Stranger Inside

Sometimes we find familiar around the next curve
Sometimes we find familiar around the next curve

Your eyes,

your face,

your smile (absent for too long)-

they are all familiar

impressions on the

repressed memories

lurking in the recesses

of my sub-conscious mind.

I wrestle with the

incongruity of

past and present-

the surreal shadow

that slithers across

the barren landscape

of a new reality.

I hope you can find


your smile,

your life (reason to live)

all buried beneath

the stranger inside-

the person I once knew.


Inspiration:  For those who look to this part of the post to explain what on earth I was writing about, I won’t leave you hanging.  This poem has dual  meaning.  It was written to/about a person consumed by drugs.  He looks like the person you’ve known all along, but inside, he is gone.  His good heart belongs to his addiction.  It is also written to/about his parents; the people who have struggled to accept their only child is no longer the boy they raised.  How do you come to terms with that?  Not very easily.  That’s all I know.  Sometimes I can’t believe these are the same people I remember fondly from my childhood.  They are so different now; so sad and broken.

Unfortunately, this is about my family.  Just in time for the holidays, relationships have been severed and only time will tell if they can be repaired.  Right now, I’m sort of in the middle and will walk the line as best I can.  In the meantime, all I can do is offer prayers for peace, strength and forgiving hearts.

I realize I’ve neglected my fiction here lately.  I’ve written a couple of stories I plan to submit for publication, so I can’t post them here, but I do have a couple ideas.  I hope to post some fiction soon (either this week or next.)

I’ll sign off with this… if we look closely enough, we can find even the tiniest blessings in times of trouble.  I hope you have a beautiful week!


Set Free (Fiction) – Emilio Pasquale Photo

The photo below provided by Emilio Pasquale.  The story I wrote inspired by the photo follows…

An Emilio Pasquale Photo
An Emilio Pasquale Photo

She thought she’d find an ally in her sister, but as they engaged in a stare-down, it became obvious to Elaine that she’d miscalculated. Her stiffened legs and a crick in her back warned she should quit. Clearly, more than a laminate table divided them. Yet, she refused to show signs of wearing down. I inherited Dad’s stubbornness.

“She’s getting older. I think the stress of the trip will be too much for her. Please, convince her not to go,” Elaine said, mindful to keep desperation out of her voice. Jackie would never admit it, but they both knew she had more sway with their mom. It’d been that way from the beginning, when Jackie almost died the day she entered the world fifty-eight years ago. It took adulthood and having kids of her own for Elaine to forgive her for that.

Jackie snorted. “We’re all getting older, Elaine. There’s no way she’d not go.” She dunked her tea bag several times with the back of her spoon. Her mouth pressed into a thin line and a frown creased her eyebrows.

Three soggy tea bags rested on the saucer beneath Jackie’s cup. All spent. That’s how Elaine felt. After two hours, neither had budged. If the conversation translated into chess, it would be a stalemate. In their defense, there wasn’t much room for compromise; it’s not like they could half-way go.

Elaine shook her head. “She gets so upset. Besides, the Alzheimer’s has progressed to the point she doesn’t understand much anymore.” She hesitated before adding the root of her concern. “I have a bad feeling about it.”

Jackie smirked. “Another premonition?” She crooked her fingers in air quotes as she said premonition.

“Nothing specific; just a feeling.”

“Look, you know as well as I do she hasn’t forgotten that house.” With the back of her hand, she brushed her graying bangs off her forehead. “I don’t know why, but she has to visit that place on Halloween every year.” Jackie sipped her tea and set her mug back on the paper coaster. “If you won’t go, I’ll take her by myself.”

Elaine recognized the determination in her younger sister’s eyes. Just like Mom’s. “You can’t drive until your seizures are controlled.” She sighed. “Fine. I’ll drive. We’ll leave at noon so we can get there before dark. That house is darn creepy at night.”

Jackie laughed. “That, I’d have to agree with.” She pulled out her wallet. “I got this.” She dropped a ten on the table to cover the muffins and beverages.

After she slid out of the booth, Elaine left another few dollars to compensate for monopolizing the table for so long.

*** *** *** Continue reading

A Sign (Fiction)

09-21 Flower Butterfly

Sharon twisted in the recliner, the springs squeaking under her repositioned weight.   The steady beep of the monitor echoed in the room, same as it had before she dozed off. She stood and stretched her back before taking two steps to the bed. She brushed some strands of dark hair from her friend’s pale forehead and paused when she thought she saw Crista’s eyelids flutter. After a full minute with no response, Sharon decided it must’ve been a spasm.  Or her own wishful thinking.  Exhausted, she slumped into the chair and closed her eyes.

For nearly a month, Sharon had spent her afternoons at the hospital, tethered by worry and guilt. The surreal replay of that night ran through her mind whenever silence crept in. They had been out celebrating the night before Terry’s wedding. They had reached the first club safely. It happened on the way to the second club. The details, like much of her adult life, were fuzzy, but she remembered the commingled sounds of screams and shattering glass- and the numbing shock of the steering wheel slamming against her face. She swallowed hard, willing her lunch to not make a second appearance. Since that night, she hadn’t had even one drink; marking her longest “dry” spell since high school. Too little, too late.


Sharon gasped and scrambled to her feet when she saw her friend’s eyes open and her arms stretched outward. She rubbed her shoulder. “I’m right here,” she whispered. She pressed the call button to summon the nurse.

Crista closed her eyes and mumbled, “I want to be flowers.”

Sharon furrowed her brow, clueless how to respond. She noticed the daisies on the table next to the bed and wondered if that’s what she spoke about. “The daisies are beautiful.”

Her arms remained outstretched, rigid.

Continue reading

Let Go

12-27 Brid

Most days

you don’t cross my mind,

but today,

I’m stuck on “why?”

I’ve no choice

but to re-forgive-

to free my past

so I can live.

I’m angry

with my heart

for caring, wondering

how you are.

The burden

takes its toll,

threatens to erode

my peaceful soul.

I’ve answers

to questions I’ll never know;

just like you,

I’ll have to let go.


I wrote this poem on December 23rd, during my offline time.  When I typed the poem tonight, it struck me that it can be interpreted so differently than what I felt when I wrote it.  It is not a poem about a past romance or anything like that, so my husband can breathe a sigh of relief 🙂

This poem bares my heart, and makes me feel vulnerable.  It’s me without the thin veil of fiction.  My first inclination was to put it in my “poetry” folder where my poems gather virtual dust (I don’t go back and read them.)

I decided to share it in case I’m not the only one who struggles with forgiveness.  For some reason, I expected forgiveness to be a one-time, lifetime freedom pass, so it’s always disappointing when I find out I’m plagued by a familiar weight.

I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions.  I think “now” is a great time to let the burden go (again.)

Alternative Healing

I stare across the table, over the steam rising from my mocha.  I haven’t seen Dad for nearly thirty years and I recognize the irony of him sipping a mug of coffee rather than Guinness.

“So, why are you here?” I shiver from the icy tone in my voice.  He flinches.

“Son, I’m sorry.”

My breath catches.  I never expected him to utter those words.  Ever.

“I messed up.  Life is about choices and I chose me over you.”

No, you chose the bar over me.  I cross my arms over my chest.

“Never could say no to alcohol or women and they’ve led me into a dark alley.”

“What do you want from me?”

He shifts his gaze down to the table.  “My soul is dead; too far gone to heal.  I don’t want my problems to burden you.”

“Hmpf.”  I smirk.  “You’ve been dead to me since the day you walked out and started a new family.”

He reaches across the table and clasps my hand in his.  “Please, son.  Let go of the anger.  I’m sorry.”  His eyes fill with tears.

I’m surprised by the lump in my throat and confused that the old man’s touch comforts me.  The last time his skin touched mine was when he belted me for taking a swig of his beer.  I was eleven and wanted to be just like him.  Thank God I’m not.

A shrill staccato beep cuts through the moment.  I feel like I’m with him but somewhere else at the same time.  I wonder if something stronger taints my mocha.

“Honey, wake up.  Your brother’s on the phone.”

My wife, Amy, releases her grasp on my hand and gives me the phone.  Still groggy, I put it to my ear.  “Hello?”

“Mike.  I know you said you didn’t care, but I thought you should know… Dad died last night.”


TrifectaPicture11-1This was written in response to the Trifecta writing prompt, which is to write a 33 to 333 word response (mine is 312) using the following word and definition:

Heal:  to restore to original purity or integrity <healed of sin>

I know dream sequences are frowned upon, but dreams fascinate me so much when they interwine bits from reality in them.  In my younger years, there were times I’d wake up unsure of whether something really happened or if it was a dream.  It’s such an odd feeling.  Thanks so much for reading, please feel free to share your thoughts!