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Friday, December 31, 2010

December dribbles - 31

He quit his carpentry job; will we call him lazy? He hung out with the down-and-outs, so will we call him bad? He came to a sticky end; will we say it’s his fault? Then they buried him.

His followers caused a fuss; will we silence them? Or follow Him?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

December dribbles - 30

Long-haired lay-about died. The crowds were shouting out for blood, quite the fearsome spectacle.

They strung him up with the city’s rejects, one each side, where everyone could see. Road stinks of blood. Birds are silent. Air still. A scared taste filling people’s mouths.

Long-haired lay-about died so we’d survive.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

December dribbles - 29

The long-haired lay-about’s causing trouble and cops are closing in. Seems only a moment since crowds were cheering him. Now they’re shouting for blood.

The long-haired lay-about calls us out for not doing as we should. Makes us feel guilty. He used to make us feel good.

Cops’ll silence him.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

December dribbles - 28

The long-haired lay-about rode into town on his motorbike, engine revving. Hangers-on gathered round, Fishman stinking of salty sea, and Taxman calculating odds. Twins roared and Thomas doubted this was right. Then long-haired lay-about beckoned all to “Come.”

“No,” said the old man clinging to memory, listening to different songs.

December dribbles - 27

Teenagers don’t play hide’n seek; they simply wander off; away somewhere; gone with the wind, with friends, with strangers, maybe. Panic sprays like dust. Fear tastes like donkey dung. Streets flash by while flying feet seek solace. And there he sits—all’s right with the world—about his father’s business.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

December dribbles - 26

Abram pretended wife was sister, fooled Pharaoh, and grew rich. Sara found Hagar who carried her child, then child found wife and mother to twelve tribes. Joseph, from the other twelve, was prisoner and king. Tribes grew, enslaved, set free. Then Jesus, born to free us, hides away, in Egypt.

Friday, December 24, 2010

December dribbles - 25

“I saw an angel Mom.”
“No way.”
“I saw a babe in a manger Mom.”
“Yes dear. You’re imagining things.”
“Saw shepherds.”
“There’s no shepherds in town.”
“Saw kings.”
“Don’t lie to me.”
“Saw a really bright star.”
“The moon.”
“Saw a family run away.”
“Silly boy.”
“Saw soldiers.”
“Flee!”

December dribbles - 24

“God’s going to be born as a child,” said the angel.
“No way. He can’t throw His glory away.”
“But He will.”
Then Lucifer fled through time and space to prove it couldn’t be true. He tempted woman and man; they fell; so the heavens tell, God born as child.

December dribbles - 23

The star tickles his eyes and dust his nose, which he buries deep in books to learn their meaning; starlight's seeming ever brighter in the sky. The secret words declare a king of those who don’t believe that stars have meaning.

Kings followed the star to find the holy child.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

December dribbles - 22

Cold at night; red sky, shepherd’s delight; dawn’s promised light; cold night.

The shepherds shiver, smell the sheep and scents of herbs and hay, see swaying backs white under moon, hear gentle gloom, sheep-saying cold at night.

It’s cold and dark, then spark of light is angels in the sky.

December dribbles - 21

Weary donkey’s walked a long hard way, back swaying, feet clop-clopping down on dusty ground. The master frowns. The woman struggles down. At least they’ve stopped and donkey’s found a stable, juicy hay. He brays at animals around him, strangers, maybe friends, then mother lays her babe in manger bed.

December dribbles - 20

Soldiers stamp on dusty ground while strangers mill around. Houses fill, the bedspace, roofspace, spilling people onto streets to sleep. A mother walks so near to giving birth, while father, dearly worried, tries to find a patch of earth where babe might lie. And taxman calls, “Be counted; Caesar’s time.”

Sunday, December 19, 2010

December dribbles - 19

The son will fly with tomorrow’s sun, bringing Christmas truly begun.
The family gathers; the wreath’s on the door; there’s happy times in store.
The dinner gets cooked, different menus parading as one.
The dinner gets shared, different offerings eaten. And son
Will leave with the year. Seasons Greeting’s everyone.

December dribbles - 18

The Big Freeze closed the airports—passengers stranded, desk-clerks frantic, pilots want to go home. The Big Freeze closed the freeways too, trucks sliding into snow-banks at the side. It even closed shops.

The Big Freeze closed the stores? Shock horror! Then shoppers stayed home warming hearts at heart-warmed hearths.

December dribbles - 17

“How does Santa know if we’ve been nice?”
“Magic,” says Mom.
“Listening devices,” says Dad.

“How does Santa go all round the world in one night?”
“Magic,” says Mom.
“Supersonic,” says Dad.

“How can Santa be in more than one toy-store at once?”
“Magic,” says Mom.
“Multiple personality,” says Dad.

Friday, December 17, 2010

December dribbles - 16

One more Christmas, one last chance to smile and build those memories—promises and dreams for all the years…

One more Christmas, but she’s gone. She smiled and gave us hope to conquer fear. She smiled and prayed and took the sacraments and went away.

This Christmas she’s with Him.

In memory of my Auntie Pauline.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

December dribbles - 15

He stood guard over nothingness, weary, bored. Sometimes lights flashed. Then nothing. Bored. Till the soldier heard her cry “Save me!”

Save who, he wondered. Who else was here, trapped on the outer limb of a Christmas tree? Then he saw her, dancing angel, glorious, bright. “Save me,” he cried.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

December dribbles - 14

The forest trapped her, green all round and branches tight at her knees. A canyon loomed, deep nothing where ground should have been. She shrugged slim shoulders, cape stretched high like angel’s wings, with upturned scarf a halo in her hair. Tin soldier looked bored. “Save me!” the dancer cried.

Monday, December 13, 2010

December dribbles - 13

Silver and gold
Tinsel and foil
Trouble and toil
To get it all right.
Silver and gold
Her head’s going gray
Now her life’s growing old
Now you’re going away.
Silver and gold;
Come home for the tree
Come home for the mother
The brother and see
Silver and gold.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

December dribbles - 12

Bob put Tom’s car-keys in the blender. Meanwhile Tom’s car disappeared. Tom sent for the police while Bob drove a miniature car round the Christmas tree. “Nee-naw” he sang. “Stick-em-up.” Not tactful. Tom was fit to explode. Then Bob, the elf, put a strand of Tom’s hair in the blender.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

December dribbles - 11

He left his shoes, and snow and mud, on the runner when he came in. He was a child.

He left one shoe in Iraq; left a leg there too.

He left no shoes when he was gone, but Mom hung onto one; found candies inside it when Christmas arrived.

Friday, December 10, 2010

December dribbles - 10

In dark earth a worm turned slowly to light. Bird swooped. Worm wriggled free.

In green tree a squirrel complained at the sight. Bird chattered. Cat pattered on grass. Bird took flight.

“Am I being good?” asked the boy who caught the spider. “Can Santa see?” Boy let it go.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

December dribble - 9

There’s snow on the ground and lights in the stores, and more. There’s gifts by the tree and Santas walking the street. There’s flying reindeer, noses glowing bright, and greetings, dreams and promises tonight.

It’s cold and wet and rainy gray outside, but kings still follow stars on Christmas cards.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

December dribbles - 8

Smiling brightly: “Happy holidays!”
Frowning deeply: “Happy Christmas.”
Smiling brightly: “Season’s greetings!”
“He’s the reason for the season.”

Playing music. Singing Santas. Children’s laughter. Teenage banter. But the frowner’s looking down on all the cultural delight.

Smiling brightly, little baby’s hailing shepherds, most unsightly, greeting strangers, wrong religion; welcomes all.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

December dribbles - 7

Santa’s sitting by stairs on a comfy chair. Fake flames flicker in fake fireplace. Santa’s elf, bigger than Santa himself, has hands that smell of soap.

Santa was sitting outside the store too. She knew him by his beard and loving grin. Red coat worn out, he begged for pennies.

Monday, December 6, 2010

December dribbles - 6

Somewhere a plane is flying. Somewhere a mother’s riding to her child. Grandmother brings her walking cane and slowly treads the land of Christmas tree and candy-canes. Christmas comes at the hands of the beloved. And boy who rarely smiles or hugs runs forward, eyes on eternity, joy welcomed in.

My Mum is on her way as I write, bringing Christmas on airplane wings.

December dribbles - 5

Puppies bounced through hedgerows while leaves turned into snow. Small legs raced fast through mounded white. And pups got stuck.

Mom clambered through hedgerows while leaves squelched into mush. She rescued pups and set them back on paws. Her feet sank deep in slippery sleet-sodden mulch, white sauce on brown.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

December dribbles - 4

The shoppers shop. The music plays. The candy-canes dissolve in sticky goo.

“Too noisy” says one vendor.

“No. Too quiet.”

“Too much religious stuff. Play Santa songs.”

The shoppers shop. The music plays. The vendors sing along, while holy child in manger smiles, and promises salvation when the Christmas-music stops.

December dribbles - 3

Time to write those thoughts and memories of a year, sighed Jan, when mail brought timetables of wondrous deeds: "Tom graduates," "Mike’s aced his test" and "Jess plays first violin."

Blinking on tears and thinking happiness, she wrote a letter filled with hope, then found her heart uplifted after all.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

December dribbles - 2

The Christmas trip… The Christmas trip on a plane to family abroad… The Christmas trip where you take off your shoes and struggle out of the wheel-chair, only to be asked if you’ve got any “soil” in your suitcase, and “When are you leaving?” But grandchildren’s smiles make everything worthwhile.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December dribbles - 1

I remember Mighty-Max, his miniature figure in every design—“What color’s his shirt this time?” We panicked when a Transformer’s driver went missing—“He’s the robot’s head, Mom.” And I remember presents around the tree, piled high as the little boys’ knees. But now they just want flat-packed computer CDs.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

November dribbles - 30

I don’t know where time goes,
Only it flows
Like rain.
I think I lost your photograph
Left it in a book
I gave away.
Water washes pictures from the page
While ages pass and lemon grass
Grows sepia with age.
Don’t know where time went
But we grew old.

Giving thanks for time to grow older

Monday, November 29, 2010

November dribbles - 29

Step forward;
Futures beckon you
But stir and twitch uncertainly
Till wretched stop; stand still.

Step back
Where memories tangle steps
That wrangle angered thoughts until
The path before is filled.

So step aside,
See different paths,
And ones not taken yet.

Step forward
Set your eyes on God again.

Giving thanks for opportunities yet to come

Sunday, November 28, 2010

November dribbles - 28

Dad made me jump;
I dropped my knife
And splattered gravy
Far and wide;
It splashed my brother
Who tipped his chair
Bumped into mother
Who tripped the cat
Which jumped and scratched
The dog who bit
The table-leg
And made the baby cry;
So that’s what really happened
Honestly!

Giving thanks for childhood innocence

Saturday, November 27, 2010

November dribbles - 27

They’re blaming need on want, forgetting greed;
Blaming war on peace, then closing doors
On hoped-for conversation.

They blame computer games for fights
And music for their sleepless nights
And books for cruel looks
Pictures for lies.

They’re blaming dreams. It’s time to fly
Away. Let celebrations’ thanks be mine.

Giving thanks for festivals and joy

Friday, November 26, 2010

November dribbles - 26

Run rabbit run;
Follow winds to the sun;
Never end ‘til the story’s begun.

Fly turkey fly
Or they’ll eat rabbit pie;
Watch the leftovers pile to the sky.

Flow with the wine
Drinking grapes from the vine
Taking walks round the field when there’s time.

Then run rabbit fly.

Giving thanks for exercise

Thursday, November 25, 2010

November dribbles - 25

The scent of cooking,
Sweet and savory;
Sounds surround
A scrap, a bubble
Gravy.
Clattering pans,
A smattering of something
Splats the floor.
Alone no more
There’s pattering feet
And paws
Where scent of cooking,
Glorious cause,
Imbues the pup with
Glorious applause.
Your chatter draws
A lapping, happy tongue.

Giving thanks for Thanksgiving dinner

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

November dribbles - 24

The truth lies in-between,
A frozen leaf that clings, ice-rimed
Bejeweled, its amber hidden deep inside.

Beneath the silvered sky
Attached to heaven’s bough by frailest
Web, wind-whispered promises don’t lie.

The truth is then and now
And when and how and ever tries
To tell eternal thanks, well-prayed, well-signed.

Giving thanks for faith and truth

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

November dribbles - 23

The turkey paper’s giving me ideas for turkey day
And says
It’s quite okay to not eat meat
Just bring your own dish
Sweet or savory.
The page is full of turkey deals and ads
For turkeys free with this week’s shopping
Still I plan
To give my thanks
Thankgiving-turkey-free.

Giving thanks for Thanksgiving dinner:
Poem inspired by vegetarian son and today’s newspaper insert.

Monday, November 22, 2010

November dribbles - 22

Between the rocks of ages stand
And watch the imprint of his hand
That formed the sundry creatures and
Their wonder on the land.

Between the science and faithful stand
Above their worries, open hand
To each, by both uplifted, planned
His love, their plunder. Hand

In hand together stand.

Giving thanks for argument

Sunday, November 21, 2010

November dribbles - 21

Did I ask before I bought it?
Did I think before I thought it?
Did I wonder? But he caught it
And he asked me why instead.

Didn’t watch the checkbook’s number
Simply wrote it unencumbered
By the knowing, thumbed my nose at plans.
The blame lands on my head.

Giving thanks for financial planning.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

November dribbles - 20

Was it wrong to cry?
Wrong to whisper my goodbye
To you? I don’t know why
But somehow it felt right
And still I cried.

Was it right to make
An end to it, agree and say
Okay and let them let you sleep.
I weep remembering
Keep wondering why.

Giving thanks for the comfort of pets.

Friday, November 19, 2010

November dribbles - 19

There’s holes in the insulation under the door
Where wind blows in.
Its whistle calls and thundering voices echo in the hall
While leaves of fall have clattered
Worn and battered underground.
I shiver but remember more
The children’s tread,
Small voices echoing all through my head
Warm sounds instead.

Giving thanks for home and family

Thursday, November 18, 2010

November dribbles - 18

Not lost; just hiding,
Sliding the words between pages
White space defines me.

Not lost; unheard though
Wondering if she’ll be there
Remembering she’s gone.

Not lost; preparing
Warily checking the beat
While she’s waiting to dance.

Not lost; emboldened
Enfolded in symbol and sound
The muse and the chance.

Giving thanks for the muse and the words

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

November dribbles - 17

Tell me why the wind blows
Winter whispering so coldly
Ancient shadows make me old?
Why are leaves like aging
Bitter rain falling like time that’s
Painting wrinkles on the rhyme?
Why are squirrels hiding
Birds are silent, kittens gliding
Into comfort
While the windblown branches frown.
Why’s it fall?

Giving thanks for seasons

November dribbles - 16

Stacking dishes, plates
Empty the dishwasher. They’re waiting
Still for dinner, sitting watching
The TV.
Stacking football scores on notepads
On their knees. I’m stacking dreams
Under the magnets
On the fridge.
Stacking all those pictures there
From kids; they’ve grown to adults.
Dinners stacked their muscles
Set them free.

Giving thanks for housework

Monday, November 15, 2010

November dribbles - 15

’Tisn’t raining
Ground is almost dry, disdaining
Leaf-mold’s cruel slide.

Strains to peek
From side to side, small kitten wearing
Water in her fur.

It isn’t wet
The kitten ventures out and yet
There’s raindrops in the air.

Kitten despairs
Of ever being warm again
’Til door is opened there.

Thankful for comfort and warmth

Sunday, November 14, 2010

November dribbles - 14

Sometimes the road seems more a sign than choice.
I know which way I’ll go
And dreaming, hope for good.
Star-crossed adventure calls me on. Rejoice
But drawing breath I stand
Beyond this land lie dragons.
Awaken now and listen to the voice
That says “I am.” Reply
I can.

Giving thanks for opportunities

Saturday, November 13, 2010

November dribbles - 13

I spent my day at a Christmas bazaar selling books and bookmarks etc...

Can I give you a flyer
About my books;
There’s no obligation to buy’em.

I do quite agree
The necklaces look
Very nice and beside’em
The hand-creams are scenting
The season.

A little boy reads
And his smile
Is the reason for writing;
It makes all the salesmanship seem
Worthwhile.

Giving thanks for reading

Friday, November 12, 2010

November dribbles - 12

They say you’re independent, free
To find your own way, choose your own
Path. See, they’re watching, waiting while
You fall. My independent rose
Was quelled by weeds that ever-grow
From ever-flowing seeds.

They tell how war and warming’s only
Politics they say while clock ticks
Faster than their needs.

Giving thanks for lessons learned

Thursday, November 11, 2010

November dribbles - 11

No one wants to turn the summer sun to graying fall
To watch the flowers die and all
The memories lie still.
No one wanted to climb that hill, to face the battle all
Encumbered, but they took the call
And fell. So we, we will
Tell all, remember them.

Giving thanks for veterans of war

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November dribbles - 10

She’s not for you. He ran away to war.
She isn’t yours. He kept her face before
His weeping eyes while colleagues died.

He’s not for you. Don’t care she said.
I’ll marry my American she said.
Then he was dead.

So one true love of two survived, and I.

Giving thanks for my grandparents’ love.

November dribbles - 9

They said don’t run; you’ll breathe the gas too deep.
He ran with mustard seeping dark inside
Too far, too fast, and weeping till he stopped.

They said he’d begun to die that day. Instead
He slowed to watch new wars begin and end
Again, praying forgiveness till he dropped.

Giving thanks for peace

Monday, November 8, 2010

November dribbles - 8

They told him the earth was flat, four-cornered, square.
He walked and wondered where
The end is.

They told him the earth was round, anchored on pillars
Eternally bound, unmoved by
Any trending.

They told him creatures were born fully formed. He
Yawned, his earth still orbiting;
Still friends though.

Giving thanks for faith and science

Sunday, November 7, 2010

November dribbles - 7

They poured, exploded from their rest
From anthill’s quiet domain now pressed
By child’s unwieldy eagerness
To know.

But silence pours its life with tears
As strangers probe her childhood fears
And nothing changes there or here
She knows.

Forgiveness pours a precious balm
And frees a soul from harm.

Giving thanks for healing and hope.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

November dribbles - 6

Looking for her
in the fields
evergreen
in the leaves
going brown
in the gray
olden town
in the way
that you frown
at me.

Looking for you
under memories
of words
That you say.
You’re not her
See you’re looking
for me but she’s
gone
and the memory
fades.

Giving thanks for memory

Friday, November 5, 2010

November dribbles - 5

It's Guy Fawkes night in England--remember the 5th of November...

One day he fought
Strange guy
He failed of course.
One day he tried
To blow up parliament.

Today we all
Recall
Wonder as well
How once he tried
To change the way things went.

Today we burn
Our guy
With blazing spell
And wisdom well
Replays the lesson meant.

Giving thanks for history

Thursday, November 4, 2010

November dribbles - 4

On a chair
In a house
On a lot
Nothing’s there
And the mouse
In the yard’s
Gone away.
Hear the dots
And the dashes
The painter
Is splashing
And slashing
The old paint
Away.
I wonder
Perhaps
Does the paint
Hold the walls
Altogether.
The mouse says
I’ll stay.

Giving thanks for our homes

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

November dribbles - 3

Sometimes the leaf-fall whispers,
Maybe calling windblown promises
From trees.
Sometimes the autumn chatters
Raindrops splatter in the dust of
Fallen leaves.
Sometimes the children scatter
More like needles from the pine than leaves
To please.
But motherhood remembers
Like the trees of Oregon and bends
Her knees
To Thanksgiving.

Giving thanks for absent family and friends.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

November dribbles - 2

D’you remember halting teetering steps
One foot, another, falling
Calling me?
D’you remember sweet and lost at school
Your silent eyes were watching
Stalling me?
D’you remember I still left you there
In time you left me too
Enthralls me now
To see how your grown life is started new.

Giving thanks for children growing up.

Monday, November 1, 2010

November dribbles - 1

She still looks round that corner
Behind me
Still waits though I mourn her.
She’ll find me
Some curious dawn where
I’m crying
And nudge me, forlorn fur
Abiding
In memory. I’ve torn her
From dreams
But she’s mourning me still
And each pup fills my
Longing to see her.

Giving thanks for dogs.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

October dribbles - 31

Three witches, a headless horseman, and a ghost went into a bar. “I’ll have a scotch,” said the horseman. “Make it a double,” said a witch. The other two intoned “Ah, toil and trouble.” The ghost said spirits weren’t quite his thing. Come closing time three author’s shades went home.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

October dribbles - 30

D’you smell the wet earth loamy,
Taste the leaf-fall in the air?
D’you hear the owl-call, nightfall’s host
While squirrel’s strident chatter shares
Its mystery? Do you see the dark?
Your fingers splay in hopes to touch the day?
D’you sense him now?
You really shouldn’t have come here anyway.

Friday, October 29, 2010

October dribbles - 29

The orange pumpkin seems to glow, hanging with bright plastic handles from little boy’s hand. He feeds it candy— begs at all the houses—“Trick or treat”—hoping for more. Brighter and brighter shines the light in orange pumpkin’s eyes, till sudden roar. Pumpkin gobbles child. Child begs no more.

October dribbles - 28

“Trick’r treat,” shouted Mom. The spaceman hid behind the table.
“Come on sweetheart. Trick’r treat.” Sad eyes gazed up through helmet’s bowl.
“Time to go.” He stared with corners of mouth turned down.
“Trick’r treat.” The trick is to stay very still. The treat is when monsters don’t eat you.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

October dribbles - 27

“Trick’r treat!” He heard the children’s voices down the lane.
“Trick’r treat!” He struggled out of bed.
“Trick’r treat!” The gravestone’s weight pushed him to earth again.
“Trick’r treat!” He crawled around the other way instead.
“Trick’r treat!” He hurried home.
“Trick’r treat!” Contentedly he gave his dog a bone.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

October dribbles - 26

Janet checked the time. “They’ll be here soon.” Jared checked the candy-bag. Jessie checked their costumes were all on straight.

“D’you think they’ll notice we’re invisible?” asked Joe, adjusting bone-white gloves to cover his wrists-bones.

“No way,” said Jason, tugging a black balaclava over his skull. “They just want candy.”

October dribbles - 25

“Trick or treat!” Three children waited at the door, a witch with black pointed hat, a wizard, an angel, and a scorpion.

“Trick or treat!” The woman who answered wore black, dusty veils over her face, blood dripping from her teeth. The children screamed and ran.

The scorpion ate her.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

October dribbles - 24

It happened in a moment. Bright sky turned dark. Shadows descended over the scene leaving red on the ground. “Vampire” shrieked the dream.

It happened in a moment. Sun turned to rain—day to night. Red leaves fell down but when the light returned, heavenly gold still clung to trees.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

October dribbles - 23

Sometimes it sounds like someone’s trying to get in.

No problem. Just the wind.

Sometimes they scratch at windows, doors. It sounds perhaps as if they’re all inside. Then footsteps trudge across the floor.

Sometimes it sounds like nightmares come to life.

On Halloween, the witch tells you, they do.

October dribbles - 22

Amanda raked the leaves to form neat piles. Amanda’s puppy jumped and scattered them. Amanda raked the leaves again then took the puppy safely back inside.

Outside, the wind blew wild and free. Leaves scattered far and wide. And hidden spiders grew to monster size.

No problem. Puppy ate them.

October dribbles - 21

Leaves fall soft as orange snow turned brown on weary ground. The sun sinks low in evening sky. Night falls and owl-calls drown the squirrels’ sound till all is still.

As leaves and shadows fall on grave-yard stones, then hands reach up and climb. It’s Halloween, the zombies’ hallowed time.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

October dribbles - 20

The fridge’s stomach rumbled. The heating woke in the bowels of the house, blowing hot like fire. Watching clocks blinked fierce red eyes, bright numbers counting the hours…

Not a creature stirred, not even a mouse, said the rhyme. Not even a house?

Number 13 Primrose place ate its occupants.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

October dribbles - 19

Ah, the gentle sound of leaf-blowers in the fall; mulching machines chew limbs from trees while lonely lawnmowers, last of their tribe, scythe down the summer’s grass. Sunshine brings out the busy in us. But skies grow dark, night-eyes spark bright, and rustling creatures whisper autumn’s terrors as they pass.

Monday, October 18, 2010

October dribbles - 18

The moment before it rained
The ground was dry.
The sky threatened with gray but I
Was kneeling in my memories
Pulling weeds.
The future drenched me.

The moment before witches
Flew the sky
My Halloween was memories too
Of twigs and paper hats
But dire
Adulthood wrenched me back.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

October dribbles - 17

A squirrel was hunting acorns in the grass. Sunshine flamed like firelight from his tale. He twitched and passed—warm squirrel. Beautiful—from lawn to deck where shadowed hand reached out to wreck his day.
Warm squirrel. Mmm. Delicious. Discarded furry brush, some bones and an acorn all that remained.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

October dribbles - 16

Technology; they used to say it was going to put us out of work. Sure, the caseloads got smaller when technological temptation got so easy, but there’s always those clever-clogs want to break the system. Everyone’s so careful now, data protection, switch off the gps. Demons can find you anywhere.

Friday, October 15, 2010

October dribbles - 15

There’s a reason they put mirrors on the walls behind bars. All those drinks and bottles reflecting their jeweled colors; all those smiling faces lifting glasses like treasure to their lips. And me. As long as there’s a crowd no-one notices they can’t see my reflection, till it’s too late.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

October dribbles - 14

“Mom. How did you meet Dad? He’s such a dork.”
“Ah, love. You really don’t know him so well.”
“But seriously Mom.”
“Okay. I’ll tell...
...We were playing in the churchyard in the woods; you know, that old abandoned place where the roof’s caved in. And a demon came from…”

October dribbles - 13

The view from the window was gray. Mist made ghostly shapes over trees, over paths. Mist trailed its thin damp fingers on the glass. Mist stared at her.

Misty gazed deeply into mist’s gray eyes; was suddenly surprised when the sun came out. Then she opened her mouth, breathing mist.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

October dribbles - 12

He rapped his knuckle on the windowpane, peering through the pale cloud of incense that surrounded her table. Watchers gazed entranced. She’d be promising forbidden glimpses of the future he guessed, revealed in the cards, while she, all unknowing, ignored his dark-cloaked presence and white-bladed scythe waiting by her door.

Monday, October 11, 2010

October dribbles - 11

“That’s a novel idea.”
“What?”
“Going back to the beginning of time.” He showed her the instructions. “See, so you can tell if women were really made out of man’s ribs.”
“Sounds messy to me.”
“Cream and sugar my dear?”
Eve poured. Adam stirred. The dog chewed on the controls.

October dribbles - 10

From milkman’s granddaughter to cowed by the farm: Don’t miss this terrifying tale of death by a thousand udders. You’ll never look a bovine in the eye again without flinching...

Meanwhile, from innocent calf to bovine Halloween. You’ll never look humans in the eye again without flailing those powerful horns.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

October dribbles - 9

I dream in color
Green when I’ve been weeding,
Brown earth feeding grayish scents
To nostrils. If I cough
Perhaps I’ll wake.

I dream in sound
Around me ivy rustling;
Sense how the ground is shared
With spiders. If I scream
Perhaps I’ll wake.

I dream in nightmares
Shaded gray.

Friday, October 8, 2010

October dribbles - 8

Green ivy crawls on painted walls while gray clouds hide the sun. Sky’s yellow eye grows dim but leaves shine bright, about to fall. Then red and orange and gold will mold to brown spread on the ground.

Green weeds poke through the mass, remind, spring always finds a way.

October dribbles - 7

D’you suppose the flowers don’t grow because they know I’ve not got green fingers?
D’you suppose they’re upset ‘cause I’m pulling down the ivy from the walls?
D’you suppose they don’t like me because I don’t like spiders?
And is that a spider, crawling in my hair?
I hate yard-work.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

October dribbles - 6

Night fell fast and street-lamps faded yellow into mist. Jane’s knuckles white, she steered the car away.

Red lights like alien eyes appeared while tooth-lined mouth, snake-tongued opened beneath.

Slamming the car into reverse, Jane backed into a lamp-post; screamed. Her headlamps now like beacons shine their warnings into sky.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

October dribbles - 5

The guy dressed as a tomato advertised the salad bar, but Danny thought the shark looked much more fun. Dad stopped the car and leaned out the window to order, “Two shark steaks.” He learned too late, this bar sold human steaks to alien shark-shaped clientele. The sharks ate them.

Monday, October 4, 2010

October dribbles - 4

“You want him to run away don’t you?” said Meg as her dog barked wildly over the carcass of a dead squirrel. Pale autumn leaves fell round them, bright-plumed birds, dead spiders and a fly.

Dog wagged his tail while Meg dragged him inside, while alien weapons burned the sky.

October dribbles - 3

Petey loved the lions at the zoo. “Wish I could set you free,” he said.
“You can,” the lion replied.
“Hey, he can speak!” Petey grabbed his mother’s hand, then trembled as his voice grew hoarse.
“Who can speak dear?”
“No-one,” said the lion in Petey’s skin, while Petey roared.

October dribbles - 2

Late afternoon sun reflected on a hole in the ground like liquid gold. “There must be a stream,” said Dianna running forward to see. Dave tried to hold her back.

Late afternoon sun tangled her legs like stockings trapped and trailed from the fabric of time. Then she was gone.

Friday, October 1, 2010

October dribbles - 1

An orange moon for fall; brown leaves on the ground; golden sunsets crowning russet cloud-feathers of sky… Squirrels, red and gray, hunt through the day; cats chase and play; then fierce coyotes conquer fearsome night. A squirrel-tail, cats-paw on dull green grass. Ghosts howl to orange moon and rainbows pass.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

September drabbles - 30

Emily gave names to her apple trees. “Lady Alice” had fruit peach-colored and sweet, blushing redly under the sun. “Uncle Tom” bore a crop with tiny red specks like dust. “Peter Piper’s” crop were tiny and green, slightly sour with sugar behind. And “Spiderman” bore juicy globes knit together by spiders in the night. They must have liked the taste.

They had real names, but all Emily knew was they bore sweet fruit like none she could find in stores. When she talked to them, her neighbors called her a witch. But they don’t burn witches anymore, just apple trees.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

September drabbles - 29

Sometimes the weather surprises you. The prophet said the river would be poison, but nobody cared until the fish all died. He warned us “Frogs” but we didn’t realize—without fish they got everywhere. Then they died too; didn’t eat the flies, so the flies ate us instead. But it wasn’t our fault.

A storm tore up the crops; locusts ate the rest; then the sky turned black. But things like that, they really can’t be predicted. We planned a party, made yummy cakes but the guys that ate them died. Too late, we ran the prophet out of town.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

September drabbles - 28

Lizzie looked out from the back of the car as they drove towards the park. “What’s he doing?” She asked about the man in the stream.

“Fishing, I think.”

Lizzie rode the ghost train, won a fish, and ate candyfloss snow. Then she looked again from the back of the car, carrying her plastic bag, watching out for fishermen. “There he is Mom!”

The fish leapt up, fluttered fins and gills, then grew and flew through the air. A scream in the night—no fishermen now. The tiny gills on the side of Lizzie’s neck opened wide in a smile.

Monday, September 27, 2010

September drabbles - 27

Summer’s over. The fair has gone. The field lies empty and bare. See, here are the treads of the merry-go-round, the dents from its wheels and its stands in the faded grass. Here’s where the door to the mirror-maze stood. Here’s the candy Sam dropped on the ground. D’you remember that? And here; I’m following footsteps now. He’s where Sam stopped; you see how the earth’s trodden down? Here’s where he found an image so entrancing he couldn’t move on—wonder what it was. And here? The footsteps end. Sam never came back and night’s falling. I’m sorry. We’re trapped.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

September drabbles - 26

“Don’t tell lies,” the teacher said.
“Why not?” said Meg.
“Because they’ll spread.”

The class went onto the green where dandelions had recently been.
“Pick some flowers,” said the teacher.
“Why?” said Meg.
“You’ll see.”

Meg chose the puffiest flower and pulled its stem. But seeds flew in a mighty cloud till only a pinprick was left. She chose another and shielded it but still the seeds escaped. She wrapped her hands round a puffy sphere, but threads and flickers trickled away through her fingers.

“Can’t do it,” said Meg.
“And you can’t stop lies from spreading,” the teacher said.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

September drabbles - 25

Alice saw flies on the forest path and swore she’d not go there. “They’ll itch. They’ll bite.”

Kevin saw fairies in spider-webs and begged her to follow with him. “They’re perfect Alice. I know I’m going to catch one.”

Andrew saw spiders waiting to capture Kevin.

Kate saw angels watching and knew they were safe.

But there’s one thing they all forgot; nobody knew the way. So they wandered lost till a flutter of wings led them towards the light. A fairy said Kevin. An angel said Kate. A Mom with a flashlight searching, Alice replied, and she was right.

Friday, September 24, 2010

September drabbes - 24

He flew on business to lands where strangers cooked, cleaned and washed his clothes and cared for him. He went to places where lanterns fly and secrets light the sky. He flew abroad where she could never be, and phoned once in a while. “Did I leave that paper on my desk? Can you tell me what it says?” He left her looking after home and family, and, when he come back, told her he was tired.

She—I’m the lazy one, she thought, imagining he thinks she’s done nothing worthwhile. Then he smiles at her. “Missed you my love.”

Thursday, September 23, 2010

September drabbles - 23

I liked that clock.

I liked the ticking that beat the passing seconds one by one. I liked the dong, always out of time, a quarter-hour with twenty minutes gone. I liked its telling of the hour, random numbers just for fun.

“What will we do with Granddad’s clock?” I asked after he died.

Mum sighed. “You know he always hated it.”

“Why?”

“It was all his parents gave him for a wedding present—a second hand clock, he said, for a second-hand-life.”

“Poor Granddad.”

I still like the clock but it stands all alone and stopped, silent like him.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

September drabbles - 22

“Grandma never loved me,” said Jen, wiping laceworks of dust from her face as they emptied the attic.

“Why d’you say that?”

“I wasn’t good enough. She always said…”

Jack would’ve called it Grandma’s way of caring but didn’t dare. A hidden suitcase of photos only served to prove Jen’s point. “See. She didn’t even keep my pictures on display.”

Downstairs they watched a passing breeze set Grandma’s chair to rocking. Sunlight fell on a photo of Jen. “She loved you,” said Jack.

“She never even framed it.”

But written on the back: “My Jen, best part of my life.”

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

September drabbles - 21

When summer ends the house gets quiet. Dog makes friends with cat again and they curl on the sofa looking out at birds. They bark or yowl at passing strangers and carefully guard the doors.

When summer ends it’s time to clean house, stretching paws to hidden parts of floors where enticing scraps lie hid. Cat finds a beetle—always fun. Dog finds breadcrumbs and wishes he could reach that distant speck of meat.

When summer ends there’s still the odd sunny day and one last barbeque. Cat wonders if they’ll try cooking squirrel, while dog tries to catch one.

Monday, September 20, 2010

September drabbles - 20

The children came home from school demanding to eat. “I want cookies,” said one. “I want cake.” “I want chocolate.”

Mom chopped up fruit and put it on a plate. But they wanted more. “I want candy,” said one. “I want ice-cream.” “I want apple pie.”

Mum chopped up carrots but the children still wanted more. “I want peanut butter.” “Jelly.” “Milk and juice.”

Mum brought a bowl of cherries out and the children reached for their treats. But the fruits dissolved in a puddle of goo with swarming ants underneath, and the children didn’t want them. Neither did Mom.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

September drabbles - 19

There’s something in the silence of books
As if the words whisper their way
From pages sealed in paper
To the wall of ages past.

There’s something in the way the sun shines down
As if the books are spreading stars in dust
The sound of them
Flying as soft as night.

There’s something in the scent of books
Of paper, glue and mystery
Suspense, romance
Suspended. Then

It tingles on the tongue
That taste of secrets.
Fingers look and touch
And wipe away the dust. Page opens wide…

There’s something
In a bookstore means
I simply must buy more.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

September drabbles - 18

Dami didn’t want to go to school. He told his mother “No” but she wouldn’t listen. His father only answered, “Go talk to your mother.” His grandma laughed and Grandpa said, “Oh no? Well, what do you know?”

Dami hid in his bedroom but heard his mother climb the stairs. He hid under the bed but heard feet approaching there. He wriggled into a storage box and found…

A book with pictures of a kitten hiding under a bed.

“What’s this?”

His mother smiled and said, “It’s a story. They’ll teach you to read it if you go to school.”

Friday, September 17, 2010

September drabbles - 17

There’s a noise outside. Blue jays are fighting again, and a squirrel joins in, shouting abuse from its corner of the ring. Trees bends their branches to listen with the memories of centuries weighing their thoughts. Bright flowers, baby upstarts, laugh. And a human intruder looks out through the living-room window.

There’s more flowers because of the rain. There’s more birds, so they’re fighting again. There’s more sun, and the trees’ weary branches are showing the strain. Fall comes early this year bringing leaves tinged with yellow too soon.

Meanwhile the human intruders ignore the dark elephant warming the room.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

September drabbles - 16

Eric leaned back triumphantly in his chair. The computer screen scrolled intricate words while speakers played their musical parade. “I won,” he exclaimed.

“Good job,” said Mom who’d just won her own private battle with the washing machine.

“Good job,” said Dad who’d helped his boss win a contract and saved his job.

They used to complain at computer games, saying Eric’s eyes were glued to the screen and it had to be bad for him. Eric missed the old days. But now he was packed and heading back to college.

His Mom and Dad missed the old days too.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

September drabbles - 15

“Wake up!” Jessie aimed a kick at her sleeping sister. Cassie groaned.

“Time for work,” said Emma, tossing cold water on Cassie's face. Cassie whimpered and groaned.

“They’re leaving,” said Mom and Dad, and Cassie was silent.

Five minutes later Jessie and Emma strolled in through the factory gate. “Your sister beat you,” said Tom, the security guard.

“Thought she was asleep.”

“Well, her eyes were still closed. But she beat you anyway.”

Inside, Cassie sorted through aircraft parts with skillful hand and blank face. If you listened closely enough you could hear her snore.

“Wish we could do that.”

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

September drabbles - 14

They’d moved for his job and nowhere to live, just family and car and luggage in the back. But at least the camp-site had a decent shower.

Miriam took the children to town. “We want to play,” they said but she insisted on school.

“Where d’you live?” asked the woman at the desk.

“We’re between homes.”

“But where?”

Then Mikey piped up, “We live in a tent.”

“We sleep in the car,” said Anne.

“We’ve not got a bed.”

“You’ll need an address in the school district,” said the lady and Miriam sighed.

“Okay, maybe studying’ll wait til another day.”

September drabbles - 13

Pete didn’t want to go to the party. “I haven’t got a present,” he said, but Asher’s Mom made him come anyway, and he watched, dismayed, while Asher opened his gifts.

“I love this car!” said Asher, so excited till the wheel came off.

“I can fix it,” said Pete. Sticky-stuff in his pocket worked a treat.

“This rocket goes fast.” The elastic broke, but Pete’s pocket contained a spare.

The pictures were fun till the crayons ran out, but Pete’s pockets had more hiding there.

Pete enjoyed himself, and Asher’s Mom said his were the finest gifts of all.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

September drabbles - 12

We went shopping that day, youngest son and me, starting out with the internet; emails, then links; much rejoicing to find out that the stores were nearby. We looked at lists of towels, bright colors and patterns; thought the kettle would be a good gift, but of course, he’s running late and they’re only available by mail—snail mail that is.

Then we went out, in the sunshine, in the car, with printed list in hand. We bought a photo frame collage, decorated with words like “Love” “Joy” and “Family.”

My youngest son going to a wedding: I felt old.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September drabbles - 11

When I was young I raged that they’d
Blow up horse guards’ parade.
I’d cried already, writ my words
For Mums and children dying
With no arms’n legs’n eyes. They said
It was for God. They lied.

When I was young I thought that I
Could stand and say my piece
For peace. The rhymes fell off the page.
The world grew up to rage
Again and on a different stage they’re waging
War for God. They lie.

Catholic and Protestant, they lied.
Christian and Muslim lie
the same as then, again today,
It’s other people die
Still wondering why

September drabbles - 10

Danny wasn’t very good at waking up. He set his alarm clock. It didn’t work. He set his phone; it didn’t ring. Then he downloaded “Wakeup” to his computer.

Danny became an expert getter-upper and the neighborhood pain. Five thirty sharp, the computer would screech and wail and Danny would leap.

“Stop that noise,” shouted old Mr. Thompson next door.

“Sorry sir,” shouted Dan.

“Where’s the fire?” Mrs. Williams wailed.

“Only me.”

“It’s the end o’the world!”

“No, Miss Hughes, just the start o’the morning.”

Danny rushed out to deliver newspapers, while neighbors dreamed, and his Mom sighed with relief.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

September drabbles - 9

He fought in the last war, he thinks; a long long time ago, or yesterday. Heard Humvees in the streets last night and ran from flashing lights.

It’s when you see her carrying the baby in her arms, you realize—it’s in her eyes—she’s out to terrorize.

He fought in the last war. Today, he couldn’t quite remember what to say, so many questions flying by, wanting to hide or turn away.

It’s when he reached under his coat because his side was hurting, then the policeman fired. And here on lonely streets of home this lonely soldier died.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

September drabbles - 8

Mom spilled some salt so Tom slung a pinch over his shoulder.
“You’re making a mess,” said Mom.
“It’s for luck.”
“You don’t need luck.”

Upstairs he was checking his shave when Mom crashed into the door. The mirror smashed.
“Seven years bad luck!” said Tom.
“You don’t need luck.”

Tom walked round the ladder, paid the gypsy for a flower, and went to his interview.

“You like lavender?” asked the secretary.
Tom almost answered, “For luck” but offered her the bloom instead, got job and girlfriend, both in one.

“You don’t need luck,” said Mom, and Tom touched wood.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

September drabbles - 7

Sun glistens,
Dripping scents of honey
On whispering waves.

Man’s not listening
Buries his head and money
In the sand.

Morning scatters
Bread on the evening waters
Healing the land.



Sun glistened
Shone in the black reflection
Of the waves.

Man listened
Only to safe deflection
Of her rage.

Earth bleeding
Hiding her sores underneath
Till they blotted the page.



Earth like a bride sorely wounded
Bleeding her lifeblood, the newly
Devoted, devouring her beauty
Rescuing roamers who knew she
Would cry late-lamented, and blue sea
Awakes from the gray.



Sun glistens
Man learning to listen
Life and hope remain.

Monday, September 6, 2010

September drabbles - 6

She woke to a strange sound on the air, insistent, steady, sure. A bird with hiccups she thought and sighed and rolled over.

She woke to a stranger sound filling the room, more insistent, demanding its cause. A bird and a squirrel were going to war in a tree. She rolled over again.

She woke to a strange sound, loud as a party where squirrel and bird became friends and they danced on the lawn.

Then she woke to her mother’s firm hand on her arm. “Sylvie. It’s time for work.”

Alarm clocks really do make for very strange dreams.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

September drabbles - 5

He gave her a ring,
slipped it over her finger,
kissed her and promised
he’d always be there for her.

The air smelled of salt
Sea birds flew
And altered futures
Beckoned.

His touch was sandy
Dry and warmed with sun
His hand in hers
They listened to the birds.

She hadn’t reckoned
He’d betray her.

Seagulls beckon tears from eyes
That sea-salt air makes cry.
Sand’s staining black
Mud tracks perhaps or worse.

He gave her a ring
To seal the hole in her heart
But she burst out from it.

Under the ocean
They’d almost stopped the flow.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

September drabbles - 4

Dark tunnel, creeping,
Wet stones weeping,
Footsteps are seeping
Like mud into sand.

Explosive is fragile
As murder in hand
And it burns him. His breathing
Is fire. Will the world understand?

Captured imprisoned
They slaughter the guy
And we burn him in effigy
Wondering why.

Red glare tomorrow
Star-covered sorrow
Of bonfires returning
With games and we can’t understand.

Round-eyed with laughter
Dazed ever after
Where flames touch the rafters
And mud slips to sand.

Dark shadows weep where
The wet stone is seeping
Like blood on the water
Thoughts scattered like fire-splattered sky
Or like mud into sand.

Friday, September 3, 2010

September drabbles - 3

The radio plays and fingers clack on keyboards in time with the tune. Heads bob lightly under hair. Whispers of soundtracks wander on scents of coffee, on scents of tea and Mountain Dew.

The radio stops and it’s time for lunch. The workers leave their boards. Sandwiches are released from the fridge. Mugs slide under coffee’s spout. Hot water. Conversation. Then time to go back.

The radio plays and fingers clack and keyboards dance again.

The radio stops and the workers head for home.

His radio plays in his car and at last—peace at last—they’re playing his tune!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

September drabbles - 2

Memories wander in and out these days. Her mother’s face—how long since she saw her last? “Hi Mom.” “Hi Dear.”

The hand that’s holding hers isn’t right; not her mother’s. A distant voice asks, “What does she mean?”

Her husband now—how long since he held her last? But the fingers aren’t wearing a ring. It’s not him. Of course. They wouldn’t have met till afterwards.

“It’s time.” “Time for what Mom?”

Fingers clench on her wrist. The voice says “Not yet,” but it’s time to leave. Looking down from the sky she sees her son start to cry.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

September drabbles - 1

“Can I drive?”
“Maybe.”
“When?”
“When you’re older.”
Mother drives her child to school and home again at night. She knows where he goes and makes sure he does his homework. All’s right with the world.

“Can I drive?”
“Maybe.”
“When?”
“Get your license first.”
Mother trembles at young son’s side while he learns to corner safely and safely arrive.

“Can I drive?”
“Maybe.”
“When?”
“Now.”
She’s taking the young man to college, and now he’s driving himself. Tomorrow he’ll wake himself, feed himself, head out to work. He’ll be grown; she’ll tremble at home. All’s right with the world.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

August drabbles - 31

New (5)

New... A new girl’s helping feed the homeless today. Her mother ladles food onto plates while child bounds between tables offering smiles with the water-jug; and strangers smile back.

“She’s a princess.” “She’s an angel,” they say, and mother says, “She’s mine.”

A gap-toothed, string-haired guest in ragged garb smells of gutters and sinks. “Why d’you do this?” he asks the girl. “Why d’you care?”

“You ’mind me of my Granddaddy,” she replies, then picks a jacket up from a box. “Granddad don’t wear this anymore. D’you think it’d fit?”

The stranger smiles, hope renewed by a little girl’s gift.

Monday, August 30, 2010

August drabbles - 30

New (4)
New... Yes, it was new... Love and friendship are always new.

Matt rescued Tom from the gathering of homeless round the fire. Jen rescued Em from the loneliness of despair at losing him. The lost were found and the jacket hung old and forgotten, its promises kept.

Grandparents stood at the baptismal font, Matt and Jen with smiles on their faces. God-parents stood beside them, Emily and Tom, renewed and brave. Linda held the tiny babe. Her husband held her hand. And the pastor promised God’s care like a comfortable jacket, old and forgotten, secret and strong, and always new.

August drabbles - 29

New (3)
New... Yes, it was new... And it was smart. And the sleeves were the right length.
It helped him get a job, then an apartment, an address and a phone number. Till one day, dressed in his new, old jacket, Matt was ready to revisit his past.

“I still love you Jen,” he said to his wife at the door. “And I’m clean and sober and I work, and I earn my own keep.”

She didn’t trust him. But she let him see Linda again... And he walked proudly beside his daughter at her wedding, in his new, old jacket.

August drabbles - 28

New (2)
New... Yes. The coat was new.

“You’ll wear your new suit won’t you Tom?”
“No. I’m saving it.”
“For what?”
“Alice’s wedding.”
“But she’s only thirteen!”

At sixteen, Tom’s god-daughter was beautiful. At nineteen she was sick. At twenty-one she was dead and Tom wore the suit to her funeral.

Alice’s father gave Tom a parcel tied with ribbon afterwards; all the letters he’d written to his god-daughter through the years: “She’d want you to have them.” But Tom couldn’t look. He clutched them tight in fists and stuffed his hands into his pockets.

Then he threw the suit away.

August drabbles - 27

New (1)
New... Yes. It was new... The coat was new, last worn by a stranger who left it in a dumpster.

Left it why? He didn't care. Notes on paper scrunched in the pockets might have said, but they were too hard to read. They would feed a fire tonight though and keep him warm... Start the New Year warm.

Friends let Matt nearer the flames because he offered fuel. Then one of them insisted on reading the notes, letters to a dying friend. Their hearts were warmed while the coals burned dim and they started the New Year with love.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

August drabbles - 26

My Oregon - 5 - Oregon Green
The green of forest and meadow define this state, with shades touched gold, touched blue, or rainbow-hued in fields of blooms:

The blue of water and white-capped waves like clouds fighting to escape:

And the mist, unfinished painting of the Gorge, brush-strokes still fading, changing before your eyes:

A road that climbs through forest deep, up rocks of silvered gray to water-falls to leap infinity:

And a dry, desert land where I seek a lost angel, green lichen wings and robes of red, leached elements on rock…

Not lost, for sacred legions float the breeze and ever guard this Oregon.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

August drabbles - 25

My Oregon - 4 - Remembering Blue
After my first summer’s failure I hooked up the hose. Bright rainbows promised flowers, or gold. And I kept the dripping water from the siding with a chipped, cracked cup.

Blue skies deep and wide as the Oregon ocean poured comfort down on me. And yellow dandelions winked up from brittle brown grass.

Why plant more colors asked the summer sun. Why pour more water asked the river and sea. And lacking a green thumb I knew no answers, but rainbow bliss and a soft and soothing spray at the end of a day.

Forget-me-nots heralded the next year’s spring.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

August drabbles - 24

My Oregon - 3 Orb of Gold
That first winter, a single rose survived through wind and rain. Frost rimed the ground and tinged the petals brown, but still the last bloom’s yellow sun quivered, round and perfect and pure, at the end of a forgotten stem that I’d failed to trim.

The base of the tree was a tangle of knotted wood, all the vines leading left, not right, as if something were blocking the way underneath. Something buried. Some secret nourishment that fed my secret rose.

I could have dug for treasure, but instead I enjoyed the flower’s sweet summer scent on winter’s frozen wind.

August drabbles - 23

My Oregon - 2 Pretty in Pink
The bushes I planted my first year here were dead by the end of the season. I hadn’t realized Oregon summers would be so hot and dry. After all my labors only brittle twigs remained. I crushed it unseen while pulling weeds.

Now six years on, six long hot summers, six droughts, and I’m weeding again; dandelion suns, daisies like bridal veils webbing the grass, and something dusty purple—or borrowed or blue.

But the tiny pink flowers that trickle from pale woody stems are surely not weeds. Those bushes I planted my first year here bloom again, forever new.

August drabbles - 22

My Oregon - 1 - Tangerine Moon
I’d never seen the man in the moon till we moved to Oregon. I knew he was there of course; I’d seen pictures. But I thought maybe others had eyes more skilled, or imaginations more free. Then a friend said, “Look at the moon,” and I saw—the whole of his face, eyes, nose and mouth. Truly, a man watching from Oregon’s moon!

Later that night, when hot summer’s sun turned to wind and rain in the midnight hour, an orange moon from the pumpkin patch was spying over me. I wondered then, what other mysteries hide in this countryside.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

August drabbles - 21

Puppet Master (5 - the Secret)

Seasons changed and fortunes grew. Alisha’s parents recovered their gold, and nobody knew why Alisha lay growing sicker alone in her room. For a deadly secret was killing the maid, a truth she’d told to none but the lantern that lightened her evening shade. “I love him.” She had loved and he was gone.

After many long years a boat came to shore, its master grown weary and old. He carried a lantern, came knocking at Alisha’s door.

Alisha brought her lantern too, and both the lights spoke truth to lonely hearts. “I love you Alisha.” “I love you Mark.”

Friday, August 20, 2010

August drabbles - 20

The Puppet Master (5 - Magic Lantern)

Meanwhile, at sea, the rejected suitor gazed into the haze. “I loved her so,” he thought, wondering why she’d turned him down. He remembered her frown, her nervousness, and hoped she’d changed her mind.

As darkness fell he lit the lantern, studied finances and routes, and saw her face.

“I love you,” she declared, the voice so real. “I love you.” He wished it was how she might really feel.

Then he turned out the light, no money left for oil. He loved the girl. He loved his boat. But if wind and hope didn’t change he’d lose them both.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

August drabbles - 19

Puppet Master (4 - Welcome Gift)

“I’ll see her if I like,” cried the poet, and behind him his footman waited bearing gifts.
“What’s in the box?” the father asked, but the poet was calling, loudly now, “Annalea!”
She hurried downstairs, her older sister eagerly trailing behind. “Mike, Mike,” she cried.
“Will you marry me?”
“Yes!” shouted Annalea, though neither parent seemed able to agree.
The footman carried the box inside and showed all the treasures it bore, documents, deeds and promise notes.
“Not quite a starving poet,” said Mike, “but I wanted to be sure you loved me for myself.”
“Then all’s well,” said Dad.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August drabbles - 18

Puppet Master (3 - Unexpected Visitor)

She dreamed a tall handsome stranger who’d take her away. They’d sail the evening tide, under skies like silk with the breeze like milk and honey. He’d lead her to his bridal couch and lie beside her there.

“Oh Alisha.” Her sister laughed at her. “With your luck there’d be a hurricane and the couch would be all that survived.”

A knock at the door brought shouts. “I’ll see her if I like!”

“It’s Mike,” cried Annalea. Little sister dreamed of a small ragged poet who turned her whole life standing on its head. “Most unsuitable indeed,” her parents said.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

August drabbles - 17

Puppet Master (2 - desert days)

“How dare you refuse him,” her father exclaimed.
“How dare you embarrass us,” Mother complained.
“How dare you try to make me marry for money.”

They all agreed, money’s not everything, but its lack was surely going to be everything lost. “He’s such a nice man,” Mother said. And “You’d soon learn to love him if you tried.”

“What if he don’t love me?”

He’d sailed away on the tide for fourteen days. A fortnight without him, Alisha thought; a fortnight for him without her. “Time will tell how he loves,” she told her journal then, her wellspring of dreams.

Monday, August 16, 2010

August drabbles - 16

Puppet Master (1 - puppets)

“Father pulls the strings and we dance,” shouted Alisha. But she wasn’t dancing now. She trounced into a corner of her room, hurling books till the shelf stood bare. Neither reading nor dancing. Her sister waited for quiet to follow storm.

“It’s just his way, Ali,” she said. “You should give your fiancé a chance.” But Alisha had no desire to entertain marriage just to salvage her father’s business. Bad enough she’d used to wonder if clamoring suitors were after her money. Knowing her father was after theirs instead—it was the last straw.

And then the last book fell.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

August drabbles - 15

Guardian Angel (6 – Reflection)

He reached for his phone in the back of the cab, and caught sight of his reflection. Not a bus-driver after all; he’d been a business-man, black coat, wide hat and pin-striped suit. He’d ridden yellow cabs to work, yelled into phones on tangled wires, bought flowers for his wife.

Emily—he remembered now; red lipstick and the ribbon in her hair. He remembered smiles, laughter, love; and her funeral, dressed in black.

He remembered yellow-haired Sally too, child and woman, the voice on the phone.
“Yes, I’m fine,” he said. “No problem. Coming home,” paid the driver, and forgot.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

August drabbles - 14

Guardian Angel (5 – Sometimes)

Sometimes he watched her vacuuming while he wandered in the vacuum of his mind. He wondered could the switch be repaired that had taken his memories away.

Sometimes he watched and saw her mother, alive in the past for a while. He didn’t miss the present or future, but remembered her pregnant.

Sometimes he cried that he couldn’t thank her for things he’d mostly forgotten—the ungratefulness of life, after all his living, to hide itself away.

And sometimes, as he watched, he remembered he existed. Sunlight shone from her smile and he knew, “Whoever you are, I love you.”

Friday, August 13, 2010

August drabbles - 13

Guardian Angel (4 – Angel)

She was his angel when memory strayed, his guardian of the railroad tracks who always brought him back. And life was a train that had somehow jumped the rails.

He wasn’t sure how he got here, which strings he’d plucked, or how his paths had played. Somehow his bags had come unpacked, his luck betrayed, but the angel cast away fear.

She was his future, or his past, and she was dear.
“Sweet lass.”
“Here Dad.”

And a red case in the corner reminds; did he find her? Love? Or she might be his child.

She was his angel anyway.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

August drabbles - 12

Guardian Angel (3 – Baby Steps)

The car drew up. “Hi Dad.” Such a pretty young woman was taking his arm. “Come on,” the pretty young woman said. “We’re going home. You’re okay now.” But he didn’t feel okay.

“Who?” he asked.

“I’m your daughter, Sally.” So he tried to put memory to the name. “Here we go. Baby steps.”

One foot moved out in front of the other, pulling his body forwards towards a car door. He remembered you have to bend to sit down. Baby steps, like a children’s game.

“Emily?” he asked.
“No, Sally.”
“Where are the children?”
“Let’s get you home Dad.”

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

August drabbles - 11

Guardian Angel (2 – Memory)

He remembered how he’d met her—or maybe her mother. She had a red suitcase and a scarf round her head. Was he a cabbie? Did he stop?

He remembered the engine’s thudding, heavy roar, and the whoosh of doors. Bus-driver, maybe. She’d been waiting with a single bag holding the secrets of her life.

“Where to?”
“Anywhere.”
“I guess I’m heading that way.”

At the end of the line he took her out to dinner, then home to Mom. And then?

Sally was coming to take him home somewhere, but he must have left his memories in the cab.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

August drabbles - 10

Guardian Angel (1 Cab)

The phone rang as soon as he got out the cab. He wanted to leave it behind, but knew the cabbie would notice.

“Sir, your phone?”
“No, not mine. It must be somebody else’s.”
“I’m sure...”
“No. I have to go.”

Then the driver would stretch across the seat to answer the call. Sally would describe the face of the missing, coat, hat, gloves; learn where he was.

Meanwhile, he wasn’t even sure of who he was; that was rather the point. But Sally—he pictured a sweet-natured child—that’s not right—she would always be there to rescue him.

Monday, August 9, 2010

August drabbles - 9

New Beginnings (5)

She’d written the words so long ago, black ink on pages turned gray, her rage bound up in careful curves of cursed calligraphy. Reading them now etched deeper lines into her aching memory, bleeding drips of the past.

Cassie had done as she was told again—too pliant, too ready for others to know the way. But now the silver of water, greening of leaf, and rose-bud streaks of dawn across the sky had shown her more.

Memories aren’t black and white, and tears aren’t always pain. Tomorrow waits in rainbow sprinklers where children play their games.

Tomorrow and today.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

August drabbles - 8

New Beginnings (4)

Husband and baby were waking to the sound of the alarm. And dawn was a new shoot rising from the seeds of the past.

Cassie slid through the door and hurried upstairs, daylight glinting from the notebook she’d carried with her to tomorrow and back. No one knew she’d been gone.

On the wall, a picture of her family looked down, good, bad, and in-between. Truth is we’re all of us in-between, Cassie thought, not black and white, but shaded with all that potential to hurt and heal. Then she lifted her wailing infant to the healing of her breast.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

August drabbles - 7

New Beginnings (3)

Summer’s leaves had grown dry and brown. Cassie brushed them from her face as she walked under trees, through the park, towards the streets and houses and her home. One small bud was spring in the race to season’s end—one touch of vibrant sunlit green—one branch of tomorrow’s promise awakening today.

“Tomorrow is now,” Cassie said to herself, rebellion in her heart. “I’ll forgive who I chose. I’ll forget what I will. I’ll write my own rules and color outside the lines.” Her counselor saw right and wrong writ large in black and white, but Cassie chose rainbows.

Friday, August 6, 2010

August drabbles - 6

New Beginnings (2)

Pale fingers of pink trembled on the edges of clouds as Cassie walked to the park. The streets were empty canvas waiting for a child to crayon cars. The city sounds were an engine waiting to start.

Cassie made her way to the stone-sided bridge, overlooking the graceful arches of sleeping swans. She stood over water, folding paper, bending this way and back, decisions to be made. And then she released the plane to the motionless air.

“Tomorrow is another day,” she’d written. And now today’s first sunlight blazed against the airplane’s wing, white on black, as it flew away.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

August drabbles - 5

New Beginnings (1)

The night air was heavy and Cassie’s husband was stirring in his sleep. The baby’s sucking sounds from the cradle reassured Cass that he was still breathing. But she wasn’t so confident of her own breaths. Ragged sobs brought forth old tales retold, old miseries relived. “Write it down,” her counselor demanded, but what if Cassie didn’t want to set it down in black and white? “You never learned to rebel Cassie. You’re too pliant.” Should she be pliant now?

She angled herself at the desk so the gray of dawn would light her hand. “Tomorrow is another day.” Today…

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

August drabbles - 4

Sad Clown (4)

One day Jimmy and Sarah were walking in the city. The streets weren’t paved with golden bricks. The music wasn’t divine. The bright colors were just street-lamps and signs and not precious jewels.

Jimmy bent down to comfort a little boy. “What’s wrong?” Jimmy asked.

“My sister laughed at me.”

“Sisters do that.”

The boy pointed at Sara. “Is she your sister?” he asked.

“No,” said Jimmy. “She’s the girl I’m going to marry.”

Then Jimmy’s mask slipped, secrets unwarily revealed. But there were no sad-clown tears on his cheeks underneath. Suddenly the future was a doorway opening to heaven.

August drabbles - 3

Sad Clown (3)

The girl who loved Jimmy saw the world in gold. She imagined kissing him under a silken sky, watching the river deepen to black while lights painted the city streets like heaven. She imagined Jimmy’s hands parting her robe and touching the golden sheen of her satin skin.

Sometimes Jimmy liked to look through his girlfriend’s mask and see her perfect world. Then he and she could be the only ones who knew what was really there. Till the mask slipped and the gray of winter’s stone and frozen mockery showed through.

Sometimes Jimmy wished the world was really gold.

August drabbles - 2

Sad Clown (2)

When Jimmy grew older he had so many masks—sweet little brother that’s always playing tricks, sweet comforting friend that lends a listening ear, sweet serious student that knows professors’ picks, sweet cheerful grandson, always sure to appear.

Jimmy’s masks were painted with smiles—strange because he’d decided long ago that being happy was too much effort. But the sad-face mask that he wore on his own didn’t make him feel any better. He’d learned that tears are pretend as well, and forgotten what was real.

When Jimmy grew up he remembered the crying clown and punched his big sister.

August drabbles - 1

Sad Clown (1)

Jimmy was going to be the clown. He had a smile wider than the gap between his teeth, but his sister said everyone would laugh.

“They’re supposed to laugh,” said Jimmy.

“Yes, but they’ll laugh because you look silly.”

“Do not.”

“Do so.”

And his smile faded.

“Oh dear,” said the make-up lady when she saw Jimmy. “If you’re going to look so sad young man, we’ll have to make you into a crying clown. Just don’t shed any real tears, or the make-up will run.”

Jimmy remembered her advice. Looking sad’s okay, but you have to pretend it’s pretend.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

July drabbles - 31

The sun shone bright in a clear blue sky. But Tom shivered and sniffled as he waited for his train. He’d caught a cold.

“Global warming,” said his neighbor. “What a stupid idea. It’s global cooling more like. But at least it’s summer now.”

Tom would have argued, any other day, that climate isn’t weather. Instead he sneezed. Then the train arrived. Climate’s not health or argument either—so much hot air.

The sun shone bright in a clear blue sky as Tom made his way into work; Tom the weatherman, predicting summer ahead, while his head-cold tried to hide.

Friday, July 30, 2010

July drabbles - 30

The child screamed. Mom drove the car, with child and screams, and towels to staunch the flow from child’s bleeding lip.

Poor child had fallen from his bike. Poor Mom was distracted. Poor doctor had no idea what approached his door.

The child screamed. The doctor said, “Let’s stitch it.” Then Mom held her breath. She held child’s hand. She held to consciousness by a fading thread.

“It’ll be alright,” she said, repeating herself to the trusting child.

Then, “You’ll be alright,” said the doctor, the stitches all done.

“But where’s Mom?”

She’d waited bravely till now she fainted away.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

July drabbles - 29

Mother cooked. Father read. Oldest son set a game up on the bed.

“Can I play?” asked the littlest, hopefullest one.

“Nope.”

“Who you playin’ with then.”

“Simon.”

“But Si’s gone away.”

Mother stopped cooking and father stopped reading and both rushed in to ask, “Where’s your brother gone?” But nobody knew.

So parents each led a child by the hand while vacationing strangers stared. “Brown eyes. Brown hair. About so high?” They sought him high and low.

A friendly couple were wiping the little boy’s tears. “Your folks’ll soon be here,” they said. “They’ll find you.” And they did.

July drabbles - 28

It was only a tiny mistake; only an insignificant detail that no-one would ever spot in the great scheme of things. The program was the thing. The plan. The dream. The working out of complex algorithms with unending calculation. The fine scholarship that gloriously, finally worked.

It was only such a tiny mistake, measuring units in inches instead of those foreign centimeters. And after all, whoever uses those units? They’re not wanted here.

It was strange how the tiny mistake grew huge, and stranger still how nobody learned the lesson. Tiny things matter. And foreign’s not the same as wrong.

July drabbles - 27

In the halls of the wise and wonderful she felt pretty insignificant. She contributed only one zero to the family tax return, not a whole string of them. She wrote children’s stories illustrated with crayon and pencil, no elaborate parlance there with paintings for palace walls. She even dreamed small, seeking just one iota of recognition, for writing, housework, laboring with kids. Those last ones seeming impossible she was really concentrating on the first.

In corridors of the writing conference she still felt insignificant, till she realized the speaker was just like her and she learned to believe in dreams.

Monday, July 26, 2010

July drabbles - 26

“D’you hear ’bout Matt?” Jen asked. “He’s burning up with fever in hospital.”

“What? Thought he was never sick. Hope we don't catch it.” Tom speeded on his stationary bike. “C'mon. Let’s feel the burn.”

Miles passed. They exercised till Tom called out, “You’re smoking hot.” He so could not say that to her.

Jen fought his arms and shouted, “Get off me.” Then wrestling hands quested too close to camp-fire, grabbed a branch. “Feel that burn Tom.”

“It’s fever talking,” said a quiet voice. Jen woke in a hospital bed, cheeks burning red as she wondered what she’d said.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

July drabbles - 25

One moment was all it took, and the future was lost. She crossed the road, smiling at him, then the truck tossed her body away.

One moment; he spent the rest of his years on research. The history of memories, déjà vu, dreams, unknown particles, and mothers who seem to know in advance when their children are going to cry.

(She, of course, would never be a mother. The children she’d’ve bourn with him would never live or die.)

One moment, and he finally got it right, went back and stood by the road. “Don’t run Suzanne!”

“I’m coming Tom.”

Saturday, July 24, 2010

July drabbles - 24

They walked the shore, side by side not hand in hand. The aches and pains of old age decreed it was easier to stride alone. She slipped behind while he climbed up the sand. Then she was gone.

If he’d known what was coming he’d have stayed with her. If he’d known, the lure of ocean beyond the crest would never have called. His memories would be waves of love pulsed through their finger-tips, her tiny hand forever held in his.

The children remember their parents walking apart, but Daniel’s heart remembers his bride, and he cries, walks on, alone.

Friday, July 23, 2010

July drabbles - 23

Dad was cooking meat over the fire. Mom piled salad in a bowl, and Jessica toddled the patio handing out plates—paper plates adorned with spiders and grit where she’d dropped them and picked them up again. Nobody minded.

Timmy the long-haired neighbor dog was everywhere at once. His nose poked legs relentlessly. His hot breath poured its doggy scents with puffs like a train going by. And his stomach distended.

“Dad, what have you fed that dog?”

“Nothing,” said Dad. “Not yet.”

Distended stomach distended more. Then Timmy birthed her babes on the patio floor and changed her name.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

July drabbles - 22

The sky filled with trailing threads of black as the storm went through; she guessed they were really just specks before her eyes. Clouds roiled and poured their scribbled stain. Trees dripped their tears. Then afterwards the footpaths sighed, sweet incense rising high.

In the morning the path by their garden fence trailed dark threads all its own, thousands of crawling ants scribbling their secret messages. Her husband wanted to spray. She asked, “Can’t we just wash them away with soap.” He said no.

In the evening the doorsteps was covered with specks, dead ants in storms of silent condemnation.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

July drabbles - 21

She guessed her dad always wanted a boy, so, not to disappoint, she played with railways, shoot-em-ups, and, oddly, a plastic kit that made a tank.

Aliens attacked in her bedroom then she fell against the shelf. Time slowed. Black hole! Hands mired in glue. Gravity blew it. The tank slipped to the floor.

Now for sure her Dad would shout. But instead he got out glue, and gathered pieces: “What goes where?”

She leaned to see, to help. Soon the tank was safely restored to the shelf…. her arms wrapped round a Dad who loved her simply for herself.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

July drabbles - 20

He didn’t kiss her when they said goodbye. They parted chastely at the door, though she would have welcomed the taste of his lips on hers to strengthen her. Exams today.

She wondered how she was first into the hall, listened for sounds but the door had closed behind, then she heard him cry, “Emma! Tonight!”

It wasn’t a desk after all that wore her name but a mis-shapen monster, lips puckered and bright. Then she woke, night lifting its dark veil. She hoped perhaps he’d kiss her at the door when they said goodbye, to strengthen her. Exams today.

Monday, July 19, 2010

July drabbles - 19

The crowd gathered slowly, tarpaulins staking out their claims with paper taped to grass, lazy dogs refusing to let them pass.

The sun was bright when they started to arrive: infants filled with lightness of day while adults settled back to watch the sky.

Sounds rose up as sun went down till all around was muffled talking, shrieking, shouting, still, and music played. Colors bled from day and all the waving grass turned gray.

And then, as infants began to wail, expectancy dissolving to despair, roars split the air. Twilight was done. Night-time had come. The fireworks display was begun.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

July drabbles - 18

“Pink!” said the teacher. He pointed to the map. “Pink! All those parts that are pink belong to us.” He waved his hands. He smiled at the sun that streamed through the window’s dull glass. “And that, Class, is why they say ‘The sun never sets on her Empire.’ Yes, children. It’s pink!”

“Pinko Communist twit,” the little boy insulted his friend. And the world was a different shade these days, the maps redrawn, the old globes gathering dust. The sun rises and sets rust-red and old books lie unread.

The leaders think, “Let’s spread democracy,” but is it pink?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

July drabbles - 17

The kindness of strangers welcomed her after so long afraid. And if they’d paid for her, at least they gave her a place to live. Their kindness determined who she loved and married, the names of her kids. Their kindness was the same to animals.

The kindness of strangers welcomed her the day she ran away. They gave her aid and work and freedom too. But their kindness still decreed she still wasn’t quite the same as they, and kept her apart.

The kindness of strangers wasn’t what her children rebelled against—just the way they still called them strange.

Friday, July 16, 2010

July drabbles - 16

One man searches garbage, finds discarded food and drink. One man searches sidewalk gaps for pennies. One man searches strangers’ eyes and asks them for loose change. Another leaves the asking to the dog. One man plays a fiddle, one guitar, one sitar too. Another one sells papers no-one reads. Patiently, they strive to stay alive.

One man studies business forms and vows to clear the streets. One man studies plaintiff’s claims and tries to keep things neat. One man says you’ll make them stay dependant evermore, and patiently despises, won’t revise the law or help, for their own sake.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

July drabbles - 15

He knew how it worked. You wake up, go to the library, search the computer for job ads, then apply.

Soon he’d be waking up on the street, exchanging ancient papers for yesterday’s news. But today he still has home and family, a suit that’s worn and shiny and smells a bit, a shirt with holes, and hope in his eyes.

A sign at the dry-cleaners’ advertises: “Jobless? Neat your suit for the interview? Free cleaning inside.”

A suit that’s clean, smells fresh and hides the holes! Yay! He got the job. The cleaner got his business. Life goes on.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

July drabbles - 14

Local residents are picking up the pieces after a string of mini-earthquakes hit the Pacific Northwest. While scientists struggle to explain the failure of predictive technology, some people are looking elsewhere for answers. Tim Burr was fired by US Timber late last year. He claims to have evidence of emails referring to the creation of mini-tremors to release energy without disaster. “I’m telling you, Big Government and Big Timber made the quakes; think they’re helping and they’re making things worse.” As buildings crumble and ancient trees tumble down, Mr. Burr is taking his theories to Washington. We’ll see what transpires.

July drabbles - 13

Some names are unpronounceable. Suppose they’d called me after t’place I was born. Llanfair PG; Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch if you want the whole thing. Now that would plant a meal in your mouth—you’d have to starve yourself to make room to say it. But no, they called me after my Scottish father’s clan, Clan Colquhuon, except they tell me now it’s spelled Calhoun. Nothing unpronounceable there I guess, but everyone thinks it’s Colin, or Kevin, or Calvin, or Crystal (don’t ask). Call me Crystal and you’ll drive me to drink. Call me Calhoun and I’ll drive you. And that’s a promise.

July drabbles - 12

Through time and space, her voice calls me like a beacon. Daytime and night, her song fills me. But she cannot be mine, nor I be hers.

My men have tied me to the mast and covered up their ears. I wonder if she’s as beautiful as she appears to me? So alluring. So pure.

I see her perfect eyes shed perfect tears and think I’m lost. I’ll leap over the side when they loose my bonds, and swim to her, but at what cost.

Still, memory reminds me of my wife, and here I’ll stay. I’ll wait for love.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

July drabbles - 11

Puppy doesn’t like fireworks. Puppy hides, and finds…

Candies rolling under the chair. He stares but they don’t run away and he can’t leave them there, so puppy eats them.

Breadcrumbs rolled from a shelf. They lie quite still so puppy decides to munch on them as well.

Meat-scraps by the fridge smellssweet. Puppy gobbles them too, and a chocolate bar on the table and fruit in the bowl.

“Aw, look how scared he is.” Dad comes back inside, where puppy’s tummy rolls like a football on the ground. Puppy’s fat. Puppy’s round.

“Aw, look how stuffed.”

Poor pup.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

July drabbles - 10

Since she’s gone I gaze enviously at people with their dogs on the green. Brown eyes smile, tails wag, and mouths open wide to share fat doggy grins. I struggle to catch the owners’ eye. “May I?” And they frown.

“He’s a bit excitable, see.” “He might jump up.” “He’ll get mud on your skirt.” Do they think I care?

So jump, sweet pup, and roll in my arms and breathe your warm doggy breath all over my face. I miss my Meg and I wonder if you see her in your dreams. Would you tell me if you did?

Friday, July 9, 2010

July drabbles - 9

Silken hair flows over her face, honey-colored and glinting with reflections of fire, like sunset through trees. Her limbs sway as she walks, those long legs so smoothly, so perfectly shaped; the cleft of her flat stomach; the sensuous way she stretches her neck. He watches the play of light on her shoulders, touches his hand to her flesh and lazily strokes. Fingers massage those delicate muscles, rolling her onto her back and she purrs contentedly; her body opens wide, her mouth, its tiny pointed teeth. Sharp ears prick up to a whisper of sound. She turns around. She’s gone.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

July drabbles - 8

You could see in his eyes that he wanted one—reclining chair, daddy’s chair, chair of his own. His face kept turning back that way as they walked round the store. He had a sudden urge to sit and “try” putting his feet up. He wasn’t sure, he said, about looking for anything else.

You could see in his eyes that he wanted one, but his words kept saying no. “Not quite the right color; the back’s too tall; the seat’s a bit too low.”

He only wanted a perfect chair but nothing would satisfy him there, or anywhere else.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

July drabbles - 7

The meat on the barbeque’s swirling its scented enticement into the air. So rush round the kitchen, Mom. It’s time to prepare:

Salad;
Baked potatoes; no room on the grill—use the microwave instead;
Baked beans; add your special spice, with a brown sugar bed;
Strawberries, cut’em and wash’em and leave’em to soak—maple syrup on top;
Plus coffee for after.

The meat on the barbeque’s nearly done and dinner’s smelling fine. So rush round the patio, Mom. We need the table set on time.

The meat on the barbeque’s ready. “Isn’t it nice when you don’t have to cook?”

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

July drabbles - 6

Mother tells him put it down. “Can do it self,” says child.
Father shouts, but “I’m okay.” Child smiles.
Big brother says drop it, but “I’m just as clever as you.”
Big sister… “You can’t tell me what to do.”
Little boy runs with firework in hand. At least it isn’t lit, and he can’t light it.
Mother says, “Come back right now.” And pride comes before a fall.
At least the fall’s a few safe inches from the fire.
Then rocket flies from little boy’s hand and explosions reach for the sky.
At least he’s alive, and he’s okay.

Monday, July 5, 2010

July drabbles - 5

The museum’s dedicated to peaceful resolution of disputes. One half sits in English Camp’s quiet forests; the other half on the prairie of American Camp. San Juan Island’s ownership was in dispute, but the owner of the late lamented pig was displeased and seeking vengeance. Still, the nations stationed soldiers from both armies peacefully, while Kaiser Wilhelm resolved what should be done.

Now the island’s American. A small American boy runs up to the model of an English soldier. He makes pretend karate moves, shoots an imaginary gun, and shouts, “I’m a soldier Mom, I’m killing the enemy.”

Poor Mom.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

July drabbles - 4

“He’s bugging me Mom.”
“Tell him to go away.”
“But he won’t.”
“Tell him I said so.”
“He’s not listening Mom.”

Children bug each other and mutter complaints. And bugs buzz round the food and flame, while Mom cooks Independence dinner treats. Eating outside can be such a pain. She wonders why she bothers.

“She’s bugging me Mom.”
“Tell her to go away.”
“But she won’t.”
“Then tell her I said so.”

Still, food smells good, then they gather and sit and eat with vivid smiles. That’s why she bothers.

Sometimes independence is choosing to hang around without going away.

July drabbles - 3

Father pokes the steak on the fire while mother, fingers shaking, offers aid. Meat flicked onto plate, she cuts, says “Wait a while,” then hides away in shadowed smoke. Nobody knows.

The family feasts around the fire. Everyone’s plate is filled. Mouths munch and laugh and talk and ask for more and nobody knows.

They dance round the flames. Too close, child’s tiny feet and hands… too close the hair that swirls… too close, marshmallow held to flame… too close the stick that falls, that sparks, that burns.

No-one knows why, not even she. She’s always been frightened of fire.

Friday, July 2, 2010

July drabbles - 2

I remember November, remember remembering “gunpowder, treason and plot,” shooting our fireworks high in the autumn sky, into clouds, into night. There’s smoke of fire and cold of wind, the crackle of flame and the cackle of children all crying their joy the game. And there’s the “Guy.”

But in summer when evenings are long and the sky stays light way into the night, that’s when American’s light their fire, remembering victorious rebellion while we, in November, remember rebellion that failed to ignite.

We remember and we keep faith with the guy till the day we might need him again.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

July drabbles - 1

Packing bags still has the same excitement, though childhood’s long since gone. There’s still that feeling of “Mummy, can we really stay out of school.” Still the joy of changing rules. Still the freedom to play! I like packing my bags.

I guess there won’t be fairground rides this time. No tiny cars tied to their tracks. No up-and-down airplanes that let me control the height. No splash-down, fast-down roller-coaster ride. No freedom from gravity, but freedom still. And oh, I like packing my bags.

The open book, the open road, the open ocean calls, and we’re off on vacation!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June drabbles - 30

“I hate them,” he shouted, flinging his shoes across the room.
“Why?” asked his mother.
“Nobody wears white shoes. They stink.”
“But they look so nice.”
“They don’t. They’re horrible.”

The shoes stayed hid in a closet as the season passed. Then the boy’s mother told him to tidy his room.

“Where’s your nice white shoes?” she asked him later.
“I dunno. Must have got mixed up with all that junk I was throwing out.”

An orphan searched the dump for food. White shoes that he found in a bag kept his feet from getting cut, and that was good.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

June drabbles - 29

“February made him shiver with every paper he delivered.” Not just the weather—too dark to care—nor the news—to dark to read. Not the gray and empty streets, nor even the fact that Christmas seemed another year away.

February made him shiver with memory’s fingers on his spine; that February morning when a pile of rags by the road began to cry. Dropping his bike, with a “Bless me.” Baby arms and legs were stirring under the cloth. Shivering child.

February made him shiver in the park, covered with newsprint for warmth, till the cops moved him on.

First line taken from American Pie, by Don McLean

Monday, June 28, 2010

June drabbles - 28

“D’you wanna know a secret?”
“Yeah.”
“Katie was kissing Tom behind the shed.”
“Are they still there?”
“Let’s go and see.”

“D’you wanna know a secret?”
“Sure.”
“I know you were in love with Tom before.”
“Don’t say a word.”

“I wondered. Have you heard?”
“Heard what.”
“Tom’s going off to war.”
“Whatever for?”

“They say Tom’s hurt and coming home.
I guess he hasn’t got a place to stay.”

“I used to have a thing for him,” said Kate.
“I always knew.”
“But you don’t mind.”
“I love him too.
Take care of my big brother please
For me.”

Sunday, June 27, 2010

June drabbles - 27

He remembered gas, yellow shading to red as he closed his eyes against pain. He imagined Dante’s circles of hell invading Flanders fields. It seemed appropriate. Flesh burned, lungs, eyes, all agonized, all crying death’s refrain.

He remembered waking in the hospital room where a starch-faced nurse declared him lucky as he labored for air.

“You’ll have to work outdoors in future,” said the doctor. War was done. So today he lay in warm summer sun, scents of flowers tickling his nose, blue clouds growing wings over his eyes. The world shaded to red again while heaven bade him rise.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

June drabbles - 26

“I've seen the light,” said Jen.

Mike looked up, his knees crunched under the desk, arms hugging the wall. “I thought I asked you to switch it off.”

“Yeah, but you’ve not seen...”

“Don’t want to neither.”

Rain dripped, sea-water sipping the shore. Their dead tree melted in the heat. “It’s beautiful Mike.”

“I’m sure it is, but the world was beautiful too, once upon a time.”

“So what?” asked Jen.

“So turn off the light and save some energy. Maybe one day the world’ll be lovely again.”

“Like me?”

Mike hugged her tight and they turned out the light.

Friday, June 25, 2010

June drabbles - 25

He’s typing words on a page, and letters fly with glorious rage, keyboard to screen--his muse surely hitting the high notes, as fingers perform a percussion of clattering dreams.

And coffee’s bitter brew steeps sensuously, its scented veil trailing across his eyes.

When he looks at the screen the notes of the muse fall flat. Did he mean to write that? Family life intervenes on his story’s stage, with kids demanding, “Daddy, play with me.”

The page is gray, the keyboard stone, and finger-ends are wearied skin and bone.

Save chapter; start another? No. Author and muse together groan.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

June drabbles - 24

“One for me; one for you.” Eric shared out the treats. “Two for me; two for you.” And little brother seemed confused. “Three for me; three for you.” Hungry brother made a grab. “Four for me.”

“Not fair!” And Dad came running.

Eric assured his father he knew how to share. “Jordan’s going through a phase. Not a problem. No worries, Dad.” And he counted again. “One for me, one for you; two for me, two for you…”

But Jordan’s pile increased by ones while Eric’s gained three four and five.

“The rich get richer, Dad. A boy’s gotta learn.”

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

June drabbles - 23

“Hogwash,” said the American.

The Brit looked round at streets and litter, searching for a pig perhaps in a barrel of water. He reached for the wallet that lurked in his inside pocket. Perhaps the stranger hoped he’d give him cash to buy a hog and wash it.

The American, wise to concealed weapons permits and their flaws, promptly pulled out a gun. Luckily the bullet missed the Brit, embedding itself in a wall, where it pinned a fruit-fly that nobody mourned.

“Hogwash,” said the American, but the Brit turned sadly away. He still maintained his belief in gun control.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

June drabbles - 22

“As Mark Twain said, ‘The less I know about a subject the more confidence I have.’ So that’s the key you see, that ushers in the power.”

“Yeah well, just apply that power to this washing machine if you will.”

“Poor ugly thing.”

“Didn’t ask you to kiss it.”

Dan, knowing marginally more about machines than his wife, undid the screws and found, “Here’s your problem. Pennies’n lint.”

“But there's a trap to catch things.” She looked round the room. He’d left the trap in the sink when he loaded the machine. Not knowing, she guessed, and filled with confidence.

Monday, June 21, 2010

June drabbles - 21

Okay, I know the World Cup's not even nearly finished, but this is what came to mind.

The pitch is empty, football done, the cup awarded to the team that won, and now one lonely boy stands guard, watching the setting sun. He reaches for the orb as if a ball, throws it and runs.

Sure-footed, dribbles down the pitch, eyes floodlit with his fun. But, fouled in the box, he falls like a pretzel to the ground. No sound, but empty air draws breath. Child looks for the ref then smiles, finds the spot, takes the shot.

The pitch is empty, sun gone down. A father’s son bows low to the cheering crowd before going home.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

June drabbles - 20

Sleep is his Achilles’ Heel. Catch him when he’s tired enough and promises break. Keep an eye on the child. Play after work and smile. Keep every promise and never let anyone down. Super-Dad, except when Achilles starts snoring again.

Incy Wincy’s climbing the water-spout. Dad runs his eight-legged spider hands with fingers that tickle his son. Crossed thumbs are eyes. Cross-eyed spider in the bath-tub. Spider on the wall.

“Read,” says the child so he picks up a book, turns a page and tries to speak.

“Incy wincy retreated and bumped his head.”

“Dad! That’s not what it said.”

Saturday, June 19, 2010

June drabbles - 19

Alice was pale and frail, ice-blue eyes, corn-silk hair, her baby wail as thin as winter’s wind. Jessica was more like fire, red-haired, green-eyed, with a voice like thunder’s chaos burning trees. Summer and winter, their friends called them, and nobody knew which girl would grow up first.

Alice met Dan on a clear ice-cold dawn, pale clouds puffing high through waves of a bright blue sky. But thunderstorms and Jessica punched them apart.

Still Alice’s heart was wisely grown. She watched the seasons patiently, sits now by Dan's warm fire in spring while Jessica, autumn cold, stays lonely outside.

Friday, June 18, 2010

June drabbles - 18

The last time he saw her she walked backwards away, slim body swaying, hair like mist round her face. He cries for her. Some memories never fade.

The last time he saw her she gazed with tears of love lingering in her eyes. But her father told her no and she couldn’t disobey. She stepped away.

The last time he saw her the truck barreled into her body and flung her aside in a red mist of pain. He turned his back because her father swore he mustn’t touch her.

Memories find him still wishing he’d stayed by her side.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

June drabbles - 17

Dear Dad. Pretty bowl. And the fish was delicious.
Dear Mimi. That wasn’t for eating.
Dear Dad. Beg pardon.
Dear Mimi. Pardon granted. Don’t do it again.

Dear Dad. The fish in the fridge was truly delicious.
Dear Mimi. That was our dinner.
Dear Dad. Yes. I ate it.
Dear Mimi. Ours. Not yours.

Dear Dad. The fish on the barbecue is smelling really great.
Dear Mimi. Not for you. Plastic fish, catnip-flavored, by your food.
Dear Dad. Just you wait.
Dear Mimi. Hmm.

Dear Dad. That fish on the barbeque was delicious.
Dear Mimi. Bad cat.
Dear Dad. Miaow!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

June drabbles - 16

It was after he lost his job that his closed his eyes. Why look at a sky that’s too far away to reach? Why look at trees that won’t offer shade, or flowers that refuse to bloom? Why look at grass that only grows ever fatter on your lost labors? Or at streams that flow to unavailable dreams?

Why look at friends and family who mourn your guilt and sigh in sad despair at your failing skill?

But the raincloud caught him unawares. The sun peeked round its corner to warm his smile. Then he found himself tripping over miracles.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

June drabbles - 15

They stood round the counter drinking wine, discussing beer. “Porters are good.” One listed all the local brews while the other compared them with nationals, a language of their own. Then strangers arrived and talked of smooth and smoky, spicy and strong. They meant the wine; it has its own words too. They drink. I drive.

Wine-tasting tour; of course, they insulted my driving all the way. You could get an elephant into that gap, or a train, but I’m okay.

We ended at a farm with fresh-roasted coffee as well as wine. Another language, and it’s mine this time.