Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Gift Tag

image borrowed from bing

The Gift Tag

Digging through my closet
which at this time looks like
a North Pole bomb shelter

I find an old gift bag
the word “Believe” in gold glitter
radiating from its core
with a tag made out to me
from you
your husband
and each child’s name included
the entire family unit
now blown up
by infidelity and lies
that the change of life ignites

those dreadful hormones
make Sybil seem real
cuz it must be another persona
making you act so POssessed

and this year the tag will say from you
without them
on a crumpled used up bag
you threw the last minute gift in
probably another purple shirt
that means nothing to me

where is this secret closet shelf
you’ve created, walked down from
with ilLUSionary dreams of pumpkin pie?

yet I still believe in miracles
and hope this year
you’ll see the glitter of love
abandon the self-imposed war
you’ve created
and come back to us

@laurie kolp

Posted over on her site Bird's Eye Gemini
Listed as #16 over on dVerse Poets--Open Link Night 23

After the Party

"muhler com sax"
image borrowed from bing

After the party

think i prefer urban ugliness
to sunsets over candy-coated landscapes,
mainly because it feels familiar and it fits
the stage i‘m in, a life pinned
to a fallen world, wearing borrowed dresses &

i leave the christmas party late– in the bagnio
opposite the road, peak period, they try
to buy what you can‘t really sell and
in the clouds, blown into night air i

still see them, even if it’s hours back,
eight hundred employees, giving tribute to
the founder’s widow, sitting small & humble
in a wheelchair and i‘m close enough to
see her tears, maybe she‘d love to
trade our long applause for a ride back
on the time machine, to the moment
when their eight child started walking,
the first kiss or when he said, he’d start
this business, brought her scarlet roses
& i’m wondering

how many of the real important things
in life happen on stages or in board rooms,
parliaments and wars– and how much in the
places no one sees except the actors,
lying bent into each other– passing

empty windows, nightly roads shine winter wet,
my feet hurt badly from the heels i wear, one hand
on my sax, the other on the steering wheel,
(just metaphorically) i am frozen to the core

& reaching home i find a yellow post it on
the bedroom door, saying „you can wake me
if you want“, i pause a second– & again i see
her eyes, empires built with blood & sweat
on human flesh, then

slowly let my coat glide to the floor,
place the sax case next to it, countless threads
weave odd, unordered patterns in my head and
stepping from the shade, i cautiously undress
into his warmth


claudia shoenfeld

Posted over on her site Jaywalking the Moon
Listed as #8 over on dVerse Poets-Open Link Night 23

Are We There Yet?

painting by jason-cao

Are We There Yet?
Are We There Yet?

Since time began, man sought the stars,
once as gods then for life on other planets,
in our universe & without

without much luck, so we turned to building blocks
that make it sustainable


and search surfaces for beds were rivers
once ran and now sleep, dormant, but

when we find it you can be guaranteed
our curiousity for little green men will be over-
run with the need for

water fountains
& toilets

rest stops to the stars in our endless quest
to obtain more, i mean imagine going on vacation
and you are barely passed Saturn, kids screaming,
fear gripping your innards at the thought
of a million golden balls of urine ricocheting off
the walls of your ship in zero g, and knowing
it's light years to next rest stop

trust me, growing up, my sister
would not have made it out of orbit,
but this is not about Mars and Venus bladder sizes
but Uranus---or our anus
and propensity to deficate our own planet
as an expense of today, despite future indebtedness

so mr or missus spaceman you might want to invest
in a better cloaking device, or start cutting down
all your trees pre-emptively to mass produce
toilet paper because we


and've flipped the script on Orson Welles
and won't be asking to see your leader, but take us
to your natural resources

and don't expect a kiss as we take off, and yell
"So long and thanks for all the fish!"

Brian Miller

Posted over on his site Way Station One
Listed as #15 over on dVerse Poets--Open Link Night 23

This Night

digital collage "Christmas Tear" by Rob Kistner

This Night

brushed my shoulder on this morning’s train
then at the market it was there again

while in line to get my breakfast tea
from our favorite table it beckoned me

walking through the festive mall
saw it amble past then out of sight
I swear I saw it fleeting fall
upon the gifts I did not wrap this night

upon the tree I did not decorate
the greeting cards I did not write
in frail voice I chastise fate
no carols to sing upon this night

this season I see it everywhere
the shadow of your love
elusive as a shopper’s smile
caught up in the crush and shove

but soon I’ll catch and hold it close
warmly to my breast
it will sweetly fill my heart
lay soft with me this midnight rest

for it returns this night each year
the same night you went away
in dreams you kiss away each tear
touch my lips that beg you stay

taken from my life in sleep
gone without a last goodbye
as we dreamed at midnight deep
each year I weep and wonder why

but this year I’ll not awaken blue
in the end an easy thing to do

this night I’ll make our dreams come true
this midnight deep – I will come to you
• • •
rob kistner © 2011
** *
…as you read this Christmas poem, with its taste of bittersweetness, see it not in a dark light — but rather, embrace it as a tale of a long-awaited journey, to be with the one beloved…

Posted over on his site Image and Verse

Zombie Prince

image borrowed from bing

Christ, is this the reason
for the season?

I Leave Traces Like You

image borrowed from bing

i leave traces like you

i leave traces like you
wouldn’t believe –
a mug on the kitchen
counter, an uncapped
pen between silent
pages, a receipt
for sheet music
tucked in my Spring
coat pocket – when
pressed for time, i
am a bookmark
handholding the
story until it’s
ready to move on

Yi Ching Lin

Posted over on her site Yi's Bits

There is a Version

image by yi ching lin

there is a version


there is a version
of being cornered
that looks like letting
your hair down.
it comes
with basic
squirming, a bit
of flailing, and
finally, a slow
slide into the
arctic waters –
seen it. it’s
the one where they
cut to the scene of
a lone ice floe
bobbing for balance
while the kill has
just begun

Yi Ching Lin

Posted over on Yi's Bits

The Moment Before

image by yi ching lin

the moment before

the moment before
the moment before, i
am a shade of
myself, waiting for
the subtleties to
catch up, for a
douse of
color here. i am
lightly touching
each thread of
stimuli, adjusting
the response,
fingering the
flavor – there is
a general belief
that the heartthrob
requires a
little stroking

Yi Ching Lin

Posted over on her site Yi's Bits

Held For a Fraction

smear image by yi ching lin

held for a fraction

held for a fraction
longer, i am a slow
extension of
myself, allowing
you to catch
brief flashes of
me, unprepared,
an obvious blur

Yi Ching Lin

Posted over on her site Yi's Bits

Monday, December 19, 2011

Kalakala Adventure

Image by Glenn Buttkus

What an adventure. I got on line and found the location over at the tide flats in Tacoma, then got out a city map and took off to get some images of her before she left for good. I could see her from the road, but could not get close to the private dock. Poking around the factories, I found three vantage points to shoot her from, the last one being right next to it.


I saw her a few times before they retired her, a queen
of the Washington State Ferry system. She was sold for
$135,000.00 six years ago, and docked in Tacoma along
the Hylebos Waterway. But now she is listing
and sinking, and becoming a shipping hazard; breaking
pilings, groaning. So I saw on the news this morning
that she was sold for one dollar, and someone is hauling
her off for restoration. Hope the old gal makes it.

Sea Cliffs

Illustration by Tera Zajack

Sea Cliffs

One-eyed Edward did not want
to look off the cliffs; his vertigo tinkled
like a rash on his fuzzy cheeks.

Suzanne stood transfixed, staring
at the two dozen gulls performing
aerobatics, like a twisting feathered helix
just above the perfect mirror of a calm sea.

She could see the ruins of Hogshead Lighthouse
off to her right shining white in the sun shaft,
and the great silver zeppelin the prince used
to enjoy his future domain, hovering just above it,
as a summer storm brewed on the southern
horizon, boiling up tall thunder clouds
just for them.

She knew that her mother was calling,
that she should return to the cottage,
but still she lingered, wondering
if Captain Zachary would appear again
to brighten her morning.

Glenn Buttkus

December 2011

Listed as #56 over on Magpie Tales 96

Would you like to hear the author read this poem to you?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Earth Your Dancing Place

image borrowed from panhala

Earth Your Dancing Place

Beneath heaven's vault
remember always walking
through halls of cloud
down aisles of sunlight
or through high hedges
of the green rain
walk in the world
highheeled with swirl of cape
hand at the swordhilt
of your pride
Keep a tall throat
Remain aghast at life

Enter each day
as upon a stage
lighted and waiting
for your step
Crave upward as flame
have keenness in the nostril
Give your eyes
to agony or rapture

Train your hands
as birds to be
brooding or nimble
Move your body
as the horses
sweeping on slender hooves
over crag and prairie
with fleeing manes
and aloofness of their limbs

Take earth for your own large room
and the floor of earth
carpeted with sunlight
and hung round with silver wind
for your dancing place

~ May Swenson ~

(Nature: Poems Old and New)

Posted over on Panhala

This Only

image borrowed from panhala

This Only

A valley and above it forests in autumn colors.
A voyager arrives, a map leads him there.
Or perhaps memory. Once long ago in the sun,
When snow first fell, riding this way
He felt joy, strong, without reason,
Joy of the eyes. Everything was the rhythm
Of shifting trees, of a bird in flight,
Of a train on the viaduct, a feast in motion.
He returns years later, has no demands.
He wants only one, most precious thing:
To see, purely and simply, without name,
Without expectations, fears, or hopes,
At the edge where there is no I or not-I.

~ Czeslaw Milosz ~

Posted over on Panhala

Texas Christmas

Image by Jannie Funster

And here is Miss Kelly,
getting in a festive mood
in Austin, posing by a
giant agave.

Autumn Quince

image borrowed from panhala

Autumn Quince

How sad they are,
the promises we never return to.
They stay in our mouths,
roughen the tongue, lead lives of their own.
Houses built and unwittingly lived in;
a succession of milk bottles brought to the door
every morning and taken inside.

And which one is real?
The music in the composer's ear
or the lapsed piece the orchestra plays?
The world is a blurred version of itself --
marred, lovely, and flawed.
It is enough.

~ Jane Hirshfield ~

Posted over on Panhala

The Chance

image borrowed from panhala

The Chance

The blue-black mountains are etched
with ice. I drive south in fading light.
The lights of my car set out before
me and disappear before my very eyes.
And as I approach thirty, the distances
are shorter than I guess? The mind
travels at the speed of light. But for
how many people are the passions
ironwood, ironwood that hardens and hardens?
Take the ex-musician, insurance salesman,
who sells himself a policy on his own life;
or the magician who has himself locked
in a chest and thrown into the sea,
only to discover he is caught in his own chains.
I want a passion that grows and grows.
To feel, think, act, and be defined
by your actions, thoughts, feelings.
As in the bones of a hand in an X-ray,
I want the clear white light to work
against the fuzzy blurred edges of the darkness:
even if the darkness precedes and follows
us, we have a chance, briefly, to shine.

~ Arthur Sze ~

(The Redshifting Web)

Posted over on Panhala


image borrowed from panhala


After three days of steady rain -
over two inches said the radio -
I follow the example of monks
who write by a window, sunlight on the page.

Five times this morning,
I loaded a wheelbarrow with wood
and steered it down the hill to the house,
and later I will cut down the dead garden

with a clippers and haul the soft pulp
to a grave in the woods,
but now there is only
my sunny page which is like a poem

I am covering with another poem
and the dog asleep on the tiles,
her head in her paws,
her hind legs played out like a frog.

How foolish it is to long for childhood,
to want to run in circles in the yard again,
arms outstretched,
pretending to be an airplane.

How senseless to dread whatever lies before us
when, night and day, the boats,
strong as horses in the wind,
come and go,

bringing in the tiny infants
and carrying away the bodies of the dead.

~ Billy Collins ~

(Sailing Alone Around the Room)

Posted over on Panhala

The Way In

image borrowed from panhala

The Way In

Sometimes the way to milk and honey
is through the body.
Sometimes the way in is a song.
But there are three ways in the world:
dangerous, wounding, and beauty.
To enter stone, be water.
To rise through hard earth, be plant
desiring sunlight, believing in water.
To enter fire, be dry.
To enter life, be food.

~ Linda Hogan ~

(Rounding the Human Corners)

Posted over on Panhala

The Good Son

image borrowed from bing

The Good Son

If God had come to me and said,
if you are willing to forget your self

you will find the cure for heart attacks and compose
the greatest symphonies,

I wouldn't have been sure of my answer.
Because there wouldn't have been enough

attention to my suffering. And that's unforgivable.
But I keep on forgiving myself

with God's love. And it's strange I should say this
because my mother died of a heart attack

after months in a hospital room full of a silence
that lodged itself like a stone in her throat.

And she thought I was wonderful

and would do anything for her.

Jason Shinder

Posted over on the Writer's Almanac
"The Good Son" by Jason Shinder, from Stupid Hope

The Words "Christmas in the"...

image borrowed from bing

the word christmas in the

the words christmas in the
air has a way of slicing
through time, parting
the fruit always
so that there is room
enough for you and i
to lean in, identify
and claim
each fibrous memory

Yi Ching Lin

Posted over on her site Yi's Bits

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Grand Old Theater

Image by Glenn Buttkus

A grand old theater
welcomed me to park
beside it.

A Peekaboo Tower

Image by Glenn Buttkus

A peekaboo tower
dared me to capture
its image.

The Bell Tower Stood

Image by Glenn Buttkus

The bell tower stood
silent, save for the
softest gregorian hum.

It Can Be A Challenge

Image by Glenn Buttkus

It can be a challenge
to get the time of day
from this clock.

Life in a Lava Field

Image by Glenn Buttkus

Life in a lava field
interjects joy into
an ashen landscape.

The Studded Twins Were

Image by Glenn Buttkus

The studded twins were
brought out prior to
the first ice storm.

Closed Up Now, It's

Image by Glenn Buttkus

Close up now, it's
too late to enter
and order some pie.

Joy in Oklahoma

image borrowed from bing

Joy in Oklahoma

We human beings are faced with all kinds
of tests in this world.
We don’t always understand them.
There are some things
that take an eternity to understand.

There has never been any doubt as to my mother’s love,
and I have to believe that the love of the Creator
(who is not invested in any religious affiliation)
remains steadfast and center to any path,
to any endeavor begun with the intent
to bring kindness to the world,
though sometimes it may seem otherwise.

We may not understand the why
of the injustice
of the bloodshed,
the forced move far away from our beloved lands,
but we are in a story that winds through eternity.
And we are still standing together.

I needed the people that afternoon.
I was fresh with grief
from my mother’s passing from this world.

I felt the memory of the people
as it lives in our bones.
I renewed my promise to carry my part
of the story home the best way possible.
This is home. This is what home means.

Joy Harjo

Written in Tulsa recently.
Posted over on her site Poetic Adventures in the Last Word Blog


image borrowed from bing


I … simply repeated to myself
“Nothing can be reduced to anything else,
nothing can be deduced from anything else,
everything may be allied to everything else.”
This was like an exorcism
that defeated demons one by one.

It was a wintry sky, and a very blue.
I no longer needed to prop it up
with a cosmology, put it in a picture,
render it in writing, measure it
in a meteorological article,
or place it on a Titan to prevent it
falling on my head.

It and me, them and us, we
mutually defined ourselves.
And for the first time in my life,
I saw things unreduced and set free.

Bruno Latour

Poted over on Poems and Poetics

On Vicarious Causation

image borrowed from bing

“On Vicarious Causation”

Mindless atoms and billiard balls.
Autistic moonbeams entering the window
of an asylum.

Fire and cotton.
A hailstorm smashes vineyards,
or sends waves through a pond.

Human consciousness
is on exactly the same footing
as the duel between
canaries, microbes, earthquakes, atoms, and tar.

Resume the offensive by reversing
our curfew in an ever-tinier ghetto
of solely human realities:
language, texts, political power.

Mailboxes, hammers, cigarettes, and silk garments.
We need an everyday relationship with leopards or acids
before staring at them
or developing a science of them.

Yet the tribesman who dwells with the godlike leopard,
or the prisoner who writes secret messages in lemon juice,
are no closer
to the dark reality of these objects
than the scientist who gazes at them.

Dogs do not make contact
with the full reality of bones,
and neither do locusts with cornstalks,
viruses with cells,
rocks with windows,
nor planets with moons.

A strange new realism
in which entities flicker vaguely
from the ocean floor:
trees, mailboxes, airplanes, and skeletons
lie spread before us.
Real zebras and lighthouses
withdraw from direct access.

Corrosive chemicals lie side by side in a bomb –
separated by a thin film eaten away over time,
or ruptured by distant signals.

We are always conscious of something,
always focused on a particular house, pine tree,
beach ball, or star.
The pine tree stands in relation
to neighboring trees, mountains, deer, rabbits,
clouds of mist.

How do sensual objects manage to couple and uncouple
like spectral rail cars?
A metaphysics of artworks, the psyche, and language,
and even of restaurants, mammals, planets, teahouses,
and sports leagues.
Philosophy clearly differs from activities
such as singing and gambling.

I may be sincerely absorbed
in contemplating glass marbles
arranged on the surface of a table:
this austere, Zen-like spectacle.
The glass marbles themselves
are sincerely absorbed in sitting on the table,
rather than melting in a furnace
or hurtling through a mineshaft.
The marbles are sincerely absorbed with sensual objects.

If we carefully frame the marbles
with bookends or melted wax,
if we heat the tabletop,
or render its surface sticky or granulated
by pouring different materials nearby,
the final question is whether the marbles
can make a distinction
between the table and
its hardness, levelness, solidity,
and lack of perforation.

We do not step beyond anything,
but are more like moles
tunneling through wind, water, and ideas
no less than through speech-acts, texts,
anxiety, wonder, and dirt.
We do not transcend the world, but only descend
or burrow towards its numberless underground cavities –
each a sort of kaleidoscope
where sensual objects spread their colours
and their wings.

Human mortality is just
one tragic event among trillions of others,
including the deaths of house pets, insects,
stars, civilizations,
and poorly managed shops or universities.

An archipelago of oracles or bombs
explode from concealment
only to generate new sequestered temples.
New objects, however, are the sole and sacred fruit
of writers, thinkers, politicians, travelers, lovers,
and inventors.

Until now, aesthetics
has generally served as
the impoverished dancing-girl of philosophy–
no gentleman would marry her,
but all admire her charms.

Graham Harman

Posted over on Poems and Poetics

Shoveling Snow

image borrowed from bing

Shoveling Snow

If day after day I was caught inside
this muffle and hush

I would notice how birches
move with a lovely hum of spirits,

how falling snow is a privacy
warm as the space for sleeping,

how radiant snow is a dream
like leaving behind the body

and rising into that luminous place
where sometimes you meet

the people you've lost. How
silver branches scrawl their names

in tangled script against the white.
How the curves and cheekbones

of all my loved ones appear
in the polished marble of drifts.

Kirsten Dierking

Posted over on the Writer's Almanac
"Shoveling Snow" by Kirsten Dierking, from Northern Oracle.

And Just Around This

image borrowed from bing

and just around this

and just around this
corner, a thoughtless
campaign aimed
vicariously towards
the swore-to-quits –
a toast, my eyes
are up here

Yi Ching Lin

Posted over on her site Yi's Bits

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

from "The Gorky Variations"

painting by guangjian huang


Variation One

The Pirate

draws blood from stone
or brilliance
that a paper bag

men on a journey
who can spy
their lord
in stones & rocks

their eyes askew
grown blue & hard
like glass or ice
lose colors

pale or shining
silver as the sea
might look from heaven
robots riding high

another journey starts
the pilgrim
like an iron man
breaks thru the snow

the lord’s flag
rises overhead
above the garden
laughter rises too

a voice calls
from a paper bag
blue snow
cold iron

ice within an inch
of where they wander
stone & iron
sounding in a dream

at the moment when he rose
the sand turned gold
then green
then gold again

the grey light
made the gold grow pale
the world absorbed it
locked in a cabinet

so many centuries
of growth
illumined by a candle
bound by iron wires

grains of light

how jewish is it
where the women
hold up candles
cash old clothes

where jews look out
beneath creased eyebrows
squeeze bent keys
against the corpse’s throat

laughter carried by
the wind a tongue
that wags & ceases
overcome by sleep

his heart has skipped
a beat his hair
bound by a string
falls to his chest

over the dead we place
an awning
flowers all around
no cash at hand

the system fails
& falters
leaving a smell behind
stale odors

basket like a casket
where the body lies
old hands old fingers
jews & phantoms

a store awash with
phantom jews

open the door & let
the sun flood in
& bathe the little town
inside its shell

the heaviness of dreams
at first a trickle
swells & overwhelms
the sleeper

a body without
air & water
cannot live or thrive
nor can a forest

inside a shell
glass skews the light
each man a refugee
entombed in water

water fills their eyes
when light dies out
the false excursion ends
the air aflame

sight lost forever
in the sudden heat
men die from
specks of light

inside the shell

Jerome Rothenberg

Posted over on his site Poems and Poetics

Testimony: Part Two

Painting by Kathryn Renee

Testimony: Part Two

The Howling

When I was fourteen or so, my mother started having fits of dementia, brought on by Huntington's disease. The fits started with her moaning as though she were in great pain. None of us could figure out what was causing it. She was more or less healthy, aside from the obvious. The first time was at night. She started howling around two a.m. My older brother and I were home and both came running to find my father sitting on the edge of the bed holding her hand, perplexed. Eventually, she fell back asleep.

It was a haunting noise. Inhuman and suffering, it sounded like a damned soul in some Bosch painting. It lasted for a few weeks and then just as suddenly stopped. We couldn’t find anything wrong. Neither could the nurses who came to check on her. We decided it was a phase.

She had several phases. Early on, she ate onions with everything. Onions with peanut butter, onions in her ice cream, she would cut a whole onion up and eat it raw. During another phase she watched the local ABC affiliate on TV exclusively, which was broadcast from the same town where she’d gone to college. She would get out of bed, turn on the TV and stare. Once, the antenna went out, and we couldn’t get reception for a couple days. On these days she would rise, turn on the TV and stare at the static for a few moments, then turn it off and go back to bed. I once tried to change the channel, and looked up to find her charging me like an enraged bull, her walker swinging after me as she pushed me out of the way. This was more surprising than painful, and after she changed the channel back, she sat back down and proceeded to stare out the window.

The moaning phase was the most disturbing, though. I couldn’t stand it because there was no way to appease her. She howled until her voice gave out or she fell asleep. Whenever it started, I left. Sometimes she stood at the door, her moans echoing out over the hills. Coming home from school, I stood at the bottom of the hill, staring up at our house, dreading what I might find inside.

One Saturday, I left her standing at the door, until she finally gave up and went back to watching TV. I was walking down the hill from my house when I came upon my cousin.

My cousin, one of the ones I'd gone to the Baptist church with, had heard the call and was to become a preacher. In going to youth group, I’d always felt uncomfortable around him. I viewed him as my better, because of the call, and in general because he was older and his family was more well-off. But his apparent sincerity was embarrassing, like a religious hall monitor, or the kid left in charge of taking down names when the teacher steps out of class.

His mother rented out a trailer on a plot of land just down the hill from my father’s house, though it was vacant at the time. It was part of the family land, an area consisting of stock ponds, pasture for cattle, and steep ridges that I liked to walk.

He was coming out of the trailer, which they were remodeling for a new tenet, when I met him.

“How are you?” he asked. "Haven't seen you in church lately."

Maybe he saw it in my eyes, but obviously I wasn’t doing well. He reached into
his car and pulled out a Bible.

“You know," he said, "even if it seems like no one else does, Jesus loves you. You have to accept Jesus into your heart. That way, nothing can hurt you. Nothing is stronger than our savior.”

I was shocked that he would preach to me, but at the same time, he struck a chord. Maybe this was what that whole religion thing was about, I thought. I had been going to church all my life, but I hadn't really ever felt anything spiritual. In Sunday school, I was much more afraid of the preachers' wives than of hell. And in church proper, I was mostly just bored, and a lot of what the preacher said seemed not only dense, but insincere. More often than not, they talked about tithes and how we should give money. Everything else seemed to be an abstraction I couldn't get my head around. I didn't see how any of it applied to the real world. It had never touched me.

My cousin talked to me about the story of Job, and said that sometimes God tests us; sometimes we have to suffer, but it doesn't mean that He isn't there, watching out for us. My eyes began to tear. It made sense to me. I understood, suddenly, what I was supposed to have been feeling all those Sundays.

As my cousin talked, I felt something open up inside me like a cramping muscle suddenly loosening. All of the neglect, the frustration, the anger, the unfairness of my life flowed out of me.

“Will you accept Jesus into your heart?” he asked.

I could hear the water of the stock pond lapping against its banks behind us. A train passed on the far side of the pasture. It was like the whole world was listening.

“Yes,” I said, staring into his face.

“Will you accept Jesus into your heart?”


“Then be saved.”

I felt a warmth enter my body, replacing the void left by the exit of my anger, my
fear. A smile spread over my face and I no longer felt the tears on my cheeks. Everything was warm and safe. Everything was going to be all right.

He talked to me for fifteen minutes or so and then looked at his watch.

“I have to go. It was good talking to you, Cortney. You should come to worship with us tomorrow,” he said.

"I will," I said, as he got in his car.

What a good preacher he’ll be, I thought. I felt better than I could remember
feeling. Jesus. Jesus would help me. I started back up that steep hill.

I felt strangely content as I climbed. I almost looked forward to going back home, helping Mom until my father came home. This was how I was supposed to feel, at least, and I tried very hard to feel it. I knew that it would be well after dark before my father stumbled in drunk. Who knew when my brother and sister would show up. But Jesus would be there.

Mom was getting worse and worse. She’d been falling down for no reason lately, her muscle coordination less and less reliable. She hadn't left the house in months. She could hardly do for herself anymore. Lots of days, if it wasn’t for me cooking, she wouldn’t have anything to eat. Life was getting hard, and it was turning me bitter. I begrudged her the time I had to spend caring for her. I hated being left there, alone with her, and I felt guilty for my ill feelings towards her. And friends? Try bringing someone into the house who didn't have to be there. See what he would think of us. The last one lasted for a little over an hour before she chased him out, screaming. The whole situation was too big for me to make sense of. But now Jesus would be there. He would help.

With every step I felt stranger about the whole thing. When I stepped in the door, my mother saw me and started howling again. I tried to calm her down. I tried talking to her, asking what was wrong, but she only howled.

I checked the TV but it was on her favorite station. I made her a sandwich and offered it, but she pushed it away. I tried ignoring her, going into another room, but she followed me. As the minutes passed, I became more and more agitated. I started yelling at her.

"Shut up!" I yelled. "Shut up!"

She stopped for a moment, but only a moment.

I played music and screamed back at her.

"You won't beat me," I said. "I can overcome this." And she kept howling, following me around and howling until finally, back in the living room I pushed her away from me. She fell onto the couch and was shocked into silence.

I was appalled at myself for having pushed her, but at the same time, it had made her quiet. She tried to stand up and slipped awkwardly back down onto the couch.

There was a photo on the wall to her left from her and Dad's wedding. In it, she was smiling, sweet and pretty in an open and easy way. Her hair had been blond and long. I remembered all the old photos my sister and I used to go through in Mom's photo albums. Some of the styles were so dated they were almost funny. In some, she had big piles of hair shaped into beehives and waves. Others were more tasteful. She'd always been pretty. People acted like she was a movie star; something about her was too good to be here. Now on the couch, her hair was matted and dirty, greying and cut short for convenience.

I stepped towards her to help her up and she flinched. It shocked me and I went into the bathroom and locked the door to get away from her, and from the shame over what I'd done.

I remembered when I was a child that my aunt and cousins had invited me to birthday parties. They always gave the other kids presents so we wouldn’t feel left out, but they were always cheap things wrapped in nice paper with elaborate bows. I felt, then, hiding in the bathroom, as though I’d been given another elaborately wrapped gift, but when I unwrapped it, I discovered that there was nothing but box.

After a few minutes, my mother came to the bathroom door and banged against it with her walker. I kept quiet, hoping she would go away. I thought back on what my cousin had said earlier and knew that he had lied. Jesus wasn't there. There was no one in the house but me and her. If I was wrong, if Jesus was there, it didn't matter because it did me no good; all he was doing was watching. She’d believed all her life, and what had it got her? But she wasn't cursed; she was just a sick woman. Genetics had made her that way, not anything else. There was no devil, no savior, just a door that couldn't keep out the sound of her screaming.

C.L. Bledsoe

Posted over on his site Murder Your Darlings

Wild Ice

image by alex shapiro

Wild Ice

Yesterday morning I walked
out to my car around ten o’clock,
accompanied by a sun that blazed
low and hot on my back
as I entered the prairie grass
field behind the house.
I was greeted with something extraordinary.
And, so beautiful, I nearly wept.

A tsunami, of sorts. A giant wave to ride.
A set of fallen leaves.
A collection of feathers, gently landed.
Frozen, museum quality art.

Nature’s natural crystallization at work.
Brilliant, Escher-esque patterns
and perfect math and utter perfection.
I’ve never seen anything like this.

Oh, and in case you can’t tell….
it was the ice on my windshield.

I live amidst wildlife.
I eat wild rice.
And now I can add wild ice to my list!

Alex Shapiro

Posted as prose over on her site Notes From the Kelp
Line breaks by Glenn Buttkus


image borrowed from bing


Buried in memories;
suffocating in the sands of past and present -
trapped. Mired in the sucking undertow
of question and answer,
swirling in a paralyzing rhythm of black tides
that choke me with my own silence.

I see the lifeboat of family, friends, others,
but I cannot call out.
I know no way to reach them;
anchored to their shores,
afloat on the edge;
buried in the future.

Ann Grenier

Posted over on her site Knot in Line
Listed as #88 over on Magpie Tales 95