What is a Friend?

A true friend is a gift from God.

No more, no less.

 

Ears, eyes, heart

finely tuned

to every thought

action

need

 

A friend seeks balance,

craving only that which

is offered

and not one drop more

 

Giving, sharing

even the smallest things.

A warm hug,

kiss, smile

 

A friend knows when

to step up

and when to step down.

Never pushing or demanding

 

Reaching fingers

with open palm.

Electric energy pulsing

across the gap,

joining two strangers

into one compact unit.

 

A friend asks for nothing,

but is grateful

when something

drips into the heart,

warming the soul’s

ties.

 

Prayers offered

and heard.

Thanks given

for the smallest

of gestures

 

A friend is all

and more.

Give me Relief

I’m tired, so tired of:

Persistent whiners,

Constant complainers,

Naysayers and

Ne’er-do-wells

Who get their jollies

By belittling others

As playground bullies.

 

I’m tired, so tired of:

Lazy non performers,

Excuse finders,

Procrastinators and

Incompetents

Who destroy the efforts

Of hard-working people

Through gross manipulation.

 

I’m tired, so tired of:

Jealous intellects,

Devilish reviewers,

Self-protective chumps,

And feeling-bashers

Who denigrate works

To bolster their own

Feelings of competence.

 

Instead of finding fault,

Look for joy.

Instead of shining,

Seek peace.

Instead of creating havoc,

Settle the inner voice.

 

Instead of destroying dreams,

Offer solace through

Kind words,

Constructive criticism

Designed to improve

Rather than ruin.

 

For everyone thrives

When voices of hope

Fill the earth.

And then I’ll no longer

Be tired.000000

 

      Radiant Vision

The sun arose and filled my eyes

With heavenly glory personified

 

Tears down my face did solemnly pour

I stood transfixed, and begged for more

 

Golden rays lit up the new morn sky

With brilliant spectacle for the eye

 

With mouth agape I did profoundly stare

And wonder what God’s doing up there

 

To me He gave such wondrous gift

That my poor spirit felt tremendous lift

 

To my knees I should have promptly fallen

But I did not: though I heard Him callin’

 

Frozen in place with feet on the soil

I praised the Lord’s amazing toil

 

For humankind: to free our souls

From worries: to give us lofty goals

 

Reaching deeply into my empty purse

I feared God’s wrath, or maybe worse

 

Instead my heart did nearly burst

With joy: I knew I was not cursed

 

The sun arose and filled my eyes

With heavenly glory personified

 

 

Night Terrors

            The large dun horse runs full tilt down a rock-strewn hill, its hooves sliding, slipping, searching for purchase which it finds, then loses then finds again as it runs harder, faster, its eyes huge, lather forming on its withers, its sides and foam dripping from its mouth, its tongue dangling to one side as its sides heave and heave. The headlong descent to the swiftly moving river below doesn’t slow its run, doesn’t ease its fears but rather amplifies them for the roar is deafening as the current bangs against tree limbs hanging so low their branches dip into the melee.

            She tries to stop, but her forward momentum is so strong, so impulsive, so rushed that her hooves slide through the muddy banks and into the river she jumps with a mighty splash. The water is too deep and she flails, legs trying valiantly to swim, to coordinate, to come up with a rhythm that will keep her afloat, but its all in vain as she is swept downriver along with branches and other debris.

            Her head is barely above water and her breathing is ragged but still she fights, her hooves hoping to touch bottom despite knowing that they will not, they cannot for the river is deep and the current keeps sucking her under. Downriver she goes, crashing against huge boulders that suck her breath away, that hurt her legs, her ribs, her neck.

            Kicking and kicking she never gives us, never succumbs to despair that would pull her under even when her mighty head dips below the surface and all she sees is a muddy swirl. Sides heaving she fights the fight of her life, not giving in for a minute, a second.

            In front of her, all around her a roar begins. Quiet at first if a roar could be called quiet but as she fights, it intensifies as she nears a bend in the river, a turn she hopes will allow her weary legs to strike mud, sand, gravel anything.

            No more boulders ahead. She has hope. Her spirits life, until she notices that the roar is so loud that she hears no bird, no insect, no bubble or quiet gurgle. Roar and more roar. Growing louder as the current pulls her forward toward an end. A drop-off. A precipice inot which she knows she will fall.

            And so she gives up. Her exhausted legs stop churning. Her head slumps. Her heart stills. She is prepared to die and million deaths for she knows what comes next. She’s seen if before. Heard it before. Lost companions before. But with one last burst of energy she screams signaling her acceptance of death as she plunges over the edge.

            Down and down she falls carried by the torrent, deep into the mist, the swirl, tossed over and under until she does not know which way is up or down or sideways. So deep that there is no sun, no light, no joy until there is peace. She quits fighting knowing that her life is no more.

            A sudden overwhelming peace fills her. A lightness of spirit. She has come to her afterlife. She will run with her ancestors. Romp across stubbly fields in joyous rapture.

            Until she opens her massive eyes and realizes the she is being carried along with a mild current, heading toward a sandy shore. She fights just enough to get her head out of the water, just enough to be able to breathe, to see a blue sky. To feel the sun on her shoulders, to hear birds singing softly overhead. In and out she breathes. In and out.

            With effort she struggles to her feet and stands for fear of collapse. She raises her weary head and sees grasses just a few steps ahead. She knows she must eat. Must restore energy lost and so she makes her way to the first patch and nibbles gingerly as if it might not be real. Nibbles more and more as she moves away from the river.

            Natural instincts take over and she grazes calmly, naturally as she’s done all her life. As her ancestors have done. Ripping out one nourishing morsel after another as the roar of the terrifying falls slowly recedes into the distance.

            Satisfied, she shakes her head removing the last of the water and she neighs calling for her kind. Nothing at first so she heads toward a sand dune, a tiny hill and makes her way to the top being careful, ever so careful where each hoof goes.

            At the crest a beam of light falls across her back and it warms her inside and out. With a sigh she plods forward, one step after another. She nibbles the choicest bits now that her hunger is satisfied. She neighs again and waits for something. She knows what it is, but will an answering call come?

            Far to the west she hears a faint call. With the sun going with her she heads toward what she hopes will be a welcome. Serenity fills her for she has survived. The tragedy will soon move to the recesses of her mind, but will never be forgotten. Not entirely. Not for many years.

The Storyteller

Tell me a story, please,

Of a princess with long black hair

Wearing a gown spun from silver spider’s threads.

Her voice croons soothing words

To still children’s anxious minds.

Maybe there’s a prince

Stuck in a troll’s dank cellar

Begging for rescue

as his red hair grows longer by the day.

His once handsome face is gaunt

And his arms bear bites from rats and mice

The princess, never interested in balls and gowns

Mounts her armored horse and rides through the gates

In search of the prince, her childhood friend.

Flowers bloom in the meadows and birds sing overhead

Rivers gurgle happy tunes and springs bubble forth

Night falls just as she reaches the edge of the forest.

Hagg’s Forest, a dark and gloomy place

Filled with all kinds of frightening beasts

But she’s not scared for she carries a magic sword.

In the morning she dons her armor and enters

Ready for whatever comes.

Instead of monsters, little fairies dance

Around her head, whispering soothing words

As she rides through the gloom.

A bridge appears. Wooden rails.

Granite chunks of rock neatly arranged.

A muddy debris-filled stream underneath.

The princess readies herself

For this is the home of Grammie, the troll

Known far and wide for her love of men.

Fearing danger, the fickle fairies fly away.

The princess unsheaths her sword and calls

In her loudest voice, “Grammie, come forth.”

Much gravelly groaning ensues as the troll comes forth

Dressed in leather britches, boots and apron.

Her golden hair streams down her back

Arms thick as columns wave in salute.

“Hail, Princess Edme. Haven’t seen you in a while.”

Edme dismounts and wraps Grammie in a hug.

“I’ve been busy,” Edme says with court nonsense.

“But I hear you’ve got a friend of mine.”

Grammie shakes her head. “Nope.”

“Ah, game-playing, are we?

Like when we were kids.”

“Tell me his name first,” Grammie says

As she settles herself in a muddy patch.

“Oscar.”

“Well, he doesn’t call himself that.

Try again.”

Edme thought and thought.

What name could he have given?

“Montrose.”

“Seleen.”

“Jasper.”

Grammie laughed, “You’ll never guess,

So I’ll ask another question. What’s he wearing?”

“Jodhpurs, tunic and boots.”

Grammie slapped her thighs

Triggering a tiny avalanche on a nearby hill.

“Okay, okay. You can have him.

But only on one condition.”

Edme knew about conditions.

Marry the counselor or banishment.

Dress the chicken or starve.

Scrub the pots until your fingers rot.

She’d escaped them all with a smile.

So she smiled as she slid off her horse.

“Grammie, here’s the condition I offer:

Set the prince free or I ride away.”

The resounding chuckle rattled trees.

“Funny. Clever, funny Edme.

You tricked me. I give you the prince

Or you ride away?”

Edme mounts her horse and

Sheaths her runic sword.

“Well, you win the game.

See you next time.

Only choose your princes better.”

“Better? He’s a handsomer one.

Or he was. Now he’s a bit beaten up.

You can have him if you bring me a new one.”

Edme turned her horse around

And rode toward the forest.

“Stop,” Grammie begs. “I’ll give him to you.”

She trundles down the bank, under the bridge

While Edme watches a flock of blue birds

Soaring overhead.

“Edme,” a ragged man whispers

As he is drug up the bank by the troll.

“You came for me.”

Edme looks at his gaunt cheeks,

Bitten arms

Torn tunic and chewed-up leggings.

He stunk so bad that the thought

Of him riding behind her

Makes her gag.

“This isn’t the prince.

I don’t know this man.

You can keep him.”

She whirls about and begins whistling

A jaunty tune to the jingle of the reins.

Grammie’s cackles barely

Cover the screams of the man,

But Edme rides on.

“That’s a terrible story,”

The little girl says.

“What did you think would happen?”

Her auntie asked as she cuddled the girl closer.

“The prince gets rescued.

Everyone gets rescued.

Edme can’t leave him with the troll.

That’s not right.”

Auntie laughed as she ran a brush

Through the girl’s hair.

She kisses the tiny forehead and

Tucks the covers around her shoulders.

“Tell me another story.”

Commitment

the story of a marriage

is one of

trials

and

tribulations

forgiveness

and

letting go

of errors made

love

and

anger

compromise

and

patience

walking together

through life

sharing times

good

and

bad

most of all

reveling

in each other’s

company

until death

do us part

Research Junkie

When I finally learned to read I discovered that libraries are an endless source of information. I trolled the nonfiction section looking for anything that caught my interest. The first that I explored was my Native American heritage. Because my mom didn’t know what tribe we claimed, I read every book on the shelves.

I became an “expert” on all things related to the first people. I knew what foods they ate, the clothes they wore, how they traveled, what their homes looked like, all depending upon where they lived. Little did I know that those old books contained limited knowledge recorded as fact.

What was important, however, was the development of an interest in research that would last a lifetime.

I reveled in projects assigned by teachers. Write a paper on a famous person? It might take several trips to the library before I could settle on one.

Trace Hannibal’s journeys? No problem. Research Greek architecture? The same.

When I was at college I discovered the wealth of information in the stacks. I might have a broad idea for a paper which exploded once I got to reading journal after journal. I would sit on the cold floor and pull down one compilation, then another. I’d move to another row and resume researching.

The problem was that I loved the process of discovery so much that I couldn’t stop. It became a compulsion that I still fight to this very day.

For example, I needed to find out the names of countries during medieval times. That was easy. One click and a detailed map popped up. But then I needed an island in Europe, maybe off the coast of Spain. There are islands but I didn’t recognize the names.

I typed in an old name and research appeared! How wondrous! How clever! How enchanting.

But that wasn’t getting me any further than where I currently am.

I moved on to sample names of cities. That was an endless source of information.

What about names of rivers? Mountains?

What was the weather like? How did that influence clothes worn? What kinds of shoes did people wear back then? What did they ate and drink? How did they entertain themselves?

I got stuck in this cycle of discovery that lead me from one topic to another.

When my eyes got tired, I forced myself to stop research.

But then I moved on to another project: fining a recent photo of my daughter. That meant opening folder after folder hoping to find something good enough to print. I didn’t find one, but I did discover images that were ten years old that I would never use for any purpose. They are now gone.

I sometimes wonder why I love research so much. I’ve analyze whether or not it’s a form of procrastination. Do I delve into these projects in order to avoid that which I should be doing? Or am I really engaging in productive work? It’s usually a little of both.

On the other hand I am a curious person. I love meeting new people so that I can learn what their life is like. Part of this is to weigh how my life measures up, the other is to expand my knowledge base. The more information you have stored away, the more conversant you can be.

When I catch myself researching I now force myself to pause and reflect. Do I really need that information in order to write the story I am working on? If yes, then I give myself permission to continue. If the answer is no, then I quit even though it’s painful to do so.

It’s also an addiction. It’s not harmful the way drugs and alcohol can be, but it does prevent me from engaging in those activities that are most meaningful, that bring the most joy.

As with any addiction you need a rope to hang on: something to grab ahold of while an outside force moves you away. For me it can be a phone call or going for a walk with my husband. It could be a news program or a book that I can’t put down.

When the lifeline arises, I have to tear myself away. That’s why I consider myself a research junkie. When I fall into the allure, I need help to get out of the mire otherwise I will spiral out of control.

Choosing the Sunny Path

On any given day we are bombarded with stories of fear and intimidation, of cruelty and loss. When we read them, sadness fills our soul. That’s the expected reaction because if we didn’t experience the horror, one might question our inner light.

It’s not easy to push those thoughts aside especially when they are replayed over and over on social media. We can choose to learn from what evil others do and behave in some way to counteract the actions that offend us or we swallow it down, sending it deep inside us.

Being an activist is not easy. It takes courage to stand up for one’s beliefs knowing that out there are people who will spit on you, call you offensive names and even threaten your life. We should applaud those we choose to disregard the safety of their lives in order to bring injustices to the forefront, thereby forcing the public to rethink attitudes and beliefs.

The sunny path is not always smooth. There are pitfalls that can suck you in and hold you there, consumed by despair. You can sit there and wallow or pull yourself up and continue down the path.

Soon another obstacle will arise, making you choose, once again, how you will react. Too many roadblocks might cause you to give up. But if you jump over each, if you move one person to act with you, if you change one mind, think of the rewards.

No one will give you a medal, but many will follow in your shoes.

That’s why we choose to walk in the sunshine: to feel goodness and light, joy and power.

 

Calling all Monsters

Calling all monsters, werewolves, and ghouls

Freaks, geeks, witches, skeletons, and fools

The hole is in the sky; stars shine through

Our time has come, our lives to renew.

 

Open the door, and out we will spill

Search for the goods, we must get our fill

Scare little kids who get in our way

No time to talk! It’s up and away.

 

Collect the best snacks, mixtures divine

Chocolate, peanuts, caramel fine

Blood red vines and peppermints to chew

Oh! Give me a sip of ice-cold brew

 

Tonight is the night of fun sublime

To get special treats, mountains we’ll climb

No time to practice our skills to hone

One, two, and three! Together we’ll moan

 

One night a year belongs to our crew

We gobble, wobble, then start anew

Time is running out.  Hurry we must.

Swallow! Don’t chew! Our stomachs to bust.

 

The night’s almost done, yet stars shine through

Halloween’s come, our strength to renew.

Especially for freaks, witches, fools

Skeletons, monsters, werewolves, and ghouls.

 

 

 

 

     Ode to Food

Food, glorious food!

Sumptuous tastes of

Slowly roasted beef

Drowned in onions

Covered in gravy

 

Potatoes gently

Browned, sprinkled

With parsley and chives

Arranged in spirals

Delicate designs

 

Green beans bathing in

Mushroom sauce, topped

With fried onions

Or drenched with butter

Stacked like lucky logs

 

Delightful desserts

Sugary cookies

Mouth melting cakes

Devilish  custards

Compelling desire

 

More, much more, awaiting

Consumption by

Mere mortals yearning

To taste the nectar

Of the golden gods

 

Food, glorious food!