh huh.”

    “These metal trees branch out at the top something like a fig tree, the kind of tree that made the fruit in the sticky and sweet middle of your Newtons. You have to agree that a fig is a pretty sweet thing, right?”

    “Yeah, but…”

    “Well, did you know that the fig is the only fruit, sweet as it is, that doesn’t grow from a pretty blossom or flower first? Nope, the fig’s blossoms grow on the inside and help make it sweet and different in a very good way. Just like you. Beautiful, sweet and different from any other girl in the world. Except maybe your Mommy. Now rinse and spit,” I said.

    “Thbbbbb… But I don’t want to be different,” Mimi said.

    “Are you kidding? Do watch TV? These blond news bunnies all over the air are like dandelions in my crappy lawn. All pretty and yellow when they pop up, then BOOM, they turn into those white floating seed thingies that make you sneeze. And, by the way, dandelions are a weed.”

    “Are you saying Taylor’s a weed, Grandpa?  That’s not a nice thing to say. Taylor’s my friend,” Mimi said. And I realized that my half-assed parable had merely served to pass the time that it took for her to focus on what made her my sweet girl.

    “Can you call Taylor’s mom and ask her if she can come over today? She’s got this new American Girl doll we can play with. It looks like her,“ Mimi said, half hopeful and a still a little down.

    “Of course. You tell her she can bring her doll over to play with yours.”

    “But I don’t have one. Mommy said maybe for Christmas.”

    “Mommy has yet to learn that Grandpa’s don’t need Christmas to spoil their granddaughters. C’mere,” I said, leading her into my little office space downstairs.”

    “Grandpas who don’t have too much to do sometimes just sit around and think what they can do to make their beautiful granddaughters happier. With Grandma gone, I needed help, so I enlisted the aid of Kendall here.” I pulled the box with the slick plastic window on its front from behind my desk and handed it to Mimi. Inside was one of those American Girl dolls, only this one had tight curly hair pulled back in two puffy pigtails and her pretty face was the color of Jen’s coffee, when I got it right. Sure it was for her birthday in two weeks, but now I could get her even more stuff.

    “Oh, Grandpa, she’s beautiful,” Mimi squealed.

    “Say that again.”

    “She’s beautiful, she looks just like…”


    I think I got it right this time, Jen. 

  5. He orders a drink from the highest shelf he can afford then catches his reflection in the foggy mirror behind the bar. His face looks like ten hours of incriminating testimony, and his greatest joy is that he can finally dispense with his tie. He rips the noose from his neck and balls it in his hand, wishing he could burn it. But it’s a beautiful tie, heavy blue silk dotted with tiny sailboats, a gift from his daughter. An homage to the trip they planned to take before she leaves for college in the fall. A reminder, earlier in that day which feels like months ago, that he’s doing this for her. Spilling the secrets, the lies, the stomach-churning bad decisions he made in the name of a promised golden future. 
    “That man is wicked creepy,” she said, on the ill-considered Saturday morning he agreed to a quick convo. He rushed his client along on the excuse that he had plans with his daughter, which was true. But his client insisted on meeting her. The lingering touch on her shoulder, the look in the man’s eye, the pageant master evaluating the talent and what she might do for a crown, tightened his hands into fists.

    “Another, please?” he asks the bartender, a short, plump woman whose grandmotherly appearance belies a spine of steel and a voice to match.

    She fills his glass and leaves the bottle—one of the few comforts in a town where everybody knows his name, but not for the right reasons. “Go easy,” she says. “You’re lucky I let you drink here.”

    He nods, taps a finger against his glass. There are other bars. Other means of escape. But in his fevered mind, none end well. All result in never seeing his daughter again.

    Two refills in, he considers the last ace up his sleeve. Not just the smokiest of smoking guns, but the stray rounds and the serial number and the exit wound. The knowledge and the evidence is why, he presumes, the black van has sat a discreet distance from his apartment building for the last three weeks.

    With one phone call he can make it all go away, bring down the entire criminal enterprise, but is the personal cost too high? They’ll have to disappear. Change their names. Move god knows where. The Ivy League college where his daughter has already been accepted might be out the window. Already, he received a thinly veiled letter from the registrar, alerting him of the difficulties she might face. The tuition that now might have to be paid up front.

    He did it all for her. Now, how can he take it all away?

    The phone in his pocket felt suddenly radioactive. One call could bring the entire stinking syndicate down. That one call could also get him put away for a very long time, for withholding evidence. And other assorted crimes.

    The bartender is back, giving him the hairy eyeball. “No,” he says. “I really don’t want to talk about it.”

    She shrugs. “Wasn’t gonna ask. There’s a guy parked in back looking for you.”

    He breaks into a sweat. “Good guy or bad guy?”

    “Hard to tell these days. Either way, you wanna settle up your tab?”

    When she moves on, he calls the number he hoped never to need again. “I got more for you,” he says to the voice, as he slides a few bills across the counter and agrees to head immediately to his office. “But I need to know my girl is gonna be safe.”

    “She’s gonna be just fine.”

    He stares toward the voice, which hadn’t come from the phone. His daughter smiles. The questions mount. Why she’s here. Why she’s holding a remote control. And when the explosion shudders the back of the building, rattling shelves and toppling bottles to the floor, why she’s grabbing his elbow and pulling him toward the front door.

    “We have a meeting to get you to,” she says. “That son of a bitch is going down.”

  6. The sun sat high on the right field fence. John Delgado was sweating. Not just because of the sun. Not just because he got day old hot dogs for free. John was sweating because the score was tied. Everything that led up to this rattled in his brain: the road time, the bad food, the hours of battling for a victory three people cared about.

    In the stands, there was a boy with freckles who did not care about the sun. He wanted to see a home run. He wanted to yell hey batter batter. This was the first ballgame he had ever been to. The third time he’d hung out with his dad. It had to be perfect.

    Behind the home team dugout was an old man who worried too much. He owned a bush league ball team, but it meant everything to him. He went nights sleepless; sometimes he could barely eat, worrying about his boys – who would make it to the show and who wouldn’t. He prayed for pitcher’s shoulders and good weather.

    None of this matters. That’s the point I’m driving at. The game didn’t matter and the sun didn’t matter and the hey batter batter didn’t matter. Not one bit.

    Unless it did.

    1. Ah, baseball... it's kinda like fishing. It's more about the process than the score.

    2. I love all these small moments. And, of course, baseball.

  7. The young women shot her eyes at the old man sitting in the corner. He was half asleep, but she was wide awake. She was made of black hair, green eyes, and a whole lot of trouble. Every other man in the bar was staring at her. Had been since she came in.

    She picked up her drink delicately, and 30 pairs of eyes followed her as she walked slowly, cat-like, toward the old man. The bar was silent.

    “Excuse me.”

    The old man’s head jerked vertical.

    “I’m sorry. Sir, I was wondering if you could help me?”

    He appraised her slowly. The green eyes almost got him, but he noticed something more important. The palms of her hands were calloused and dirty. The rest of her was spotless, ironed and buffed.

    “Let me guess. You’re a little down on your luck and you could use some help?”

    “You angel. You can see all that?”

    The old man smiled. The woman shifted from foot to foot.

    “Lady. I don’t know who you are and I’m sure your story is entertaining, but I was taking a damn nap. Every man in this bar knows you don’t wake me up when I’m taking a nap. I don’t care you’re pretty. I’m too old. You picked the wrong mark. You smell like lies."

    And then he closed his eyes.

    1. Ohhhh... and now I want to know why her hands were calloused and dirty... well told and engaging.

    2. Ha. This is great. Not the ending I expected, but of course it is. "You smell like lies." Nice line.

  8. The crowd rippled like the skin of a wild animal – behind him, he heard the tick of drumsticks.!

    And then it started. The sound was like a million waterfalls pouring over an atomic blast covered in hot peppers. The kind that hurt. Not the good kind. The fingers and hands moved mechanically, but the sound was everything. It climbed inside the brain, and it was anger and celebration and life. The guitar was a weapon. Their mouths moved, but all he heard was the tsunami of guitar, bass, drums.

    The light fell gently and he watched the barre chords chase shadows into the corner of the club. Right now. Right now, there was nothing else except the sound of the guitar, the feeling of family. The sound could not be created by one person alone. It was communion.

    The people in the crowd. He didn’t care about them. It wasn't about them. They were just something he could play guitar at. Something to bounce the sound off of.

    He played in gutters and alleys. Backyards and palaces. And then he packed up, got in the van, and found more people to attack with his guitar.

    He played.

    1. Thanks for taking me inside the head of a performer. I can totally see this.

  9. Rosa has a secret. She makes the words into a song inside her head. “Tengo un secreto.” Over and over.

    Rosa uses her pass key to enter the best suite in the hotel. She looks around the room and sighs. Why are rich people such pigs? Too much stuff, she decides. Her own home is simple, spare. No clutter. Instead of buying junk, she sends money to Guatemala to buy food for her family.

    She strips the bed. She gets new sheets from her cart. So many pillows!

    I’ve got a secret. It is hidden in the cart.

    She smiles at the possibilities the secret gives her.

    The bathroom is disgusting. Towels everywhere, the fine Egyptian cotton soiled by God knows what. She wraps them together and puts them in the hamper on the cart.

    She is careful not to touch the secret.

    Glass cleaner for the mirrors, disinfectant for everything else. A lot of disinfectant. Why do the powerful have such bad aim for the toilet? For a moment, a moment only, she pictures the man standing at the toilet. She shivers.

    She retrieves tiny new bottles of shampoo and conditioner from the cart. She stares at the compartment that holds her secret, then looks away. Why does she have to put out new bottles of the fancy spa shampoo everyday? The woman brings her own products. Many products in the shower. So many bottles to wipe around. Still, rules are rules.

    She folds the toilet paper at the end of the rolls into tiny triangles. She hangs fresh towels and washcloths. She looks around the large bathroom, ensuring everything is in its place.

    Tengo un secreto.

    Then back to the other rooms. The vacuum sucks up the filth from the floor, from the sofa, from the chairs. She considers keeping one of the artificially blond hairs she finds on the couch. It could probably be sold. But she doesn’t want to touch it. Whooosh, it goes into the vacuum.

    There is a tap on her shoulder. She nearly has a heart attack. It is one of his guards. The Secret Service men.

    “Almost done?”

    She nods, not trusting her own voice. Idiots, can’t they see she still needs to fluff the pillows and put the comforter on the bed?

    He leaves.

    She makes quick but careful work of the bed, looks around one more time, and satisfied that all is perfect, she leaves the room and latches the door.

    She pauses at the cart. She closes her eyes. Not un secreto but dos secretos.

    When she left home, she packed two secrets. One, a rosary to aid with prayers. And two, a Glock, for protection from more earthly dangers. Both are within reach, as she hears the elevator door open down the hall, and she hears his whiny voice.

    She looked to el cielo, to heaven, to the ceiling, for guidance.

    Which secret to use?

  10. The Road that was Taken

    The yellow wood's roads were quiet and still
    Their paths were both largely unseen
    The traveller stood at a point where his will
    Could take him up high to the top of the hill
    Or down into a vale of green

    His load was small then and it was as yet light
    His route it seemed also not long
    The day was still young and with no fear of the night
    He turned to the way most hidden from sight
    His voice rumbling low in a song

    He was as a man, young and keen in the eye
    His arms were both lean and well-toned
    He was confident and brave, always willing to try
    Living life to the full, turning his face to the sky
    But with a heart that was still as a stone

    He did not know then what it was that he lacked
    His goals always easily won
    He thought that for him the odds were all stacked
    That favour would provide, regardless of tact
    From now till his life here was done

    The man in the valley was lost and alone
    Though the way laid before him seemed sure
    His lack of foresight was bespoiling his tone
    His song without sense, sung for no-one
    Both now and forever more

    The yellow wood's roads were quiet and still
    Their paths were both largely unseen
    The traveller had stood at a point where his will
    Could take him up high to the top of the hill
    Or down into a vale of green

  11. I waited to date. I made the decision to move back to my home state with my family. I lived with my brother. I was 40 years old and was living without my kids. It was hard but I got on my feet. I moved into a two-bedroom apartment and lived my life. I bought a car. I was content. Then my daughter came home from college and things changed. I was no longer content. I wanted more. So starts my dating adventure. (Now, I should mention here that my best friend, not the one from my youth, was also going through a divorce so we were having this adventure together.)
    It was the summer and I was off from work (I’m a teacher). I decided that internet dating was for me. I went on line and took a look. It was so weird having so many options. I just looked at first. Nothing big but I thought I would take my time. I “liked” a few people and then accepted my first date. The thing about dating after being in a relationship for so long is you really don’t know what to do. I was not nervous but I was anxious. I had never really done the dating thing before. I kind of just fell into relationships. So trying it out was difficult. I had no idea what to expect.
    My first date was NICE!!!! We met at a restaurant and I was nearly an hour late. I completely forgot that I had a date. He graciously waited for me. He was super nice about it too. We talked about everything. We talked about our divorces (mine on going), his final. We talked about our kids, religion and everything under the sun. It was so nice to have an adult conversation with someone that didn’t involve what I was going to do with the rest of my life. I must say he was nice but I wanted someone who was a little more forward.
    Being that I was online I of course was messaging people. I was not in any way, shape or form ready to settle down. I was ready to play the field. And boy did I play it! Here begins the roller coaster.
    After my nice evening, I went to visit my girlfriend. I was messaging this one guy and he invited me to coffee. I was hesitant but than I accepted. It was late but I thought “what the heck,” it can’t hurt. We met at IHOP and I got there first so I order coffee and pie. Thought that would be a nice end to the evening. He arrived and we chatted a bit. Then I told him that I had an early morning (that was a lie, I wasn’t into him). He thought things went well and this is where the crazy began.
    As soon as I left he started texting and not just the “had a great time” no I mean like a crazy about of texts. Really??? Who does that? I was completely turned off by this guy. He really had no chance. He was very awkward and didn’t have much to say IN PERSON!!! So he texted me and wanted to know what I thought of him. OMG!!! He was already weird. I told him I thought he was nice. I told him goodnight and went to bed. He kept texting. I woke up the next morning to the texts that he sent the night before. He was a twelve-year-old boy!!
    The next morning I went about business as usual, breakfast, coffee and tv. I started getting text after text. “Why aren’t you texting me?” “What did I do wrong?” “Don’t you like me?” Talk about needy!! The texting went on for hours. I finally responded that I was busy and that I would text him later but this was not ok with him. He continued to text. He wanted me to cook for him and he wanted to meet my daughter. I was like no way. (I had a rule that I would not be bringing a bunch of random guys home to meet my daughter, she was still upset about the divorce.)
    This guy was certifiable. It went on for days. He would text and I would ignore. I mean really what did this guy think was going to happen? That by texting me I was going to fall in love with him? I finally told him that I was not ready for this (and by this I mean crazy). He still texted me. I thought about changing my number but finally he got the hint. He started messaging me on the dating website. He thought I would respond there. He was wrong. You can’t hide crazy and boy was he psycho. Eventually he stopped and I was happy to move on from that disaster.


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