Friday Fictioneers for 9/11/2020 (When I Met Sparky)

Thanks to Rochelle @ Rochelle Wisoff-Fields-Addicted to Purple for another midweek, Friday Fictioneers photo prompt. Her weekly challenge is for us to write a story of 100 words or less based on a photo prompt (this week, hers).

photo by Rochelle

***

Genre: Memoir
Title: When I Met Sparky
Word Count: 100

Old Sparky was its name. A useless device, except for taking out life 695 times.

I could have been seeing any old gallows, a chopping block, a guillotine, but it was an ugly wooden chair with dried up leather straps and old wires. It was a creative invention to kill in a kinder, gentler way.

I felt a willfulness choke me.

I kept my emotions hidden. When the warden asked if I would like to sit in the chair (against the rules), without moving my eye from what must have been a sight for thousands, I mumbled a muffled, “Nope.”

***


Look both ways when you kill.
Mind the gaps death cannot be undone.

Click for link.

dVerse prose: A Time

Thanks to Merril (from New Jersey) for hosting this dVerse bar challenge: Prosery Monday: A Time, to which I am responding on Tuesday. Merril says to write prose of less then 145 words in response to this line from the poem “A Time” by Allison Adelle Hodge Coke.

“when it is over said and done

it was a time

and there was never enough of it.”


Genre: flash memoir
Word count: 143
Title: L’esprit de l’escalier

***

Last Fall, I wrote a poem about watching my father drink coffee and smoke when I was a young child. Our father-son relationship improved slightly later in life.

I’d received good reaction to the piece, so I considered its potential for submission. I requested further feedback from a critique group (mostly fiction writers). I was aware of the potential risks, but I wanted to know their thoughts.

One person asked, “I did not understand the last few lines where you said, ‘I figured it out. He did too. In the end, it was just the end.’ Can you explain what you meant?”

Stumped for a good answer, I copped-out with, “He died”—a true but poor response on my part.

Now I could simply say, “When it is over, said, and done, it was a time. And there was never enough of it.”

***

Look both ways for answers.
Mind the gaps in the poetry of others,
it’s where we may find answers.

NaPoWriMo: 30 poems in 30 days (day 29)

Day 29 prompt: write a paean to your pet.


Hey, Cat

The mice at the vet’s
always made me feel guilty
when they’d ask me your name.
You were abandoned, neutered,
declawed, and basically fucked
by previous pin-headed possessors.
A bit of a nutless dick,
you bitched and whined
more than any dog, but you were
my cat. I was your human.
We understood each other and
those whiny-ass special
snowflake syndrome sufferers
of your name at the vet’s office
couldn’t believe we appreciated
each other on a level no man’s
best friend could understand.

Your name was Cat. You were The Cat!
Any Salem or Heathcliff worth knowing
would hang with the moniker, — Cat.
Clear, concise, and common.

You were my cat cuz
no one else wanted you. I did.
And you me. (Sort of.)
Rest in peace, Cat.


Look up, down, and both ways for cats and dogs.
Find and mind the gaps in every relationship.

NaPoWriMo: 30 poems in 30 days (day 19)

Day 19 prompt: write a poem based on a “walking archive.”


The Spring Draw

Spring replaces Winter’s browns and grays
with shades and hues of green, some pinks
and whites in the trees. And more rain,
and wind to help insects spread pollen,
the whole point being new life, hope,
and promises of Summer to come.

Even the trails lay a carpet of green grass,
soft to my steps, comforting. To the sides
more color and tones of red and blue,
orange and proud yellows mixed with white,
every color and shade seems bright.
Both quiet and loud, and deer appear,
rutting passed soon we’ll see fawns running.

I pause often to photograph or admire
this gallery of natural art, walking on my trail,
some path remains, limestone rock
for stepping or tripping as creeks and washes run
wet with rainwater, animal prints in mud,
views obstructed by leaves fresh and green.

There is beauty even in the old dead trunks
of former mighty oaks, with knots and holes,
still standing tall and proud, some down
yielding to stormy winds, the promise still
of awakening even the soil of the Earth.
I sit to rest and to ponder or brood,
to drink and to stare and admire,
and to pity many who have seen
neither tree nor forest, nor felt the happy
heart of a Spring calf.

I walk Texas trails in Spring before
Hell sends Summer to scorch, and it calls
for cream to screen the rays of sun. Before
wet clay turns to dust and water runs rare.
Before the prickly pear cactus turns
its brilliant yellow flower, then to an apple red
bulb, then to a new cactus head. So long
as I am, and I can, out I shall go to treat
my senses to the many glances of nature.

“Me imperturbe, standing at ease in nature.”
Or, at attention, as I want to miss none of it all.


(Quote: credit Walt Whitman)

Always look both ways and all around, up and down.
Mind gaps and ravines in natural beauty if you seek pleasure.

 

Sammi’s weekender #152


We wandered aimlessly.

As we toured all the South Pacific islands we could reach,
burning off fuel to be light enough to land.

Some piloted the two-hundred-ton B-52. Like cold war nomads,
we wove through the sky from place to place.

In the air we carved circles around the clouds, talked, ate boxed lunches,
and wondered which of us would write the story and a poem about it.


Look both ways,
unless you’ve been cleared to wander aimlessly.
Mind the gaps,
aviation is inherently dangerous.

Poetry: Back in the Day


House lights were off, back in the day.
A tinted eerie black and white glare,
as the boob-tube illuminated
white nicotine-laced clouds,
cigarette smoke from lit ends of
Camels or Pall Malls, unfiltered butts crowded
many ashtrays, back in the day.

Like ghosts sucked into dying lungs
of people I loved,
alive, back in the day.

The smelly, wispy, floating clouds
rolled and twisted or waved
as we passed through,
back in the day.

Forbidden addictions, I then, not yet
old enough to kill myself,
back in the day.

Second hand was for used,
not smoke.
Sickening smokers,
plus all who breathed in,
nicotine laced habits, back in the day.

Born into our rite of passage.
Now sick and dying, smoking goes on.

Never allow science to invade
personal stupidity.
We’ve always done it this way.
Back in the day.


Look both ways but stay away from back in the day.
Discover progress through science but mind the gaps to fill as we learn.

Sammie’s Weekender #148: Somnambulist


Acrostic Sleepwalker

Secrets we’ve never been told
Oceans nature never fully filled
Memories of loving happiness in eyes of laughter
Nights kissing when we’re young together
Amour aplenty to fill our hearts with passion.
Mysteries make us wonder why
Bodies, then so young and strong, a
Universe without chaos, and a cosmos within us
Lasting love that never leaves us
Innocent children who needlessly die, while
Some just pray and wonder why.
Time to take the dance into the street.


In the street, look both ways and be aware, or woke, as they say.
Mind the gaps as hidden happiness and sadness.

Essay: I Wear Lorry’s Ring

I think my aunt Lorry loved me a lot more than I realized. I remember how each week she’d cut the latest Dennis the Menace gag comic, single-panel cartoon from her newspaper along with a word of the day snippet, and she would mail them to me accompanied by a little note. My behavior reminded her of the cartoon protagonist, or vice versa. While I never saw the connection (the cartoon being more innocently contrived), it was the only mail I recall getting from anyone, particularly from an adult when it was not my birthday or Christmas. Lorry and what she did for me are among many things I failed to adequately appreciate in my childhood. But I do now.

When I graduated from Texas A&M, my mother’s older sister also paid for my class ring. Aggie class rings are a big deal to alumni (aka former students), as they are for grads of many other schools. I still wear the ring today, almost 50 years later.

Her real name was Dolores. My sister and I, along with our cousin, called her Lorry, but I never asked why. For most of my life, Lorry lived and worked in Washington, D.C., about a four-hour drive from Wilks-Barre today with light traffic, but almost twice that by bus in the 1950s. So, I didn’t see her often. She also never married and was considered old fashioned and a very traditional, staunch Catholic, even back in the day. She was not difficult, but would criticize wrongdoing when she saw it, explaining her labored relationship with my father.

I suspect Lorry was quite bright. Had it not been for the negative antifeminist influences of her early 20th Century culture and her family, she would have achieved more, not that she did poorly for one who entered the female workforce early in the Great Depression. But then, I’d not have a famous cartoon character as a childhood alter ego, my vocabulary might be less sufficient, and my word-love less geeky had she been different.

Unlike me and little Jackie Paper, Dennis (the menace) Mitchell is still five-and-a-half years old. The cartoon dates to 1951, and it is still in world-wide syndication. Can you imagine Dennis in his late 60s? (I smiled when I wrote that question.) I can. I imagine him in his early 70s, still with the persona of a five-year-old troublemaker.

For the record, Puff the Magic Dragon and Jackie Paper are in their late fifties. I try not to mentally associate them with AC-47 Spooky gunships through that song, but that’s part of me too. There is a certain sadness to all that 1960s and ‘70s stuff that my Irish nature seems to nostalgically understand, but few others get.

But I wonder. What would the Lorry I knew think of me today? As always, there are some aspects of me with which she would undoubtedly find fault. I’m sure she would explain where I could improve. Fair enough. But would she get my ironic sense of humor? What about my vocabulary? I’d probably get a dictionary or world atlas for my birthday (again). And what of her opinion of my writing? My poems (the clean ones)?

Do you have a troublesome young family member? Do you think he or she will remember you and write about you 40 years after you die? Lorry would not have thought so either. But she’d a been wrong. And she might have corrected my spelling and grammar. And I would change it – for her.

What we see as we look both ways changes with life and times,
but not really who we are.
Mind the gaps, but cherish the memories.

Poetry: Survival

What was the most tired you been?
Slept standing or fallen down tired?
Been so dizzy? I hallucinated.
At POW camp they
would not let us sleep.
Peed in a #10 coffee can,
locked in cell, both overflowed.

To learn how to survive capture,
being treated beyond awful, we endure
such misery; to live it, feel it, survive it.
I thought I would not. Might never try.
How did they survive not knowing;
forsaken and forgotten?
Many decided to die. Too awful
to live. Most decided otherwise.

Sometimes, dancing in the rain,
or walking through the fire
are both hard-learned lessons.

Look both ways for light at both ends of the tunnel.
Mind the gaps in the dark until you can see.
Find life. Love freedom.

Poetry: In the Stacks

Circa 1890

Some things I’ve always known,
like where the Library was,
especially the one with a funny name,
the Osterhout Free Library,
in my hometown, which to me
was and is The Library.

Looking like the Presbyterian church
it first was in 1849,
with (now gone) ivy covered walls,
hinting of mysteries, adventures,
and the wisdom within;
a mile to walk was nothing
for a keen young lad to go
for a book or two.

Through church doors that open
into the vast, once Calvinistic,
nave with colorless unstained leaded glass,
now with desks and shelves filled
with books and things,
one finds it all.
Hush! Whisper please.
People are reading.

Off to the left dim dark stacks
beckoned like a secret
church transept and silent choir loft.

The true spirits of the library’s haunted
dark and dingy, yet welcoming,
old book-scented stacks, silent
dust and maybe mischief,
with muffled giggles of children
or lovers, each playing with
resident hushing ghosts.

Long ago—a place of prayer,
now a sanctuary
of human wisdom and happiness.

***

Comb the dark stacks of old libraries looking both ways for dusty old history.
Mind the gaps and giggles of the ghosts.


Note: Because this was my first community library during my formative years, it was what I expected all others to look like. Not a bad standard.

Click the image to link to library information.