Category Archives: Autumn

Cold Hearted John Meadows

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My name is John Meadows, at least, that’s what it says on my birth certificate. At this moment, I’m not sure if that is even true.

I woke up in a bedroom. It was an unknown space. Except, as I lifted my head up off the pillow, I noticed a picture that looked familiar. I stood, walked over to it: it was flush with the wall. An outdoor moment in time. There was a man, and a woman. They held each other, big smiles on their faces.

The man leaned on a vast gnarled tree. Instead of branches, It looked as if seven tree trunks wound around each other, an abstract weave of latticework wood. The leaves were thick, a dark shade of green that looked almost like they were black. They hung over the couple like a frame.

The woman had her head resting on the man’s shoulder. His hair fell to his collar, so dark that at first, I thought it looked like it was cut out of the photo. Her hair was lighter, a mixture of golden brown and red. I remembered that it was called Auburn. I don’t know why I didn’t realize that at first. Yes, Auburn-haired, long, it fell down and over his chest, making his torso look like it disappeared as well.

The photo bothered me. Her eyes sparkled when the shot was taken. His eyes held little to no reflection. I looked. His didn’t, even with the sunlight spotlighting where they stood. Her eyes, the tilt of her head, her smile: there was life. He smiled, but it didn’t seem to reach his eyes. They were flat.

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a free-standing full-body mirror to my left. It stood at a tilt near white folding slat doors. I shuffled my way over to it. I could not remember what I looked like, nor who I was. Maybe, I thought, looking at the reflection, things would come into focus. My heart began to accelerate, chest tightening, and it was getting difficult to breathe. I hadn’t been aware of breathing before this. I was now.

Coming into full view, I felt my head had received something smashing into it. It hurt like hell. I had to touch my head. It felt like bone shattered. I checked. It felt solid. But the pain. It was like a steel bar was slammed against my forehead.

A steel bar? Why did I…no, more a bat? Baseball? No, no. A baseball. Yes, a baseball hurtling to me, not even registering that I needed to move, to duck, do something. But it was too fast. I was too slow. I was up, then nothing. It felt just like that, although I didn’t know why. I still don’t know why I felt that way when I stepped in front of the mirror.

Yes, I was the man in that photo, even though I did not remember that. It was clear upon viewing, my eyesight was waving, no floaters, no film distortion over the irises. I looked at myself in the mirror, then over to the photo. Goosebumps paraded across my spine.

Turning, I took in the rest of the room. White minimalism in paint and fabrics. Same with my pajama pants. I noticed, then, that I had no shirt on. A look in the mirror traveled down; before, I was solely intent only on my face. My chest was hairy but not matted. Three parallel deep pink scars ran from my left armpit to just past the bellybutton. An inny. They didn’t hurt as much as throb. Noticing them did not help my rapid breathing and heart rate.

The next moments are still a blur. I know I looked around: the place had been tidy when I awoke. Now, drawers, men’s clothing, papers littered the white. All the bed linen was on the floor. The sliding slat doors were open wide, showing a closet that was only half full. I took this all in, sitting on the floor, leaning against the bed. I felt something hard and looked down. I had a metal lockbox in my hands. My breathing shallowed, and I felt myself calm down to regular human beats. At least, what I thought were normal.

There was no lock to have to break into. The lid swung up with ease, showing the mound of papers it carried. I riffled through the envelopes, unfolded the various papers, and only stopped when I found a Birth Certificate. Mine, I have assumed, until someone tells me differently. 

My name is John Meadows.

If you are listening to this tape, then most likely I am dead. Or too far away for any meaning of living or dead is inconsequential. This is the story of what happened from that moment of waking, clueless to everything that had meaning to me. I know that the woman in the photo was Jean, my partner. I know she no longer…is here. Where? At this time, I still do not know how to answer that.

Whoever you are, whenever you are, do yourself and loved ones a favor.

Do not stand under the leaves of that massive, gnarled tree.

It is not the Tree of Life.

Sonnet: When The Time Is Right

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There comes a time when people get tired of being pushed out of the glittering sunlight of life’s July and left standing amid the piercing chill of an alpine November. Martin Luther King, Jr.

OIP

 

Intimidation tactics are useless

Where the many are set upon as thieves

These are times punctuated through much stress

With hopes that all of our fears are relieved.

 

Hateful, scornful words meet extreme actions

Quiet shattered by jeers of discontent

The deep divide of opposing factions

It puts roadblocks in the way, we are rent

 

Yet, if the tide was to turn to the truth

The consequences in dire dispute

Thoughts and prayers may not be the needed sooth

To mend what has been sundered by refute

 

What impending years that we will pass through

Steps can be taken for our lawful due

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☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

This was a blog challenge: Simply 6 Minutes from Stine Writing

The rules for the challenge: Use today’s prompt (The MLKjr quote above)

Write for SIX Minutes. When your timer goes off, you are done.

Post on Stine Writing blog or on your own with a link on that blog’s site.

I did the above in under six minutes, where I had enough time to make sure there were ten syllables in each line.

I know; I shouldn’t edit, but, c’mon. It’s a sonnet. 🙂

ON THE EDGES

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Bouquet, Van Gogh

On The Edges

The invitation was relatively concise

Arrive at two, the brightest of light

A short path to the house

Brings you up the three steps

A porch sweeps the space

The entryway is here

Knock once, twice, thrice

The door swung upwards

Letting you in

Gusty wind plays on your back

Pushing you inside the two-floor house,

First flight

Swiveled head & searching eyes

The walls were white

And nothing else

The place was bare, except

A sweeping curved stairway centered itself

Polished cherry wood atop

Carved wood posts with intimate designs

Of plentitudes of flowers; a bouquet of railing

Uprooted vines holding these tableaux

It caught your fancy

Drawing you near

Noticing the details grow deeper

As you traveled the veneer

The steps asked you to climb

Even though you initially declined

The curves, the peaks, the depth drove you so

Up the stairway was where you needed to go

Upon the landing, three doors were in view

The first a white blank

The next as vacant as the first

But down the hall, the third door was ajar

Difference cascaded with what could be seen

As you thrust this door open

Into a dream

The walls were a garden

A multitude of colors

An aroma on your lips

Laid out with grace, so serene

From floor to ceiling, white walls a memory,

A facing of beauty only nature provides

Spaced only apart when a window sat between

You count the varieties, the mixes, the hues

You softly place fingers

Coming away with light dew

Turn to the right, to the left

Back again and reversed

Taking in this garden menagerie.

One window tracked you

Wanting you to gaze through

Stark contrast unappealing

A blank whiteness with edges

Of shadows descending

You shiver as you walk back to room center

Sitting down on the floor

In equidistant space

The facing of flowers

Moves you inside

Embracing your vibrancy

Of peace and good faith

Deciding to get lost, in Paris: Psychogeography, Qu’est-ce que ç’est?

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DECIDING TO GET LOST, IN PARIS: Psychogeography, Qu’est-ce que ç’est?

Author’s Note:

Usually, this appears at the bottom of my posts. I’m never really sure if any of you read them. I’ve asked numerous questions that get little to no responses. C’est la vie?  Je ne sais pas.

This came from a #FF Prompt:  Psychogeography on the Fiction Can Be Fun blog.  I’ve mentioned the blog a number of times, as well as its creators, Debs & David. They are co-writing a novel that I can’t wait to get my grubby mitts on. I met them a few years ago during one of the April AtoZ Blog Challenge. If you are new to my world, click on the links. FCBF is always a good read, and the AtoZ challenge is a gratifying, if not sometimes nerve-wracking, feat to achieve. I’m grateful to have gotten to become friends with Debs, David, and Arlee (the creator and curator of the AtoZ Blog Challenge).

For full details on Psychogeography, I strongly suggest three sources to discover this brand new term (to me) is all about. Click above on the FCBF link. Then, click on Icy Sedgwick’s blog. You want folklore, she’s got it. Podcast included.

Third: Google. It does a mind good.

Basics: Imagine a place you’ve visited, or wanted to visit, or make it up, but only traveled by WALKING. No transportation of any type except by your feet. Take in the details. Describe them. Show, don’t tell, gets mixed around here, depending on how you are approaching this: Fictionally or Non-Fiction. You, or your character, is viewing through the lens of Psychology & Geography. Emotions? Details? Epiphanies? Your choice. To join in, please click on Fiction Can Be Fun  and read the “rules.”

I decided to get lost in Paris on the fifth day of my vacation.

Every previous day had been planned out: the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Eiffel Tower, Rodin’s house and gardens, traveling on the Seine, Notre Dame (pre-fire), following a lengthy trail of Monet art, the Moulin Rouge/ Montmartre  /Place Pigalle. Those were all on my checklist.

Deliberately, I set aside one unorganized day to freestyle explore. No real destination, just walking the streets of Paris, taking in as much as I could. Noticing the architectural adversity of the past and the present. Cobbled stoned lanes crossing or connecting to paved roads.  

After a well-sustaining breakfast at the hotel, I set out with no map. Yes, I was living life dangerously: this was pre-Cell Phones, GPS, whatever. You actually had to talk to a real person if you were off course of your destination. Landlines and payphones the only way to connect beyond your immediate area.

I got on a train at the closest Metro station. Didn’t check where it was heading. First train I found, that was it. The car was reasonably full for a good portion of the ride. A lot would leave, a lot would replace them. Until the crowds lessened, and fewer people got on or off. I waited.

Next two stations, a few passengers left the train. Absolutely no one walked into emptying space. That was my cue to get off and explore the Paris above me.

I was met by paved roads, modernized buildings, and heavy Parisian traffic. I was used to that. Walking in arbitrary directions, I found what I wanted in a brief period: cobblestoned streets, a narrow road dotted with small shops, and relatively light on pedestrians. I crossed the main road and entered the Paris I had envisioned.

Colors were vivid, changing shop by shop. The décor varied as well, most embracing their past roots. I walked, turned corners on a whim, and headed into this, to me, a delightful maze of discovery. Clothing, bakeries, cheese shops, cafes, women’s clothing, men’s suits, every bit of finery well displayed, nothing ostentatious. This wasn’t Le Avenue des Champs-Élysées. I was glad of that.

I noticed a sign for a Picasso museum. Sold. As I made my way there, I found magic.

It was a dried flower shop. Shop doors wide open, arrangements on the outside of the florist shop, the many colors, the many weavings of this wild assortment of flowers, drew me in.

From the ceiling beams hung bunches of wildflowers drying, the stems pointed to the top. The aroma filled the store, a light mixture of scents that I hungrily breathed in. I was not very knowledgeable about flowers. The names, varieties, when they grew best. All that was lost on me.

It was the way each piece was crafted. How the shop could seem disjointed in its exhibitions. But, the more time I spent walking around the uneven aisles, noticing the varying levels of placements, the degrees of color shifting, I could never think of it as thrown together without thought. 

One-piece stopped me. A grouping of dried dwarf Red Roses, in the shape of a heart. I had begun dating a woman a short while before I left NY. We were at the point we both wanted to take the relationship further. We liked each other. A hopeless romantic, I purchased the arrangement. Well wrapped, I left with the package to continue on. A few steps from the shop, I looked back, seeing it all from a slightly different point of view. 

This was art on display, in a fitting setting, along a cobblestone road in Paris.

I continued getting lost, looking for more magic. 

Singing Songs of Joy and Peace

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Singing Songs of Joy and Peace*

 

 

We know what strict is

In the counts of the missing

The missing found

Splatters of their former selves

Shatters of what memories we had

Pushing away the viewpoints of before

It has to be forgotten

Or drag us into the mud

Meaningful deaths, but not now

They graphically get pushed away.

 

The clarity of the season was here

Wintery chills drifting along open skin

Particles inappreciable in white shells

Ingesting the soot of the days and nights

The wet becomes us

Slogging through the cold

We’re nothing but walking icicles

Degradation in our feet

 

Mornings must start with songs of Joy

From barracks to fields

To lift any spirit that could be raised

Through enforced blockage of what’s to come

Songs of Peace enforced taking Joys place

Blaring out, amplified unjust

Home is dancing in the street

Yet no dance here; our patterns are strict,

As long as this weather held.

 

Mercurial temperaments of nature

Have no sense of staying put

Wished away, ignoring petty whines

Pleading prayers always unheard

Chilled or sweltering

We melted or froze

In the fullness of time,

The weather changed.

 

Of the frozen deaths

We revoked our hearts

Set to extra toils

Making up for the dead

Of our sweat drenched backs

We camouflaged our hearts

What was left of them, numb or dead.

 

As long as this weather holds

“This” becomes mythical

While we wait; We wait

Continuing to give up lives

Joining the unremembered in their weather passage.

The egregious screws are welded holdfast

As we sing songs of Joy and Peace

Nevertheless the vagaries of weather;

Nonetheless what clasps us to those songs.

 

March on.

Opposite actions enforced.

Strictly.

 

March on.

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

Author’s Note:

“Songs of joy and peace” come from Joni Mitchel’s beautiful song, River. I had listened to it only minutes before when I shut off my music app and tuned into that night’s writing group, River River Writer’s Circle. The prompt was “When the weather changes.” The above happened, was shared, and got the suggestion: “Think about expanding this out” (well, “stretching it out”). So, I let it sit, came back to it, and the above is the result.

Thank you, Ms. Mitchel. A sad, but integral song for many.  What I wrote is no reflection on her song. The fourth line of the first stanza stayed with me.

The opening stanza from Joni Mitchel’s River is: 

It’s coming on Christmas
They’re cutting down trees
They’re putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace
Oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on

Songwriters: Mitchell Joni
River lyrics © Sony Atv Music Publishing France, Joni Mitchell Publishing Corp, Sony/atv Tunes Llc Obo Joni Mitchell Publishing Corp., Wb Music Corp Obo Jam N Bread Music

 

EDIT: Boy, am I dense!

Joni Mitchel’s River

RiverRiver Writer’s Circle. 

I just realized it. Not planned at all. Doh! Oy! :::palmface:::

 

 

 

Demise On Old Blackwash Road

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Candle

Julie and Steve
In teenage lust angst
Lantern lit, hidden nook
Atrocities attacked ere consummation
Sending them heedlessly running along
On Old Blackwash Road

Julie was screaming
Until her voice decayed
Steve pulled ahead
No thought of her pumping away
Julie tried to catch up
Down Old Blackwash Road

If words could take aim
Steve would have heard her pleas
Curses tossed through him
Voiceless, running still
Left alone under moonlight
Fever pitch dashing on Old Blackwash Road

Steve's mind was blanker
Except for grinding terror
Pushing himself faster on
It was primal, fierce 
As his lungs began to seize
Slowing on Old Blackwash Road

Julie haven found above
Crawling up an ancient oak
She saw Steve plunge to the ground
Closed her eyes ridigidly shut
Prayed, then dug her nails into the wood
Surrounding Old Blackwash Road

Steve's wails turned raw
Before they abruptly terminated
Julie clung for more than her worth
Tree sap glued her to her spot
Unaware of it till morning light
Dawn awakening Old Blackwash Road

Time moved through Julie
Frozen to the spot
Heat of the day came fiercely 
Freeing her from tree secretion
Setting her down upon
Empty Old Blackwash Road

She fled the scene half naked
The ground was bare of Steve
Her throat hurt as she sobbed aloud
No tears were left inside her
As she stumbled upon Route 40
Connected to Old Blackwash Road

Julie withdrew and hid inside
While the Sheriff did his best
Steve was never found, even a tiny bit
"It's happened before," they all knew for true
Julie shrugged. What could she say or do
About Old Blackwash Road?







Sióg ar ais: RevitalWriters

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Faery

Sióg ar ais

              Annie paid little attention to the broiling heat.  A raven-haired woman walked past, her back bare of linen; instead, a fully realized Faery tattoo gripped Annie’s attention. The exquisite carving was mesmerizing. Annie’s cheeks burst bright crimson; her ink was nowhere near this mastery.

            Walking down Tarot Alley, Annie followed the Faery. The details were flawless. The wings, translucent. Frenzied wind draped around the Sidhe. The Fae shimmered and drew Annie along.

            The woman stopped.

            “Would you like to touch her?” she murmured, her back still to Annie.

            An expectant “Yes,” glided out of Annie as she raised her hands…

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RevitalWriters_rough

100 Words

RevitalWriters

Critique. Done. Write.

Click the logo to visit our webpage. 

A Writer’s Cohort that supports, encourages, and offers, in a safe environment. 

Upended, IRL

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Escher

Relativity by M. C. Escher

Upended, IRL

“Mabel, you’re upside down again.”

Daphne sighed, folding her arms tightly across her chest.

She was disappointed that the unusual was becoming the norm.

The sight of Mabel being upside down made it difficult for Daphne to understand: was Mabel aware of the problem?

Daphne tried placing mirrors in strategic locations to provide feedback to Mable.

Mabel thought that Daphne was confused about who was upside down.

The bell from the Ice Cream Truck rang out from down the street.

Mabel wasn’t sure if the sound came from the left or the right side.

It was just enough to remind her that chocolate was her favorite flavor.

Mabel got her coat and went out to the Ice Cream Truck.

When she got there, the Ice Cream man was upside down as well.

Daphne, right behind her, paid for the chocolate ice cream cone, clicked her heels, and joined the others, upside down.

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Notes:

For the past month, I have been leading an Intro To Creative Writing/Storytelling class. This was set up by an organization that offers hands-on explorations for the senior community in New Rochelle, NY (but is open to anyone in the area). In our final session, I closed the group with a Round Robin writing challenge. I gave them a prompt from #storyseeds cards, created by Laura Packer. I randomly pulled a card from the pack and used that for the opening line: “Mabel, you’re upside down again.”

Everyone wrote that down in their writer’s journal and then added the next sentence. Once everyone lowered their pens, the journals were passed to the right. That person had to continue the story with, again, one sentence. Pens lowered. Pass to your right. This was repeated until the writer’s own journal was in front of them. They had to option to add one more sentence (they all did) to tie the story up the best they could.

The entire group enjoyed this activity. It also gave them a piece of everyone involved to take home with them. That, in itself, created a beautiful close to our group. Community happens when you allow it and help it grow.

The above is from my journal. After the prompt, the first and last lines are mine. The rest is a piece where I can carry all of them along with me. All the stories were different. Most had whimsey and humor; a few took on a more serious tone in places. Different POV’s/ways of thinking coming together.

Keep writing.

Grassy Fields

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grassy field

Grassy Field

There are sixteen words for love. Showing love is limitless. How either is perceived, the depth that it touches or bounces away, can change, depending.
 
Depending on the moment, the time of the day, or the year. Depending on the weather that has moved on or that envelops you in the now. Depending if it was heartfelt or only going through the motions. Depending if it was a complete and utter lie. It all depends.
 
She sits on fallen red and burnt orange leaves, leaning against the trunk of the tree, staring out across the open dale. Before her the grass bends to the right. The same breeze sends tendrils of her long brown hair in the same direction. Strands wrap themselves across her cheeks and nose. It is a soft reminder that she needs a trim, letting things go.
 
The hunter green fisherman’s sweater is large on her. It falls below her waist and over her hands. She is happy she chose this to wear today; cocooning herself inside, the tight cable knit blocking out most of the chill. She pulls the collar up and over her nose, the smell of last night’s first fireplace usage buried deep in the skein.
 
Another gust and her hair is flung over, and into, her eyes. Both hands pop out of her sleeve cover to secure the hair, forming a loose braid. She knows it won’t hold.
 
Maybe I shouldn’t have come here today,” she says to the field. ‘Maybe this wasn’t the best idea I’ve had.” She waits, still against the tree trunk. “No answer, huh?”
 
A short burst of chilled air hits her in the side of the face, sending her head back, bumping into the bark behind her. She laughs, touching the spot that she is sure will produce a small bump. She tilts her head back, her eyes moving away from the green to the blue.
 
The sparsely clouded sky has shifted in density and speed. White masses move past, some forming into larger floating islands. Off in the near distance a few of these are growing dark. The wind is picking up.
 
The tree sheds more leaves. As they drift down and around, she notices a bright red one tumbling down towards her. She watches its approach. It sways and circles, finally placing itself on the upper part of her face, covering her eyes.
 
Picking up the stem, she runs the opposite index finger over the edge of the leaf. A piece flecks off. Brittle. She twirls the stem, the red shape going in and out of focus. Her movements, at first, are soft and slow, an imitation of the leaf’s descent. She increases the force, now sharp and jagged. Finally, encircling the leaf in her hand, she closed it into a fist. Crushed, tiny red flakes get brushed off her hand as she stands.
 
She walks away from the tree to stand at the edge of the grassy field. She reminds herself why she came here, why she came on this particular day.
 
There are sixteen words for love. She thought she had said them all.
 
She thought she had shown love in a myriad of ways.
 
She thought it all depended on how it was received.
 
She walks back to her car, burrowed deep into the cable knit fisherman’s sweater.