"Anyone can slay a dragon. . .but try waking up every morning and loving the world all over again. That's what takes a real hero." - BRIAN ANDREAS
I found this one hiding in my hard drive. Written circa 2008
“I made you a new housecoat, momma.” Eve holds out the garment.
“You may sew better than you clean my kitchen, but I don’t need a new housecoat.”
“You know Pastor Bob is visiting this morning.” Eve has rehearsed this part. “Your purple housecoat is in the laundry.”
Edith fingers the white lace running down the front zipper, the black bows stitched at the neck. Eve has counted on her mother’s lifelong weakness for bows. She relents, and allows herself to be dressed. While Eve styles the older woman’s stiff white curls, Edith prattles about election results.
“A Negro in office. We’re a country of heathens.”
“Pastor Bob would say the Lord works in mysterious ways,” Eve murmurs boldly.
“Don’t be foolish, girl. Saint Paul says, ‘What communion hath light with darkness?’ Darkness, Saint Paul says.”
Blue veins pop out of the crepe-paper skin on Eve’s hands. “People are people, momma, no matter their skin color.”
“None of that. Thought I cured you of that when that King man got shot.”
“That was forty years ago.”
“Don’t I know it,” her mother snaps. “And we’re still no better off than to get a Negro president.”
April 4, 1968. Edith had made Eve scrub the kitchen floor with Eve's own toothbrush for wearing a black armband after Martin Luther King’s assassination. A ribbon, actually; one of Eve’s few hair decorations.
A black ribbon that, forty years later, silently ties together the white lace of her mother's new housecoat.
Originally published for "Ascension," January 14, 2009.
“I need boxers,” I say to my mother hopefully. Mostly Sean gets everything new, and I get passed-down jeans with ripped pockets and shirts with armpit stains. I draw the line at underwear.
“We’ll see if anything’s on sale after I look at ties.” She heads off.
That was easy. Mom must be in a sentimental mood. UNLV’s been courting Sean with a full basketball scholarship since he won the championship last year. There’s just the formality of the interview, which is why we’re at the mall after practice, buying suits we can’t afford.
On the thinly carpeted floors in the hallway of the men’s dressing room, I stretch out my legs, turn up the volume on the iPod I worked all summer to buy. Ten minutes later, I peer under the cheap particleboard partitions to see if Sean’s done. My brother’s sitting, still in his own clothes, staring at a piece of paper.
“Sean? What’s up?” He doesn’t stop me when I open the door, reach down to grab the note.
The words stay low, stuck in his throat. “I’m off the team. Coach said it’s lucky I’m not expelled.” I tower over him. I’d kept his secret, but now. He’s in deep.
“Tell Mom I’m going to look at boxers.” I drop the paper.
I trip out of the dressing room, walk down the hall, through the men’s department, onto the escalator, up, high, higher.
Originally published for "In Vino Veritas," July 14, 2009.
Twenty-two hours from San Francisco to Kathmandu. Four hours until the layover in Hong Kong. Caelin will have finished grading papers by then. She arches her back, stretching, then wiggles her toes, and catches the eye of the flight attendant.
“More, please.” She indicates the travel-sized wineglass. The remaining ruby droplets glisten in the spotlight of her reading lamp. The attendant nods from the galley.
“You realize that’s basically grape juice?” Chloe peers around the headrest as her business class bed reverts to its upright position.
“It’s a second growth Bordeaux and you know it, O Queen Food Critic,” Caelin retorts. “How’d you sleep?”
“Not well. Looks like fourteen bottles of questionable Bordeaux didn’t help you sleep, either.”
“And nervous. What if she hates us?”
“Sweetheart.” Caelin strokes her wife’s cheek as Chloe unfolds the passport she’s been clutching. A little girl with dark eyes and copper skin gazes at them, unsmiling and unafraid. “She liked us well enough before. Any kid will hate her parents at some point. Let’s just focus on getting her home.”
The flight attendant materializes with the bottle of Château Cos-d'Estournel 1989, which streams like scarlet silk into the stemware.
“Like the orphanage is going to let her come home when you show up drunk,” Chloe teases, leaning close. Caelin smiles into her spouse’s black curls. Points of light play on the surface of her wine, casting images against the back of the seat in a rosy haze.
Originally posted June 14, 2009
I failed my birthday word count challenge, and Pete wrote:
My "punishment" for you is to write a poem of at least six lines and no more than 40 lines that describes the feeling of coming >this< close to a stretch goal but falling just short at the deadline.Neither Pete or Janey was as harsh on me as McK is going to be, so I'm still in an okay place with my lack of word count. Perhaps I will rewrite the poem after I've received the sharp end of the Koala Klaws.
I chose to write a poem in the pattern of a Quatern, which, according to Shadow Poetry,
is a sixteen line French form composed of four quatrains. It is similar to the Kyrielle
True Love, Redefined One day she hopes true love to find, One soul, one mind, two hearts entwined; Somewhere out there’s the perfect guy, For Youth has set her standards high. He must be rich, handsome, refined, One day she hopes true love to find; Yet no one seems to measure up And disappointment fills her cup. The years go by, her nights grow long, Her aging voice sings sorrow’s song. One day she hopes true love to find, Her definition redefined; Simply a plain and faithful friend To see her to life’s journey’s end; For though her face with age be lined, One day she hopes true love to find. Copyright © 2003 Linda Newman
The Master's Feet Those who sat at the Master’s feet, Brothers who fished in waters deep, Threw down their nets and followed Him, Forsaking all to fish for men. The crowds pressed ‘round to hear Him speak, Those who sat at the Master’s feet, Those who he said would be a light, For others lost in dark of night. In the upper room hands were rung, When told a traitor was among, Those who sat at the Master’s feet, With emblems of Himself to eat. The Master’s mother held her breath, When savage men cried for his death, And vainly struggled to defeat, Those who sat at the Master’s feet. Copyright © 2006 James Dupy
Life’s Pulse - The Gypsies’ Song As dark-haired beauties celebrate while moving round the fire light, their slender swirling hips gyrate, and on they dance, into the night. The flames dance too, beneath the moon. As dark-haired beauties celebrate, their fathers clap or play a tune the merry clan perpetuate! Then each young man takes hold a mate he’s chosen in the ring of fire. As dark-haired beauties celebrate, their flashing eyes ignite desire. The mothers sit and smile. They know the music will not soon abate. Life’s pulse is found by camp fire’s glow as dark-haired beauties celebrate.
Copyright © 2006 Andrea DietrichAll right, so I know you've been waiting with bated breath. Without further ado (or cliches), here is my original poem.
The words themselves run high and wild,
seeking to be corralled and tamed.
This adverb is a willful child;
that noun’s impatient to be named.
By sunrise we must reach our home.
The words themselves run high and wild.
A question mark is bound to roam.
The “being” verbs have formed a pile.
Even the sun is not beguiled
as she dips closer to her bed.
The words themselves run high and wild,
resist the stories in my head.
Despite the claws, the whips, the threat,
my heart is calm, frustration’s mild.
I watch the beauty as I let
the words themselves run high and wild.
Hello my dears,
I am writing to you as I pack for Camp NaNoWriMo, a virtual writers retreat where aspiring novelists from around the world gather to bash out 50,000 words of fiction in a month.
That's right! I've committed to writing a 112,500-word novel in a month. And to reach my goal, I am going to need all the encouragement I can get!
There are a number of ways you can help me along my way.
Just like sponsoring a marathonner, you can donate on my behalf as I write toward the 112,500-word goal. I'll receive some truly nifty prizes for my fundraising efforts on behalf of The Office of Letters and Light, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit that hosts Camp NaNoWriMo. Your donation will help provide free writing resources for even more kids, teens, and adults around the world!
I have a sponsorship page set up here:
Or, there are a number of inspirational items in the online Camp Store (store.lettersandlight.org/merchandise) that will help get me through the month. You could send me a Camp NaNoWriMo Care Package full of campy encouragement, a Camp NaNoWriMo T-shirt declaring my goal for the month, a Campfire Mug to fill with writer fuel, or a poster for my writing nook.
You can find these and other writing supplies at store.lettersandlight.org/merchandise.
Thank you so much for your support as I write my novel.
Wish me luck! (And hope that I don't get poison ivy.)
I will have my Macbook Air, my notebooks, and not much else. I will write and write until my little fingers fall off. Then I will sit in the hot tub. Then I will write more.
When I underwent this challenge in 2009, I used a fantastic network of support to encourage my writing. If I didn't meet a daily goal, I received a "punishment" from these friends.
As I set myself a new task this year, I ask for similar support. If you are up for being a cheerleader, giver-of-punishments, or just general rubber-necker, please let me know. I would love to add you to my team!
written for the 2012 Lascaux Flash Fiction contest
by Aerin Rose
The trailer’s lit up like special effects from an old UFO movie, shining lasers through the trees, onto the barn, into the chickens’ pen. The truck’s gone, leaving a flattened circle of mud. I float into the kitchen.
“Hey, Sam. I told Ms. Winston today that extraterrestrials are vegetarians.” The alien’s eyes chime, missing nothing as he skins dinner for the men. Sam points a greenish finger at my arms.
“Don’t worry, it’s just marker.” I pull Sharpies from my backpack. “Ink. See?” The lines on my pink skin are black with silver stitches, reinforced, holding everything together. “Ms. Winston”—fourth social worker since mom left, the only one who’s made me swear to tell her the truth—“said I looked like a Tim Burton character. She might be a keeper.”
The metallic echo of those words zooms around my brain, a lost ship trying to find port. Something that happened . . . couple of years ago? Yeah. The kitchen. Breakfast. Uncle Jasper and my father. “Not like her whore mother.” “No, she’s a keeper.” Oh. After the first night.
I study Sam as he finishes with the blade. His shiny skin has turned dull like snot: we both hate the cutting, the oozing, the fluids. His eyes sing, sounding like a unicorn or church bells. The knife glows, a redneck light saber. I hear the chickens screech and the truck wheels in the gravel.
The truth I will tell Ms. Winston tomorrow is that aliens don’t burst at the seams. They shatter.
The Fire Blessing
by Aerin Rose
Shadows of the fire wards shimmered gold and crimson in the flames of Lillith’s hair. Firebird, salamander, dragon - we’d bonded during the infinite expanses of time I’d spent tangled in bed with Lillith. Now they peered out, one by one, in silent goodbyes. I avoided looking at her as I worked my earthen features into the shapes Yahweh suggested.
"I guess it could have been Undine.” Lillith’s voice was lukewarm.
“The water elemental as mother of humanity?”
“I guess not. Nor Sylph, either.”
“We’ve been through this, Lil. I’m going. Help me with my torso.”
She slid her hands beneath my arms and lifted. Although I’d melted into her heat countless times, that lava skin now felt acidic against mine. As my waist lengthened, ribs grew to support my new frame.
“You shouldn’t have to change for this animal.”
“Adam. His name is Adam. What do you want me to do? Who should go instead?”
The words kindled between us; we both knew Yahweh had asked for the fire elemental. For her. She was the first to turn away.
“I’ve already received the blessings of air and water,” I said. “Now the fire blessing.”
The incandescent salamander appeared in a burst of sparks on my hand. His bright tail gripped as he bit my finger, flint to touchstone, fire scorching my blood.
“I will always love you.” I raised my eyes to hers a final time. “But I can’t forgive you.”
My lover whispered, “Eve,” and I was gone.
(Aerin Rose: With thanks to Fritz.)
written for the "Uncovered" Flash Fiction contest at The Clarity of Night
by Aerin Rose
“No, it’s me, Kate.” She pulled the lavender nightgown over the old woman’s head.
“Yes, remember? That I’m going back to college?”
“What about my violets?”
“Don’t you worry, I wrote everything down. I marked the watering can at just the right amount.”
“A walk in the gardens at 2PM, the new girl knows that, too.”
“Yes, I’ll tell her to close the blinds at bedtime.”
“Audrey. The necklace.”
“No, ma’am, I’m Kate.” She ran a brush gently through the sparse hair. “Which necklace?”
“I wore white to the ball, of course. Debutantes. Virginal my ass. But to Casino Night, I wore emerald silk, cut low. I had the bosoms for it then. A dyed ostrich feather in my hair. Daddy wanted a deal with the Carruthers. Bought me a 23 carat green tourmaline surrounded with diamonds. Believe you me, Jack Carruthers noticed. I’m pretty sure your mother was conceived that night. She had Jack’s eyes.”
Kate said quietly, “I’m not Audrey.”
“Your mother burns through money like marijuana.”
“She’s not my—What’s this?” Kate frowned at the little envelope that the older woman pushed into her hand.
“The key. For the safe deposit box. I put the necklace away, oh, years ago. Figure it’s worth ninety, a hundred thousand.”
“Mrs. Carruthers, I’m not…”
“She stuck me in this nursing home. Where they don’t even serve Rocky Road. Sell the necklace, dear. To pay for school.”
Dear child, welcome to this world, in all its beauty and savagery. You'll hear the phrase "A picture is worth a thousand words" (and then your da will show you a picture and teach you how to write flash fiction about it.) This picture by Maxfield Parrish is my (half of a) thousand words, and here's what they are:
I wish for you strength, in big things and small. An elephant cannot carry its own body weight, but an ant can, and ten times more. May your body be strong, to run and to jump and to climb mountains.
I wish for you freedom, to discover yourself and be what you choose. I hope you will make mistakes, and learn from them. I hope you will know the feeling of wind in your hair as you run through the grass, and that that feeling will find its way into your soul.
I wish for you love, to give and to be given. I wish for love to make you its conduit - love poured in and love given freely out, made purer by the filter of your heart.
I wish for you patience, for you to retain a sense of the movement of the eternal that you no doubt experience as you sleep an infant sleep. I ask you to be patient with your parents, who love you and do everything out of that love. Be patient with yourself. There’s no finish line, only the steps from one reality to another.
I wish for you impatience, for you to reject assumptions of inequality, to challenge with fierce heart the oppression of so much of humankind, of art, of faith. Learn only the impatience that is born of seeking justice.
I wish for you faith. May you ever feel the embrace of the Divine. May you experience the Divine for yourself, choose to believe in the One who exists beyond us but loves in and around and through us.
I wish for you wisdom. Sadly, you will lose your infant wisdom. But its impressions remain inside of you. As you grow, you’ll find pieces of wisdom, and you’ll know where they naturally fit inside the leftover spaces of yourself.
I wish for you bravery. Against the dark, against spiders, against aggressive four-legged creatures and bright, bold winged things. Have courage during storms, both inner and outer, and remember that while slaying a dragon is sometimes necessary, it’s never, ever easy.
I wish for you thankfulness. For a moment, for a lifetime. For the smallest gesture and the grandest gift.
I wish for you books. Skyscrapersful of books. From Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
I wish for you inspiration - from art, from music, from science, from history. A sense of the world as it is and as it was and as it could be. A dream, that captures your passions and changes when it needs to and propels you into places of risk and ambition for the sake of the dream.
I wish for you peace. Peace in your world. Peace in your soul. A calm, quiet sense of “forever” and the luxury to languish in it. Peace on the journey, and peace to where, eventually, you will cross into yet another reality, surrounded by the same love in which you entered this one.
You are loved. Be well.