A continuance of short poetry

Autumn
Stripped bare
of summer cover
bare twigs
conduct symphonies
on the wind.

Faint woodsmoke
tickles the nostrils
on brisk walks
that suddenly require
jackets, hats.

Steam from a pot
fills the kitchen
with rich soup smells
as books are read
nearer to fireplaces.

Sleep comes heavy
a faint breeze
numbs noses
sticking out from
beneath thick quilts.

small poetry

I've been reading much of Noah the Great's online poetry lately. This young man is immensely talented.
Pisses me off.
(Not really; reading good writers - of any age - is inspiring.)
I spent part of the weekend in Nebraska in a hunt for a book of poetry I wrote as a teen. I didn't find it, but poetry has been on my mind for days now.
Here's a very short poem.

Street corner prophet
holds a hand-lettered sign
and issues challenges
to hurried people
who avert their eyes
and pretend not to notice

Sunday Scribblings: Wedding

Bliss
Upon further review, she thought the 100 milligram Davrocet (in it’s bubble-gum-pink generic form) was overkill – considering the few mimosas she’d downed in the past 30 minutes, each shaken into a pint glass, light on the OJ.
She sat on an old oaken table in a back room off the Sacristy, enveloped in yards of satin and lace, and sipped shallow breaths like there was a need to horde the air around here. There was a comfortable numbness to her lips and gums, not quite a tingle, but…something. She’d smeared her lipstick three times, as she tested her level of inebriation (and/or in/tolerance).
He was in the rectory, smoking weed with the boys (a fan was wedged into the window, blowing OUT) between shots of Jagermeister, just a few bottles that the groomsmen had stashed in Father’s freezer. He sat in a metal folding chair in his “costume,” the knee-high socks still in the white plastic bag, the patent-leather shoes sequestered in their cardboard box.
His breaths, even with the weed and the Jag, came into his lungs deep and quick.
The moment was here, he knew.
And neither had blinked.
Amid the nail appointments, the marathon billiard games and poker sessions, the mobile calls at 3 a.m. to out-of-state confidants (whom neither knew of) that sought the whys of the impending moment.
A wedding that surged like an un-damned, unchecked river. Muddy and murky, froth with power and fear.
She was the only daughter in a family with four boys. She’d called his bluff, saying she wanted a Walt Disney-themed affair - Cinderella of course - complete with glass slippers and a carriage drawn by horse to the reception.
He would wear a soldier’s uniform in baby blue, tight white pants - he would tuck everything into his old softball compression shorts, as to avoid panty lines, bulges - and a cream silk shirt with ruffles.
Daddy was on the hook for $48,000.
Both were recent products of the state university system, juggling loans and under-achieving first jobs where advancement and placement were a thing of a generations ago. Two weeks, a paycheck. Rent, credit card bills, keep the gas on, right?
There was no loyalty. There was only alliance. Strangers who played the game.
He had stretched the thick silk black socks past his ankles, used the wooden shoehorn provided by the rental franchise to wedge his pinkish feet into their blackened depths and stood to his full - if emancipated with ramen-hotdog-and-scrambled-egg-existence life - to 6-foot, 2-inches and began to lean toward the church.
His sides ached; not this much since senior soccer season, the State Championship Season, where as forward he’s scored the goal that put this all into play as the cheerleader twirled a finger in her hair during her congratulations.
“Son,” Father said, as he grabbed the meaty underside of his left bicep as he stepped outside the rectory, in the pissed-stained alley where bums sought resurrection, “Time stretches, it catches in eddies."
The youngster, blinked, licked his lips.
“There is time,” The Padre said. “To fix this.”

Saturday Fiction in 58

Company memo
Crumpled in her hand, almost like a bouquet of flowers made in yellow legal pad, was the missive penned in pencil.
Pencil, of all things.
She held it tight enough to cause the blood in her fingers to escape, which accentuated the blood-red nail polish.
“Please don’t come back until you take care of this issue,” he said.
It had started so simply, a look, a touch, just the hint of caring in the eyes.
Now, it had escalated into this.
A choice.
There was not a good choice either. Which path did she want to follow? The stable, predictable, keep-the-job path? Or, the daring, out-there-on-a-limb path?
How, or could she tell Carmen it was finally over?

OK kids, what did the memo say? Give me the next 58. Black-Eyed Susan, you want to give it a go?

Weathering the storm

The thunderclap woke me, the opposite of the natural progression, but as my eyes adjusted to the sodium streetlight, another flash illuminated my darkened bedroom with the intensity of unleashing a flashbulb in a theater. The thunderclap began with what sounded like sticks being broken and rumbled to crack, like a whip.
The winds picked up and the flashes intensified. So, too, the thunder. No need to count one-Mississippi, two-Mississippi. The storm was overhead.
It's well past 2 a.m. and I pick up my water bottle and tip-toe to the balcony and ease into a chair.
The wind is cool on my face; I'm wrapped in a slight piece of navy fabric, actually a blanket airlines give you to try and keep warm at altitude. I wear it like a shawl around my shoulders.
I'm quiet. There are no thoughts to clutter the show. I just sit, sip water, let the storm roll over me.
The girls sniff cautiously at the open patio door; Trin comes out, sniffs the air, turns six circles and lays down at my feet. Scully sticks her head out the door, looks at me, heads back to her dog bed, wanting no part of this pow-wow.
The winds are fierce and Trin and I scan them for scent (she's much better at it and I watch as she makes slight adjustments with her nose to lock onto what blows past).
The lightening tapers off and the smell of rain fills the air, which is cool and heavy.
Several large raindrops hit, stop and then the clouds open up. rain falls in sheets and it's time to evacuate.
I close the windows, pull the shades and all I hear is the patter of rain on the glass.
The bed has grown cool. I slip into the sheets and fall immediately into a comforting slumber.

Wednesday's Three Word Wednesday

The word prompts over at Three Word Wednesday are dissolve, trinket and zest. Time for a Fiction in 58.

Hard-Hearted

He rushed into commitments of the heart, falling head-over-heels some would say.
He’d pursue their affections with the zeal of a child who opens a sidewalk lemonade stand. He’d purchase flowers, the requisite trinkets to their hearts.
He was an emotionless soul. Eventually, his feelings would dissolve, flutter away - signaling the quest for a new conquest.

Tempest

There resides in me a sadness that I cannot place, not control.
Or comprehend.
It comes and goes. The feeling.
Today, it clings to me like humidity.

Instant gratification (no boots for you)

Friday afternoon I was released from work early and needed shoes.
Specifically, a pair of vintage Doc Marten 1460 eight-eye-hole boots, in black.
Not distressed "greasy" black, not brown, not some other style than the 1460s but big black punk-fuckin'-rock black boots.
Denied.
I ran errands, went to shoe stores, found every place in town that sold Doc Martens. Ended up at the young hippity-hop store in the maul, where I found the Doc Martens. Just not in my size.
"I like the distressed black ones myself," the store manager said, an older women (meaning older than me). "And I know we have them in a 12."
"I'm going to keep looking, thanks."
"Really, we can order them for you. They'll come right to your door. In four to five business days."
"Look, I really appreciate your salesmanship, but you need to understand something. I need instant gratification. I need to try a pair on, walk out of the store with them on my feet. That make sense?"
"You know," she said, laughing, "It makes perfect sense."

I ended up ordering the boots from Zappos.
They'll be here in four to five business days.

Post Script: The boots were waiting at my door. Zappos overnighted them, no extra charge.
Bonus.

Sunday Scribblings: Invitation

I wrote this earlier this month and it kinda got lost in the shuffle. But it fits the Sunday Scribblings theme so well, I thought I'd give it some more exposure.

Invitations
“You’re not the man I though you were,” she cried through an expensive silk hanky.
“Excuse me?”
“That’s it, I just can’t take it anymore.”
The train has lurched to a stop. She bends forward, offers me a view of her cleavage and brings her manicured hand across my face, welling tears in my eyes.
She exits the train and for the next two stops, I feel the heat of the the passengers' perturbed stare on my back, the prickly sting of my red-raked cheek.
My walk to the office is consumed with nervous confusion. I get to my desk, finger the breast pocket of my dress shirt. Again.
I pull out the business card, creamy ivory cardstock, embossed with a single telephone number.
On the back, written in a tight, perfect script is one word…
Dinner?

Trapped in my home on a glorious day

So my dish needed to be swapped out and I can't take time off of work to wait, so I gave up a glorious Saturday afternoon to wait for a tech.
At the end of the four hours, I still wait.
The house is clean, the dogs are brushed and I still wait for a call from the tech to tell me where he's at.
Here's a Fiction in 58 while I am on hold.

Dark Desires

His arc across life was shallow, unspectacular.
He read books at night under a bare bulb in a basement flat with concrete floors. The books were true-crime non-fiction and dealt mostly with the sins of killers, serial.
He entered middle age fat and rudderless. With a stack of overdue library books, he felt his fortunes turning.

Refresher courses

Dusk, 8 p.m. and the sky is fluttering with the wings of insects that have hatched on a nearly fall day when the temperatures were in the 80s.
I watched from the deck, the setting sun, the buzz of bugs.
Lips pursed, a knot of tension in my upper back.

It's time, I think, for another read of Laurence Gonzales' "Deep Survival."
Just, you know, to relieve my head from my ass. A couple of underlined points from the battered copy of my trade paperback:

"Stress causes most people to focus narrowly on the thing that they consider most important, and it may be the wrong thing."

"I could not change the world; I could only change myself. To see and know that world then, was the key to surviving it. I had to accept the world in which I found myself. I had to calm down and begin living."

Three Word Wednesday

The word prompts over at Three Word Wednesday are agree, execute and providence.

Street Prophet
The guy was middle-aged, balding and wore a cheap tan suit, cowboy cut.
He carried a sign on a piece of slim fencepost, about the size of political yard sign that had sprouted in the suburbs this fall. The sign was bright white and centered in the middle as the word PROVIDENCE, in all caps.
He moved silently, stepped as if riding a riding a horse, over the cracked sidewalk of the lower Village.
“Oh, Christ, check this guy out,” Sanford said, his glass of merlot stopped inches from his lips. “Why is it that we get all the nutbags down here?”
“What’s your problem?” Edison asked. “Dude’s not bothering anyone.”
“Can we all agree that since the crash, there’s more weirdness out there?” Sanford said. “I mean, shit, there’s planning and there’s procrastination. Those who sat on their asses deserve their government cheese products.”
“Dude’s not doing anything but walking down the street with a dumbass sign.”
“Hey, asshole, take your craziness back to Brooklyn, no room for fuckbags here,” Sanford said. “Get a job, dipshit.”
The man’s shoulders hunched. He turned, strode in those halting horseback steps to the table.
“No handouts,” Sanford said, nervously running a hand through his pomade-laden hair. “No craziness here, dude. You want to start something, I’ll finish it.”
The man took a black leather notebook out of his jacket pocket, flipped it open. He rested the sign on his knee, took an elegant fountain pen from his lapel pocket and began to write.
“What, you’re going to give me a ticket? Dude, I’m about a second away from fucking you up.”
The man scribbled quickly, tore the sheet from the others, handed it between two fingers toward Sanford.
Who reached out and snatched it.
“The fuck?”
Written in an elaborate hand was one word.
“Execute.”

The new guy over at 3WW

Unlike Boots, who has some 47 blogs going, I have trouble with one.
This one.
Keeping it fresh and exciting - daily - when nothing much is going on in my personal life is...troublesome.
(You may all collectively sigh for me now.)
Anyway, I have become a guest author on another blog.
Three Word Wednesday.
It's a writers' prompt site.
"Each week, I post some words. People write things using the words. Then they comment here."
It's Bone's site and he's gained quite a following. I started using the prompts in January and found that Wednesdays (or Thursdays when I was tardy) were not the same without writing something with those three words.
Last week, Bone announced that he needed a break, that he was putting the site on hiatus.
The community of writers who need their fix of 3WW fretted.
Fret no more.
On Wednesday, it''ll be my turn to pick three words (Bone sent me the master list, which contains 303 words so I won't repeat anything).
It can be a poem or a short story. It can be a journal entry. It can be a haiku. It can be anything you want it to be.
All you have to do is include those three little words.
I invite everyone to stop by 3WW for my first go-round. Pick up the words, roll them around in your head. Write something. Post the link and comment on the site and I'll do my best to get to everyone's blog and see what you've done.
My invitation to you - join the 3WW community.

Seasons of change

The chill hung heavy on the comforter; the windows are still open, but it's getting to be time where that can't happen. Where the flannel sheets and goose-down blanket will be needed.
But for now, the chill still is tolerable. Still wanted. Sleeping weather.
Summer fades into autumn, another season. The leaves of the maples have begun their shift from green to red and orange, almost overnight.
Another season. Another change.
I watch, like a spectator. But know I'm a participant, willing or not.
There is change all around me. In my life, the lives of others. There is change in every aspect of life that I can see.
I wonder, ponder, if this is the natural course of things, or do I just get glimpses of these changes to remind myself that it is inevitable.
And that I should embrace it.

Sunday Scribblings: Coffee

The Barista of His Dreams
The first time, he simply followed the rush of maintenance workers who moved like an amoeba through the doors to the tiny bar in the Italian Alps resort town of Cesana Torines.
He ordered at the counter, imitating as best he could the workers as they ordered their morning ritual of a rich, creamy espresso and a brioche – filled with chocolate almond paste – all while fumbling with the Euro coins to pay.
He ate and drank at the counter, as did the boisterous workers, who stood and made sport of Barista. She was tall and curvy, a head of brunette curls that framed her olive-colored skin. Giant brown eyes, full lips, from where a slight scar – the shape of a sickle moon – originated. Her jeans were designer and tight. Her T-shirt was white, a size too small, and accentuated those dangerous curves, the richness of her skin.
She looked into his eyes and smiled. He was smitten.
Every day for two weeks, while his contract work continued, he followed the workers into the bar, ordered an espresso and a brioche and ached to say something witty in whatever broken Italian he could muster. She largely ignored him, yet always waited to brew his cup last, so as to clear out the workers who chattered at her obsessively.
The morning on the day his contract expired, along with the work visa, he let he workers clear before entering the bar. She worked a rag over the machine, which was an old copper contraption of tubes, whistles and steam.
“Lo prendo caffe, per favore.”
“Brioche?”
“Si, grazie.”
He eyed the marble counter, fearful of the tears that might come if he looked at her oval face, her hazelnut-colored eyes.
She took her time this morning, packed the grounds tight, worked a small spoon over the porcelain cup. She placed a sugar packet – although he never used it – on the saucer along with a tiny spoon. She slid it toward him and took a step back.
There, in the froth of his last espresso, was a heart.
He looked at the heart, looked into her eyes.
She cocked her head, lowered her eyes, smiled.

Things to think about during a roadtrip

Designated Driver
“Not that I care, but what about all that talk of responsibility? This ‘new-found’ peace of mind?”
He looked at her through one eye pressed to a shot glass of bourbon.
“I mean, what about being the grownup?”
His Adam’s Apple bobbled twice as the bourbon slid down the back of his throat. He let out a throaty sigh, more of a croak with the flush of alcohol.
He smiled, turned the glass over, slammed it on the bar.
“Rudy, another go-round, if you please. Scotch this time.”
She crossed her arms, wrinkled her brow in disgust.
“Kinda late for all that, dontcha think?”
He adjusted the bandana on his bald head, that faded-blue fabric the color of the veins that pulsed under his sallow skin.
“And besides, hospice never closes, and we’ve only got 20 minutes before last call.”

Thursday's Three Word Wednesday

I feel a little out-of-sorts.
Bone, who hosts the Three Word Wednesday writers’ prompt, announced a hiatus for the site.
I wrote my first 3WW prompt in January. I haven’t missed a Wednesday (or a Thursday, as was the case sometimes) since.
Three Word Wednesday is my favorite writing prompt. Three words, write something. Anything. Post and comment, read other 3WW contributions. Comment. It was a community. A growing community.
I twisted a few arms of people to try it. It was never a chore for them. It is a cathartic, creative release.
There is chatter that I take over for Bone and continue. I’m waiting for Bone and I to talk. But I would be honored to allow 3WW to persist.
And while Bone didn’t provide those three words, pjd did. A master of the haiku, he offered up bummer, absence and sympathetic.
A toast to 3WW, in 58 words.

Human Carnival
“Do you think anyone sets out to be great?”
She swirled a finger in her single-scoop cone, eyes sympathetic to his answer.
“Absence of drive, no. Hence the population of dipshits and fuckups.”
“You’ve got a cold view of the world.”
The ice cream fell between them and landed with a wet smack.
“Bummer,” he said, smiling.

58 words and poof, a story

Bone’s a little tardy with the Three Word Wednesday prompts, so a Fiction in 58 is what you get.

Like a Hurricane

Raindrops, warm and fat, beat a warning that destruction was coming.
He sat by candlelight – the electricity already a casualty - and quietly stirred the lemon slice in his tea. Urged to flee, he chuckled, spat, emphatic. Not this time. Not now.
She had died here, in the last great storm.
So he sat, a mix of determination, regret.

Your Sioux Falls Canaries

The Sioux Falls Canaries are the 2008 American Association champions, having defeated the Grand Prairie, Texas Airhogs 5-4 in 12 innings Friday.
That's me and Cagey, the mascot on the party deck.
I even got a foul-tip baseball from the game.
Next up, minor league hockey - the Stampede - in October.

Slight prose for a Monday

Pixie Sticks
Flashes of light, like the spray of embers from a campfire make crossing patterns across my window.
The sparks burst in neon colors.
Every so often, there would be a bump at the window, a burst of light. Even through the shades, the luminosity exploded across dark walls.
A muffled argument, a door closed a little too earnestly and I rise from bed and creep into the hallway. My mother stands near the back balcony, a hand on her hip, a large spray can in her hand.
Across the railing were pixies, hundreds of them, flittering, waiting their turn at the glass urn that my father had filled with sugary contents of thousand Pixie Sticks.
“Mom?”
Tears filled her eyes as she brings the can forward, tries to decipher the directions by pixie light.
“This is all your father’s fault,” she said, shaking the insecticide.

Sunday Scribblings: Miracle

The writing prompt over at Sunday Scribblings is miracle. One drabble, a story in 100 words, coming up:

End Game
It began with bells at the old Methodist church and spread to other places of worship, then car horns and finally to people banging together pots and pans.
The rain was warm, gritty, salty - and hit the parched Earth like tiny cymbals. A sizzle of sound that mixed with the joyous celebration of the faithful.
When the antigen mutated and went airborne, one of the last broadcasts said only a miracle could save the human race.
The storm clouds gathered; rain fell.
Lost is the downpour were the tears of those left behind.
Those left to tell their cautionary tale.

Six random things about me

R&R tagged me with the following:
Post the rules on your blog
Write 6 random things about yourself
Tag 6 people at the end of your post
If you're tagged, DO IT and pass on the tag...

1. The tips of my fingers are double-jointed; I can bend the tips of each finger from just the first knuckle. Sometimes, I'll get out of the car with friends and act like I shut my hand in the door and bend my fingers. It looks pretty gross.

2. The volume of the stereo in the truck has to be turned to an odd number, but the highest volume I will turn it to is an even number - 42. I have no idea why.

3. My greatest fear used to be losing a limb, then I saw what my dad went through with losing his foot and the way he handled things and figured I could do so too. Now, my greatest fear is waking up morning and not remembering how to write.

4. I want to get one more tattoo; before moving to the Midwest, I seriously considered a full sleeve on my right arm. Now that might not be the best idea, although it is my body. I still think I'd like to have two koi fish tattooed on my back. I've actually started to research the artwork and studios.

5. Key lime pie is my favorite dessert.

6. It's high time that I move past writing in 58 words and 100 words and write something of substance. What I'd really like is to win a Pushcart Prize. But to do so, I need to stop messing around - and get serious.

OK, here are my tags:
Boots
Quin
Philbert
Uncle E
Noah the Great
James Pence Dyar, rock star

Say hello to my little friend...

Insomnia.

I woke up the first time at 12:18 a.m.; I figured I had been asleep for about an hour. Had a sip of water, adjusted the pillows and went back out.
Until 2:18 a.m.
Again, I had a sip of water, went back out.
Until 3:47 a.m.
And I was up for the day.
There are concerns in my life (that I choose not to let the world in on), but it isn't like I'm stressed to the point of making myself sick. Not anymore. I just don't sleep.
That's why sometimes you'll see posts at weird hours. If I know that I will not fall back asleep, I read, I write, I listen to music.
I tried to stay in bed this time. I tried not to think about anything (I wouldn't call this meditation; I just clear my thoughts and relax). Restful, but not rest.
And I've been working out every day this week, plus walked the girls longer. Ate better.
We'll see what happens when the lights go out tonight.

Wednesday's Three Word Wednesday

The word prompts over at Three Word Wednesday are awry, blame and hiatus. A haiku and a flash fiction piece that are related, kinda. You lucky devils.

When things go awry,
and blame rests squarely on you,
take a hiatus

Watch Out for the Quiet Ones
Fitzsimmons’ life went awry at 7:18 a.m.; he now contemplated that life on the No. 5 express as it rumbled down the Van Wyck Expressway.
Prim, if not considered prissy, Fitzsimmons wore round horned-rimmed glasses that he felt matched both his shoes and his belt. The leather messenger bag, he thought, showed his impish nature.
Accountants like Fitzsimmons don’t rumble on the wild side. He knew what people thought. There would be no surprises left, no bedside boxes that contained handcuffs, rubber products, amyl nitrate, various lubes and lotions. There was no wild drinking binges, no gambling addictions for people to discover. No party girls, no dance clubs, no 3 a.m. lines of coke.
But there he was, on the bus, contemplating his crossover.
The program had worked better than expected; $1.56 million diverted into an offshore account. His affairs were set in order.
“The blame rests squarely with me,” read the memo, delivered to the partner’s conference room at 7:18 a.m., complete with bagels, cream cheese, lox, fresh-squeezed orange juice (the spread had set him back plenty; he considered saving the receipt for tax purposes, and laughed). “I would like to take this opportunity to announce my extended hiatus with the firm.”
Inside the bag were swim trunks and shirt in matching tropical patterns, polarized sunglasses, his first pair of flip-flops - and one first-class ticket to somewhere warm and low-key.

Soup's on!

At the request of a friend who is "culinary challenged," I promised I'd give the recipe for the vegetable soup I'll be having for breakfast for the next month.
First, a confession.
I weigh 250 pounds, even.
Yipes.
At this time last year, I was 212.
It's Labor Day, so I'm going to relax a little, but the plan is formulating. Walk or ride to work. Stop by the Y to workout. Walk the dogs longer in the morning and the evening. Ride.
Ride.
Ride.
And get a massage (hey, might as well start off on a good note).
The soup is simple: 1 cup of vegetable stock, 1 cup water, 1/4 cup rice noodles, three green onions, chopped, a pinch of fresh cilantro and dried spices to taste that included chive, garlic, cumin, basil, ginger, sea salt and cracked pepper. Squeeze in a little lime juice and hot sauce (I'm partial to Sriracha). With it, you get a double espresso and an organic banana.
It's hot, filling and balanced.
I'm surprised.
That's the recipe.
That's the plan.
I'll weigh in in 30 days to see what happens.
(And yes, I fully understand that my life isn't quite built for this level OCD organization; I'll do the best I can.)