Wednesday, September 30, 2009

three word wednesday~ambitious,ugly, incredible

kill me now

“if nothing else, your writing is... ambitious. it is incredible how, well, well stuffed your work can be... um, it’s, well, it’s a testimony to your dedication to use every word ever created within the fiction you create i mean, i’ve never seen such a razzle dazzle display of language. unique... yessss, that’s the word i want, unique. that is what i think every time i read one of your pieces.”

the publisher paused, not sure where to go when faced with the beaming smile given by the author whose work she had agreed, in a fashion, to print after a drunken night in a hotel room following a convention in des moines.

if nothing else, she’d learned a valuable lesson for a woman whose word was his bond; never discuss business after an orgasm. what she saw as nodding off to sleep, he took as a yes--and an ugly alliance was formed.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

one word~mist

there is a mist that hovers over the street, made up of blown oil, ddt and a bit of water. a truck drives through the neighborhood every week, spraying the area for mosquitoes, keeping them away, killing them with the poisons contained within.

we run behind it; my cousins and i...allowing it to settle on our skin so we can stay out later in the heat of a louisiana summer, delighting in the glistening coating that we rub in, happy in the knowledge it will protect us from annoying bites. thanks to this magic oil, we can run off to play night games of tag and hide and seek and jump rope under the street lights until we are called in to go to bed.

decades later, three of us have cancer. some say it was hidden bad luck, some say it was hidden in our genes..

i'm pretty sure it was hidden deep in that mist we reveled in so long ago... knowing i can change nothing, knowing it was a mistake...and still, with the harsh consequences of that long ago decision, i think back on those nights with remembered joy.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

one word~sorry

those words

he said those two words.

you know them, the ones said to make up for the shit storm the thoughtlessness the attack.

those words that leave him with everything, that keeps him in control--putting me in a place of having to say, sure, it's okay... i understand.

he doesn't say; forgive me. that would admit culpability.. words that would let me feel he really was repentant, that my pain had weight. that one phrase gives me the power in choosing how i feel.

he said.. those two words.

and, as usual, i said...sure, it's okay, i understand--even though it isn't, even though i don't.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

one word~early

it was too early, this birth.

she and the child waited in some odd place, hovering between the two worlds... not sure which was the one they should dwell in for eternity.

they each chose one... and life on earth moved on, leaving the one who picked that place to always wonder what could have been.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

sunday scribblings~tattoo

Sometimes, We Choose

Margaret Mary Doyle set Saturday aside for shopping when she moved to a Chassidic neighborhood off the Jamaica subway line in 1970. This meant the shops were fairly empty and she could wander at her leisure, humming along with the Muzak, looking over the meat in the butcher’s section, finding relaxation in the beigeness of the chore. A change in her job schedule found her going on Sundays, when it was crowded with the women of her neighborhood; Brooklyn-made wigs in place, lists at the ready, children in tow-- each one wanting the biggest chicken, the nicest kinsh, the freshest vegetables.

Eventually, they would congregate in the produce section, squeezing fruit and looking over vegetables with a small frown of concentration between their eyebrows... daughters learning the subtle trick to finding good ears of corn, sons standing patiently with yarmulkes bobby-pinned to cropped hair, payez tucked behind their ears. It was there, the second summer of living in the area, that someone finally answered the murmured hello she had offered many times. Weeks became months, and the two saw each other enough to share a smile and a nod when their eyes met... accepting that the produce department and discussions of food would always be the extent of their friendship of sorts. The boys would watch Maggie from under their lashes, not wishing to speak to a stranger, much less a gentile stranger...wondering why their mother did. Maggie never failed to smile at them, comment on their growth--they never failed to ignore her existence.

Over the next year or so, she watched the boys grow taller... knew when the elder made his Bar Mitzvah by his sudden absence. She congratulated her acquaintance on the upcoming birth of a child, bringing a small gift the week after she’d seen them back in the market. Passing the gift from one set of hands to the other caused them to touch--this action brought on the odd forced laugh one does in uncomfortable social settings.

Time passed, seasons brought squash and vine tomatoes and finally, the glory of summer melons. It was in late August when Maggie dashed in, late for a barbeque she was attending, focused on her list of items to buy, whispering under her breath and mentally ticking each thing off as it went into the basket. Unconsciously, she sorted meat from dairy, never allowing them near each other.

Cheese. Buns. Hamburger. All that remained was lettuce, two tomatoes and the cantaloupe she would cut up over at the gathering, letting it chill while they all ate...knowing the fruit dripping with it’s juice would cool throats rough from too many cigarettes, conversations and wine.

Looking the fruit over, she heard the voice she knew coming up behind her, speaking to the baby. The two women had never exchanged names, however, the children were known to Maggie from their mother saying them as she sent them to get a bag of potatoes or some apples. Asher. Samuel, who was now a man. Yakob. Baby Rebekah, sitting strapped in the front of the cart, content to suck on her fingers, not caring who you were; if you smiled at her, she responded with her whole body wiggling. Maggie felt a twinge of irritation...she didn’t have any time to converse, not even for their brief conversations. The manners drummed into her head by Sister Mary Paul put a smile in place, the words of Hello, how are you? already leaving her mouth... a question put forth that she silently prayed to God wouldn’t be answered.

They fell to discussing the price of cantaloupe, comparing it to larger, messier watermelon...never stopping in their testing, searching. Each had a different technique; Maggie sniffed the end, trying to scent the distinct flavour of the fruit. The other used the shaking method...holding them close to her ear, listening to hear if the seeds were at the point of coming loose from the flesh--a sign of perfect ripeness. As they stood and sniffed and shook and debated if this week or next would bring forth the best of the season, an older woman walked over, the younger boys holding her hands, all of them speaking rapidly in Yiddish.

Her friend turned, greeted the three, then said to Maggie, “This is my Mama. She is visiting us.” Smiles. Nods. Stepping up, she added another set of hands to join in the testing to find a cantaloupe that surpassed the usual standards.

Like daughter, like mother...the older woman, too, shook each round bit of fruit, moving from one to another, her wrist near her ear, listening for the ripe sound. All three concentrated on the task of finding that fruit; it bound them in the way only women are bound, the ancient voice hidden in DNA reminding them they were once the gatherers in tribes. It was then, as the older woman held up the yellow globe she had chosen, shaking it next to her ear, the long sleeves worn even in this weather slid back....Maggie had looked up to watch, a smile on her face...

There. On the forearm. Right. There.

Maggie stared. All else became unimportant. Those black-blue numbers held her eyes, her focus...stopped her breath. She wasn’t sure if it was the pale skin or the black knowledge of how it came to be there that caused them to suddenly stand out even more. With it, this woman had been listed, tracked, made a thing. Maggie stared, knowing it was her memory for life.

A 44762.

She heard something, focused on it, realised it was the older woman speaking to her.

“..... in August, 1943. I was 17. My Lilach stared that same way, the first time she understood this.”

Lilach took her mother’s arm, turned it so the tattoo faced up, kissed it.

Putting the melon down, Maggie turned, leaving her cart, leaving the group that suddenly seemed closed to her. Swinging her purse over her shoulder, she moved towards the doors, towards air. Towards something she could comprehend.

Maggie reached the bus, her seat, her was habit, and required no thought. In the apartment, sitting on the sofa, purse still in one hand, house keys in the other, she sat, trying to find some memory that didn’t have a dark place. She thought of the Leon Uris books she’d read, Mila 18, QB VII,...the works of Chaim Potok, books read since her move in some odd attempt to ‘understand’ her neighbors-- the books discussed the events, none had given her the skills to process what she’d seen.

The loss of six million was there, in that number. The loss of homes, security, freedom...of generations that would never be born. All of that and more was contained in the cheap ink, the badly drawn characters.

A 44762.

Maggie sat on her sofa, letting all of this settle into a brain that was still skittering over those details she’d never grasp, and knew something in her had changed.

With that knowledge came a great fear she’d do nothing about it, nothing to step up and voice her anger over genocides that still occurred. Standing, she let that fear find a hiding place in her soul, accepting it would stay hidden, accepting she’d live her life as it had always been...turning her head, remaining passive.

Margaret Mary Doyle unfolded her newspaper, and started to circle apartments in Manhattan.


First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me--
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

----Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892-1984) about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

three word wednesday~disarm engage mayhem

Fat Boy

Once upon a time, there was a boy and a girl--who felt the universe completely revolved around their beloved, and could not imagine life without the other.

So, following tradition, he gave her a ring and they were engaged. They stood before their peers, their parents, their God, and vowed to stay with each other into death. Secretly smiling when they repeated the age old words; they knew they'd be together beyond death, into eternity. Running out beneath a shower of rice (for this was in the long, long ago...before eco-friendly birdseed was tossed in the air), they went forth into the mayhem that is life.

Jobs, cars, houses, children--all of those things and more darted into their existence. There were times they lost sight of each other in every way. Times when they turned on the one they loved the most, because there you can do the most harm. You see, those are the ones, those people disarmed in emotional battle by the love they bear for the other combatant... the ones who, when they are finally put too far into the zone of heartpain, strike back with full word weapons... both squaring off, saying things that cause wounds deep and hidden, feeling a small zing of victory, ignoring the shame that comes with it...holding on to the zing, to the strike, to that shivering surge of power.

Words, phrases never forgotten, forming a plain of pain that eventually forms into a suppurating--for that is the only word that really describes it--wound. A black hole that consumes everything else; the good, the joyous, the times when you lay with each other, the sound of your breathing weaving into a song of love.

One day, one of them spoke a word...a word not connected in any way to the rush of anger and pain that followed it...filling the space between them. Atom bombs disguised as phrases coated with bile were hurled, each dedicated to the sole purpose of emotional destruction. They chose to take no prisoners. The battlefield--disguised as the master bath--was set for full scale war.

As sometimes happens with these situations, the attack becomes so powerful, the atomic blast so intense, it makes Hiroshima seem tame. What was rich between them dissipated--all that was left to show that anything had ever existed were the shadows burned into concrete.

Yet, there are those times, times when breathing slows, memories that heal rise and they find their way back to that place in their universe again and, lying together, new words made of love and goodness and joy rise up on their breath, again believing their loved one is 'home'.

Even if it's just for the moment.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

one word~bleep




the heart monitor kept up the steady sound, letting all of us know he clung to life. my parents sobbed, sitting there, watching my brother, who had been my friend in childhood and grew to be my nemesis. the man i deleted from my bio's i submitted when my agent asked for one.




would anyone notice i was the only one praying for it to flatline?

Friday, September 4, 2009

crime noir~incentive

over at the social site for six sentences, the current challenge is to write crime noir. i have no idea how to create the rich phraseology used in that, i created this:


he looked at the gun, at her face, at the resolve he saw there, then turned away, as if that would remove her existence. i’m not sure that’s something i’m comfortable creating, he said, his voice breaking at the end, in a way that shamed him.

her eyes were the same steel blue as the gun's barrel, and from the shadows, there was a glint of light on the gun, a glint of hate in her eyes. do it, she repeated...write what i want you to write, something i can understand, something i can relate to--something i can work with; not that high brow schmaltz you insist on giving me.

he sighed, and turned to his typewriter, feeling the air around him shimmering with the unspoken threat to his person-- and typed what his editor wanted and needed and demanded.

“blake snuffed out his cigarette, then slugged back a shot of rye, wondering if taking this case would be the worst idea he ever had as a p.i.”

one word~stereo

my life is in stereo. i hear sets of voices in my head; one is offering fun and good times and a massive hangover.

the other chides me to behave, to follow the good book (of my choice) and to never do anything that would make my mother ashamed.

the third reminds me that all decisions have consequences, and to think long before i do or say anything.

far too often, i listen to the last one, that says, "fuck 'em if they can't take a joke", letting me go my own way into that dark night.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

one word~licorice

it's perfection.

red vines licorice, air dried to a nice chewy texture, sits on my desk in a cup, right where i can reach it at any time. not twizzlers, those pretentious bits of cherry flavour, but, thick, well flavoured, perfect sized red vines...

...air dried.

with these around, you can survive anything. bad day, bad hair, writers block, broken heart, that feeling your stomach is a big empty pit of sadness. biting in, long session of chewing, the taste flowing over your tongue... yes, with these, you know tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

one word~cigarette

she leaned into the stove, blowing the smoke up into the vent, so that the kitchen would remain pristine.

that thin grey stream carried her anger, her hurt, her wish that he'd die in some huge crash, leaving her a wealthy woman. for a few mill, she could look tragic and forlorn.

pulling air into her lungs, she huffed out a huge breath, cleaning all those little sacs out, or so she told herself. done, she turned to the garbage disposal, flipping it on to destroy the evidence of her secret cigarette addiction. it remained the thing she needed more than sex, more than food, more than being happy.

it was her drug of choice.. well, that and hating him deep in her heart.

meh. not my best.