The Bundle

Our writing group met this week. Silliness was afoot. This is what we needed so desperately this week. Thank you, Thursday Afternoon Writers, for help keeping me sane.

My opening line chosen at random: “Sing, lover, sing!” How embarrassing

All of us were challenged to use these words: Ire. Spellbinding. Small. Advantage. Trickster


The Bundle

“Sing, lover, sing!” How embarrassing.

I started the poem over and over for the last hour and a half. It had devolved into this:

“Sing, lover, sing!” How embarrassing.

Spellbinding words? Nope.

I could feel ire building. Usually, I can come up with something, but today was not that day.

I was writing at the coffee shop next to the park. I sat by the window even though it was cold outside. On top of that, the door opened every few minutes to blow its arctic breath across my back. I have no idea why I didn’t move. I guess it was in the stars that this would be my place for the day. Prophetic? Maybe.

It snowed the night before and there was fog. How could there be fog? Wasn’t fog supposed to happen when it was warm and then moisture and then some cold? The weather app said it was going to be forty degrees. Right.

“Sing, lover, sing!” How embarrassing.”

There is was again. It was like a bad song you can’t get out of your head. You know when you pass the preschool and they are singing about a llama in pajamas and then you end up singing about that llama and its pajamas all day long? And the librarian shushes you, and the lady in line at the grocery store gives you a weird look, and you wake up in the middle of the night and take a shower to hoping to wash that llama in pajamas right out of your hair and down the drain? Yeah, that kind of song.

“Sing, lover, sing!” How embarrassing.

My nerves were getting a bit frayed and my third cup of coffee wasn’t helping.

The door opened again but this time a strong wind blew it all the way open, and what looked like a small brown bundle about the size of a large garbage bag rolled away from the opening into the street.

What was that? The door shut slowly. No one was standing there to open it or shut it. Did that thing open the door? I watched the bundle.

A car slid around it in an attempt to avoid it and ended up hitting the bench across the street. I could only sit there looking out the window and watch as if the wind had frozen me solid. People ran from the surrounding shops and some trudged through the snow from the park toward the bench, then past the car to where the bundle sat. They almost completely encircled the bundle, which now was motionless in the middle of the road. Luckily, I guess it was luck, people left an opening on my side so I had the perfect viewing of the small brown bundle.

A woman was helped out of the car.  She seemed okay as she stumbled towards the bundle, but it was the bundle everyone had their eyes on. First, it started to wiggle. Then an arm, then another, stretched themselves out from the rounded blob. As if they were on springs, two legs popped out and stretched just as the arms had done. We all just stared, even the woman from the car.

At last a head curled up from the top of the small bundle. It looked up and now it  seemed to resemble a person. Rolling from side to side until it righted itself, it stood up and walked back to the door of the coffee shop.

No one said anything. I couldn’t see its face. I could only make out a long scarf that was wrapped tightly around the neck and head leaving a slit for two small eyes. They peered at the door. Mittened hands and booted feet hid anything else that would have given us more details as to what was inside the small brown bundle.

It waddled with a slight limp. Someone ran to the door to hold it open and with a bit of a nod of thanks the bundle entered the coffee shop and began to look around. The bundle had a purpose, looking for someone or something it knew it needed to find.

As the head swiveled around stopping for a slight pause at each person, heads lined up along the outside of the window staring in at the bundle, steaming up the glass with their moist warm breath and freezing it into a frosted pane, eventually hiding their faces behind a curtain of patterned ice crystals.

The bundle turned with what seemed like straight legged stomps and its slitted eyes rested on mine. Mine!

Did I know what creature lurked inside the three foot brown bundle? Did it know me? Would this trickster take me on a journey to places to where I had never dreamed?

I watched as heads peeled themselves away from the window and went about their day. A police car pulled up to aid the woman and her now crunched front end. And as I turned back to find where the bundle has situated itself, there was no one left inside the coffee shop but myself, one barista, and the small brown bundle.

I was still seated as the bundle waddled up to the empty chair at my table, pull it out with its mittened hand and heaved itself up onto the seat, standing on top of the brown hardwood with brown booted feet.

I noticed I was holding my breath. I think I was afraid to breathe. I let it out and as I inhaled once more I watched as it’s eyes watched mine. The mittened hand began to unwind the rainbow colored scarf from around its head and neck.

Wait a minute. Had its changed colors since it walked into the warm? Wasn’t it brown when it was outside? I noticed the rainbow hued painting hanging on the wall behind what was once the small brown bundle, now a rainbow hued bundle. Was it my imagination, or did it do a chameleon thing and change to match its surroundings?

The scarf was long, longer than one could imagine. It unwound again and again and again until it was a heap on the floor almost as high as the tabletop. All that was left was a head covered in a rat’s nest of dirty golden hair, still with just a slit for the eyes to look through. The small rainbow bundle’s mittened hands made an opening through the hair where its mouth should be. In the stillness of the the coffee shop where I had once found solace to write, the bundle cleared its mucousy throat.

And what sounded like a voice that had not been in use for a long time, maybe forever, scratchy and tiny, came the words that had haunted my day,

“Sing, lover, sing!” How embarrassing.




The boy hadn’t spoken since his twin
had gone.

One would never know they were twins. She was tall, willowy with short cropped hair of every shade of purple she could concoct. Her fingers were elegant and held rings with stones in shades to match. Her clothes were an amalgamation of flowy gauzes and soft worn cottons, belts of woven wools, and usually one or two scarves tied just so. All in colors of violet or plum or lilac. You get the idea. Her hazel green eyes were the perfect garnish.

And ballet slippers. Not just flats with hard soles and a small heel, but real soft pink ballet slippers. She wore them in rain, as well as snow. Her toes got cold and wet. It was her way of knowing she was still alive. Keeping in touch with what was real.

He was just plain. Medium height. Medium weight. Brown eyes and hair. Brown clothes and shoes. He was much like a bush of witches broom. When they were together, she was the bloom to his branches. He didn’t mind. From the time in the womb he swaddled her with his arms. They had pictures. He just a mass of twine, she a blossom of light.

When she left, he stopped using his voice. When she was there, he spoke through his arms and legs, she giving him the right turn of words. It was the only way for him to thrive, through her in order to speak. She gave him courage and always helped make his words become sweet as fudge. Without her he sounded like cauliflower, just a bunch of off-white, globs of mumbled up noise. So he stopped using his voice.

His job at the botanic gardens was to carry and empty liquid waste buckets from ponds and waterings. He loved his job. In what other job would you get to walk around such beauty all year long? Rows and rows of flowers, bed after bed of vegetables. Trees and orchids. Rock gardens and alpine moss. His work hours were before visitors arrived. Then he returned just before guests left for the other half of his day. He loved quiet.

His favorite spot was the garden with the Minotaur statue. It was bronze, a pretty kind of brown, strong and shiny. The Minotaur didn’t have to talk to others to know what it was about. One could just look at the Minotaur and know its power. And that’s what he did, for hours.

He would hide so as not to be seen until it was safe to come out after the last workers left and the gates were locked for the night. He would make his way down the tabby path being careful not to be in the open. He wasn’t even sure he needed to hide. Most people never saw him anyway. When you are medium at everything and the color of branches, no one notices much.

He would sit under the statue and stories of the Minotaur would flow into his mind. Sometimes when there was a full moon he would lay down on his back feeling the bumps and edges of the shells underneath him and watch the moon as Minotaur stories played across it as if it were a movie screen in the sky.

Then he skedaddled before the early morning crew arrived. He made a stop at the coffee shop and picked up two coffees with cream and one pastry to share as he told the night’s story to his twin. She smiled and corrected his grammar and giving him the perfect words. Which he would remember to perfection, ready to be told again and again and again.

This was his real job. He was the keeper of stories. It wasn’t just Minotaur stories. He gave voice to those who couldn’t speak. There was the little alabaster girl in the cemetary on a bench with her dog who placed its nose so lovingly on her lap that he couldn’t ignore their stories. Or the green patinated frog that crouched on the steps of Mrs. Patmos’ house regularly calling out to be heard.

There were so many stories to remember to tell.  Now that she was gone, how was that going to work? How would he find his voice again?



Author’s Note:

Thursday Afternoon Writers met today at the Denver Botanic Gardens. In addition to a lovely time of sharing, and delightful and amazing writing, the surroundings were an inspiration. I do need to say there is no Minotaur statue there. But there should be. There is a “Liquid Waste” bucket in the cafe.  And there shouldn’t be. At least not within sight. 🙂

Our prompts were taken from a writing prompt generator and we each put a word into the pot:

My opening line: The boy hadn’t spoken since his twin had gone…

Our group of words: cauliflower, witches broom, elegant, fudge, Minotaur, skedaddle, tabby, liquid waste

Culture of Me/3



Eggshells pile
in a bowl on a counter
next to a tin.
The day broke open.
Sun wrinkles through the cracks,
glows like yolks
no longer in residence.
Just a reminder –
we have more
to do,

Crows complain
like an old married couple,
do they warn us on
yesterday’s storm washing
that which is no longer
Just a brief –
a constant one,
we are not
in control.

James Taylor aches in
the background, a
harmonica in harmony
with him of days past.
Remember –
the wheel turns and
and once again
we recycle and protest
and call to action.

Wind skims down the slanted roof
whirring through long chime pipes,
carrying with it
leaf bits
beaten off tree limbs in
last night’s hail.
They flutter, scatter in cadence.
This, too –
squall brings change,
transformation into something

Who said faeries and elves don’t exist?
I wonder –
on my moss rock,
mushrooms abloom in leaf mold,
and fiddleheads tickling
my toes.



Author’s Note:

About once a month our writing group converges. We eat and laugh. We catch up. And then we write. Today, we were at Niki’s house. There were treasures to be found by my iPhone camera. Thank you, Niki, for leaving the eggshells.

As tradition demands, there are prompts to be pulled from an envelope. We can ignore it if we choose. Or choose another one. We’re loose like that. And we each throw in a word to be included. Which can be. Or not. We write for a little over a half an hour. When the bell rings, we leave some time to “finish up.”

We’ve been at it for over seven years now. And today we were seven ranging from nineteen to sixty-three. Grandmother, dancer, Naval Reserve, ELA teacher, retired and soon-to-be, and black belt. Among some of these things that we are, we revel in one another as writers and women of the world.

This is our culture.



My prompt:
Who said faeries and elves don’t exist?

Our words:
ordinary, magnanimous, teenager, mushroom, doubt, candid, slime

Lada and the Moon

Every so often our writing group meets. Yesterday we sat under the bliss of morning air while a mother duck and two ducklings wandered by. Flowers bloomed around us as we feasted on food that filled our bellies and communion with one another that filled our souls. I am so full of gratitude to have these women in my life.

It was my turn to bring the prompt. I work from images. I write a movie in my head with each poem or musing I pen. It’s who I am. Maybe because I am an actress or a child who sees the world in bright colors and story. I brought images from which each of us chose one. Then each of us offered a word that we had the option of using or not: sweet, suspicious, shadow, clumsy, ice, monarch.





Lada and the Moon

Moon rested between the split of rock. Sweet sadness poured into the stream below. Lada wiggled her toes in the dripping as she ached for Moon and its tears of a clumsy affair gone awry. It was a shadow of her own.

The night cast its spell around Lada hiding trees and blooms, rocks and fractures. All that formed were sounds or scents – hoots and musty rose, bright eyes and scattering stones. She was safe, a monarch in this place of solitude interrupted only by that which wasn’t seen.

Moon’s bright face shielded all but the sorrow.

It was a cycle, her cycle, one she understood. Under dark Moon before the silver crescent kiss began to appear once more, there was always chaos in Lada’s life. It was as if they waited for the deep dark to come out and play.

Play was too easy a word. No, not play. Under dark Moon life released prisoners to do their deeds, revel in their piracies, prick her until she bled.

This was all she knew of dark Moon, suspended until silvered light issued its shape once again. She learned dark time was time to be still. She learned to watch, not jump. She mastered protecting herself, mostly. It was a hard study. She usually remained suspicious under dark Moon, at least until this last round.

Then, mostly, as the delicate sideway smile of light entered the new course, Lada could breathe more deeply. Her shoulders would drop, her jaw loosen. Hope and new ideas would grow more freely each fertile night. Her stride became smoother and in sync with afterlight music. As Moon grew fuller like a woman’s belly filled with life, she could sing again and smile. Moon’s luminous glow accorded to her once more, Lada overflowed with joy and danced her purpose under full-blessed glow.

Until now.

Tonight was different. Caught up in her exuberance, Lada forgot. She entered dark Moon time unguarded. And now full Moon rested between rocks, dripping its dream into the stream.

Lada could only watch, listen to Moon’s loss while her toes dabbled in moon-glow tears. An ice story she knew much too well.

Cat and Bert

Today our writing group met. I so enjoy these gatherings that don’t happen enough.  We feasted, told stories, and then chose a random number between one and thirteen to draw our writing prompt for the afternoon.

My prompt: I counted the cash I’d taken from the ATM and turned around. My next-door neighbor was standing before me with a gun in his hand…

(I rarely write in first person in my narrative writing. I save that for my poetry)


Cat and Bert

Cat counted the cash she’d taken from the ATM and turned around. Her next-door neighbor was standing before her with a gun in his hand.

“Put that thing away.”

Bert looked at his gloved hand. His mother’s pistol sat in his open palm. It was a good thing Cat would be the one to use it. It made him sad. It reminded him of his mother. Bert was afraid that if he were to be the one to use it, he might falter. Tears, you know. And that wouldn’t be a good thing.

“It’s about time. I waited as long as I could. I thought you’d never get here.”

Cat shoved the money into her coat pocket. Took the card and tossed it into a nearby trashcan. Bert followed.

“What took you so long?”


“Oh, for fuck’s sake. I told you I would feed you. I always feed you. We needed money first. Where did you get food?”


Bert most often answered with one word, especially when he was under stress. Taking his mother’s gun out of the apartment made him stressed. Even though she had been dead, or gone to Dad as how Bert thought of it, for roughly a year now.

Bert left the apartment completely like it was the day she died. Except for his room. He would clean his room and Cat would do his laundry. But the rest of the apartment was gathering dust. He felt blessed to have Cat as his next-door neighbor. She was pretty. And smart. She could get anything they needed and she didn’t even have a job.

Bert was pretty, too. It actually caused him a lot of problems. When you are the way others like Bert are, people would usually stay away. But when you are pretty and are like Bert is, people have different expectations of you.

When your face is smooth with coffee skin and your hair is thick, black and curly. When your eyes sparkle a brilliant blue and change to match any color you wear. When your nose is perfect and your lips shaped just right, people accept you. People think you can talk with them because you must be charming.

Bert hated that because that was his nickname around the neighborhood – Prince Charming.

But he wasn’t. He couldn’t talk with people. Nothing would come out of his mouth when he spoke and if it did it was thick and garbled. It was never what he was thinking in his head. It just wouldn’t come out.

He hated being noticed. He couldn’t hold a job because he would have to talk with people. And he wasn’t smart either. His mom tried sending him to different schools, scrounging up different jobs offered by relatives. None of them ever worked out. Even if he made it to the job the first day, he would leave within ten minutes and walk.

Bert liked to walk. He walked for days once. His mother kept calling him on his cell. At first he answered until she started to stress him out. Finally, he threw the phone away and kept walking.

It was spring then and he could sleep outside. He liked that. He liked looking at the stars. He knew about some places where he was safe to sleep. He scrounged in dumpsters for food. He knew when certain restaurants threw out their remains so he could get them fresh.

After two weeks he went back home. As he was climbing the steps to the front door of the apartment, the door flung open.

“Who the fuck do you think you are? That’s my stuff. Come back here you little fuckers.”

And there was Cat. That was their introduction. She pushed Bert aside causing him to lose his balance and tumble down the steps as she took off running down the street.

Bert sat on the sidewalk rubbing different parts of his body as he watched Cat stop half way down the block. Whoever she was chasing disappeared into the crowd. His mouth opened just a bit to suck in enough air to be sure his ribs were okay.

Cat let out the loudest howl he had ever heard. It was as if she was a lioness on the plains of Africa who had lost her babies. Bert sucked in the little bit of drool that had started to creep out of the side of his open mouth.

Cat turned back, breathing heavily as she stomped toward Bert.

Their eyes met. Bert still didn’t feel stressed. She was magnificent.

“Why the hell didn’t you stop them from taking my stuff, you asshole?”

Now he was stressed. He tried to stand but kept stepping his jacket or catching something. As he was finally able to right himself, his knees buckled. He gave up and sat back down. Bert sighed. She would see him for what he was.

Cat took deep breaths as she watched Bert’s struggle. She closed her eyes and said her mantram. That always helped.

When she opened them, Bert had a tear running down his cheek. Cat sighed and reached out her hand. It wasn’t enough. Bert was tall and stalky. If he worked out that would have only added to his Prince Charming problem.

Cat reached to him with both hands. Bert grabbed on. She pulled with such force he was able to stand. But the momentum was so strong he just kept moving and landed right on top of Cat.

“Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry.” Bert kept mumbling and rolled off of Cat.

He waited, still as he could be. And then it began. Not the string of curse words for which Cat was so well noted, but the most beautiful laugh he had ever heard.

They laughed together as people stepped over them, shaking their heads in disgust at the two drunks laying on the ground.

This is how Bert met Cat. And now they had some money and his mother’s gun.

Life was good.




The Animal Inside

I howl when the animal inside me sings.
I howl to let the world know I am,
the animal inside me sings harmony.

I wear red when the animal inside me wears blue.
Red sears hurt hurtling my way, spring water blue
calms my fear.

I wish for the moon to fall from sky. The animal inside
me weaves wishes braiding a ladder I climb to lead
the moon back home once more.

I collect sighs and sorrows from souls lost in wander,
the animal inside me collects dandelion puffs on which
to place each one, and blows.

I wait for Venus to rise and Sirius to spin out
of control, while the animal inside me twirls with
the stars in a tango of dreams.

And sometimes when no one is looking,
I lay myself down under the willow and cry. When no one
is looking the animal inside me cradles me to sleep.




Author’s Note:

Our writer’s group met again tonight, hopefully a return to regular meetings.

We used a prompt from Bonnie Newbauer’s book, The Write-Brain Workbook, 365 Exercises To Liberate Your Writing. We used Day 105, Animal Tendencies.

Visit Thursday Afternoon Writers on Facebook to see what others wrote. (I know it’s Wednesday. We used to be called Wednesday Afternoon Writers, then moved to Thursday, and now we’re back on Wednesdays. Think we need a new name?)