Literature's Next Frontier


Flamingo

FICTION:

A Quiet Disturbed

by SephiPiderWitch Quill-yellow

 

 

 

Swirls of mist rose up from the ground, hovering gently above it, caressing it and checking its substance. A stir breathed into it and moved it in swirls and undulations, soft glows emanating within its depths like bodies swimming and riding the currents. Diffused faces looked around, disoriented, seemingly lost and confused. The glows shifted in varied hues and shades of colors within the deepening churning mists, soft muted colors from gentle pastels to demure shades so dim as to be barely perceptible. Occasionally, small sparks of light emerged as if a few tiny stars were trapped within and trying to escape.

 

 

The soft curtain of silence that was night became slightly severed with low unsettled whispers. At first, it was but a couple, then it began to multiply, urgent, confused, questioning. It sent ripples through the night air, awakening more spirits to join and bringing disquiet into this place of quiet sleep.

 

 

A small voice cleared the murmurs of the others, a soft voice, but clear as a crystal bell. “What has happened? I slept, I dreamt, all was complete, I was divine. I was alone and now there are many. It was quiet, now it is disturbed. There are so many! How came I to be in not the place I should?”

 

 

The shimmer behind the voice looked about. Their voices underlying the silence like the hum of a far off machine that is just within the hearing range and can’t be dismissed. They permeated the air and sent ripples through it that made nerves ache.

 

 

The sky began to lighten as the morning sun slowly crept upward. The unease grew within the voices, their movements quickening and the disturbance in the air rising. Their glows began to fade as the light grew till all that remained was the mist and the murmurs of the disturbed air.

 

 

Day crested and the gates were opened. Soon, a group of people made a slow, ritual way inward, their eyes downcast, their purpose focused. They found the assigned spot and began to take their places, waiting patiently for the last stragglers. Some shifted uncomfortably for a time while others looked around them and still others simply stood in contemplative silence.

 

 

They began. And the disturbed mists felt them and made their way over. They watched as the mists slipped in and about their feet as they began to speak. The mist rose and thickened, and as it rose, they felt a weight that was beyond the weight of this day, a weight that was beyond theirs, and yet felt like it should be, descend upon them and envelop them. As each took their turns to speak what they had come to say, they found other words issuing forth in the midst of their own, words that came from their mouths that were not theirs. Their sorrows made more bare, amplified, as they felt the anguish of the displaced.

 

 

A small girl stood off at the end of the group, holding tightly to her mother’s hand. She smiled as she looked to her side and saw the shimmer that was the small voice and they reached out to each other. The girl looked up at her mother and tugged gently on her arm to tell her. The mother leaned down and the girl told her of the shimmer that could no longer dream and the mists that had been forced out and had no home any more. And the mother heard it and believed that the weight of the day had been too much for the girl and tried to console her and tell her it was but her imagination playing tricks upon her. The girl sobbed and nodded, but never let go of the shimmer that held her hand.

 

 

As the last words were being spoken, the shimmer began to quiver and tightened her grip on the girl’s hand. She tugged gently, imploring the girl to follow and wrapped the girl in the urgency and desperation that had become her. Gently, the girl let her hand slip from her mother’s grip and let the shimmer wrap around her, cloaking her from the watchful eyes about. They went to a quiet hill with an ancient tree upon it, stretching its limbs to protect the whole hill. They sat under the tree as the shimmer told her story of her dreams disturbed and how she woke to find her place had become no place and of the others who once had a home and a place to rest and now had nowhere and were lost.

 

 

The voices of the party echoed across the area, frantic and imploring. They watched as they wandered around the area under the hill and sat silent, the great limbs of the tree hiding them from their seekers. The shimmer held tight to the girl, begging her to stay there so she would not be alone in this strange open place. The girl nodded and sobbed, for the shimmer’s sorrows as much as the fear of what the party would do to her once she was found.

 

 

As the party searched, the mists followed, circling the members of the group and wailing out at them. Their wails sparked fears in the party and they looked to the sky for the storm they believed to be approaching. The search grew more frantic and harried and the people darted in every direction, fear gripping at them like a stalker.

 

 

The mother came up around the back of the hill and that’s where she found them. The mists converged on her as she fell to her knees at what was before her and wept. The others came rushing and looked with horror with her at the jumbled wreckage of the discarded. It was like peering into a dragon’s cave. The remains were tossed in piles and strewn across the ground like discarded refuse. Remnants and shards dotted solitary areas. Eyeless holes peered out at them and skeletal hands reached out as if for help. They shouted and made calls and soon there were very many more. Many needed to untangle and make sense of the chaotic web of all these remains. Many needed to help piece each back together and make whole again, many to find answers and demand a reckoning.

 

 

A small lone form was the first to be put back in its place, gently lifted and given a new warm place to lie with soft cushions all around. As she was laid reverently onto the cushions, the young one with the laughter of a thousand bells and stars shining in her eyes, the girl felt the shimmer begin to release its grip and felt a gentle brush against her cheek. The shimmer settled in and once again dreamt and once again was divine.

 

 

Sephi'PiderWitch July 25, 2009


Posted on: August 24 2011

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POETRY:

The Roots of Passion

by Delicate Flower Quill-blue

The passion rises

from the rose

that blooms and sheds

its red petals

throughout the garden of our souls.

The thorns that cut and bleed

leaving scars embedded in eternity.

Planting the roots

of strong maternal needs.

Feelings flow

saturating the soil

with seeds that spread and grow

deep into the ground

where we will all eventually go.


Posted on: August 24 2011

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POETRY:

Eternal Web

by Delicate Flower Quill-blue

Weaving through a web

connecting all of time.

Fused for eternity

are moments intertwined.

Swishing and swirling

through fog and misty dew,

connecting shadowy, steamy shapes

of shades of grades of blue.

Fused for eternity

are the memories in my mind

linking you with me

forever for all time.

 


Posted on: August 24 2011

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POETRY:

Grandma Bea

by Delicate Flower Quill-blue

It started a long time ago

when I used to walk a mile or so

to visit with Grandma Bea.

She'd offer her smile, cookies, and tea

and we'd sit and talk and watch T.V.

I can't forget the weekly trips

to Howard Johnson's for fish and chips.

Ringling Brothers and Nutcracker suites 

were places we'd go

and it was always a treat.

Grandma Bea watched me grow

and listened to all 

my relationship woes.

She'd never judge me in any way

and always listened to what I'd say.

The only times we would disagree

was when she was driving 

in a car with me.

"You're going much too fast -

you're a crazy driver",

she would sometimes blast.

But, after we'd reach our destination

we'd be at peace

and have a revelation.

The Rascal House was our usual place

where we'd meet to talk and laugh and eat.

Our day was not complete

unless we could shop -

Shop till we drop

that was our motto

and by the time we were done

we needed to win Lotto.

When I think of all the things we've done

I remember having so much fun

like eating hot hogs without the bun

and before we knew it

we'd be on the run.

Costco, Publix, and Sawgrass Mills

Quality shoping

without all the frills.

Then, we worked up an appetite -

where should we go for dinner tonight?

Moe's is only opened till four

and the Rascal House

has a line out the door.

But, Turnbagel's opened, so we've heard.

We musn't miss the early bird.

I always looked forward to calling Grandma up

to tell her all the latest stuff

And, so as far as grandmother's go -

you are the most wonderful grandmother I know.


Posted on: August 24 2011

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POETRY:

Open Your Eyes

by Delicate Flower Quill-blue

Open your eyes

and finally see

what has been in front of you

since your existence graced this earth.

The flowers that blossom and sing

telling you to celebrate your birth.

Walk with pride

and finally appreciate

the wonder of the heaven's work

the carvings of stone

cemented into an earth

covered by green -

the clarity of the sea

strategically placed

below your eyes

whispering your name

summoning your soul

guiding your path 

to eternal greatness.


Posted on: August 24 2011

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POETRY:

Yarn Dreams

by Blaze Quill-red

Turning up her nose

to the fairy tale,

life is so much sweeter

than the imagination;

a skein of yarn at her feet

unraveling

           into

                                                 a giant tapestry

                                                                                     of freedom.


Posted on: August 24 2011

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POETRY:

This is the Moment

by Blaze Quill-red

 

To be your blazing self…

to speak with your heart and

dance with your soul.

To be brilliant…

in all the ways you already are and

the million more yet to be discovered.

To follow a path…

of your own design and

in a direction that best suits you.

Are you ready?

–Barbara L. Lazarony


Posted on: August 23 2011

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POETRY:

Your Hands

by Blaze Quill-red

 

 

 

 

 

Hold my hand,

guide me in hollow darkness,

on my journey,

remind me,

“You are not alone.”

 

I will be rattled,

by turbulent swirls of force,

may I find peace

and friendship in our grasp.

 

--Barbara L. Lazarony


Posted on: August 23 2011

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POETRY:

As it is Written

by Farmer Rye'N Quill-orange

Angels sinned in this…

Insatiable…Secular world

Ravaging ignorant

Tangible thoughts

 

Everything...Nothing

There hides

Eternal retribution

Enveloped inside…Something

Never once noticed

Evolving…revolving

Into…

Galactic happenstance

 

Twisted emotions

Open under scrutiny

New...Old

Trumpets echo violently

Entertaining noise

 

Once…never enough

Triumphant hearts…

Explode

Releasing envy

Impure splendor

Nourishing obedience

Naked equality

Wandering hopelessly

Observing unworthy

 

Nubile dreams

Erupt rhythmically

Suggestively

Transmuting archetypical

Nuanced discernible

Sentimentality

 


Posted on: August 23 2011

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POETRY:

The Roots of Life

by Blaze Quill-red

Nature Poetry, A tree with large roots

I have spent my whole life, up to now,

looking at the flowers,

drinking in their beauty…

wishing for something I am not.

It’s the roots now,

that I’m attracted to,

the gnarled, tangled, messy roots.

The ones that reach down

into the natural world,

find strength within the earth,

soak in glorious nourishment,

and drink up life.

–Barbara L. Lazarony

 


Posted on: August 23 2011

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FICTION:

Eyes in the Sky

by Delicate Flower Quill-blue

     I lost my sight at the age of thirty five.  Glaucoma slowly gnawed away at my optic nerve.  I admit, I was complacent about using my eyedrops and believed the Eye Bright promises of the convincing infomercials.  I learned braille and somehow managed to navigate my way through the jungle of life with my cane and other instincts by my side.

     But, on this one fateful day, I decided to cast caution to the wind, and trust the words of a person standing next to me at a street corner.  "It's safe to cross now", said the sincere sounding stranger.  So off the curb I stepped and that was the end of my physical life here on earth.

     It's true what they say about the light, which surprised me, since I haven't seen actual light in fourteen years.  But, apparently even the blind will see the light when their time is up.  I was hoping to be going up, but at this moment, I seemed to be hovering.  Not like an annoying parent, but more like a flock of hungry hawks deciding if the decaying flesh was worth diving into.

     I am not sure how long I actually hovered, but at some point, I could feel my energy start to strengthen, as I swirled and twirled into a ball of cosmic dust and shot up into the atmosphere at supersonic speed.  My physical self used to suffer from motion sickness at the slightest movement. So, it was quite an accomplishment that I was able to tolerate this whirlwind of a trip without the need for Dramamine.

     Once again, I am not certain of how long it took me to reach my final destination.  But, I assumed I had arrived where I was meant to be when the swirling slowed and the hovering returned.  I could feel something strange happening - like pieces of energy rearranging and forming into an odd shape.  Not round nor square - maybe oval.  I felt a stretching or branching out - like a swishing of energy moving up and down.  The flapping continued at a more rapid pace until a spangling of stars streaked across the blanket of blackness.  I could actually see the universe in its grand vastness filled with shooting stars and rotating planets.  But, even more extraordinary were the millions of eyes that floated past me in glorious colors.

     I felt overwhelmed by the number of eyes that floated past me, under me, and over me.  I couldn't help but notice how different these eyes appeared.  Some were greener than the granny apples that I used to bite into and others were a mixture of brown and green.  I believe they called that hazel back down on earth.  I don't think I ever met anyone with hazel eyes, other than my mother and myself.  A purple eye flirted by.  Could that have been Elizabeth Taylor?  I wondered.  Would I be able to spot Sammy Davis Jr. with his glass eye?  I'd have to keep my eye peeled for that one.  This was a smorgasbord of eyes some of which were fit for the soup of Hannibal Lechter.  I wondered if any of these eyes belonged to any of his victims, but preferred not to dwell on such a dismal thought.

     I started to notice that all of these vastly different colored eyes had one uniform trait - thick, long eyelashes.  The kind that I used to see on Maybelline mascara commercials.  I could only hope that my newly formed eye was also lined with the same luxurious and silky lashes, which would be quite a change from the sparse lashes of my previous reality.  I could not know this for sure as there were no mirrors in the upper stratospheres.

     I glided through this sea of eyes brushing into soft pillows of lush lashes, when suddenly I found myself eye to eye with the most unusual shade of blue iris I had ever seen.  It was a mixture of blue and charcoal with speckles of green and streaks of brown.  This eye hovered over mine and my eye could not budge from the hypnotic stare in front of me.  I realized that I had seen this eye somewhere before.  The unusual speckles of color began to fade as I peered into this familiar eye and the blue began to shine through.  My pupil began to dilate and my lashes batted like an uncontrollable twitch when I realized whose eye I was staring into.  His eye blinked a knowing blink and then squinted before opening wider than a smiling rainbow as his lashes drew mine into his.  My father had found me among the thousands of eyes that roamed the open skies.  I could finally close my eye and rest in peace. 

 

 

 


Posted on: August 23 2011

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POETRY:

The Straight Ahead Path

by Delicate Flower Quill-blue

Walk down the road

that takes you uphill.

Coasting's okay,

but never stand still.

Look straight ahead

do not turn around.

You can look to the sides,

but if you look back

you'll fall down.

Continue the journey

through potholes and troughs,

through deeply dug ditches

and roads laden with rocks -

through sink holes and mudslides

and unpaved mass,

through slippery slopes

and roads covered by glass.

But, as you continue

on the beaten up path,

you'll eventually see a fork or two.

You'll stop and wonder

what you should do.

Go right or left

where things appear smooth?

Or continue where bumps

are waiting for you?

The road straight ahead

seems the right choice.

"You never know what you'll find"

says this strange little voice.

So, off you continue

on the straight ahead path.

The road seems to have leveled -

it's smooth sailing at last.


Posted on: August 22 2011

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POETRY:

It Is Said

by Delicate Flower Quill-blue

It is said it is written on a certain day

who will prosper and who will pay

who will work and who will play

who will blossom and who will whither away.

 

It is said it is written in the sky

who will speak truth and who will lie

who will laugh and who will cry

who will give up and who will continue to try.

 

It is said it is written in the sand

who will bow down and who will stand

who will choose sea and who will love land

who will feel comfort and who will be stricken by hand.

 

It is said it is written in the rain

who will feel joy and who will feel pain

who will partake and who will abstain

who will be taken and who will remain.

 

It is said it is written at the gate

who will love and who will hate

Life is for living on this very date

postpone no more - just celebrate!


Posted on: August 22 2011

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FICTION:

Reclaiming

by SephiPiderWitch Quill-yellow

 

 

Soul weary and with a leaden heart, he slung the pack across his back and began to walk.  He walked until he lost track of how long he had walked, till his mind was stilled save for the placement of the next step, long past the time where he crossed others upon the trail, till the muscles in his body screamed "enough!"  And still he continued, placing one foot in front of the other.  It was as if the trees were beckoning him onward, parting just slightly to show him the way.  And still, he continued. Still further he would have gone, save for the fallen trees that barred the path forcing him to veer off to find a way around.

 

He pushed thorugh the brush and branches and heard the soft trickle of water nearby.  So, he pushed a bit further away from the path to look for its source.  The soothing crystal sound pulled at him until he found himself in a small clearing.

 

Soft rays of sunshine poured through scattered breaks in the branches and the mossy veils of the trees.  The small steady stream of water slipped over a crease in the hill to play across the rocks, casting prism glimmers of light on the slope before coming to rest in the small pool in front of him.

 

He let his pack slip from his shoulder onto the ground, then slowly lowered himself down beside it.  He pulled a small bag of food from the pack and leaned back against an ancient tree stump, a furrow in it a perfect fit for his spine, its gnarled roots granting a cradled seat.  He slowly began to eat, allowing the silence to fill him, the scents to intoxicate him and the low heartbeat of the land to lull him..

 

He slipped into a gentle slumber and was awakened by a sense; a presence maybe.  He looked around him to notice the sun had dipped slightly, shifting the shadows and play of light around him.  Off to his side, he noticed a slender stump robed in a deep carpet of moss, rising up from the ground like a small moss-robed man.  He smiled at the thought, remembering the stories he had been told as a youth of the fey spirits of the forests.  He could see in this visage how such tales got their birth.  And the more he looked upon this man of moss, the more real he appeared to him.  It was almost as if he could sense him waiting, listening.  But, for what?

He leaned back and watched it for some time and the spell of the forest touched him once again.  "So, its a story you wish to hear, is it?"  He asked the little man.  "Well, fine then.  Then tis a story you shall have."  He reached into his pack again and pulled out his pipe, filled it with some sweet smelling tobacco, lit it, then leaned back against the stump and began to talk.

 

His story, he began to tell, of his life.  The words, slow and faltering at first, then flowing into a stream whose dam has broken, into a torrent of tales.  He spoke tales of his pains and sorrows, of his joys and accomplishments, and of course, his failures.  He recounted the tales of his youth and many adventures then.  Of his loves and his losses, and of his children.  Of those he had said goodbye to far too soon and those whose brief touch left an indelible imprint on his soul.  He spoke of those that had loved him and those that had betrayed him and laughed at how often they were the same.  He wept and he laughed as the stories poured out.  The miles and the years and the lifetimes he had experienced, all were told, all revealed.

 

Silently and patiently, the figure listened.  An understanding being who had all the time in the world for him, who begged to hear, with his quiet countenance, all he had to tell.  So, on he talked, telling the secrets he had never told another soul.  He told of the things no man speaks of to another.  The secret fears and the unfulfilled desires locked and guarded so deeply within.

 

And deeper, the sun began to slip.  And on he talked, till his voice was hoarse from the expense, till there were no more words to speak.  And still the figure listened, silently, patiently, till the last word had been summoned forth

 

The night had stolen in during this time and the man smiled gently on the robed figure in the dark.  The telling lifting the weight from his heart, his soul finally at peace.  He closed his eyes to the night and slept, his mossy guardian never leaving his side.

 

She broke into the clearing, eyes full of wonder at what she saw there.  She began to snap pictures of all that was about her, the sparkling little waterfall, the trees with their drapes of feather moss, the birthing blooms of Spring.  This was the kind of place that dreams were made of, that held the promise of fairy dances and midnight rites, of the ancient gods and a time where nothing was beyond belief.

 

A shadow fleeted off to her side, catching her attention.  A small gasp escaped her lips as she spied the partial circle of moss covered figures.  She began to snap pictures of them rapidly, from every angle.  Worshipers frozen in time, the wise ones of the woods, guardians of the forest.  They looked so real, she thought, as she set her pack down on the ground.  "I'll bet you all have such stories to tell!"  She pulled her notebook and pen from her pack and sat down.  She closed her eyes for a moment, breathed in the forest, and listened till the first soft whisper slipped into her ear.  "Yes!  Oh Yes!"  she exclaimed, opened her book and began to write.

 

Sephi'PiderWitch March, 2010

 


Posted on: August 22 2011

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FICTION:

The Minister of Regrets

by humbird

 

By C Y Gopinath

Excerpted from The Book of Answers 

“No, no, no, no,” Arindam waved my words away. “You must understand. Ishwar Prasad, with barely eight months to go before the elections, this morning announced the creation of a brand new ministry, the likes of which has never been heard of before, not in India and not in any other nation.” 

He allowed a dramatic silence to sit between us. 

On the telly at this moment a bureaucrat sub-titled Mr. Ramasubban Vengayam, Minister of Errors and Regrets, was shaking his head morosely from side to side. “I think even the formation of a ministry such as mine is very regrettable,” he was saying. “It will take us a long time to recover from this blunder the government has committed. My Ministry apologizes deeply, from the bottom of the heart, to all Indians who will be affected by our work in the days ahead.”

The visual changed to a room full of men and women with cameras and tape recorders; clearly this was a press conference. A young man in a tweed coat spoke up, “What is your ministry’s main function, sir?”

“Our main function is blinding honesty,” said the minister heavily. “Perhaps it is our main weakness. I and my staff stand ready to admit and apologize every time the government commits a blunder. For example, when third rate laws are passed to benefit one or two individuals. Or when there is bribery and corruption. Or when ministers and senior officials have extra-marital affairs. I’m sure you get the general idea.”

I had to admit it was a master stroke — rather than a spokesman who denied governmental improprieties, this one conceded them all. He was a disarming figure, sure to generate laughter and sympathy, and lawsuits hardly ever.

“Why would the government enact a law that it knows will be a blunder?” asked the chief reporter of Dainik Baatcheet (or Daily Chitchat) from the town of Gorakhpur.

“This is the impression,” the Minister agreed at once. “A good government should not make such mistakes. But the history of the world is full of 'mistakes' made by 'good' governments. My Ministry will always recommend that the government commit new and original mistakes as soon as possible.”

“But why commit mistakes?”

“Because, my dear sir, we learn from mistakes. A government that makes no mistakes is a government that has stopped learning. My ministry will regularly release lists of mistakes worth committing. And also mistakes worth repeating.”

“Why repeat a mistake?” asked India Today.

“It is like a lemon,” said the Minister. “Give it one more squeeze, a few more drops come out. We want to learn everything possible from every mistake, and sometimes one has to commit it a few times to get the best banging for the buck, as the Americans say.”

“How many mistakes can your ministry commit at any given time?” came a querulous old voice, (a Parsi food critic, Arindam whispered).

“We do not commit the mistakes ourselves, madam,” clarified Vengayam. “We release lists of approved mistakes that may be made, and farm the work out to selected contractors in a system we call MCT, or Mistake-Commit-and-Transfer, not unlike the Build-Operate-and-Transfer system that we use for super-highways and bridges. In MCT, once a mistake has been successfully committed by an approved contractor, we include it in our gazetted list of mistakes that may be committed by anyone without prior approval or licence.”

“India is a big country, sir,” said the compère of a radio political round-up. “Does your Ministry intend to apologize for all the rubbish that goes in our national life?”

“You raise a good point,” said the Minister, with regret. “We will have to choose our blunders carefully. Simply don't have enough staff yet for all that we have to regret in India. Not easy to find people who apologize well.”

A bubbly young thing from MTV wanted to know what skills went into good regretting. “It's like classical dance,” said the minister. “Expression is everything.”

“Will the honorable minister show us an expression?”

Vengayam laughed good-naturedly. “But I must find something to regret,” he said, looking around. “Let me see. Perhaps we can regret the freedom of the press. ” He composed his face into a neutral expression, eyes fixed at a point about three feet above the middle of the room, giving me the impression that he was looking straight at me. A shadow settled over his eyes, their edges drooped, as his head tilted a few degrees to his right. His mouth curved downward tragically at some depressing inner thought, and his shoulders hunched, reducing his stature and conjuring up contrition. There was no doubt he was deeply struck by remorse.

The look cleared, the smile returned. “That was Simple Regret,” he said. “We also have Passing Regret, Deep Regret, Deep Shock, Simple Remorse, Deep Remorse, Catatonic Regret, Passing Grief and Intolerable Grief. More expressions will be added depending on the mistake committed.”

Arindam clicked the television shut. “What does this tell you?”

I was sure he would tell me.

“It should tell you that Ishwar Prasad is planning something big and regrettable,” he said, after a few moments.

 


Posted on: August 22 2011

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POETRY:

Quiet Grace

by Delicate Flower Quill-blue

Listen for the silence

as its glorious presence

wraps itself around you -

relaxing and soothing

your very existence.

Healing your being

with its quiet grace -

appreciating each moment

where all noise will be erased.

Meditation and release

provides tranquility and peace,

blessed are the moments of silence.


Posted on: August 21 2011

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POETRY:

No Place Like Home

by Delicate Flower Quill-blue

Tinmen, scarecrows, lions, and dogs -

they all derive from a land they call Oz.

A place where the heartless can learn how to care

and the brainless can learn to think and beware.

The cowards all learn to be brave and roar loud -

to defend to the end, they stick out in a crowd.

But, somehow this place that's so sunny and green

is also filled with some things that are mean.

Witches, black forests, and wizards who preach

with loud scary voices that carry and screech.

I am just a young girl who decided to roam.

I realize now that there's no place like home.


Posted on: August 21 2011

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NON-FICTION:

Text and Context

by R. W. Scott Quill-green

So, there you are, standing beside your car on a turn-out high above an ice-blue lake surrounded by tall pines. In the distance you can see, jagged and imposing, snow-capped mountains, and it is all crowned by what Stephen King would call a "blameless blue sky".

The air is crisp, but there is a warm breeze, and riding that breeze is the scent of pine and fresh earth. There is nothing like it. The only sounds you hear are distant birds and the chittering of small creatures. Your attention is drawn away from yourself and all of your worries, cares; even the knowledge that someone is waiting for you in the car is carried off by that magic moment.

It is beautiful. It is special. It moves the heart and the soul and the mind.

"I must capture this," you whisper to yourself in an effort to preserve the experience unsullied. You bring up your camera and sight through it. Yes! Yes! It is perfect.

 

A few days later you are sitting with your friends back home and talking about the wonderful time you had away, while showing photographs to back up your claim. Your friends go through the many shots you took, and perhaps comment on one or two. But they put them down and start talking about what has happened at work.

What? You wonder how it can be that your friends are missing the majesty, the heart-rending beauty of what you've shown them.

Then, fingers trembling, you look for yourself.

Ah. Photographs. Just snapshots, really. Nice enough. Composition is okay, color is nice, but just... just photographs.

 

So, I'm not talking about photographs. I'm not really talking about the breath-taking view of a crystal lake. What I'm talking about is Context.


A problem many of us have as writers (I know it is true for me) is that while we have very little difficulty--for the most part--in getting the text out to our reader, it is the context that is missing. No! Not for us! Never for us. We are all about context. We have lived it. We have nurtured it. We have awakened in the middle of the night with our hearts in our throats, moved by beauty, or power, or fear or heroic action. We know what it means.

The problem is, how do we get that feeling across to our readers? How do we convey the emotional impact, the depth, the beauty, the... the... what? Is it always to be ineffable?

The first step is to realize that context does not automatically ride along with our text. It has to be encouraged. It has to be set up.

Think about this:

What is it about a book, a movie, a TV commercial, or an act of kindness observed on the street where you live that moves you? What is it that brings a tear to your eye, makes you angry, or challenges you to action?

One thing it is NOT is text.  Not plain text. Text, words, spoken lines, images... by themselves do not have the power to move the heart, the soul, the mind. But when these words are spoken within... when the images are cradled inside a CONTEXT, the lights come on, the breathing changes, the heartbeat quickens.

That context comes from a shared experience--it comes from something human, and fundamental, that your reader can touch.

Perhaps the most important this is learning to recognize a context. Some are easy, a small, quiet animal looking at a camera with huge soft eyes or the sound of children giggling in a playground, evoke strong feelings in many of us.

The sound of a dentist's drill, or of dishes being smashed (in anger?!), the sound of an open hand slapping a face... powerful contexts.

Some aren't so easy. Take the sound of a child crying in fear and contrast it to a child crying in a grocery store because he or she can't have a candy bar.

Now for the disappointment.

If you are expecting me to give you a way to create context for your text, I apologize. I'm not ready to do that yet. Not ready means, "I don't know how".  Other than attaching what you write to the humanity of your reader, their fears, their joys, their loves, their hates, which in itself is a big enough challenge, the process is still wide open to development and understanding.

That said, what I do offer is a challenge to start looking for the context in images, sounds, and texts that work. The challenge is to begin to identify, and perhaps collect those moments. The challenge is, once found, to teach ourselves how to use these moments.

This, in my opinion, is a worthy goal for those of us who would be more than writers, for those of us who would be artists. There is more to be said on this, perhaps a lot more. I invite you to dive in and help us all to develop these thoughts and to help create the processes needed to realize them.

 

Published, 3/14/10: UphilllWriting.org


Posted on: August 21 2011

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NON-FICTION:

Warning: DEAD Herrings

by R. W. Scott Quill-green

Anton Checkhov (this is the writer, not the navigator of the Enterprise) once said that "...if there is a gun hanging on the wall in the first act, it must fire in the last..."

For those of you who have endeavored to construct a full and complex novel, this is more than a suggestion, it is an outright requirement of your craft. And one that can be extremely difficult to accomplish.

Stephen King has admitted that many of the "clues" and "RED Herrings" that populate his novels are added after the fact--that is, after the crafting of the main story draft is complete, and are thus easier (for him) to manage.

For me--and I can only guess it is so for many of you--doing that requires more discipline than I, at least, can manage. I tend to create and insert these bits of business willy-nilly as they come to mind, and trust in my memory (or in tools like yWriter which manages such things) to keep me honest.

Nonetheless, I find, no matter how hard I try, that there are always loose ends left over, many, the resolution of which would add significantly to the quality, tension, and satisfaction of the work.

If you'll pardon me for this, I've named these things "DEAD Herrings". Unlike a "Red Herring"--a bit of business designed to send the reader off in a direction away from the "truth" of your story--a "Dead Herring" is a failed attempt to do that. This is to say, an attempt to mislead which falls short due to a lack of follow-up.

I have long been of the opinion that being aware that a problem exists is moving a great distance toward resolving it. For me, knowing that Dead Herrings are out there makes it easier to spot them and make corrections. I would hope that becoming aware of this potential problem would help you, as well.

Bottom line, RED Herrings good. DEAD Herrings are little more than a deceased and smelly fish.


Posted on: August 20 2011

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POETRY:

The Adventures of Professor Shortsight: Part I

by R. W. Scott Quill-green

I love Professor Shortsight.
(That's agape', my dear),
for his amazing vision,
and all his science gear.

His experiment last week
has turned us upside down.
He made cows be carnivores,
and let them loose in town.

Peckish bovines looking for
A little bite to eat.
Chasing people up and down
each alley and wide street.

The Professor stands on high
and watches with great care,
as men shake their fists at him,
and cry, "it isn't fair!"


Posted on: August 20 2011

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FICTION:

Fire Season

by SephiPiderWitch Quill-yellow


 

Fire Season was approaching!

 

It begins when the blistering sun of summer and the Easterly winds have scorched across the land, draining it of every last drop of moisture and seeming life it had within it. The people draw inside their homes, shut their doors and windows from the air, so hot it scorches your lungs just to take a breath. Then the cold comes to take its hold. And the clouds begin to crest the horizon, too high for their drops to arrive with little more than a taste to make the land weep for more. They clash in the skies above, charging the air with energy as the thunder shakes even the stoutest of trees in the depths of the ground and the lightening streaks across the sky in an endless play of bolts and balls and rippling energies of light. And when they touch upon the ground and taste the dried and decayed matter, they erupt in flames, consuming ravenously all they can reach.


We sit and watch this display. We hope our homes made of our special bricks will resist the dancing inferno. And we breath in the energy that has charged every atom of the air during the fire storm. It enters us then, and if we let it deep inside to the seed within, it ignites us as well. Its a powerful feeling to have the fire storm ignite your seed. When it does, it releases you in a way that you cannot imagine. You always have the choice to only let as much in as you choose to. It is “your” seed, after all.


We are taught of this from as early as we are able to learn.  We are also guarded from it, from its influence, until we are old enough to make that choice ourselves. And when it is time, our guardians will step back and we can look upon the fire storm and choose to either welcome it or turn it away. But, once we let it in, we must set aside our childhood and move into the realm of the adults. Some resist its calling for a few seasons, wishing to remain in the innocence and protection of the uninitiated. Some will embrace it at the first opportunity. A few escape the protection of the elders and enter into it at too young an age and are consumed by it. And a small number choose never to allow its full touch. Each have their own reasons and each have their own place here.


I reached the age of choice a couple of seasons ago, but held back. Instead, I waited to watch my friends. I wanted to observe how they were changed so as to better know if it was something I wished for myself. I have always been less impulsive than many of the others. And I wasn’t willing to give up who I was till I learned if I didn’t like who I would become. For there is never any truly going back once you have taken that step across that line. Oh, you can choose not to take it again in the seasons that follow. But, you will still be forever changed for having taken it at all. Given that knowledge, I wanted to be sure before I crossed that line.


Last season, as the fires danced across the land, lighting up the skies in their reds and oranges and yellows and blues, and the doors swung open on the homes and the way was parted for those that felt the longing to take those steps. I found myself moving forward and across the threshold into the fiery night.


The fire shot and swirled about us as we began to dance and sing in the clearing. Walled in by the flames, the thunder crashing in the heavens, the skies split by the bolts, we breathed it in, letting it reach down and touch that seed, protected for all of our lives until now. Feeling it now for what it truly was.


We became the fire when our seed ignited, equally ravenous, equally devouring.


I saw him for the first time that night, or I saw him in a way I had never seen him before. But, when our eyes met, our fires joined together with each other, weaving a fiery cord that pulled us closer together, until we touched. We were wrapped in a pillar of our combined flames at that moment, set aside from all else and at the utter mercy of the desire that pounded in every cell of our being. And we devoured each other with our desire, each touch igniting new dancers of flame on the others skin, each taste giving fuel to the fire, each movement raising us to even higher levels than before. Till finally, we merged. The skies seemed to open above us then and we were floating. Floating in a cool air that did nothing to dampen the heat of our desires. In fact, it just raised them to a higher level. Up we went into the sky, a twisting, undulating ball of molten fire till that one last pulse snapped the seed open and the wash of stars floated down to bathe our searing forms.


Some of us mark the days till the next season, forever hungry for the consuming and the being consumed. The seed shooting new and different growth with each merging. There are some that always choose the same other to dance with, time and time again.  And there are others that will find a new partner to do the fire dance with each time. Each way creates growth in different ways.  And the children born of the fire dance are the most treasured of our kind. Few stay past maturity, longing to merge back into the fires from which they were birthed. They enter the fires alone and dance a dance of abandon and utter surrender to the music of their spirits before they are wrapped in the embrace of the flames and taken back in.


Though a few do remain. And they never cross the threshold when the door is thrown open. They just stand and watch, no sadness, no regret. Simply a look of understanding on their faces and never leave their place till the very last dance has been done.



SephiPiderWitch

06/09/2011


Posted on: August 20 2011

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FICTION:

KISS OF DEATH

by SephiPiderWitch Quill-yellow

She didn’t mean to kill him, never wanted him to die. She wanted only what everyone wanted, to be touched, to be loved, to be part of something beyond just her.

 


Eris looked down on his lifeless form and wiped the tears from her cheeks just as the fear began to creep in. How would she explain this? She couldn’t tell them the truth. Even if they believed her, they would still condemn her and find her a monster. She had to get him out of here, remove any trace that he had ever been here. It would be night soon. She could secret him out then, take him home where when they found him, they would think he died of natural causes. Yes, that is what she must do! So, she gathered his things and put his clothes back on him, placed his keys back in his pocket and waited.


The first faint rays of the predawn were softly illuminating the sky as she pulled back in her driveway. The black skeletal branches of the trees reaching up to the sky as if to grab the last morsel of darkness before it was swept away. Their bare fingers strike deep within her, sister spirits to the barrenness of her soul. She took a deep breath, then got out of the car and went inside.


Eris looked about the room as she entered and took in what must be done. She turned on the stereo. Dark Gothic music fills the air, the instruments throwing Cathedral waves through the room pierced by the ethereal voice of the singer. She allowed it to enter her and spur her into action. She walked across the room and picked up the glasses and plates from the table, took them into the kitchen to wash out the evidence of the shared evening.


The sun was well up by the time Eris finished and all memory of the night before wiped clean. No scent of him lingered, no trace of anything beyond her remained. She drew the heavy curtains, lit the candles in the room and took a seat on the cushion in the center, a glass of liqueur in her hand and lets the music begin to carry her away. She gazed at the flames curling and licking the air in the fireplace. She loved the dance of the flames, the feel of the warm heat touching her face, the soft tendrils of smoke reaching up. As she watched the flames, her mind began to still, a quietness entering her soul and her thoughts began to slowly drift.


Images and memories began to float through her mind The faces of the past began to stream by, the scents, the feel of their fingertips upon her arm. Each tale unwinding, opening itself, recounting in her mind, taking her back to each moment, each touch, each final embrace.


There was John. The first, with his eyes as blue as a spring sky and a smile that could make you forget everything bad in the world. He could make her laugh as no one ever could, either before or since. It wasn’t hard to be swept away by this gentle giant of a man and he wasted no time in sweeping her to his side. Those were easier times then, girls were expected to keep their distance. Keep it or lose respect. That was when she was still naive, when she thought they were just stories told told to frighten her into good behaviour They tasted of the stuff that fairy tales were weaved from. Not things that were of this world. And such cruelty couldn’t be true. She couldn’t be so cursed. And the more time she spent with John, the easier it was to push it from her mind and believe she could have what she had been made to believe had been denied.


It went on for months, the days riding the pastures, talking in the little cafes, strolling through the parks and going to the theater. The countless hours they spent talking and laughing and sharing their worlds. She began to relax and forget. And they talked of their futures together, of the life they would share. Then came that fateful day when he bent to his knee, took her hand in his, then slipped the ring on her finger. A moment later it was all gone, in the blink of an eye, his body slumped at her feet.


She put him on his horse and sent it flying with her whip. Then she ran. Ran until the tears had ceased to flow. Till she no longer knew where she was. Or who she was. Only that the words spoken to her when she was a child were echoing, pounding through her mind. The stories wrapped around her and she could no longer deny that she was them.


How many more were there after John? There was Claire, the beautiful artist that painted the dreams of angels. Her desire, so fierce, she couldn’t resist. She was a force of nature that carried all it came across with it. She never dreamed that Claire could be a danger, for such a thought was unnatural. Even for one such as her. But, from Claire, she learned that such bounds do not exist in love. The wicked cherub cares not where he shoots his arrow, nor finds fault where it lands. She learned that the night of the showing as they stood out on the balcony of her home and Claire reached to touch her face. Then leaned and she felt the warmth of her breath almost touching. Her loss, thought a suicide by everyone, sending her work into fame after.


Dear, sweet Charles. So like a child in many ways, trusting, innocent and patient. She held him at bay for the longest. It wasn’t hard as he never pressured her on anything. That is, until the day of the accident. He was so afraid she couldn’t love him anymore and wouldn’t believe her until she proved it. He never left the hospital and they believed his heart just wasn’t strong enough to recover from the injuries.


So many more through so many years. So many times she tried to seclude herself from others, from temptation. She even tried secreting herself in a convent once away from temptation, away from tempting. But, the young priest with the haunted eyes spirited his way into her heart. She was not the first he sought to seduce, so when they found his broken form at the base of the tower, they assumed his guilt had driven him there.


It wasn’t long before she began to realize that she didn’t seem to age as others did. It would not be safe to stay in one place too long. It was only a matter of time before others took note of it as well. So, she became a wanderer, a gypsy, moving from city to city and eventually across the continents. She watched societies rise and crumble, was witness to the intense goodness in the hearts of men as well as the unspeakable evil. It was this intrigue with the complexity of them that held her locked to them. No matter how many times or ways she tried, she couldn’t keep her distance for long: ever and always drawn back to them. And always there would be another one that would reach out to her and touch her heart.


The curse of her kind was told her when she was but a young girl. Her kind, it was said, had been around for as long as humans had. It may be that they came from the same seed. Always they were drawn to each other by a need that wrapped them in a net and bound them, one to the other. Their desire, a calling that could not be dismissed or ignored. She was told of the cautions she must take in life. That she must harden her heart to their calling. Or at the very least, not take them into her heart. She listened to all the tales, all the cautions, all the histories. But, they made her feel alive as nothing else did. And even when the tales proved true, still she hoped that maybe there was one who could rise after the kiss. One that didn’t grow cold after.


The flames had died to glowing embers as she began to return to the now. She set her glass down and rose to begin putting out the candles She heard voices approaching from outside. She peeked out the curtains and saw the car out front. Panic seized her and she began to go over everything in her mind of what could have been forgotten. She was always so careful! She heard their footsteps coming up the walk to the door and felt a wave of panic setting in. Did she forget something? Did she leave something? Was she seen?


She opened the door to them and invited them in. There were three of them, so official in their crisply pressed blue uniforms. They begged admittance and the door seemed to open to them of its own accord. His sister had found him there, they told her, when she went to pick him up early that morning. A stunned look swept over Eris’ face. She hadn’t known about any plans he had. She felt a small sense of relief when she looked up at the officers and it was obvious they registered it as shock over the news and offered up condolences.


She took each one of them in as her mind began to whirl over what to say, to do next. The older, heavy set one with the ruddy cheeks and playful eyes. He was no worry to her. The gentleness in his gaze told her all he felt was compassion. The young slim one as well was not a concern. He hadn’t been on the force long, still nervous, eyes darting about the room and wiping his palms on the tops of his legs frequently. He was here to watch and learn. That’s why there were three of them and not just two.


But, the one with the grey eyes, so intent, so serious, she knew she couldn’t lie to him. He watched every breath she took, every move she made, listened far beyond the words, making note of the inflections and every movement that accompanied them. No, this one would spot a lie in an instant. The tale must be told in truth. That she could do. There were ways to tell the truth that could turn the story in many different directions.


So, she told them of her night with Mike, of their time together and how they had met. Answered everything they wished to know of their relationship. How they had spent the day together, then had dinner and wine. Except she said they had dined at his place. And that the hour had grown late, so she had begged his leave. And she had left after kissing him goodbye.


The grey eyed one watched her for a few moments, then closed his notepad. “I think we’re done here.” He told the others. But, his gaze never left her as they walked to the door. She could feel her heart racing as she watched them walk to their car and closed the door slowly, leaning against its weight for support.


She jumped and almost screamed when the rapping came to the door. She looked through the peephole and her breath caught in her breast and pressed against her heart when she saw him standing there.


Carefully, she opened the door to him and he peered in at her. “Sorry to bother you again and I do realize its been a difficult night for you and this is probably not a good time, but when you are feeling better, I was hoping you might have a cup of coffee or some lunch with me sometime.” Eris couldn’t find any words as she stood before him, a flash of heat spreading across her face, her throat so tight she could barely breath. She took his card, nodding slowly and then closed the door behind him.


She took a few deep breaths as she walked away from the door. Then a gentle smile spread across her face as she thought of those deep grey eyes, his smile and the nervousness in his voice when he asked her. Maybe it would be okay this time. Maybe they could just be friends and the kiss need never happen. Maybe.


SephiPiderWitch 10/30/10


Posted on: August 20 2011

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POETRY:

Fini

by M.J. Swensen Quill-red

You see the outside

Aling on the inside

Time has flied

No reason to hide

A bottle of Jack

Little bit of smack

My ending being inplied

Simple suicide


Posted on: August 19 2011

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FICTION:

Tiger and Lily

by Delicate Flower Quill-blue

     Once upon a time, in a pond that was chilly, there lived a fair flower, whose name was Lily.  Lily was as green could be and floated freely from pond to tree.  She soaked up the sunshine each day of the week and smiled at all the creatures she'd see.  There were goldfish and minnows that were friendly enough and Lily continued to float till she felt something tough.

     "Hello there, fair flower - you are so soft and green.  By far you're the most beautiful flower I've seen.  Tell me your name and where do you come from?" 

     "My name is Lily and I come from the sun.  I was born in a pond a long time ago and have been drifting around searching high and low."

     "What have you been searching for, may I be so bold to ask?"

     "I 've been looking for something more exciting that my fellow creatures - for something with some grace and sculptured stoic features - for something with great strength, yet as gentle as a lamb - for something that accepts me for exactly what I am.  And what exactly are you and where do you come from?"

     "I am a strong yet gentle beast that has wandered far from home.  I set out on a sojourn from a place that's far away.  I started out on land and ended up in a bay.  I have been searching for a creature who has a great amount of poise - for something that is gentle and that doesn't make much noise.  I have been searching for something that is delicate and green - for something that calms my nerves and makes me feel serene."

     "You must have been looking for this creature in many different places.  High and low and up and down - you've traveled very far.  But, still I do not know exactly what kind of creature you are.  You feel hard and strong, yet fury and soft.  You're like nothing I've ever seen before.  But, being with you makes my heart want to know you more."

     "I know what you mean.  I feel the same way.  I've never encountered a flower so lovely as I have on this day.  I am a creature that is complex and brave.  I am powerful and fast, yet I know how to behave.  I can appreciate  the things that are simple in life.  My desires are basic and my instincts are keen and you are the most beautiful flower I've seen."

     "Thank you so much, for the kind lovely words.  They soften my petals and make my leaf more green and you are the most charming creature I've seen.  But, what exactly do you call yourself?  I am a flower named Lily and I need to know - what are you called and where do you plan to go?"

     "I am a creature known as Tiger.  I am a powerful hunter and a graceful provider.  I usually search, travel, and roam.  But, now that I've seen you, I have finally found my home.  I am staying right here, if this is where you'll be.  If you continue to float, I will keep you next to me.  I will follow you wherever you may go.  You're much too special a flower, I will always tell you so."

 

 

 


Posted on: August 19 2011

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NON-FICTION:

When Nice Words Just Won't Do

by Delicate Flower Quill-blue

     What is it about foul language that's so popular and yet so provocatively forbidden?  Is it the knowledge that it's not acceptable by the elite followers of Emily Post?  Is it the thrill of thinking that we are defying our mother's nagging requests that we not sound like we were raised in the gutter?  Perhaps it is believed that if the more basic animalistic drives are left untamed by the mantras of Miss Manners, they will simply run amuck and spew from our uncultured tongues like uncontrolled Tourettes.

     I was raised by a family that deplored derogatory language and hence deployed disciplinary measures to produce a person who speaks like a lady and thinks like a monk.  But many of these gallant attempts to suppress my innate desires to sound like an inebriated sea man were tested by my innocent professing of profanities for which I received punitive consequences (bar of soap in mouth) until at long last I seemed able to control my litanies of lewd language.  But, apparently this was a temporary repression of a primitive urge that when left to its own devices rose from the depths of the sewers as I spewed forth obscenities with the free-flowing fluidity of a fine wine gone foul.  There was something about exclamations of extra long expletives followed by a recital of rantings and ravings that produced sensations of serenity followed by feelings of complete calmness.  Having discovered what seemed like the secret to feeling good, I was now an official curser - able to utter the filthiest of words at the first sign of distress.  An inconsiderate driver who seemed totally unaware that he just cut in front of me would now become a victim to my maniacal hand gestures and verbal verbiages.  The rude family that could not stop staring at my scintillating salad could count on a look that shouted, "what the -------- are you staring at."

     Despite my perfection of profanities, I still scoffed at the sounds of others' use of foul language, completely oblivious to the fact that I could possibly sound like any of those people frustrated by an inability to speak in civilized sentences.  I knew I had entered the danger zone when I felt no shame as I told my mother what a bunch of blankety blank blanks that I work with and there was a long eery silence on the other end of the phone.  "Hello - are you there?"

     "Excuse me, young lady, I did not raise you to speak like a gutter girl.  Don't speak to me like that again."

     "I'm sorry.  I wasn't speaking to you like that.  I was just expressing myself regarding those blankety blank blanks that I work with."

     "I'm hanging up on you now and don't call me back until you regain the ability to speak like a civilized lady."

     I was beginning to get nervous.  My inability to control my cursing in front of my mother suddenly seemed alarming.  I was approaching my fifth decade of life and had always heard about how inhibition vanishes in the elderly.  Was this what was happening to me?  Needless to say, I was appalled and concerned when my next conversation was my mother telling me about the rude blankety blank blanks that sat at her table at the ladies luncheon. 

 


Posted on: August 19 2011

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