Thrill Ride

Image source: WikiMedia Commons

once a year, we played hooky, you and I,
calling out sick from work on a warm spring day,
skipping off in search of the ultimate thrill ride,
a coaster to speed back to yesterday, to cotton candy
and bumper cars and a lifetime more years to ride.

we loved the coasters, especially old woodies,
the clackety, clackety, clack of anticipation
as our coaster cart and our hearts climbed to the pinnacle,
                coaster cart and heart 
and years gone by…  


taking our stomachs with them.

we always sat up front and center, you and I,
in the first seat of the front cart, arms high in the air
with nothing before us but the edge of time, the abyss
between now and a forever of yesterdays filled with
coasters and  bumper cars, fried dough and tummy aches.

I don’t know about you, my love, but I don’t eat cotton
candy or fried dough any more, or aim thundering bumper
cars,not deliberately anyway, and sadly, I admit it, I don’t 
see you anymore either, and I don't ride coasters, not even
woodies, not after that last time when we hopped on a
coaster that would take us backwards, and it did... literally.

it didn’t work the way we wanted it to and we were no 
younger after than we were before. it was scary and 
sickening, and the scariest thing of all was that when we 
got off, the young whooping in glee all around us, we felt 
older than ever before. that’s when I stopped seeking 
thrill rides because my heart just can’t take any more.


Written for dVerse Poet's Pub, where the prompt on Poetics is "Fun Fair."


Narcissus Down

Painting by Caravaggio (1594-96)

As always, her demeanor shows barely a ripple. The turmoil bubbling beneath is invisible, but it hovers there, churning just below the calm. If he cared enough to really look, he might see it. But he never does, his attention captured by his own reflection mirrored in the pool of her aquamarine eyes.

It’s all about him. His career, his hobbies, his friends.  So many times during the past few years, she’s tried to talk to him, to tell him how unhappy she is. She’d hoped that deep inside, he harbored some vestige of the loving man she married. At this point, she no longer believes that man ever existed. 

She’s recently discovered that his “extracurricular activities” include more than golf and tennis. Years ago, she would have been devastated. Today, not so much.

It seems obvious to her now that he married her for all the wrong reasons, her father’s money not the least of them. He denies it, of course. He has mastered quite the fancy two-step of turning the blame for his inattentiveness back on her.

No, she’s not young anymore, but neither is he. That doesn’t stop him from berating her, telling her that she’s become – what was his word? – frumpy. Yes, frumpy. He’d actually accused her of being an embarrassment to him, telling her that he needed a wife he could be proud of.

Oh, yes, it has always been all about him. Until today. Starting today it’s going all about her. His dancing days are over, as far as she’s concerned.    


Linda Sawyer looks up as her husband of nearly twenty years walks into the sunny kitchen. As usual, he looks like he stepped from an ad in The Robb Report.  She glances down at her shapeless t-shirt and worn jeans. It’s more than she can say for herself.

He’s still a good looking man, she thinks, and he damn well knows it.
Vince Sawyer carries the Trib to the breakfast table, takes his seat without a word, and snaps open the paper to the Op/Ed page, just as he has every morning for the last 7,190 days. Not that anyone’s counting.

She’s sure that today’s breakfast will be no more pleasant than their breakfasts together have been for months, but this morning, she doesn’t care. She smiles to herself as she thinks, Today, I do not give a royal flying fuck, feeling inordinately pleased with herself for her uncharacteristic profanity, even if it was unspoken.

She looks over at the man sitting at the table.

“And good morning to you too.” She’s unable to hide the sarcasm the coating her words.  It doesn’t matter anyway, she knows, because for him to hear her tone, he’d have to be listening. 

She scoops the eggs she’s scrambled to just the right firmness onto a plate, adds two slices of turkey bacon (crisp, of course), and a slice of dry whole wheat toast. She sets the plate on the table in front of him and then fills two mugs with coffee. She carries them to the table and sits across from him, waiting.

It doesn’t take long.

“Oh, for Pete’s sake, Linda. Is it too much to ask that you cook the damned eggs properly?”

So it was to be the eggs today. She’d actually expected him to grouse about the coffee. When she went to buy beans yesterday, The Beanery had been sold out of the pricey Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee Vince insisted on. No, wrong words. They weren’t sold out of it, because at those prices, they didn’t sell much of it at all. But apparently their regular delivery hadn’t come in. Odd that he doesn’t notic…

“What the fuck is this swill?” 

Ah, he does notice.

As the mug hits the table top, it shatters from the force, splashing coffee all over the table and the front of her shirt. The only thing that saves Vince’s bespoke Egyptian cotton dress shirt is the open Tribune in front of him. 

Huh. Damned shame, that.

He angrily folds the paper, making sure every fold is precise, and stands, glancing at his Rolex. With a stormy look at his wife, he tucks the paper under his arm and heads to the hall. He takes his suit coat and leather briefcase from the coat tree by the door to the garage, where his precious Mercedes SL65 awaits.

“I’m going to the office. At least we have decent coffee there.” 

He pulls open the door and pauses. “And get my tux from the cleaners. I need it for the bar association dinner tomorrow night.”

She braces herself for a slam, but of course, it doesn’t come. Vince Sawyer doesn’t slam doors. The door closes quietly, and the next thing she hears is the powerful engine of his car as he pulls out of the garage and heads away from the house.


After cleaning up the mess Vince had made with his little hissy fit, Linda dumps the breakfast dishes in the sink.

Just let the maid get them, she thinks.  Oops, that’s right, the maid quit. Sorry, Mr. Sawyer. You’re on your own.

Self-centered bastard.

Yes, it’s her turn, beginning today. Screw his damn tux. She has other plans.

She showers and runs a comb through her blond hair, frowning at the gray hair she sees gleaming under the light over the vanity.  

No worries, Ian will take care of that, she thinks. And if I don’t step on it, I’m going to be late.

She goes to the closet and pulls on black pants and a sweater. Normally, she would have agonized over her choices, trying to pick something Vince would like. She rarely selects something he doesn’t find fault with. She can just hear what he’d say were he here now.

“Really, Linda? Don’t you think you’ve gotten a little chunky for those pants?” 

Today, she doesn’t give a rat’s ass. Ha, so to speak.

She slips her feet into sandals and grabs the garment bag hanging in the back. There’s a shoe bag hanging from the neck of the hangar.

Downstairs, she puts her purse over her shoulder, and leaves.

She steers her Camry toward Wellesley Center, and says to the car, "it’s been fun, but you’ve come to the end of the road too."

As she drives, she entertains a moment of self-doubt about what she is doing. But only a moment. This has been a long time coming.


The woman who emerges through the etched glass doors of the Élégance Day Spa bears little resemblance to the one entered who four hours earlier. She wears her hair cropped close to her head in a tussled dark chestnut cap of waves, and her make-up is perfectly applied. Dressed simply in a flowered sundress and heeled sandals, Linda is stunning. 

She pauses on the sidewalk to put on oversized sunglasses – she thinks of them as her Audrey Hepburn glasses – and turns toward the Saks store on the corner. As she walks, she smiles broadly at several men on their way to lunch who are… well, frankly, they’re staring.  The admiration in their eyes is unmistakable.

Now, that’s more like it, she thinks. Wow, it feels good. It’s been so long since a man looked at her like that.

It doesn’t take long to tell the clerk at Saks to have the clothes she bought earlier in the week delivered to the house that afternoon. From there, she heads to the bank, where she has an appointment with one of the vice-presidents. Harvey Shumaker was a classmate, and she’s called ahead to tell him what she wants.

She pushes through the little gate separating the customer service reps from the teller area and heads toward the small office in the corner, where she sees Harvey at his desk. He looks up as the dark-haired woman approaches and she can see that he doesn’t recognize her. He walks around his desk to greet her, and as she reaches the door, she pulls the sunglasses from her face.

“Oh my God! Linda?”

Linda feels a flush of pride as she greets him.“Hello, Harvey.”

“Linda, I’m floored. You look amazing. I mean, I’ve always thought you were an attractive woman but, wow, you look incredible.” 

“Thank you, Harvey. I thought I needed a little change.” She smiles at her astonished old friend. “Actually, I thought I needed a big change. A lot of big changes, in fact.”

He realizes he’s gaping at her, and pulls himself together.

“Yes, yes. Well, have a seat.”

Linda takes one of the chairs in front of his desk.

“Are we all set?”

The banker pushes his glasses up, and replies, “Yes, but, Linda, are you sure you want to do this?”

“I’ve never been more sure of anything, Harvey.”

Linda tucks the envelope of cash he hands her into her purse, and then signs the papers he’s put on the desk in front of her.

“That’s that, I guess.”

“Good luck to you, Linda.”

He stands to shake her hand. 

“It’s been great seeing you. And did I tell you that you look fabulous?”

“You did, indeed. Thank you for that, and for everything you’ve done for me.” She waves her hand in the direction of his desk where the stack of signed documents sit. “I appreciate it.”

She makes another stop in town, and then walks back to the spa and gets her car from the parking lot.

As she pulls into traffic, she glances at the big clock rotating on its arm in front of Harvey’s bank.

Three-thirty. Not a bad day’s work so far, she thinks. Just one more thing.


The cab pulls up in front of Linda’s colonial just as the delivery truck from Saks is heading down the tree-lined street. She pays the cab driver and unlocks the front door. 

In a few moments, the Saks driver is at the door, weighted down with several shopping bags and hanging garment bags. She has him put his load on the couch in the living room, thanks him with a generous tip, and then closes the door behind him.

She looks at her watch, and sees that she has about two hours before Vince gets home. She quickly gathers everything from the couch and heads upstairs.


When Linda hears the garage door opening, she fills the two martini glasses she’s had chilling in a bucket of ice on the bar, and drops two olives in each. By the time Vince comes through the door, she’s seated comfortably on the couch, a glass in her hand.

“Linda, where the hell is your car?” her husband demands as he puts his briefcase on the floor beside the coat tree. As he does, he sees the four suitcases sitting there. He arranges his suit coat on the hangar waiting on the coat tree, and turns to face her.

“And what are these suitcases…” When he sees her, he stops in mid-sentence, his face frozen in shock.

“Linda! What…?” Vince begins to walk toward her. “You look… I…”

She smiles and says, “At a loss for words. Well, that’s a first.” 

She indicates the glass on the coffee table, and says, “Have a drink, Vince. I think you’re going to need it. Better sit down. I’ve got something to tell you.”


As she settles into the plush seat in the back of the limo taking her to Logan airport, Linda thinks to herself, Well, that went better than I expected.

She’d given him a minute to drink a bit of his martini, and then started slow, beginning with the Jaguar she’d ordered. By the time she got to the part about the bank accounts, his martini was gone, and he was on the second one.  

Just as well, she thinks now. He’d needed a little fortification when he heard that she’d had his name taken off any accounts holding her inheritance. Oh, she’d left a little in their joint accounts, but Daddy’s money was now secured in a trust fund in her name only.

When he sputtered, she’d reminded him that he had a pretty good income. 

“You’ll be fine, Vince. After all, you’re a fucking successful attorney. Isn’t that what you always tell me?”

She’d just put the icing on the cake with the news that he could expect to be served with divorce papers the next day when the doorbell rang.

She’d drained her drink and moved to open the door. While the limo driver gathered up her bags, she’d turned to Vince who was standing behind her, white as a sheet.

“I’ll be out of town for a couple of months, Vince. I expect you to be out of this house when I return.” 

“Linda, you can’t…” he began.

“Oh, yes. I can. Daddy gave the house to me, but it’s still in his name, remember?”

She took one last look at him, thinking, “God, he looks so old,” then picked up her purse from the console table by the front door, and headed out.

As she started down the porch steps, Vince stood in the doorway, and said. “Wait, where are you going?”

She walked to open limo door. Turning to look back at her soon-to-be ex-husband, she smiled at him.

“Paris. Oh, and get your own damn tux.” 

Then she got in the limo and the driver shut the door.

Now, she looks out the limo window at the passing scenery and takes a sip of the glass of champagne the limo driver has poured for her.

Oh, yes, it’s all about me.


Written for the Tenth Daughter of Memory.


Quite the Proper Cat

her name is Pandora
she’s quite the curious sprite
she never met a box
she didn’t quite like
but she’d want you to know
she’s a Renaissance Cat
her horizons are curiously
quite broader than that

she finds cabinets and drawers
to open on her quite daring quests
and a houseful of closets with doors
that she can easily swing
some old boxes, some old bags
- and me –
which to her I am sure
are quite the same thing

just before dawn breaks
she comes into my bed
if it’s cold or quite rainy outside
a soft paw awakens me with
a gentle tap-tap-tap on the mouth
because she knows that quite obviously
that’s where I hide

if I open up yawning she peers
in with a look not quite benign
(for hours in cat time
but minutes in mine)  
 Her face etched quite clearly in thought
her concerned eyes lift to my own
her cat brow unusually fraught

eyes wide, she stares at me intently
sending quite worried thought
waves deep into my forehead
to awaken my brain
as if demanding to know
“were you aware? do you care?
you’ve a quite large mouse
living in there.”

she takes another quick look
 quite disbelieving I trust
prim face pulled up tight
into a face of disgust
I can hear her quite well
As if she’s spoken aloud
as she says to me horrified
“you eat with that mouth?”


Happiness Salad

The Muses Try a New Form: Tetractys

Kerry of Imaginary Garden with Real Toads  prompted us to write a Tetractys, a poetic form invented by Ray Stebbing.

A tetractys has a syllable count of 20, arranged 1, 2, 3, 4 (adding up to 10) and 10. It consists of at least 5 lines of 1, 2, 3, 4, 10 syllables (total of 20). 

Tetractys can be written with more than one verse, but must follow suit with an inverted syllable count.  Double Tetractys: 1, 2, 3, 4, 10, 10, 4, 3, 2, 1. Triple Tetractys: 1, 2, 3, 4, 10, 10, 4, 3, 2, 1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 10 and so on. 

Happiness Salad

Photo by Lisa Maxwell-Rounds

peach cheeks and
blueberry eyes -
fruit of her womb makes happiness salad. 


Pine for Me

forest whispers call
arms open wide in welcome
pines invite me in


Written for Haiku Heights, where the prompt is "pine."



Morning Web photo by Mark Impala 
Clip art spider added 

Hidden deep within,
Out of sight and out of time,
His heart beats tentatively.

Broad chest lies like armor
Over a fragile inner self
Giving false illusions of strength.

It didn’t take much -
A few harsh words sent flying
On arrows of whispered breath

To pierce skin and bone.
Traveling straight and true,
They hit their mark in a heartbeat.

More powerful than bullets, the words
Slam into his vulnerability, pushing
Love aside to steal life.

As mourners weep and prayers are tossed
Onto his lowering casket, she hides behind  
A black widow’s veil, dry eyes on new prey.


Written for 100 Word Challenge, hosted by Velvet Verbosity.


springtime ends too soon
summer heat before its time
humidity swells


Written for Haiku Friday, hosted by LouCeeL.


With Everything But The Music

(Film strip image from tutorial article
on Web Designer Wall)

As she sits in front of the flickering monitor trying to bring some sense to her plot, her life is flashing before her eyes.

~ ~ ~

Ancient stories often told of seers and prophets and various other mystic types who could look beyond the veil of time into the past and the future. She grew up believing them to be just that: stories, fantasies born of the imagination of writers like her. 

She's always been jealous of those early writers who so captivated the imagination that they continued to do centuries later. She has pictured them, staring at the blank papyrus before them and struggling to find the words. She imagined the frustra- tion they must have felt as they filled sheet after sheet with ink from a carefully dipped quill, only to produce dreck. And she imagined their jubilation when those elusive words finally came together to tell the perfect tale. 

What she never imagined was a day when seers and prophets and other mystics created a new reality in temples of modern technology in San Jose or Cambridge. 

She never foresaw a day when the veils of time and concepts of what was possible would disintegrate and be gone like so much dust carried on the wind.

And she certainly never expected to see the day when fantastical stories were no longer fantasy, their fictional heroes and villains very real and out there, watching, always watching. 

Nope, she never saw it coming. Now that it’s here, she wonders why more people aren’t freaking out.

They know who you are. They follow your every move and know where you go. They know who your friends are. They know what you like and don’t like. They know how much money you have and whether you manage it wisely. They know your political leanings, your religious beliefs, and probably your sexual orientation. 

She finds it all kind of scary, when she stops to think about it. So she just doesn’t think about it.

~ ~ ~

She stares at the flickering monitor, where the plot is finally coming together.  The hero in her story lies wounded and close to death in a foxhole. While field medics struggle to save his life, his past replays in his mind like scenes from a movie film strip. Her fingers fly over the keyboard creating the last chapter to her novel. She is flooded with that feeling known to every writer who came before her, the thrill when a successful story reaches its climax.

Then, maddeningly, as she writes her final scene, her concen- tration is interrupted every few minutes by a pop-up window. It's driving her bonkers.

Several days earlier, someone had added her name to a private group on that popular social media site. You know, the site created by one of the aforementioned mystics whose first name starts with Mark? Yeah, that one. 

Since then, the veil of time has been slowly disappearing as the pop-up windows come more and more frequently.

Each interruption bears a name from her distant past.  Its message begins with something like “Remember that time when we…”  or ""Will you ever forget...?"  

One after another, scenes from her past roll past her eyes.

She hopes she isn’t dying.


Over and Over

Image Source:
WikiMedia Commons 

Over and over,
I walk into the flames
without ever venturing a toe
to test the heat.

Over and over, I forget
the smell of scorched flesh,
and judge my memory of pain past
to be a creation of my own making.

Over and over, I vow
this time it will be different,
I will be different,
you will be different.

Over and over, I discover
the fire is just as searing,
and my burned spirit
just as painful.

Over and over, I realize
everything is the same and
think that this time,
it’s time to say goodbye.

And over and over,
I do it all again,
over and over
and over.

~ ~ ~

Claude Lopez-Ginisty, who writes at le courtil des poèmes, sent me the following translation of Over and Over into French. I've always said that everything sounds better in French.

Merci, Monsieur! I am honored that you did this. I reads so beautifully that I'm almost unable to believe those are my words.

Encore et encore,
je marche dans les flammes
sans jamais y aventurer un orteil
pour tester la chaleur,

Encore et encore, j'oublie
l'odeur de la chair grillée,
et j'estime que le souvenir de ma douleur
est une création de mon imagination.

Encore et encore, je fais le vœu
que cette fois ce sera différent,
je serai différente,
tu seras différent.

Encore et encore, je découvre
que le feu cautérise tout autant,
et mon esprit brûlé
est semblablement douloureux.

Encore et encore, je réalise
que tout est pareil et
je pense que cette fois,
il est temps de dire au revoir.

Et encore et encore,
je le refais,
encore et encore, et encore.


Written for Carry On Tuesday, where the prompt is “Time To Say Goodbye.”

Every Now and Then

Adapted from a bookplate image
WikiMedia Commons

every now & then i see
every now & then
i see hints of him

as he spreads across the miles
every now & then
i hear him speak
in someone else’s rhyme

every now & then
i smile
and wonder where
he finds the time


Written for Carry On Tuesday, where the prompt is "Every Now and Then" from the Bonnie Tyler song, Total Eclipse.


Bag Lady

You see her everywhere, but never look,
On every corner and crowded city street,
Hoping to score the perfect find, the one
To carry her forward and provide, each
Picked up and carefully stored in her bag.

Like a shark she seldom sleeps, always 
On the move - survival depends upon it,
Spoils clutched close to her breast,
Vigilant against the predators of her own
Kind looking to take a shortcut to happiness.

She may be old and slow and move with pain,
Soon approaching the end of the journey, but still
She searches and gathers discarded bits of life:
Maybe this time a better thing, some thing,
Any thing to succor and sustain another day.

Exhausted, she stops to rest a moment and
Sits down on her heels and breathes in
The smell of desperation and despair
Swirling around her, and she opens her bag
To find it filled with nothing but ash.

You look but never see her, until the day you do.
You see the woman she is and the woman she was
when she had hopes just like you, the woman you will be,
hopes to find the best thing, the sparkly thing, the bright 
shiny future, until one day you see that you are she.


This award-winning video by Bert Salzman is a bit long, but very well-worth watching.


Happy Mother's Day

Basch Sad Woman
Artist: Gyula Basch 
Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

a nod and a smile
her Mother’s Day mask slipping
loneliness peeks out


Written for Haiku Heights prompt "Mask"



Image from Where the Wild Things Are 
by Maurice Sendak 

Scaly, furry, great horned beasties
Flashing wide with snaggly grins.
Reaching out with long sharp claws
To grab some kids and draw them in.

The creatures gnashed their terrible teeth
And roared their terrible roars.
Reaching, grasping, drooling… Run, kids!
They'll eat you up and ask for more.

Instead the young ones push in closer
And find great comfort in those furry arms.
For children know things, don't you know,
And they know these monsters mean no harm.

Children know things, oh yes, they do,
With wisdom born of hidden scars.
Raised by snarly monsters with flying fists,
They know exactly where the wild things are.


Written for dVerse ~ Poet's Pub, where Aaron Kent invited us to "let the wild rumpus begin" in honor of Maurice Sendak, who died on May 8, 2012.