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Category Archives: short story

Ever-Changing Tide

       Under slow shrinking shadows of a receding August sun, squatting near a dribbling tidal pool, four children stare attentively to a small snail; as it furrows and squiggles through the sand, racing to meet the outgoing tide.  They were sent there to “think”. To work out the “argument” they had among themselves.

         They were told to go to the cove; “to seriously think about what each other had said and what they shouted to each other”.

          All four, ignoring each other, watched quietly as the small snail furrowed and scrunched up little piles of sand behind it. The trail squiggled slightly left, then slightly right. It was heading towards the trickling edge of an out-going tidal stream.

Like corrected mistakes,

Never straight with their curves and bends;

Listening to instinct, racing the tide, the snail

Made steady headway towards the sea.

          The children glanced up occasionally to see what the other was doing. They could see the tide ebbing away in a methodical hush. The sun sinking, shed its soft orange and crimson color glistening on the expanded beach sand.

          No one was talkin’. All of them, were still trying to remember what the stupid argument was all about anyway? It wasn’t a fight! Hey! None of us cried! We didn’t tell anybody to shut up! That’s for sure. we just had… an aah, aah, a disagreement!…as their minds ping-ponged in thoughts and rattled on.

With purpose, the snail inched on

Ignoring the circling birds and their potential grip

 For an eventual fatal drop to the flats;

Between shallow tidal pools

And, dry jagged rocks.

          It was getting cooler. They hardly took their eyes off the steady movement of the snail. Except of course, to sneak a peek; checking on each other. They began inching themselves closer together to keep warm and hoping the others “weren’t still mad at them” for whatever they said, or for  whatever they got wrong.

Never dawdling, clinging to its direction

Pushing the sand aside, racing to catch the tide,

The snail forged on.

          Tide water was slipping into drying sand with each forward push and receding splash. The children, realizing it was getting late, were looking up at each other more frequently. They could smell supper on the camp grill. They were ready to go back.

Approaching the last rolling ripple of retreating tide

The snail stopped, as if out of breath.

But, only for the moment.

          Suddenly, the ocean swelled and peaked into a fast rushing froth, it grabbed and pulled the snail. It slid, tumbled, snapped up in surf and foam, flipped, and swallowed into the bubbling, boiling sea.

          All four children, now on their feet watching, caught sight of the snail scooped up in retreating swirling sand and glittering pebbles of a retreating wave.  “There!” The children shouted to each other, pointing to a distant crescent wave pulling away from the shore, “There” on the surface, sitting tall, proud and smiling, was the snail. He looked back at them, waved and shouted an exhausted but jubilant, “Tally Ho!”

          They simultaneously faced each other, eye to eye. “Huh?” Then, pumping their fists, all exclaimed, “It made it! YES!” Then grabbed each other’s hands with a burst of laughter; apologies were unanimously accepted. They skipped and dragged their feet making their own squiggly trail, left then right  along the warm drying beach.

          Supper on the grill, chocolate milk, and stories of a “swooshed up snail they ‘FOREVER’ followed,” were animated in the evenings’ bright open fire light of flaming marshmallows, burning, blown out, and squished on chocolate squares between graham crackers and pushed into sticky lips with anticipated delight.

          I heard it all slide into the clapping sound of incoming waves announcing the tides transition from low to high. It was bedtime, clean up, and evening prayer. Kissing me on the cheek and with a blessing, they all took their day in stride, sharing in the applause of the snail’s completed race and an encore for the ever-changing tide.

  Listening to the tide, as we watched the children disappear into the tent, I on one knee poke the dying fire. Good thoughts were sent to the children; forgetting their disagreement without anger, melancholy, or disappointment. And, a mindful poke from Katie’s marshmallow stick, smiling at each other, as she spread the dimming embers, for a happy jubilant snail.

 

Draft 12: Pine Cone Diary… Hermit Island, Me.

 

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A Tale of The Weathered Sundial’s Ever-Moving shadow

Years have passed:

 

when we were young, we could tolerate physical pain,

emotional blizzards, and blinding rain.

We sought recognition, fortune, and sometimes illusions fame.

 

We chased stars in glittering summer nights keeping sentry for sunrise,

celebrating each dawn with a brand new name.

We could even cry, winning or losing, without forcing a fight.

 

We could talk, discuss, and compromise.

We recognize the beauty in unsuspected surprise.

We were always able to light a candle in the wind

 Finding our way back home on sad dark nights.

We often laughed at ourselves. Believing that pennies

we flipped, fluttering to the bottom of wishing wells

 

We’d became Peter Pan and Wendy

never growing old. And, totally ignoring Tinkerbell,

we watch our directions flow.

 

Following our hearts and the work of our hands

we traveled roadways, highways, and paths;

where distance seemed far and time immeasurably fast.

 

We floated above concrete, soft tar, and beaches with ankle deep sand.

Even paths that were crooked and twisted in shallow water or on solid land.

We were always on each other’s map!

 

We frolicked in spaces that love only knows

where time, never existed;

along with places, where sadness, was only a short visit.

 

Eventually, I suppose, age and Peter Pan eclipses

those days, when we are young.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There is only time now:

 

when we are old. We sit with aches and pain.

Confused, misunderstanding,

we complain.

 

Our clothes begin to slip or are frayed or they just don’t fit;

along with our recognition, fortune, and the reality of expected fame.

We wear sweaters and warm cotton hats on cool summer nights,

 

seeing only darkness as a distant fading light.

We Sleep uneasily on worn, thin but forgiving linen.

We, sometimes, forget ourselves with mixed memories,

stuttering on birthdays, which have evaporated in wishing wells.

 

We try to avoid being stubborn—  guilt ridden for actions mistaken,

poor mathematical intelligence, slips of jealously, pride,

and recognize that we, as we knew, is we that is forgotten.

 

From steel to rust, from rock to gravel,

from coal to diamond

and back to dust.

 

The sound of muted bells tick off the clock, like muffled thunder

under the hoofs of deaths’ mercenaries; some from heaven,

and maybe one or two from hell.

 

We may shed a warm small tear, becoming a prism, to glitter

In the sliver of a waning moon; signaling with joy—

tomorrow’s brand new day,

 

with its bright sun chasing

A weathered Sundial’s ever-moving shadow

 

~The Night Before Breakfast~ Vol. I                                        Another Draft Revision

 

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Lulu and Larry [The Legend of ‘Little Pond’]

On a pond in Center Sandwich, New Hampshire

—there was ripplin’ dimples on the shore

—toe dunkin’, foot slippin’ in mucky mud sinkin’.

—Tad poles at their feet were being ignored

As Lulu and Larry stepped further from shore.

 

 

“Watch out for old ‘Sticky tongue’!

That bullfrog is as big as a horse!

And he knows you’re in his ponnnnnnnduh.”

Shouted, older brother Horace

From the window of the family car.

 

Lulu heard a snap and a hard slap

on the water by her side.

Looking for Larry, finding only a big ripple

circling, melting at her knees in a chilling rise.

There he was! gone!* without a bubble or a scream

in ‘Sticky Tongue’s pond on a hot summer’s eve.

 

PS: Horace rolled up his window as running Lulu joined him –they locked all the car doors and hit the floor. As for Larry?  His parents are still lookin’ fer’.

 Yup! Cross my heart and hope to die .I don’t swim there, but I fish there; catching on a hot summer day, a wiggly reflection on the surface of the water, of sticky tongue’s lair.

 

**********

 This is for those of you who sit at the end of a movie and listen to the music reading the credits:

Note:

I received this glittering notebook as a gift from a wonderful writer friend Kelli T.–teaching as Adjunct faculty (English of course) at Plymouth State University NH—now living the glamorous life 😊 in Minneapolis. A great writer whom I have accepted gracious encouragement from.

The notebook has been kicking around for a while, buried among many journals. Some leather-bound, cloth bound, some on paper bags and some on any colored napkins.

PoPo, my 10 yr. old grandson who has such an imaginary virtual reality and somehow still maintains human sensitivity, along with his older brother Gav, were staying with me for the day. Which I enjoy often.

Trying to figure out how to get their creative attention, my attention was drawn to this glittering notebook. I reached over, sparkling as ever, opened it and wrote the first draft.

 I made them French toast and as they were eating it (plenty of butter and syrup), I read them this draft. When I finished they chuckled, continuing to eat, PoPo asked me to lock the door.

 

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A November Divorce

 

     I’m back from Ashland, the small town’s only laundry mat. I haven’t been to one of those since I was single. Now, older as things get ignored, I wait until I run out of socks and underwear. Oh, and tee shirts they’re always along side two or three more.

     Two pillow cases in and only one with all folded, coming out. Sometimes, it’s both being carried out when I take the sheets, towels, a couple of dress shirts, and a few blue jeans, at the heel with frayed threads falling out. But today its tee shirts, socks, and underwear; one pillow case, the other carried inside out.

      I have been in my robe all week, tee shirts and underwear underneath. Yesterday I was remembering a place with a washer and a dryer. Where it was my turn to do the laundry, a turn I would keep. I would turn on a blaring rock and roll radio station, sorting whites from colors. Sometimes I would inject a little shuffle and dance as I  measured softener and twenty-mule team borax, half a cup or more singing out loud almost in a holler.

       From gentle to hard-core, as the cycles went. Washing, drying, and folding. Picking up the kitchen in-between the squashing and swirling I would sweep the floor. With things sorted from white, colors and who knows what. I did two maybe even three loads. But, ah, back to my rented room in its ultimate bore.

     On my inherited mother’s nicked kitchen table, on a lace doily gathering dust, sits a blue antique bottle and this summer’s dried flowers. I laid my car keys and emptied my pockets making them lighter of contents, putting them on her table.

     Two straight-backed chairs next to yesterdays mail, the morning sun struck the table, breaking through the windows hazed of last night’s cigarette smoke, I heard a voice from my past, as my mother spoke, telling me to at least, “keep yourself clean, don’t live precariously, do your laundry, every week, listen to me, please!”

     I’m back from Ashland, the small town’s only laundry mat.     I haven’t been to one of those since I was single or with my mother as a child; since my divorce.

Photo by RKG

 
4 Comments

Posted by on November 11, 2017 in Divorced, Getting Old, Love, New Hampshire, Prose Poetry, short story, Zen

 

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The Illumination of Beatrice in the Glass cube

Town Hall meeting in ZoralinQ NH 1864

Moderator has yielded to an open floor:

Young Woman (who taunted Beatrice) rose and walked to the center of the assembly in the Middle aisle:

Thank you Moderator for allowing me to speak on behalf of my acknowledgment— that I will  never be friends with Beatrice nor will anyone else in this settlement.

            Pain in harmony with joy— is in the world we choose. One cannot be without the other. However, the joys of love without the souls acceptance, made Beatrice seem shallow, mired in the misunderstanding that settled in her heart.

            Laugher’s joy was often at her expense; causing confusion— what laughter was, or, for that matter, for her, what it really meant. Beatrice learned to be silent, as everything in her life was her fault, always her accident. Reprimanded, then silenced.

            Assembly, I am not here to fill in all the details I found within her copious notes, but I do want to read for you—  from the small piece of white cardboard that Beatrice wrote. (Looking at the moderator as he nods approval).  I believe she left this behind for me. To help me understand what I had seen, all of us watching her leave—  in a Royal Carriage, fit for a Queen.   

Young Woman holding a white piece of cardboard begins to read:

            “Every evening just after dusk, I prepared myself for bed. Knowing I would sleep, again, in a mysterious space hidden only in my head; unable to be found during the light of day. Not that I was afraid, it had been repetitious for some time. The mounting source of my anxiety was waiting for what I had to accept, when and how it ended.

                                    Sleep would capture me in a glass cube. At first, it would hold me a short time then melt away during my sleep leaving me with pleasant memories, of myself in a glass cube. Each night however, I was held in that glass tube longer and longer until I was released just before daybreak. Each time, as always, I remained silent, though this time I awoke with a gasp.

                                    A few nights ago, the moment I fell to sleep, I found myself already captured, in the floating glass cube. But, this time at the bottom, water was starting to trickle in. I assumed it was a stream of illusion from another dream.

                                   As the night wore on, the water was filling the square of the cube unable to speak or scream I began hitting the glass with my feet and hands trying to break the glass. As the water continued to rise by feet broken and my hands bloody with muscle and flesh showing— I saw a bright light, so blinding I thought it was the light of eternity. I still do not know if I was in the water or above the water when the light began to dim, fading; it illuminated the cube as it shattered, and drained.

                                    I awoke unscathed to an open window with the breeze blowing the curtains, creating a strobe that flashed a soft incoming new day’s sun. I went to my desk and wrote you this note wishing you a better life and a peace sublime”.

~Beatrice~

Young Woman, as she returned to her seat, several other young people stood up, one at a time, each repeating :

           “I believe she left that behind— for ME. To help me understand what I had seen, watching her leave— in a Royal Carriage, fit for a Queen”.           

 
16 Comments

Posted by on October 22, 2017 in Prose/Short Story, short story, Spiritual, Theater

 

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Companion

We are (all) personal care attendants

Attending to each other—

But, most of all,

In that relationship—

We become companions.

Perhaps that is what happens—

After love’s personal illusions

Dissipate—

As we accept

Mutual understanding.

 

Maybe we can just skip the step of love

And go right into companionship!

 

Ms. Holly complains after eating pizza,

Which, she thoroughly enjoys.

“Too much salt!

I can feel my legs swelling up,

And it hurts to walk.”

I tell her to put her feet up,

She does not have to talk—

 I remind her,

That I, cannot remember

what I forgot.

–It takes awhile

Before we turn to each other

Returning discreet smile—

 

Accepting what we do

And what we do not.

 

 

Companion: Notes on a Paper Bag

Companion: Notes on a Paper Bag

 
 

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Sea Shell ashtray

 

   Walking Rye Beach mid-morning, I got lucky. Swept against the rocks, by its fierce ocean parents, I kicked up in shallow sand, a whole, still intact, not easy to find on Rye’s rocky coast a half of a clam shell. Yup! I got lucky. Cause’ just up the street to Hampton Beach, they cost a pretty penny. I slipped it into my pocket.

    When I got home, I brushed, with my fingers, any sand that would remind it, other than where it came from… other than where it is.

I did the same with the pocket I carried it. Turning it inside out and shaking everything free, every tidal grain of beach sand. Knowing I wouldn’t get it all.

I placed it on a table, on my porch. I heard, without ears, spirits, east, west, south, and north… applauding me for a gift well received.

    Anyway, it sits on a small iron table next to my chair. And, once in a while, having my morning cigarette and coffee, or, my evening cigarette and tea, I often wonder where you went? Were you boiled, fried, or, slithered down someone’s or something’s throat? Or maybe, your shell was cast away with a porpoise’s kiss and lives as a child of Poseidon, dancing your life away to the contemporary bands of Atlantis.

    I think of you… leaving this shell for me and my cigarette, whether through sacrifice or a beloved life. I still keep this gift, left for me— to find.

 

Hard life floating smoke

Seashell sits empty in bliss

Happy cigarette.

Ash tray Sea Shell frame

 
 

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Ms. Holly’s Electric Bill

    In her late eighties, Ms. Holly invited me over one evening for conversation and a glass of wine.  Upon my arrival, Ms. Holly politely greeted me at the door.  After being asked for my coat and hat, I was escorted to the living room and instructed to be seated.  I chose the couch instead of one of the many decoratively upholstered chairs. Ms. Holly quickly left the room which was well-lit with five or six lamps, some on end tables, and others on tall, ornate stands.

 

    Ms. Holly returned with a glass of wine in one hand, and in the other, a glass of water. She offered me the glass of wine. She started talking immediately, speaking without pause, walking towards her high-back chair. As she turned and sat down, she stated: “This is my opinion on very important matters.” She covered topics ranging from politics, family, and religion, to the economy and the new world order. At no time did she ask me what my thoughts were. Ms. Holly was very specific in her speech, using colorful words and illustrative detail. Although sometimes redundant, she was consistent in every repetition. Regardless, she hopped from one subject to the next, and suddenly, with quite the verbal grace and bow, splinter into a new conversation about her “opinion on a very important matter.” 

 

    Captured in the wonderful web of her experiences, imagination, and reality, I was finally asked: “So, what do you think?” Everything she related, positive or negative, seemed to be under Ms. Holly’s control, with its remarkable, opinionated unpredictability. Despite my interest in and enjoyment of her fascinating conversations, subjects discussed with redundancy stuck most in my memory. They were repeated so often that I remember them.

 

    I said, “The electric bill – it keeps going up and up and you can’t explain it! Is there any way you could cut the cost?” “I’ve tried everything,” she confidently stated as she got up, motioning with her hand towards the kitchen and left to refill her empty glass with water.

 

    I got up and turned off two or three lights in the room, then proceeded to join Ms. Holly in the kitchen. The kitchen was easy to find, well-lit with five or six lights. She nodded upon my entrance and continued to fill her glass with water. I began to turn off one or two lights before she sternly asked me, “What are you doing?” “Saving electricity!” I replied. “Let’s go in the other room,” she said, “and let me explain to you about life and the All living.”

 

    Upon entering the room, Ms. Holly turned on the lamps I had turned off.  I sat down, and in posture for debate and conversation, before Ms. Holly could sit or speak, I said, “You mentioned many times the cost of your electricity, and how that was your most unexplainable cost. So I went around turning some of the lights off, to lower your bill, incurred with keeping so many lights on.” There was a moment of silence. Ms. Holly arose, and then offered me her arm. She escorted me to the front door, handing me my hat and coat, explaining to me as we strolled, “I am alone… having all the lights on, with or without the electric bill, brings me comfort, anticipation, and peace. My best friend… my late friend, and my late Angel are still expected home.”

  

    Yes, Ms. Holly and I continued to talk often, with me, sipping my wine, listening intently; and her, drinking her water and telling me “her opinion on very important matters.”  Inevitably, the “electric bill” would come up, and of course, as I cleared my throat she would creatively, in the wink of an eye, divert the conversation. However, she continued to end our visits by offering me my hat and coat, stating, “I look forward to our next conversation, and, by the way, I’m still keeping the lights on.”

This Sunday, I discovered that all Ms. Holly’s expected guests had arrived.

    For now, I will keep my lights on and give “my opinion on very important matters,” particularly concerning the cost of my electric bill, which I cannot explain. I’m thinking, perhaps, Ms. Holly really had a better understanding of it. So, I sit with a smile and a heart full of joy in a well-lit house, waiting for my guests to arrive. I sit with great expectation.

Wind follows the stream

Electricity on trees

All has arrived.

 

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Angel From The Host Of An Ivory Moon: (Crosby’s Baptism)

Wings reflecting the moon at sunrise,

Settled upon the child with no sin;

In water and parents, he was baptized.

His heart now lit, from a light within.

Shadows may cover his smile

As his youth transitions into understanding;

From failure to the success, patient all the while,

Like a crawl… to standing… to running,

For no minds’ reason at all.

He will awake during his life time

With a drop of water, a tear of joy

Running down his face; acknowledging his mother and father,

Being born under an ivory Host, with a visitor without error,

Or mistake. His Guardian Angel,

For whom, he will never forsake.

 

 

Crosby Baptism Angel

 

 

 

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