My Fifteen Minutes

Poets United is a wonderful site for everyone who enjoys reading or writing poetry.  Its community of contributors is so talented.

Unbelievably, Poets United has given me the great honor of interviewing me for their "Life of a Poet" series. (I still have to chuckle at that. Me, a poet!)

The interview was published today, and I'm still blushing a little.  I'm a talker, as many of you might have guessed  My dad used to tell me I'd been vaccinated with a phonograph needle. After reading my interview responses, I'm thinking he was right. Oh, boy, I talked. A lot.

Alas, there goes all the mystery...


The Curious Case of the Brown Shoes

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone*!

So glad you could make it for dinner.

* Including those of you not celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow. 
But don't worry, I made enough for you too.

16 for dinner, one cook
You've got to admit, it's a pretty good excuse!


This is my entry at The Tenth Daughter of  Memory.

Dragons Weep Today

"She first set dragons free on Pern and then was herself freed by her dragons."              - Todd McCaffrey

 (Image of Sad Dragon by Rakaseth on DeviantArt)

The world of science fiction and fantasy writing lost a powerhouse this week. Anne McCafrfrey died on Monday at the age of 85.

Author of almost 100 books, McCaffrey was best known for the Dragonriders of Pern series. During her 46 year career she won a Hugo Award and a Nebula Award.  Her book The White Dragon became the one of the first science fiction novels ever to appear on the New York Times Best Seller List. She was honored by induction into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2006.

1 April 1926 – 21 November 2011
 (Image from numerous sites on Google Images)


Fortune Cookie

Crack the shell of uncertainty,
and peer into the future for answers.
Likely you’ll find none. Besides,
everyone else is still guessing

And most best guesses are wrong.
So, go ahead, take your best shot.
Predict tomorrow, then fuhgedaboutit,
and live your best life today.


I'm bellying up to the bar at dVerse Pub tonight with some of my good blogging buddies. So, set 'em up, Joe. Writing is never a lonely business here.



(Photo from 123RF, Royalty Free Stock Photos, edited)

I called your office one weekend. I knew you wouldn’t be there, but just knowing the phone would ring in your space made me feel closer to you. Your answering machine picked up my call, and I was shocked to hear your voice. Not one of the many layers between us had snagged the call so some self-important guardian at your gate could ward me off. Instead, I heard your voice, filled with warmth and caring. I wondered: how did you know I would call?

Once I knew you were waiting for my call, I punched in your number over and over, and listened to your unspoken words of affection. I called so many times, I could picture the telephone lines between my phone and yours burning up from overuse. With every call, I expected Ma Bell to answer, chastising me with “now you’ve done it.” But you were always there, filled with anticipation. Your voice embraced me, though you concealed your feelings from prying ears with words about office hours and the doctor on call.

That was so many years ago, and I got over you. Sorry. I heard after a while that you and your wife got divorced. By then I didn’t care, but I wondered: how did she know about us? You never did.


ceci est la couleur de mes rêves

(Joan Miró, Spanish, 1893–1983)

this is the color of my dreams.
it's also the color of my mood.
like Joe Btfsplk, I'm being stalked,
your misery blocking my sun.

does it help, I wonder?
do you feel better when I feel worse?
is blue your favorite color?
I prefer yellow myself.


Written for d'Verse, and for my friend who,
like Joe Btfsplk, is being stalked by the gloom.

 (from Li'l Abner by Al Capp)

Shouting Down a Well

It gave me the creeps.  Nodding, the man on the Blasingstoke bus leaned over and said to me, in a tone of complete complicity, “Oh, yes, just like shouting down a well.” I could tell he was thinking, “I know that you know just what I mean.” I didn’t.  But even though I’ve never been sure what that means, I have a pretty good idea.


When I read that Gainsborough Farm in Blasingstoke was for sale, I decided to pay one last visit while I’m still able. I spent many happy days there are a child, and some not so happy ones.

Picking my path through the over-grown puckerbrush carefully, I make my way back to the well that still stands out behind what used to be my great-grandmother’s house on Gainsborough Farm.  It once provided water to my ancestors, but it’s a forlorn orphan now. Surrounded by tall dying grasses and thorny thickets, it’s been neglected by the more recent residents of the house.

The deep hole is covered with a rotting wooden cap. Around it, crumbling stones still support the lichen-covered shakes of the roof, but the bucket that once hauled cold spring water from its depths is long gone.

I haven’t seen the old well since the last time I visited Great-Gamma with my family on Guy Fawkes Day all those years ago. My brothers, Will, a year older – he’s gone now, bless him; Daniel, a year younger; and I: we loved that well. We called it our wishing well.  Despite admonitions to stay away because it was dangerous, at least once a visit to the farm, we’d sneak back there into the thicket. We would stand on the big rock beside the well and hang over the edge in turn to drop a coin, calling down our most sincere wishes before the faint splash of the coin hitting bottom called back in answer.

Not one of those wishes shouted down the well ever came true.  Not even the one that George Fisher would stop tormenting me. No, especially not that one.


George Fisher lived on a farm on Coventry Lane that was next to Great-Gamma’s. I think he was only a little older than I was, maybe a year, but he was much bigger. And ugly.

We only saw each other when I visited Great-Gamma, but I was convinced that he spent the rest of the time dreaming up ways to torture me. He started small. The first time, he jumped out of a bush by the side of the dirt lane when I rode my bike past and scared the living bejeebus out of me. I know that sounds like a little thing, but I was just a little thing myself. Down I went. The fall tore my pants and knee alike. I can still hear George’s taunting laughter ringing out behind me as, limping, I pushed my bike back to Great-Gamma’s, trying hard not to cry.

“He only does it because he likes you, Nessa,” Great-Gamma said soothingly as she cleaned up my knee while I sat on the counter beside the kitchen sink. She gently pressed a plaster over the scrape, and went on. “That’s just how boys are.”

Unfortunately, Bobby and Daniel were sitting at the kitchen table at the time with the remnants of Great-Gamma’s shortbread biscuits and milky tea on the faces. “Georgie loves Nessa. Georgie loves Nessa,” came their annoying sing-song little voices.

I remember thinking, “Ugh.” From that day onward, I always thought of that old nursery song whenever I saw George.

Georgie Porgie, Puddin' and Pie,
Kissed the girls and made them cry,
When the boys came out to play
Georgie Porgie ran away.

Except he didn’t. Run away, I mean. When my brothers came out, they all ran off together to wage war against the Germans at George’s house. And bully George always got to be Montgomery, I’m sure.

Over the next few years, George developed his craft, getting much more creative with his torment. As much as I loved visiting Great-Gamma, I began to dread the inevitable pranks I knew I would suffer at George Fisher’s hand.

The day he laughingly crushed the tiny bird with a broken wing I’d been nursing under his boot, I thought it couldn’t get any worse.

“Oh, you are a right bastard, George.” I cried. “Your day will come. Mark my words.”


I was alone at the well that Guy Fawkes Day. Father had taken Will and Daniel to the Guy Fawkes events in town.  Even though taking our tea at Mrs. Firthingham’s Parlor was enticing, the idea of standing amongst a bunch of rowdies at the bonfire that would go up just after dark put me off.  I decided to stay with my mother at the farm.

I was fourteen that year, and no longer really believed that the wishing well could grant my wishes. I still enjoyed visiting it, though, and that’s what I did that afternoon just before darkness fell. 

“Don’t dally, Nessa,” my mother called as I was crossing the mudroom behind the kitchen. “Tea is almost ready, and besides, it will be dark soon. I don’t want you wandering around back there alone in the darkness. It’s not safe,” she warned.

“Yes, Mum,” I answered, “I’ll be back before full dark.”

I wasn’t worried, though. The path to the well was as familiar to me as the palm of my hand.

When I reached the well, I fished a shilling from my pocket and dropped in down the well.

“Please, I’d like to be pretty,” I called after the coin.

I didn’t wait for the splash to answer me. The echo of my own voice in the well reminded me that wishing wells were childish nonsense. I turned to head back through the gloaming to the farmhouse, looking forward to the lamb I’d smelled roasting before I left the kitchen.

That’s when the answer to my wish reached my ears.


The tramp through the weeds to the well has tired me.

“You old fool,” I grumble to myself as I sit on the big rock along side the well that we used to stand on. “You’re not the young wisp you were back then. What were you thinking, coming back here?”

But I knew what I’d been thinking. I’ve been haunted by that day for sixty years. It's long past time to face the ghosts once and for all, then be done with it.


“Ah, but Fraulein, you’re pretty enough for me.”

Though the accented words had been near whispered, I recognized the voice as being not that of any German.

“Go away, George.”

I made to quicken my step, but he grabbed my arm roughly and spun me round to face him. I was astonished to see him in a cobbled-up approximation of an Army uniform.

“I was just wishing me some fresh Kraut meat,” he leered.

I opened my mouth to scream, but his meaty hand clamped viciously across my lips before I could get a sound out. I wrenched my body frantically, trying to break free of his grasp, but he was too big, too strong. He forced me to the ground, and settled his weight across my chest. His massive thighs pinned my arms at my sides.

With his free hand, George unfastened the broad leather belt at his waist, and pulled it free of his trousers. In short order, he had it wrapped around my head and pulled tight across my open mouth.

“There now, Liebchen,  Let’s eat.” 

Terrified, I thrashed my legs as I struggled for breath, but between his body atop my lungs and the belt in my mouth, I stood no chance. George Fisher was going to kill me, crushing me as surely as he’d crushed that little bird.


The warm sun  drapes gently across my aching shoulders and songbirds call gaily, but I am too far away to notice. I’m on the damp ground on a chilly November night, feeling nothing but the rocks beneath me and the pounding within. Old tears spring into my eyes as I face the demons that my memories have become.


After pushing the front of my sweater up toward my neck, George grabbed the front of my brassiere and ripped it apart as easily as if it were tissue paper. When he leaned forward to feast on my exposed breasts, he lifted enough for me to draw the chilling air into my aching lungs. The stars I’d been seeing receded, leaving me with the loathsome sight of a wild-eyed George reaching for my flesh with his fat tongue. My shame and revulsion, as much as the cold air, made my nipples stand erect, offering themselves to the drooling animal slathering his hunger upon them. 

Leaning back again, he grabbed first one of my hands and then the other, and held them firmly in his left hand. With his right hand, he reached down and fumbled open the zipper on his trousers, releasing his engorged, throbbing penis. The sight of it springing toward me like a viper was disgusting, and I could feel myself begin to gag.

George slid his bulk lower onto my thighs, and reached beneath my skirt with his free hand. He tore my panties free and forced himself into me. Grunting like the rutting pig he was, he pounded, slamming his need into me over and over. With a groan that released his fetid breath into my face, he collapsed onto me. 

The throes of his release brought not only the sticky mess oozing past his now flaccid penis and onto my buttocks, it also cause him to loosen his grasp around my wrists. My hands were free.

I grabbed one of the many rocks scattered around the well, and before he could react, I brought it down with as much force as I could muster against George’s temple. I immediately felt his body go limp, becoming even heavier than before. I pushed him off of me and scrambled out of his reach.


As I wipe away the tears drying on my wrinkled cheeks, I can still feel the pain in my heart and my groin that never went away after that night. I pull myself to my feet, using the side of the old well for leverage and support.  The crumbling wooden cover covering the well moves aside easily, and I look down into depths as dark as my soul.

My voice cracking a bit, I call down my most  sincere wish.

“I wish…”


After undoing the belt and pulling it from my head, I grabbed the side of the well for leverage and support, and pulled myself to my feet. I  never took my eyes from George’s inert form. My soul was filled with hatred for the bully who had taken such pleasure in my anguish.

I pulled my destroyed brassiere and panties free and threw them down the well beside me, sending the belt down after them.  Then I straightened my clothing and brushed the dirt and leaves off as best I could. With a last look at George, sprawled on the ground beside the well, I ran through the dark toward the farmhouse.

When I walked into the kitchen from the mudroom, my mother and Great-Gamma gasped at the sight of me.

“Nessa!  What happened?”

Looking down at myself in the light, I saw that my clothes were filthy, and I had a little blood on my leg.

“I, uh, fell. You were right, Mum. It’s dangerous out there after dark.”  Then I hurried upstairs and scrubbed the stench of George Fisher from my body.

The next day, they found George, hanging in the well, suspended from the rope that usually supported the water bucket.  He was dressed in his General Montgomery costume.

His distraught mother told the constable that he’d never come home the day before. “He said he was going out to fight the Germans.”


I clear my throat, and start again in a stronger voice.

“I wish,” I call down the well, “you hadn’t killed yourself, Georgie Fisher. I’m sorry you did that.”

I pause and feel a burden lift from my soul. Even if I am wasting my breath shouting down a well, I feel better.

“But I’m not sorry you’re dead. No, not sorry at all."


Written for The Tenth Daughter of Memory.



beneath the waning
lie echoes of the young
heart beating, thrumming
with yearning, passion
once strong and heady, now
gone the way of the forgotten
green shoots of promise.


Happy Recipient of The Everyday Goddess'

Goddess Award


Grand Avenue

(Photo from WikiMedia Commons)

The distance between then and now isn’t very far at all.

It’s about the same as it is between here and there, exactly the width of Grand Avenue. Despite its grandiose name, Grand Avenue is nothing special, just another pot-holed street crisscrossed with trolley tracks. But this morning, as organ notes drift through the cold air, people sitting at their breakfast tables on both sides of Grand Avenue are reminded just how far away the other side is.

This was supposed to be a better place. That’s what Mama and Pa always told us. We weren’t born yet, me and Eddie, when Mama and Pa came to America. When they left Ireland, they’d been married just a few months and Mama was pregnant with Eddie. She was bound her son wasn’t going to be born over there. Her pa died in the street from an IRA bullet, and no child of hers was going to suffer that fate.

First chance they had, Mama and Pa left Belfast and came to America, anxious to put an ocean between them and the fighting.  After growing up with a war that seemed like it would never end, Mama was certain that life in America would bring a grand new beginning.

I guess she never expected to find another war in America.

My name is Rose, but Eddie always calls me Rosie. Eddie’s my big brother. That’s him, up there at the front.

I don’t understand how this can be, what happened to bring him to this place. I asked Mama, and she tried to explain it to me, but I don’t think she really understands it either.

And when I asked Pa, his face got all red and he muttered low, hoping nobody would hear him, “Damn fool boy, got us all messed up over cheap dago tail.” Mama heard it, though, and whacked him a good one. After that, Pa wouldn’t talk to me about it all.

It all started when Eddie met Anna.  Anna Monteleone, along with all the other Italians in our neighborhood, lived on the wrong side of Grand Avenue. 'Course, nobody on our side of Grand calls them that.  They’re dagos or maybe wops.  Most of all, they’re the enemy.

Maybe it isn’t the same as the fighting back in Belfast, but to me, it seems like a war just the same. Men from both sides, Irish and Italian, band together and strut around like little tin soldiers, more bravado than brains. I don’t know what started it all, but eventually it got to be all about crime and money. Bookmaking, drugs, hijacking, robbery... They’re all fighting for control: control of the mob and control of illegal ways to make an easy buck. Pa said one time that Joe Kennedy was the master. He made a fortune as a bootlegger during Prohibition and ended up as the President’s father.

Far as I know, Eddie stayed out of it.  My brother wasn’t dumb. He knew if he messed with the mob, Mama would turn him over to Father Flanagan. And when Father Flanagan was done with him, he’d probably turn Eddie over to his brother Jimmy, who was a cop.

Then Eddie met Anna. When he first saw her at the Woolworth’s lunch counter, where she worked weekends, he didn’t know where she lived or that she was one of them.  I think all he knew was that she was real pretty.

Like I said before, he wasn’t dumb. I’m sure Eddie realized soon enough that he had wandered into a minefield.  But I’m also sure he didn’t care because, soon enough, he was in love with her. He told me that he was going to marry Anna Monteleone someday.

Before long, like it or not, he was in it up to his eyeballs. Anna had brothers. And her brothers had friends. One of them caught Anna and Eddie in the back seat of his car, parked out behind one of the warehouses on Fort Point Channel.

That night, late, Eddie came home all beat up. I was already asleep upstairs, but not for long.  I awoke to the sound of Pa’s angry voice. Mama quieted him down pretty quick, but not before I heard him yell, “I warned you, Eddie, didn’t I?  That’s what you get for thinking with yer Mickey.”

The next day, when he'd calmed down a bit, I heard Pa tell Eddie that he’d see to it that those goombahs were taught a lesson.

After that, Pa started spending more time up at O’Malley’s and Mama’s lips got tighter.

Early one Saturday morning a few weeks later, just after the Feast of San Gennaro, Michael Pino’s body was found in the dumpster behind Mariano’s Liquor Store. Eddie never said, but I think that was one of the guys who beat him up over at Fort Point Channel.

Jimmy Flanagan and another cop came to our house after they found the body and questioned Eddie. I was pretty scared, but when Eddie told them he was working at O’Malley’s the night before, it was okay. Jimmy Flanagan kissed Mama’s cheek and shook Pa’s hand, just like he always did, and then they left.  

Even though it wasn’t even lunch time yet, Pa had a drink. And Mama started crying.
Eddie started to change that day. He got kind of cold and hard, somehow. I guess war will do that to you. And it will also kill you, like it killed Eddie.

It wasn’t just Eddie who died that day. He and Anna were going to run away, and when the car blew up, they were both in it. There’ll be another funeral soon, down in the Flats on the other side of Grand Avenue.  

The distance between here and there isn’t very far at all. It’s about the same as it is between dead and alive, exactly the width of Grand Avenue. As the organ at St. Francis falls silent, those on both sides of Grand Avenue know the journey to the other side is one that’s just too far to make.

My name is Rose, but Eddie always called me Rosie. Eddie is my big brother. Was. Was my big brother. That’s him, up there at the front. The one in the casket.