Concrete Box

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bar

 

I work in a corporate, concrete box;
no windows, only a computer terminal
to link me to the outside world.
Only second-hand accounts
of weather, traffic,
whether it is day or night.

I sometimes go to work in darkness,
return in darkness.
I don’t know if the sun
remembered to rise at all.
Like the light in a refrigerator.
Does it really turn off
when I close the door?

At a keyboard, my fingers type numbers,
millions of numbers.
My mind wanders woodland paths.
I watch birds flitting from limb to limb,
chipmunks scurrying, stopping,
looking around, then scurrying again.

My mind plays tricks on me.
I imagine that just 26 floors down
I could exit on Beale or Bourbon Street.
Hear sounds of the South,
guitars, saxophones and raspy voices
that rule the rhythm of my body and soul.

Take me on a blues ride.
Let me wander with the lyrics
down Highway 61, “The Blues Highway”.
Let me smell the sweat and the booze,
the jostling at the bar,
the waitress who will smile for a tip.

Let me smell magnolia, bougainvillea,
where Spanish moss hangs below the branches,
see the darkest eyes and brightest smile,
hear that special whisper, “Come with me.”
We’ll walk for miles, be holding hands,
and never want for any more
than our window to a dream.

Sample my books for free — To date, $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless:

Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People
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http://buff.ly/1qLHptc ($.299 Download)
https://buff.ly/2lUfp6Q ($.99 Download)
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They Call Me Red:
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Podcasts:
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Image: http://www.neworleans.com/nightlife/bourbon-heat/

Tennessee Honey

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DSC_4796

 

Thoughts drift south,
Jack Daniel’s country
where the weather
suits my mood.

On a barstool
I park my bones
Inhale the Jack, magnolia–
sweet, sweet surrender.

A woman alone
at a corner table–
darkest eyes,
brightest smile,
auburn hair
to her shoulders.

I think, Why not?
Our eyes meet,
I saunter towards her
and know, from the look she gives,
she’s heard it all before.

“Ma’am, It would give me
the greatest pleasure
to buy you a drink
and share your table for a while.
If I can’t keep you smilin’
I promise,
I’ll take my conversation elsewhere.”

She said with the utmost
southern grace, charm
and hospitality,
“You’ve got ten minutes.
I don’t like to be disappointed.”

I fell into her raven pools,
somewhere, I got lost there.
I don’t know my way too well
around these parts
but, I’d swear she lured me
with some kind of mojo.

My eyes refused to look away
from ruby lips (so sensual)
as they spoke words of love
in a voice
of the sweetest, southern honey,
words…dripping…
tantalizing.

The evening passed,
holding hands across the table.
I was enthralled and enchanted.
Where it went from there
I refuse to say
(gentleman’s code of honor).

Such beauty
I have never known.
It keeps coming back
to haunt me.

My thoughts
were only passing through
but, in my dreams I see
the darkest eyes,
brightest smile,
hear her voice–
Tennessee honey.

Sample my books for free — To date, $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless:

Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People
http://buff.ly/1SGzGCY ($2.99 Download)
http://buff.ly/1qLHptc ($.299 Download)
https://buff.ly/2lUfp6Q ($.99 Download)
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They Call Me Red:
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The Silver Fox

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old-greek-men

old-man-giving-the-middle-finger

 

Slouching
in forgotten tap-rooms
dirty old men,
forgotten old men,
slop piss-colored beer
from, wet, dripping glasses.
The hollow din,
the retelling of “the good old days”,
echoes sadly
as life quickly passes.

“They used to call me ‘The Silver Fox’
What do you think of that?
They used to care.”

An empty glass crashes
to the muddy floor.

“I guess I’ll be hitting the street tonight.
Sleep in an alley tonight.
Nobody cares.”

Slouching
in forgotten tap-rooms
dirty old men,
forgotten old men,
slop piss-colored beer.
Nobody cares….

 

Image: http://ow.ly/RNSi3

Sample my books for free — To date, $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless:

Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People
http://buff.ly/1SGzGCY ($2.99 Download)
http://buff.ly/1qLHptc ($.299 Download)
https://buff.ly/2lUfp6Q ($.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2Gkoyxj ($2.99 Download)
They Call Me Red:
https://buff.ly/2GJSDsG ($2.96 Download)
Podcasts:http://buff.ly/1Pxlf9p
http://www.blunttalk.libsyn.com/
http://buff.ly/1XU368M
http://buff.ly/2iYvOE4
http://buff.ly/2jdjZd6

They call me Red…

https://rainn.org/

They Call Me Red

Dane Cross, he liked the sound of that, simple, direct, easy to spell, easy to remember, enigmatic. A life of deception can’t have too many complications or explanations. He was a man for hire, private investigation, bouncer, anything this side of legal. Trained as a black op in combat with a license as a Private Investigator he was equipped for many rolls, most of them quick and dirty. Always the guy from out of town. He had no recorded past, not even fingerprints. He’d traveled the back streets and alleys in the worst districts of the world. What he’s seen, no one should see, no one should take part. The reality was that crime exists everywhere. The removal of low life crooks was his obsession.

Registered in a nondescript hotel he headed down the dimly lit back street in search of a bar. He saw flashing pink and blue neon and followed his instincts. The Playmate came into focus, a strip bar, how convenient. For a single male stranger, new in town, the sources of entertainment are limited. Movie theatres, restaurants are visited mostly by couples. A single person stands out. That he didn’t want.

She’s a Brick House by the Commodores was blaring from the downstairs club:

Ow, she’s a brick house
She’s mighty-mighty, just lettin’ it all hang out
She’s a brick house
That lady’s stacked and that’s a fact
Ain’t holding nothing back

Inside, past the bouncer, the ticket booth and the compulsory coat check were the sights and sounds of lust paid for by the minute, also the scent of cherry. He took a seat at a circular, Formica topped table in a dimly lit back corner with a view of the entrance. The wooden chairs were worn but not shabby. The carpet was worn also, paths of high traffic led to to the bar, washrooms and to a stairway that led to the private upstairs VIP rooms. He thought to himself, All that’s required to become a VIP is to hand a stripper a wad of bills.

A scantily clad woman was immediately at his side. “I’m Amber,” she said in a breathy voice. “Drink?”

Again the scent of cherry. “Double shots of Jameson, neat.” It wasn’t that he particularly liked the taste of Irish whiskey, but it reminded him of his roots and The Troubles, also it slowed his drinking. He couldn’t afford to become drunk and conspicuous.

“Coming right up,” she said in a Barbie Doll voice. His drink came soon enough. “There you go,” she giggled.

He gulped it down and said, “Another.”

“You’re a man of few words. With your drink would you like a table dance, or I could take you upstairs to the V.I.P Room. We can be more intimate there.”

“Just the drink, thank you.” As she sashayed towards the bar for his drink he thought. What a lack of creativity.  With all the names in the world she chose — a fossilized tree resin, yellow in color. Why didn’t she just name herself Yellow?  A wave of relaxation spilled over his crusty mood. The liquid from his glass burned his throat in a comforting way. He remembered his father’s words, ‘If it don’t hurt, it ain’t no good. Don’ t go spendin’ money on fancy labels.’

Amber kept coming back, pressing her thigh against his, placing her hands on his shoulders and letting her breast touch the top of his head. He knew her situation — there was no money in selling drinks, only in table and lap dances.  He wasn’t in the mood for either so he walked to the bar.

He pulled up an end stool with his back to the dancers and his eye on the door to see who might come in. “Name your poison.” said the woman behind the bar. He couldn’t help but notice her small delicate hands, elegant fingers with fiery red nail polish to match her luscious lips. He named his usual. As she walked away he noticed her waves of red hair cascading down the sparkling green fabric of her short dress. She had to stretch for the Jameson bottle. Her legs were long and had a graceful shape, muscles undulating as she moved. She had a feline sureness about her as she set down his drink, collected empty glasses and gave the bar a quick wipe. He tossed it back and absentmindedly looked at the rows of colored bottles.

“Another?” she asked.

“Yeah, hit me again,” he replied, gazing into her golden-brown eyes. They had a quizzical, dangerous look about them.

As she placed the drink before him she said, “You’re not like the typical customer we get here.”

“Describe the typical customer?”

“Well,” she said, “you sat at the back, so you weren’t interested in a clear view of the stage. You turned down Amber for a table dance and a visit to the V.I.P Room. That’s not typical.”

“What? Can’t a guy just come to a bar for a drink?”

“Yes, but not usually to this bar. They call me Red. If you need anything just shout.” The honeyed tones of her voice had timbre and resonance even when she was speaking softly. She’s probably a damned fine singer.

Red, he thought, how original.

She came back shortly after and asked, “You’re not a cop are you?”

“And if I was, do you think I’d tell you?”

She lingered before she answered, “No, I suppose not, but we do occasionally have unpleasant incidents — fights, girls being assaulted. It would be comforting to know that we had one officer of the law to keep us safe.”

“I saw your bouncer at the door, I’m sure he can take care of himself and your staff. I also noticed the line of motorcycles out front and the full patches on vests and jackets. I didn’t recognize the name but, surely some of them would come to the aid of a damsel in distress.”

“Have you looked closely at their patches. The top rocker is Sons of Irony, the bottom is Middle Earth, the image is a prairie dog. My dad was a poet, he thought the name was as appropriate as any other. Anyway, bikers can be unpredictable and the bouncer can’t be everywhere or see everything.”

“Well, Red, as they call you, who works in a biker bar, you want to come to me for protection? I should be the one concerned about protection. I don’t like cops any more than you do. If a fight breaks out I’ll stay well away from it. If one of your girls is in trouble I’d have to think, what’s in it for me?”

“I can see that you’re a real gentleman.”

“I know that these places are euphemistically called gentlemen’s clubs, but I don’t see a gentleman in sight, including me. As for ladies, I’ll reserve judgment.”

“I have one question, a stripper friend of mine said that and I quote, ‘My anecdotal survey says 10% of dancers are strict lesbians, 40% are strictly heterosexual and the rest are somewhat bi, in that they’ll fool around with other women besides just for entertainment value for men.’ What do you say to that?” She replied, “I expected more class from you. Why do you ask such a puerile, callow, hebetudinous question? It’s not something that I ask during a job interview. Firstly, it’s illegal; Secondly, I don’t care; Thirdly, why would it make a difference? We get lots of women as patrons, sometimes they are interested in having a lap dance by a girl they admire on stage. At bachelor parties, we often have a group of nude dancers rubbing against each other and the bachelor. Are you turned on by lesbians or bi women? Strippers entertain, they flirt that’s what they’re paid for. If you’re aroused, they’ve done

fall in love with you even if you get that impression. Does that make you feel less of a man?” “Mea Culpa. I truly apologize, that was a crude, senseless and discriminatory thing to ask. Please forgive me. I don’t even know why I inquired, it must be the Jameson talking. I’m actually very respectful of people, all people. I even wrote a post about it:

UNIVERSAL EQUALITY

In the past year
I’ve had a lot of time to think
about important and unimportant things
(long story).
I have come to some very basic conclusions
as is my right and obligation.
They may seem obvious to some.

To others, they may seem inflammatory.
Deal with it —
say what you want on your own page.

I believe that as humans
we deserve:
UNIVERSAL EQUALITY IN ALL ASPECTS OF LIFE,
UNIVERSAL ACCESS: TO FOOD, WATER, SHELTER,
MEDICAL TREATMENT AND AVAILABILITY OF MEDICATION,
UNIVERSAL ACCESS TO EDUCATION,
UNIVERSAL FREEDOM OF CHOICE OVER OUR OWN BODIES,
UNIVERSAL FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT,
FREEDOM OF SPEECH,
DEMOCRACY.

These are big issues
that have repercussions in news events
around the world.
I haven’t worked out all the details, yet,
but I have seen a lot of headlines on television
in print media and on the internet.

On our planet
we must eradicate (as much is humanly possible,
as opposed to what is economically viable)
HUNGER
DISEASE
VIOLENCE
HOMELESSNESS
BIGOTRY
WAR
(and others too numerous
to mention).

My neighbors:
MUST NOT starve while I eat,
MUST NOT die of illness while I have access to a cure,
MUST NOT BE CONFINED BY NATIONAL BORDERS
if their lives, health, or opportunities
are at risk,

MUST HAVE universal access to the best education
in order to best express their natural abilities,
MUST HAVE equal access to meaningful, rewarding and satisfying employment,
MUST HAVE the freedom to make their own life choices;
these choices MUST NOT be dictated by GOVERNMENT
RELIGION, SOCIETY or self-proclaimed MAJORITIES.
LYNCH MOB DEMOCRACY MUST BE ELIMINATED.

In short, I AM my brother’s/sister’s keeper.
I WILL treat them as I would prefer to be treated.
I WILL NOT be the cause of abuse,
whether physical, verbal, mental or emotional.
I WILL live my life
according to the best of my potential.

‘NUFF SAID (for now)…


I support women’s rights, children’s rights, LGBTQ rights. I even walk in Pride parades.” “Now, you’re making excuses. Are you next going to tell me that you have a gay friend?” With that, she left me alone to enjoy my drink. Feeling somewhat sheepish, I pulled out a pocket notebook and jotted a few sentences. Sometimes the right amount of alcohol and the right atmosphere brings out the poet or novelist in me.

With that, she left me alone to enjoy my drink. I pulled out a pocket notebook and jotted a few sentences. Sometimes the right amount of alcohol and the right atmosphere brings out the poet or novelist in me.

“What are you writing? Anything about me?”

“I’m writing reflections, observations, impressions, word pictures. Maybe I’ll write about you. It relaxes me.”

“You a professional writer? Do you write for newspapers? Have you published any books, anything I may have come across?”

“You may have read some things that I’ve written, but then I don’t know your tastes in reading.”

“My tastes may surprise you, Rumi, Aristophanes, Baudelaire, Whitman, Gertrude Stein, Mary Oliver, Charles Bukowski, William Wantling…”

“You have eclectic tastes. I’m genuinely impressed and I don’t impress easily. I don’t recognize the last name you mentioned.”

“William Wantling? He was an American poet, novelist, ex-marine He said that at age 17 he was the youngest Marine Sergeant in Korea during the winter campaign of ’52-’53— he must have listed his age as 18. He’d been seriously wounded in combat. He’d been given morphine for his wounds and had subsequently become addicted.  In his own words ‘War injuries led to addiction led to prison and a lifetime of problems’. It’s been reported that ‘he got hit with a flamethrower.’ He served time at the California State Prison at San Quentin for forgery and narcotics. There he took creative writing classes and began to write poetry. After being released he attended university and graduated with a BA and an MA.  He became a college professor. He also hung out with Charles Bukowski. He’s considered one of the last beat poets.  A Wantling scholar Kevin E. Jones wrote that ‘Wantling lied, cheated, ripped off his friends, shat in their bathtubs.’ Another wrote,  ‘He was a long-tall- 229 storyteller trying to lift lying up to mythmaking.’ Here’s a copy of one of his poems:

 

POETRY

I’ve got to be honest. I can
make good word music and rhyme

at the right times and fit words
together to give people pleasure

and even sometimes take their breath away –
but it always

somehow turns out kind of phony.
Consonance and assonance and inner

rhyme won’t make up for the fact
that I can’t figure out how to get

down on real paper the real or the true
which we call life. Like the other

The other day I was walking
on the lower exercise yard here

at San Quentin and this cat called Turk
came up to a friend of mine

and said Ernie, I hear you’re
shooting on my kid. And Ernie

told him So what, punk? And Turk
pulled out his stuff and shanked

Ernie in the gut only Ernie had a
Metal tray in his shirt. Turk’s

shank bounced right off him and
Ernie pulled his stuff out and of

course Turk didn’t have a tray and
caught it dead in the chest, a bad

one, and the blood that came to his
lips was a bright pink, lung blood,

and he just laid down in the grass
and said Shit. Fuck it. Sheeit.

Fuck it. And he laughed a long
time, softly, until he died. Now

what could consonance or assonance or
even rhyme do to something like that?

“You may not find much. I certainly haven’t. He was never a New York Times bestseller, but he wrote reality, his reality, raw, violent, gritty, the life you’d find in prison.”

“That’s more what interests me. Cut the bullshit, tell it like it is, not just to glorify rich people like you see on tv, but for the families scraping to make a living, the people working for minimum wage or less with no pension to look forward to, the waitresses, janitors…”

“So is there a market for the kind of books you write?”

“People buy my books, but I’ll never be a bestseller. In some ways, it’s like this place. You don’t make money off the drinks, customers like me. You make money from sex: the sight of it, the touch, smell and whatever else goes on upstairs. The popularity of my books sometimes depends on the level of sex, violence — things I know about — just enough to get my point across.”

“What is your point?”

“My point is the human condition. I try to understand people, why they fall in love, why they hurt each other, why they kill each other. It’s a mystery, like you for instance. Why is a woman who reads Baudelaire and Aristophanes, serving drinks in a biker strip bar?”

“That would be a long story if I chose to tell it. I don’t just serve drinks. I own this place, inherited it from my father who was a biker. Even when I was underage he would bring me here off-hours if he needed to work on the books. I’d keep myself entertained with the pinball machines, pool table and sometimes Solitaire…”

“I take it that your mother wasn’t around?”

“You don’t pull punches, do you. She died when I was five. I don’t remember much about her. I was raised by my grandparents and my dad. He played a big part in my growing up, so did a lot of the other bikers in here. He was nuts about vintage Harleys. He loved the look of them, the feel and sound when he rode them. He’d go to swap meets, get to know other bikers, buy what looked like a wreck, take it all apart, then rebuild it. Soon other bikers came to him to repair their bikes or buy ones he’d restored. He’d tell me about panheads, knuckleheads, shovelheads, softails, hardtails. They formed a club. I was their mascot. They said I brought them luck. When I was older, Dad would pay me to sweep out the place, wipe tables, wash glasses and ashtrays, clean washrooms. When I was old enough I started serving behind the bar. What about you?”

“Nothing special. I grew up on a small farm. I like animals more than people. I never had much social life. Dad was getting weaker year by year, so I took on more of the farm work. Eventually, he passed on, Mom shortly after. I moved around a lot. Never in one place long enough to make any real friends. I was always the new kid, the guy from out of town. Attended college on a football scholarship. I have the aching joints to prove it. I did my military service after college. I liked the military but didn’t like taking orders, so now I’m what you would call a security contractor.”

As a security contractor, what do you actually work at?”

“I’m open to whatever a client wants me to do, as long as they can meet my price. I don’t come cheap.”

“You’re a mercenary!”

“That’s not a term I use to describe myself. Call me a Private Military Contractor. Mercenaries work for everybody, they’ll go for the highest bidder on either side. As a PMC I like to think that I’m working on the right side of the fence most of the time. The main difference is that a PMC’s role is to protect and escape, rather than engage and attack.

“I do a lot of investigative and surveillance work. It’s not as interesting as the private eye shows on television. One of my former partners did not like surveillance work. He described it as, ‘sitting around and doing fuck all.’ For me, it allows for time to think and occasionally write.”

“If I had a problem and met your price could I hire you?”

“I’d need details. Maybe we could work something out.”

She called out, “Amber, take the bar. I’m going to the back.”

In the back room were open cases of liquor, a large commercial dishwasher, laundry facilities, a door marked Dressing Room, a staff area for coffee and a glass-enclosed office. Red directed me to a client chair in front of her desk. She started by saying, “It’s discouraging the way things have changed. In the early ’90s, a strip club in Montreal started offering lap dances. I visited the club and the owner showed me a closed circuit tv monitor of what was happening in the private rooms. He said they needed the cameras for security in case a dancer was assaulted, also they wanted to make sure the girls didn’t go too far. Prostitution wasn’t allowed.

“I discussed the changes with my dancers and the opinions varied. I didn’t want to force anyone out of their comfort zone. A lot of girls left the business at that time. I didn’t blame them. Some saw it as a way of earning extra money. I decided to leave it up to them to decide whether or not they wanted to offer lap dances, but it’s the dancer who sets the limits. I run a clean club which means no prostitution or drugs. We no longer hire feature dancers. It used to be that we’d book some of the best in the world, real international cabaret stars There were regular tour circuits. Now the girls serve drinks then take turns on the stage. I don’t like what’s happening. I see it as demeaning.

“I worked a deal with a local jiu-jitsu and kickboxing club. The girls get a free membership to learn self-defense.  The membership of the club has seen a big boost in enrolment. The guys love seeing my girls training with them in singlets and short shorts.

“These girls, women, are like sisters to me, but more often I have to act like a mother. I hear all their problems. I have a calendar where I mark down when they’re having their period, so I know if they’re going to be grumpy or if they might phone in sick. If they thought they may be pregnant, because they were late, I could check the calendar and see if they’d missed the date or just forgot.

“People always ask me if I thought a lot of dancers had been abused as children. I always answer no to that question. Then follow it with, ‘not a lot of them, all of them.’ And I still believe that to this day. A woman can’t show her body to a man for money unless she’s lost something that once made her body special to her.

“When a girl is fifteen and has to leave home to get away from an abusive situation there aren’t a whole of opportunities out there for her. It’s pretty much stripping and hooking. The government makes it difficult for underage girls to strip, with their license requirements and all that. More of them are ending up as prostitutes instead…

“The club has a problem. A larger organization wants to take over…”

“If the larger organization is a one-percenter motorcycle club, you’ve got a big problem. I’d suggest you do what they say, take your losses and leave.”

“I agree, I don’t have a choice, but I don’t want to give this place away. These are my friends, this place is their livelihood, this is my home. I need a negotiator. It’s not like I can go to our local real estate agent. Do you have any backing?”

“Yes, I can bring in a private militia, as many men and guns as needed, if you want to start a war you can never finish.”

“I don’t want any violence. I want a fair price and protection for my staff during the transition. I want a show of force, not a war. A friend of mine who owned a club similar to this had a very unfortunate experience. He was contacted by a group of supposed buyers. He made an appointment to meet them early in the morning before the club was open. Four very large men were waiting for him at the entrance. He showed them the club. They offered him a lot of money, more than the club was worth. They said they’d drive him to their lawyer’s office. While in the car they threatened him with death if he tried anything. The guys stood around while the papers were signed. They pushed him back in the car. Before they dropped him back at the club one of the thugs grabbed the owner’s face in a large hand and squeezed firmly. He said, and I can still remember the words he used, ‘Welcome to the real world, you ain’t gettin’ nothin’.’

“Okay, work out your selling price, talk to other owners. My senior operatives are on call for immediate response. A local company can provide me with guards in a matter of hours. It’s the same situation with canine patrols and handlers. Those out of town will need to make travel arrangements. Set a date to meet the purchasers. Make sure the meeting takes place here. Tell them to come unarmed. Do you have metal detectors? If not get some. Also, have closed-circuit tv covering all areas of the club inside and out. We don’t want surprises. We’ll also need all areas bugged for sound. I’ll have some of my people bring in the equipment and install it. You can reach me at the hotel down the street. Do we have a deal?”

“I don’t know your price yet.”

“We’ll work it into the price of the sale. Let me get some figures and background on who we’re dealing with. Don’t discuss my involvement with anyone. I don’t want to be a target before it’s absolutely necessary. I’ll contact my crew.”

“Okay, I guess you’ve relieved some of my stress. Don’t let me down.”

“Cheers, Red.”

Two days later:

“Okay, Red, I have details of the audio and visual security. Everything seems to be in place and has been checked for reception.  Arrange a meeting with the prospective buyers as soon as possible.  Have your bouncer check them for weapons.  Take them back to the staff coffee area. My men and I will be out of sight in the dressing room.

Three bikers entered, one wearing a Vice President’s patch. After looking around the room they agreed to be searched electronically for weapons. They were young, muscular and huge.  Four men with grey hair and long beards wearing Sons of Irony patches were quietly playing cards at a nearby table.  The new arrivals wandered over to talk, ‘You guys look as old as the bikes parked out front. Are you against buying American or can’t you afford Harleys.”

One of the greybeards stood up and said, “I ride a ’41 flathead BMW R71, the one that Harley copied after World War Two since theirs wasn’t good enough for the American Army. Where do you think Harley got their engine  and transmission?”

Another of the older bikers said, “My ’73 Triumph Hurricane X75 is a classic.  This model set numerous speed and distance records at Daytona and Bonneville. I’ll agree that their market was taken over by rice rockets, but It still gets me where I want to go.  Harleys’ are overrated, overpriced and too noisy.”

The old man got up from the table and confronted the VP, “It’s not polite to disrespect your elders. I think an apology is in order.”

“You old coot, I’ll show you disrespect.” With that, he threw a right fist at the other’s jaw. The older man dodged and blocked the punch with his left wrist. His right hand came around the waist of his opponent finishing with a Hip Throw and standing Armbar. He said, “I can break this wrist, or let you walk away after I hear your apology.” The biker’s face was contorted in pain as his wrist was bent near to breaking. The other two bikers were ready to step in when they heard. “You may want to consider the two guns under the table about to blast away your manhood.”

The VP forced out the words. “I apologize. Let me up.”

The older man said, “You telegraphed your punch. You made it too easy.”

“What do you mean I telegraphed my punch?”

“I understand, in this electronic age telegraph is out of date. What I meant was, before you threw your punch you dipped your right shoulder. I knew exactly what you were going to do and counteracted appropriately. Now, do you want to try that again?”

The big man stood up. This time he tried a left hook. The older man defended with his hand to his right ear then attacked with his elbow, downing the biker again. “There, you did it again, you dropped your left.  If I hadn’t hit you with my elbow I could have chopped your neck, wrapped my arm around yours, hit you with my right then taken you down with my right leg behind yours. Do you want to try that again?”

“Some other time, old man. I got business to conduct.”

“It’ll make more sense if I demonstrate. Are you sure you don’t want to give it a try. You could learn something.”

“Later. old man.”

The bouncer shouted, “Red, your guests have arrived.” Red walked up as the man was rising from his knees.  She said, “Hey big boy, I appreciate respect, but I wasn’t expecting you to kneel. I see you’ve met Sensei Digger, my jiu-jitsu instructor. Would you mind following me to the back.”

They sat at the staff table, “I have some papers drawn up. you may want to have them checked by your lawyer. It’s being offered on the open market: twenty-five thousand square feet including a commercial kitchen, refrigeration, fixtures valued at four hundred seventy-five thousand and stock of twenty-five hundred. Included is the liquor consumption license with an estimated value of $175,000, and a municipal certificate of occupancy for adult entertainment. Sales revenue is four hundred thousand with a cash flow of eighty thousand.  Total asking price is nine hundred and ninety-five thousand. Any questions?”

“Look, Bitch, this isn’t the way we do business. We’ll tell you what we’ll pay and you’ll accept it, or else.”

Dane and twenty men wearing street clothes and balaclavas entered from the Dressing Room. They were armed with AR-15 type rifles with a bump or slide fire modification. Handguns were strapped to their thighs. Each had a snarling dog at his side.

Dane said, “You’re not calling the shots here, I am. You’ll play by my rules.”

The biker said, “Hey, dude, that’s some heavy fuckin’ duty security you got there. Is that for our sake? Are those guns loaded or just for show?”

Dane said, “We don’t want to scare the patrons and staff or have someone phone the police. To keep the noise down, Number Two, show the man what you can do.” With lightning speed, he pulled a knife from his sleeve and threw it across the room sticking it inches above the lead biker’s head. It was still quivering. “To answer your question, yes the guns are loaded if needed and the dogs do bite.

“These soldiers are used to fighting in the jungles and rainforests where the breaking of a twig can mean instant death. They’ve learned to fight like ghosts. Nobody sees them coming until it’s too late. The fact that they’re still alive attests to how good they are. Also, they’re international. There’s nowhere you can hide that you can’t be found.

“You may take these real estate papers to your President. After your church meeting phone me with your decision. I can be contacted on this cell phone.” He placed it on the table. There will be no negotiations. If you don’t want a bidding war, or if you’re fussy about your future neighbors we’ll need an answer as soon as possible. Your clubhouse is now surrounded by soldiers with rocket launchers, so don’t consider bringing reinforcements or any kind of retaliation. Your telecommunication and internet devices are being monitored by encryption specialists. We also have audio and video recordings of your skirmish at the front door where you were humiliated twice by an old man. That could go viral before the night is over if we so choose. I’m sure that your home chapter and your enemies would find it very entertaining. You may leave now to make your decision. Call me.”

Dane and Red showed the bikers to the exit.  The VP said, “I haven’t finished with you, Red.”

She confronted him and asked in a sweet as honey voice, “I don’t understand, whatever do you mean?”

The biker said with a smirk on his face, “I mean we have some unfinished business involving your legs draped over my shoulders. Your pussy could use a taste of my tongue.”

The smile still on her face she said, “You’re not man enough for my taste.” Her stilettoed foot came up with a right snap kick to his chin followed by a left roundhouse to the side of his head. He fell hard on his back with his legs spread.  She placed her shoe on his crotch and pressed, “You owe me an apology, or I’ll crush what little balls you have.” The remaining two bikers were about to come to his aid when they looked at the Sons of Irony at the card table, guns are drawn, smiles on their bearded faces. “I apologize.”

Red said to Dane, “I’m glad that’s over. These soldiers must cost a fortune and you mentioned encryption specialists. I don’t know how I can pay for all this.”

“I’ll take ten percent of the selling price. If costs run over that I’ll cover them.”

“That’s very generous.”

“Well, I don’t expect to need all of them for the full term. As long as our three friends are convinced we have them they’ve served their purpose. They’ll convince the other members of the gang that we’re not to be messed with.

“They’re are on call twenty-four hours a day. We also have access to any other military equipment we may need. If we need a tank to crash through their clubhouse we can do it. Now, we wait for their phone call. If this fails we can probably find legitimate buyers. It’s a fair price and good value.”

Red said with a smile on her face, “This calls for a drink. Will you have your usual?”

“Yes please, ma’am.”

“Don’t call me ma’am. That makes me sound like a grandmother.”

As they entered the bar area, Amber was on stage suspended from the dance pole by her legs. Her body arched back and her long dark hair touched the floor. She slid down to a handstand, then supporting her weight on her hands she came down to a headstand, returned to a handstand. She slowly pulled herself up to her former position, hung on to the pole with her hands and spiraled to the floor.

Dane watched with appreciation. “She’s really very good.”

“She’s a trained gymnast and ballerina. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many jobs that can make use of her skill set and grace. What you saw was a tabletop, going into a lean back, leading into a bridged handstand, back up to a plank stand, ending in a spinning straddle to the floor. She makes it look easy, but it takes an expert to avoid pole burn.”

“So, what’s in her future after you close here?”

“Probably another strip bar in another town. She’ll do alright as long as she stays clean. Drugs take a lot of dancers. It’s not a problem for her now, but so many girls fall into that lifestyle, especially when their age begins to show and they aren’t so pretty or so popular.”

“Do you have someplace where I can crash for the night? I don’t want to be out walking the streets alone. There could be a sniper waiting for me.”

“Are we really in a lot of danger?”

“That all depends on the bikers and the skill of my soldiers. They’ve been issued infrared glasses for night vision. I’ll post snipers on the roof in four-hour shifts. Your windows will be manned. Roving scouts will be patrolling the outlying area and I’ll have snipers in camouflaged blinds, similar to hunting blinds but underground. They’ll be completely invisible even in broad daylight.

Two days later Dane’s phone rang. The voice on the other end said, “Okay, we’re in. Where do we exchange the money and the sales papers?”

Dane answered, “We’ll take two-thirds of the purchase price now. Bundles of large bills will fit in the saddlebags of a single bike. We’ll sign the papers, and count the money in the middle of the parking lot.  In two weeks, after the premises have been vacated, we’ll accept the balance of payment and turn over the keys. After that, it’s all yours.”

The voice answered, “Okay,” then the line went dead.

“Okay,” said Dane to Red, “We’ve got the ball rolling. With luck,  in two weeks you’ll have the money in your hand and can start a new life.”

“I have a feeling it’s not going to be that easy. We’re not dealing with Mr. and Mrs. suburban couple. These guys are used to taking what they want, on their own terms.”

Dane said, “Then let them bring it on. We’re ready.”

A phone call from the lookout advised, “A group of thirty is suiting up and have mounted their bikes. What should we do?”

“If they turn left towards the strip club launch a mortar shell ahead of them to blow up the road. We’ll see what happens then.”

“They’ve turned right. It may be that they’re planning to circle around and come at you from the other side.”

“We’re ready for them. Hold your location.”

Spotters with telescopes saw small groups advancing from all directions. Dane ordered his men on the roof to fire several rounds of rubber bullets to let the bikers know they’ve been detected. “What’s the reaction?” he asked.

“They’re moving back, but they’re not leaving,” said a spokesman for the shooters.

“Launch a couple of mortars. Try not to kill anybody, but let them know we’re using live ammo. Can you see what kind of weapons they’re using?”

“I see the expected axe handles, chains, handguns, shotguns also assault rifles. I see some Remington Bushmasters, GPCs, Colt CQBRs, CM901s and a Robinson XCR, all American dating from 2004 to 2010. I don’t see any grenade, mortar or rocket launchers.”

“What’s happening now?”

“They’re retreating slowly. I think it’s a standoff.”

“Call out to our roving men and the ones in the blinds. See if they can single out stragglers and hit them with tranquilizer darts. Work from the back of the group to the front. It would be great if we could immobilize their leader.”

“We’ve hit a couple and the leader is walking directly towards one of the blinds. I don’t know if our man has been spotted or not. I don’t think so. I can see a slight movement in the leaves, the tip of a dart gun has emerged. The President is down. Let’s see what happens now.”

“I think a phone call to the VP would be in order.”

“I see him picking up his phone. He looks pissed.”

“Your President is down, so are a half dozen of your men. Do exactly as I say or the next round of bullets will be live and we’ll be shooting to kill. Order your men to drop their weapons immediately or your leader dies first, then you. Raise your arms. You’re surrounded.”

“Fuck you!” yelled the VP as he ran toward the building firing his submachine gun.

Dane said, “He doesn’t have a target, the only damage he’s doing is to the brick walls.  Shoot a tear gas cartridge in his path. That should slow him down. If he gets within thirty-five feet we can use a taser to stop him. It would be preferable if we can avoid killing anyone, on the other hand, we are under attack.”

“The tear gas seems to have worked. He’s holding his eyes and coughing. Bring the soldiers out of their blinds. They can approach from the rear. Keep using the tranquilizer darts. Fire more tear gas cartridges if anyone approaches. Bring out the dogs. What is the body count now?”

“There are about six still standing. They’ve dropped their weapons and have their hands above their heads.

“Round them up, use cuffs, herd them into the back room. Lock them in the beer cooler, with the exception of the President. He’ll be groggy, but if he wants this place he should be able to sign his name.”

The leader sat on a chair in the middle of the room, his hands cuffed behind his back. Red asked, “So what’s it going to be. Do you meet our price or do we offer it to another biker club?

“Uncuff my hands. I’ll sign. You’ll have the money tomorrow.”

Red said, “Send a lone biker to our parking lot. We’ll do a count and if we’re satisfied he’ll ride away unharmed.”

The President stood “I assume you’ll release my men now.”

“Yes,” said Red, “all but your VP. He can cool off here until the payment is settled.”

The bikers trooped out of the beer cooler, with the exception of the VP who was on his back with the boot of a soldier across his throat and a snarling dog straining against its leash. They left by the front door and walked the empty street towards their clubhouse.

Next day:

The financial transaction took place at noon in the parking lot. The VP was released, arrangement for the handover of keys was arranged for later that night and the bikers rode away.

“Thank you,” said Red to Dane, “I really couldn’t have done it without you.”

“You handle yourself well. If you don’t have any other offers I’m in need of a partner with your qualifications.”

“That sounds interesting. I could give it a try. Shall we discuss it over a drink.”

They walked back into the bar, sat at a corner table as Amber poured their usual drinks. “So Dane Cross,” said Red, “what is this job you’re offering me?”

“Don’t get too used to the name Dane Cross, it’s an alias. In my line of work, I don’t like to be tied down to any particular identity or background. I like to stay flexible and creative. I’m usually on the move, but I stay in luxury. We’d be equal partners, share in the decisions and the profits.

“You mentioned spending a lot of your childhood here. I grew up in pool halls as well. When my brother who was fifteen years older, was assigned to babysit me. He’d take me to a pool hall, prop me in a chair and keep me contented with comic books, chips and soft drinks. I was in heaven. He’d be hustling the tables. Things sometimes got ugly if there was a sore loser, but Jack was a fighter, so he could take care of himself.

They talked into the evening. Amber brought sandwiches from the kitchen. After the last of the patrons and staff left and locked the doors they continued their conversation. An hour later the sound of a motorcycle approached and stopped out front. Dane got out of his chair, stood behind the pool table, switched off the overhead light and picked up two balls. There was the sound of feet stomping down the concrete stairs and the crashing of the door as it was kicked in. A spray of bullets from a machine gun broke lights, broke chairs, mirrors followed by the biker. When the dust had cleared he saw Red sitting at a table. She said, “You could have rung the doorbell, but it’s your place now, do what you like to the furniture and fixtures.”

“It was you I came to see, Red. I said we weren’t finished yet.”

“Yes, I remember now, it involved my legs draped over your shoulders. Do I have that part right?  Then you indicated that my pussy could use a taste of your tongue. Are you up for that big boy? or was it all talk?”

Dane settled one of the balls into his right hand and pitched it at the biker hitting him between the eyes. The second followed in quick succession. He next picked up a pool cue and smashed the leaded handle on the other’s unprotected neck. The biker staggered but remained on his feet. Dane grabbed a fist full of his long hair with his left hand, jerked the biker’s head down as his left knee slammed into his chin.  From his loose right pocket Dane drew his go-to weapon of choice in tight quarters, his spring assisted knuckle or trench knife — brass knuckles combined with a double-edged switchblade. While still holding him by the hair he drove the knuckles into his the side of his opponent’s head, then reached under and jabbed the two-sided blade into his neck, pulled back and slit his throat from ear to ear.

Red said, “I guess now would be a good time to leave by the rear door. My car’s out back.”

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Woodland Spirit

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angel

 

Along a woodland path, I strolled
of nature’s beauty I extolled:
The dappled trail, a great horned owl,
infrequently, a gray wolf’s howl.

The gentle, scented lake-side breeze
had me completely at my ease.
The midnight hour had come and gone.
Toward a clearing, I was drawn.

Why I went, I’ll never know.
It was my destiny to go.
The Harvest Moon with mystic light
revealed an otherworldly sight.

A shimmering appeared, it seemed,
or, perhaps, I’d only dreamed.
I knelt in supplication to
a spirit who appeared in view.

In beauty, purity and grace,
with love-light shining from her face,
a halo, waves of raven hair.
I was in awe to see her there.

I kissed her hand and softly prayed.
The orchestra of nature played.
The scent of cedar on her skin
enveloped me with warmth within.

The blessing of her touch sublime,
in harmony, our souls entwined.
A world apart, together now —
no question as to where or how.

Conversation through the night.
Her wisdom helped me see the light.
In times of need, like little birds,
they come to me, her precious words.

To me, her message was of love
for man, for nature, God above.
To let me love beyond my fear.
To live in balance through the year.

Awakened at the break of dawn
I found the spirit to be gone.
Perhaps a dream — and then I found
a ring of stones placed on the ground.

I sometimes feel her doeskin dress
against my arm — a sweet caress.
Poetic gifts of love and grace,
soothe my heart, my soul embrace.

 
Notes: The stones represent: Learning, Respect, Acceptance, Spiritual Sight, Listening, Speaking, Love, Service, Relationship, Creativity, Dynamic Spirituality and Gratitude.

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They Call Me Red

They Call Me Red

Dear Readers of my Gotta Find a Home Series, thank you for the 101 ratings (4.33 avg) and 58 text reviews posted on Goodreads. These four books were fictional in that I changed names and locations in the interests of privacy; apart from that, they were as close to reality as I could remember.

I have written a new book entitled They Call Me Red, under the pseudonym Dane Connor, that I hope you will consider reading. This is in the Amazon category of Action & Adventure Erotica (Kindle Store). A print version will be released in the near future. This book contains fiction, research and life experiences. The protagonist, Dane Cross, is a retired military black op who, with his comrades in arms, wants to establish shelters around the world for those forced onto the streets due to homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction and medical conditions such as post-traumatic stress syndrome. He has many challenges along the way such as a run-in with an international outlaw motorcycle gang. Following is the description I wrote for Amazon:

Dane Cross, he liked the sound of that, simple, direct, easy to spell, easy to remember, enigmatic. A life of deception can’t have too many complications or explanations. He was a man for hire, private investigation, bouncer, anything this side of legal. Trained as a black op in combat with a license as a Private Investigator he was equipped for many rolls, most of them quick and dirty. Always the guy from out of town. He had no recorded past, not even fingerprints. He’d traveled the back streets and alleys in the worst districts of the world. What he’s seen, no one should see, no one should experience. The reality was that crime exists everywhere. The removal of low life crooks was his obsession.

So-called, Dane meets Red, owner of ‘The Playmate’ strip club who is also an expert in martial arts. She’s intelligent, creative, compassionate, beautiful and they share many of the same interests. After the club is attacked by an outlaw motorcycle gang and a biker is killed Dane and Red become equal partners. They realize that their photographs have been circulated internationally and their lives will always be clouded in danger. Gradually, the realization dawns on them that their mutual respect and admiration has turned to love and mind-blowing sex. Follow their journeys around the world as they take from the rich and give to the poor.

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First Kiss

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kiss

 

my first kiss
so long ago
(not yet in high school)
in the back seat of a ’51 Ford
at a drive-in theatre.
I’ll remember ’till I die
my nervousness,
perspiration,
her perfume
(Tigress by Faberge)
her warmth,
angora sweater set
(pastel yellow —
no buttons
to hinder progress)
the sweetness of her kiss.
She knew much more than I
about such things

another world
had opened to me
desire and heartache
go together —
there’s seldom one
without the other
but, would we want it
any other way?
would we want
a safe, yet loveless life
without the up
without the down?
or, take the ecstasy
and risk our hearts
being trampled
to the ground

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.

 

Burlesque

 

Take It Off!

Painting of international burlesque dancer, Dee Milo, 'Venus of Dance' by Dennis Cardiff fine art portrait painter specializing in portraits of burlesque dancers.

Hot lights,
hot music.
You’ve got it now;
but, soon you’ll lose it.
Perfumed skin,
leather and lace,
long blonde hair,
an angel’s face

Slow touch,
slow smile,
make me want
to stay awhile.
Take it off!
Give me an eyeful.
Lend me a dream
for the lonely night.

Tough life,
tough city
Take my money
Gotta make it pay.
Shake it slow,
take it easy.
Make it last
for another day.

Lonely crowds,
crowded minds.
I get my coat.
Dreams left behind.
Leaving alone,
leaving empty.
Night is cold
when I feel this way.

 

 

Introduction:

 

I was first introduced to burlesque in 1962 in my hometown of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan when Royal American Shows brought Leon Miller’s Club Lido show, ‘Follies des Femmes’, featuring Lucia Parks, stage name: Blaze Fury, ‘The Human Heat Wave’. She was known for twirling flaming tassels.

My portrait of Dee Milo, “Venus of Dance” was on display at the “Art of Burlesque”  brunch and exhibit on Sunday, May 30, 2004. This was part of  “Burlesk Goes North”, Canada’s first weekend-long Burlesque Festival at the 360 Club in Toronto. Exhibiting this portrait served as an introduction to a larger exhibition, “Celebrating Burlesque!”, that will be available to galleries in the near future.

Burlesque was one of the most popular forms of entertainment in American theatre from the 1930s until the late 1950s. It is currently experiencing a well-deserved revival. Traditionally it was a variety show characterized by broad ribald comedy, baggy pants comics, live music, dancing and striptease. The striptease involved extravagant costumes, fans and props, playful choreography, a powerful sense of humor, and more often than not, an exceptional gimmick. The emphasis was on artful tease and innuendo rather than nudity since the dancers were required by law to wear pasties and a g-string. Says Little Brooklyn, “I enjoy putting myself out there physically. It’s very wink-and-nod. It’s an escape from all the in-your-face sexuality that’s out there today. If you just want to see bare bodies, there are a lot of easier ways to do that – without fans and feathers blocking the view.”

My research has introduced me to many current and former burlesque performers. I asked exotic legend Satan’s Angel what it was like being one-woman roadshow, carrying five suitcases and a steamer trunk containing costumes and props by bus to isolated localities such as Whitehorse in the Yukon and Yellowknife in the North West Territories, where men hadn’t seen a woman for six months to a year? “What a blast!” she exclaimed, “I’ll never forget the love and generosity of the people in those two towns.”

Some burlesque dancers have gone on to be actresses, artists, authors, costume designers, poets, publishers, singers and entrepreneurs. Many have worked with the biggest names in Hollywood. I have found them to be some of the most generous, creative, industrious and intelligent people. The stories they have to tell are fascinating. These are truly living legends and national treasures. I am extremely proud and honored to have the opportunity to portray them to a wider audience.

 

 

Acknowledgements:

 

I wish to express my thanks to June Morrow of the Exotic Dancer’s Alliance, Don Cullen, Al Stencell, Sugar Bouche, Mary Taylor and Shirley Jean Measures for their assistance in researching this fascinating project.

Al Stencell is the author of the book Girl Show: Into the Canvas World of Bump and Grind, and his new release Seeing is Believing: America’s Side Shows, published by E.C.W. Press.

Shirley Jean Measures, originally Shirley Jean Rickert, started acting in movies at the age of three. She appeared in “Our Gang/The Little Rascals” and “Neath Arizona Skies” with John Wayne, She danced in many movies including “Singing in the Rain” with Gene Kelly.

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Universal Equality

In the past year
I’ve had a lot of time to think
about important and unimportant things
(long story).
I have come to some very basic conclusions
as is my right and obligation.
They may seem obvious to some.

To others, they may seem inflammatory.
Deal with it —
say what you want on your own page.

I believe that as humans
we deserve:
UNIVERSAL EQUALITY IN ALL ASPECTS OF LIFE,
UNIVERSAL ACCESS: TO FOOD, WATER, SHELTER,
MEDICAL TREATMENT AND AVAILABILITY OF MEDICATION,
UNIVERSAL ACCESS TO EDUCATION,
UNIVERSAL FREEDOM OF CHOICE OVER OUR OWN BODIES,
UNIVERSAL FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT,
FREEDOM OF SPEECH,
DEMOCRACY.

These are big issues
that have repercussions in news events
around the world.
I haven’t worked out all the details, yet,
but I have seen a lot of headlines on television
in print media and on the internet.

On our planet
we must eradicate (as much is humanly possible,
as opposed to what is economically viable)
HUNGER
DISEASE
VIOLENCE
HOMELESSNESS
BIGOTRY
WAR
(and others too numerous
to mention).

My neighbors:
MUST NOT starve while I eat,
MUST NOT die of illness while I have access to a cure,
MUST NOT BE CONFINED BY NATIONAL BORDERS
if their lives, health, or opportunities
are at risk,
MUST HAVE universal access to the best education
in order to best express their natural abilities,
MUST HAVE equal access to meaningful, rewarding and satisfying employment,
MUST HAVE the freedom to make their own life choices;
these choices MUST NOT be dictated by GOVERNMENT
RELIGION, SOCIETY or self-proclaimed MAJORITIES.
LYNCH MOB DEMOCRACY MUST BE ELIMINATED.

In short, I AM my brother’s/sister’s keeper.
I WILL treat them as I would prefer to be treated.
I WILL NOT be the cause of abuse,
whether physical, verbal, mental or emotional.
I WILL live my life
according to the best of my potential.

‘NUFF SAID (for now)…

 

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When She Starts in Walking

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woman

 

When she starts in walking, guys they stop their talking.
Their minds are on just what they want to do.
They can dream, scheme and taste it coming true.

She’s got their attention, nothing left to mention.
She knows their minds; she’ll use that on them too.
She’ll lead the way and they will follow through.

She knows what she’s doin’, may lead some to ruin —
casualties, but what’s a girl to do.
Oh, my dear, such a pity, what to do.

Always calculating, lots of time for waiting;
a chump will come along, they always do.
I’m sure one’s coming now, maybe it’s you.

She knows to set her hook; she’ll do it with a look.
She knows he’ll take the bait and then he’s through.
He’s hooked now and squirming in the queue.

She has him on his knees, all he can say is please.
He’ll do her bidding, thinks he’s got her too,
but she’s casting her hook for someone new.

She’s got what she’s after; all that’s left is laughter.
She’s cruel and conniving through and through.
You watch out now, she’s coming straight for you.

 

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Freedom – Holly Rene Hunter

“Memories, like the corners of my mind
Misty watercolor memories
Of the way we were”

Gladys Knight And The Pips – Way We Were Try To Remember

FREE VERSE REVOLUTION

In the sweet summer

below the rusty fasteners of

an old swing I pump the air

with the spindly legs of childhood,

dream my wide eyed dreams of whirling

pathways to the beckoning sun.

My heart leaps at the sight of a brilliant

rainbow and with small fingers I reach up

to swathe its colors over a bluepalette sky.

Now I know about life,the real truth of it.

Now I know the swing is just freedom.


(copyright H. Rene Hunter)

https://houseofheartweb.wordpress.com/

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a different kind of love

A beautiful poem about the magic of childhood, ‘wild, ruthless, and unafraid.’

House of Heart

Sometimes I see myself through

your eyes,   my pale  face so in  love,

aching  for  the caress of that

flaxen haired boy racing

through rolling wheat fields.

Suddenly serious your adventurous

eyes sent shivers through  me.

I longed for your touch anytime and

we kissed open mouthed without

permission.

I adored your mock anger when

chasing after me and  the awkward

way you looked down at your hands.

Soon Autumn threw its shadow on

sprouting wheat,  smooth and wet.

From the half closed door I hear the

whisper of your breathing and know

there are different kinds of love,

wild ,    ruthless,  and  unafraid.

Image result for Art by Rob Hefferan

art by Rob Hefferan

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Beach Girl

Beach girl
silhouetted
against the horizon.
Wild hair fluttering
flag of the evening breeze.

I sit
admiring
this distant beauty.
Heartfelt rhapsody
engulfed by remorseless night.

I see
small footprints
in the moist sand.
I know them as yours.
Would that I could take them home.

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Wish I didn’t know…


 

“Wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then” is a lyric from Against the Wind written by Bob Seger. This line has haunted me since I first heard it in 1980. I have made many choices that I later regretted. I’ve been offered opportunities that, with more courage or persistance I would have explored. In many past relationships I’ve felt betrayed. For years I avoided becoming emotionally attached to anyone.

What life choices have you regretted? What would you have done differently if given the opportunity? Would you have avoided that toxic relationship that led to abuse? I expect that many people looking back on their lives question, “What if…?

We make decisions based on the information we have at the present time. That information, like the stock market, can change in a minute. We also make decisions based on who we were at a certain time. Were we emotionally mature, were we acting on impulse, were we trying to impress someone? Regardless, we are victims of the choices we made and their consequences. 

There is still hope for our future. We can change. Perhaps, we need to forgive ourselves or someone else. We are not tied to, or defined by our past. Each new day is an opportunity to begin building a new me, a new you. It may take baby steps at first and we may need guidance from a professional but change is within our grasp. We may feel that we’re “still runnin against the wind”, but the exertion is worth our effort. 

Against the Wind – Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band  https://buff.ly/2Ezp6Bd

Professional Reader

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Voodoo Queen of New Orleans

latest

 

She was long and lovely from ‘way down south,
she had blood on her hands, blood on her mouth.
She’d got voodoo spells and incantations.
She lived on one of those big plantations.
Had she done something bad? Well, I don’t know.
She went by the name of Marie Laveau.

She had golden skin and curly black hair,
down near the bayou you could find her there,
with her big old snake wrapped ’round and ’round,
it was party time when the sun went down.
Cauldron would bubble and naked they’d dance,
potions concocted, ’round the fire she’d prance.

She had a mojo hand, a black cat bone —
wouldn’t want her to catch you all alone.
There were stories told of the men she’d hexed;
husband Jacques unaware that he’d be next,
he just disappeared, he never returned —
just ashes left and the incense she burned.

Stroll though the graveyard down near Bayou Street
upon St. John’s Eve when the spirits meet.
There on her tomb is perched a big black crow
masking the spirit of Marie Laveau.
She leads the rites and the ritual scene,
forever known as the the Voodoo Queen.

 

marie

Photo by Samantha Corfield
Tomb of Marie Laveau
St. Louis Cemetery #1
New Orleans

 

Marie Laveau lived from 1794 to 1881 on North Rampart Street, New Orleans. When requested, she used the Voodoo religion’s magical powers to control one’s enemies, lovers and acquaintances.

The type of music I have in mind for this has twanging guitars and a heavy drum beat reminiscent of the Creedence Clearwater Revival song, “Down on the Bayou” or the Colin James song “Voodoo Thing”

 

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Strange Fruit

Image result for billie holiday strange fruit images

Written for the Freedom Writers Contest, March, 2010, using the prompt ‘INSPIRATION’.Definition of Inspiration: “An agency, such as a person or work of art, that moves the intellect or emotions or prompts action or invention.” (Answers.com)

.

Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees

Pastoral scene of the gallant south
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh
And the sudden smell of burning flesh!

Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for a tree to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

“Strange Fruit” has been called the original protest song. It is deceptively simple and direct. The song depicts lynching in all of its brutality. The three short verses are all the more powerful for their understated and ironic language. The juxtaposition of the pastoral landscape with “The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth”, the smell of magnolias with that of burning flesh, the blossoms more typically associated with the Southern climate with the “strange fruit” produced by racial oppression — good ol’ boys by day; white robes, hoods and burning crosses by night.

The lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith In 1937 was photographed and appeared on a postcard that was seen by Abel Meeropol, a Jewish high-school teacher from the Bronx. This horrendous event took place in Marion, Indiana, August 7, 1930. Meerapol was haunted for days by Lawrence H. Beitler’s photograph of the incident, which sold by the thousands for fifty cents apiece. Strange Fruit was inspired by this horrific image and was published under the pseudonym, Lewis Allan.

Billie Holiday was performing at the club, Café Society, in New York City. After hearing her sing, Meeropol sent her “Strange Fruit”. Holiday had mixed feelings about performing the song. She presented it to her friend Milt Gabler whose Commodore label produced alternative jazz. She sang the song a cappella, and it moved Gabler so much that he wept. In 1939, Gabler agreed to record and distribute the song.

Barney Josephson, owner of Café Society, recognized the impact of the song and insisted that Holiday close all her shows with it. Just as the song was about to begin, waiters would stop serving, the lights in the club would be turned off, and a single pin spotlight would illuminate Holiday on stage. During the musical introduction, Holiday would stand with her eyes closed, as if she were evoking a prayer.

Billie’s grandfather was one of 17 children of a black Virginia slave and a white Irish plantation owner. Her father, Clarence Holiday, while touring the Southwest as a guitar player with the Don Redman big band caught a heavy cold on March 1st, 1937. He had served in France during the last year of WWI and had his lungs severely damaged by mustard gas, making him susceptible to any respiratory ailment. He delayed seeking medical attention, knowing the prevailing racial attitudes in Texas, at the time. He died of pneumonia in the local Veterans’ Hospital. He was 37.

Holiday reflected, “I have to keep singing it, not only because people ask for it but because twenty years after Pop died the things that killed him are still happening in the South.”2

Lynching ideology was directly connected with denial of political and social equality. Benjamin Tillman, 84th Governor of South Carolina from 1890 to 1894 and later a United States Senator from 1895 to 1918 stated forthrightly:

We of the South have never recognized the right of the negro to govern white men, and we never will. We have never believed him to be the equal of the white man, and we will not submit to his gratifying his lust on our wives and daughters without lynching him.

Mobs lynched 4,743 persons in the United States, between 1882 and 1968, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights. Over eighty-eight percent were African-Americans. Fewer than 1 percent of those arrested for lynching were ever convicted.

Abel Meerapol was all too familiar with the news reports describing the Holocaust that began in 1933 when Hitler came to power in Germany. It is estimated that 11 million people were killed during the Holocaust. Six million of these were Jews. In addition to Jews, the Nazis targeted Gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the disabled for persecution. The American Holocaust differed only in numbers and scope.

“Strange Fruit” undoubtedly contributed to the 1964 Civil Rights Act declaring discrimination based on race illegal. President Obama reinforced this position when he signed major civil rights legislation in October, 2009 entitled the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, named for Matthew Shepard, a gay Wyoming teenager who died after being kidnapped and severely beaten in October 1998, and James Byrd Jr., an African-American man dragged to death in Texas the same year.

“Strange Fruit” was counted among one of the “ten songs that actually changed the world” by Q, a British music publication, but “Most Provocative” or “Most Unsettling” might more accurately reflect the song’s artistic impact and true social standing. “Strange Fruit” is “a work of art, that has moved the intellect, emotions and has prompted action”. It, therefore, exemplifies Inspiration.

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Discrimination

11 February 2019

The world as I know it is in turmoil. I was probably naive in thinking that the lyrics of All You Need is Love by Lennon and McCartney would eventually come true:

“There’s nothing you can make that can’t be made
No one you can save that can’t be saved

Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time
It’s easy
All you need is love”

I was a hippy in the midst of Beatlemania, Woodstock and protests of the Kent State Massacre of 4 May 1970. I attended sit-ins, rallies and in my university classes I heard lectures by supporters of the Weather Underground Organization, known as the Weathermen, the Black Panthers and other groups who asked us,”Why are you just sitting here. Why aren’t you protesting or throwing a bomb?”

I didn’t throw a bomb. I mellowed out on Moroccan Gold, hash oil laced with opium and watched music from the stereo speakers assaulting my head in blinding waves. I became paranoid and was unable to walk down the stairs, I had to slide down one step at a time. I witnessed a beating on the sidewalk. A man had been pulled halfway out of the driver’s seat of his car and was being punched repeatedly to the head. A gang of youths surrounded the fight scene. One said, ‘You’re in a very dark neighbourhood.’ I was catatonic, in a state of mental stupor. My wife said, ‘He’s sick. Happy New Year.’ Seeing that I was not a threat, they let us pass and said, ‘Happy New Year.’ When we arrived at the Toronto subway I was afraid that I would be pushed in front of a speeding train.

I’m writing from the viewpoint of a Canadian. If you’ve done the math you will conclude that I am old. I don’t like to be labeled as old, nor do I like to be compartmentalized as a white, male, hetrosexual. I recognize that I experience ‘white male privilege’. I like to think that my ideas and beliefs extend beyond these limitations. I think the same of others. We are what we say and do, not how we look, our gender or gender preference.

In the 1970’s a Youth Revolution seemed inevitable. We didn’t trust anyone over the age of thirty. In The Greening of America by Charles A. Reich, required reading in my Humanities class taught:

“how a once-free America had become a Corporate State that made no one happy. And then it suggested a remedy.”

The way out? It wasn’t political change — for Reich, politics came last. The first and most important thing: Consciousness. As he saw it, America had outgrown “Consciousness I,” which had helped form a nation of free individuals. It had outgrown “Consciousness II,” which was corporate and heartless. Now it was time for “Consciousness III,” in which people would turn away from the quest for traditional success and forge a new, personal path to satisfaction.

In short: Change the way you think, help others do the same, and soon the system has to change.”

We saw and supported the black civil rights movement. Richard Nixon promised an honorable end to the Vietnam War. In January 1973, the Nixon administration negotiated a peace agreement with North Vietnamese leaders. Eighteen months later, facing certain impeachment by the Senate due to the Watergate scandal, Nixon became the first American President to ever resign on August 8, 1974. The Vietnam War ended on April 30th 1975 under the administration of President Gerald Ford.

With the ending of the Vietnam war I was under the impression that the world was becoming more civilized. I knew returning vets, one had been a driver for Jonathan Winters during his USO tour. I knew members of the Black Panthers and the Klan. While on a heavy equipment course in Charlotte, North Carolina I was drinking beer with a group in a local tavern. The conversation turned to the treatment of blacks in the Carolinas. Someone from another table said, ‘We treat blacks much better here than they do in Mississippi.’ Robert, a Klan member sitting next to me stood up and said to the speaker, ‘How would you like to see a cross burning in your front yard.’ Not another word was spoken. Half the tavern stood up and walked out.

I asked Robert about the Klan. He said that he had nothing against blacks. His uncle was Imperial Wizard of United Klans of America (UKA), a Ku Klux Klan group, so he grew up as a Klan member, not by choice, but as family. He wasn’t allowed to leave the Klan or the state without written permission. Robert was a likable, good looking fellow about twenty some years old from Asheville, Tennessee. He likened being a member of the Klan to being a member of the Boy Scouts. They wore uniforms, had meetings in the woods, but instead of campfires they burned churches.’ What did I know, a prairie boy from Saskatchewan barely of drinking age?

Speaking to a friend, an acknowledged Black Panther, I invited him to join me for a beer somewhere. Since I didn’t have a car I gave him the choice of locations. He said, ‘Thanks for the offer. I’d like to but the places I can go wouldn’t allow you in the door. The places you can go wouldn’t allow me.’

This was completely new territory for me. I was sitting in the front seat of a car driving around the back streets of Charlotte looking for a club. I heard a loud bang from the back seat. I turned around and saw a friend from Colorado pointing a handgun out the window towards a black man standing on the corner. He said, “Don’t worry. I wasn’t trying to shoot him. I just wanted to see him jump. Later he had a quick draw contest with a vet from Tennessee. Luckily nobody was injured.

“Dec 28, 2018 – The Senate passed a bill for the first time in its history that, if enacted, would make lynching a federal crime. More than 4,700 people were lynched in the U.S. from 1882 to 1968, according to one estimate, and over 70 percent of the victims were black.”

Twenty-seven countries around the world allow same sex marriage yet, as of December 2018, “in the United states marriage certificates are not issued to same-sex couples by eight counties in Alabama and one county in Texas. Those wishing to marry in these counties must travel to another county to obtain a license validly performed in other jurisdictions.” Where is Democracy if the majority is circumvented by an ignorant minority.

I am a feminist if that means that I support strong women in power who intend to unite the country and rescue it from the clutches of the pay for pray evangelists who hide behind their racism, bigotry, misogyny and homophobia. These evangelicals are the money changers who Jesus threw out of the temple:

“And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”

The women’s liberation movement “included campaigns in support of peace and disarmament, equality in education and employment, birth control and an end to violence against women.”  When Congress proposed the amendment in 1972, the resolution said it would become effective if approved by three-quarters of state legislatures. This seemed reasonable and long overdue. “At the time, ratification seemed a foregone conclusion; both parties had supported the ERA for nearly 20 years. But the nascent religious right mobilized to block it. Ratification stalled at 35 states—three short of the three-fourths majority required…  On January 15, 2019, the Virginia Senate voted to approve the ERA. The resolution now goes back to the House that rejected it 40 years ago.”

In December of 2010 my lungs ached, as frost hung in the bitterly cold morning air, making breathing difficult. I trudged in the falling snow toward the building where I work, in one of the city’s grey, concrete, office tower canyons. I dodged other pedestrians, also trying to get to work on time. I noticed a woman seated cross-legged on the sidewalk with her back against a building wall. A snow-covered Buddha, wrapped in a sleeping bag, shivering in the below freezing temperature. I guessed her to be in her forties. Everything about her seemed round. She had the most angelic face, sparkling blue eyes and a beautiful smile. A cap was upturned in front of her. She said ‘Good morning sir.’ I replied with “Good morning.’ I was intrigued by her and wondered why she wasn’t staying at a homeless shelter and eating at one of the churches that offer free meals. I thought, There but for the grace of God go I. Her smile and blue eyes haunted me all day.

The next morning when I saw her I asked, ‘Would you like a coffee and perhaps a breakfast sandwich?’ She replied, ‘A breakfast sandwich sounds good. I don’t drink coffee but I’d like a tea with three sugars. When I returned with her meal in a bag she said to me, “Thank you so much, sir. You’re so kind. Bless you.” I truly felt blessed. I asked if I might sit with her. She replied, ‘Certainly.’ I asked how long she had been on the streets. She hesitated for a moment then said, ‘I arrived from Toronto in ’97, so that would make it 13 years. I sleep behind the dumpster in back of Starbucks.’ Thus began a beautiful friendship.

Two years later I spoke to Joy about the possibility of writing a story about her and her friends. Several days later I saw a group people standing near the park. Some I recognized as being Joy’s friends, so I started talking to the ones I knew. Joy arrived and said to the group, ‘This is my friend, Dennis. If anything bad happens to him you’ll have me to answer to. He’s writing a book and would like to talk to some of you.’ I said, ‘My intention is to write a book from the point of view of homeless people.’ I asked them, ‘What would you guys like the general public to know about your situation? I won’t use your real names.’

A large man approached me. He said, ‘Get your notepad and pen out. I’ll talk to you.’ Darren [a college graduate and Gulf war veteran]. ‘First of all we aren’t you guys, we’re not a group, we’re individuals. We come from different places, different backgrounds, in some cases different tribes. Some of us don’t even like each other, but we congregate here to have a beer, smoke a joint, to be with others who don’t judge or verbally abuse us. We accept everyone.

‘As for me, I’m from New Brunswick. My ancestry is Mi’kmaq. My family lived in a small town where the priest made all the decisions. My mother and father were both alcoholic. I have a brother and a sister. It was the priest’s decision to send us to foster homes. I was sent to Boston, I don’t know where my brother and sister are located.’

When I’m with the homeless I don’t judge. I ask a minimum of questions, only enough to keep the conversation moving. I don’t interrogate or ask about their past. Mostly, I listen and try to understand. I am often asked why I am there. Although the reasons are deeper, I usually answer by saying, ‘The conversations here are more interesting than where I work.’ I visit them before work, and at noon hours, so I always have an excuse to leave.

What I have learned over the past nine years has changed my life. The people, who I consider my friends, are alcoholics, drug and other substance abusers. Some work as prostitutes, some have HIV/AIDS, most or all have served time in jail for various offences, including drug dealing, domestic violence and murder. All of them I would trust with my life. They have declared themselves my family. I am honored that they have welcomed me.

I have heard from them sickening stories of abuse as children and babies born with drug dependencies. Most have mental and physical illnesses, suffer beatings, broken bones, stabbings, and have a fear of abusive partners, or the police, or both. Authority in any form is seen negatively, as a means to control their lives. The homeless shelters are noisy, infested with bed bugs, the scene of fights, rape and a place where personal items are stolen. Most of these people prefer to sleep inside common areas such as bank foyers, outside under bridges, or behind dumpsters.

In the conversations I recall and write on the pages of my book, Gotta Find a Home, I try to be as truthful as possible. I leave out details that I think might incriminate, but generally I try to give an accurate picture of the conversations I have with my friends. These people need help, but they want it on their own terms. They don’t choose to be uneducated, unloved, mentally ill or addicted. Addiction is a disease and should be treated as such. They live on the streets because it’s the best choice they have and they do what is necessary to survive.

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Icarus

.

there is a space

between musical notes

between words

between lines

(very important)

there is a space

between the mind

(that tends to seclude)

and the universe

(all-encompassing)

i travel this space

there is a space

between the breathing in

and the breathing out

between the fullness

and the emptiness

between ascending

to the sun with Icarus

and the inevitable

plummeting

to earth

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Frost

959 Jeff_Rowland_romantic_pictures (10)

 

a dove sits on a snowy bough,
her song cuts through my heart.
we both know how the lonely feels
when love is torn apart.

there never was an emptiness
the way i feel inside.
the ache is deep within my chest,
i have no place to hide.

was once a time my heart was full
when spring was in the air,
but Frost has draped me with her cloak,
my tears fall in despair.

the midnight train is leaving soon.
my bags are packed to go.
i shiver on the platform bare,
a spectre, slinking low.

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Universal Equality

In the past two weeks
I’ve had a lot of time to think
about important and unimportant things
(long story).
I have come to some very basic conclusions
as is my right and obligation.
They may seem obvious to some.

To others they may seem inflammatory.
Deal with it —
say what you want on your own page.

I believe that as humans
we deserve:
UNIVERSAL EQUALITY IN ALL ASPECTS OF LIFE,
UNIVERSAL ACCESS: TO FOOD, WATER, SHELTER,
MEDICAL TREATMENT AND AVAILABILITY OF MEDICATION,
UNIVERSAL ACCESS TO EDUCATION,
UNIVERSAL FREEDOM OF CHOICE OVER OUR OWN BODIES,
UNIVERSAL FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT,
FREEDOM OF SPEECH,
DEMOCRACY.

These are big issues
that have repercussions in news events
around the world.
I haven’t worked out all the details, yet,
but I have seen a lot of headlines on television
in print media and on the internet.

On our planet
we must eradicate (as much is humanly possible,
as opposed to what is economically viable)
HUNGER
DISEASE
VIOLENCE
HOMELESSNESS
BIGOTRY
WAR
(and others too numerous
to mention).

My neighbors:
MUST NOT starve while I eat,
MUST NOT die of illness while I have access to a cure,
MUST NOT BE CONFINED BY NATIONAL BORDERS
if their lives, health, or opportunities
are at risk,
MUST HAVE universal access to the best education
in order to best express their natural abilities,
MUST HAVE equal access to meaningful, rewarding and satisfying employment,
MUST HAVE the freedom to make their own life choices;
these choices MUST NOT be dictated by GOVERNMENT
RELIGION, SOCIETY or self-proclaimed MAJORITIES.
LYNCH MOB DEMOCRACY MUST BE ELIMINATED.

In short, I AM my brother’s/sister’s keeper.
I WILL treat them as I would prefer to be treated.
I WILL NOT be the cause of abuse,
whether physical, verbal, mental or emotional.
I WILL live my life
according to the best of my potential.

‘NUFF SAID (for now)…

Sample my books for free — To date $1995.00 has been donated to the homeless:
Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People
http://buff.ly/1SGzGCY ($.98 Download)
http://buff.ly/1qLHptc ($2.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2lUfp6Q ($2.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2Gkoyxj ($2.99 Download)
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when buffalo roamed

I pray
there is a place
beyond the pain
where we will rise
in purity
above the cedars.

look down
our hearts have claimed
a rock ledge
to escape the rain,
a cathedral
among ancient pines.

stories
your grandma told
of a past
when buffalo roamed —
we were there,
we are still there
using different names.

Sample my books for free — To date $1995.00 has been donated to the homeless:
Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People
http://buff.ly/1SGzGCY ($.98 Download)
http://buff.ly/1qLHptc ($2.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2lUfp6Q ($2.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2Gkoyxj ($2.99 Download)
Podcasts: http://buff.ly/1Pxlf9p
http://www.blunttalk.libsyn.com/
http://buff.ly/1XU368M
http://buff.ly/2iYvOE4


Melting Stars

 

 

It was a soft October night —
quietly fell the snow,
flake by gentle flake —
making domes on fence posts,
on mailboxes,
tracing upturned branches
of waiting trees.

I know you heard me
on the porch
(you always do)
thought it was
a stirring of the breeze,
or moaning
of the boards

Drawn
to quiet times
knowing you are here,
I feel your peace
(alone)
and come to you.
You know I’m here,
can feel my warmth.

I see you smile.

Let us sit in silence.
Nestle
in my embrace.
Words
need not be spoken
as we watch the melting stars,
listen for the chorus
singing somewhere else.
This moment
all that matters —
quiet filled with you.

 


Sample my books for free — To date $1995.00 has been donated to the homeless:
Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People
http://buff.ly/1SGzGCY ($.98 Download)
http://buff.ly/1qLHptc ($2.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2lUfp6Q ($2.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2Gkoyxj ($2.99 Download)
Podcasts: http://buff.ly/1Pxlf9p
http://www.blunttalk.libsyn.com/
http://buff.ly/1XU368M
http://buff.ly/2iYvOE4

Wild Rose

 

1f39a7bb2a11a5eeb24363a36c6e9e83

Her sweet breath fell warm and soft
like a gentle prairie breeze
wafting the scent of wild rose,
delicate, but mostly wild.

Her mane, red and dangerous,
sometimes concealed then revealed
chameleon-like features,
an emotional rainbow.

Her full lips would pout or smile
like a sudden summer storm —
thunder, lightning then sunshine,
frighteningly beautiful.

Temperament like a mustang,
skittish, demanding patience,
or she would bolt for the wild.
Gentleness would subdue her.

For a while she could be held,
raging passion directed,
hunger could be satisfied
briefly, then she would be gone.

I would not hope to contain
or to harness the wildness.
For me she will always be
my sweet, delicate, Wild Rose.

Sample my books for free — To date $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless:
Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People
http://buff.ly/1SGzGCY ($.98 Download)
http://buff.ly/1qLHptc ($2.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2lUfp6Q ($2.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2Gkoyxj ($2.99 Download)
Podcasts: http://buff.ly/1Pxlf9p
http://www.blunttalk.libsyn.com/
http://buff.ly/1XU368M
http://buff.ly/2iYvOE4
http://buff.ly/2jdjZd6

Welcome to the WATCH “#RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! #RRBC #RRBCWRW

Hello, my wonderful guests! Thank you all for joining me today on this amazing showcase tour being sponsored by RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS), an elite branch of the amazing RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB!

This showcase will feature 19 amazing writers, each having their own special day of being featured on multiple blogs. I, along with the other supportive hosts, ask that after reading the written work of art by each RWISA Author, that you click on the link designated to take you directly to that author’s profile page on the actual RWISA site. On my blog, that link will be the author’s name.

Today’s special guest:

NONNIE JULES

NJ 5

and her piece is entitled:

 

EXCERPT FROM THE SEQUEL TO DAYDREAM’S DAUGHTER

(I’ve decided not to preface this piece with any details.  I’d like for the readers to try and “figure” out the direction this piece is going in.  Have fun!)

***

 

LEEZA

“Are you gonna buy me a drink or, are you just gonna sit there and stare at me?” Leeza asked the stranger at the bar.

“Uh, sure.  What are you drinking, pretty lady?”  Swirling to and fro, the man gripped the ridges of the bar to keep from falling off the bar stool.  “Hey, bartend, give this pretty lady what ‘er she wants and put it on my tab.”

Leeza looked him up and down.  Although not bad on the eyes, he didn’t strike her as a man with deep enough pockets to have a “tab” anywhere, but, who was she to judge.  

“Vodka on the rocks,” she said, waving her hand at the bartender.  When her suitor heard her request, his eyebrows raised.

“Sure you can handle that strong of a drink, pretty lady?” he asked, still teetering.

“That’s not all I can handle.” Her suggestive wink was all the invitation the stranger needed to move a little closer, even though he could barely stand.

“So, what’s your name, pretty lady?” he slurred.

“Anything you want it to be, honey,” she replied.

“Really?  Well, I want your name to be Available.  So, are you?”

As he sat waiting for her response, he reminded her of a puppy, paws perched on a windowsill, who has just noticed his master’s return home from work.

“You gotta pay to play with me,” she nudged.

“Well, honey, you finish up that there drink of yours, and let’s head up to my room.  I’m in town on business and I would love the company of a beautiful woman going by the name Available.”

In one fell swoop, she turned the shot glass up and the vodka was gone, causing the stranger’s eyes to bulge again. He’d never seen a woman down a drink as strong as that before.  

Turning away from the bar and grabbing hold of his tie, Leeza lead the way to the elevator of the hotel…the stranger following close behind, like a leashed dog.

“What’s your curfew, pretty lady?”

With doors partially closed, she took her hand and grabbed his penis through his pants.  

“I’m a big girl, single with no kids…does that sound like someone with a curfew?” she asked as the beep of the elevator signaled the arrival to their destination.  

Stumbling ahead of her, the stranger swiped his key and pushed opened the door.  Leeza walked past him, falling backwards onto the bed.

“C’mon over here and let’s finish the party we started downstairs,” she said, kicking off her heels and propping her legs up on the bed…spread-eagle.

Balancing as he walked, the stranger reached the bed with a huge grin plastered across his face.  

“C’mere.” Leeza forcefully took him by the tie once again and pulled him on top of her.

“Whoa, filly…what’s your hurry?  You said you didn’t have a curfew so why the rush?  Don’t you even wanna know my name?” he asked.

“Well, I thought your name was Ready since that’s the way you came across downstairs at the bar.”  Leeza was no longer smiling, feeling a bit toyed with, and being toyed with was the one thing she hated most.

“You’re a funny one, aren’t cha?” he chuckled.  “Ok, well let’s ‘git to what we came here for! By the way, my real name’s Jim.  Now tell me yours…”

“Nothing’s changed,” she whispered in his ear.  “I’m still Available.”

Switching off the lamp, she proceeded to undress the both of them by the orange glow of moonlight trickling through the window.   This was a typical night for Leeza. Raunchy sex with yet another man she didn’t know, nor cared to. After a while, she just lay there and let him have his way.  

Then, just as quickly as it had begun, the party was over…for her, at least.  The banging inside her head warned of the onslaught of another massive headache and there was no getting away from it.  

She could no longer enjoy herself as the next one started to take over.

 

CHRISTY

Jim opened his eyes to a blonde pointing a gun in his face.  Startled, his eyes scanned the room for the brunette he’d brought back with him the night before, but she was nowhere to be found.  

“Give me your wallet!” the blonde demanded.  

“Who are you?  And, where is Available?” he asked, his eyes still searching.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about and I don’t want to know what you’re talking about, capiche?  My name is Christy and I’m not going to ask you again. Give me…your wallet.”

Jim pointed to his clothes that he’d been stripped of the night before, strewn across the floor.  “You didn’t ask me the first time,” he said.  “My wallet’s in there. Take whatever you want, just get outta my damn room.”

Christy stooped to pick up the pants, throwing them at him; the gun, nor her eyes, ever leaving their target.  

“Hey, I don’t take orders from you. Remember that. Now give me everything in there that’s spendable.”

Jim took the cash from his wallet and threw it at her.  “Here, this is all I have,” he muttered, anger lacing his tone.

“I saw plastic.  I want those, too.  And don’t make the mistake again of throwing anything at me,” she warned, raising the gun to remind him who was in charge.

Jim mumbled something, as he gently placed three credit cards on the bed.  Christy snatched the cards up and backed slowly towards the door, but her hands had barely touched the doorknob when she heard Jim yell, “Get out, you bitch!”  

Closing the door, she calmly walked back over to the bed.  She could see the new fear which had quickly taken up residence in his eyes.  Smiling, she put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger.

“Don’t you ever call me a bitch again.  I told you my name was Christy!”

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today! We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs. Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent! Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

NONNIE JULES, RWISA Author Page

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Welcome to the WATCH “#RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! #RRBC #RRBCWRW

Hello, my wonderful guests! Thank you all for joining me today on this amazing showcase tour being sponsored by RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS), an elite branch of the amazing RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB!

This showcase will feature 19 amazing writers, each having their own special day of being featured on multiple blogs. I, along with the other supportive hosts, ask that after reading the written work of art by each RWISA Author, that you click on the link designated to take you directly to that author’s profile page on the actual RWISA site. On my blog, that link will be the author’s name.

Today’s special guest:

BEEM WEEKS

100_0319

 

and his piece is entitled:

 

Nightly Traipsing

There might’ve been a dream. Or maybe not. Violet Glass really couldn’t recall. Probably, though. A dream concerning some stupid boy—or even a girl.

Whatever.

Can’t control what creeps through your sleep.

Her body stirred awake as the blackest part of night splashed its inky resolve across that part of Alabama.

Violet stared at the ceiling, tried like the dickens to recall a face, perhaps a voice—anything belonging to the one responsible for this latest agitation.

Nothing came through, though.

Even dead of night did little to lay low that sticky heat. Old-timers in town swore oaths affirming this, the summer of 1910, to be more oppressive than any other summer since before the war between the states.

Violet eased her body from her bed; the soles of her feet found cool the touch of creaking floorboards.

There’d be nobody to catch her—not at this hour.

Nobody, but Ruthie.

And Ruthie Sender?—she’d never let on of these doings.

Violet scampered through the kitchen, flung her blue-eyed gaze against the darkened parlor. Only shadows and silence bore witness to her planned escape, a girl’s nightly traipsing.

The back door gave up with only minor provocation.

Dripping moonlight splashed the yard with a silvery sheen; promising secrets lingered among the gathered glow.

Around the rear of the house she skulked, careful to hold close to the shadows, to remain hidden from the ones who’d blab, those others who’d hold it over her head for gain.

Back behind the barn she found her crouching spot, fell low to the ground, fixed sight on the direction of Ruthie Sender’s place a few hundred yards away. Traipsing just didn’t hold its fun without Ruthie tagging along.

Violet rushed her granddad’s cotton field without that hesitation she’d known only a summer earlier.

Shadows stirred and wiggled in the distance. Figures formed, made shapes around a low-burning fire. Even at the center of all that cotton, Violet could pick out words of songs sung by the coloreds, those kin to Ruthie Sender.

They sang about standing on wood, an old slave’s saying, drawing up recollections of a time they themselves belonged to someone else.

Belonged to Violet’s kin.

Wood smoke fogged the night air.

Violet hunched low, skirted the yard where those coloreds took up with their fire and song and whiskey. Friendly sorts, all of them. Always first with a kind word, an interest in Violet’s family, how the girl’s folks were getting on—even if that interest leaned toward pretend. But that’s the nature of the matter. It’s Violet’s great-granddad who’d once owned all those souls that gave creation to the very ones now singing and drinking.

She broke through shadows collected beneath an ancient willow tree, found respite behind the Sender family’s privy, and waited for the girl to either show or not show.

The colored girl’s legs appeared first, dangling from the pantry window, bare feet scrabbling at the air, searching for a solid thing to set down upon. The thud of her sudden drop wouldn’t wake anybody.

A dingy gray nightshirt clung to Ruthie’s body. Her dark-eyed gaze landed out where she knew to find Violet. If the girl offered a smile, it couldn’t be seen—not from this distance.

“Go out back of Tussel’s, maybe?” Ruthie asked, finding space in Violet’s shadow.

“Catch a strap across my butt, I get found by that saloon again,” Violet promised. “Daddy don’t say things twice.”

Ruthie said, “Chicken liver.”

Violet backed down a notch, weighed her options. “Who’s gonna be there?”

“Fella named Ferdinand something. Plays piano.” Ruthie tossed a nod toward those others out by the fire. “They won’t share us no whiskey.”

“Won’t share up to Tussel’s, neither—unless you got some money.”

*      *      *

They were born the same night, Violet and Ruthie, back during spring of 1895. Only a few measly hours managed to wedge in between them, separated the girls from being twins of a sort.

Close enough, though.

Ruthie came first—if her folks were to be believed.

“Where we going?” Violet asked, following after Ruthie’s lead.

“Lena Canu’s place,” said Ruthie.

“How come?”

“She got stuff to drink, mostly.”

Droplets of sweat ran relays along Violet’s spine, leaving the girl’s skin wet, clammy. “Awful hot, it is.”

“She a conjure woman,” Ruthie announced, laying her tone low, protected. “—Lena Canu, I mean.”

Midnight’s high ceiling lent sparse light to the path splitting the two properties. Violet’s kin, they’d once owned the entire lot. Her great-granddad, he’s the one took notion to make things right, gave half of his land to the slaves he turned loose after the war.

Ruthie’s kin, mostly.

Senders and Canus.

Couldn’t ever really make a thing like that right, though.

A small cabin squatted in the brush; the orange glow of a lamp shined in the window. Used to be a slave’s shack, this one here.

Moonlight dripped on the colored girl’s face, showed it round and smooth, lips full and perfect, eyes alive with life and mischief. “Gonna see does she have any drink.”

Violet leaned closer, her bare arms feeling the other girl’s heat. She asked, “Can she tell fortunes?”

“Like reading a book.”

That dark door yawned wide; Lena Canu peered into the night. “I’ll tell your fortune, white girl,” she said.

Ruthie gave a nudge, guided Violet up the walk and into the shack.

A table and four chairs congregated at the center of the bare space. Kerosene fed a flame dancing like the devil atop the glass lamp. A pallet in a corner threw in its lot with the scene.

Lena Canu tossed a nod toward her rickety table. “Have you a seat, now,” she ordered, “—both of you.”

Violet sat first. Ruthie found perch across from her friend. Beneath the table naked feet bumped and rubbed, each girl assuring the other this would be a good turn.

“You one of them Glass girls, ain’t you?” Lena asked, dropping onto a chair of her own.

Violet said, “Yes, ma’am.”

Lena waved her off. “Ain’t no ma’am. Call me Lena, is all. You the one runs wild.” A pronouncement rather than a question.

Ruthie asked, “You got any liquor?”

A clear pint bottle came into the moment; its bitter amber liquid promised that sort of burn a person won’t mind.

Each girl drew off a long pull, let the heat mingle with their blood. Neither girl had ever gone full-on drunk; only a swig or two is all they ever dared.

Lena Canu, conjuring woman, spread a pile of bones over the table and commenced to ciphering future happenings a girl might need to know.

Things about boys and marriage didn’t come up. Neither did mention of babies and such. All Violet heard portended mainly to trouble.

“Quit you runnin’ wild,” Lena proclaimed, “and you be just fine.” She took up her narrow gaze again, aimed to settle matters. “But you keep doin’ what you been doin’, things gonna go bad.”

The suddenness of gunfire echoed through that sticky air. Three quick shots chased by a lazy fourth that staggered along a moment later.

Lena jumped first, ran for the door. Ruthie followed after, peering into the dark, no doubt expecting to put a face to the one pulled that trigger.

Violet remained stuck to her chair, attentions tugging between the matters outside and those sayings left to her by that conjuring woman. Did she really believe in such things, or was it all just a mess of nonsense?

“What am I gonna do to make things go bad?” she asked, supposing it wouldn’t hurt to know—just in case.

But Lena had other notions to work over. “Sounds like they come from over to your place,” she said to Ruthie.

Ruthie tipped a nod, said, “Could be they gettin’ liquored up too much, huh?”

“Might could,” answered Lena.

It happens that way, boys and their whiskey, wandering along crooked paths of discontent, blabbing things not really meant for harm—just boasting, is all.

But boasting to a drunken fella is as good as a punch on his nose.

“Gonna go see,” said Ruthie, pushing past the threshold, pressing on toward home.

Violet held her ground, let the colored girl disappear in the night. Attentions ceased their tugging, settled on the one making proclamations concerning bad manners and trouble to come.

Lena came loose of her thoughts, brought one to words, said, “Go on home now, white girl. Nighttime belongs to devils.”

*      *      *

Clouds laid a brief smudge against the moon, stripped its shine right off the night, left Violet to wonder if it really might be footsteps stumbling along behind her, following that same narrow path toward home.

“Fool boys,” she muttered, tossing nervous glances over either shoulder.

Footfalls fell heavy—like boots hammering the earth. An eager thing born of desperation.

Violet bolted left, squatted low behind a pile of brush that had the makings of a snake shelter. She held her breath and waited for the one at her back to pass on by.

A piece of tree limb came to her hand, a long and heavy thing, able to put a soul right should he come at her with wrong intentions.

That smudged moon went shiny again, dripped light across the path, showed off the shape of a man loping toward home. Tall and thin, this one; he moved quick with purpose.

Going the wrong way, though, Violet thought, waiting for the man to pass.

She gained her feet, charged his retreat, swung that heavy piece of wood and caught that interloper straight between his shoulders.

“Jay-zus!” the man hollered, hitting the ground like a sack of potatoes.

“This is private property!” Violet informed him, fixing up for a second swing.

The fella pulled up on his knees, tried to reach for that spot on his back no doubt gone swollen. He said, “It’s private property only ’cause I say so.”

Foolishness seeped into the girl. She squinted against the dark, drew recollection of his face. “Granddad?” she said, hoping her recollections proved wrong.

“What the hell are you doing out here?” he demanded, giving his legs a try.

“Came out to use the privy,” she fibbed. “Heard gunshots, came to see, is all.”

“Liar!” the old man spat. “You been gallivanting again, ain’t you?” He moved closer to the girl, sized her up, made a big fuss over her running around in only a nightshirt and nothing else. “Your daddy’s gonna hit ya where the good Lord split ya—then he’s gonna move you to your sister’s room upstairs. Won’t be no sneaking out from there.”

Her gaze caught that glint at his waistband, a familiar hunk of blued steel. “Don’t matter,” she said. “Daddy’s gonna put you in the county home.”

“On account of what?”

“On account of you’re going senile, traipsing off, bothering colored folks again with that pistol of yours.” Violet leaned closer, continued her spiel. “Heard him and Mama talking just last week, saying how you’re a danger to yourself just as much as to others.”

The old man’s jaw fell open and slammed shut; intended words went lost to the night. He couldn’t tell on her now—not without personal risk.

Defeat fogged his eyes. “I won’t tell your business if you don’t tell mine.”

Violet seized the moment with both hands. “That depends,” she informed him.

“On what?”

“Who’d you shoot tonight?”

“Nobody. Just meant to scare, is all.”

“Gonna kill somebody one day—if you ain’t already.”

“Ain’t in my blood, killin’.”

“Don’t have to mean it to do it.”

The old man pulled back, let frustration have its way. “We got a deal or don’t we?”

“You gonna leave Ruthie’s people be?”

“Just want what’s mine,” he complained.

“But it’s their land, Granddad—been so for forty-five years. A hundred guns ain’t gonna make it not so.”

He never did wear misery well.

Violet’s arms went easily around the man. She pulled close to him, breathed in that familiar odor of sweat and tobacco.

He said, “I won’t bother them no more.”

“Then we have us a deal.”

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today! We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs. Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent! Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

BEEM WEEKS, RWISA Author Page

How would you like to become a RWISA Member so that you’re able to receive this same awesome FREE support? Simply click HERE to make application!

 

 

 

 

Welcome to the WATCH “#RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! #RRBC #RRBCWRW

Hello, my wonderful guests! Thank you all for joining me today on this amazing showcase tour being sponsored by RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS), an elite branch of the amazing RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB!

This showcase will feature 19 amazing writers, each having their own special day of being featured on multiple blogs. I, along with the other supportive hosts, ask that after reading the written work of art by each RWISA Author, that you click on the link designated to take you directly to that author’s profile page on the actual RWISA site. On my blog, that link will be the author’s name.

Today’s special guest:

 

GWEN PLANO

and her piece is entitled:

 

MOM’S FINAL WORDS

By Gwen M. Plano

Worn out by time, mom lay motionless on the sheets. Life lingered but imperceptibly. At ninety-one, she had experienced the full range of life’s challenges. And, now, she rested her aged shell of a body and waited.

A farmer’s daughter and wife, her life was marked by practicalities and hard work. Always up before daybreak, she prepared the meals, washed the clothes and hung them on the clothesline, and otherwise attended to the needs of the household.

Her garden was a cornucopia of tomatoes and corn, of squash and lettuces. And the refrigerator always had freshly gathered eggs and newly churned butter.    

Mom rarely paused, to catch her breath, to offer a hug, or to sit calmly. Time is not to be wasted, she taught. And so, she was always busy.

Over the years, there were multiple times that she almost died. But, with each surgery or ailment, she emerged from death’s clutches more determined than before – to surmount her difficulties, to forge a path, to care for her family. “Life is a gift,” she would say to us.  

Mom knew poverty and uncertainty. Ration coupons from the war lay on her dresser, a reminder of harsh realities. Nothing ever went to waste in our household, not food, not water, not clothing. “Many have less than us,” she claimed. She would then insist we be conservative and share.

She knew sorrow well, having lost her parents when she was young, and then two of her nine children. As the years passed, she also lost her sisters and many of her friends.

Mom was a woman of faith. Throughout the day, you could hear her quiet entreaties. Prayer was always on her lips. When mom walked from one room to the next, she prayed – for this person or that friend or for our country. She’d stand at the sink washing dishes and invoke help, from the angels, from Mary the mother of our God, and from the Holy Spirit. “Pray always,” she’d remind us.

This busy mother fought death to the end, but when the doctor finally said that nothing more could be done, she simply responded, “I am ready.”

It was then that she met with each of her seven children. Barely managing each breath, she whispered her I love you and offered a few words of guidance.

When I was at mom’s bedside, she told me she loved me, mentioned a few family concerns, and then in a barely audible voice she said, “I don’t know what to expect.”

This precious little woman, who had spent her life busy with raising a family and helping with the farm, now was unsure of what would happen next. I was surprised by the words.  

She taught me to pray when I was quite tiny. “Get on your knees,” she would instruct. “Offer up your pain for the poor souls in purgatory,” she’d suggest. Then, she’d lead us in the Lord’s Prayer. Mom had us pray for family and friends, for anyone suffering, and always for our country. She’d share stories of angels and saints, of miracles and wonders, of midnight visitations and afternoon impressions. This fragile diminutive woman had instructed my siblings and me of the invisible eternal. And, I lived with those images as a child until they became as real to me as the world we see.  

Yes, I was surprised by mom’s words to me. “I don’t know what to expect.” But then I wondered, did she know? Did she know that I had studied near-death experiences? That I had written of the dying process? Had I ever told her?

I don’t know what to expect. Simple words, but a storm of thoughts followed. I held back my tears and took her hands in mine.

“Mom, I will tell you what friends have said and what the research has shown. The angels are coming soon, mom. You will see them in the light. Just follow their lead. Your sisters will join you, as will your mom and dad and your babies. Your whole family is waiting for you. It will be a wonderful reunion. There will be much joy.”

Her breaths grew slower.

I told her of Charles, a friend I met in my prayer group. He had died twice and because of that, he had no fear of his final death. Through his experiences, he saw that life continues. He spoke of celestial beings, of extraordinary love, of boundless joy. And, he told the prayer group that he looked forward to death.  

I shared these things and more. And, as I spoke, her eyes closed, and her breathing slowed. She had fallen back to sleep, to the middle ground between this world and the next. And I wondered, did she really need to know what to expect or did she want me to remember that life never ends?

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today! We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs. Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent! Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

GWEN PLANO, RWISA Author Page

 

How would you like to become a RWISA Member so that you’re able to receive this same awesome FREE support? Simply click HERE to make application!

Welcome to the WATCH “#RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! #RRBC

Hello, my wonderful guests! Thank you all for joining me today on this amazing showcase tour being sponsored by RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS), an elite branch of the amazing RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB!

This showcase will feature 19 amazing writers, each having their own special day of being featured on multiple blogs. I, along with the other supportive hosts, ask that after reading the written work of art by each RWISA Author, that you click on the link designated to take you directly to that author’s profile page on the actual RWISA site. On my blog, that link will be the author’s name.

Today’s special guest:

 

HARRIET HODGSON

 

harriethodgson2014-websize-square

and her piece is entitled:

 

LOOK OUT WORLD: A LOVING GRANDMA IS ON DUTY

By Harriet Hodgson

Recently I read some blog posts by grandmas. Though a few posts were positive, most were negative. The grandmas couldn’t seem to find anything positive to say about aging or the wisdom they had acquired. My reaction to aging is different. Because I’m a grandma, I’m saying and doing things I’ve never done before. Maybe I need a badge that says GRANDMA ON DUTY!

I’m on marriage duty.

My husband’s aorta dissected in 2013 and he had three emergency operations. During the third one he suffered a spinal cord injury that paralyzed his legs. Since I drove him to the hospital emergency department I’ve been his caregiver and advocate. Although we have a less mobile life these days, we have a good life, and are more in love than ever. Each day is a blessing and we savor the days we have together.

I’m on GRG duty.

After my twin grandchildren’s parents died from the injuries they received in separate car crashes, the court appointed my husband and me as their guardians. (My daughter was, and always will be, the twins’ mother.) The court appointed my husband and me as the twins’ guardians and we became GRGs—grandparents raising grandchildren. According to the US Census Bureau, 10% of all grandparents in the nation are raising their grandkids. Raising the twins for seven years was a responsibility and a joy. Though the twins are adults now, I’m still a GRG when called upon.

I’m on safe driving duty.

When I noticed drivers weren’t stopping at stop signs—just slowing down and proceeding forward—I became upset. The police call this practice a “rolling stop” and it’s dangerous. What if a car hit a walking child or a child on a bike? I wrote a letter to the editor of the newspaper and asked drivers to follow the law and come to a full stop at stop signs.   

I’m on political duty.

Contentious as politics has become, I always vote and stay informed on issues. A friend of mine asked me to write for her political campaign, and I agreed to do it because of her teaching background and focus on children’s issues. My tasks included proofreading letters, writing new letters, helping with promotional materials, and delivering literature to homes. I was delighted when my candidate won re-election.

I’m on anti-theft duty.

We live in a townhome on a private street. It’s a safe neighborhood so I was surprised when a porch pirate stole my husband’s asthma medication. I reported the theft to the police and a detective came to our home. According to the detective, thieves look for neighborhood that have connected mailboxes, such as four linked together, because it saves them time. I also reported the theft to the neighborhood association and it is pursuing the idea of locked mail boxes.   

I’m on learning duty.

My family didn’t get a television set until I was a senior in high school. Instead of watching television, my brother and I went to the library and took out as many books as we could carry home. I still love to read. The day doesn’t seem right and is a bit “off” if I don’t learn anything that day. Learning is good modeling for grandchildren. The twins know I love to read and love to learn.

I’m on writing duty.

To keep my skills sharp, I write every day, everything from articles for websites, magazine articles, handouts to support the talks I give, and writing books. My 37th book is in production now and comes out in the fall of 2019. It’s a book about being a grandmother and I’m excited about it. I’m excited about the cover too. Waiting for the release date is going to be difficult.

I’m on giving duty.

Giving to others helps them and makes me feel good inside. I give free talks to community groups, talk to school kids about writing, and donate to the food bank in memory of my daughter. One of the best gifts I give is the gift of listening. A grandchild can feel like nobody is listening. That’s why I practice active listening. I make eye contact, nod to show I’m listening, and refrain from interrupting. Active listening takes more energy than passive listening and it’s worth the energy.

Grandmas have special skills to share with families. They are also keepers of history. “A house needs a grandma in it,” Louisa May Alcott once said, and I think she was right.

I’m just one grandma, trying to make a difference. There are millions of grandmas like me. Working alone and together, we are loving, protecting, and nurturing grandchildren around the world. Some grandmas are activists, others are advocates, and others are both. Instead of sitting around and waiting for things to change, grandmas are initiating change.

Be on the lookout for the loving grandmothers in your community. Join their efforts. If you can’t join in, support their efforts verbally and financially. The loving grandmas of the world are on duty, and always will be. Hug a grandma today!

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today! We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs. Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent! Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

HARRIET HODGSON, RWISA Author Page

 

How would you like to become a RWISA Member so that you’re able to receive this same awesome FREE support? Simply click HERE to make application!

Welcome to the WATCH “#RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! #RRBC

Hello, my wonderful guests! Thank you all for joining me today on this amazing showcase tour being sponsored by RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS), an elite branch of the amazing RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB!

This showcase will feature 19 amazing writers, each having their own special day of being featured on multiple blogs. I, along with the other supportive hosts, ask that after reading the written work of art by each RWISA Author, that you click on the link designated to take you directly to that author’s profile page on the actual RWISA site. On my blog, that link will be the author’s name.

Today’s special guest:

 

ROBERT FEAR

and his piece is entitled:

 

Afternoon cycle ride by Robert Fear

Ibiza, May 1977

As I set out on my cycle ride, the streets of Es Cana were busy with pale-faced holidaymakers exploring their new surroundings. I almost collided with a couple who looked the wrong way as they crossed the road.

The hire bike was a boneshaker, and as I headed out of town to the west, the road surface was uneven. The ride became rougher, and I swerved to avoid potholes. Shocks vibrated through the handlebars and I lost my grip twice. Despite this, the breeze in my face and the sun on my back felt good.

Roads twisted and turned as I followed the coast around Punta Arabi and through the outlying villages. I passed pine tree fringed sandy beaches and caught glimpses of the sea. New tourist developments dotted the coastline, in between the traditional houses, shops and bars.

After a while I came to the dusty main road that ran from the north of Es Cana. Cycling westwards towards Santa Eulalia I soon found myself in the main square where I had changed buses when I first arrived from Ibiza Town in April.

My parched throat led me in search of a drink. Opposite the Guardia Civil offices, I spotted Fred’s Bar and decided it was a good place to quench my thirst. With the bike propped against an outside wall, I walked into the gloomy interior and blinked after the bright sunshine.

At the bar I ordered a draught beer. As I stood and sipped it, I glanced around and saw groups of men sat at the wooden tables. English was the main language being spoken, and the newspapers were days-old copies of The Sun. I felt out of place amongst the rustling of papers and whispered conversations.

Chalked on a board was a small menu of English food. I ordered Shepherd’s Pie with my next beer.

‘Take a seat at that corner table and I’ll bring it over in a few minutes,’ commanded the gruff Yorkshire voice from behind the bar. I assumed that was Fred.

‘Cheers mate,’ I smiled and walked over to the seat he had indicated.

Sat on the hard, wooden chair I placed my drink on the table.

I looked up and saw a man limping from the bar. A large glass of whisky and ice almost slipped from his hand. Without a word he slumped down opposite me. He shouted greetings to others but ignored me. His voice was slurred, and he had a distinct American accent.

My food arrived, and I dug into it with a vengeance. The cycle ride had given me a good appetite. As I polished off the plate, my table companion burped and glanced towards me. I smiled at him and he grinned,

‘Looked like you enjoyed that.’

‘Yes, it was great,’ I replied, ‘have you tried it?’

‘No man, I’m not into food much, I prefer this stuff,’ he slurred and pointed to his drink.

He pulled out a pack of Camel cigarettes, flipped back the top and offered me one.

The bright neon lights of Las Vegas did nothing to improve Jack’s self-loathing. He walked the Vegas strip with head hung down and his shoulders slumped, ignoring the people rushing past him. He was desperate as he fingered the five coins in his pocket, knowing they were the last of his money

The hot, bright sun did nothing to lift Jack’s spirits. “What am I going to do? Where should I go?” His questions went unanswered. He did not know how long he had been walking, but he soon realized how hungry he was. He stopped at the intersection looking in all directions, not knowing where he was and not caring. The crosswalk signal changed, and the crowd of laughing and drunk people, pushed him out into the street. Jack looked down as he stepped onto the curb and saw a wallet. He picked it up and looked around. The people that had once surrounded him had dispersed in different directions moving far away from him.

Jack slipped the wallet into his coat pocket and walked into the nearest casino and entered the men’s room. He went into the first open stall and with shaking hands he opened the wallet revealing a large amount of one hundred-dollar bills. “This can’t be. I must return the wallet.” He searched further and found a driver’s license for a Stephen Richardson from New York City. There were credit cards plus a family photo of a man, woman, and two young girls. “I suppose this is his family.”

“I will get hold of Mr. Richardson and tell him I found his wallet.” Jack put the wallet back in his coat and left the stall. He stood in front of the mirror looking at the unshaven face and unkempt hair. He washed his face and ran his fingers through his hair. He pulled his tie up and tucked in his shirt. “Well, I look a little better. Maybe I could use one of these bills, get a shave and haircut and have enough left over for dinner and a room for the night.” Jack reasoned that Mr. Richardson will never miss one hundred dollars out of the thousands in the wallet.

The lights of the casino were less intrusive, and the noise lifted his spirits a little. Jack walked past the slot machines and gaming tables out into a hallway. He walked past clothing stores and gift shops until he came upon a barber shop. The shave with the hot fragrant towels followed by a shampoo and haircut were what Jack’s weathered appearance needed. He hardly recognized the face in the mirror looking back at him.

“Perhaps a new shirt, slacks, and jacket would not be too expensive.” Jack reasoned that he would pay Mr. Richardson back every penny once he gets back on his feet.

The memory of his gambling habits which caused the loss of his marriage, job, and friends had faded. “I will never become that person again. I will change for the better.”

The new clothes and filling steak dinner with all the trimmings, relaxed Jack, and he confidently made his way back through the casino. The slot machines were well occupied and occasionally Jack heard the screams from a winner while the lights and sirens of the winning machine blared. “I would rather play poker than throw my money down the one-armed bandit.” He stopped at a Texas Hold ‘Em table where there was one vacant seat. “A few hands won’t hurt anything. I can play with Mr. Richardson’s money and pay him back with my winnings.”

The free drinks, the smoke, the cocktail waitresses and the sound of the cards being shuffled were magic to his ears. With each hand dealt, Jack became more determined to win the big one. He eyed each of the players trying to read their body language. On the fourth deal he opened his hand to reveal two queens. The flop showed a queen, seven, and a five. Jack made a modest bet. The dealer placed another card up which was a ten. Jack called the bet made by a player across from him. They placed the final card up revealing a seven, which gave Jack a good hand of two pairs. He raised the bet from another player and watched as other players either folded or called.

“I must have a winning hand because no one is aggressively betting,” he reasoned. “I’m all in,” he announced as he pushed all $500.00 of his chips into the middle. Players folded one after another except for the man sitting across from him. Jack tried to remain calm and put his shaking hands in his lap. The noise in the casino seemed to become louder and perspiration ran down his face.

“I’ll call.” The man turned his cards over to reveal two sevens.

“That can’t be. I had you beat.” Jack felt weak and nauseous. “Hold my place. I’ll be back.” He knelt in front of the commode and vomited up his lunch. At the sink he washed his face, straightened his tie and took another $500.00 out of the wallet. At this point he did not care and had convinced himself it was his money. “I found it. Finders, keepers.”

The evening turned to long hours. There were no windows or clocks in the casino, so Jack had no awareness of the hours slipping by in the same way the money was slipping away.

Jack’s luck and poker skills did not change. He won a few small hands, but he never recouped what he lost. He took his last $100.00 bill out of the wallet. “All I need is one good hand. Just one more.”

The big winning hand never came. Jack threw the empty wallet into a trashcan and walked out into the bright, sunny and hot day. He could not adjust his eyes to the brightness as he staggered down the street. “What am I going to do? Where should I go?”

Jack did not have one more game to play. He was found on a park bench late that night, alone, penniless, and without any life force in his body, still dressed in the new clothes.

accepted it and gave him a light. We both took a deep drag on the rough taste and exhaled plumes of smoke. He moved closer and I could make out a mass of scars on his face and arms.

‘Do you live in Santa Eulalia?’ I asked, ‘you seem to know lots of people here.’

‘Yea man, been here ages now. Came to Ibiza in ’73. I’ve got a small apartment just outside the town, overlooking the sea.’

I looked at him with curiosity, ‘so you work here then?’

He threw back his head and laughed. All eyes turned in his direction as the raucous laugh subsided into chuckles.

‘No man, I’m pensioned off from the Army. I was in Vietnam. Halfway through my second tour I got blown to smithereens and was lucky to survive. They shipped me to the States, filled my body with metal and stitched me up. I was in hospital for months and still go there twice a year for check-ups.’

My jaw dropped, and I looked at him with a new respect. He continued,

‘The climate here helps my aching bones, and the booze is cheap. I’ve made friends, although most of them think I’m crazy. I suppose I am sometimes!’ he mused.

‘Did you want another drink?’ I asked him, to break the momentary silence.

‘A large bourbon, with water and ice would be great, thanks man.’

Back at the table I clinked my glass against his. ‘Salut!’

We chatted a while longer and I told him about the work I was doing. His eyes glazed over. He nodded as I talked, but I sensed his mind was elsewhere.

‘I have to go now,’ I said, as I stood up and offered my hand.

‘Nice talking to you man, all the best and hope to see you again.’ He gave me a weak handshake from his seated position.

‘Yes, me too, my name’s Fred.’

‘I’m Michael, or Mike, also known as Mad Mike by my friends. Take care on your ride back to Es Cana.’

He waved over as I headed out of the door.

The bike had fallen over, but it was still there. I had not thought to secure it two hours before when I entered the bar. I figured it was safe parked opposite the police station.

With a slight wobble I set off along the main road towards Es Cana. A car came straight at me and I had to swerve. Out of habit, I had started out on the left-hand side of the road. With a wrench of the handlebars I switched to the right and just avoided a collision.

That could have been nasty!

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today! We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs. Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent! Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

ROBERT FEAR, RWISA Author Page

 

How would you like to become a RWISA Member so that you’re able to receive this same awesome FREE support? Simply click HERE to make application!

Welcome to the WATCH “#RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! #RRBC

Hello, my wonderful guests!  Thank you all for joining me today on this amazing showcase tour being sponsored by RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS), an elite branch of the amazing RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB!

This showcase will feature 19 amazing writers, each having their own special day of being featured on multiple blogs.  I, along with the other supportive hosts, ask that after reading the written work of art by each RWISA Author, that you click on the link designated to take you directly to that author’s profile page on the actual RWISA site.  On my blog, that link will be the author’s name.

Today’s special guest:

D. L. FINN

Poetry by D. L. Finn

 

DARKNESS

The air is thick as you breathe it in

Filling your lungs with its silence.

It unnerves you when you’re alone

Because in the darkness there are shadows.

They are filled with the unknown

While the quiet is lurking with danger.

It’s unseen, watching while your heart is racing

And your skin drenched in sweat, you scan the night.

You see nothing and hear nothing

Yet, you know it’s there.

You hurry back into the light where it’s safe

Shut the door and lock it with a sigh of relief.

You quickly forget the darkness

But, what you don’t know is…

It hasn’t forgotten you.

 

TO FLY (Musings from the Back of a Harley)

We fly by the ranches…

Cows, goats, and horses.

Grazing golden-grass untroubled…

As we rumble loudly past them.

The ponds are rain depleted…

Fall harvest signs invite us to stop.

 

But, today is a day to fly…

To fly past normalcy

To fly past worries

To fly past obligations.

 

They rush by us like the scenery…

Soaring past our leather-clad bodies.

They crash behind us like a boat’s wake…

Miraculously missing us in our frantic flight.

Yet, all is forgiven flying on our motorcycle…

As our souls chaperon our journey.

 

THE RIVER’S GIFTS

It’s smooth and gentle on a warm spring day…

The rocks and trees are mirrored in its purity.

The beach’s sandy-warmth caresses me…

As I skim a flat rock across the water’s surface.

Eight small splashes are my reward…

Expanding into rings that disappear into flow.

Fish swim with the current beneath…

Hawks soar above searching for their next meal.

I deeply breathe in the serenity shared by the river.

A delicate butterfly swoops down and rests in front of me…

I want to touch it, be a part of its splendor, as I watch it fly away.

It finds nectar on a purple flower at the water’s edge…

I inhale bliss as the butterfly’s hunger is satisfied.

Searching up river I find water cascading down a rocky ledge.

I pause to drink in the magnificence and wisdom…

The river can negotiate any obstacle and continue its journey.

Here next to the flowing wonder, I find peace, and beauty…

I absorb this into my being, with gratitude, for the river’s gifts.

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today! We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs. Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent! Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

D. L. FINN, RWISA Author Page

How would you like to become a RWISA  Member so that you’re able to receive this same awesome FREE support? Simply click  HERE to make application!

Welcome to the WATCH “#RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! #RRBC

Hello, my wonderful guests!  Thank you all for joining me today on this amazing showcase tour being sponsored by RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS), an elite branch of the amazing RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB!

This showcase will feature 19 amazing writers, each having their own special day of being featured on multiple blogs.  I, along with the other supportive hosts, ask that after reading the written work of art by each RWISA Author, that you click on the link designated to take you directly to that author’s profile page on the actual RWISA site.  On my blog, that link will be the author’s name.

Today’s special guest:

JAN SIKES

and her piece is entitled

PARADISE BELOW

Emma Dupont shifted her backpack and lowered her head as she struggled through the crowded street. Panic struck as the sunlight faded.

          It would mean sure death to get caught out after dark

          “Watch where you’re goin’, you stupid bitch!”

Rough hands shoved her into the edge of speeding traffic. With great effort, she steadied herself, stepped back onto the sidewalk, and quickened her pace.

          Making sure no one noticed her, she ducked into an alleyway and banged on the side of a blue dumpster with a series of raps. A camouflaged door slid open.

          She tossed her backpack inside then hurried down the metal steps into the arms of a dark-haired man who held her while she sobbed.

          “Susan, please bring Emma a cup of tea,” he instructed.

          A tall blonde woman hurried away.

          “I can’t go back up there again, Donovan. I just can’t.” Emma moaned. “They are no more than savages. Armed soldiers are everywhere, questioning everyone, barely controlling the mobs of hate-filled people. It’s awful.”

          She didn’t tell him she’d felt someone watching her as she pushed through the street. The noose was tightening, but she’d die before she’d expose their hiding place.

          Donovan rubbed her shoulders. “Don’t think about that right now.”

          Susan appeared with a steaming cup and pressed it into Emma’s hands.

          “Try to relax,” Donovan tucked a tendril of brown hair behind her ear.

          Emma sank down against the cold concrete wall and let the warmth of the tea soothe her ragged nerves She watched while Donovan emptied the contents of the backpack.

          When he looked up, his eyes shone. “You did good, love. We almost have enough.”

          After the last election, conditions in the US had deteriorated. Humanity had gone crazy. Hate flourished and people killed each other over the slightest disagreement. Satan reigned.

          Evil permeated every corner. Small handfuls of people banded together and escaped into underground tunnels determined to live in peace and raise their children.  

          Fed up with the insanity, Emma didn’t hesitate to join. Her group had one plan.

          They had to get to Mexico.

           The government’s restriction of money forced them to withdraw small amounts at a time. Emma’s experience of working in banks gave her the ability to gather the funds they needed to escape.

          They were almost there, but nine months of living beneath the crazed streets of Dallas had taken its toll, especially on the children. Deprived of vitamin D, they grew lethargic and pale.

          Resources, time and patience grew thin.

          “I’ve been in communication with others in Houston, Austin, and San Antonio. We’re almost ready to make our move,” Donovan said. “But, one mistake will mean death.”

          Emma nodded. She didn’t care. The thought of dying didn’t frighten her.

          Jasmine tea helped slow her heart rate and settle her nerves. 

          Donovan dropped beside her. “I never imagined that the ‘Land of the Free’ and the ‘Home of the Brave’ would deteriorate into such a state of evil, and hate.” He blew out a long sigh. “We’ve lost everything.”

          Emma placed a hand on his arm. “But, we haven’t given up. And, we’ve kept love in our hearts.”

          Susan and several others gathered around. “With trust in God and help from the angels who watch over us, we’ll survive,” she said. “We’re the future of humanity. We are the Lightworkers.”

          They formed a circle and joined hands. In a melodic voice, a woman with straight black hair sang, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound…”

          Voices blended sweetly, and an essence of light filled the dank tunnel.

###

Melchizedek bowed his head overcome with the beauty and faith of the small group. He called Nemamiah and Charmaine to his side.

          “It is almost time. We must rally everyone to watch over and help them. Please meet with the Ashtar Command and give them a report.”

          Nemamiah folded his wings and nodded. Charmaine smiled and opened her wings to take flight.

          “It is done.”

###

Emma barely survived her last venture above ground. When three hoodlums grabbed her and dragged her into a deserted alleyway, she fought hard, but they stuffed a dirty rag in her mouth and kicked her with the sharp toes of their boots.

          From their sneers and insinuations, she knew they intended to take more than the contents in her backpack. She silently prayed.

          The moment her attackers dumped the money out of her backpack, a flock of Ravens descended from nowhere, flapping their wings and pecking at their heads and eyes until they ran screaming from the alley.

          Emma was sure they’d attack her next, but to her surprise, the birds hovered around her while she picked up the money, then flew above her while she ran for safety.

          She shook her head when Donovan questioned her bruises and told him the angels had protected her.

          Wheels were in motion. They would soon be away from the nightmare.

Donovan gathered the group for final instructions. “Travel light. Anything you don’t need, leave it. We have two vans, but there’s limited room.”

          While the rest did the same, Emma gathered her belongings. She wouldn’t take more than she could carry on her back. She stared at a photo before tucking it into a zippered pocket. That life was gone. All she had left was her faith, strong will, and this family determined to live in peace.

          By the time the twelve adults and four children were ready, the first shy rays from the sun graced the sky. It would be a long day.

          They piled into the vans in an orderly manner. Donovan would drive one vehicle, and Michael the other.

          Emma got into Donavon’s van. They’d grown close over the months of their confinement. She wouldn’t call it romance, but pure love. She’d grown to love all these gentle souls. Together, they would build a new life in paradise.

          They slapped magnetic signs on the sides of the vans that read, “Hollow Road Baptist Church” and crawled through early morning traffic toward I-35 south. 

          They hit a roadblock a few miles outside Dallas.

          “Remember what we rehearsed,” said Donovan as he pulled over.

          Several of the group placed Bibles on their laps. Emma held her breath.

          Armed soldiers approached. “Papers,” one soldier barked, “and state your destination.”

          “Camp Zephyr, sir, for a retreat.”  Donovan handed him papers.

          Soldiers surrounded both vans and peered through the windows. Emma was sure they could hear her heart pounding. She forced a smile.

          Donovan stared straight ahead.

          After what seemed like forever, the soldier passed the papers back through the window. “You can go. But, stay on the main roads. There are crazies around.” He motioned them on.

          Donovan nodded and pulled away. “Emma, pull up GPS and find a back route, then tell Michael what we’re doing.”

          The route took them through miles of open pasture and small Texas towns. Finally, their headlights pierced the darkness and lit up a rusted VW van shell.

          Donovan pulled to a stop. “Everyone stays put until we know it’s safe.”

          He jumped out. He and Michael hurried toward the VW, looking in all directions.  

          Emma chewed her fingernails and stared out the window. Nothing could go wrong now. They were so close.

          Donovan had explained that a Coyote would escort them through the tunnel into Matamoros, where they would find papers and transportation.  

          When the men turned and waved, the group grabbed their belongings and exited the vans. One-by-one, they climbed down rickety wooden steps into a damp tunnel. Flashlights reflected off dirt walls supported by boards and rocks.

          Painted on one board, “Paradise Below” promised a long awaited redemption. The narrow tunnel forced them to walk single-file, and some taller men had to hunch over.

          But, discomfort didn’t matter.

          In an hour, they emerged onto a deserted side street in Matamoros where a dilapidated bus waited.

          Without a word, the group filed onto the bus. The driver closed the door and ground the gears into forward motion.

          Emma sat beside Donovan and reached for his hand. “We’re going to make it.”

          He sighed and leaned back against the seat. “We are.”

          A brilliant red sun rose over the ocean, bringing with it a new day, as the bus lumbered to a stop many hours later. Gentle waves lapped the shore and seagulls cawed as they swooped down searching for breakfast.

          When the bus door opened, a couple dressed like American tourists greeted each person.

          A woman with flaming red hair hugged Emma. “Welcome to Mexico. I’m sure you’re exhausted. We have rooms prepared for each of you.”

          “Thank you,” Emma murmured soaking up the tropical scenery.

         Paradise! They’d made it. No more hate, no more violence, and no more hiding.

          They’d reached Pueblo de Luz, (City of Light).

          A band of angels hovered above the group with tears of joy shining in their eyes.

          There was hope for humanity.

          Hope in these small groups that dared to keep love alive.  

 

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