Robert Frost? Not So Much.

I read a poem by Robert Frost that really blew my mind.
He wrote so well, a better poet it’d be hard to find.
I was really  inspired, so I thought I’d try to write like him.
Hubris? Oh, yes, I know. My chance of success was slim.

But even so, I decided to do a poem like his, everything in rhyme,
All tricked out with rounded tones, and writ in measured time.
So down at my desk I sat, and took my pen in my hand.
And soon enough I began to write, rhyming to beat the band.

I wrote and wrote, and read and read, and groaned; it just was bad.
I tried and tried, and cried and cried. My failure made me sad.
After it all was thrown away, I knew Robert Frost I’ll never be.
I guess I'll just be content with myself, and write my stuff like me.

This is my offering for One Shot Wednesday.


Thanksgiving in the Bermuda Triangle

When we all get together, it’s usually smooth sailing, and we drift contentedly, enjoying the companionship of the crew, the warmth of the air and the gentle movement of our boat.

But today, I know we’ve sailed into dangerous waters. While the seas seem calm enough, I can feel it, lurking just below. All sharp angles, currents are twisting and turning, creating deadly eddies that threaten to break though the artificially calm surface and suck us all down into the doldrums.

Oh, yes, I can feel it, just the way I can feel a hurricane bearing down. There’s something pregnant about the atmosphere. Angry energies created in past squalls gather strength, swelling with the promise of an outburst. The still air around us seems to gasp, desperately seeking oxygen as the pressure builds. It feels like a challenge hovers, one that no one dares mention, no one dares take.

Determined, and without the joy we usually feel when we set sail together, we work to pass over it, through it, and hopefully out of it. Conversation is measured, missing the carefree banter of past voyages. No one is able to relax, lest we lose our focus and get swept into the terrible storm that seems to be waiting just over the horizon. We concentrate on keeping the helm straight and the course true. This time out, it feels like work.

Somehow, the storm never comes, and we head for home port. For the first time in hours, it seems, I take a deep breath and unclench. As is appropriate, given the occasion, I am thankful.


Haiku to Hell's Back Door

“hey, little children”
lured by treats to Hell’s back door
old before their time

(Turn your sound up before watching)


This is my offering for One Shot Wednesday.


Shafts of Grace, Part 2

This is the conclusion of Shafts of Grace, Part 1.


It began slowly. 

There was no question that Richard had talent.  But his early books just didn’t quite make it.  True, he crafted mental images that were magical.  He took readers to places they had never been, and in most cases would never go in their lifetimes: the cacophonous and aromatic rabbit warrens of Manama Souq in Bahrain, the arid rocky surface of distant planets, and in the latest, the inner chambers of a Sultan’s palace.  His word pictures made these destinations as real to his readers as the homes they lived in.

Trouble was, once they got there, nothing much happened.  The action was predictable and boring, the dialogue stilted.

At first, he wouldn’t let Margo read his manuscript as it developed.  Not until he’d typed "The End" on the final page did he let anyone look at it.  She’d tried to sneak a peak while he was writing the first one, but oh, my, that hadn’t come to a good end.

“What are you doing?”

Startled, she swung around to see Richard glaring at her from the doorway.  Most of the typewritten pages slipped from her fingers and fluttered to the floor. 

“Um, I saw your manuscript on the desk, and just wanted to see how it was coming along.”   

“I told you I’d show it to you when I was ready, Margo.  For heaven’s sake, can’t you respect my wishes, just for once?”

His face red with anger, he came to where she was standing with her mouth hanging open and snatched the few pages she’d managed to hold on to from her grasp.

“I’m sorry, Richard.  I was just…”

“I don’t give a flying fuck what you were ‘just…’,” he said furiously.  “How about this? Just leave my manuscript alone.  How about that?”

He glared at her for a moment, and then dropped to his knees and began to gather up the pages scattered around her feet.

Her eyes filling with tears, she turned and left the room, all curiosity about the book well and properly killed.


When he completed the book, Richard became a changed person.  To celebrate, he took her out to dinner.  It was just to the little Italian place in the neighborhood but, still, it was a luxury they didn't often enjoy.  After they were seated at a table covered in a cheerful red-checkered tablecloth and had ordered, he moved flickering candle in its the wax-laden Chianti bottle to the side.  Grinning broadly, he ceremoniously placed the thick manuscript on the table between them.

“I’m sorry about the way I’ve behaved while I was working on the book, Margo.  I know I’ve been a real prick about it, but I just wanted it to be perfect before you read it.”  Proudly, he gave the ribbon-tied bundle of paper a little push toward her.  “Here you go, my dear. You are the first to read it.”

In the coming days, she read as he eagerly hovered.

“This is wonderful, Richard,” she lied when she had finished.

As she could have predicted, the manuscript was rejected.  But she had dared offer no criticism as she read, fearful of his reaction.


With each book, Richard loosened his control on his work, realizing perhaps that her input might make the book more marketable.  At first, she offered only small suggestions, mostly in the form of what-if-they-did-this or what-if-they-said-that.

From there it was like a freight train.  As more books were sent off and more rejection letters were received in turn, he came to rely on her help more.  And the more she helped, the more encouraging the letters from the publishers became.  The manuscript was still rejected, but the letters began to talk about "promise."

Then one day, Richard got a phone call from Bascomb House Publishing.  They were accepting his book.

“I did it! They’re going to publish my book!”  Richard shouted in elation.

And the rest, as they say, was history.

It was a history anyone who read Richard’s books knew well.  What they didn’t know was that, as he published more, he wrote less.  They didn’t know that Margo’s "help," which began as a few suggestions, now comprised the majority of the work. 

How could they?  Though he had promised many times to admit to the collaboration and add her name to the manuscript, he had never done it.  He always had an excuse.

He began with “I just need to get more established. You know, get my name out there before we add another name to the mix.”  And went on from there.  At first, his rationale made some kind of sense, but no more. 

Especially not tonight.  This is hers as much as it is his, damn it.

She has given it a lot of thought since the book was published, and decided to give it one more try tonight while they waited for the limousine to pick them up.  Tonight was the perfect occasion for him to acknowledge her contribution to the book, and announce that both of their names would be on future releases.  Now that Shafts of Grace had reached such a pinnacle of success, she thought there was little he could say to defend his reluctance to give her the credit she knew was hers.  She was probably right, she thinks bitterly. When she brought the subject up earlier this evening, he simply said nothing.

She should have known better.  She decides it’s time to give her own manuscript, the one that has been languishing in her desk drawer, the light of day.  It's her turn.


The applause dies down, and Richard is quickly surrounded.  No one notices as she slips from his side, least of all Richard.

She spots the bar in the corner of the room, lit by the glow of a soft spotlight  shining on something nearby, and heads that way, weaving through the crowd of beautiful people.  As she reaches the bar, she sees the poster displayed on an easel nearby.

First things first.  “Martini, please.  Tanqueray, extra dry, two olives, up.” 

As she waits for the bartender to mix her drink, she looks at the poster again. It is an enlarged photo of Richard, holding a copy of Shafts of Grace.  The book cover shows a camel standing in the foreground, the Sultan’s palace in the far distance.

Appropriate, she thinks with a wry smile.  This is the book that broke the camel’s back.

“Margo, you are looking especially lovely tonight.  Big night for you and Richard.”  She turns to see Richard’s somewhat disheveled agent holding her drink out to her. 

Smiling, she accepts the drink with her right hand, and then links her left arm through his, grateful that he has at least brushed the omnipresent cigar ashes from his suit for the occasion..

"Henry. Thank you, kind sir. Yes, it is a big night indeed. I'm glad to see you. I was going to call you this week, “ she says as they stroll back into the throng of Richard’s adoring fans.  “I have something to show you.”


Shafts of Grace, Part 1

Margo lets a sigh of exasperation escape her scarlet lips. 

She gets up and walks to the credenza in the corner where an array of crystal liquor bottles wait, the reflected lamplight flashing from their beveled edges invitingly.  She pours a healthy portion of Tanqueray into the mixing glass, adds a couple of drops of vermouth and several ice cubes from the bucket nearby.  Taking the long crystal stirring wand, she swirls the elixir round and round until she can see the icy film start to form on the outside of the beaker.  Dumping the ice chilling her glass, she replaces it with the strained martini.  As she drops in a couple of olives, she wonders, how is it even possible?

How can a wordsmith, a builder of fantastical planets and forbidden palaces using nothing but the various rearrangements of 26 bits on a page, be so incapable of using those same constructions to actually have a simple conversation?  Talking to him is an exercise in frustration. 

Margo turns to look over at him, takes a sip of the cool drink, and says, “You know better than anyone, Richard, that occasionally, I have a thought worth expressing. Just maybe, strange as it may seem, there are some people who would actually be interested in what I have to say.”

Though she is making a real effort to keep her tone even, she can taste the sarcasm coating her words like blackstrap.

Margo walks back to the damask sofa and sits.  She takes another sip of her drink and carefully sets the glass down on the coffee table, fighting the temptation to toss its contents into his expressionless face instead.

“It’s always something, Richard. It always has been,” she says. 

Across from her, the firelight flickering on his handsome face, Richard turns his face away from the fireplace and toward her.  He asks in a tired voice, “What do you want from me, Margo?”

Margo looks at him for a long moment, and then gulps down the rest of her drink.  It’s useless, she thinks.

“We’re going to be late.  Let's go,” she says as she stands.  “The limo is probably waiting downstairs.”


Richard and Margo walk into the lobby, and pause just inside, the rearing dinosaur skeleton looming into the rotunda above them.  The hall is so different at night.  Soft lighting gives it a glow that is reflected off the jewelry complementing the evening gowns worn by the women scattered around the dinosaur.  The tuxedo-clad men fade almost into invisibility next to their brilliance.  The soft notes of a jazz combo create a backdrop to the low hum of the mingling guests.  An occasional laugh punctuates their conversation.

As Richard and Margo enter, conversation tapers off and the eyes of the room turn toward them.  Margo knows she and Richard present an elegant if misleading picture.  

And there is not a man in the room who can hold a candle to Richard when it comes to elegance.  His Bond Street tux fits as though it were made for his long, lean frame, which, of course, it was. He looks like he’s just stepped down from the stage of a Noel Coward play.

At his side, she is dressed simply, her black velvet gown draped softly around the voluptuous curves of her slim figure.  Never one for plumage, she wears only a single diamond, hanging from a platinum chain.  It glitters as it catches the light, drawing the eye to the décolletage created by the cut of the gown.

There is a smattering of applause as they walk into the hall.  Margo smiles, and wishes she were anywhere else. 

At first, these events were tremendously exciting, a culmination of everything he –no, they– had worked for.  After years of listening to him pound away on the keyboard, years of the foul moods that came with each rejection letter, and years of working her tail off to help him pursue his dream, she had been thrilled when Richard finally sold the first book.  With each subsequent novel, his continued success has seemingly become assured. 

As the old cliché her Gran had loved so much predicted, practice makes perfect.  Each book is better than the last.  No one is surprised at the meteoric success of the most recent. Especially not Margo.

And what a success it is.  This reception celebrates Shafts of Grace, and the Pulitzer it has just been awarded.

~ to be continued 



Smoke Signals

“Hey, Darlin’.”

His words arrive
Like a whisper
To kiss her

They   f  l  o  a  t    to her
Drifting through
Time Zones
Continent to continent.

Playing leapfrog

And they reach her
in a
Heart beat.

There is nothing
Between them,
 No time,
 No space,

“Hey, Yourself.”


160: Communication Breakdown

He said. She said.

Both busy talking.
Neither can hear.

He said.
She thought...

She said.
 He heard...

Ah pfft!

In a huff
They stopped speaking.



Thanks to my several of my blogging buddies
for inadvertently using the words that inspired this.

This was written for Sunday 160, 
graciously hosted by Monkey Man.


Friday Flash 55: The Inklings

C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and others met at the pub,
Lifted a pint or two and discussed what to write.
They handed out drafts of their work to their peers
And talked about edits while having a bite.
Lewis and Tolkien went on to great fame,
And now all of us know them by name.


The Eagle and Child Pub (known to local insiders as the "Bird and Baby") is in Oxford, England.  It was home to regular meetings of a group of writers who called themselves The Inklings.

And the rest is history.


This is my offering for G-Man's Friday Flash 55. For more little morsels, pay him a visit.


Meaningful Dialogue


What the hell?

He sees she’s crying, and has no idea what’s wrong.  Geez. Women.  Must be that time of the month.

“OK, what’s wrong?”


She can tell by his tone that he has no clue.  No big surprise there. He never gets it.  She’s pretty sure he doesn’t mean to be uncaring, and sometimes, he even surprises her with a comment or question that shows surprising empathy. But for the most part?  Clueless.

She suspects it’s a guy thing.  What is it about testosterone that makes them so “it’s all about me” and so “what now?” when it comes to women?


She doesn’t answer. She just sits there, the tears rolling down her cheeks as she gazes vacantly out the window.  Oh, for Pete’s sake.  He knows what she expects him to do, but, honest to God…

He walks over to her, and squats down, sitting on his haunches in front of her.  He twists his face into what he hopes is an expression of sympathy, then reaches out and takes her hands from where they lay limply in her lap.

“Honey, what is it?”


At his touch, the tears flow harder.  She knows he’s trying, but it just breaks her heart that he doesn’t really mean it.  If only he really cared as much as he seemed to.  If only… Those have to be the saddest words in the English language.  And let’s face it, they are also the most useless.

She sniffs and tries to get herself under control.  She knows this isn’t helping any.


Things have been going along pretty well, he thinks.  She’s smart and pretty quick-witted.  She makes him laugh.   He really likes her, especially how she sometimes gets him.

He looks at her and wonders why she always has to spoil things with these unpredictable bursts of emotion.  He’s pretty sure he hasn’t done anything wrong.  He’s just living his life, after all.

He watches her eyes come back into focus, and she turns to him, sniffing a bit.

Ah, good sign.  It looks like she may be over it.  He reaches up and gently wipes a tear from her check, catching it just as it is about to jump.


When he touches her cheek, she loses it, and the tears spill from her eyes with a vengeance.  She verges on that ugly, hiccupping thing she does when she really cries.  She knows her nose is brilliantly red and her face all scrunched.  Great. Why can’t she cry prettily like those women in the movies?

This really makes her mad.  She’s crying as much from that as she is from the longing. They are friends.  He’s never lied to her. He doesn’t pretend to love her.  They just have fun.  But in her mind, she keeps going there.  She makes herself so angry!


Oh, God.  She’s really crying now.  And he has no clue what to do.  Sighing, he gets up and walks to the table.  He grabs the box of tissues and takes them back to her.

He’s tried. He really has.  But he’s not sure he can go on with this.  It really drains him.  Why can’t she just be happy?  It’s all so exhausting.


She knows he’s getting fed up.  If she doesn’t stop being so fucking needy, she’s going to drive him away.  Then she’d really have something to cry about.

She really likes him.  He’s smart, and it is so much fun just talking to him.  Most of the men she seems to meet are shallow, and offer little but comments about yesterday’s game punctuated by the occasional body noise. She doesn’t want to lose him.

She takes a couple of the tissues from the box he holds out to her, and gives her nose a good blow.  Another wipes the tears away, and she gives him the best smile she can muster at the moment.


Thank heavens.  The storm seems to be over.  He smiles back.

“So, do you want to go get a pizza?”




Sartre in the Rain

It wasn’t that I thought we’d ever sit in a café
On the Rue St. Antoine on a rainy day
Sipping wine and discussing Sartre.
It wasn’t even that I didn’t know

You were summer and I autumn.
You always said that the subtle symphony
Of September plays sweeter
Than the arrogant opera of June.

And it certainly wasn’t that I really
Wanted you to drop it all and
Declare your angst-filled devotion
To what was an illusion in the first place.

It wasn’t any of that.

It was the way your words
Awakened my imagination, and
Filled it with fantasies of chestnuts,
The Marais and Margaux.   

It was how you beckoned to thoughts
Long hiding in a dusty cupboard and
Gave them reason come out and play,
Cavorting and dancing drunkenly.

It was me flirting with the past
And remembering a time when
I was June and you September and
We sat in a café discussing Sartre.

Don't you just love time travel?

Folie à Deux

'neath family tree
(loony kinfolk in full leaf)
two more, blooming daft


This was written for The Tenth Daughter of Memory, 
where the prompt is 
"Under the Kiss of the Blood-Soaked Tree."


How Much?


This much.


Waiting No More

Sitting in these chairs
I try to remember a time when you weren’t here.
But all I can remember is
The day you walked into my life and turned the lights on.

Sitting in these chairs
I try to remember when I was empty
But all I can feel is
How completely you filled me up.

Sitting in these chairs
I try to remember having the bed to myself
But all I dream of is
Knowing you are sleeping at my side.

Sitting in these chairs
I try to remember what  I saw, walking on my own
But all I see is
How your view of things opened my eyes.

Sitting in these chairs
I try to remember what it was like to eat alone
But all I can taste is
How delicious food was with you across the table.
Sitting in these chairs,
I try to remember being young
But all I know is
I was always young in your eyes.

Sitting in these chairs
I try to remember what it was like to be alone
But all I know is
I thought  I’d never be lonely again.
Sitting in these chairs
I try to imagine what it will be like with you gone
But all I can picture is

This was written for One Shot Wednesday.