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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.”


“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

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

“Can I drive?”
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.