Everyone here drinks out of straws

the bendy kind with a curve in the pipe

to angle the sugar-free, watered-down juice

down soar, old throats

that have swallowed more years than wine.


The cups are paper

or ribbed plastic

small enough that the spills don’t spill too far.


Blunt and bent

like the fingers not so nimble anymore.


The turkey and potatoes

melt in the mouth

like stale grits

while the dentures sit to the side.


Puffs of oxygen

Coughs loud enough to hear

down the hall

too-loud nurses

repeated questions

whispered, labored responses

half-answering the too-long questions

long forgotten by now.


Safe to Shore

In the writer’s group I’m connected with, I just wrote a fun little short story for a challenge.

The challenge was to play a random song from your music and write a short story inspired by it.

I just finished mine.

I present to you my short short story inspired by Rend Collective’s song “My Lighthouse”. (To listen to the song, click here.)

     In the darkness my head beats against an angled crag. Suffocating saltwater plunges into my open mouth burning and biting. I cling to the rock with cut hands coughing my lungs out. A wave beats me again scraping my nose against the rock.

I hear someone scream off to my left. My own voice is too drowned for noise.

My food is gone.

My violin is gone.

My life is gone.

I hardly fight for air. Why bother?

The water lifts me in a wave only to send me tumbling against another rock.

Someone is crying – wailing.

I float on my back, tempted to close my eyes to the inviting darkness. My watery eyes blink.

A golden light beams from somewhere.

People shout. Something about a lighthouse. Something about safety.

Water covers my head. The light quivers before my open eyes, but it grows brighter.

I smile, feeling one with the water.

     If this is how I end, then let it be.

I close my eyes.

Something forces my head above the water. Next my shoulders are held up. Firm hands pound my stomach. I erupt with water coughing and gasping. The air stings my rasping throat. Water still swirls around my waist, but someone holds me up.

Someone warm.

I keep my eyes closed. The light is so strong now, so close – I can smell it.

“There now,” a deep voice beside me says. “I will carry you safe to shore.”

The firm arms wrap around me and hold me close. The troubled sea beats against him, but I can hear a faint melody in the distance.


Violin music.

Warmth swells in my heart. My hair begins to feel dry.

The music outplays the waves now, and I hear people dancing.

“Here we are,” he says leaning down and dropping my legs.

I don’t want him to leave me. I don’t want him to let go.

I don’t even know what he looks like. His warm hands take mine.

“Keep your eyes closed,” he whispers. Then he twirls me around.

We dance in time with the music with wet sand under our feet. As the last note plays and the people clap, he leans down and whispers in my ear,

“Trust this promise: I will carry you safe to shore.”


Well, at Least I Survived…

To be honest, my year hasn’t been all sunshine and roses.

Also, to be honest, I don’t really like roses because they smell kind of bitter and then poke me with thorns.

So actually you could say this year has had some roses.

The prickly, wild kind.

Not the pretty ones all tied up in bouquets with tissue paper. Honestly, I think those kind of flowers are a waste. In a few days they dry up and you have to throw them away.

It’s like watering a vase of money and then tossing it into the compost pile (but this isn’t really supposed to be about my nonromantic commentary on flowers – it’s about my year of roses).

The prickly, wild kind of roses have been through rain.

(And no, I didn’t draw that. This person did.)

They stretch out ridged against the wind and uncurl their petals in the morning.

I’ve been struck by a few thorns this year.

Frisky in April.

Grandpa in June.

Even graduation is a kind of thorn.

The end of the familiar and threat of change pricks in its own way.

A bit of fear learning something new as school begins, and the shock of a collapsed lung.

Not mine. My Grandma‘s.

They re-inflated it, but I still breathe a little heavier.

I can’t tell you how scared I’ve been this year.

Scared of unseen thorns as I wade in the darkness of a secret garden.

Not the sun shiny one with the boy who talks to animals, but the one left for dead.

The undiscovered one.

The garden of my life.

Along with the thorns and wild, prickly roses, there are puddles of cool, reflective water.

I love puddles.

Just this Sunday, I stepped in some puddles with my black, rubber flats I wore to church.

Puddles are miniature adventures.

This year has had many miniature adventures.

Like the late night Goodwill run for an ugly Christmas sweater.

Like the neighborhood sledding hill.

Like the kids that came to my cabin to sew.

Like the novel I finished this year and won semi-finalist (and no, you can’t read it right now!)

Like the dance I made for 5th and 4th grade girls to exercise to.

Like the hugs from across-the-country-friends I’ve only known online.

There are also some “puddles” I’ve kept to myself this year, because they are my miniature adventures.

Honestly, I don’t think you’d be too interested. And that is ok.

My year has had puddles and roses.

As I keep walking in my secret garden, I’ll explore and feel and see.

And who knows what I will find.

And what will find me.

(This post is dedicated to my Katie. You know who you are.)


The Final Final

Last year, school wasn’t like this.
Sure I had classes at the college, but they were one at a time (which made studying much easier and getting 1 or 2 questions wrong on an exam was a tragedy).

This semester has been different. I’m still living at home, still sleeping in my own bed at night, and still trying to hardcore study and do my best.

I think I may have worked harder this semester than I ever have before. I also had no life.
Let me re-phrase that, my life was consumed with school and it’s demands.

I have enjoyed this semester immensely. There have been some times when I cover my face with a pillow and groan like a sick donkey, but there have been other times when I read passages of my homework reading aloud to share it with my parents.

I know what chiaroscuro lighting is, what an unvoiced-bilabial-plosive is, how to “pot down” a mic, who Max Weber was, and how the pre-modern era viewed ontology.

It’s been quite a ride, and I’ve almost reached the light at the end of this tunnel.

What view awaits me?

light at the end of the tunnel

As Finals Week Approaches

Exhausted Student Falling Asleep While Cramming

As finals week approaches, you hear many strange things

Of syllabi, papers nigh, and grades that terror brings.

The professor sees a gaping lack

Of those who sit in seats far back

To them I’d say, “Why run away,

And who’s paying for your slack?”

Then there are those who count

Every jot and tittle

Adding amounts of points, percents,

and noticing errors so little.

Some say that in five years or so

Nobody will care or know

Your scores from finals week.

Of this I think…and weep.



Steaming pecans in a bed of pie

Mid-church whispers asking, “why?”

Golden gnats in the setting sun

Gluten Free pizza made for one

Clouded trees on my morning drive

Nippy air that says I’m alive

Growing grass in cracked cement

Pennies, nickels, and dimes well spent

10 out of 10 quiz graded in red

Tight sheets “super-tucked” on my bed

Thick socks that slide

Little eyes open wide

Quiet nights under stars in the dark

The grunt when Pip tries not to bark

The bright color green

Treadle sewing machines

Well wrinkled smiles

Well stocked snack aisles

Slugs, echidna puggles, and birds

Friends who shape whole worlds with words

To give thanks for all, I’d be hard pressed,

But I will say that I am blessed.

My First Day Back at School

For one, I woke up earlier than I wished. Coughing your throat out is not the ideal way to start your day, but that’s how it went. My coughing cup beside my bed will have to be thrown out when this epidemic is over, but for now, there it stays.

I drove myself.

I didn’t die.

Score one for first day back at school.

In film class, we started watching a movie.

Score two for first day back at school.

Walking to chapel tired me out – no singing for this voiceless student.

Strike one for first day back at school.

In my next class we watched some videos and discussed them. Next class we took notes and listened to the prof.

Then I got in my car.

I came back home.

I am alive.

Score three for first day back at school.

I took a nap.

Score four.