160: Barrels of Potential

Plucked crushed
Waiting to see
Candlelit dinner
Steamy bath
Uplifting toast
Crashing bender
Only time will tell
Bottles of heaven or hell


Written for Sunday 160, hosted by Monkey Man


100-Word Challenge: Minimum Daily Requirement

She was never a bundle of sunshine and joy in the morning, but then who was? Not I, that’s for sure. But despite a spell of the morning grumblies, she normally cheered up as she woke up, becoming more delightful as the day progressed.

So it was a bit alarming to find her so dark and stormy at 3PM on a sunny, cloudless day. It was totally out of character.

I was concerned, and gently asked, “What’s wrong? Don’t you feel well?”

"Fine!, I’m just fine!” she snapped. “But just wait until I find out who took my chocolate!”

This is my entry for this week's prompt, Minimum, at Velvet Verbosity's 100-Word Challenge.  Thanks again to our good friend Lou for hosting the challenge here.


Ancient Chorus

Here 2000 years ago
Stood the Isle of Avalon,
The holyest earthe,
The Goddess’ abode.

Anon, monks came and
Built a church,
In praise of a newer God
Nearby Avalon of olde.

Monks and Goddess, 
None remain.
But when silence swells
To fill these walls, all hark!

Monks still chant,
 While the Goddess hums along.

These photos were taken at Glastonbury Abbey, Glastonbury, England.  The Abbey was begun in the 7th Century by the Saxons. It was built at the foot of Glastonbury Tor, which was the legendary Avalon, reputed home to the Mother Earth Goddess and a major site of pre-Christian worship. Glastonbury and the tor are still hosts to pilgrimages today.

The Abbey itself has a fascinating legend.  It is said that in 1191, the monks dug on abbey grounds and discovered the graves of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere.

To learn more about Glastonbury Abbey, Avalon and the legends, visit the Abbey's website.


The was written for Friday Flash 55, hosted by G-Man at Mr. KnowItAll.

Buster Brown and the X-Ray Machine

I have big feet, which always seemed somewhat unavoidable, as these things go. I come from a family of Sasquatch. The footprints my brother leaves in the forest while hiking in the Pacific Northwest brings out the National Enquirer and legions of Bigfoot spotters. So there was little hope for his little sister to have dainty ballerina feet. And that’s not the all of it. Not only are my feet big, they’re ugly. Cinderella’s mean step-sisters ugly.

Yesterday, I had an epiphany. An ah-ha moment. I was walking down Main Street (with my solid “under-standing,” as my husband -- who loves me in spite of my feet -- says) and I passed a shoe store. Up on the marquee over the store front was a picture, faded but still quite visible, that I remember well from my childhood.

I can even hear his voice: "I'm Buster Brown, I live in a shoe. That's my dog, Tige, he lives there too!"

I immediately flashed to my mother taking me into the Buster Brown shoe store to get new shoes for school. And that’s when my ah-ha moment struck. One of the perks of buying a kid’s shoes at Buster Brown was that a mother could be confident of a good fit for her little darling’s feet. How? They used a fluoroscope to view the child’s foot inside the shoe, thus ensuring those little toes were perfectly and comfortably shod. And for the kid, well, it was fun. I mean, it was all very Flash Gordon, wasn’t it?

But, see, here’s the rub (so to speak). A fluoroscope performs its x-ray vision with, you guessed it, x-rays! X-rays! As we now know, over-exposure to x-rays is not a good thing. If you doubt that, just look what it did to Buster’s dog, poor thing. I wore Buster Brown shoes for years. Years of being zapped by the fluoroscope.

No wonder my feet are unnaturally awful. I’ve got gamma ray feet!

Hmm, I wonder if I can get into some kind of class action suit…


Wordless Wednesday: Has anyone seen Professor Dumbledore?


These photos are my entry in Wordless Wednesday.

Away from Here

Linked in a chain of bodies
Baked brown by unrelenting Ra,
We tug blocks of hardened yesterdays
Across the sand, inching toward everlasting tomorrow.

When I can think of anything but my aching back
And stinging eyes, burning from sweat and sun,
And how many hours left till sleep,
I think of the irony.

How can it be? I want nothing
More than to be away from here,
Yet I drag another stone
To anchor him here for eternity.

I just can't understand. He wants to be bound
To burning brown by boulders piled solid atop him,
When I want only to be away from here
Drifting loose and light in cool fluid blue.

Away from here. Somewhere else,
Floating in crystal clear freedom, on
Currents to carry me from these searing waves of grit,
To anywhere else, just away from here.


This is my offering for One Shot Wednesday at One Stop Poetry - Where Poets and Writers Meet.


You could have said something. I'd have packed some Prozac.

When I started out, they gave me a very rudimentary road map. You know the kind. An X on one end of a long a wavy line labeled: “You are here” and at the other end, another X labeled: “The End.” There was very little in the middle, just a few landmarks along the way. But I figured it was enough to get me where I was going, and I set out.

Walking down the road, I came to a really dark stretch ahead. All around me, things had changed from color to shades of black and gray, like someone was monkeying around with the settings on the television. Hey, wait! I like color! Saddened, I continued on, and the deeper into the gloom I traveled, the darker and gloomier it got. There was a dense forest on both sides, and I just knew – knew! – that there were monsters lurking there, waiting for me to fall so they could pounce. I was pretty sure that there was no going back at this point. I had two choices. I could continue on and hope for the best, or I could stop. Stopping in this place was no option at all, so I kept going.

It got darker and darker, and pretty soon, I could barely see. Every obstacle in the road caused me to stumble, but ever mindful of the beasties in the wood, I caught myself before I crashed to the ground. Scared out of my wits, and more alone than I’d ever been in my life, I pushed on. And then, slowly things began to brighten. It was still a little dismal, but I could see that I was moving out of the really dark place I’d been in. I quickened my pace and with every step, things regained their color and I could feel forest receding. At last, I stepped into the sun again, and I could see it was clear sailing ahead.

You know, I really wish they’d told me about the dark passage before I began this journey. Then I wouldn’t have been so scared. I would have known I just had to walk a little faster and I'd get through, back to a place where the sun shined again.

This was inspired by the many posts I've read lately on blogs out there that deal with depression.  In most of them, I hear a kind of hopelessness, and that saddens me.  I've begun to think that at some point in our lives, many of us come to that dark passage I wrote about above.  These bloggers seem to have, and certainly I did, many years ago.  But I discovered that, contrary to my belief at the time, there is light after the darkness.  Depression is depressing.  Sadness begets more sadness.  But in retrospect, I can't help but think that maybe it wouldn't have felt so hopeless, so never-ending, had I only known that it would end.  Call this post an annotation to the map by one who once traveled it.  Maybe it can help future travelers.


160: Lunch Break

I protect your home, your boat, your car,
But a guy has to eat or not go far.

Roaches are good. They’ve got some crunch.
This gecko’s off to grab some lunch!


This is my entry for Sunday 160, hosted by Monkey Man here.

Portrait of the Landscape Artist

Edith was a spry little old lady who lived somewhere north of 80 years old. She also lived at the corner of my street, in a neatly kept little house that was painted gray with bright green shutters. There was never anyone else there, so I always pictured her life as one of solitude shared only with her cat, a big and very round fellow named Roscoe.

I never saw Edith during the winter. Snow and cold made my joints ache, so I can only imagine what they did to hers. But during the warm months, she was frequently outside in front of her house with Roscoe, where both warmed old bones in the therapeutic sun.   I might stop and chat a bit if she were there as I passed on my way home. I’m a cat person, so Roscoe provided for some weighty (so to speak) discussion.   Frequently,  she'd be tending the colorful flowers blooming in the pots on her wisp of a front porch – snip snip – to the melodies of Debussy or Tchaikovsky drifting from inside the house. Music, she told me once, soothed the flowers’ souls and made them happy.

Forty years have past. I have long been gone from Edith’s neighborhood, and so has she. But the images of her, lovingly caring for her plants and murmuring to them as a mother would to a child as music flowed gently around her, have stayed with me all these years. My favorite memory of Edith is a mental snapshot taken one lawn-cutting day. Her house sat on a postage stamp-sized lot, but the lawn in front of the house was the stuff of Scott’s Turf Builder advertisements. It was lush, green, weed-free, and trimmed to perfection, thanks to Edith’s ministrations. Every Friday afternoon would find Edith, crawling around the lawn on her hands and knees, scissors in hand, trimming her tiny lawn – snip snip - and murmuring to it as a mother would to a child as the music played on.


The Hot Dog Lady

Plaque on Church Street 
Burlington, VT

Chili dogs, Philly dogs, plain dogs with mustard and relish,
Lois had them all and when you ate one, delish!

Seasoned with love, served with a smile,
She was everyone’s favorite, and they lingered a while.

But Lois is gone now. So is her cart.
Seems like the street’s lost a bit of its heart.


Written for Friday Flash 55, hosted by G-Man at Mr. KnowItAll.  Got something to say in exactly 55 words?  Go tell G-Man here.

The Morning After

Molly really wanted to go watch out the window for Joe's car. She really, really did. But that would be too forward, she thought. It had taken every bit of courage she’d had just to call him and ask him for this date, and that was forward enough. While she waited for him to come to the phone, she’d thought she was going to pass out.


Every Friday night, there was a sock hop at the Community Center. All the kids in the neighborhood went. Molly loved it.  She went every week with her friend Vicki, who lived across the street, and they always dressed up for the dance. Her favorite outfit was her blue skirt with the little plastic 45s sewn on the rickrack musical bars that circled the skirt, with her wide black elastic belt. And of course, the hoop crinoline petticoat beneath, just like Alice Lon. As soon as she was out the door, she put on her Tangee lipstick and took off the socks her parents made her wear with her ballerina flats. Even though they called it a “sock hop,” none of the cool girls actually wore socks.

 Bah-bah-bah-bah, bah-bah-bah-bah
Bah-bah-bah-bah. bah-bah-bah-bah, at the hop!

The Community Center was a big rectangular hall with a little stage at the end.  The disc Jockey sat on the stage with his record player and speakers, and down both long sides of the room, there were chairs set up.  As soon as kids arrived, they went to sit with their friends. The boys sat on one side, and the girls on the other. The lights were low, and the disk jockey spun the Top 40.

The dance floor was usually full, but only a few of the older boys and girls danced together. Mostly, it was just girls, dancing together and pretending they were on American Bandstand.  The boys sat along "their" side elbowing each other and joking that dancing was dumb, just like the girls.  But the girls all knew it was because they were too scared they'd make a fool of themselves in front of their friends. Their loss. They were the ones missing out. It was groovy.

Well, you can rock it you can roll it
You can stop and you can stroll it at the hop


Tonight, Molly thought, the dance was going to be even more exciting. It was Sadie Hawkins Day. The girls got to ask the boys to the dance and she had a date!

Joe lived down the street, and he was an older man, a teenager!  He was so cute, tall with dark curly hair.  She had had a crush on him for-ever!  Since he was three years older than she was, she was pretty sure that he’d never noticed her. She thought about asking him, and then told herself, don’t be stupid.

But Vicki egged her on.

“C’mon! This is your chance! The worst that can happen is he says no. What’ve you got to lose? Don't be such a scaredy cat!”

Oh, sure, that was easy for her to say. She was going with her brother Bob, so she was all set.

When the record starts spinnin'
You chalypso and you chicken at the hop
Do the dance sensation that is sweepin' the nation at the hop

Heart pounding, she picked up the phone, put her finger in the dial, then hung up. Pick it up, put it down. Pick it up, put it down. Over and over. On the fourth try, she actually dialed his number, and as soon as his mother answered, she hung up. Finally, she managed to stay on the line long enough to ask to speak him, but as soon as he said “Hello,” her voice deserted her.

“Hello? Hello?”

Playing Vicki’s words over and over in her head (what've you got to lose?), she blurted out, “Um, hi. this is Molly.  I was wondering if, um, you want to go to the Sadie Hawkins dance with me.” Phew!  She got it out!  And then she listened to several seconds of silence while her face turned beet red. See, you idiot! He’s gonna say no.

Finally, he said, OK, sure.”

OH!  MY!  GRAVY !!!   She was going to the dance with Joe. She could hardly stand it! Wait until she told Vicki!

Well, you can swing it you can groove it
You can really start to move it at the hop

Somehow arrangements were made. And now, in just a few minutes, Joe was coming to pick her up.

The doorbell rang. Her father answered it, and asked Joe in. After a bunch of really embarrassing questions about when they would be home and stuff, and even more embarrassing, standing beside Joe while Dad took a picture, they left. They walked out to the car and got in the back seat.

“Hi, Mrs. Antonio.”

Joe’s mother was driving, and his little brother Mikey sat beside her. As she drove, Mrs. Antonio chatted on and on about something and Mikey sat peering over the seat, grinning like a fool.  But Molly was so nervous, she hardly noticed. And then, thank heavens, they were at the Community Center.

She and Joe went inside, paused inside the door and looked around.  And then he said, “See you later,” and sauntered over to join his friends. She found Vicki and the other girls from the neighborhood, who were all giggling like crazy, and sat down with them.

Where the jockey is the smoothest
And the music is the coolest at the hop

And then, too soon, it was 10 o’clock and the disk jockey played the last song. She and Joe met at the door, and they went out to the parking lot where Mr. Antonio sat waiting. Just before they got to the car, Joe leaned over and quickly kissed her. He kissed her! Joe Antonio kissed her!!!

On the ride home, Mr. Antonio didn’t say much, but she was so thrilled, she hardly noticed. At her house, Joe walked her to the door, and said, “See ya,” and then he was gone.

Floating on air, she went inside, dreamily answered her mother’s questions about the dance, and went to bed. She could hardly wait to go to sleep, and dream about Joe.

All the cats and chicks gonna get their kicks at the hop
Let's go to the hop, (oh baby)
Let's go to the hop


The next morning, she awoke with a smile on her face. And then a horrifying thought occurred to her.

Joe was 14! And he’d kissed her!

What if she was pregnant???

Bah-bah-bah-bah, bah-bah-bah-bah
Bah-bah-bah-bah. bah-bah-bah-bah, at the hop!



This was written for The Tenth Daughter of Memory 

100-Word Challenge: Daybreak Daliance

Dawn breaks over the distance.
Morning spreads into the sky.
It’s still too dark to see much outside.
I open my beak, call out to the world,
Announcing my presence with pride.

Abundant with attitude,
Splendid with style,
My plumage so lush,
My head gear so bright:
Call me “Cock of the Walk.”
You’d be right..

Thanks to me, the world awakens.
The chicks in the henhouse begin to cluck.
“We’re hungry,” they grumble, “and have eggs to lay.”
I’m Cock of the Walk, so I wink and I crow,
“Hey, Girls, let's start with a roll in the hay!”

This is my entry for this week's prompt of "Abundant" in Velvet Verbosity's 100-Word Challenge, generously hosted here by LouCeel.  Lou, with so much on your plate, I know this is tough. I'm grateful to you for keeping it going.


Praise to God

Note: This poem is not intended to offend. I fear, however, that some may be offended.  If so, I apologize. 

Praise to God

Not the god of bricks and mortar,
Lovely though those places be.
With filtered light and murmured words
And beseeching marble statuary.

Not the god of the robe and scapular
Filled with angst and shame
Watching his children defile the innocent
While whispering his name.

Not the god of faraway caves
Where the “faithful” cower and hide
Lying in wait to kill and maim
The infidels from another side.

Not the god of pride and prejudice
With altars built of racism and hate
And followers armed with false superiority
Who would deny asylum at heaven’s gate.

Not the god of hypocrites
Who speak of the sanctity of life
While tossing bombs into clinics and crowds.
Better the back-alley knife?

Not the god of exclusion and privilege
The pious more entitled than you and me
Who measure your worth by the wealth that you have
Laid out on display for others to see.

Not the god of electorates
Who’ve forgotten the roots of our land,
For whom separation of Church and State
Is something they just don’t understand.

Not the god with followers who cry:
“Believe in only my god, or you’re dead!”
Who fight for their god with bullets and bombs
Mounting a war for heaven-knows-what lies ahead.

No, none of these gods is the god I praise.
There’s nothing they have to give.
I praise a god with a heart full of grace
A god who smiles, and blesses all who live.


 This was written for One Shot Wednesday at One Stop Poetry.

Wordless Wednesday: World Cup Champions 2027

This is my post for Wordless Wednesday.


The Summer of Our Discontent

On August 18, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was passed, 72 years after a handful of brave and determined women began the battle to give women in the United States the right to vote. That it took 144 years from the time the country was founded for this right to be granted is shameful.


It was a hot day in July 1848. They gathered in Seneca Falls, NY, a small town on the edge of Van Cleef Lake. But it was not a picnic that drew them together on that day so many years ago.  It was discontent.


Jane Hunt
Photograph from A History of Waterloo, John Becker.

Jane Hunt was married to the richest man in Seneca County. He referred to himself as a farmer, but in reality he was an active land speculator and industrialist. Jane and her family lived in a stately home on Main Street in Waterloo, NY, enjoying all the comforts afforded them by their financial status. Jane should have been content, but something was wrong. She wasn’t sure she could articulate it, but her comfortable life chafed at her sensibilities.

A member of the Quaker faith, Jane took comfort from the friends she worshipped with at monthly Meeting. She was especially close to Mary Ann M’Clintock, a relative by marriage and a respected leader of the church. They strongly believed in community, and the women often met to discuss of how they could put that belief into action. As Jane’s husband Richard often reminded her, faith without works brought few results.

They learned that Lucretia Mott, a well-know minister and reformer from Philadelphia, was visiting family nearby and decided to invite her to come and meet with them. Jane offered her front parlor for the meeting. Lucretia brought her sister Martha, and Jane invited Elizabeth, a friend who was not a Quaker, but just as committed to social reform as the others.

Over tea and cookies, the women talked. Discussing their lives, as women do, they soon realized that they all shared the same discontent. And if they did, what of other women? Elizabeth had been speaking of her feelings to anyone who would listen for years, and among these Quaker women, she found a sympathetic ear. She also found compatriots who were willing to put their words into action.

That afternoon, the seed of change was sown.

Lucretia wanted very much to be a part of whatever action they took, but she didn’t have much time before she must return to Philadelphia and her responsibilities there. The women decided to hold a public meeting where other women could be heard, and they drafted a notice that the meeting would be held the following week at the Wesleyan Church. Elizabeth volunteered to deliver it to the newspaper office on her way home, and the notice was published two days later. In the days before the meeting, a second meeting was held to draft a document for discussion. Elizabeth then took the document home and edited it, and created the first draft of what would be known as The Declaration of Sentiments. Taking her cues from the Declaration of Independence, she began, “When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary…”

On July 19 and 20, the women met again, this time joined by more than 300 others, including a handful of men and children. On the first day, the women discussed the Declaration and the absence of women’s rights in the United States. On the second day, the men joined the discussion, and at the end of the day, a vote was taken to ratify the Declaration.

American Treasures Collection
Library of Congress

Sadly, at the end of that day, nothing much changed. It was at the end of over 26,000 additional days that the seed planted in Seneca Falls, NY on that hot day in July 1848 grew to bear fruit.  But Jane Hunt, Mary Ann M’Clintock, Lucretia Mott, Martha Wright and Elizabeth Cady Stanton never doubted.

The five women (Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Martha Wright, Lucretia Mott, 
Jane Hunt, Mary Ann McClintock) 
who issued the call for the Convention. 
Photographs from A History of Waterloo, John Becker.


To learn more, read the Report of the Women’s Rights Convention and the Declaration of Sentiments.


Future-Perfect Blindness

This was my entry for the recent prompt of "blind" over at The Inferno A Writers' Challenge. I was in the company of some wonderful writers there.  Pay them a visit.

Future-Perfect Blindness

Most people consider the brutal temperatures of winter to be the harshest.  The frigid wind whistling through the canyons has taken its deadly toll, no question.  Seems like every year, he loses a friend to its cruel indifference to life.

But, so far, he has been able to survive the hungry appetites of winter.  It’s this gawd-awful heat that threatens to consume him.  It is everywhere, oozing around corners, filling every inch of space with its suffocating presence.  In winter, he can always find shelter from the cold if he looks hard enough.  But today, he can find no shelter from this monster which will surely devour his flesh, having roasted it to perfection first, of course.

Every time he really thinks about this sorry state he has come to, he is surprised all over again.  In his heart, he still thinks of himself as the big time big deal he was. Wall Street hotshot.  Not just any Wall Street hack, but the best. Oh, yeah. He was that guy who walked by a few minutes ago, all crisp and cool in his tailored Bond Street summer-weight suit and Italian butter-soft leather shoes.  And like that guy, hurrying to his destiny in the bright sun, he’d been blind to the future that awaited him, sleeping in what little shade he could find in doorways and under park benches.

He’d never seen it coming.  He thought they were too blind to catch on.  One day, he’s on top of the world. The next day, he’s at the bottom of the heap.  On the way down, he’s lost everything.  First his license and the job, followed closely by his reputation.  Then his Ferrari and the Park Avenue apartment.  And finally, his wife, who took what little remained with her when she left.

Mostly, though, he doesn’t think about all that.  He thinks about where to sleep awhile before the cops roust his ass and tell him to move on.  He thinks about where to find food still good enough to eat. And he thinks about begging for enough change to buy himself a bottle of cheap booze to carry him though until he’s forced to think about these things again.

He finds a patch of marble steps not too hot to sit on in the alley in back of the Exchange and he settles in to eat lunch.  He has managed to find a half eaten hamburger than hasn’t begun to rot yet, and even better, filled his water bottle from the hydrant they opened for the kids.  He’s grateful that the kids were blind to the bum who joined them under the spray. City kids have seen it all.

He sets down his ragged bundle of belongings, and begins to lay a few scrounged newspapers on the step to protect his backside from the hot surface.  As he spreads out the papers, a headline from today’s front page catches his eye:

Wall St. Hiring in Anticipation of a Recovery”

Huh.  He shrugs, and unwraps his hamburger. 



Home Delivery!

There’s nothing like farm-fresh milk. Indulge in home delivery. Your bones will thank you!

Brought to you by your local Dairy Council.
Oh, yes, and by Bossie.


Written for Sunday 160, hosted by Monkey Man.

For those of you as taken with the metal sculpture of artist Patrick Amiot as I was, check out this video showing some of his work.


100-Word Challenge: Lethal Weapon

This is my entry in Velvet Verbosity's 100-Word Challenge, hosted by LouCeel here.

Lethal Weapon

I have to wonder. What causes a celebrity to self-destruct?

Is fame too heavy a mantle wear 24-7? Is it uncomfortable rattling around in a 7000 sq. ft. house? Or cumbersome driving a big Lexus? They can be so hard to park.

Take Mel Gibson. Here’s a guy who seemingly had it all. Then one day several years ago, he opened his mouth, and began shooting himself in the foot. His ammunition of choice? Anti-semitism. Racism. And most recently, domestic abuse.

It seems Mr. Gibson has been carrying an unconcealed lethal weapon. And he’s using it to commit professional suicide.


Seeing in the Dark

A moment of youthful blindness
Stole my ability to see.
A foolish choice 
Took everything away,
Leaving me nothing to look at
But the walls and bars surrounding me.
I close my eyes and picture it,
All I once had when free,
And brush in hand,
I paint it back,
To adorn my new reality.


This was written for Friday Flash 55, hosted by G-Man.  Have something to say in exactly 55 words?  G-Man will listen.

The Thing in the Shadows

As my readers will know, several bloggers in our community, myself included, have been victims of plagiarism.  The "perps," as they say in crime novels, are two members of a site called Thoughts.com.  But I hasten to say that these two are just the thieves of whom we are aware.  I suspect that there are others, and that they draw their words from anyone brave enough to bare his or her creative soul on a blog.

You know, I feel like there is something eating away at values we hold dear in our collective lives today.  I can't exactly put my finger on it.  It's a little like catching sight of something that flits past in your peripheral vision. You spin around to look, and it's no longer there, but you absolutely felt its presence. 

Every time I face a store clerk who can't make change; listen to someone (it used to be teenagers, but they are moving into adulthood, and taking this baggage along with them) who can't form a sentence that doesn't include the word "like" several times; or see an "official" printed document with incorrectly-spelled words or tortured grammar on it, I see the "thing" in my periphery flit past.  (n.b.: As I was writing this, my husband read a line from the Boston Globe to me:  "His medal was tested..."  Methinks it's not the medal that is tarnished.)

Every time I read of yet another scam or scheme designed to take advantage of the trusting naive; receive a warning of a new, more sophisticated computer virus lurking out there, ready to steal my identity at the first opportunity; hear of another acquaintance who has fallen victim to some nefarious deed or another, I see it. Every time a product fails to meet what I would consider minimum standards of quality, I see it.

The issue with basic education isn't new. My children used to bring home mimeographed tests from school with misspelled words printed on them, correct answers marked wrong, and incorrect ones marked right.  I have long referred to this sad situation as the "dumbing down of our country."  (I can't speak about other countries; perhaps you see it too.)  But it seems that the basic reading, writing, and 'rithmatic skills are not the only fundamentals  people aren't learning.  Good behavior, a sense of decency, basic ethics: all seem to be falling prey to the monster in the shadows.

I don't know about you, but I find this scary as hell.


I reported the plagiarism of my words to the site administrator of Thoughts.com.  This morning I received this  e-mail from them:

"We have remove the duplicate of your post.... We are deliberating the best mode of discipline for this serious offence."

It's a beginning, but if you see this post anywhere but here, do let me know, won't you?


Found Voice

It’s a hot summer night 
and the sidewalk still steams from the day.
A woman walks alone on Third Avenue,
passing from street light to street light.
Her lips move in a voiceless song
that nobody else can hear.

Up ahead, a door lit by a bare bulb 
above opens into the night,  
spilling out swirls of smoky light, 
smoky music, and a couple entwined  
who pause beneath the awning next door
to kiss and then to stagger away.

The woman goes in and moves 
though the purple-lit haze to the bar.
A tall sultry blond in a too-tight black dress 
gyrates and sings about sex
as the bored-looking band on stage 
behind her plays badly along.

The woman orders a whiskey and
finds a booth at the back in the shadows.
Around her, the sparse audience drinks and 
smokes and talks a little too loud
while the sexpot on stage moans and grinds 
her way to the end of the song.

The singer finally finishes, and so does the spotlight. 
The stage momentarily goes black. 
From out of the darkness, a long, 
slow, piercing wail calls from the stage, 
and the patrons turn to answer 
with sudden silence.

As the weak spotlight comes up, it settles 
on the guy with the hat and a muted horn.
His horn at his lips, he blows from his soul, 
and the notes move out through the room
To find the woman in the booth at the back, 
and slowly they enter her heart.

It’s a hot summer night and in a dark, 
smoky bar on Third Avenue,
A woman sits alone with her whiskey 
in a booth at the back in the shadows. 
A lone, crying horn gives voice to her song, 
and everyone’s heart weeps along.

Written for One Shot Wednesday at One Stop Poetry.


Wordless Wednesday: We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

Mind Rape

I am a trusting person. I think we all have to be, if we are to bear our souls as we do on our blogs.  Today, several of us who have written for She. More Than a Pronoun discovered that our words have been stolen and posted on another's blog.  Two others, actually.  That we know of.

Mine were plagiarized by a young woman who goes by the name of "Blossom" on thought.com. I have reported her to the administrators of the site, e-mailed her directly, and posted comments on her blog warning her fans than they should not trust her posts. In doing so, I discovered that we are not her first victims.  Apparently, she has been caught at this before.

What she and another blogger named Lightspeed (also on thoughts.com,) have done is sleazy at best and illegal at worst.  It would be nice to think that they will be kicked off the site and the issue will be over. But I know in my heart that this won't be how it plays out.  Sure, the site may kick them off, but they will simply move on, and target someone else.

I'm seriously pissed off that Blossom stole my words.  But worse, she stole my trust.

I know that, thanks to her, I will be censoring my every word I write from now on.  And it just won't be the same.

P.S. In order to post a comment on Blossom's blog, I had to join thoughts.com. I did so about an hour ago, using a picture of a thunderous sky (reflecting my mood) as my profile picture and not one word of personal information.  As I was writing this, I received mail from another thoughts.com users, a woman, hitting on me!  Good grief.


Ever Wonder?

Do they wear knickers
Or let it all go?

Along came a breeze
It blew a big blow.

This one at least
Gave quite a show.

No knickers at all
And now we all know!


This is my entry for this week's Sunday 160, hosted by Monkey Man.


Taddeo and the Swimmer

The Amalfi beach was crowded, normal for a day this hot  There were bronzed bodies everywhere: lying on beach towels sunning, building sand castles. But there was only one body Taddeo was interested in.  Hers.  He’d had his eye on her since he’d seen her swimming away from the beach.

Then, suddenly, he was in the water and swimming toward her.  She was way out, struggling.  He swam up close to her, and after she wrapped her arms around his neck, he brought her safely back to shore.

Being heroic was what he did.  He was a water rescue dog.



Written for Velvet Verbosity’s 100-Word Challenge, this was inspired by the amazing water rescue dogs of Italy.  Trained for three years at the Scuola Italiana Cani Salvataggio (Italian School of Rescue Dogs), these dogs are credited with saving many lives off Italy’s shores.

For more information, visit these links.

BBC - Italian Water Rescue Dogs

Italian School of Rescue Dogs


Nap Time

The life of a mom isn’t easy, you know.
Things to be done and places to go.

Hunting, fishing and prowling around.
Shopping for food at the campground.

Where are the cubs? Often they wander.
One minute they’re here, then way over yonder.

Snarling, growling, giving my best.
I’m really tired. I need a rest!


This was written for Mr. KnowItAll’s Friday Flash 55.  For more fun, visit G-Man here and check out the comments.

Children of the Sixties?

 They took to the streets,
Bouncing off walls
Like crazed hippy revolutionaries
Rushing to the Haight.

It started with only a few,
But then the word spread.
The few became many,
And the many a demonstration.

While the city looked on,
Their numbers multiplied.
They filled the streets,
Dancing with psychedelic joy.


This was written for Theme Thursday, where the theme for the week is “ball."


Knights of the Round Tables

Knights of the road, my father called them.
Riding out of the darkness on their muscular mounts,
Noble studs with magical names like
Western Star and White and Mack.

Shiny with virtue and strong with valor, champions they were,
Protectors of all who rode the darkness at their side.
I felt safe traveling with them there, and charmed
When they flashed a bright hello as we passed.

We encountered them, my father and I,
In brightly lit oases gleaming in the night,
Shouting “Welcome!” with words like “Eat” and “Good Food” and “Showers.”

I loved seeing them, my heroes seated at round formica tables.
They treated me like a princess or the missed daughter at home.
They bought me candy and begged my nine-year-old’s favor
Before riding back into battle.

Where have all my knights gone?
Vanquished? Replaced by barbarians,
Rampaging on rude stallions with boring names like
GMC and Autocar and Peterbilt?

Tarnished by nicotine and stained by tattoos,
Chivalry replaced by crudeness, fighting only sleep
While challenging the mile, these marauders protect no one
And threaten all who dare ride the darkness at their side.

I avoid them and their oases now,
And each time one splashes a muddy sneer as he passes,
I remember my knights of the round tables,
Who flashed a bright hello, and bought me candy, and
Took my nine-year-old’s heart with them as they rode back into battle.


Wordless Wednesday: TMI

This is posted with the kind permission of the artist, Hugh MacLeod, who writes and illustrates The Gaping Void. To see more of his fantastic work, visit him here.


Chiyoko's Thank You Gift

I’m a very old man now.  Nearly all who were important to me are gone, leaving before me to find out if everything "they" said was true.  But I’ve always been a stubborn old coot.  I suspect it’s all a pack of shit designed to keep some kind of order in society.  I’m in no hurry to check out my theory, though, so I’m sticking around.  The downside of this, of course, is that there’s no one left to debate the subject with.  Not anyone who gives a rat’s ass what I have to say, anyway.

But I do have my stuff.  All these years, I’ve been hauling around the stuff that has meaning for me, adding to it as new things come along.  My kids called it “Pa’s junk,” and I know they were dreading the day when I was gone and they’d have to go through it all.  I guess Fate relieved them of that worry by hustling them off before the old man.

Now that all my friends and family have left me behind, the things I’ve collected through these many years are my friends.  We share many memories, and we frequently sit together, as very old friends do, and reminisce.

My best friend is this pack of papers, bound together by an odd homemade rope, woven of cloth strips and twine.  The papers are beautiful, pink and green, yellow and blue, printed with an ink I have never seen before or since.  I’ve been told that the paper is called Katazome-shi paper, and that it was printed using stencils and an ancient Japanese technique.  How it came to be isn’t important, though.  It’s how it came to me that matters.

Her name was Chiyoko and she may have been the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.  Well, I call her a woman, but she was really just a girl, probably no more that 17 or 18.  I was just a young buck myself in those days, and she was like a rare exotic bird to me.

But I get ahead of myself.

I was working at the US Immigration Station on Angel Island.  I was with the Quarantine Station run by the US Public Health Service.  The station was separated from the main processing facility, and we were responsible for treating any immigrant passengers suspected of illness, whether they were sick or not.

Chiyoko had arrived with her family.  Later that year, Japanese immigration all but stopped with the passage of the 1924 National Origins Act.  Had her family waited even a few months, they would have no doubt been turned away at our border.  But arrive they did, on a ship that was infected with small pox.

All the passengers were off-loaded, and the ship was fumigated with sulphur. As the passengers stepped of the bus at the Quarantine Station, the docs examined them, and then they were separated: the obviously sick this way, those showing no symptoms that way.  (Yeah, in later years, I saw the parallels.)  We scrubbed them down with carbolic soap and gave them overalls to wear.  They looked like the prisoners that they would be for the next two weeks.  Their clothing and baggage were sent through large metal cylinders where it was disinfected with steam under pressure.  They lived in barracks while with us, and the barracks were fumigated every morning.

The whole process was horrible.  We tried to be humane, but the passengers were still terrified, and who could blame them?  It was like a meat processing plant!  Very few had any English at all, what little they did have was so basic as to be useless in communicating with the others.  Some were crying; some were shocked into terrified silence.  Chiyoko was one of the latter.  Her parents had been infected with small pox, and so were shuttled off to a different quarantine barracks than she.  She was essentially alone.

One day shortly after she had arrived, I was working in Chiyoko’s barracks and found her in tears.  She had just been told that her parents had died of small pox.  Now she was literally alone, and in a foreign country.  She sat clutching a bundle of papers, which were soggy and stinking of ammonia and formaldehyde from the disinfecting process.  Holding the bundle like an infant, she rocked back and forth, sobbing her eyes out. It broke my heart.  I gathered her in my arms, and awkwardly patted her back while murmuring what I hoped were soothing sounds to her.

Chiyoko never got sick.  She had somehow escaped the small pox infection that claimed so many from the ship that brought her to the United States.  I sat with her every day, bringing photographs of places in the US to show her, and I told her about them.  I never really knew if she understood, but she seemed to enjoy my visits.  And I certainly enjoyed looking at her.

Once I realized that Chiyoko would be released, I set about finding somewhere for her to go.  Through my church, I was put in touch with a Japanese immigrant community in San Francisco, and a couple there offered to take Chiyoko in.  They would meet her at the disembarkation point.

Before she boarded the ferry that would take her to the mainland, Chiyoko turned to me, and shyly gave me a hug, whispering, “arigato.”

I never saw her again.

Many years later, there was a knock on my door.  An elderly woman was standing on my doorstep, holding a bundle.  Handing it carefully to me, she identified herself as Mary Jackson, and told me that Chiyoko was her daughter-in-law.  Her son, who was a seaman aboard the Arizona, had been killed at Pearl Harbor, and Chiyoko had come back to San Francisco to live with her.  Soon after arriving back in San Francisco, Chiyoko was one of thousands identified as being "totally unassimilable," and she was relocated to the Manzanar War Relocation Camp.  It must have seemed very familiar to her. Mrs. Jackson argued that Chiyoko had been married to an American, but her pleas fell on deaf ears.   After a year of living in the internment camp, Chiyoko fell ill with pneumonia and died.

Before she was taken away, Mrs. Jackson told me, Chiyoko had told her about the first American friend she had after arriving in the United States.  She had copied my name from my name tag, and kept it all these years.  She asked her mother-in-law to find me, give me the bundle she’d just handed me, and to tell me, “Arigato.”

After she left, I gingerly unwrapped the delicate tissue surrounding the bundle.  Inside, I found the papers I remembered from Angel Island, brittle with age and still smelling slightly of ammonia and formaldehyde.

“Arigato, Chiyoko,” I whispered.


To read more stories and poems about the photo above, visit Magpie Tales.

This is also my submission to the Tenth Daughter of Memory.


Hi, Monkey Man!

Friends18.com Orkut MySpace Hi5 Scrap Images

It’s Sunday again,
And here we are.
So happy to see you,
Did you come far?

Here’s my 160.
I hope you have fun.
And how ‘bout this bird?
He’s watching you, Son.


This is my entry for Monkey Man's Sunday 160. He challenges you to write a story or poem  in exactly 160 characters, including spaces.  To see more, or try one yourself, visit here.


Thundering into Extinction

 Dinosaur Footprints, Holyoke MA

They stomped the earth
Many millennia ago,
Shaking the ground
With permanence.

They towered over all
And feared none.

And then they were gone,
Leaving only the occasional bone
And footprint behind
To tell all of their might.

These few remnants
Speak of  the power of time
And remind us:
Nothing is forever.


For more information about the Dinosaur Footprints site in Holyoke, Massachusetts, visit The Trustees of Reservations here.

 This is my entry for Friday Flash 55.  Got something to say in exactly 55 words? Go visit G-Man at Mr. KnowItAll.