Lucky Guy

When the old vet told me about his
first experience in a fire-fight,
when a metal-jacket bullet
ripped through his khaki jacket,
I asked him if he saw it.
“Saw what?” he asked.
“Your life flash before your eyes,” I said.
“Hell, no, sonny,” he said. “That didn’t
even happen in jump school
when the guy behind me’s silk
pulled a Mae West on top of me
for a couple thousand feet.
I don’t think it actually happens.”
Well, I figured he should know.
But I had to check. I didn’t see it either.
Not when some punk sliced that knife
through my shirt in that dark
Third Street hallway. And all I saw
were circles of steel probably big
as my eyeballs when that farmer
pushed his revolver in my face
while I tried taking a photo of possible
illegal picking his apples.
I’m not sure who came up with that
trope of your life passing before your eyes
in that instant you feel you might die
Possibly he was inexperienced in the true
from-the-waist-down, piss-your-pants,
experience of perceiving imminent death.
Lucky guy.

Poem Number 5 for poem a day April. And Experience/Inexperience poem…I think.


Shadow of the Hunter

Never heard the killer’s silent approach.
No springing of hairs on my neck,
no buzz of sixth sense, no early warning.
That is, until his shadow touched mine.
My corporal self twisted to see him sink
his phantom fangs silently into
what my arm cut from the desk lamp’s glow.

In my darkened jungle, when
hunted suddenly discovers hunter,
the bookish often instinctively
turns barbaric.

With swift and sure notebook swat,
long-legged predator,
just doing what spiders do,
went from one shadow to two.
The first, I’ve written here
on your page. The other,
I’ve just written over
on mine.

Poem #3 — another 100-worder — of Poem-a-Day April 2014.  My thanks to the late little arachnid (the correct lighting might even make me look fierce) who scared the hell out of me and inspired this piece in my up-until-then-empty morning notebook. At dVerse Meeting the Bar, Claudia asks us to express emotion without saying what it is. Hope I did.

Beneath God’s Tear

Halley's Comet in 1682 (Source: Wikipedia)

Halley’s Comet in 1682 (Source: Wikipedia)

On my pallet in the hold
of The Friends’ Adventure,
I hear their lamentations
above deck. The sun’s
dropped behind the shelf
toward our new home,
but something like daylight
shines here upon my family.

I tell Rachel this is a sign
from our Creator
that we are like Magi,
following a star to
a new Bethlehem,
where all may worship
in peace as he will.

I don’t approve of what
others call us, but
this September night,
seaman, farmer, heathen and Christian,
stand beneath God’s tear
falling from the sky,
and know what it means
to be a Quaker.

Here’s another 100-word drabble story-poem, this time based on a cool time and place prompt from Kellie Elmore:
You find yourself in the lower level of an old ship. A calendar on the wall says 1682. There is a small window, and the view is nothing but open sea and a setting sun. There is a staircase and you can see daylight at the top…
 That played right into this history nerd’s shaking hands. In 1682, William Penn began sending ships full of members of The Society of Friends off to settle what would soon be known as Pennsylvania. In the September of that year, the comet that became famous as Halley’s Comet hung in the skies as shown in that contemporary illustration up there and raised quite a stir in Europe.
I put those two facts together and imagined how George Pownall, a passenger on one of those ships, The Friends’ Adventure, would try to explain it to his daughter, Rachel. That’s how I came up with Beneath God’s Tear.

The Gift

3-28 FWF

As I recall, it started at that Christmas party. I was the guest of Angela, a new girl I’d met in the food court during breaks at the mall. She said she worked at the toy store. And believe me, this chick looked like the angel you’d want perched on the tippy-top of your Christmas tree,

“Try some of our wassail, David,” said Mr. Caligari, who Angie ID’d as her manager. Now, I’m usually a Miller Light guy, but hey, it was the holidays and I was his guest and all. Plus, with a chick as fine as Angie, I needed a little extra courage.

After a couple of those spicy punches—okay, six—was when a spinning sensation hit me. There was a flash of light and then…nothing. Not black nor darkness. Nothing.

Some time later, the tickle and chill of cold crystals upon my face brought some hazy lucidity back to me. I saw a pair of black boots walk by me, and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why they were walking up the cold wall upon which I was resting. That was when I discovered my point of view was skewed by ninety degrees. I lifted myself off the snow-dusted sidewalk to get a better view of where I was and who belonged to those lovely limbs stuffed into clicking-along black leather.

Once on my feet, I staggered with the wooziness of a landlubber his first time at sea and I couldn’t quite catch my bearings. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the snow cast this neighborhood in a twinkling cloud, a disguise behind which I couldn’t tell if I was in Albany or Albania, Arbor Hill or Ann Arbor.

I felt a little steadier on my feet, so I peered through the snow at what appeared to be Angie, my angel with the seriously articulating architecture, striding sinuously up the street. The girl moved like she was on rails. I recognized those boots, but then split my gaze from the mesmerizing seesaw of her denim-hugged seat and the hypnotically spinning umbrella she carried on her shoulder.

My uncertainty with the surroundings and hazy grasp on everything in general urged my feet to take chase after Angela, follow her tracks and get some idea if a truck had hit me or some of her boss’ wassail.

But my feet wouldn’t work. Well, that’s not exactly true. I could spin them like crazy but I could move forward only a foot or two, like I was treading water.

“Angela,” I called, “What the heck’s going on? Where are we?”

But she just kept walking, but not walking. Her feet moved, but she wasn’t going too far, either, despite the footprints that trailed her like my once-hungry-now-frightened eyes.

It was just about that time I felt the ground rise up under me, and the light got brighter. The entire neighborhood started spinning and quaking like Magnitude 7 or 8 SoCal temblor. Then everything stopped. Just like that. Well except for the snow, which was swirling a blizzard, even though I couldn’t feel all that much cold nor wind.

“Angela,” I called once more. “Where the hell are we?” Then I heard it. A ratcheting metallic sound, then chimes, followed by a muffled voice.

“Oh, Mommy, it’s the beautifullest snow globe ever!” the voice said.

That’s when I looked up and saw this little girl’s face in the clouds.

This story’s based on that picture at the top of the story and this scenario from my friend Kellie Elmore: “You suddenly find yourself standing alone on an unknown sidewalk in an unknown place. It’s night and snowing and the only other person around is walking away from you….”

Only had the chance to hit it at lunch, but here you are, Kell. No time for edits and it kinda got away from me.

Better Watch Out, Better Not Cry


Fatso (Photo credit: overthinkingme)

Ginny Bocca sat by the window in her bedroom, her eyes following snowflakes fall on the houses up and down Bancroft Street, their colored lights signaling landing strips for reindeer.

“Boy, Mooshy, Mommy and Larry were pretty mad…I hope I haven’t done somethin’ so bad this time that Santa doesn’t come, ” she said to her one-eyed, threadbare Teddy bear.

“We been in here a long time and they stopped hollerin’ a million-zillion hours ago,” Ginny said, looking up at the cat-faced clock, swinging its tail in tick-tock monotony, when it meowed six times.

“When they come an’ unlock the door, I’ll tell ’em how sorry I am, whether Santa left me anything or not,” she said, blinking back what tears she had left.

As she stared out at the neighborhood again, Ginny saw living room lights blink to life here and there up the street, and once again she wondered what fell over last night, two loud bangs, when her Mommy and Larry finished their yelling and must have gone to bed.

A five sentence fiction, with a typically twisted holiday theme, based on Lillie McFerrin’s prompt word: Alone.

When I Shine My Darkness Upon You

Darkness falls

When I was young, darkness held
the heartbeat thump, the maybe crash,
of unknowns, inevitable, evil,
death-dealing dread only defended
by bedside night-lights and Pater Nosters.
But the shadow creatures never came
and I grew to welcome dark’s embrace.

Only during those times was I truly alone,
empty of the harsh light, the reality
of crushing days, perfectly comfortable
and conversant with myself in ways
daylight and I would never share.
Now, it is the dark upon which I dote,
the dawn and its daylong drudgery I dread.

Not even closing my eyes to the glare
of day is enough. You probably wouldn’t
understand this reassuring touch,
this love I feel in the unlit,
though you might catch a glimpse
when I shine my darkness upon you.


The Coming Storm ~ A Story

Pickett's Charge: So Much More to Go

Young Langdon Cabot, his face covered in sweat and worry, leaned close to Asa Benning’s ear and yelled, “What time is it, Asa?”

The big guns had been shelling the Union lines for two hours this hot July third, and South Carolina boys had said the din reminded them sitting in the middle of an afternoon thunderstorm in Beaufort County, except it rained steel.

Benning, a 25-year-old Virginian with a combat history as long as his lice-ridden beard, untrimmed since Sharpsburg, squinted out over the rolling mile of Pennsylvania pastureland between the useless shade here in this steaming apple grove and the Union fortification before Cemetery Hill.

When an itinerant breeze nudged aside the clouds of smoke and dust coughed up by the barrage, Benning could see the Confederate artillery rounds were overshooting the Union positions…and then, silence.

Benning turned to young Cabot, fished the spent wad of tobacco from his dry mouth and sighed, “The time? It’s high tide, boy, and time we cast our nets for to catch what these damned old men have ordered.”

A bit of Five Sentence Fiction kicked off by Lillie McFerrin’s prompt: Thunder