What Matters?

I walked around the museum today looking at the fine art.  It moved me so much I had to sit down and just think.  I was trying to figure out why the different pieces of art affected me in different ways.   I looked at composition and time period.  I looked at subject and artist.  I looked for what was common about all the different pieces, what made them important to me.

That was when I saw those looking at the same art pieces around me.  Not a one of them were the same.  I tried to find the commonalities that linked us, besides the art.  The African American, what about his composition and subject?  Well, his pigment placed his lineage coming from Africa.  The Asian woman standing in front of the Picasso had relatives from a different part of the world, but her ancestors came also from Africa.  My own pale skin, a product of Northern Europe breeding, also originated at one point in Africa.  This revelation showed me we are all African at some point, so black lives matter should be a rallying cry for us and our brothers and sisters, not a wall of separation for both sides.  After all, it’s all in the family.

A Frosty Kind of Life

Along the way on this trip called life I decided to hitchhike along the path less traveled.  I ended up using my legs far more than my thumb, which surprised me until I remembered I had chosen the path less traveled.  Of course there was less traffic along that path.  What was I thinking?  Now I find myself weeping, covered in a pile of leaves, thinking about the road more traveled.  At least on that road I would have had cell phone coverage.  Instead I am going to die here, lost and lonely.  Damn you, Frost and your inspiring words.

Happy Drinksgiving!

I was driving myself to drink.  Literally driving to Dungee’s, a bar, on Drinksgiving.  It was a tradition to go out the night before Thanksgiving to pregame hard before the festivities start the next day.  The idea of dealing with my family among the mindless constant babble of football was enough to warrant the mandatory hangover.

Dungee’s was one of the few places I knew of that had Pappy Van Winkle bourbon usually available.  It was liquid gold, and you better have a vault of gold to afford it, but I work hard and drink harder.  That might have been one of the reasons why my family was hard on me, but it was a holiday and I didn’t want to think about it.  I ordered a flight of shots of their top of the line stuff and found a table in the corner.  I sat with my back to the wall so I could watch everything that was happening.  I wasn’t going to allow any of these townies to sneak up on me, those bastards.

As I sipped my first shot glass, my sister and her husband came in and waved at me.  Jennyfer was as much a pain in my ass as the rest of the family, but she could be fun when she got buzzed, so I waved them over to the table.  Steve waved back, but the two of them went to the bar first.  They placed their orders before coming over to sit with me.  Jennyfer had her Manhattan in hand, half of it already gone before she even sat down.  I pointed at it with a raised eyebrow.  “Hey, I had to walk all the way over here.  It made me thirsty,” she said.

“You guys walked from mom and dad’s?” I asked.  They lived like four miles away and it was breath seeing weather out.  That seemed so unlike my sister who had to have a car to drive from her dorm to the building across the street.  I wondered if she had been abducted by aliens.

“Hell no,” Jennyfer said, “Just the walk from the bar to the boonies where you are sitting.  Could you have sat any farther away?”

I smiled.  That was my sister.  Jennyfer one, aliens zero.  I nodded to Steve.  “You DDing tonight?” I asked.

“Hells no!” Steve practically shouted.  “I’ve got my own flight coming.  I need some fortification to put up with the beat down my Cowboys are about to receive.”  As if the heavens opened up as the prophet had spoken, five beers landed on the table.  Steve lifted the first into the air.  “God bless ‘Merica and God bless them Cowboys!”

“Wait!” I said as I slammed my empty shot onto the table.  “One of us better be the Designated Driver or we could be so screwed.”

“What were you planning on before we got here?” Jennyfer asked.

“To be shitfaced before you showed up, forcing one of you to deal with it,” I replied.

Steve took a drink of his beer, pondering what I had said.  I could tell his beer was something fancy, but all I could smell was the Milwaukee’s Beast that he would drink last.  Steve didn’t want to waste his money on something he wouldn’t care about, but I found it barbaric. There were times I didn’t know what my sister saw in him.

“Well if you didn’t sip that swill then your plan would have worked,” Jennyfer said.  She threw back her Manhattan and raised two fingers.  The bartender smiled and nodded.  I think he was an ex of hers, but still pined on.  Loser.

“Look, you do it tonight and I’ll do it on Friday,” I told Jennyfer.  “I already spent a mint.  I pointed at the four other shots still sitting in front of me.

“I’m not facing that house sober,” Jennifer replied.  “Uh uh.”

I looked at Steve.  He held up his hands.  “I’m just married into that crack house.  You guys fight it out.”

I looked back at Jennyfer.  Her two Manhattans arrived.  She looked back at me, daring m to take the next step.  I thought about seeing how fast I could shoot them all, but that would be such a waste of my hard earned drunk money.

“Okay,” I said, “Rock paper scissors to determine who confronts Dad’s cranberry sauce without a hangover.”

My sister looked like she wasn’t going to ride to the bait, but she suddenly gave in.  “Fine.  On three.  One, two, three, throw”

I threw out a scissor thinking she was going to go all paper guessing I was going to rock her drunken world.  Instead she went rock and smashed my hopes and dreams.

Steve screamed, “Yeah!”  He then grabbed two of my remaining shots and handed one to Jennyfer.  “To sibling love and them Cowboys!”  Jennyfer was about to shoot it back when Steve yelled, “Wait.”  He motioned his shot towards me.  “One for you dude.”

“But I lost her bet,” I replied.

“We’re going to be here for a while,” Steve said.  “One won’t kill us.”

I picked up my shot and the three of us shot them back.  Okay, so maybe Steve was cool after all.  I slammed my glass down.  Let the Thanksgiving festivities begin.

The New Thanksgiving Tradition (an Italian sonnet)

I look at my meal of turkey and pie

As I smile at the family huddling near

The football game raising a tear

As Cowboys fans keep asking why

Praying boldly for at least a tie

But I am waiting patiently for my wife to appear

So I can thank her for the best idea of the year

As the real festivities are on nigh

For the store’s doors are just over there

And we had cousin Jeb first in line

He got one of the drumsticks, it was only fair,

As the rest of us feast and dine

Tailgating is not just for sports, but take care

When those doors open the 72 inch 4K TV is mine!

A Moment of Twilight

Kristin looked out her back window as the gate on backyard fence swung open and shut to the rhythm of the bitter winter wind.   Kristin loved this time of day as the light faded into twilight.   It was a magical moment where everything seemed refreshingly new and extremely old simultaneously.  Kristin lost herself in that wind and light, memorizing the sound, and feeling the chill seep into her bones even though she held onto her steaming mug of tea.  She wanted to live in that moment for the rest of her life and ignore the cancer slowly eating her from the inside out, but then her baby boy began to cry, and her magical twilight faded into the numbing darkness of night.

With Great Power Comes…

Cari looked at her left hand where smoke was rising from her fist.  The wall of the bank in front of her laid in pieces, and the alarm was sounding at a level just under supersonic jetfighter.  She slowly opened her hand and examined it.  Nothing looked different at all.  It looked exactly the same as it did just thirty seconds ago, but nothing was the same.  She looked up just in time to see a man poke his heavily balding head out to see what had happened.  “Sir, please help me,” she pleaded.  All that seemed to do is frighten him back behind the wall.

Cari looked back and forth, trying to figure out what to do.  She felt drained, almost like normal.  It was hard to believe that pill had changed her that much.  Matt had told her to point her hand at the wall and think about knocking it down.  Just keep calm and she would be done.  That’s all she needed to do to get her daughter back.  That’s all she could think of.

The man came back to the hole, but this time with a gun in his hand.  Cari threw her left hand behind her back.  “Don’t shoot,” she screeched.  “I’m not armed.”

“Both hands in the air!” screamed the man.  “Do it now!”

“I’m not armed,” Cari cried.  She was in a panic, not wanting to move.  The panic fed the power.  It began to intensify.

“Do it now!” screamed the man.  He took aim at her.  “Do it!”

Cari began to cry.  She slowly lifted her right hand, and then her left.  The power was beginning to hurt as she tried to keep it in check.  “Help me,” she said.  “Please.”

The man climbed over the rubble and out of the hole.  He kept his gun trained on Cari the whole time.   “Down on your knees!” he commanded.

Cari heard the sound of sirens coming closer.  She felt like she was burning up.  Time seemed to stretch almost to a breaking point.  All she wanted was to have one more chance to hold her daughter.  The power fed on her anxiety and fear, growing stronger and stronger, screaming to be let free.  Her world shrunk to a haze of pain and overwhelming sadness.

The man stopped and yelled at her again, but she didn’t understand a word he said.  She looked at him and mouthed goodbye to him, her daughter, the world.


The explosion set off alarms three miles away.  Matt smiled waved his team into action.

Death By Chocolate

Craig ripped the cellophane off the box of assorted chocolates the Maggie had given him after their first date.  He showed the front of the box in front to her picture on his desk.  “You never really listened to me, even about the important stuff,” he said.  “Proof in point giving me this.  I told you how bad it was,  and yet you just tilted your head and told me to just give it to someone else.  Like I could do that since it was from you.”

Craig pulled off the cover and chucked it, and the map to the boxes’ contents, to the floor.   He took a piece of chocolate at random and shoved it into his face.  “Not that one,” he said while he chewed.  He grabbed a second one and popped it in before he had finished the first.  “Not that one either.”

Chocolate drool trickled down from the left corner of his mouth to his chin, but Craig didn’t care.  He picked up the picture and brought it and the chocolates over to his bed.  The chocolates spilled out as he flopped himself onto his stomach, the picture just inches from his head.   He reached for another chocolate and added it to the two he hadn’t finished yet.  “Damn, I hate strawberry.”  He spit out the whole wad of melted and masticated chocolate onto Maggie’s picture.  “Take that, bitch.”  He grabbed another chocolate and tore into it.  “Carmel is for losers.”  He threw the half he held in his hand onto the floor.

“Of course that’s what you think of me now,” Craig said.  He wiped away the chocolate waste from Maggie’s picture leaving a brown streak across her angelic blond framed face.  “That’s why you ditched me for Kevin Peterson, that jerk.”  He grabbed two chocolates, shoved them into his mouth, and bit down on them both.  “Come on!” he mumbled spitting chocolate shrapnel in front of him, “Why can’t I find one?”

He spit out the two chocolates on the floor and grabbed the closest six nearby.  He stuck each into his mouth, one by one, and then began the process of chewing.  A sad, sickly smile began to grow on his face.  He finally swallowed his mouthful of chocolate and sighed.

Craig reached over the bed and picked up his backpack.   He opened it and pulled out his epi pen.  “How will you feel knowing you killed me?” he yelled at the picture.  He then threw the epi pen across the room where is smashed into the wall.

Craig could feel his windpipe begin to close.  He laid back on the bed, placing Maggie’s picture on his chest and he held it tight.


Gravity pulled the chains attached to Bruce’s arms relentlessly.  Still Bruce managed to place one foot in front of the other, each shambling step getting him closer to freedom.  In the distance the hounds howled in frustration and excitement.  Bruce smiled and wondered if they had found his pants, and the bees nest he had chucked in them.  He still hurt, but hopefully less than those damn dogs.  Carol would have been proud of him.  She had taught him that trick.

A tree root tripped him and gravity screamed in triumph as Bruce crashed to the ground face first.  He spit out a tooth and laughed a bitter laugh.  “I hate trees,” he said as he pushed himself up onto all fours.  He began to crawl forward slowly.

The sounds of the hounds was getting louder.  “I hate dogs more,” Bruce said as he pushed himself back onto his feet and gathered up the chains again.   The shamble began again, this time with a bit more urgency, but with a lot less coordination.  It wasn’t long before the ground had him in its embrace again.

Bruce looked up and saw the bridge over the gorge that housed the Stained River that signaled the end of Lord Myron’s lands.  He picked up himself once more, the bridge and the freedom it represented giving him strength back to his dead limbs.  “Almost there Carol,” he said to himself over the howls of the closing dogs.  He could now hear the people running with the dogs.  Only a few more yards.  He wouldn’t let them take him back.

As Bruce reached the edge of the bridge, he heard the whoosh of an arrow as it flew past his left shoulder and thudded to a stop into the boards of the bridge.

“That’s far enough Master Bruce,” shouted a man’s voice.  “The next arrow will not miss.”

Bruce turned to see Lord Myron himself with another arrow notched into his bow, but not drawn.  Randolph held the dogs on a leash, one of the hounds not looking too happy due to a bloody nose.  Three other men that Bruce didn’t know rounded out the hunting party.

Bruce took two steps backward, putting the arrow between him and those that wanted him.  “I am my own man.  I will not give you what you desire.”

“You don’t know that,” Lord Myron said.  “I can be very persuasive.  Just give me her whereabouts.  We will remove our hold on you, and you will be released.”  He lowered his bow.  “I can be a reasonable man.”

Bruce took one more step, feeling the low railing of the bridge behind him, forcing him to stop.  He took a couple of deep breathes, relishing the taste of the early winter air.   Looking Lord Myron straight in his eyes he said “Carol would disagree.”

Lord Myron roared.  “Take him!”

Randolph released the hounds as the three other men ran to follow them.  Lord Myron lifted his bow and let fly the arrow with one smooth motion.

The arrow lodged itself in Bruce’s left shoulder, causing Bruce to drop the chain attached to his left wrist onto the bridge deck.  Bruce closed his eyes and let himself fall from the bridge.  The fallen chain went tink, tink, tink as one link after another hit the railing counting off the inches as Bruce fell to the water down below.

The cold water assaulted Bruce, forcing the air from his lungs.  He breathed in the water deeply as the chains helped him rest on the bottom.  If this was the cost of freedom, but Bruce would die free.

Lord Myron rushed to the bridge’s edge as the last of the bubbles representing Bruce’s life floated to the surface.  “Damn that man,” he said.

“Don’t you worry.  We’ll find her Lord Myron,” said one of the three men who hadn’t gotten to Bruce in time.

Lord Myron grabbed an arrow, brought his bow to bear, and shot the speaker in the throat so quickly the man didn’t have time to blink.  “Don’t tell me what to do,” he said.  “Randolph, take care of the refuse.”

Lord Myron walked away and didn’t look back, even when he heard the second splash.  He would find his daughter.  She didn’t get a choice in the matter.