The End–dVerse Prosery

The End

She glanced out the window and saw the sun easing behind the horizon. An exhausting day left her feeling emotionally bereft, empty. The glorious colors of autumn had begun to fade and leaves hopped off the trees into oblivion, much as he had as he slammed the doors behind himself, leaving her in utter darkness. She crumpled the paper and laid it in the fireplace that he had stacked with dry wood as he told her of his plans to divorce her.

Then she went to the garage and grabbed the can of gasoline they kept on hand for the snow-blower and lawn-mower. She spilled it throughout the house they had shared together. If it’s darkness we’re having, let it be extravagant, she thought. She wondered if she should stay or leave before tossing the lighted match into the fireplace.

Flicker–labeled for non-commercial reuse.

Written and posted for my prompt at dVerse Poets’ Prosery, using a line from the poetry of Jane Kenyon (in italics). Please join in. It is open all week.

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.


The Zen of Folding Laundry–dVerse Haibun Monday

Today at dVerse Poet’s Pub we are writing Haibun to the theme of an ordinary day–one paragraph and a Haiku that includes reference to nature and a season. I chose to write a little flash fiction in the prose part of this, though I do find this task quite Zen-like. And I wish I did have a folding table.

The Zen of Folding Laundry
A Haibun (Fiction)

When the dryer buzzed, Maria set about the task of folding laundry. Not that long ago it was a task she despised—resenting that fact that her man changed clothes way too often and never raised a finger to help her, preferring to criticize when things weren’t just so. That was before her teacher taught her to meditate. Today, she tunes in to the robin song outside her open window. Breathes deeply of the fragrant cool breeze and the floral scent of the dryer sheets. Her laundry table is now covered with a checkered fabric and she uses the squares to guide the folds, noting with satisfaction the beauty of the tee shirts in a variety of colors piled high to her left. All is well. Tony hardly ever beats her anymore.

sweet pea scents waft in
refresh the room and soul-soothe
peace in this moment


Photo: Kanzen Sakura All Rights Reserved Used with Permission

Photo: Kanzen Sakura
All Rights Reserved
Used with Permission

a Haibun

Marissa stared at the blank screen of her laptop. Thoughts of Rod overtook her, squeezed her heart. Loneliness had to be better than the pain of loss. She couldn’t dump remembrance of the last time she had risked surrendering to love.

Outside, a pewter sky, heavy, oppressive, filtered through her window, reflected her mood. She slammed the shutters, hiding from view softly falling snow, just beginning, that would soon cover her yard in billowy mounds of pure white, the promise of a fertile spring.

frozen hearts stifle
loving creativity
can beauty survive

Written for Kanzen Sakura’s photo prompt at dVerse Poets Haibun Monday. Please join us. Toni offers wonderful instruction on the art o Japanese Poetry. The prompt will be posted Monday at 3:00 PM EST.

Le Mendicant

Photo: flicker

Photo: flicker

Le Mendicant
A Narrative Poem

I make my way slowly toward la Gare du Nord, pass la Rue Phillipe de Girard. I lumber along at a slow pace. The ache in my feet shoots up my legs. The night was cold last night and us seventy-something’s have poor circulation, especially when we sleep in alleys.

At the entry to la Boulangerie, I pause, take in a deep breath and dream. The smell of bread, just coming out of the oven, fills me with pain. A young woman, dressed in a tweed business suit, three-piece, and three-inch heels, exits. She turns abruptly and walks hurriedly away from me. The scent of the baguette lingers like an expensive perfume. Its rough texture and golden color remind me of better days. Today I haven’t a sou in the pocket of my tattered jacket.

When I reach the station, I take my seat on the rough concrete of the steps leading to departures. The chill penetrates, creeps up my spine. As I extend my callused hand, I know what they think, but they don’t know my story. It hurts to look into their eyes and see them avert their own in embarrassment as they rush by. A few drop a coin or two, not enough for a loaf.

Counting them at the end of an hour, I think I may have enough for a small, day-old roll and a cup of black coffee. I stand, stomp my feet in hopes of regaining some sensation, and straighten my old back a bit at a time. Grasping the railing, I climb back to street level and make my way back to the bakery.

Maybe someday, someone will stop to listen and offer me the bread of understanding.

Written in narrative poetry, from a first person perspective, this is a fictional collage from a few images that linger with me from the time I lived in Paris. The reality is true world-wide.

For dVerse Poetics. The prompt is Bread and the pub opens Tuesday 3:00 PM EST. Hope to see you there!


What Goes Around



What Goes Around

The rising sun signaled the opening of a new day. Lily stretched, trying to clear her head of the jumbled remnants of last night’s sad dream that merged with blurred memories of the previous evening.

She reached over to Ned but touched only the wrinkles of the space that should have held his lanky frame. That’s when she recalled her irritation at his disclosure of his plans for the morning, blurted out when she was trying to fall asleep.

At what point had it all gone south? When had he replaced their flamboyant,, early morning love-making with frequent rounds of golf. And when had the sound of ennui taken the place of the bliss with which he used to speak her name?

Had it been like that for Nora, his first wife, the one he’d left to be with her each Thursday, before the world was awake?

She’d warned him, Nora had, of Ned’s voracious appetite for “golf.”


I’m submitting this in response to Brenda’s Wordle response on The Sunday Whirl and also for this week’s Monday Meanderings. If you haven’t visited The Sunday Whirl, give it a whirl! I haven’t been there for a while but it’s a chance to challenge yourself writing either poetry or short fiction.

There were the words: last, signal, disclose, point, irritation, jumbled, sound, appetite, sun, time, bliss, flamboyant.

Have a happy week!

War–Flash Fiction for Monday Meanderings

A medic squats beside the body. Concern etches his face, communicating the serious status of his patient. Sweat beads on his brow; he bites his lower lip.

The kid’s angular features distort into a painful grimace. I can’t see blood, but tears roll from the corner of his eyes. Lower extremities sprawl in an unnatural pose. I wait for a sign of life in the useless appendages.

Doug’s mouth hangs open, his eyes fixed on the screen of our new television.

“For this, we got HDTV?” I hurl the question into the unresponsive room.



In the upper left hand corner of the screen, I view a group of fellow warriors. Huddled in the cold, their breath escapes in wisps of fog. Arms encircle their frozen torsos; they slap themselves, teasing chilled blood into warmth, luring it to the surface. A surgeon’s suturing a scarlet laceration on a young black face.

Another group of guys trot out from base camp, bearing a stretcher. I watch them logroll the boy in the field, carefully immobilizing his neck. I wonder if he’s going to make it, or if he’ll spend his days imprisoned in his flaccid husk-of-a-body.

“It’s all about money, isn’t it?” I ask Doug.

“Of course it is. Everything we do is about money,” he answers and takes a slug of beer.

“So why do they try to pan it off as some ideal?” I ask.

“It is about ideals. It’s about freedom and courage. And heroes. We need our heroes.”

“So, some poor mother sacrifices her son for some obscure objective? Some American pipedream.”

“It’s not just about our country, Rachel. You know that. The whole world’s watching.”  Doug clutches a handful of chips and shoves them in his mouth. He continues, “We’ve got to let them know who’s in charge, who’s strong.” Tortilla chip fragments, soggy with spit, shower my tee.

I tear off a paper towel, dip the corner of it into my glass of water, and begin to clean my spattered bosom.

“Please don’t talk while you’re chewing; look what you did to me.”

Doug sees and a crooked smile fills his face. He reaches over and pinches my nipple peeping through the damp shirt. “Ah, good ol’ American freedom,” he says and trains his eyes back to the TV.

A flash of action darts across my field of vision. “Life’s different now,” I say. “We used to hear about things like this after they happened. Now it’s broadcast live. That’s not how it was when we were kids. We crowded around the radio to get our news.”

“Hummmph!”  Doug soaks in the real life drama, unfolding before him.

I grab my knitting.  “I can’t watch this anymore,” I say.

“Well just shut up, then.  I let you know what happens.”

Visions of the two grandsons we’d raised loom before me. Thank God they’re more like me than Doug, I think. They’d never get involved in this.

“I wonder what the boys are up to now,” I say.

“What do you think they’re up to?”

“Studying, I guess. The new semester’s just begun.”

“I know for a fact that Ernie’s doing the exact same thing that we are,” Doug said. “But I wouldn’t be surprised if Eddie’s watching golf.”

“So, why can’t we watch golf?” I ask.

Doug raises his index finger and leans forward, resting his head in the palms of his hand, elbows on his knees.

From the corner of my eye I glimpse another body splayed face down, unmoving. The camera pans to a close-up of Condi Rice. How can she let this happen? She’s a woman, for God’s sake.

Our country’s flag waves in the right hand corner of the scene. A buzzer sounds reminding me of the take-cover drills we had to do in grammar school.  There are no winners, I realize.

“Two minute warning,” the announcer calls. “Stand by for our half time report.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

I couldn’t resist re-posting this short story that seems appropriate to the season. I confess I’ve developed a huge interest in football over the past few years, though I may be caught knitting during the game. Have a happy week, everyone–and don’t forget that the poetry pub at dVerse reopens today, the 6th, with Poets and Pretzels hosted by Brian Miller then Open Link Night on Tuesday. 


Ma Barker’s Boy–the One We Never Heard About.

Flash Fiction, linked to The Sunday Whirl. Check it out and try using the thirteen words offered this week. They’re not easy! If you’re looking for the response to the dVerse prompt on children’s poetry, it’s the previous post.

Ma Barker’s Boy—the One We Never Heard About



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,  had 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.



Concert on the Green

Photo: David Slotto

Photo: David Slotto

Couldn’t resist posting this short story in response to Gay’s Jazz prompt. Please don’t feel you need to read or comment…it’s just for fun.

Concert on the Green  (1400 Words)

His words toss me back into reality. Worries about my Kenny slip back beneath the surface.

I hate that fairway, he says. Mess it up as much as you can. They’ll have to do it over.

Yeah, that bunker’s a bitch, his buddy responds.

The disgruntled golfers sit a few rows ahead of us in the idling shuttle to the seventh hole at a local golf course, the concert venue. Close air stifles me. Trickles of sweat snake down my back, saturate my blouse. Body odor hangs in the aisle of the bus.

Jeff, my husband, shakes his head. I hope they fill this thing up soon. It’s hot.

The guy in front of us turns and scowls, as though we’re responsible for the weather.

Finally a couple of old duffs saunter down the aisle and take the last two seats. The vehicle shudders as the driver shifts into gear. Diesel vapors flood in. Conversation becomes animated–people speak of jazz.

We arrive and disembark. The unloading process is tedious as concertgoers heave duffle bags, lawn chairs, umbrellas and blankets onto their shoulders. A guard herds us into a long line where security officers rummage through our bundles and collect tickets. Our cabernet makes it through the checkpoint, camouflaged in Gatorade bottles.

We survey the lush expanse of grass, settle on a spot in the rough snuggled up against that sand trap the golfer hated.

Here, try this spot out. Can you see? Jeff asks.

I sink into a woven plastic chair. Perfect, I answer before a mammoth hunk of humanity takes his seat in front of me.

Wanna move?

No, I’m fine. I can hear. I plant a kiss on his sweaty brow. Do you miss him, Jeff?

He nods. This is our first year . . . His voice trails off.

We embed ourselves in our niche. It’s almost four o’clock – three hours to kill till the headliners arrive. KJZS, 92.1, plays in the background. The sun glares, daring us to chill out. Jeff sets up a beach umbrella in defiance.

I’m gonna get a beer, he says. Want one?

Go for it, I’m fine. I got water. My eyes follow him as he disappears into the crowd.

We’ll be okay, I decide, determined to enjoy myself at this first concert since our son, Kenny, went to Iraq.

Fans arrive in droves. They erect their camps and join the party. I people-watch and listen.
Behind me a couple argues.

You should have let her be, Ruth. She’s pissed and she’ll ruin the whole evening for us.

We couldn’t just leave her alone. That moron boyfriend of hers would come over. You know what happened last time.

She’s almost eighteen. She’s got to take responsibility for herself.

Not on my time, she doesn’t. And not on our money. As long as she’s under our roof she does what we say.

My son enlisted at eighteen, I think.

Well, she’ll spoil our date. We never have time by ourselves anymore. Why’d we even come?

I tune them out at the sight of a woman-girl sulking across the grass headed in our direction. She wears low-riding jeans and a flimsy magenta tank top. Her lower lip protrudes – a pout that looks like a collagen injection gone bad. She crashes into the grass behind me – as far away from her parents as possible – and stares out at nothing.

A group of gypsies blows in beside me. A woman fills the landscape. Five anklets on one leg – a silver one catches the sun, blinds me. She lights a cigarette. I choke. As she comes in for a landing, I view a gallery of tattoos – dolphins, daggers, a swan and Mickey Mouse. A voluminous kaftan strains to cover her girth. Yellow teeth and fingernails accent a sallow complexion. Long black hair, streaked with silver, hangs loosely.

Freedom of expression, it comes at a cost, I realize.

Jeff returns, eases himself into his nest. The plastic glass of beer he carries breaks out into a sweat. Chilled amber liquid glistens in the sun.

Take a look, I say, bobbing my head to the left.

You should let your hair go its natural color.

So you’d have an excuse for a girlfriend? No way, baby.

Go check out the vendors, Jeff suggests.

I spring up, stretching out my tightened hamstrings.

Can’t sit on the ground like we used to, Jeff says.

So it seems. I limp away.

A wisp of breeze licks my body as I wander through the vendor’s booths. Paintings in bold colors, beaded shawls, hand carved wood pieces catch my eye. Wine, beer, Thai food, Mexican and Italian aromas assail my senses and jerk my appetite into action.Scents of potpourri draw me to a merchant whose homemade candles are softened by the swelter of the summer day. I touch smooth tumbled stones she sells to conquer worry.

Hot out here, she says to me.

Yeah, I answer and remember my Kenny and his buddies in another desert.

I browse a few more minutes then retreat to our nook.

The smoke shifts, beckoned by the wind, which gusts from the east. It picks up momentum and storm clouds gather over Fallon.

I’m gonna go get something to eat, Jeff says.

Get me something, too, I ask. Anything, but not too much. He leaves in search of spoils. My hunter-gatherer husband.

While he stalks our prey I follow the activity on-stage. Sound system and lighting techs scurry about like ants, setting the scene for the performers. The collagen queen behind me—still sullen—hasn’t said a word to her parents. They’re not speaking to one another either.

The Bohemian gal reigns from her throne. Her assistants – three younger men – bring her food and drink and light her smokes. She doesn’t budge, other than to lift a glass of wine to full-bodied lips.

A waft of garlic proclaims Jeff’s return. He hands me a plate of pasta with meatballs and garlic bread. I grab a fork and shovel it in to the beat of a local group that has a chance to strut its stuff. A redheaded, freckled fiddler from Ireland, some other mother’s son, zings his tune across the fairway.

It begins to rain. Droplets pound the crowd but fail to dampen moods. My warrior pulls out an immense royal blue painter’s tarp. We snuggle in, cuddling together in comfort.

The performance starts, right on time. The crowd engages as David Sanborn emerges from the audience playing a sustained B flat on his sax. When he reaches the stage, cacophonous applause greets him. The crescendo of noise intensifies as percussion, keyboard and guitars join the mix. Earth vibrates. Resonance soothes the sun and it begins to sink in the west. Menacing clouds amass: billowing black bunches of grapes. My protector says, We’ll be okay. The wind is blowing east again. The darkening sky is backlit with periodic bursts of diffuse light.

Tattoo Woman sways and shakes and twirls her way through our space. Jeff ogles her as I listen to Rick Braun’s trumpet wailing Kisses in the Rain. I soak in sounds and sight and think of my son and squeeze his father’s hand. Time rolls by, undulating like the cloud formations above.

Lightning moves closer. Dave Koz announces, You don’t mind if we skip intermission, do you? We didn’t. The fear-filled begin their exodus. We’re not gonna to get the whole concert, Jeff tells me.

Okay by me.

Three pieces later Koz yells: One more song.

Listeners clamor, More, more!

He begins Lullaby for a Rainy Night. The entire ensemble blends in. The mob mellows and listens intently. Braun says goodnight for the group, but they return for an encore, encouraged by persistent applause and shrill whistling.

Wayman Tisdale steps up to the mike. He gives the crew a sign and they begin to play as he belts out Rainy Day Woman.

Tattoo Woman arises from her stuporous state and begins to gyrate. She arches toward the footlights as though Wayman’s singing to her alone. A cigarette hangs from the corner of her mouth, red wine swings in her left hand, reflecting shafts of light from the stage.

It’s then I see the piercings. Skylight flashes on silver, glistening through the sheer fabric.

Oh my God, her nipples! I poke Jeff and motion with my eyes. He scrounges in his back pocket for his camera, and then scores his subject, aiming from the hip.

The camera flashes.

Lightning flashes.

Her nipples flash.

The concert’s over.

The war goes on.

This is a short story I wrote almost ten years ago during an Smooth Jazz concert that used to be held on a golf course here in Reno each year. I people-watched and wrote notes, so that the characters and the concert were real. The fiction part is the interjection about having a son in Iraq and the lightning strike hitting the woman’s nipples. The piercings were the real thing, though!

Photo: David Slotto

Photo: David Slotto

Fred Needs a Sub for Poker Night

Here’s a Flash 55 for G-Man. Stop over and write one of your own. It’s a great editing exercise!

Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Fred Needs a Sub for Poker Night

“Today’s Friday.”

“So what?” Chuck snapped.

“It’s our date night.”

“Why do we need a date night? We’re together all the time.”

“We need to fall in love again.”

“Pick another day. I’m subbing for poker tonight.”

Chuck grabbed his jacket and left without a kiss.

Charlotte waited before dialing Fred.

“It worked. We’re on.”