A Mountain Top Revival


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“And, here’s something for the girls.”

No one in the close cluster would approach the fast talking, funny smelling, dressed for a Sunday morning on a Thursday afternoon, coal boss.

Finally, one of the mothers accepted the gift and invited him to stay to supper.

The children gathered around Mama Grace.

“What is it?”

“What’s it do?”

“Can I see?”

Mama Grace pulled the brown paper and tie away and showed them the picture book.

“What is a cinderella?”

“Give it to Meemaw, and maybe she will read it to you.”

“But, Meemaw says we only read the Bible?”

“Maybe, she will change her mind.”

The girls were pretty doubtful about Meemaw ever changing, but they were so set on knowing what a cinderella was.

Meemaw was still looking for herbs, when they came to her cabin porch.

“I bet cinderella is a type of candy you can get in the city.”

“I think it’s a dance you get to do when you are sixteen and ready for dancing.”

The littlest who knew very little about the city or dances but always looked at the holy pictures in her “The Children’s Guide to Bible Study,” stared at the book’s cover.

She saw a skinny, blonde woman with a puffy, shiny blue dress.

She cleared her throat, pointed to the cover, and murmured, “Maybe, a cinderella is a lady in a big dress?”

The others crowded around the cover. One traced the billows of the gown and slowly whistled.

“Imagine all that fabric for one big, old dress?”

“It’s prettier than the sky!”

“There’s Meemaw!”

The girls swarmed her asking her to read cinderella to them. Meemaw, although usually strict, found herself a little swept away in their curiosity and anticipation. So, she agreed to read the story.

The girls learned about Cinderella. They also for the first time understood how much they had to learn.

“When is once upon a time?”

“What is a step-mother, a step-sister, a magic, a fairy god mother, a glass slipper, a gown, a prince, a ball, and a castle?”

“Happily ever after,” they all repeated after the story.

Each mulled over the words.

“Could you only have one of those if you kissed a prince? May I have one? What is it like?”

The littlest was the first to speak, “I don’t think you can go salamander catching or tree climbing in a ball gown. Don’t you have to wear one all the happily ever after time?”

No one knew how to answer. No one, not even Meemaw, knew all the answers arising from such a small book.

A vague, off putting feeling took over the girls. Some sat with their knees to their chins and closed their eyes quietly sniffling. A few wandered from room to room and adult to adult trying to distract themselves from this new nervousness. One girl hid under her bed.

Meemaw rounded them up and gave them all a mix of soda water and cod liver oil.

After she gulped her spoonful, the littlest began to shake. She took Cinderella and threw her in the fireplace.

Meemaw watched the book begin to burn and muttered something about ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

The girls crowded around the fire trying to save the book.

“Why did you do that?”

“We don’t need a book like that… You can’t feel our ground wearing her glass slippers.”

The girls stopped trying to rescue the book and looked down at their empty, sooty hands and down further at their soiled, bare feet.

Wild and free, they clapped and stomped into the night.


The Blue Pearl of Happiness


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His mother gave him a blue pearl when he was just a boy. He would sometimes lose and find it again. He never really worried about the loss, because he always believed it would turn up. And, he would again feel its small dented imperfection and compare its blueness to the darker waters that surrounded their island. He continued to find it again and again until he didn’t.

His mother died when he was a teenager. He stood before her white and pink coffin staring at her clasped hands covering her chest. He remembered her lost blue pearl and began to cry. An island girl he rarely looked at took his hand and gently pressed each of his finger tips with hers over and over until he learned how to stop his tears. He looked down at her and realized he loved her.

They married on her eighteenth birthday. She gave him a blue pearl as her dowry and a son. He swore he would never lose it or him. And, he never did until he did.

Really, he traded them for a perfect ivory pearl from one of the many island tourists. He thought it more special. He thought it more rare. He thought it more lovely.

He began to love this temporary visitor. Her love was as temporal as her stay.

He asked her not to leave. She laughed and asked why he loved her so much.

He said it was, because she had given him pure pearl whiteness.

She laughed again.

“You silly island boy. I gave you a fake pearl! You gave me a rarer blue pearl like it was nothing. You have no idea how to value or love what you already have. Why would I want to be loved by the likes of you?”

She took his hand and gave him a long rope of white pearls he knew now to be fake. She closed his hand around her false gift and kissed his fist.

She laughed at him again and left him in her hotel room on the beach front.

He put the worthless rope around his neck and walked into the ocean.

Sometimes, the oyster farmers tell little children how they hear his sighs in the warm puffs of night breezes.


The Truth About Rainbows


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When you call my mouth’s words my “personal” truth, you negate its place in the “greater” truth.

When you co-opt Others pain and create a false “we”, you are in a vertical not solidarity position.

When your eyes blur with tears and close with inactivity, you can’t see me.

When you nod empathetically and quietly mutter sympathetic platitudes, you kill me.


Some bodies are protected. Some are pathologized.

Some bodies are respected. Some are regulated.


Some voices form the basis of discourse. Some voices are debased and dismissed.


All the black lives matter bumper stickers on the backs of your Priuses will not redeem putting your housework, fine dining experiences, farm labor, and nannying on the backs of the black and brown people in your communities.


When you choose silence in times of louder opposition and oppression, nothing matters.

Alice Thwarts


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Meaning malice, she raises a banshee cry as she smashes my dream, bleeding and unfulfilled, to the ground. Up to my ankles in deferment, I look down and spy the early bird again devouring the early worm. Tired of the dreary violence of arbitrary punctuality, I look up to see the watermelon pinks and mango oranges of another indifferent summer morning beginning. I look everywhere but her squinted eyes and thin pressed mouth fearing falling into both.


Weekly Writing Prompt #42

Another Summer Without Sage


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I saw a woman sitting at the Preston and Grady bus stop yesterday. She was patting her new corn rows, and I thought she was you. Could it be that simple? Years are gone and in a moment you are back with us? I almost called your name. She turned fully toward me and smiled. I forced down a mouthful of machine gun regret, as I turned from this stranger’s friendly gaze.

Where are you?

You who walk in beauty when beauty is not easy, pretty, or popular.

I wonder what you were like as a child. I don’t want to ask your grandmother or your father. I want the stories to fall from your full lips onto my crooked ears into my soul kitchen where the bitterest fruit is a pineapple. My mother remembering the sores and rashes from the Dole cannery of her childhood would never eat them. She was a lost girl too, abused and not believed. She became lost inside herself.

They say lost children never grow up. They are whisked away to magical spaces where time stands still and nothing happens that a hug cannot resolve. People like you and I are not whisked anywhere. We take the long walk home. Weightless, you glide fly.

You are a butterfly–done with the dreams of wings. You are now a lost woman.

What happens to you, lost women, who are not cared for by members of the board or council members–the important, the more than, the rainmakers?

Who goes into the night to bring home the lost, when few are committed to finding them?
The night you left, your family shattered into separate, desperate shards. People are now pierced as they struggle to gather the intricate pieces.

Charlottesville, if I told you some are broken–depressed, angry, sick, tired, struggling to breathe, would you keep a candle in the window for our lost woman? Or would you lock it and draw the shades, pressing to your untroubled hearts those more like you, those more liked by you?

Charlottesville, do you don the dreams of the unaccused, of the rich, of the lilies?
What of the lotus? She springs from the muddiest bog, blooming not when convenient or safe, but when the need for outward movement overcomes the fear of the unknown.

Charlottesville, what keeps you inside, apathetic, pro quo, middle?

A middle without a compassionate center forms a black hole sucking out light and love, the lily and the lotus alike–but not alike.

We find, cry for, grief the lily.

Where are you? Where is our lotus girl?

Arms closed, hands clenched, we can only reach for what we already carry. . .

A girl now woman shaped empty box. The empty box gets bigger till we can no longer see the edges. And, we forget anyone is missing, we are lulled down to lily death sleep once again. Gnashing our teeth in gratitude for one day more. Another day without her, another day of unknowing.

Into nothing, she walks, runs, drinks, dances–undulating power of the different and obscure.

She sings, her voice is one of many. Hundreds of lost women join her–the color, the meat, the beginning.

The sister, daughter, granddaughter, aunt, niece.

The missing piece.

Years gone.

We know of her case, her story, her dilemma, but do we know her laugh, her scars. . .

The summer silent sun begins to bleach the grass. Here’s another summer without you.





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Feelings of you glided through the wind tunnel where my heart once burrowed.

Me hollow, there was nowhere for it to nestle, so it landed in the corner with my back to it.

It slid down the brick leaving its trail in the mortar crevices.

Small bits dribbled onto the abandoned parking lot’s gravel.


Here is where we parked when you wanted a Slurpee and to dump me.

I wanted to throw up, but my car window could not roll down.

“Don’t You Forget About Me” blared on that university radio station you hated.


I never thought your rejection of me would be so bilious and matter of fact.

Tuesday morning, we were in love and committed. By Tuesday afternoon, we were not.


By Wednesday, you were with him. By Thursday, I found out.

By Friday, I found him in our ex parking lot.

Now, he’s slumped over in the only handicap parking space.

And, I am in this corner facing a future free of only you.

On Her Scattered Pieces of Mirror and Crystal


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You have to respect her drive.

She starts with the front room’s sterling silver beveled framed mirror.
She punches its center letting bloody shards escape to the floor.
She still sees the angry, new, reddening (now cracked and jagged) scar.

She slams the wrought iron framed mini mirror set in the hallway again and again.
She rips the mirror from the medicine cabinet and cracks it on the bathtub ledge.
She breaks a lamp against her bedroom dresser mirror.

Her dark red fists feel no pain.
Her hurt radiates from the top of where her right eye had been across to her left cheek.

She returns to the front room and sits in her overstuffed chair.
She reaches for the cinnamon candy in her crystal dish and stuffs handfuls in her mouth.
As she adds more sweets, her face stretches and the stitches pull and stretch until gaping.

She wipes her bloodied hand smearing her palm’s crimson with her new blush.

Her bared, gritted teeth takes on the frozen mask of a smile.

To a World Without a B Side


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As you alone type your strangeness

Your angsty alienation dissipates

Leaving you breathless and more isolated.


Then, you read his words so unlike yours but so like the parts you keep silent and hidden in Pottery Barn beige boxes with many compartments and high price tags.


The frozen melts, all changes.


Sparkling water fruit flavors take on a new relevance and potency.

Seeking new Bossa Nova classics preoccupies.

Looping in and out of his kenta cloth bow ties lessens your misery.


You rope yourself around the space above his onyx pinky ring.

He doesn’t notice the finger’s extra weight.

Prostration does little to garner his attentions or time.


It’s okay, ’cause sincere approbation crumbles your gut.

That’s okay, ’cause you haven’t listened to her, since you gave up on John Hughes and Disney films.


Beach kids in tents discovered in and exported from desert storms will never know sandy fried chicken.

Lover kids intent on their media social will never find a mixed tape of adoration songs in their lockers.


All okay, ’cause I never knew what it was to have to drive a little farther to hear my favorite song again.

And, other than my style over content fixations, nearsightedness, and morbid obesity, I am okay too.

For Papa Eddie


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Kansas is the 34th state to enter the Union.
Violent bed.
She slowly opens her eyes releasing technicolor fluttering ties to emerald Oz.
Her eyes draw to the new crater dividing the dry, black, white, gray wheat fields.
Her Kansas has flown away on the ripping, tornado winds along with her farmhouse.
Kansas was the first state to fly off its map letting boundary line tendrils dangle off its edges.
Going like the faded footsteps of the Kansas natives, the people of the south wind.
She no longer hears their ancient, breathy calling, “Dorothy! Dorothy!”
She returns with loving, grasping, grounding thoughts of home to a gaping, massive hole.
Tricked into motion by the shadow and light play on the walls of her cavern.
Homeless, landless, rootless.
She tumbleweeds Nebraska bound.