Photo taken by Derek Stafford
St. Mary's Church in Prestbury, Gloucestershire, England 1990.


In nomine Patris et Filii…

the blizzard of your rationalizations
stings my eyes, filling them with frost, and
leaving me blind to see you
in sanctified service past or future resurrection.

like an arctic blast, your casual contempt engulfs me,
contempt for me, for us, for them.
it freezes my voice into crystal shards of glacial ice.
I am speechless, all alleluias frozen hard.

but tomorrow, tomorrow we will turn away.
we will seek asylum, hunker down, and take shelter.
we will lay logs of our own worth on the dying embers of our souls.
we will speak out, and live, and love, and be warm again.

not you.

with each unspoken brutality,
invited in and made at home and kept safe from prying eyes,
decay takes up residence within you,
setting up housekeeping and putting its feet up.

the canker of cruelty within you
festers and oozes, reeking of hypocrisy and ego,
and leaches into every nook and cranny,
filling your essence with fetid rot.

insidious, invisible, inexorable,
like cancer, it is slowly killing you,
drooling and slavering, hungrily devouring your soul,
and leaving you for dead.



A Wee Cottage in the Wood

She tripped lightly down the pine needle-strewn path, her footsteps swallowed by the silence of the forest. She stopped here and there to pick the ripe blackberries growing along the path and dropped them into the battered pail she’d brought with her for just such a purpose. Tonight there would be pie, but she would have to stop her one-for-me, one-for-the-pail approach to berry-picking if she were ever to gather enough.

Passing though bright motes of dapple painted by sunlight through leafy boughs of green canopy, deeper and deeper into wood she traveled. Then far ahead in a small clearing, nearly swallowed by foliage, a wee cottage appeared, spot-lit by sun but all darkness within. To many, it might be forbidding, but not to a young girl who had lived in fairy tales all her life. She had outwitted wolves and wicked stepmothers. She had vanquished many an evil gnome, troll and elf. She’d laughed at orcs, goblins and gollums, and had escaped towers, hot ovens and never-ending sleep. And through it all, she’d always believed in good witches and handsome princes, though she’d never actually met one herself.

Nay, a wee cottage in the wood was no match for this girl. And so she skipped up to the cottage, climbed the steps to the its porch, and gave a small knock on the door. When there was no answer, she gently pushed the door open on its squeaky hinges and stepped inside. As the sun followed her in, she saw an old bird cage standing in the corner. She walked over, and as she approached, a very bedraggled bird lifted its head and looked at her forlornly.

“Hello,” she said brightly. “I’m Lucinda. What’s your name? What are you doing here all alone?”

The bird said not a word. Not too many birds can talk, after all. He just continued to gaze at her. Now, probably birds can’t get expressions on their faces, but she saw great sadness in this bird’s eyes. Her own eyes filling with tears, she pried open the rusty latch on the cage and opened the door.

“Come out,” she cried. “I’ve set you free!”

The bird just pulled its pale blue feathers tighter against its thin body and backed into the far corner of the cage, its expression changing from sad to wary. She stood and talked gently to the frightened bird, but nothing she said could lure it from the cage.

Finally, she realized it was hopeless and besides, the sun was going down and soon it would be dark in the forest.

“I must go if I’m to find my way home," she told the bird. “”But I will leave the door open so that you may leave too if you want. Goodbye!”

She turned and started moving toward the door of the cottage, but half-way there she stopped and turned.

“There are plenty of berries outside and I can tell you, they are very good. But you look hungry now and my waistline doesn’t need pie anyway.”

She returned to the cage, and put all of the berries from her pail just inside the door of the cage. Then she ran from the cottage and made her way quickly out of the forest and home, arriving just before the sun dropped below the horizon.

That night, she was barely able to sleep, worrying about the poor bird cowering alone in the cottage in the wood. Her concern stayed with her the next day, causing her boss to chastise her for daydreaming instead of attending to her filing. As she tried to focus on her work, she vowed to return to the cottage that evening and make sure the poor bird was okay.

Right after work, she rushed home and changed her clothes. Taking no time to trip lightly through the wood or pause to enjoy the succulent blackberries growing beside the pine needle-strewn path, she hurried toward the cottage. When the wee cottage came into view in the small clearing ahead, she saw the door was standing open as she left it. But instead of darkness inside, the cottage seemed filled with sunlight.

She ran to the door and stepped inside, anxiously looking at the old cage standing in the corner. To her surprise, it was empty! She went over to it, and confirmed that the bird and all of the berries were gone.

As she was standing looking at the cage, her emotions swinging between joy that the bird had flown free and disappointment at not seeing him again, she heard a footstep on the tiny porch out front. Turning, she saw a handsome young man in a pale blue sweater framed in the doorway.

“Hello,” he said. “I’m Marcus. What’s your name? What are you doing here all alone?”

See? she thought. I knew fairy tales really can come true!

This was written for Magpie Tales.

160: Ghosties and Ghoulies and Long-Legged Beasties and...

Tossing all night
Searching for sleep.
Demons lurk waiting
My dreams to keep.

I can’t close my eyes,
For what would I see?
Nocturnal beasties
Who’d make dinner of me.


This was written for Sunday 160, hosted by Monkey Man.  If you've got something to say and can say in 160 characters, spaces included, go pay him a visit.



I have been blogging for nearly a year. When I started, I had no idea what I was doing, and I really worried that I wouldn't have enough to say to keep it up. Turns out that wasn't a problem (anyone who knows me could have told you I seldom run out of things to say - well, maybe they'd say I never shut up, but that's the same thing, right?).

This has been a wonderful experience. Since beginning, I've "met" many great people, and made some terrific friends out here in cyberspace. 

Today, one of those friends, Jamie Dedes, paid me such an incredible honor on her blog, Musing By Moonlight that I am (almost) speechless.  Such kind words from anyone would be wonderful, but when they come from someone who inspires me so much, it is a true blessing.

Thank you, Jamie.


Wandering the Corridors of Time

Twenty years after graduation, she went back to her high school in search of the youth she’d lost somewhere along the way.  Stopping first at the office for a hall pass, she wandered through the familiar corridors.

Here’s where we rolled soda cans down the aisle during assembly, she thought.  And here’s where he used to meet me after 5th period.

The bell rang, and the corridor filled with students.  A boy with purple and green hair looked at her oddly, and then came over.

“May I help you, Ma’am?”

She sighed.  I think my youth has left the building.

This is my entry for this week's 100-Word Challenge, hosted by Velvet Verbosity.  The prompt this week is "corridor."


Guess the Joke's on Me!

Round and round I drive
Looking for a spot.
It’s mid-afternoon.
I should have a shot.

I  looked everywhere.
I checked all the lots.
Did I find a space?
Ha! Of course I did not.

Look! A sign!

Blue, with a big white P
Then below it I saw…

Hey! Is he laughing at me?


This is my offering for Friday Flash 55, hosted by G-Man at Mr. KnowItAll.



She laid  there, an observer in her own life.  The nurse had just given her a sedative, and as she was drifting off, she thought about the previous 10 years. They had been life-changing in so many ways. 


It had been their anniversary and it was time to open the first installment of the wedding gift they’d given to each other on that August day ten years ago.  They had made a promise to each other that they would take a second (and third, fourth, and hopefully fifth) honeymoon to celebrate each 10 years together. 

As the plane carried them over the Pacific, she had congratulated herself on making it that far.  It had been touch and go for a while there. He denied it, of course, but she had been almost certain that Bob was fooling around a few years earler.  Late nights “at the office,” a brief flurry of phone calls to Johnson Heating and Plumbing, and worst, a feeling when he was with her, his mind was somewhere else.

When she could ignore it no longer, she’d asked him if he had a girlfriend.  He’d paled (or maybe she’d imagined it?) and denied it vehemently.  It was the merger, he’d said.  It had been particularly difficult period for him, but now that the merger was complete, he promised things would get better.  And they had. 

At the time, she’d had her doubts that the second honeymoon would ever come. But then they were on their way to Hawaii

Just as she was dozing off, the voice of a flight attendant had come on the intercom.  “Ladies and gentlemen, we are approaching our final destination in Honolulu.  The pilot has turned on the Fasten Seat Belt sign.  Please return seat backs to the upright position and secure your tray tables. We will be landing shortly.”


And that was the last thing she’d remembered before she awoke under bright lights surrounded by masked faces.  Before she could even gather her thoughts enough to ask all the obvious questions, she had fallen into the black hole again. 

When she finally came around again, Bob was sitting in a chair beside her, his chin resting on his chest as he snored lightly.  She reached over to shake him awake. Or she tried to, but nothing seemed to work.

“Bob?  Bob!” she’d called out in panic.

He awakened with a start, and jumped up to grab her hand and bring it to his lips.  She could see him do it, but she couldn’t feel a thing.  Her mind did all the thrashing around in panic that her body didn’t seem able to do. 

“What’s going on? What happened? Why can’t I move?” she screamed.

“It’s okay, Linda,” he said. “It’s just temporary.  You’ll be fine as soon as the swelling goes down.”


He’d explained that their plane had undershot the runway in Honolulu, and they’d crashed into the rocks.  No one had been killed, but several people had been hurt, and she was one of them.  She’d been knocked unconscious, and when they got her to the hospital, they discovered she’d suffered a neck injury. 

“But they say you’ll be fine, Linda. They operated and repaired the disks in your neck that were injured.  When the swelling goes down, you’ll need some therapy, but you’ll be okay.”

Except that the swelling had gone down, and she wasn’t okay. She was paralyzed from the neck down.


The following years were a blur.  After she'd recovered (Recovered? Hah!), there was the lawsuit.  Of the passengers who’d been injured, she was the only one to suffer permanent damage.  She had sued the airline, and when they’d been unable to point the finger of blame at anything but pilot error, the airline had settled.  Handsomely.  Her brother, a lawyer, had made sure her interests were well represented.  By the time she received the settlement check, she had appointed her brother as her power of attorney, and he’d invested  the proceeds.  She’d had enough income to support her for the rest of her life if she needed it. 

And she’d soon realized that she would need it.  About three years after the accident, Bob had been first “too busy” to spend much time with her, and then he became angry and distant.    He told her she was being unrealistic, and she should just accept her condition and get on with her life.  Before long, he made no pretense about the way he was spending his time.  She knew there was another woman.  Thank heavens they’d never had any children.  She hadn’t yet gathered the strength to leave him, but she'd known she would eventually.

She remembered reading a book many years ago about the five stages of grief.  She’d gone through every one of them except the final one, acceptance.  She would never accept that all this had happened to her.  Never!  Using her brother as her avatar, she sought second and third opinions.  She was “treated” by acupuncturists and faith healers. She tried alternative medical approaches, traveling to Mexico and then Switzerland to find them.  Nothing had worked.  There seemed to be no hope.

Until now.


She looked around the room.  It looked like so many hospital rooms she had spent her time in for so many years.  This was not your ordinary hospital, though.  Located in an isolated village in the Alps, this sanitorium would be her home for the next few weeks, if all went well.  Tomorrow, she was going to become a pioneer in medical science. 

The doctors here had warned her that this had never been attempted before, and was highly risky.  It had only a 5% chance (as best they could estimate, never having done it before) of success.  And if it failed (“when it failed” was what they meant, but didn’t say), she would die.  Die?  She was already dead, in her opinion.  As far as she was concerned, this procedure gave her a 5% chance at life.  It was a risk she was more than willing to take.  It was also atrociously expensive, but she was willing to pay that price as well.  What good was all the money in the world when you were living in a dead body?  Satisfied that she had made the right decision, she gave herself over to the sedative and went to sleep.


It was their anniversary.  They’d been married twenty years today.  The cab pulled up to the house, and she got out.  She asked the driver to wait, and then walked up to the front door.  She rang the doorbell (she’d thrown the key away years ago) and then listened to the sound pf his footsteps coming down the stairs.  He opened the door, and his eyes widened.  Standing in front of him was the most beautiful woman he ever seen.  He quickly recovered and gave her his most winning smile. 

Hel-lo. Can I help you?”

She burst out laughing.  This was everything she’d dreamed it would be.  The barely-hidden leer in his words were the icing on the cake.

“Hello, Bob.”

The smile on his face froze, and then faded.  He opened the screen door and peered more closely at the perfectly made-up face in front of him. 


She knew he’d realized it was her face looking back at him, but it was a face glowing with good health and satisfaction.   Then his eyes dropped.  Below the neck was not the wasted body he’d last seen on his wife.  It was not even the healthy but far from extraordinary body of the bride he’d lost on the plane to Hawaii twenty years ago.  In fact, it didn’t even remotely look like it could be her body at all.  This body was stunning!  No, it was drop-dead gorgeous! 

“Linda!” he exclaimed again, and moved to embrace her.

She stepped out of his reach and smiled again.

“Happy anniversary, Bob.  I’ve come to deliver the next installment of our wedding gift.”

She handed him the divorce papers, then turned and walked back to the taxi, knowing his shocked eyes were following her every step.  She grinned broadly, and climbed into the cab.

This was written  for 10DOM.


The Ant Farm

Masses moving down pathways teeming
Scurrying, hurrying, clumping at corners
Pushing and shoving in a surge to the fore
Only to clump again and again.

Thousands of feet, moving toward victory
Pushing and shoving to get there first
Thousands of eyes, all facing forward
Focused intently on future success.

Alone, with companions of plastic and flash cards
Striding with sidekicks more cherished than people
Nokias, Blackberries, Androids, and iPhones
Talking to air space instead a friend.

Around them, behind them, and even beneath them
Stacked up in cartons of concrete above them
Competing for trophies are millions just like them
Seeking trappings of status, the ultimate win.

Masses moving down pathways teeming
Scurrying, hurrying to the spoils of the victor
Maybe they’ll get there, the acme of somewhere
Only to find that there’s just no there, there.

This was written for One Shot Wednesday.


The Piper

Bill Millin  7/14/1922-8/17/2010

Born of commoners, I led an uncommon life.
Though not of the Peerage, I had my moment of glory.
I played with great ceremony, bringing courage to many.
Now I march off alone quite unceremoniously.


At the ready, we waited for conditions to be right.
When the moon was full and the spring tides flowing,
We hoped to give action to our plan of attack.
But high winds and high seas put everything at risk.
Then the weather calmed slightly and we decided to go.

Les carottes sont cuites.  La Résistance était prête.
BBC: "The carrots are cut."  The Resistance is ready.

Because of the weather, the Axis was lax, their defences off.
With the exception of Omaha, they appeared unprepared.
Utah, Gold, Juno and Sword were badly protected.
Mother Nature had chosen a side and hoorah! It was ours.

We came with our Allies: Yanks, Canadians and French,
And as the sun broke the horizon, we launched our attack.
At 6:30AM BDST, on Sword Beach we landed.
Sloshing through surf, my kilt billowing around me,
I piped them ashore to surprise in dawn’s early light.

I was unarmed, ceremonial dagger in my stocking all I had,
But I fought, nonetheless, in the service of Commander Lovat.
As my comrades took the beaches, I kept my pipes at my lips:
Hielan' Laddie, Blue Bonnets Over the Border,  
The Road to the Isles.
I stood straight and strong and played for their lives.

Bullets were flying and mortars exploding.
All around me, my fellows fell.
I continued to play, and somehow survived it.
Was I protected from harm by divine purpose?  
My pipes gave them courage;
They continued to press ever onward,
Winning the battle and eventually the war.


My service on this earth is over, and eternity calls.
Will St. Peter pipe me to heaven as I lay the pipes aside?

"Rest your pipes a while, and tak' a dram, your job is now done! You are a better man than are we!"
                                             - Reader Comment, The Mail Online
                                               The Daily Mail, London

Read more about this courageous man : Mail Online, The Telegraph


160: She

She takes all my toys
And leaps out to pounce.

She hogs all the food
And takes over the lap.

She’s a brat.
She’s my best friend.

She’s my kid sister
And that is that!

I would love to give credit where credit is due for this adorable photo, but it came to me unidentified in one of those viral e-mails.  So, thank you, Anonymous Photographer.  It was too good to pass up.

Happy Birthday, Brian!

This was written for Sunday 160, hosted by Monkey Man.  If you've got something to say and can say in 160 characters, spaces included, go pay him a visit.


The Choice

Promised to another, but loving only Khayyam, Siddiqa made a choice.  Allowed to marry four women, but not Siddiqa, Khayyam made a choice.  Custom said no to their love and marriage, so they made a choice. 

The men-only crowd cheered as they enthusiastically stoned the couple to death.  Such was the choice of the Taliban.


Last Sunday, the Taliban ordered a public execution by stoning of this young couple.  To read more about this horror, go here.

This is my offering for Friday Flash 55, hosted by G-Man at Mr. KnowItAll.

Morning Tea and the Memory Box

As if it knew there was little time left to waste with such frivolities as dreams, sleep spent very few hours with him each night.  He was always at his red-gingham-draped kitchen table long before dawn, sipping tea and poking though the souvenirs of his past. They'd grown a bit untidy over the years, but once the cobwebs were brushed away, they carried him back.

He’d had many good years, doing the things many like him had done, and enjoying every minute.  He loved being a husband and father.  It was the little moments of those roles, the everyday and mundane, that delighted him. 

When they were first married, he loved watching Maggie cook, his new bride’s face a study in concentration as she tried a new recipe from James Beard.  It wasn’t long before she no longer needed it, but she’d kept the tattered book on top of the refrigerator, just in case. It was there still, and he knew if he picked it up, it would fall open to the gravy-stained pages of “My Own Favorite Roast Turkey.”

He’d loved sitting with the family around the dinner table, listening to the words tumble all over each other like a bunch of exuberant puppies as the kids eagerly described their day.  Later, the laughter that cascaded down the stairs as the kids had their nightly bath made him laugh too, even though he wasn’t in on the joke.

It was all just as he’d imagined it would be, when as a young man, he’d thought ahead to his future.  But now, as he thought back to his past, he mourned the fact that today was not at all how he’d thought it would be.

He thought he’d fret as he watched Mike drive off in the beater they’d kept as a second car, the proud bearer of his newly acquired driver’s license, and when Becky, flushed with excitement, left on her first date with a gangly classmate.  He’d looked forward to the swell of pride he knew he’d feel as the kids graduated from college, got their first jobs, and stood at the altar, joyfully joining their lives to another. 

He’d eagerly anticipated pacing anxiously in the hospital waiting room as, one by one, his grandchildren filled in his mental family portrait.  He’d watch those grandchildren grow, with all the fun of spending time playing with them and none of the responsibility for their upbringing.

He’d always expected to spend today with Maggie, recapturing the intimacy and joy they’d had as newlyweds.  They would share new adventures, complaints about new aches and pains, and the thrill of welcoming new grandchildren into the world. 

What he’d never anticipated was the tractor-trailer truck that Maggie’s car had met as she drove the kids home from their cousin’s birthday party that October day.  He never expected a weary truck driver to steal his today from him and forever change his tomorrow and the days after. 

And he never thought he’d be sitting here alone at the kitchen table in the pre-dawn light, brushing off the collected memories he kept tucked away in the cigar box  in the corner of  his mind, along with a few of his other treasures, the lucky penny, the cats-eye marble, and the tooth he’d found under the elm tree.

He took another sip of tea, now grown cold and bitter.


This is my offering for Theme Thursday, where the prompt was "brush."


Switching to Manual

I pause.
Eyes closed, I see the things
hidden behind the bright glare of living.

I see bright yellow sunshine,
spread warm and buttery
over the popcorn
moments of my day.
 I see the soft round delight
of a baby’s bottom,
check to palm,
plump and luscious
as a freshly picked peach.
I see time in the grains of sand
sifting like eons through
my fingers,
each a tiny moment
of the past captured for dwellers
of the future to examine on a warm beach.
I see cool, crisp comfort in the sweep of clean white sheets,
beckoning me to climb aboard
and travel to a land where
anything is possible
and nothing is real.
I see you,
hardness cloaked
in the soft pretty costume 
you wear for public viewing,
strength lurking within, at the ready
to strike out at my vulnerability.
I see shock and sadness,
moist and salty,
sliding slowly down the
slopes of your complacency,
washing away the smile
I once planted there.
And I see me,
more willow than oak,
more diamonds than dust,
More now than then,
and, at last, more me than you.

Eyes opened,
I'm ready to move on.

This is my offering for One Shot Wednesday.

Bucko and the Road Kill

This is my offering for Velvet Verbosity's 100-Word Challenge. The prompt this week is "failed."


Bucko and the Road Kill

He stood looking at it, and frowned.  It wasn’t at all what he’d expected.  It just lay there completely limp and lifeless, doing a perfect imitation of road kill.

It hadn’t been cheap, and it was a luxury he couldn’t really afford.  But she had wanted it.   She had begged and pleaded, and he knew he wouldn’t get a moment of peace until he gave in. 

He thought again about the expense, and he grimaced at himself in the mirror.  “It was supposed to make you look younger. Well, it failed, Bucko.  It makes you look like an old fool!”


The Boys at the Corner Table

This was my entry for a recent prompt of "good luck charm" over at The Inferno A Writers' Challenge. For more charming writing, pay them a visit.

The Boys at the Corner Table 

They've come for breakfast for as long as Gladys has been working here.  They came in for the first time on her first day of work at the Cloverleaf, and they've been coming ever since.  They never fail to brighten her day, and besides, they've taught her everything she knows about baseball.  After all these years, she considers them her good luck charms.

They meet every morning at 7AM, always taking the table in the corner by the window.  They used to sit in a booth but now that they’re older, their creaky knees make sliding in too hard.

Gladys looks up from the counter she’s wiping down, and calls out, “Mornin,’ fellas. Be right wid-ja.”  She grabs four of the thick white mugs on the shelf behind the counter and pours their coffees, except for Herb, who gets agita from coffee now and reluctantly takes weak tea.

They met at the ball field out by the Community Center, where their sons played Little League.  Talking about baseball and that bum Dick Williams, they became fast friends and have been coming to the Cloverleaf for 40 years.  In the beginning it was only on Saturday mornings, a little treat before mowing the lawn or doing the other chores their wives had lined up for them.  Then about 15 years ago, they began retiring, one by one, and they could meet two or three mornings a week, as long as the wives didn’t object.  Harry thought his wife was actually glad to get him out of the house.

Now, they are all widowers, and there is no one left at home to complain.  So every morning, here they are, eating breakfast with the only family they have left.

Gladys walks over to their table, the support stockings beneath the pink uniform she’s been wearing since forever announcing her approach (swish, swish, swish).  She sets down the coffee (and tea; sorry, Herb) and asks, “So, what’ll it be?“  She takes their breakfast order and writes it down for the check they’ll split later, but she doesn’t need to.  They’ve been eating the same thing for the last forty years, too.

Everyday, as regular as clockwork: the same time, same guys, same table, same meal, and pretty much the same conversation.  Same old, same older.  Except today.

As they are digging into their eggs and toast and griping about those Red Sox, who can‘t seem to take the division lead away from the damn Yankees to save them, a boy comes into the Cloverleaf.  Dressed in pants that are too long for him and a faded blue T-shirt, he is all angles and elbows.  He hesitates inside the door and looks around.  His eyes light on the food on the table in the corner, and he swallows, his Adam’s apple bobbing in his thin neck. He’s probably about twelve, but he is so skinny, he seems much younger.  Except for his eyes.  He has old eyes, which look as though they have seen far too much for their young age.  He hesitantly approaches the counter, where Gladys is filling the salt and pepper shakers.

“What can I get ya, son?”

Looking down at the counter, the boy swallows, setting his Adam’s apple aflutter again. He answers, his voice jumping from that of a boy to a young man and back again, “Um, I can’t afford to buy nothin', ma’am.  I ain’t got no money.  But my ma’s sick, and I need to get some food for her.  I was wonderin,’ um, if I could sweep up or somethin’ for you in return for some food to take home.  It don’t have to be nothin' fancy. Leftovers'll do just fine.”

As he speaks, the boys at the corner table stop speaking. They glance meaningfully at one another, and then Joe calls out, “Gladys, I believe we’ll buy this young man here some breakfast, maybe a big old stack of blueberry pancakes and eggs, with a side of  bacon.  And fix one up to go for his mama too.  Just put it on our tab.”

Astonished, the boy turns to look at the old guys.

“Come on over, young fella, and pull up a chair.  You can’t eat standing up, now can you?”

The boy walks timidly over to the table and drags a chair over into the space they clear for him.  “Gee, thanks!  I dunno what to say,” he says as he sits down.

“Think nothing of it,” Mike answers. “Everybody needs a hand now and then.  We'll talk about how we can help you and you mama in a minute.  But this is breakfast! We gotta start the day with the important stuff.  So, you like baseball?  How ‘bout those Red Sox?”



160: Just Your Average Lad - or Not

Kieron likes to play soccer.
And he also likes to paint.
A sale of his paintings brought $235,000.
This lad is just eight years old.


This eight year old prodigy is being compared to Picasso and Monet.  It stands to reason he'd have some good advice for other aspiring artists.  In a recent interview, Kieron Williamson offered these morsels of artistic wisdom.

"Never give up."

"Cows are the easiest thing to paint. You don't have to worry about doing so much detail."

 "Try and keep your buildings straight."

"And don't do a plain blue sky."

Bravo, Kieron!

This is my entry for Sunday 160, hosted by Monkey Man. Have something you want to say in 160 characters, spaces included? Go tell Monkey Man here.


The Sow's Ear

She sat in the back of auditorium, gnawing her nails to the quick as she watched her classmates take the stage and try out for the 5th grade Spring Concert.  She thought she could sing, but just thinking about auditioning, she could hear her father laugh. 

She knew she was worthless.  He’d told her often enough: hands like a truck driver; legs like a piano stool; and a face you would pay to haunt a house.

Sighing, she wished again she could be a part of it all.  But you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

This was written for Velvet Verbosity's 100-Word Challenge, where the prompt of the week is "worthless." Thanks to LouCeel for providing a home for the challenge here.


Theme Thursday: The Call

Fronds rustling softly
As they answer tropic breezes,
Palm trees wave and beckon:
Come on down! Come on down!


Posted for Theme Thursday, where the prompt is "palm."


The New Consume

I am an e-mail subscriber to the work of Hugh MacLeod, a very creative cartoonist and social commentator. On "Watercooler Wednesday," Hugh offers one of his cartoons for the taking, in return for a link back to his page.  I am delighted to provide that link, and to share this week's cartoon with you.

Because it's good to know you are trendy.

Be sure to visit Hugh. You won't be disappointed.  You can find him here:  Hello from Hugh


Wordless Wednesday: At Race End


To find out what other cameras had to "say," visit Wordless Wednesday.

The Catch

Tommy is a troubled lad.
He cries at night and mopes around all day.
His sister Trudy tries to help with games,
But Tommy just won’t play.

His mom and dad are at wit’s end.
They’ll do anything, they say,
To calm poor Tommy’s troubled soul
And wash his tears away.

Mom and Dad went to their church
And asked Father Smith to pray.
“Please ask God to help our son,”
They plead, faces filled with deep dismay.

And then one day, an angel came
Who said, “I think I have a way.
But there is a catch, you know.
There’s a price you’ll have to pay.”

Tommy’s dad frowned and tugged his hair.
A price! He just couldn’t say okay.
Mom, however, jumped right in
And said “We’ll pay whatever you say.”

One night soon after, The Reaper came
And took poor Tommy’s woes away.
When the children awoke the next morn,
Mom and dad were ashen gray.

“Tommy, lad, and Trudy, dear,”
They heard their mother say,
“Father Smith passed on last night.
Let’s all hold hands and pray.”

Tommy’s folks are filled with grief.
Father Smith was laid to rest today.
Tommy smiled and said a silent prayer
As he dropped a rose on Father’s grave.

This is my entry for 10DOM and One Shot Wednesday


The Next Thing

She takes up the battered old watering can and rains love down upon her thirsty family.  They nod with gratitude as she quenches their thirst, and stand a little straighter, refreshed.

She loves to putter in her garden, but she isn’t very good at it, especially since she’s often too drunk to practice.  But occasionally, still flush with the fervor of her last drink, she sees a picture of a beautiful flower in one of her magazines, and thinks, Oh, how darling. That would look lovely in my garden. 

So she goes out and buys a packet of seeds.  At first, she follows the instructions very carefully.  She prepares a fertile spot for the new addition, and then seed by seed, places them in the ground at just the right depth with just the right spacing. And then she doesn’t. Because, you see, she also has a very short attention span, and she’s out of interest before she’s out of seeds.  She tosses the last handful of seeds willy-nilly at the turned earth, and she’s on to the next thing. 

The next thing might be a pitcher of martinis, or it might be the strawberry seedlings she got from Jackson & Perkins, seduced by the colorfully illustrated and strawberry-scented sales pitch she received in the mail.

And so it goes.

Because flowers and plants are eager to please, they forgive their sloppy beginnings.  They bloom and grow and are swept the mob scene of color and scent that crowds her yard. Pushing and shoving, they riot for her attention.  And when she’s sober and remembers, she gives it, taking up her battered old watering can and raining love down upon them before she’s on to the next thing. 

Written for Magpie Tales.


160: Desire 1, Life 0

Life has a way
Of interfering with Desire.
I want to write a 160 today.
But can’t do one; have to work.
Other deadlines must be met.

Hey look! Surprise! Desire won!


Written for Sunday 160, hosted by Monkey Man.  If you've got something to say in 160 characters (including spaces), come join us!


100 Word Challenge: Adah Aho’doo’nili - The Place Where Two Fell Off

This was written for Velvet Verbosity's 100-Word Challenge, where the prompt this week is "companions." The challenge is hosted by LouCeel here. Thank you, Lou, for your continued efforts to keep the challenge going.

Adah Aho’doo’nili - The Place Where Two Fell Off

In 1805 they came, doing to us what they had done to so many before us. Those who could fight could not, gone to seek the roaming buffalo. We were those left, we women, children, and old men of the tribe.  We huddled in that place that would soon be called Adah Aho’doo’nili by those who would survive us.

Suddenly like a fearful apparition, one was upon me. I spread open my arms, and welcomed him into an eternal embrace. Stepping off into my Fate, I took him with me. Enemies in life, we would forever be companions in death. 

This is a magnificent canyon in Chinle, Arizona called Canyon de Chelly (pronounced canyon da shay).  With the exception of a few years in the 1800s when they were forced off the land, the canyon has been home to the Navajo people.  In 1805, the Navajos were attacked here by Spanish troops.  The Navajos women, children and old men not out on a hunt took refuge in a cave high up in the 1000 ft canyon wall, which was inaccessible from the surface above. The Spaniards rained bullets upon them, and 115 Navajos were killed. A few Spaniards managed to find a way to climb down to reach the natives.  Legend has it that at "Massacre Cave," which the natives call "Adah Aho’doo’nili" or The Place Where Two Fell Off, a Navajo woman grappled with a Spanish soldier. Ultimately she took him over the edge with her, and they fell to meet their deaths.


The Dalai Lama

This is my offering for Friday Flash 55, hosted by the inimitable G-Man at Mr. KnowItAll.

I send thanks to my friend Tracy Harris, an excellent writer, who inspired me with his delightful poem, Laughing Buddha.

And for another lovely Bhuddist-inspired poem, check out Paradoxical Time by Jamie Dedes.

The Dalai Lama

He stands in robes
Of red and gold,
Always cheerful
Eyes a-twinkle.
He looks at peace,
As if he knows
Something unknown
To you and me.

His eyes turn upward
As he listens.
And then he smiles,
Face wreathed in wrinkles.
And he prays aloud
“Ha! Laughing Buddha,
That’s a good one!”

The Dalai Lama


The Sucking Black Hole of Ignorance

One morning last week, the daily broadside spoke sadly
Of another national step toward the yawning abyss.
We follow our leaders and march with blind purpose
To a place where guns, bombs and broken bodies displace
The study of history and sums and the written word.

Billions were committed last week to fighting and killing
In deserts and mountains halfway 'round the globe.
Billions were taken that were earmarked for teachers,
Caretakers of the future leaders we’ll need here at home.
Millions on both sides will suffer the loss.

What kind of thinking can be so misguided
Or so selfish as to think, Hey, I’ve got mine.
I don’t need teachers; what I need are more guns.
Oh, and the power and profits I earn from war
I shudder to think where it will all end.

What has happened to judgment,
To looking ahead, seeing where this path goes?
Where are the people we thought we elected?
Where is the leadership to guide our way safely?
Consumed by the chasm, along with ethics and duty?

What of the day when the educated are no longer with us,
And their educations go to the grave along with them?
What of the day when today’s children are grown
And they can’t add, read and write, or spell worth a damn?
I think of that day, and my heart trembles with fear.


My daughter, Lisa the teacher, commented below. I know you may not have time to read all the comments, and I think it's important that you hear it from one who lives it, so I'm adding it to this post.  (Besides, I'm proud as can be of her!)

OK, Lisa, take it away.

This problem hits me where it hurts. I lost my 'home' in the classroom this past spring. Now I'm on the job hunt to find a new home. There is no where in the world I'd rather be than in a classroom teaching.

It saddened me immensely to hear that so many towns in my state care so little about the education of their future leaders, doctors, caregivers, etc. that they weren't willing to spend a little extra to provide it. It's down right shameful.

A continued decline in education and unthinking politicians... anyone else see a correlation? Seems to me they should be able to look in the mirror, or at each other and see how important a strong education is, but then again...

I can't help but wonder... What will become of our society? Will future historians one day refer to this time period as the Age of Ignorance?

Thanks for posting this, Mom, and for the loan of the soapbox.


8/10/2010 Update: The US Senate and the House of Representatives both passed a bill that will send $10 billion to the States to reinstate laid-off teachers.  According to the National Education Association, this will put 161,000 teachers back to work!    I don't often feel moved to say this, but "Well done, Congress!" 

(Not surprisingly, only two Republican Senators and three US Representatives voted to pass this bill.)

Wordless Wednesday: Bridges of Time

Bridge to Yesterday

Bridge to Tomorrow

 Photo from Nasa

For more profound wordlessness, visit Wordless Wednesday.

Victim of a Cat Burglar

He came in the night, a second story thief
Who robbed me blind as I slept.
He stole all my thoughts till nought was left.
Only when he'd gotten all of value did he leave.

So here I sit, fingers at ready and keyboard at hand,
Searching in an empty head for something to write.
But I now realize a cat burglar took my ideas last night.
And left in their stead only rubbish and junk.

I’m sorry, my friends who’ve come to visit.
The Muse tried her best, but in vain.
As she left, she announced, “I can’t work in a garret
that’s empty. You’re the victim of a burglarized brain.