Monday, February 24, 2014

The Snow

This story is an off-shoot from a novel I wrote years ago. 

The Snow
By Al

Gershwin traveled through a large endless orchard. He knew he shouldn’t have been there, but he was searching for something. He knew if he kept walking, he would find it. He did not know the orchard well, for it changed constantly. One minute the trees would be apple trees, then peach trees, or even pear trees, withered one moment, beautiful and full of life the next. Just like her….

His mind wandered off to his love. He missed her, he wanted her back. He was supposed to wait for her, but he did not, and now he had lost her. Ever since that day, he searched endlessly for her.

“Amaleen,” he spoke to the warm air around him. “I miss you.”

He remembered her golden hair that shone like the sun and her tawny, gentle eyes, the touch of her always warm skin and how her laugh sounded. He smiled just imaging her standing next to him, talking nonstop about the trees, or the birds or the grass. The woods where they lived had been her home, but it was lost. He could not recall where it was.

He was suddenly out of the orchard and in a field with a stream running through it. He knew what this place was. He remembered it vividly, the day she had vanished. It had been here. Perhaps she couldn’t find her way back to the woods either.

He didn’t give the stream his attention. It is what had took her from him, his Amaleen, his sweet, soft-


He heard her voice and spun in a circle to find the source, but he couldn’t find her. Instead, his surroundings changed rapidly. He was now standing in the center of Mirith, the town where they had come from, a town that once used to be his, Regilius and part of her woods.

Massive stone blocks towered over him. These stone pillars had once been part of Amaleen’s forest. The Mirith, Gershwin growled angrily, were the hatred-filled masked beings that took her away from him and defiled her memory. They had turned the once blue sky, red, the once lush trees into concrete pillars, the once green grass brown and stained with blood. The once peaceful woods were now a place of violence. Gershwin remembered Curar’s spiteful words.

“Once I have everything I want, once every part of Regilius is turned into a Mirith’s haven, I will find her and destroy her. We cannot have peace in this land.”

Gershwin swore he would kill Curar when he found him again after he killed Amaleen. He never did. Curar, as all Mirith, vanished after destroying every part of the region they found.

Gershwin stood and gazed into the red sky. Arms spread to his side palms facing the sky, he began to chant. He felt his powers flutter through him, but it was not enough. No matter how much he willed the land to go back to how he remembered it, it would not.

He knew where to go from that point. He traveled through and across the concrete jungle towards the edge, where Amaleen’s woods once stood. When he found it, he stopped to gaze into it. The trees were bare, the grass dead and no birds sang. Amaleen had not been there for many years. Gershwin could not even sense her presence any longer or feel her warmth upon him. He knew she wasn’t coming back.

He turned around to leave, but he felt the urge to walk among the woods to see if there was anything left of her. The wove in between dead trees for what seemed like ages to him. He found nothing but death.

He sat and began to cry. One tear after another flowed down his cheeks. He cried and chanted for her to return to him, begging her to forgive him for not waiting here for her. He knew it was his fault she was gone. He should have been there to save her from the Mirith. It was too late.


He heard her voice once more and he looked up from where he sat to see a green shoot coming up from out of the dead ground. Slowly and gently it pushed its way out of the dirt and through the brown grass and began to sprout green leaves. It soon grew taller and taller until it was the size of a tree only inches short than he. It soon spread life to everything around it. The grass grew green, more trees formed and white flowers sprung up from the ground. Gershwin ever heard the sound of birds around him. He then saw her.
She walked towards him, smiling just how he remembered her. He long golden hair giving light to the grass and trees around her, tawny eyes sparkling at him. She was the woods.


He could barely breathe. He rose from the ground and started after her, but she held out her hand.


Perplexed by her, he ceased going after her and waited.

“What took you so long?” she asked.

He found a frown etched into her face now. Dread filled him. “I could not find the woods. I tried. I’ve been searching, but-.”

She smiled. “I, too, have been looking for you. Now that I found you…”

She ran to him and held out her arms to him. He took her in his own and felt the warmth and happiness radiate from her.

“Amaleen,” he spoke. He wanted to say more to her, but she quieted him.

“I cannot stay long, Gershwin,” she said. “I have waited so long to find you again, but this time I cannot stay as long as I have previously.”

“No, Amaleen. I can’t let you leave again.”

She put her hand on his and pulled him to the soft emerald grass. “Sing to me, Gershwin. I’ve missed you.”

He sang to her then as she had asked. The music lifted her spirits, carried her away to far off places she could only dream about, to places where they could be forever. She then stopped him and put her hand on his cheek. He marveled at how warm she felt, like a spring evening or a summer morning. He held her, wanting to keep a hold of her forever. He knew soon, she would have to leave.

It began to snow. The snowflakes softly floated down onto their shoulders, their hair and onto their noses as they kissed one another gently and tenderly, eyes closed but still able to see one another through their other senses. They grasped at each other, and when it was over, they opened their eyes to see that the trees had lost their leaves and the lush green grass and flowers were beginning to wither as the snow fell beautifully upon them.

“Gersh, look.”

As Gershwin looked from Amaleen’s tender tawny eyes, he gazed around him at the scene. His heart leaped suddenly and he took Amaleen’s hand in his.

“It’s snowing,” he spoke.

Amaleen smiled. “It’s beautiful.”

“It’s you.”

She did not speak, but she looked at Gershwin simply and let go of his hand.

“You can’t leave yet. I just got you back,” he whispered at her, reaching out his hand to take hers again.

She shook her head. “But I have to. I’ll come back in the spring, you know that.”

Gershwin felt his eyes watering much like how they did when he lost her the first time. “Amaleen.”

Her eyes smiled at him. “Wait for me.”

He watched her start walking backwards, never looking away from his eyes, walking through the now heavily falling snow, leaving only her footsteps that he knew would vanish just like she was. He knew she would return to him if he waited for her when they snow ceased to fall. He would come back, like every spring and stay with her in the forest until she had to leave again.

He finally saw her disappear far away from him, into the snow. He looked up into the sky and began to sing a song and a single tear froze onto his eyelash.

Thursday, January 9, 2014


by Al

The crows flutter incantations
onto pale moonlit walls
as you mutter in your sleep
and stir
saying music would be a mistake
if life were no more.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Snow Day

Fun fact! It's colder here today than it is on the surface of Mars. Now that's just insane cold. Here's my backyard.

Ok, so living in the Mid-west can be fun at times and today it's FUN! Temperatures are in the negative forties with the wind (which are blowing at a nice 50 mph). We had about two feet of snow and are at a level three and that means....


So to all my wonderful followers and readers and people who are just passing by who live in a place that's also very cold, hope you are indoors and are keeping warm! And to those who are living in Hawaii or Florida or Texas and the such....well, I have nothing to say to you. ;]

Have a great day! Here's to snow days and relaxing and tea and books!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Last Cigarette

Last Cigarette
by Al
Smoke rose up from the cigarette in between a thumb and two fingers of a man, rising high enough to flick the wood rafters that held up the roof of the small cabin’s den. The man moved a finger to tap at the cigarette. Ashes fell to the pine floor. His eyes stared into the small abyss of another’s.

“Why tell me all this now? Why not earlier?”

The man didn’t make a move or flutter his lips and tongue to answer her. Instead he squashed the cigarette into an ash bowl and took a deep breath.

“Are you just going to sit there like I’m not here?”

That was exactly his plan.

She stood and paced around the den. The heels of her boots thumped against the boards of a forgotten pine tree. In her eye was a tear. In his, nothing.

“I can’t believe you. Why would you tell me something like this and not be able to give me a straight answer? You pig.”

His brown eyes found her again. A frown was twitching in the corner of his mouth, wanting to be seen.

“He’s my husband! I have a right to know!”

A crumpled pack of cigarettes in his coat pocket tempted him, but he resisted. He stood and touched where they were with a finger.

“What?” The woman looked at him, scowled at him as he stood. “You’re just going to leave?”

He smirked, but only slightly, barely enough for her to even notice it and turned. He said nothing. He had nothing to say.

He felt her move toward him, rushing after him. He felt her small hand on his bicep. “You can’t just leave now! You haven’t even told me-!”

He turned to face her, put his hand on hers. He bore his gaze into her blue eyes and turned once more. She backed off as he strode through the hallway and to the door, then she sat back on the sofa in the den. He heard her crying just as he opened the door to leave.

* * *

Hakan Enapay’s memories of his last visit with Sophia Gray entered his mind as he towered over her mangled and bloodied remains. He was unmoved by the corpse and the memories. He wondered at that, as he usually did when confronting the dead. He removed a cigarette from his coat pocket and placed it between his lips. His eyes followed the trail of blood from Sophia’s corpse, across the pine floor and to the sofa. They then traveled to her eyes.

Her blue eyes stared back at him, unblinking. Hakan wondered what her last memories were. Why he felt as if there was a twinge of fear laced within her dead blue and graying eyes. He moved his fingers forward, as if to touch them.

Sophia’s green bathrobe was torn at the sleeve. Blood covered the majority of it and her and her blonde hair. Four gashes could clearly be seen in her torso and chest. Hakan looked at her left hand. Her wedding ring was gone.

“What secrets have you to tell me, Sophia?” Hakan asked the dead woman and he kneeled to the floor beside her. “And what memories of last night have you to share?”

His fingers twitched toward her, brushed against her ring-less hand. Her skin was smooth, cold, dead under his. He closed his eyes. Her memories flittered within his mind.

“You can’t just leave now! You haven’t even told me-!”

He watched from her point of view as he walked out her door. Silence filled the den and the cabin after he had shut it. Emotions of grief and anger-
her grief and anger-entered him. Perhaps she was not guilty after all. He watched as she sat on the sofa and began to cry.

She was alone for now. She had always been fearful of being alone. Hakan examined Sophia as she looked down at her hands. They shook, looked so alive as she ran her fingers around her ring. Jerry wouldn’t be back. She knew that. Somehow she had a feeling Jerry was long gone. She knew. He was gone.

Where? Where did he go? Fear and worry shook her mind as she looked at her wedding ring. Had he left her? Was he murdered? Was he trapped somewhere? She began to rock back and forth, twisting the ring around her finger.

“He’s gone.”

She stood.

Hakan’s vision followed as if he were Sophia as she walked across the pine floor and hallway to a small bathroom. She stumbled into the room and to the sink. Hakan gazed into Sophia’s blue eyes, eyes filled with tears and fear. Then sadness.

Another memory fluttered in front of his vision, an earlier one, one that happened days before. Sophia stood in the middle of a snow-covered lawn, in front of the cabin. A man was with her. She had a ball of snow in her hands. She was smiling. Happy.

Hakan wondered if he could ever be happy….

Hakan drew his fingers away from what remained of Sophia Gray as soon as he felt it. Someone was in the cabin. He wasn’t alone.

He stood, but slowly. He knew someone was in the cabin. He felt his presence as if it was a knife stabbing him in the back. He turned around and looked down the hallway to the front door.

The door was ajar. Hakan knew he did not leave it that way when he entered the cabin. He moved his head back to Sophia, looked back at those dead blue eyes. He touched her once more, but this time her cheek.

She tossed the snowball. It soared across the air and into Jerry’s arm. He laughed and tossed one at her. Happiness. Hakan wished….

“You missed!” Sophia’s voice rang through his ears.

Jerry walked to her and tackled her. They fell into the snow. Hakan watched them linger on the ground for a moment and then kiss.

“I love you,” Sophia spoke.

Jerry said the same.

Another memory. Sophia was back in the bathroom, looking at her own eyes in the mirror. She took her ring off and set it on the sink…went to the bathtub…turned on the tap….

Hakan was not phased when Sophia undressed in her memory. He was more interested in the wedding ring on the sink and the knock on the door.

He watched Sophia turn to look out the bathroom door and into the hallway, grab her green bathrobe from off the back of the door, put it on, tie it around her waist, walk out the door into the hall. Another knock.


She had thought it was Hakan again. Hakan did not watch as the murderer came through the door. He already knew who it was.

Hakan heard the noise before it sounded. He lifted his gaze up from Sophia and towards the hallway. The door was now closed.

He stood and went straight to the bathroom.

The wedding ring was missing. He knew Sophia had not moved it. She had been killed before she could.

The water was turned off. Sophia never had time to do so. Hakan moved back through the hall.

He placed his hand on the doorknob of the front door. It was warm. Someone had closed it while he was with Sophia’s corpse. He opened it.

Clear footprints were set in the snow. Two sets. His and someone else’s. He followed.

The woods were not far from the cabin. The killer was there. Hakan could feel the killer’s energy growing hotter within the cold air. He was close.

The trees were getting thicker. He was being lead farther and farther from the cabin. He knew he was being lead to his death, yet he walked anyway, followed the footsteps, ran after them. His own memories flickered through his mind as if a flame in the darkness.


His own words sounded strange even now. He looked into her blue eyes and wondered. Was happiness possible for him?

“Hakan, please.”

She had been the only thing in his life that got him close to that feeling, close to being happy. She was contentment. She was….

“Jerry asked me to marry him.”

She was breaking him.

He ran faster through the trees. The snow was getting deeper. It was almost knee deep now. The footprints were getting hotter. He knew he was close.

“How long?”

Memories of the first time he met her were coming to him now. He tasted that cigarette, smelled her perfume, felt the beer, could see the bar.

“How long what?” he asked her.

“You said you have a superpower. Tell me about it.”

She made him smile that night. He felt himself smiling now.

He shook his head then. “You don’t want to hear about it.”

She smiled at him. “Oh, come on. Tell me about. I told you enough about me.”

It wasn’t enough. He wanted to know more.

“Come on cop, what are you?” Her voice was so playful in his ears. “You’re not Batman, are you?”

Her laugh….

“Memories. I see other’s memories.”

He came to a sudden halt. The trees had cleared. He was standing in a snow-covered clearing. The killer was right in front of him.


The man was steps from him. His hand clutching a knife.

“Stay away from me, Enapay!”

Hakan held out a hand. “Was this it? All along?”

“Shut up! You couldn’t have saved her!”

Hakan said nothing. He had nothing to say.

Jerry was breathing hard, shivering, clutching the knife hard, too hard. His gray eyes were fixed on Hakan’s. Hakan felt his cigarettes through his coat pocket.

“She didn’t love you. She was mine! You get that? Mine! Think I didn’t know you were banging her? I knew it, pig! I knew!”

Hakan moved two fingers toward the cigarettes. Jerry brought his knife up.

“Just a cig. One last cig,” Hakan spoke.

Before Jerry could move, Hakan pulled out his box of cigarettes and tossed them at Jerry. He moved swiftly as Jerry dodged them, grabbed the knife from him and stabbed him straight in the gut. He watched as Jerry stumbled backwards and fell onto the ground, watched as the snow around him turned red.

“I wasn’t banging her. I respected her. I loved her.”

He bent over to retrieve the fallen now crumpled pack of smokes, grabbed one and lit it up. He then walked back to the cabin.    

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Cookies and Tea and Fushigis

Well, after a long absence from this site I have decided to post my adventures for the day. After waking up from a dream of cookies at seven in the morning, I made my usual pot of tea--loose-leaf sencha and assam--cracked open Martin Luther's thoughts on Genesis, and relaxed. I then remembered my dream about cookies and raided my kitchen for ingredients. Discovering I had no butter I raided google for a no butter recipe for oatmeal cookies. [The recipe I found at a blog titled 'Seattle Lunchbox' is what I used and were delicious! I added dried cherries, blueberries and cranberries and then some chocolate chips.] And of course I made some Buckingham Palace tea to go with them!

A friend of mine keeps a blog on this site and has got me hooked on looking for fushigis throughout my day. If you've not heard of the strange concept of fushigi please click on this link to Egajd's page and you will learn all about them. He has got me interested on keeping track of them on here. 

One fushigi I had the other day revolved around a name. I tend to go to the local coffee shop quite when in need of books, tea and writing. While there I ordered a coffee and chocolate drink called a 'Blarney' and a hummus sandwich called a 'Sophia'. I then sat down at a table to eat and read and picked up a book on one of the shelves. I opened it and noticed one of the character's names was Sophia. Unfortunately, I didn't write down the book title and have forgotten since then what book it was. After eating and drinking up my coffee I went outside. We had had a snow storm the previous day and the walks were slippery. As I stepped out the door a young girl slipped on the walk in front of me. I caught her and she introduced herself as Sophia. 

Also, the night previously I had been talking with Egajd and writing our usual 'musecorn' (sort of like a play but interactively written with characters from our books and stories). Sophia, Egajd's character was involved. 

So, tea and cookies and strange fushigi. What a strange day it has been. Now time for a good book or a good story from my latest addiction The Vinyl Cafe and more tea! Stay warm wherever you are if you're stuck in the aftermath of a snow storm like me and have a happy day and blessed New Year!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tess and Yeats

Tess and Yeats: Chapter One: The Plot
by Al

I think I’ll publish something.

That, thought Tess after thinking the above sentence, has got to be the stupidest thing I’ve ever thought. 

She smiled after that last thought left her mind as she sat down at the kitchen table in her tiny apartment, her typewriter in front of her apple red IBM Selectric II and a pen and a stack of paper next to her. She sighed as she pressed in a key. 

A…and then a space.

A what? She hesitated. She didn’t know what she was doing, or how to go about what she was trying to do. A black cat with orange stripes named Yeats jumped onto the table surface and rubbed his chin against Tess’s pinky finger. He yowled and dashed across the table and over the keyboard and plopped himself onto the black and white checkered tile floor. He then looked at Tess and then sat himself down next to the radiator. 

Tess shook her head at him and looked back at the paper stuck in the typewriter. 

A plnhtfdcswa  

She sighed and took the paper in her hands, crumpled it up and tossed it at Yeats. “There you go,” she spoke at him. “Hope you’re happy.”

After replacing the ruined paper with Yeats’ signature printed on it, Tess took a deep breath and gazed at the yellow wall across from her. She then muttered, mostly without thinking, “What am I to write, Yeats? I’ve never done this before.”

The cat stretched and yawned and then yowled once more before chewing on the piece of paper Tess had tossed at him. Tess sighed and then got up from the chair, walked to the fridge only three steps away and opened the door. 

The yellow light in the fridge flickered twice as she grabbed for a bottle of pale ale. She closed the fridge, went to a drawer, pulled it open and grasped at the bottle opener. She popped the metal cap off the bottle, startling Yeats and tossed back a couple of gulps. 

“Ah,” she said with a great amount of refreshing pleasure, “Is just what I need.”

She stepped back to the table to resume her writing (if that’s what you call sitting at a table and typing in one letter and allowing your cat to write the rest). She took steps across the face of the radiator and stepped on something oddly furry. She picked up her foot when the furry thing growled and hissed and took a swing at her foot.

“Sorry!” Tess exclaimed at an angry Yeats. “You don’t have to be so nasty about it.”

 The cat appeared to huff in reply and shake his head and lie back down in front of the radiator. Tess gave him a look of remorse as she sat down. Bottle of ale in her left hand, she put her right hand’s set of fingers on the keys of the typewriter. She blinked at the keys and decided to type in, “it”, except she had forgotten to press the “shift” bar, and so she huffed at herself and ripped out the piece of paper with such force, she almost surprised herself. Almost.

As she crumpled up the piece of paper, she groaned. “Yeats! We’ll never be writers.”

Yeats yawned and looked at her as if to say, “No, you’ll never be the writer. Did you see what I wrote earlier? Probably the best thing a cat’s ever wrote and there it is, sitting on the floor in a crumpled lump!”

Tess shrugged at the cat ad took another swig of ale. She set the bottle down right next to the left corner of the typewriter and then looked at the keys once more, wondering if first she should come up a plot. She looked back at Yeats. “Isn’t that what authors do? Don’t, don’t you think I should think of a plot first?”

The cat didn’t have a reply. He just stretched on his side, showed off his orange and black striped belly and then rolled around for a moment and soon fell asleep. Tess was puzzled. “No, maybe brainstorming a plot isn’t all that important. Maybe…maybe it’s a poem I could write?”

She started typing without thinking onto the typewriter. The clicks and the clacks of the keys resonated within her ears in a kind of satisfying way. She was finally writing! She was writing something!

After she was finished typing, she looked at her piece of art, read it and then frowned. The ‘E’ button had refused to work and the ‘L’ button appeared in places it should not have appeared. And, not to her surprise, the poem was so bad a first grader would have called it a “poetic disgrace so bad not even a cat would read it.”

She took the piece of paper, rolled it up in a ball and chucked it towards a sleeping Yeats. 

Tess had begun to think she wasn’t cut out to be a writer. Maybe she could find that she was better at other things, like painting, or playing piano or something like that. She could even take up dancing. She then remembered kindergarten art class. Poor Tess’s painting of a butterfly was so terrible that even Mrs. McLag, the kindergarten teacher who believed that everyone should have a fair chance, that everyone who put effort and time into things deserved to be recognized, didn’t staple it to the wall with the rest of the children’s. And she recalled piano lessons when she was seven, and how she couldn’t remember which key was C and which one was G. And dancing was out of the question. She might meet a guy there.

A frown formed on Tess’s face. Maybe meeting a guy wasn’t such a bad idea. Of course, bringing him home might be out of the question after she had gotten to know him. Yeats would eat him alive when he got a chance, claw his way up to his neck, bite into his carotid artery and suck the life out of him.
Tess laughed. “You’d do that, Yeats, wouldn’t you?”

A pathetic mewl came through Yeats’s mouth as he rolled around into a more comfortable position. 

“Yeah,” Tess said. “No dancing for me.” 

Another swig. She was beginning to feel the effects of the beer. She put her head down on the kitchen table surface and looked at the yellow wall in front of her feeling as if she were a failure. She took a deep breath and then…

“Yeats?” she said, lifting her head from the table. “You think maybe that wall is looking a bit empty?”

No reply. Tess didn’t care. She was already set in her idea. She stood and walked out of the kitchen. Yeats perked his ears, but didn’t follow as Tess walked to the bedroom closet. She rummaged through the box covered floor and then, moments later, found what she was looking for. “Aha! Here it is!” 

She went back to the kitchen table carrying a dark brown, worn bag. She thumped it onto the tabletop and looked at it. 

“You know what this is, Yeats? I forgot I even had this.”

Yeats jumped onto the table wanting to get a glimpse of the new thing Tess had brought him, wanting to rub his face all over it to make it smell like him. Tess rubbed his head while she unzipped the bag and pulled out a huge hand-held camera. Yeats chirped as Tess inspected the lenses.

She used to take pictures, back when she was a teenager in high school, for the school newspaper. She suddenly remembered all those days she spent exploring the school grounds for things to take pictures of, of attending all those games, snapping pictures of athletes like Georgie Ferguson, Tim Sperry…she wondered if they still were playing sports now that they were all out of high school and college, working on graduate programs. She laughed. Graduate school. She wished. 

Those were the days, those crazy hectic high school days. She smiled as she ran her fingers over the camera. A Canon AE-1 Program. She got it at a garage sale for ten dollars. The owner thought it was broken. One of the lenses had cracked. Tess remembered taking it to a repair man who fixed it for free, a friend of her father’s. She wondered if there was film in the bag. 

She rummaged through the bag for a canister of film as Yeats slunk out the kitchen and went into the bathroom to drink out of the tub or something, as Tess assumed. Her fingers found a smooth cylindrical canister. She pulled it out of the bag, popped the lid open and found a roll of unused film. She grinned as she opened the camera and placed the film in it. She had just finished fiddling with the camera to make sure it still worked as Yeats appeared in the doorway. She spun around in her chair, camera against her face and said, “Smile, Yeats!”

The cat, who returned with a blue bath towel in his mouth jumped when the flash went off. He ran for cover under the bath towel and slid across the tile and into a cupboard. Tess laughed at him and took another picture. 

“Silly, Yeats! It’s just a camera,” she said as she snapped another picture of him. She then looked back at the wall. “I think, Yeats, we’ll cover that wall with photos.” 

Yeats, tail out from under the towel sneezed. Tess gave him a quick “bless you” and started searching the apartment for things to snap pictures of. Yeats followed her from a distance, watching the flash go on and off and sometimes not going off when she snapped photos. She used up a whole roll of film in about an hour and placed it back into the canister. She held it up to Yeats. 

“Ok, Yeats. Let’s see how this turns out.”

Weeks later, after getting the film developed, Tess had taken a trip to the park, had taken pictures of the children playing in the fountains and on the swings, taken pictures of the birds and the flowers, of the ducks swimming on the lake. She printed the photos after developing the film and had begun to plaster them all over that yellow wall in the kitchen, and now had begun to fill the entire apartment with them. Pictures of flowers, of clouds, of her typewriter, of Yeats and ducks and the lake looked back at her as she sit at the table, gulping down a pale ale, sitting at her typewriter, thinking she could publish something someday. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Featured Artist---M Ragland

M Ragland a wonderful writer, photographer, doodler and haiku-er is our featured artist today. M and I met over at Goodreads a few years ago through the writing group I moderate called Weekly Short Stories Contest and Company. His work is inspiring to say the least and beautifully done. You may have read some of his haiku I have posted before. All the photos in this post are his, as well as the poetry.

Poetry and Photos by M Ragland

~Storm Warnings~

It was the way she crossed her legs
and ran her fingers on the rim
of the stemmed glass when lights were dim
and a long day was in the dregs.

As though lightning had charged the air,
a haunting music played awhile.
She glanced sidelong with a faint smile,

in the shadows of her dark hair.

The look in her brown eyes was warm
as she approached him at the bar
then walked with him out to his car
in the pallor before a storm.

A swollen sun sank in the bay
and rimlighted a thunderhead,
but what her lips told him in bed,
and what her fingers had to say,
her voice’s smooth, arousing tone,
how she lay in his arms nightlong,
was that, like words of some old song,
he was someone she’d always known.

~A Wolf at the Door~

A wolf rings the bell,

his now-graying hair dyed.

He’s got siding to sell

and a smile a foot wide.

He looks sharp on the walk--
expensive, his tie pin--
and he just wants to talk,
but don’t let him come in!

In a deep, unctuous tone
he’ll say the weather’s nice.
“Are you home all alone?”
Take your grandma’s advice.

No to siding. No hinting.
“Shall we discuss wood,”
he’ll creep forward, eyes glinting,
“Miss Red Riding Hood?”

~Cynthia’s Fate~

I shoved the knife back in the drawer
and poured the wine, impatient for
the glance, the quiet laugh, the kiss,
to have been wrong that all of this--
the beeswax candles and the low
strings of a scratched adagio,

the undulations of the night,
a misty, Edenic first light--
means that I’ve spilt what little wine
fate seemed to have foredained as mine;
from the dripped wax one may surmise
how deep the shadows of my eyes.
The flutes are smashed, their remnants strown
into the carpet, as if sown
by a devil whose smiling ruse
is to have me remove my shoes
and dance to turn the carpet red
before I seek an empty bed
and silky dreams of eyes, of arms
that hold me and clasp golden charms
around my neck, on them engraved
the words by which I’ve been enslaved--
his words, and the world’s oldest lie.
For this indulgence, I must die
but only for a moment feel
the long French knife of carbon steel,
in the small drawer where it was shoved,
my fitting end for having loved.

I like to wrap up
in a suave, blanket statement
when things get chilly.


When all that’s left are
my regrets, I’ll give up rum
and French cigarettes.


A shot of Bombay,
a capful of Noilly Prat,
drops of olive juice.

~Cider Cove~

A full moon casts its chalky light
on the spalled bricks of a smokestack
that rises from the ivied black-
ness among pines in the blue night.

The cove, with countless flickerings,
quickens to swirling, autumn gusts.
The boathouse, a pale patchwork, rusts.
A net hoop on its frayed rope swings.

I wake. The lofty room is dim.
As though drawn by a musty spell,
I stumble out to the old well.
An owl chortles from some high limb.

I see her. She stands on the knoll,
in lacework shadows of the grove,
gazing forlornly at the cove
that shimmers like a silver bowl.

The wind blows tattered shreds of clouds
across the moon like fragments torn
from antique clothes corpses had worn
in crypts--rotting remains of shrouds.

The hulk of the old cider mill
looms dark behind me, in its glass
my dim reflection in tall grass
as I wander onto the hill.

Mossed fallen branches, knobby roots,
are what I find with my bare feet
while what I am destined to meet
waits in her frontier dress and boots.

Her long, blonde hair seems almost white.
I feel a cold hand take my hand,
cold, the gold of her wedding band,
her eyes deep cisterns of moonlight.


It was like a scene
from an old film flickering
on a silent screen.

~Peoria Hotel~

I thought about you
yesterday morning when
I went to take my pills--
heard your buttery voice
in a faraway flash
of nights in a fleabag hotel.
Your husband thought
you were playing bridge.

Yesterday morning, as I
opened up the old, white
built-in medicine cabinet,
with its glass shelves,
I smiled at a dim thud
of your high-heeled pumps--
years and miles distant--
hitting the board floor.


The way she held her cigarette
and looked at me through glowing smoke
as though on an old movie set

became for us almost a joke,
but what her eyes had found to say
when something bleak in them awoke

was not in our tattered screenplay--
the ghost in her luminous eyes
as she glanced down at the ashtray--

and what haunted her soft replies
when she lay in my arms in bed
and, smiling, closed her speaking eyes

clutched me with fingers of a dread
of the things she had left unsaid.

~Things of Hers~

These are the things
that remind me of her:
pale evenings
at the end of summer,

when the air can't decide
just what mood to be in
and schoolgirls, dreamy eyed,
strut with summer-bronzed skin.
From the porches, on chains
still hang the lush ferns
weeks before autumn rains
and the old ash tree turns.
A seagull's echoed cries.
She pauses on the stair,
summer's end in her eyes,
a sea wind in her hair.

~You Promised!~

You promised
to take out the garbage.
There goes the garbage truck
and our garbage is sitting
bagged up
right there on the kitchen floor.

What were you thinking?
You promised!
Now it will sit there stinking
all week.
Go find some unsuspecting dumpster
that isn't feeling quite full.

I know,
poor dear,
you haven't even had breakfast.
Eat out this morning.
I'm sure someone
will have thrown away
something delectable.

And if you find
a nice piece of furniture
or a lamp
while you're diving,
bring it home.

~The Bat~

I was hanging upside down in the closet,
trying to stretch my spine
and feeling a little nauseated
from too much muscadine wine.

My wife looked in and screamed at me,
“What are you doing like that?”
She later informed our church counselor,
“My husband thinks he’s a bat.”

Well, all of my friends can tell you the only
bat in the house is my wife,
but I’d never dare to say that out loud
or I’d have to run for my life.

I’d read in the newspaper supplement
where Dr. Oglestine
has a way for spineless people to get
their backbone back in line.

My wife’s friends shake their heads and say
they don’t know what could cause it,
that Myrtlene’s husband has taken to hanging
upside down in a closet.

~And more of my favorite photos from M~

~All photos and poetry are property of M Ragland~