Innocence, Lost–Crispina’s Creative Challenge #48

This is the first time I’ve been able to link to Crispina’s Creative Challenge. I’ve penned a bit of Flash Fiction–a wee bit dark:

Innocence, LostFlash Fiction—67 Words

They found the body halfway in the tunnel, halfway out.

He was afraid to return to the scene until the investigators had finished their thing. At night, under the new moon, he stood by the bank and tossed in a few rose petals that were quickly covered with slime. So symbolic of his no-longer innocent childhood.

Bye, Dad, he whispered, before moving on to a new life. After all, no one even knew he existed.


Desert Daze and Darkness

Dry Desert Daze and Darkness

She walked along a pathway
in her arid corner of desert,
desolate, alone. She knew
that Oleander had been
planted here, sheltering
the rich and famous who lived
in rich and famous homes—
homes (now abandoned after
years of rainless days.)

These dense shrubs tried to defy
the drought. Tiny flowers
of pink, white, struggled, straggled
to survive between limp leaves
whose color faded more each
year. A rattler seeking sanctuary
from sweltering sun slithered
away to the east. Disappoint
ment surged in her soul.

And so she grabbed a handful
of leaves and buds, headed home
with bravado and brewed
a pot of tea large enough for the
digitalis compound to do its part
to slow her heart. Slowly, slowly
slowly allowing it to steal life from her,
the life she gladly offered.

When she sat to drink the deadly
draught, her Maltese pup
snuggled at her side, his chocolate
eyes begging for a sip.

She couldn’t.
Could she?

Labeled for Non-Commercial Reuse

A dark narrative poem for Bjorn’s Poetics Prompt at dVerse Poets. The Pub Master asks us to write a poem that has reference to a poisonous plant. It used to be that Oleander was used as a center divider on California highways and in the Country Clubs and such communities in the Palm Springs area as a privacy screen. It grows to be high and very dense. Every part of the plant is poisonous.

Anger–dVerse MTB

Art: Clyfford Still, on Pinterest

Art: Clyfford Still, on Pinterest

Depression is Anger Turned Inside-Out
A Narrative Poem

She hadn’t touched her paints for a while. In the other room an unfinished canvas lay propped on an easel. Orange and cerulean blue paint danced in cacophonous colors and screamed at her in taunting ecstasy. One evening she’d smeared a palette knife of black paint in a thick wavy line down the middle of the canvas—the result only heightened the drama. She abandoned her work for now—she couldn’t paint and wouldn’t write—not since he told her he wouldn’t see her anymore.

Today, dVerse Poets, hosted by Frank Hubney, invites us to submit a narrative poem–as I see it, a bit of prose that is written poetically. That implies incorporating poetic elements such as metaphor and sensory details, active verbs etc. This is a tiny piece that I adapted from my novel “The Sin of His Father.”

Orange Shoes

Photo: Nazeera Meedin (Pinterest)

Photo: Nazeera Meedin (Pinterest)

Orange Shoes
a Haibun

“Oh, I’ve made my share of mistakes,” Emily said. “How boring life would be without them.”

Sunlight stripped across the crevices on her 89-year-old face, creating hills and valleys in much the same way as her life had. But in her deep blue eyes, I saw the shimmer of stars, the reflection of the moon on water.

She took a sip of tea while I tried hard not to worry about the next patient on my list of hospice visits. She needed to talk and I wanted to listen. To really listen. “Do you want to talk about them,” I asked, hoping I wasn’t being intrusive.

“Oh, there was the man I loved who turned out to be pure evil. Because of him, I left a toxic relationship, so it cost me a few bucks. He conned me and broke my heart in the process. Without that lesson, I would never have been able to move on. In his own way, he gave me the gift of courage. And then, the job I took for money—it was pure soul-death, not suited to me at all. But that’s where I met someone who saved my life. I could go on and on; there are tons of lesser things.” And she did while I listened and learned.

Gently, when exhaustion emerged in her expression, she dismissed me. “In the end, I believe, the greatest mistake is not to forgive others or, especially ourselves. And not to forget that we are forgiven by the One who made us. I wear orange shoes with my purple dress.”

blue jay sings off-key
petals fall from the roses
imperfect beauty

Linked to dVerse Poetics where our lovely guest hostess invites us to reflect on mistake we’ve made. I wrote this as a fictional account, but, who knows, there may be some truth within.

Waiting–dVerse Haibun Monday

Photo: David Slotto

Photo: David Slotto

a Haibun

Anna waited. And waited. Her room, dark except for light seeping through half-drawn blinds, smelled musty, old. Dust motes danced where sun invaded. Aside from that, there was little activity. Even her old cat, Flossie, lay motionless on the rumpled covers of her bed.

They hadn’t called for at least two weeks. No one called or came to visit anymore. She wasn’t sure why she even had a landline, but she wasn’t about to try to figure out those smart gadgets that all the young folk held continuously in their hands, their eyes locked on the screen. No one had the time or patience to teach her all that fancy stuff.

Outside the window she heard birdsong. Even the birds had something to say to each other. Anna pulled herself slowly to her feet and went to fill their feeder. What else would fill the hours?

in spring, finches’ songs
fill the empty hours, the void
without them, nothing

Please join in for dVerse Haibun Monday where we are talking about communication! The link will be open all week! The doors open today at 3:00 PM EDT

Get Outta Town

Photo: Rod Ramsey Death Valley, CA Licensed for non-commercial reuse.

Photo: Rod Ramsey
Death Valley, CA
Licensed for non-commercial reuse.

Get Outta Town
a Haibun

Lola knew she had to get out, and get out fast. The plaintive sound of the train not that far from home (if she could call it that) flamed her sense of urgency. The women’s’ shelter north of town was not an option. They would find her there. It was an obvious place to hide.

Outside, cheat grass swayed in the desert’s evening wind, bending, like her, to the will of a force stronger than itself, a power unable to be controlled. Above, a hawk circled restlessly, looking for something smaller than itself to devour, to devour like the malignant evil that bedeviled her day and night.

She stuffed the money she’d been skimming from her tricks, piled her hair atop her head and covered it with a baseball cap. She’d make it just in time for the 8:05 to Elko where prostitution was legal. She’d just make it before he didn’t show up for his day job, before they would discover his body.

relentless wind blows
tumbleweeds scurry by the tracks
guilt scatters like sand

Join us today at dVerse Poetics where Bjorn invites us to hop aboard and write of trains. This is fictional.

Ma Barker’s Boy—the One You Never Heard Of dVerse MTB

Ma Barker’s Boy–the One You Never Heard Of
A Haibun

When I regained consciousness, the gravel pitted in my flesh stung as though I’d been dancing with a sea creature whose tentacles held me close, slowly releasing their poison.My recently vacant mind, now an amalgam of dark thoughts, muddled its way through a fog of nothingness. No one heard my anxious calls for help. No one cared.

I struggled to lift myself from the brick pathway, grabbing hold of a chain link fence nearby. A multitude of notices affixed to the metal announced concert venues, lost dogs and items for sale. Two signs warned me “No Trespassing” and “Post No Notice.” Nothing prohibited me from using it to stand, to keep me from losing my balance.

Once again, though I’d cheated death, I’d lost the war. Everything I’d planned for, had worked for, failed. I grabbed hold of a nearby trash can and puked. Disappointment, my constant companion, lingered like a bad taste in my mouth. I couldn’t go home. I couldn’t tell Ma. I headed in the opposite direction and followed my own path to the future. In a nearby maple tree, birdsong erupted.

mockingbird chorus
celebrates hope, sings of joy
life begins anew

Linked to dVerse Meeting the Bar. I’m hosting today and asking for first person poetry, perhaps written from an alter-ego. I’m still playing with the mockingbird theme that Kelly asked for Tuesday, for poetics. 

I do hope you will join us at dVerse today. The pub opens at 3:00 PM EST.

The Whether Channel

Photo Credit: Gabriella All Rights Reserved Used with permission

Photo Credit: Gabriella
All Rights Reserved
Used with permission



The Whether Channel
a Fictional Haibun

I waited none too patiently, at the curb—unsure if she would show, as promised. The steady pitter-patter of raindrops on the roof of my old Ford and the click-click-clicking of the hazard lights matched the pace of my anxiety-driven pulse. Cars puddled by, splashing my windows in their wake. The scent of rain blended with dust on the drought-thirsty street.

She exited the office building, popped open the teal umbrella I’d given her last Christmas, and surveyed her surroundings. When she caught sight of me, she took off down the block in the opposite direction. I sighed and pulled away from the curb without trying to pursue her. Then I hit my husband’s speed dial. “Our daughter isn’t ready,” I told him. “Rehab won’t help until she wants it.”

weatherman forecasts
rain, tears of disappointment
beware of flooding

Written for and linked to Gabriella’s Monday Haibun prompt at dVerse Poets. We are grateful to her for the beautiful photography she shared for us today. The pub opens at 12:00 Noon EST on Monday. The link will be open throughout the week. Please join us. 

Lamentation–dVerse Haibun Monday

a Haibun

The pelting rain, a sort of purifying ritual, drenches me—mingles with my tears of regret. So easy to be unnoticed in this large crowd, waiting for a means of escape, a yellow hack driven by a stranger. Anonymity, a blessed escape from reality.

I clench my unopened umbrella at my side, welcome the cleansing downpour.

Questions pound me with every drop. Could I have been there if I’d tried? Said words of forgiveness, words he needed to hear? Offered him the solace of my absolution?

But anger has burned inside me for so many years. It is no longer separate from who I am. I no longer have anger, I am anger.

And so he died—unshriven, despairing. And I, I bear the burden.

rain drops drench my soul
waiting alone in this crowd
battered by regret

Photo: Mary Kling all rights reserved used with permission

Photo: Mary Kling
all rights reserved
used with permission

Hey, everyone…it’s Haibun Monday at dVerse! Today, Mary Kling offers 3 of her photos for your inspiration. Feel free to use them, but kindly give her the credit due. Please give your imagination free rein and join us. The doors open at 3 PM EST and remain open all week. 


FREE ON KINDLE: “The Sin of His Father”

SEPTEMBER 13, 14, 2015


Words uttered by his mother on her deathbed, a mystery about his father that she had not confided to him, drove Matt Maxwell to fear that he could become like this man he never knew.

Abandoning the woman he loved, his closest friend, and a lifestyle that suited him well, Matt made choices that opened him to an unlikely friendship and a new relationship with the God of his youth. However, the terrible secret he harbored eventually took him down a path of self-destruction and alcoholism.

What would it take to embrace his truth, accept himself and his past, and discover peace in the power of forgiveness and love?


Victoria Ceretto-Slotto lives and writes in Reno, Nevada and Palm Desert, California. A retired RN working primarily in the area of death and dying, she began writing creatively at a time in life when one is supposed to sit back and enjoy the Golden Years.

Victoria has previously published a novel, “Winter is Past” (Lucky Bat Books, 2011) and a collection of Poetry—”Jacaranda Rain, Collected Poems, 2012″ (2013). In addition, “Beating the Odds—Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia,” is available as a Kindle Single through (2013).


A young man travels a circuitous path of faith, self-acceptance and forgiveness, finding freedom from alcoholism and the fear of who he could become.

Novel The Sin of His Father

The Sin of His Father


Reviews: **** 4.8

The Sin of His Father by Victoria C. Slotto is a story of soul-trouble, the kind that gnaws at us when we can’t face the truth about ourselves or the course of our lives. It is written by a storyteller who sees deeply into the labor of being human: Thirty-ish Matthew Maxwell struggles to integrate his mother’s dying words into his already troubled life. Monica is the young woman he loves, but dumps, sending her reeling into alcoholism. Craig is Matt’s lifelong, and only, friend, who has lost all respect for Matt for what he does to women. Uriah is a Franciscan priest who befriends Matt and tries to help him heal. Hog, a big Harley-riding guy, becomes Matt’s Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor and doesn’t let him get away with anything. Matt’s journey takes him inside the Franciscan life, which he loves, as he does Monica, but not more than his need to understand and forgive himself, his mother and his father. It is a well-written, deep and touching story not easily forgotten. The story will make you cry at the end and perhaps hold it to your chest and say, “I love this book.” That’s what I did. 🙂

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