Dreams–dVerse Haibun Monday


On the bookcase, behind her, a photo showcases a twenty-year-old brunette—slim, shapely, with a mane of brunette hair cascading over her shoulders. She leans against the right fender of a 1930’s rag-top. Behind her sits her 1st Lt. Army Air Corps finance, wearing the uniform that would take him to the European theater—her fly-boy, B-24 pilot. There, he would die.

Today, she stares over her glasses, the clouded irises of her eyes registering little but confusion, the once-smooth surface of her skin bearing ravages of the many losses that have dogged her throughout her lifetime. “Are you happy?” she asks for the 17th time in the last couple of hours. I answer, “Yes, Mom, I’m happy. You don’t need to worry about me.”

I return my gaze to that photo, so full of youthful hope and happiness. Yes, Mom, all is well. You can move on when you’re ready, I think. I’ve told her that before.

For her part, she has dosed off again, perhaps returning to those dreams of years long-gone.

clearing out dead leaves
unearth patterns of remains
lace-knit life forms


Photo: Susan Judd, Used with Permission

Thank you to Susan Judd for allowing us to use her wonderful photography to inspire us today in writing to dVerse Monday Haibun prompt: beauty in decay. And thank you to Bjorn, for inviting Susan.


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!


Belch Gulch


Belch Gulch
Creative Non-Fiction

“There’s grandpa comin’ up the hill; ya got your stuff ready?”

Carole and I grabbed our crumply paper bags, stuffed with jeans, tee shirts, toothbrushes—the bare minimum. It wasn’t as though we were going on a spa vacation.

We ran down, hopped on the running board of his ’52 red Ford pick-up and hitched a ride back up the hill to say good-bye to our Moms and pick up the food they had ready for us, then grandpa would give us a boost into the bed of his truck. We’d nest alongside his ’22 rifle and sleeping bags, a couple of bags of cement and a somewhat tattered hammock. Once we settled in, Grandpa would shift the gears and we’d rattle off—northwards toward the Grapevine—the old two-lane one, that is.

The wind would whistle and we’d stick our heads out so as to get the full blast, hair flying wild-like, in defiance of every safety precaution now regulated by overly anxious, tight-assed politicians hoping to prove their worth to their constituents.

After getting over the pass we’d head east to Highway 40-something and follow the twisting, narrow road along the rocky precipice snaking along the course of the Kern River. We’d lurch from side-to-side back there—holding tight to the gun to keep it secure and embracing the cargo, perhaps to feel that way ourselves. We’d plan the weekend—intervals of hard work, building the cabin on the land with the abandoned gold mine that Grandpa had laid claim to, hiking up the mountain behind him to build that pipeline for water that he, a retired civil engineer, had designed. But, especially, target practice—taking out empty beer cans he’d collect from the neighbors throughout the week.

Then Sunday afternoon, exhausted but happy, we’d head back down Belch Gulch, wishing we could avoid the week ahead—the drudgery of another kind of learning—one, perhaps, more suited to the lives we yet had to live.

Shannon, at dVerse Poetics, invites us to share the rhythm of the road this week. This isn’t poetry per se, but the prompt took me back to my growing up years when my girlfriend Carole and I would go with my Grandfather to the cabin he was building in California gold country.

Memories of a Friend

L’essential est invisible aux yeux.
     Antoine de St. Exupery, Le Petit Prince

Photo: americangirls.com

Photo: americangirls.com

I hear the clink-clink of his guide dog’s harness, the steady trusting pace of boots as he approaches, the scraping of the chair across linoleum, a plop and sigh as he takes a seat.

“I know you’re there,” he says. “I smell roses. It’s been a while.”

“Too long. Close to thirty years. Can you believe it?”

His gravely voice betrays the wear of time, as we lapse into memories and the raucous sound of laughter—all we have in common now.

“Remember your trip to Rome?” I ask. “The David?”

“Oh don’t go there. What could the others have thought? A blind priest enjoying sculpture by touch and first thing I do is stroke his…” We roar again.

“And how you “saw” us?”

“Oh, never the touchy thing, like some blind people do,” he says. “You were a beagle. And then there was grim bear!”

In the background I hear the fall of water in the courtyard pond, the caw of crows and the twitter of a finch and think of grim bear.

“Do you regret your decision?”

“Sometimes,” I admit. “When I have worries about money or who will take care of me when I am old. I miss the built-in time for quiet and for prayer,” I say. “But no. It was for the best. You helped, you know. You saw so clearly what I couldn’t see alone.”

And then he asks, “Have you forgiven?”

Today at dVerse Meeting the Bar Brian Miller asks us to consider blind writing–that is, using any sense to create a scene, a poem EXCEPT for vision. I started to write this as a poem but it just didn’t work, so I hope I will be excused for a bit of creative non-fiction prose. This is an imagined encounter with a blind priest friend who helped guide me through a life-changing decision. The quote from The Little Prince is (as I remember it) “What is essential is invisible to the eyes.”