May 31 2014

sometimes life leaves a
bad taste in your mouth
{story a day}

Myrna Bellweather sank her teeth into the slice of watermelon the aide, that one named Corinne, had set before her. It tasted just the way she thought it was going to: day-old and mushy, and something like biting into water. She pushed the plate away and struggled up out of her chair to head back to her room, muttering to herself as she went.

“Can’t even get a decent slice of watermelon around here.”

Corinne placed her hand on the rail of Myrna’s walker. “What’d you say, Myrna? Where you headed, anyway?”

“I’m going back to my room. The food here sucks.”

Corinne let go of the walker and snorted at the same time. “Fine, go on then, I’ll come fetch you for dinner.”

“My dad grew the best watermelon in Munion County. My mom’s pickled rinds won the blue ribbon at the fair five years in a row. That plateful of air you just set before me is an insult.”

And she headed down the hall, quick, before Corinne could see that she’d worked herself up into a crying jag. The thing was, she knew it wasn’t just this place. Fred had been bringing melon home from the grocery store for years, always thinking he was bringing her a gift, and they all tasted the same way. Empty. Nobody had gardens anymore, and the stuff from the store had been grown a thousand miles away with all the flavor bred out of it in exchange for portability.

Fred had been gone four years now, and that was the last time anyone had brought her a melon, even if it was a tasteless one. Then just last week, Joey had brought her here, to this place. He’d told her it had to be done after she fell getting out of the bathtub, and then he’d sold the house and set her up in this situation he called perfect, and went right on back to Michigan.

Myrna struggled to open the door to her room, which was way too heavy, and shuffled her way over to the big chair by the window. She had a nice view of the parking lot, and she was still surprised by how seldom anyone new pulled up for a visit. She also had a view of the sign out front. Greener Pastures. That still made her laugh every time she sat down, though not in a good way. What kind of a jackass comes up with a name like that for an old folks home?

She sat there for the rest of the afternoon, waiting, though she couldn’t have said for what.

All she could think about was her and Fred out on the boat that one afternoon when they were just teenagers. He kept spitting watermelon seeds in her direction, and she just kept right on pretending to ignore him, turning her face up to the sun like he wasn’t even there.

She wished he was here just now, she’d let him spit all the seeds he wanted, even if they were inside.

Hell, she might even spit some back.


Story A Day: One last story at the end of a month that got away from me. But I enjoyed the process when I could carve out the time for stories.
Today’s prompt was Endings and Beginnings. Which seemed like a fine way to end the month. Thanks so much for reading.





May 29 2014

dew creeps softly
into the forest
of forgiveness

quenching the thirst you have for impossible rivers
carving hunger from hand-picked bones

runner roots spread beneath the blanket you wear
when you can’t bear to see stars touch your skin

earth’s heart beats slowly below your body
bleeding echoes of discarded remembrance

as you press an ear to the pulse of antipathy’s vein
singing softly for razor or retribution

or just one answer in a galaxy of question

dawn always feels like a reprieve of silence
the last inhale of guilt holding on to lost breath

but these tears of tree sap and mountain
climb your sleeve with the tread of expertise

rivulets run rapid in the canyon of clavicle
flooding sound from the cave of the voice you carried

washing stone and pounding words into the stream
of every moment and hour in between

May 27 2014

the luminous dictation
of shadow

is a pernicious master

always telling stories
you wish to be untrue

i live in a glass house
beside an ocean of allegory

the warmth of the sun
burns holes in my persona

the plate i offer is filled
with door-shaped cookies

but just you try and leave
the epochal corner of sanity

i’ve carved in the shape
of false idol altar growth

you’ve no idea how much light
it takes to reveal

the vitiligo that’s running
down your chin like a chink

in the armour of your sentence
and i will keep you here

reshape you with a version
of my own black branched form

feed you wine and golden wafer
from a tray inscribed to say

from the solid root of darkness
you will bloom




Linking in over at dVersePoets for Poetics today, where Anthony
gives us a list of words from which we must use at least five in a poem:
(Messiah, Allegory, Luminous, Plate, Shadow, Door, Persona,
Glass, Vitiligo, Epochal, Pernicious, Warmth)
Join us!



May 24 2014

every word i write
is a letting go

The tiny town I grew up in was home to a fairly large Veteran’s Hospital. We harbored these broken men, gave them nicknames and a wide berth when they passed us on the sidewalk, and, once, when I was 10 or 12, ran away in terror because one of them asked me and my best friend if we wanted to “see something,” and then proceeded to show us without waiting for an answer.

The cops were called and that’s all I know about what happened to the perpetrator.

The “patients” were a part of the fabric of our town, woven in with the rest of us, that All-American cloth worn ever-so-always proudly.

I don’t see those men very often these days, though the hospital is still there, still open, still serving those who have served. Most likely, the majority of them have since escaped the hell of their minds along with the traps of their bodies. Their stories got lost in the shuffle.

These days, we keep our wars more hidden. We take men and women to far off places and change them behind the scenes. They come home quietly if they come home at all, and we melt them back into society with a hush and some pills and a whisper.

We ask them to fit, neatly, back into a puzzle without any pieces.

We forget all the words that are simply too hard to recall.

We wear poppies and beer and barbecue sauce on an apron from yesterday’s pattern.

All this just to say: I remember.

I forget. Remember. Forget again.









May 22 2014

{story a day}

Dear Liza,

There’s a hole in the bucket. I know that doesn’t sound like much of a problem, but the water’s been off for two weeks now because the pipe that burst still isn’t fixed. I’ve been walking down to the spigot at the end of the lane several times a day, just to get the basics taken care of. Trust me when I tell you that nobody wants to be the person who bumps into me on my morning trip, before I’ve had my coffee. Also, I haven’t had a proper bath in 15 days. (Yes, I’m counting.)

Now I have nothing to carry water in. I’ve tried several times, but by the time I get back to the house, most of the water has leaked out, even if I walk as fast as I can. This is ridiculous. You promised you’d have someone here to fix it by last Tuesday. Please advise.



Dear Henry,

I can’t believe you wrote me a letter to tell me there’s a hole in the bucket. Walk your lazy butt down to the store and get yourself a new one. I’ll reimburse you when you pay next month’s rent. Then again, I won’t be holding my breath waiting for that to happen, because you still haven’t paid last month’s. Or the month before that. Maybe instead of spending all your time carrying water, you should think about looking for a job.

By the way, I haven’t sent anyone to fix the pipe yet because Darren broke his collarbone, and Fred’s had the flu. I’m sorry you’re being so inconvenienced, but I’ve got my hands full just now. You should see how much laundry I have to do every day, just to keep up with the twins’ diapers. And that’s not to mention Jordy’s play clothes. Life isn’t easy, that’s a fact. If you want to take a bath you can come over here. I’ve got a stack of ironing piled up to the ceiling, the garden hasn’t been weeded in weeks, and I’m almost out of firewood. A pair of extra hands would come in handy.



Dear Liza,

I’m really sorry to hear about Darren and Fred. I didn’t know you were having so many troubles of your own, sometimes I get to thinking it’s just me that’s miserable, up here on this hill all alone, and everybody else is just peachy. I’ve been thinking of looking for a job, but right now’s not a good time, especially since all my clothes are dirty.

I’ll figure something out about the water, there’s a couple a bowls in the cupboard that might work. Thanks for your kind invitation, but I wouldn’t want to impose on your household and keep you from your work.

And I know just what you mean, I find myself wishing for an extra hand or two often, just think how much easier life would be! Heck, if I had more hands and a couple more buckets, I’d be able to make fewer trips down to that spigot.

Listen to us, just a couple of dreamers.

Anyway, please send someone to fix the pipes when you can, as things are getting a little ripe around here, if you get my meaning.

Dirty Henry


Dear Henry,

You’re not so good at taking a hint are you?

I’ve got two extra buckets here if you want to come and get them. Maybe while you’re at it, you could chop some wood for me and we could deduct some money off your back rent. I gotta tell you though, Fred’s just about had it. Yesterday he told me he thinks you’re a freeloader. And even though I told him not to talk that way about my brother, I didn’t have much to back up my argument, especially after I’d mentioned that you said no when I asked you for some help.

So now I’m just gonna come right out and say it: I’ll be expecting you by Wednesday at the latest. I need help and you need the work. Fred’s still real sick and I’m exhausted. Ain’t nobody going to get to those pipes for a long time. In fact, Fred’s thinking it might be best to just put the old place up for sale, it being more work than it’s worth and all.

Make sure you clear out all the food and close the place up nice and tight before you come, okay? Clean everything up, too, I hate finding a mess when I walk into a place.

Oh, and can you bring granny’s old silver along with you? I think I’m going to take it down to Old Bart’s and sell it off, we sure could use the extra cash right now.

‘Til Wednesday,


Dear Liza,

It pains me to tell you that I took Granny’s silver into town a few months ago. I polished it up real nice before I took it down, and Bart gave me a real good price. I bought myself that nice pair of boots I’d had my eye on for a while, which is a good thing now that I’m doing all this walking back and forth to carry water.

I found a few more bowls, and even an old milk jug, so I’m getting along just fine. I even rigged myself up a little shower with the garden hose and the rain barrel, so you don’t need to worry about me. Tell Fred I said hello, and I hope he’s feeling good again soon. I’ll mention your troubles to old Jakes when he brings me the mail, maybe he’ll know of a girl who could come and help you out for awhile.

But don’t you worry about me, none, I’ll be fine.

Things are good,


Dear Henry,

Well, if that doesn’t just take the cake! Momma always said you were too lazy for your own good, and now I can see she was right.

Just so’s you know, Fred’s feeling better, and tomorrow he’s going to see Mr. Witherspoon about putting Granny’s house up for sale. He’ll be sending you a letter telling you how soon you need to be out. Please make sure the place isn’t a mess, I don’t want to be embarrassed on top of being mad as a hornet.

Oh, and be sure to leave your rent money, plus whatever you made when you sold off Granny’s silver. It says right in her will that the house and everything in it belongs to me.

Just because you already squandered everything Momma left you doesn’t mean you’re gonna live off me and Fred. Don’t write me anymore of your stupid letters, neither. You live less than a mile away. If you got something to say to me, quit being a coward and walk down here and say it to my face.

By the way, George Garrett is coming by tomorrow to fix the pipe. Please throw away that useless bucket.

Have a nice life,


I’ve signed up for A Story A Day’s May challenge, which is to write a short piece of fiction every day. I don’t think I’ll be posting every day, but I will be writing, and I’ll post whatever seems worthy.
The prompt for this was “Write An Epistolary Story.” I have no idea why Liza and Henry popped into my head, except that I used to love that song when I was a little girl. I thought I’d have a little fun with it.










May 20 2014

because spring
sings a sullen song


growing over

the broken places,

with the emphasis

on growth


May 17 2014

{story a day}

You find yourself sitting in a chair at midnight, the tail end of a fire glowing in the woodstove, and you can’t remember how you got there. There was beer and a shot of tequila, toasted to an imaginary clink, and music: Neil Young and the Indigo Girls and then Cowboy Junkies. And tears, there were lots of tears, your head still feels like a lazy balloon, one whose skin has grown too thick for popping.

A throb in your left heel reminds you of the broken teapot, the one that belonged to your grandmother, the tiny shard you’d stepped on despite sweeping the floor three times, the blood, the cursing of a loss you hadn’t known you’d feel, the lack of band-aids in a medicine cabinet that never seemed to hold anything but regret.

The window is open to one of those nights with just the right amount of breeze sliding in through your dirty lace curtains at exactly the perfect temperature, and the only sound is the triple-layered cacophony of frogs having a party down at the swamp. The word raucous keeps pinging through your mind.

You don’t move. Because you know that as soon as you move, something else will go wrong, and then your heart will slide too far to the right and the weeping will begin again. So you sit there, rigid, silent, and let the night air feather your skin. You think about nothing and everything, and after awhile, you can’t tell which is which. The darkness gets darker and you wrap yourself in folds of ink. Words tattoo your skin, news of floods and murder, corruption and deceit, who wore what dress to a party no one’s ever invited to.

And then, you dream. There’s a forest and a radio playing softly, somewhere in the distance of the room you’re still in. The trees disappear, or rather, dissolve into bars. The window shrinks, and moves up the wall before you have time to grab on, and then you can no longer reach the ledge, or see anything but a tiny square of sky.

There’s one star there, peeking in at you, but without companions, you can’t name it. This makes you laugh to yourself. A giggle bubbles up from your belly and you know that if you open your mouth, you will roar.

And then there you are, back in your living room and it’s late enough that the sky is beginning to lighten. You know you should go to bed, but somehow, this night was meant for chair sleeping. Window dreaming. Sob releasing. You shift, slightly, to give the foot you’ve crossed beneath your hips some blood. That tingle, the one that lets you know you’re still alive, rises up through your ankle.

Somewhere far off you hear a robin, pecking at the edges of the sun, trying hard to hurry dawn into dressing. Another day. There’s always one more.

The floor is clean this morning. You think maybe you should scrub it with your tears more often. You love the way it feels beneath your feet.


I’ve signed up for A Story A Day’s May challenge, which is to write a short piece of fiction every day. I don’t think I’ll be posting every day, but I will be writing, and I’ll post whatever seems worthy.
The prompt for this was “second person, awkward.”






May 15 2014

an excerpt
{story a day}

I had lunch with Lettie last week. She called to say she had some news for me, and of course, all kinds of crazy things ran through my head: marriage, pregnancy, illness, moving away. Turns out, she’s writing a book. I never told her how much I always wanted to be a writer. Then again, she never told me she was one.

She and I have always had a rough time of it, right from the start. She was a colicky baby, she didn’t sleep for longer than two hours at a time for the first three months of her life. And she was Jase’s girl right from the start, which I have to admit, I encouraged. Part of me knew that I would never be able to give her, or Rob, what I gave to Sarah. Oh, I love them both just as much as I loved Sarah, but there has always been an empty place in my heart that couldn’t be filled, always a tiny piece I held back, a piece that just wasn’t strong enough to be broken again. Sarah’s place.

But I did my best with Lettie, I did all the things a mother is supposed to do. I read books to her from the day she was born, quit work for awhile to watch her grow, taught her how to plant seeds in spring and make snow angels in winter and what it means to be a woman. I taught her how to stand up for herself. Truth be told, she didn’t really need much help in that department, and I’m glad about that now. That’s how I know she’ll be okay.

From the outside looking in, I was a pretty good mom. From the inside looking out, I was terrified every step of the way, holding my breath in fear and fighting, every day, to keep myself from locking them both in their rooms, just to keep them safe. I did my best to hide my fear, but kids have a way of sensing things, you know? Lettie really took advantage of this when she was a teenager, always mocking me for being over-protective and trying to smother her. She fought hard to get loose from my grip, and she was right. Letting her go out with her friends, to parties, watching her learn to drive, the day she went off to college, these were all times I had to fight myself just as hard as she was fighting me.

I’m sure I drove Jase crazy when the kids were little with my constant checking and double-checking and safety this and safety that and never wanting to let them out of my sight. I didn’t leave them with anyone but my mom until Lettie started school. And I was a complete wreck that first day, waiting for her to get off that bus, I couldn’t wait for her to be back home where I could see her. I’m glad Jase wasn’t around to watch what a mess I was, so paralyzed with fear I sat in a chair the whole time, staring out the window, just waiting for it to be 2:30.

I was a little bit crazy and a lot overprotective, I know this. I knew it even when it was happening, but I just couldn’t help myself. Because I’ve lived the alternative, and I’m pretty sure that no one ever died from being over-protected.

So anyway, Lettie and I went to lunch, and over our big salads and glasses of wine, she tells me she’s writing this book, and she wants to know if I would read what she’s written so far. I thought my heart would burst right then and there, both with pride and honor and also with the secret knowledge that I won’t be around to see how it ends. I almost broke down right then and told her the truth. But I stopped myself just in time, I had to excuse myself and run to the ladies room so I could stuff the words back down my throat, quick. She looked at me funny when I came back to the table, but I told her it was the pills I’m taking, they give me stomach issues sometimes and I never know when it’s coming on.

A little white lie to cover over the black hole of truth. Sometimes, you just have to, and that was one of those times.

She gave me the first few chapters, and I took them home and read them right away. And they were good. Really, really good. So good I had to put them down and walk away a few times because I couldn’t see through my proud mama tears. I was amazed and appalled all at the same time, just knowing I was seeing a side of my tough little girl that I’d never seen before, and that I would never find out what happens to the girl, Jenny, in the story. I have a feeling there’s a lot of Lettie in her, and I wish I could stick around to see more of what’s inside her head and her heart.

But I’m so glad she’s writing. It will give her a distraction. She’s so strong and so smart and I just know that she’ll be the one to help Jase and Rob get through this. Rob’s the one who worries me the most. He’s always been just a tiny bit lost in the world, and I’m not yet sure where he’ll end up. He was the kind of little boy who could break your heart several times a day, just by smiling up at you and reaching for a hug. I saw a lot of Sarah in him from the moment he was born, and at first I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to love him because of it.

But as time went on, I came to adore the little glimpses of her I sometimes caught in a gesture or a smile. And I have to admit, that’s one of the reasons he has always been a little extra-special to me. I tried to never play favorites, but Rob got all the benefits, and I suppose all the drawbacks, of being one step closer to that hidden place in my heart. I didn’t have anything else to hold onto when it came to Sarah, so anything that even vaguely reminded me of her was a gift, one worth clinging to, for dear life.

And that’s exactly what I’ve done all these years. I held on tight to my two babies and my husband and the tiny resurrection their love offered. Somehow, they managed to keep me afloat. And not one of them ever knew how often I cried into my pillow at night.



I’ve signed up for A Story A Day’s May challenge, which is to write a short piece of fiction every day. I don’t think I’ll be posting every day, but I will be writing, and I’ll post whatever seems worthy.
Today’s prompt was “first person.” so I took this as an opportunity to work on my novel in progress, which is written in first person. Above is an excerpt.





May 13 2014

when all is said and done

i want to be left by the side of the road
ash to splash and leave my mark
on the side of each car passing by

or can-kicked down a street
filled with knees and laughing children
my voice fading in the breeze of lost giggles

dust me from your shoes and purse your lips
blow me off the shelf you keep your heart on
toss me out the door with yesterday’s crumbs

i want to be the song you cannot scrape
from the tip of your tongue and the dance
you bobble out when you think no one’s looking

spin spin spin into the white whirl of wind
as it carries scraps from home and everything
gets dropped in the laps of perfect strangers

remember nothing of the spoken and every measure
of the pattern our two heartbeats mixed and
melded and never forget the midnights

we hollowed out with hands digging and feet
kicking life further back down the hill

if you have a box i want you to burn it
sit by the pyre and warm your crackled shins
listen to the howls in the cold dark behind you

and kiss the moon for me, just once
when she comes to light your way



Linking in over at dVersePoets for Poetics today,
Marina asks some questions that will really make you think.
Join us!



May 12 2014

any other name

Janie ran to the phone to call her husband. “Fred, a baby robin fell out of its nest, and I don’t know what to do.”

She’d blurted this out before he’d even had time to say hello, and Fred knew this meant she was all worked up, and what he should do was try and talk her down before things got out of hand. But his boss was standing right behind him, her breathless call had interrupted a heated discussion about a screw-up on a big order for an already impossible to please customer, and he just didn’t have time for one of her episodes this morning.

“Janie, I don’t know the first thing about baby robins and I can’t talk right now. Why don’t you just go back inside, and I’ll see if I can rescue it when I come home for lunch.”

“But Mutt and Geoff are both outside, and I just know they’re going to get it as soon as I shut the door.”

Fred still couldn’t believe he’d let Janie talk him into naming that cat Mutt, and every time she said it, he felt himself wince. Except for when he was in a really good mood, then it made him chuckle a little. But today was definitely a wincing kind of day, and he could see his boss’s reflection in the window separating his office from the warehouse floor, his head cocked his head in Fred’s direction, listening.

“I have to go, honey, I’ll call you back when I get a chance.” And he shut his phone off, quick, before she had a chance to say another word.

“Sorry, Steve, I’m heading down to the floor right now to double-check the status of Paltmeyer’s order. I’ll make sure it’s right this time.”


Janie stared at the phone in her hand, still not believing that Fred had hung up on her like that. But she knew he wouldn’t answer if she called back, he had yelled at her enough times about bugging him at work, and she could tell when he left this morning that it was a grouchy kind of day. Fred had those a lot, and most of the time she just pretended not to notice. It never did any good to mention it anyway, every time she brought it up, he just got grouchier.

She’d left the back door wide open, and could hear the mother robin growing more and more agitated from her perch at the tip of the old white pine, and she looked out to see Geoff belly crawling through the grass, almost close enough to pounce.

“Geoff, no!!” She screamed and ran straight for him, hoping she could put herself between him and the little fledgling, who sat in the grass with his shoulders hunkered down, trying hard to hide himself, and failing.

Geoff turned his big orange head in her direction, and she wagged her finger at him. “Don’t you dare,” she hissed in her meanest kitten mama voice, and he stopped slinking just long enough for her to reach the baby bird, keeping one eye on the cat the whole time.

“Come here, you little monster.” She knew as soon as stepped towards Geoff he would take off running, that was the game he liked to play every night when it was time for the two brothers to come inside.

And she was right, the cat bolted as soon as she made her move, but before her foot even hit the ground, she heard an awful rustling, peeping, screeching sound behind her and turned to see Mutt looking up at her with the baby in his jaws. The mother robin started dive bombing both of them in a frantic attempt to save her baby, and Janie ducked and lunged for the tiger cat all in one motion.

“You little shit, put it down!” But Mutt took off like a shot, down the side yard and across the street into Old Man Waverly’s garden. Still in her slightly see-through nightgown, barefoot, and without even stopping to think, Janie ran right after him, screaming like a banshee and tearing up her legs on the carefully-tended rose bushes circling his house.

Mutt scooted underneath and behind them, and by the time she caught up to him, he was already devouring the tiny bird. She sank down onto the grass, red rose petals strewn all around her, sticking to her legs in the places where blood had started oozing from the scratches.

Dew from the grass soaked right through her nightgown, and she shivered as she sat there whispering, “I’m sorry, Mama, I’m sorry,” again and again and again.

She was still there an hour later when Old Man Waverly came around the corner of the house, pruners in hand.

He reached out and touched Janie’s shoulder, asked if she was alright.


“Fred, you have a call on line three.”

“Christ, Sheila, tell her I can’t come to the phone right now, would you?”

“It’s not Janie, it’s your neighbor, Mrs. Whitcomb. She says you need to get home right away, Mr. Waverly just called the cops on your wife for tearing out three of his rose bushes.”

He sat down at his desk and stared out the window.

“Fred? You still there?”

“Thanks, Sheila. Tell her I’m on my way, okay?”


I’ve signed up for A Story A Day’s May challenge, which is to write a short piece of fiction every day. I don’t think I’ll be posting every day, but I will be writing, and I’ll post whatever seems worthy.
This was a combo of a couple of prompts from the last few days, theme and dialogue.