Cemeteries have always been a curious, comforting place to me. Even as a teenager, I remember slipping away to the peace of an ancient graveyard on a hill. Some years ago, we lived close to a large cemetery, and I regularly exercised by walking the streets between the graves. It was a quiet safe place, and I was fascinated to find a special section where only infants were buried.
“Oxymoron to a Still-Born Child” is my August gift in memory of our son.
Happy Birthday, Clay.
Oxymoron to a Still-Born Child
Teddy bears and Hot Wheel cars
sit beside grave markers,
sharing unmade memories.
Miniature pink roses and Babies-breath
rise from brass green vases,
an oxymoron to a still-born child.
A glass angel sparkles on a stick,
fragile wings of hope eternal.
As promised, my summer schedule is to gift one original poem to my readers per month, and I hope you will share my website with a friend. “No Handle” is a humorous poke at what we all fear – fear itself.
I hope you are enjoying slow porch swings, electric thunder showers, the magic of fireworks and the blessing of children laughing. I’m giving myself some leisure to write, but I promise to share more next month. Happy July!
The wolf, he’s a knockin’,
knockin’ on my door.
“Go away – get!
Not buyin’ anymore.”
The wolf, he’s a knockin’,
thumpin’ on the door.
“Let me come in.”
Fear’s clawin’ at my spine.
He’s there a thumpin’,
thumpin’ on my heart.
“Go away – get!
There’s no handle anymore.”
He’s there a knockin’,
Tis your soul’s Savior
knockin’ at your door.”
Dear Readers and Friends,
I will be cutting back this summer on my posts to make time to write, but – Worry Not! I promise to gift something at the beginning of each month and hope you will visit and share my web address with a friend.
My original poem below, Worry Not, is a reminder of God’s goodness. Have a great Summer.
Worry not, for I am with you,
Playing hide and seek behind the rock.
In the cleft, nestled down
I hide from my anxieties.
Worry not, for I am with you,
beckons me from darkness.
Behind your shield, smiles abound
laughter through the shadows.
Worry not, come play with Me,
up on the rock for all to see.
Rats continue to plague my short story. This is the conclusion to my original brownie fiction. If you would enjoy reading it from the beginning, please click here. Enjoy.
Rats…, Part 2
“Call me when the brownies are ready?” Michael was running toward the TV room.
I made a quick recovery. “Come back here.” The toilet flushed and Clay slid open the pocket door to the bathroom and headed down the hall toward the TV. “You too, young man. I want some answers.”
Clay dragged his feet in an exaggerated death march behind his little brother. “Aw, Mom, it’s no big deal. We didn’t hurt him.” He stepped on the heel of Michael’s shoe, sending him into a dive.
“Booger Face.” Michael whirled around ready to punch the taller boy.
“Stop it, immediately. Get over here.” I pointed to the dining room table. “Sit.” My finger jabbed toward Rick and Anita, indicating them as well.
“I didn’t do anything.” Anita sat with a harrumph.
“Yes, well then you don’t have anything to hide.”
Anita’s feet swung back and forth. Shoulders hunched, she sat with her chin on the table. “Rick told me not to tell.”
“I’m sure he did.” I looked at my oldest whose knuckles were still in the metal mixing bowl he’d brought to the table. “Give me that.” I whisked the bowl over to the sink. “You were supposed to be in charge, Rick.” The clang of metal to sink punctuated my point. “You need to set an example—both of you.” I looked from one older boy to the next. “He looks up to you.” I pointed at Michael.
“He was having a good time.” Rick grinned at his youngest brother. “He was getting into it, too.”
“It was different when you were picking on Clay?” Michael stuck his nose in the air and sniffed. “Can we eat?”
Clay looked indignant. “Yeah, you guys only tried to set me on fire!”
“What?” I stood over the table of defendants.
Clay pointed to Michael. “He got the fireplace lighter while she got Mom’s hairspray.” He turned on his sister.
“Hairspray, for what?” I looked at Anita.
“I didn’t know what it was for. Honest, Mom. Rick just told me to do it while he held the door shut.”
“I didn’t hold the door shut. He had it locked.” Rick pointed toward Clay.
“Locked why?” I looked from one boy to the next.
“I was trying to go to the bathroom, and they wouldn’t leave me alone.” Clay squared self-righteous shoulders.
“You were trying to keep Michael from hitting you with the spoon.” Anita giggled.
“He tried to pull off the towel, Mom. Out there …,” Michael pointed toward the front door, “in front of God and everybody.”
“What did you do with my hairspray, Anita?”
“I didn’t do anything.” Anita’s lower lip trembled. “Rick made it spray fire through the bathroom keyhole,” she wailed.
“RICK.” My eyes bulged like a cartoon character.
“I didn’t know it would work, so well.”
“It was a good thing I was sitting on the toilet.” Clay’s hands flew in the air. “Fire shot right through the door past my face.”
“Rick,” was all I could manage. “What…, How?”
“We learned it in Science class. You put fire in front of the spray and it turns into a torch.”
“They taught you that in school?” My mouth hung agape, waiting for oxygen.
“The teacher used different propellant, but it was really cool.”
“I’ll cool your butt, Mister. You could have really hurt your brother or set the house on fire!” I walked in a circle, rubbing my forehead, while Anita began to sniffle.
Eight-year-old Michael bounced in his chair. “I smell the brownies. Can we eat ‘em?”
“Hell, no. I may never make brownies again,” I bellowed. On cue the timer buzzed and Anita began to cry. Grabbing the oven mitten, I stepped to the range. “I may donate these to the church,” I yelled and pulled out the 9×13 inch pan, placing it on the stove top, so smooth and practiced the motion resembled a dance.
“Aw, Mom,” Clay and Michael chimed in a chorus. “Please, please, please don’t give them to the church, again; can’t we eat the brownies?”
“No! Go play,” I waved a red mitten in the direction of the back yard. “Not, you.” I pointed a long finger at Rick; my eyes squinted, trying to look fierce. He sat down while the younger boys ran out the back door. Anita stayed, her hands in her lap, forehead resting on the table.
I leaned on the counter that separated the kitchen from the dining area, allowing the quiet to settle into the space. My eyes rested on the broken spoon, as I regained my composure and decided how to dispense justice. “So Rick,” I picked up the two pieces of wood. “What happened to my spoon?”
The fourteen-year-old looked at his sister. “I think it was rats.”
Although the short story, “Rats,” is indeed fiction, it has occurrences of truth while the names have been changed to protect the guilty.
This was originally published as a two-part story. You may read it in its entirety here: Rats
I pulled the well-worn wooden spoon from the jar of utensils on the counter. The handle dangled for a precarious moment before it bounced several times and came to rest on the Formica. “What happened to my spoon?”
Anita, my six-year-old, giggled, “It broke.”
“I noticed that.” I picked up the dowel and scrutinized what I hoped was a gob of rubber cement, “but how?”
Anita leaned against the cabinet in front of the unfilled brownie pan. Her blue eyes stared up unblinking. I could see the turning gears.
Clay, Anita’s eleven-year-old brother, crossed the room quickly. “Wow, brownies. What’s the occasion, Mom?”
“A funeral for my favorite spoon, do you know what happened?” I fished out a plastic spatula from the jar and frowned at the warped head, melted in a previous bake-off.
“Ah…, I think Shane broke it.” Clay recited our oldest boy’s common excuse for unexplained broken or damaged property.
Anita giggled at the family joke. “Shane breaks everything.”
I stopped the mixer and handed Anita a beater. “Maybe we should stop letting that clumsy neighbor kid in the house.”
Clay shrugged. “Can I have a beater, too?”
While the two kids smeared chocolate across their faces, I attempted to spread chocolate around the pan with the bent spatula.
The back door slammed. “Ohhh, brownies.” Fourteen-year-old Rick sauntered into the kitchen.
I sighed and opened the cupboard door to the wastebasket. “Rick, do you know what happened to my wooden spoon?” I threw the chocolate covered spatula into the trash.
Clay shrieked, “Mom, I could have licked that.”
“Sorry.” I frowned and held the two pieces of wooden spoon for Rick to see.
He looked from his sister to his younger brother. “No clue. Can I lick the bowl?” Clay hip-shoved his brother away from the mixing bowl.
“I wasn’t here.” Anita weaved her tongue in and out of the beater.
“What do you mean?” I picked up the Pyrex dish. “Where were you?” My words sounded off-hand, as I turned to open the oven door.
“I was down the street at Meagan’s, remember?”
I slid the pan into the hot oven. “Was this yesterday, when I went grocery shopping?” I had left Rick in charge of his two brothers, Clay and Michael while Anita went to visit her friend. “You were here when I came back.”
“I came home when I heard Michael screaming.”
“Screaming?” I bent down to Anita’s eye level.
“No.” Anita backpedaled, looking at her oldest brother glare. “Just hollering … a little.” My eyes widened as she spoke faster. “He was using the spoon, to get his underwear out of the pecan tree.”
“What?” I looked at the older boys who shrugged in unison. “I don’t understand, Anita—explain.”
“It was just funny, Mom. After they “pants” Michael they threw his underwear up in the tree where he couldn’t reach.” She pointed at the front door.
On cue eight-year-old Michael ran in from the TV room. “Are the brownies ready, yet?” He ran by the family crowd to look in the oven window. Michael turned to see my mouth hanging open. “What?”
“You were in the front yard naked?”
He looked at the audience standing at the counter. “I had a towel around me.”
Clay snorted a laugh before Rick elbowed him.
“Clay.” I turned to the weak link.
“I can’t help it, Mom. It was those leopard bikinis.”
I turned my head with a cough, knowing the youngest boy’s fashion obsession. I pursed my lips to stifle a smile.
“I gotta use it.” Clay ran towards the hall bathroom.
I turned to Rick. “So you pulled off your brother’s pants, took his underwear, and threw them up in the tree—in the front yard—for God and everybody to see?”
“They gave me a swirly too.” Michael stood looking in the oven window. “Are the brownies done, yet?”
“A swirly—is that what I think it is?” I grimaced with visions of Michael’s head in the commode.
Gastrocolic soundings rumbled down the hall. Rick tipped his head in the direction of the bathroom. “Just be glad he didn’t use it first.”
“I heard that.” Clay yelled from his throne.
“So did we,” Anita chimed in. Laughs erupted all around.
I scowled. “That’s enough, young lady.” Anita pouted her lower lip at me.
I turned to Michael. “What started all this?”
“I don’t know.” Michael glanced from his older brother to the oven. “It’s no big deal.”
“It was a big deal if your sister could hear you all the way down the street.” My voice rose with my mental mortification. “I’m surprised the neighbor’s didn’t call me.”
“Maybe they’re not tattle-tails.” Rick ran his finger around the empty chocolate bowl.
I shook my head. Eyes closed, I could only imagine the tailwind from the neighborhood mom’s. “Oh, God.” I bit my bottom lip.
To Be Continued…,
What do you think? Will Mom hear it from the neighbors?
What happened to the spoon?
Does chocolate attract Rats?
See you here next week. Chris
I’m sharing a memoir this week, Dog Gone, written several years ago in response to my writing friend’s “dead dog story.”
The photo is an old house in Baton Rouge circa 1930’s; However, not the one in this story. The house pictured is indicative of the student slum neighborhoods our children occupied while attending college, but the original “crack house” was larger with peelng white paint. (If you use your imagination, you can see the corner of it in the photo.) Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture and the place was demolished to put up a Dollar Store.
Rundown and dirty with hardwood floors and plenty of parking, it was situated on the edge of LSU and the Baton Rouge city slums. Scheduled to be torn down, the apartment’s future sat between some political cross-hairs in the middle of a city and school dispute over local development. It was one of several similar old structures in the neighborhood of student slums and coveted for their proximity to the university. Built in the 1930s, this particular two-story white rectangle contained four apartments. The fashionably bohemian antique box appealed to our son, George, and the price was right for his fifth year budget. It was a landlord’s dream. Why fix up something scheduled for destruction, yet rentable?
We drove to the back of the huge dilapidated apartment, a place George and his friends referred to as “the crack house.” As we exited the pickup truck, he stood smiling on the back stoop, tanned and ready in his sleeveless wife-beater T-shirt and jeans. It was moving day, and we were his usual crew. Bucket and vacuum in tow, we trouped up the five or six steps to the ancient raised clapboard and noticed a peculiar odor.
“I think the last tenants boiled crawfish on the porch and dumped the water.” George pointed to the gray peeled paint floor. I looked at the worn wooden slats and cringed. This was definitely the worst place yet.Continue Reading
The theme of time and eternity continues this week in my original flash fiction, “Waiting.” My imagination is stirred with the intersection of the concrete and kingdom come. Do time and dimensions overlap? Does the waiting in life stop at death or move beyond?
She was 102. Her husband had passed twelve years ago. Their only son, David, had been gone some forty-eight years. She grimaced. She had outlived everyone—her siblings and friends. The Hospice nurse offered her some morphine.
“No, thank you. My mind is all I have.” Memories floated on a hymn sung long ago in a little brick church. A hum crossed her lips as a wave of pain stole her thoughts.
“Hello, Mama.” He kissed her cheek.
“David?” He was such an inquisitive boy. Grew-up to become a scientist.
He pulled at her hand. “Come on, we’re waiting.”
“Yes, of course.” There was an explosion of evergreen and cinnamon apple cider—Christmas! Cataract free, she blinked. Vibrant hues cuddled her warm. She ran. Laughter burst from her chest.
“Sarah!” She swung her little sister round and round. They hugged for a week.
On the porch, her husband kissed her again for the first time over and over.
David sat in her lap for a month. He moved a little toy car up her arm. He placed his hands on her cheeks, pinching them gently into a fish mouth. “Bye, Mama.”
“I’m going to explore the Universe.”
Her head cocked to the side. She didn’t understand.
“I’ve been waiting. You were the last one who remembered me. Now, I’m free.” Immediately, a comet tail of vapor swished toward the sun and past the stars, two thousand years.
Her hair flew in the breeze as she waved. “See you.”
She turned and followed her path back to the party.
I’m closing out April and National Poetry Month with two original poems. “Time” a subject that’s fluidity seems surreal to me, yet our days are marked by numbers stamped on the dial. Also, “Hymn of Praise,” an old poem written when children ran my roost.
I hope you enjoy. Next week I’ll share more original fiction.
like morning fog
lays hazy, still –
a dense white lie.
wings like eagles,
knee high by July.
through the mirror
minutes to hours
Hymn of Praise
Sun ripened days
Bloom with thunderheads
Spill over the top
From the roof drops
Under the eves
A porch swing
Sways to the beat
A melody creaking
for the percussion
Flowers and grasses
Stand in offertory
Drinking the gift
After the toast
Mud toes oozing
Squeal and splash
A hymn of praise
For National Poetry Month, The Academy of American Poets www.poets.org celebrates with a National Poem in Your Pocket Day. This year it’s Thursday, April 21st. The idea is to clip a poem, put it in your purse or pocket and share it with others at the grocery, library, or coffee shop!
My friend and artist, Howard Hardt, sent me the poem I shared last week, “Thorns In My Roses” attached to one of his original photos. It was so lovely, I’m reposting it, along with a couple other original poems.
Hope your taking advantage of your inner bard and jotting down a few of your own.
read for my insights
blessed by the Muses
revered for my thoughts
measured by income
a twentieth century leper
On My Way
Brown spots step along the veins,
blue streaks on withered hands.
Daffodils fall from my grasp
float in the muddy river.
Brown spots step along the veins,
Once long fingers, knarred and bent.
Yellow dots bobbing, wave bye
on their way to the sea.
It’s National Poetry Month. I’m celebrating the occasion this week by posting several original poems. Hope these simple offerings inspire you to pick up your pen.
For more encouragement sign up for a prompt everyday from Robert Lee Brewer – Poetics Aside Blog – http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/poetic-asides
This first poem, I had to reach back to my old laptop and 1997…
Thorns in My Roses
God waits for no mom
And neither do children.
Evolving sleepless bundles
While smiling dreamers
A Tigger bounce
From suckers to sex.
Winds change like clothes
Scattered on the bathroom floor.
Time lapse photography
Grows the budding rose.
Fast forward metamorphose
Unfurls God’s creation.
May winds whip the Sycamore.
“No,” the tree shakes back and forth.
Large hand-sized leaves slap the North wind.
Twisting and hissing,
“It’s too late for a cold front.”
Gray dawn illuminates my page.
Chill spinning round bare ankles
despondency drips from my pen.
The normal arid Austin sun
obscured by Mother Nature’s joke.
“Not funny.” The cactus lay broken,
prickly pear spilled crying on the ground.
Knock-out roses bleed sympathy,
peddles rain red across the lawn.
Spring tears unsprung blur the glass.
knotted green shoots
burst yellow dessert smiles and
birds call morning – another day.