Family Reunion/Three Sonnets

I found a still secluded place. My creance,
an armchair not of fluff and cloth, but hard,
a rock in shade of tree from lightening marred.
Obscured from notice, no one to convince,
I relished fare of pies and juicy quince.
Apart from family woe I watched the yard
with light fists thrown in bluff and swords en guard.
Jocund Slavs fell and lively Poles did wince.

Then him. When I was just a simple girl,
he smiled and took my virtue to the dance.
He was not blood but his was servant to
my side and I too pure for such a twirl.
In awe I watched as he applied the lance
to end our playful brawl. My kin he slew.


Behind the rock I placed my countenance
and watched the red run from their wounds unbound.
His quick and steady hand, not soft, but gowned
in iron gloves ‘round his blade. Benevolence
not near, just gore for trial’s evidence
that need not wait for judge to come around.
It was the chaste he conquered who was bound
to serve her vengeance with extravagance.

The meek one he once took as youthful prize,
he did not know my skill or hardened heart.
I stood upon the rock behind his hate.
He would not find my shadow in his eyes.
My arms were strong. My well honed blade the part
to cleave his neck and roll his head in fate.


But now we dance this day each year steadfast,
not in remembrance of loved ones slain
but cherished.  Praise and honor will not wane
as years do pass. Their sweet memory will last.
Juicy quince and pies with berries red toast
the young and not the lost from that campaign.
We shape new joys and mirthful lives that reign.
A sovereign, gentle yet unyielding, cast.

I will lead this band of family true
to lands of rolling hills and fields rich
to bake our daily bread. Where blessings fall
and giving thanks cascade from mouths that strew
good words and deeds through every little niche,
wrapping our souls in the Creator’s shawl.

Author’s Note:

At Wednesday Afternoon Writers this week we used Bonnie Neubauer’s Story Spinner. We all used the same setting: a family reunion. We could also use the starting phrase: Ever since I was a little… Each writer had a spin to get his or her own words. Some writers tried to use all the words. Others used none. I began with three. But only one –armchair- made the final cut.

I decided to challenge myself to write a sonnet about my family and what a reunion might look like back in the time of yore. When ever that was. As I wrote I realized the story could not be told in just one sonnet, so I added a second and then a third. These might work nicely as an audition piece.


Harold walked the streets that night when the moon rose only halfway into the sky and stopped as though it was sitting on a shelf and didn’t want to move any more. It wasn’t a full moon, only a sliver so it looked like a crooked smile carefully placed on someone’s mouth.

Harold had to step into the middle of the street to get a better look. The moon was hiding itself behind the trees growing in the parking lot island in front of the warehouse where they made carnival tickets and packaged those junky toys from China where you don’t know if there is lead in the paint or if they will break the first time they are dropped on the floor.

It was way past midnight, so Harold felt safe stepping off the curb. It took Harold a long time to do this. He was almost one hundred years old and refused to use a cane. He knew all he had to do was take his time and all would be okay.

Harold always wore his slippers with the lambs wool lining because, even in the heat of the summer with waves rising from the asphalt, his feet were always cold. Also, he liked the sound they made. Harold decided when he got old he wouldn’t go for those old fart things like walkers and glasses.

But he would get a hearing aid.

He loved to hear the birds in the early morning before the sun rose and the crickets as the sun set in the evening. And he liked the sounds his slippers made as he crossed each surface slowly and deliberately. So when Doc Crebbs said he needed a hearing aid, he bought the best. It was worth every penny.

The step off the curb surprised Harold. He was stepping off near a drain. He didn’t see it. It was too dark and even if it was light enough, he probably would have missed it if the excess sprinkler water wasn’t gushing down the gaping hole. It annoyed Harold that people were so wasteful. But they would find out too late when they didn’t have enough money and were almost one hundred years old and needed to buy a hearing aid. Then they would understand.

The step took Harold off his balance. But being Harold who always stepped carefully, he was able to catch himself in time. He stopped to take a deep breath, something he learned from his great, great granddaughter who did “yogi.” He always said “yogi” even though he knew it was “yoga.”

Harold was sharp and surprised people how up to date he was with social fads and current events. He would ask Emily if she taught her “yogi” class before she visited him, not to just hear to her light giggle and feel the gentle squeeze from her hand on his, but it tickled him to think of Yogi Berra doing “yogi.”

So Harold took a deep breath and started into the middle of the street. He kept his eyes on that old smiling moon and it didn’t move off its shelf, not one bit. Harold could feel the heat in the asphalt rising through his slippers. He decided to take them off.

With his slow determination, Harold first stepped on the back of the heel of his right foot catching just enough of the slipper to hold it tight as he raised his foot out of its grip. He didn’t wobble. Harold felt strange that this sort of balancing act could be done with such precision. Once the right slipper was off, he repeated the action just as gracefully with the left.

Once out of the slippers he wiggled his toes in the cool night air. Harold never wore socks. Too much trouble to wash and too hard to bend over to put on.

He enjoyed the wiggle, but never looked down. He kept his eyes on the prize. That old moon started to rock and as it did it slipped down out of the sky and off the shelf. That made Harold smile.

As the moon got closer to Harold, its glow lit up the street. Even though Harold wanted to see if the warehouse and parking lot looked the same at night, he kept fast his eyes on the glowing slice as it slid down to him.

The moon stopped just short of setting itself on the asphalt. It was the perfect height for Harold to settle his behind down without having to lift anything or scoot anywhere to grab hold.  Harold simply sat in the most comfortable seat he had ever imagined.

As Harold curled his arm around the moon’s grin, it started to rise. This time the moon didn’t stop for a rest on that shelf. It took Harold up and up and up.

Harold rose to heights he never imagined. He smiled a crooked little smile to himself seeing everything happening below him. It was as if his eyes were twenty years old again.

Wiggling his toes, this time in the cool fresh sky, Harold watched as the man in the truck with bright lights lighting up the asphalt jumped out of the truck and ran to a crumpled figure on the ground. The man picked up the hearing aid laying on the street.

Harold could see his slippers sitting at odd angles. One on the sidewalk and one next to the stop sign near the drain.

But he couldn’t hear the sirens.

All Harold heard were the fading crickets of the late night, and, far off in the direction of the traveling moon, the birds welcoming the soon-to-be rising sun.

Author’s Note:

This little story developed from a prompt at Wednesday Afternoon Writers this past week. Taken from Laurie Halse Anderson’s Mad Woman in the Forest August Writing Challenge the word “ghost” and the quote “Never be afraid to sit a while and think.” By Lorraine Hansberry.


I didn’t close the window
when the rains finally came.

The summer was so dry, so hot.
My open window only a passage

for the crucible searing phantoms
in the brain dancing with fire.

When the rains finally came, I kneeled on
rough, dry wood beneath the open window.

Curtains, an angel’s flight
shrouding my face, and me, the lace reader

running through the holes.
I am Balzac and the little Chinese seamstress,

remarkable creatures, willful and precise.
Catching my breath in the wind

of the storm, its tears spilling
coolness, anointing me

in this faithful place of wooden
planks and coveted release.




The August Rain Project at Tweetspeak Poetry challenges poets to write a found poem about rain using book spines as a prompt. I couldn’t take a photo to post of my chosen book spines. I hate to admit this, I no longer purchase paper copies of books unless they are spectacular. I keep telling myself there are many happy trees because of this.  So I headed to my Kindle and chose some of my favorite titles.

With almost 60 days of over 90 degree weather in Colorado this summer, I was shocked to see little wet drops falling from the sky earlier this week. Our tornado sightings are half of what they usually are, thank goodness. And I can count on two hands how many times it has rained in my backyard this entire year. Fire lit up our skies and smoke grayed them much too often. This poem fell into place after such an unaccustomed summer.

Book Titles and authors: The Crucible by Arthur Miller; Phantoms in the Brain by V.S. Ramachandran; Angels Flight by Michael Connelly; The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry; Holes by Louis Sachar; Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie; Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier; Catching My Breath by C.J. Prince, Joanne McLaine and William C. Thomas; Faithful Place by Tana French.

Summer’s End

He left without fanfare
not so much as a breath
of good-bye

summer ending
his handiwork
clinging to memories
proof of his existence

he would not be missed



Author’s Note:
While cleaning up some photo files I found this photo of a spider web on my deck last fall. I had forgotten about it. After a bit of play with PicMonkey I decided it called for a few words, too.

Wine and Writers, A Good Pairing

For our final field trip of the summer, Wednesday Afternoon Writers gathered at Sheila’s house to be wined and serenaded on the piano by her husband, Wayne. Each writer brought a bottle of wine and an appetizer, of course.

We lined up the wine bottles to be used as our prompts along with some descriptions of wines thrown in for good measure.

The wines: Cupcake, 14 Hands/ Hot to Trot, Toasted Head, The Velvet Devil, The Valley of the Moon, Well Hung, Yellow Tail

The descriptions: Dry, Fruity, Crispy, Buttery, Sweet, Smooth, Round

Below is my fairytale inspired by wine, a little bit of silliness with which to end our summer.

The Velvet Devil

Once upon a time there were fourteen hands. Now these hands were not just ordinary hands. They were small but nimble hands. They were hands no bigger than the required coin paid as unfair redress to the Velvet Devil. These handsome hands belonged to industrious Imps of the citadel.

Now each soul dwelling under the Velvet Devil’s rule had a job. The job of these fourteen hands belonging to the eight expert elves was to tie and weave the richest, thickest, deepest amaranthine velvet for their sovereign.

I know what you are thinking. “Eight? But there are fourteen hands. Shouldn’t sixteen be the number of hands producing the cloth?”

Eight and fourteen are correct. For the slightest of these hands were of twins, each possessing only one. One posed a left hand, the other a right. Together they held the threads with such expertise, it flowed with perfection to the others allowing them to spin their magic. And magic it had better be for the Velvet Devil would not permit it any other way.

On that fateful night, the Velvet Devil renamed them all. After imbibing in her favorite wines, in the late evening, or rather, very early morning, she called to her dressmakers by their new names.

As she fondled each empty bottle, she barked, “Crispy! Buttery! Dry! Smooth! Jammy! Round! Fruity! Sweet! And Creamy!” For the Velvet Devil’s palate was widely exercised. “Enter the chambers of the Velvet Devil for she needs a new gown for the ball!”

Now since this was the first time anyone in the citadel ever heard these names requested, there was much confusion. She called again. This time a fiery bellow. All knew they must act quickly or each would pay a price.

“CRISPY! BUTTERY! DRY! SMOOTH! JAMMY! ROUND! FRUITY! SWEET! AND CREAMY! ENTER THE CHAMBERS OF THE VELVET DEVIL FOR SHE NEEDS A NEW GOWN FOR THE BALL!” What they didn’t hear was her self-satisfied sneer as she knew she would have at least nine victims at the Morning Court of Disobedience.

Luckily for the servants, Livermore was keen of ear and fast as a jack. He had kept his job as Steward of the Drudges because he understood balance.  Employing his own talents and cleverness, he could balance the She Devil’s wickedness and the lives of her servants.

With the first breath of the She Devil’s repeat command he was off gathering the tiny tailors from their dreams.  As he hastened down the hall, Livermore realized there was one extra name in the She Devil’s invective. She had called for nine needle pushers instead of eight. These, of course, were matched to the number of courses she would consume each evening with each of the wines.

Now one would think that with devouring nine courses of food with nine different wines every day, one would require a tremendous amount of cloth to cover such a body’s outcome. But evil consumes calories and the She Devil bore a sensuous anatomy for all to ogle as the luxurious fabric skimmed her curves and kissed her luscious skin.

Running towards the She Devil’s chambers with tailors is tow, Livermore grabbed the shortest of the Sovereign Guards, Harold, standing post just outside the golden gilded doors of the chamber rooms. He tore away the guard’s armor and shredded his underclothes to match the bare threads the tailors were required to sport as a cruel joke of the She Devil.

Harold was the shortest to be found on such quick notice, but he still towered above the tailors. Livermore hoped the dark of the night would be enough to hide the complication. Or, maybe the She Devil had eaten, or rather, drank enough, so that Harold might survive the night. Livermore could handle the matter in his own way as the smoke cleared.

The Imps piled into the She Devil’s chambers with Harold bringing up the rear. The Velvet Devil had positioned herself seductively on velvet pillows of every shade of purple that could be gathered and tinctured from flowers of all gardens, meadows, and forests in the Valley of the Moon.

Livermore deftly lined up the tiny ones in the straightest row they could manage. He knew the She Devil would find fault. She always did. More fault would mean more pain and he didn’t want that for his friends.

The She Devil would never punish Livermore. She only chose others and he was made to watch. So Livermore made sure they were as perfect as possible in the wee hours and groggy breathing of the Imps. Harold kneeled at the end of the line.

Livermore positioned himself in front of his comrades. He would begin there, moving as instructed by the She Devil.

She rose from the pillows and even though the wine added no weight to her pleasurable frame, it clouded her head and confused her movement. This time of day usually saw no servants other than Livermore in her chambers. The Velvet Devil only trusted him with her vices knowing he would not only protect his friends, but he would go to the ends of the earth to protect her, too.

She tripped. Not on purpose but on the flowing sleeves of her gown. Her wined vision attempted to focus on foggy outlines as gasps rose from the darkness. She assumed he would come alone. He always comes alone.

“GET OUT, YOU VILE CREATURES. I WILL DEAL WITH YOU IN THE MORROW.” And she deflated to the ground sucked into the folds of her gown of magenta as if it were a bowl of whip-creamed blood.

“Quick. Back to your post and your beds.” Livermore whispered as he closed the door behind them.

Moving slowly to the crumpled queen and with a slight bow of his head, he offered her his hand, “Madame.”

“Aw, Toasted Head, my dear. We meet again.”

And in the dark of the morning before the sun rose or the birds began their pre-dawn canticle they did meet, again.