Wednesday, June 20, 2012


                                                               Puddle   Escher, 1952

          Mabel leaned on the hood of the old truck and watched Harold struggle with the stubborn rear wheel.  He was up to his armpits in mud, and somehow that was her fault, too.  She was vaguely aware of the monologue of cuss words streaming from under the truck.  She cursed herself for suggesting this afternoon ride through the country; the picnic had been ruined when the downpour began.  She had just enough time to gather the sandwiches at the first crack of thunder, and Harold had just enough time to grab her by the hair when she wasn't climbing into the truck fast enough.
                Mabel stared at the ground as the spring rain fell on her face and thought about her life.  Her sisters had all seemed to find good men.  Charlie was not the most handsome fellow but had a steady job as barber, for instance.  He made minimum wage but never left welts.  Then there was Simon.  He was a farmer who worked from sun up to sun down.  Mabel only wished Harold was gone for that long every day!  Where had she gone wrong?
              The clattering under the truck was getting louder, and Mabel stood and tore apart the petals from a nearby wildflower.  She was sick of icing body parts and waiting for bruises to heal.  And the fact that Harold was getting quiet was not a good sign.  If he had to walk back to town to get help for this wheel...she might as well start digging her grave now. 
            Part of the problem is that he had them all convinced.  Her mother, her father, even her sisters.  Harold was the cat's meow and there was nothing else anyone could say about it.  He had come traipsing into town one day with his pocket full of New York money and Mabel had foolishly thought it was the beginning of a fairy tale.  Three weeks into their marriage, she had smelled the perfume on his collar and suffered a busted lip when she asked him about it.  How was she going to endure a lifetime of this?
          Mabel watched the reflection of the birds in a nearby puddle with envy.  All at once she had a flash of kicking the jack out from under the car and squishing him like a fat beetle.  It would be seen as an accident.  Just like all of the accidents she had suffered for years.  Except there would be no icing this one. 
          "Come here, you stupid bitch!" she heard him scream from deep under the metallic mousetrap.  For the first time in a long while, Mabel smiled.  She knew what she had to do.  And a little mud never hurt anyone...

I hope you enjoyed this Magpie Tale!

Monday, May 28, 2012

the quiet war

For those fighting silent wars...
[Let me tell you about the war, kid]
Out there
I lost every battle i did not fight (thank you fear, thank you white blood cells)
And the war is too still close to call (a photo finish, to say the least)
Take pause while there is a break in the action (roam the hall, use the vending machine)
And remember
Heroes are just victims in someone else's tragedy.

[Let me tell you about the future, kid]
In here
She won every battle she fought (with talons, with claws)
And the war was never even close (out of the park, in fact)
You won't  be able to catch her (no radiation, even from the sun)
And remember
Victims are always heroes in someone else's tragedy.

Dverse pub wishes to recognize memorial day. I do, too.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

punctuation counts

A Trifecta challenge: this weekend's challenge is to give us a story or snippet of a story which includes, in exactly 33 words, a justified exclamation point.  Make us believe that your exclamation point simply needs to be in your story.

The nurse furrows her brow in confusion.
Slippery coldness as the magic wand glides over my abdomen.
A pause; impassable silence.
Listening, we strain our ears and the world holds it’s breath.

Friday, February 10, 2012

knowing it

Trifecta Challenge--Your task this week, should you choose to accept it, is to write a love scene in no fewer than 33 and no more than 333 words excluding 33 forbidden words:  stroke, quiver, whisper, hold, say, entice, moan, sigh, embrace, nibble, kiss, excited, taste, dance, passion, love, intimate, thigh, soft, hard, lips, heart, mind, beating, racing, music, candle, hair, wine, beach, fire, lust, desire.

(Side of the highway on a winter’s night.)

Wrinkly hands tapped ash out of the driver’s side window of the old Chevy truck.
Grace had pulled over to the shoulder of the road and stopped the engine, listening.
The song.
The one that had been played at the school recital oh so many years ago.
She recalled it had just started playing when he sat down on a folding chair next to her. A stranger, then.
Deep inside, however, she had known there would be no more empty chairs next to her ever again.

Now, years later, it was just a song on the radio--played for the masses.
Grace thought angrily to him, "You can never be condensed to lyrics of a song . They do not express the curve of your smile, the movement of your hands, the depth of our lifetimes...You saw my most sacred moments. How is it I must now know them alone?”

A gust of wind came and snow blew silently through her open window, covering the empty seat beside her.
And she knew the chair wasn't empty.
Of course it wasn't.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Where do the Bong Trees grow?

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
'O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!'

Pussy said to the Owl, 'You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?'
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose,
His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

'Dear pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?' Said the Piggy, 'I will.'
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

         My grandmother Harriett used to sing this to me when I was a child.  She sang to me often.  And eventually we sang it together, my grandma and I.  She was both an elementary teacher and grandma extraordinaire.  Looking back, I see how we bonded through our mutual love of language and literature.  She introduced me to Charlotte's Web (still my favorite book), Stuart Little, The Little Fish that Got Away, and the Little Engine that Could.  Before the books, she taught me about Little Miss Muffet, Humpty Dumpty, the Three Blind Mice, and the dish (who always ran away with the spoon!) Her stories became my stories.  Her world became my world. A magical world of make believe where three little kittens lose their mittens and the cow jumps over the moon. 
        Now I am grown and she has long since passed.  I have evolved into a "distinguished" reader, one with a diverse repertoire who deals out harsh criticism of prose and poetry. I know what literary theory you are talking about and where the comma goes (not here!).  I have a piece of paper on my wall that says I have spent many hours dissecting language here, there, and everywhere.  Although now, the words are big and the content complicated.
       Why am I telling you this?
       Well, driving home tonight, I glanced at the full moon and a line of this verse flew into my head.  Yet try as I must, I could not recall the entire tale.  So I decided to Google it (yes, I know I'm not supposed to begin a sentence with "so").  Then I re-read these verses that I have not seen or heard since childhood.  The verses had a profound impact on me.  This day was filled with so much drama and chaos that I cannot even gather the words to articulate how hard my brain was running all day long and the range of feelings I endured.  While I myself couldn't  find the words, I discovered that Edward Lear could and did.  Therefore instead of describing all of the events in detail and the conclusions I've drawn in an original poem, I think this story summarizes it. And for all of you without pieces of papers on your walls, this is what one can learn from the Owl and Pussycat:

           I should live while I am here.
Eat. Cry.
Sing a song (or, at least sing along).
Express love. Seize the moment.
Look up at the stars.
Hold someone's hand mentally or physically.
Run away for a year and a day. 
And, most imperatively, I should dance by the light of the moon.  The moon, the moon-- by God, I should dance by the light of the moon.

     Goodnight all and thanks for listening xoxo