Our Mighty Tree (Flash Fiction 3)

Did you know two Revolutionary giants used to hang out in our park. Washington and Lafayette met right under our tree. A tarnished plaque dated 1777 said so. Did you also know our strategizing was a lot more important than powdered-wig war secrets. We discussed baseball strategies nine ways ‘til Sunday. But whispering strategies didn’t always help our game, especially on sweltering summer days. Sometimes a slippery baseball hit the cement block backstop so hard, it became tattooed with the year 1777. When the baseball acted rubbery, those old war farts heckled us. Luckily for them, we weren’t ever interested in their lame commentary. We were only interested in playing ball in the park built for our tree–the grand oak still generously sheltering those old geezers’ ghosts.

The mighty tree was giant–a real giant. He was way taller than Washington and Lafayette standing on a whole pile of Yankees. Ten of us could just about clasp our hands together around his mammoth trunk. I was certain if our great oak had been given a mitt and some legs he would’ve made a damn fine ballplayer. Joe DiMaggio didn’t have a special park built around him with a cement block that stopped rubbery balls.

In the summer of 1971 there romped a wicked storm. The thunder was louder than a pissed off volcano. Lightning lit the sky so bright you could see bolt shadows up there. The firing white jagged bullets shot several of the great oak’s knobby arms clean off. The colossal branches covered some of the baseball field but we didn’t notice. The big limbs didn’t stay on the ground too long. Thick men in green pants came to haul them away. The workers matched the trees so we knew they were on the level. They looked how men should look who had to haul away nature. The smallest of them said our friend was a white oak. He said the white oak was mighty like him then he flexed his Popeye arm. Sally N giggled while asking if he’d swallowed a kickball. Kickball Arm said our mighty oak was over two hundred years old and that nature had a way of talking herself into new beginnings. I wanted to run home and write down what he’d said. I knew I’d forget and I did until just now. We looked at our friend’s powerful arms on the charred ground. Then the gas-powered saws came out–chained machines with voices like traffic accidents. If our tree had been Joe DiMaggio, they would have left his arms alone even if they weren’t attached.

The late summer crickets were chirping in waning conversations. Vacation was over like playing summer ball for us. There was a new grade to battle. Another badge to add to the dreadful learning sash. I always had trouble falling asleep on these nights. Though my head was heavy this night, my eyes fought gravity. From my bedroom window, I watched leafy silhouettes whooshing back and forth. Another storm–looked bad. I wished all neighborhood trees safe under my Spiderman comforter. Watching the angsty black sky light up angry white, I wasn’t thinking about stuffing my navy knees socks under a desk anymore. If this was nature talking, she was doing it really loud like my Aunt Betty who was mostly deaf.

The next morning, the lazy sun managed waking for school like we had to. Getting to the bus stop on time required a breakfast shovel and a front door sprint. I’d get whooped if I missed the bus. My mom liked hitting butts with slippers. So I shoveled and ran out the door while throwing my mom air kisses. At the end of the street, on the next block was our park. Our mighty oak was standing there sure as sunlight. I laughed when I saw his baseball cap made of clouds. I knew I shouldn’t, but I took my lucky baseball out from my backpack’s secret zipper compartment. “Don’t be late for school!” My mom’s voice yelled from my Batman pencil case. I took a few steps into the park. Who was I to say no to a mighty oak. Wanting to impress him, I threw that ball as hard as I’ve ever thrown anything in my life. Harder than the spoon, I threw at my sister’s head when she stole my animal crackers. Wouldn’t you know that giant white oak jumped sky high into the blue air. His roots were covered in one-thousand baseball cleats. I didn’t count them this was a guess. As he caught the baseball, he laughed louder than the whole Yankee team–a great booming laugh. He threw the ball back. Don’t be late for school!

The smell of a new school day ran across my bedroom windowsill. I reached my hand up and felt the damp glass. It was the first day of fifth grade. My mom was standing over my bed like our mighty oak’s baby sister. She said I was lucky to have slept through the night. The last storm of summer had been a nasty one. Down the road, a pine tree crashed through Mr. Laddy’s roof. I rushed my morning ablutions then scooted. “Don’t be late!” my mom yelled, as the storm door slammed shut behind me. I ran around the block.

Steven S, Joe M, and Sally N were standing by the park fence. There was miles of yellow tape and four green trucks. These trucks were much bigger than the one a few weeks ago. I thought the green men had returned as trucks. I wasn’t going to cry like a girl. Not in front of my teammates. Looking beyond where our mighty friend once stood tall and proud, there were no clouds shaped like baseball caps. I wondered if this was what Kickball Arm had meant about nature talking herself into new beginnings. Maybe nature thought our mighty old tree was too tired to stand up anymore.

Those four trucks had metal toothed maws that were opening wide for breakfast. One heaving boom was followed by another as their jaws began moving. I hoped somewhere in those deep death reverberations, Washington and Lafayette were giving our fallen friend a proper twenty-one gun salute on his way to tree heaven. I honored the mighty oak too in military-style, like the soldiers did in the old war movies my dad and I used to watch before he fell off our family tree. I pretended the sun was stabbing my eyes when Steven S asked if I was crying.

The rumble of bus #23’s engine was softer than an autumn leaf sailing on the breeze as it drove passed our empty bus stop. Come to think of it, I did see a cloud shaped like a baseball.

Tree Talk

Tree Talk

Image previously published.

If you actually read this whole piece, I appreciate your time. Thank you. I did have a great old tree in the park down the road from my house. We did play baseball there, kickball too. Washington and Lafayette did meet there and they did heckle us 😉

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JOY-FUL1 (Flash Fiction Experiment #1)

Joy August Ripsaw was a natural born killer. If she knew I was writing this, she’d delete “natural born” and scrawl “fashion-forward.” But I’m not a penchant fabricator, at least not while penning bios. No yellow print here. While on the subject of disclosure, I will acknowledge that an exposé might just tip the imported auto scales in my favor should Miss Ripsaw need to dump that blood-red beauty. Joy August Ripsaw: Reign of The Shredder; The Unauthorized Unraveling – should be released in time for the holiday season.

JOY-FUL1

JOY-FUL1 the vanity plate persistently screams for Joy who lost her voice on the road somewhere. Comeuppance duly served at the table of life. At least twenty years–maybe longer. The aging blood-red auto is the only thing that remains of the rogue goddess. Admirers assume the winged sports car was born of vanity and a leather steering wheel twice removed. JOY-FUL1. She couldn’t recall ever being so lamely literal. That’s not true. She does remember but chooses to forget.

On the streets of New York City, a teen Miss Ripsaw had been approached several times by modelling agents and fashion photographers. Why she never chose modelling was a point of pride. Miss Ripsaw’s latest version rounds four approaches to twenty. These approaches laid the foot stones of her path. Joy August Ripsaw posed for no one. She would be the extraordinarily beautiful puppet master jerking all the strings.

For fifteen years, Joy August Ripsaw was the editor-in-chief of Galgeous–an omniscient, iconic fashion magazine. 120 satin pages exploded monthly between polished fingers. Monochromatic perfection reeled in sensory motors by the thousands, mounting them on the trophy wall of the editor-in-chief’s gilded office.

Before all the fame came her form. Miss Ripsaw had the finest. She thrust the long lance then jabbed with the short blade and moved in for the kill–leveling final blows with the ripsaw. Joy August aka The Shredder attacked, took down and feasted until she was full of herself. It was only a matter of time until all rivals were rendered into carrion that only shiny black beetles and nandi roaches were interested in.

Miss Ripsaw’s finely tuned ass claimed the Galgeous throne in gladiator style. After her official coronation, the gold keys to a Lamborghini Veneno Roadster were placed in her capable claws. She added the vanity plate JOY-FUL1 to the blood-red eye candy. The height of clever irony from the mind of one perfectly clever. That’s not true either. She was just the most vicious and won.

Joy August Ripsaw lusted in many life arenas. She prayed for tyranny during her reign. She envisioned, Joy’s August Ripsaw an edgier publication of casual refinement and sensual sleek done up in long-toothed matte textures. For now it would have to remain a pulsing desire. The moniker, Galgeous, was a literal load that even Miss Ripsaw’s teeth couldn’t shred. There was no besting its spectacular numbers. Galgeous had made its mark. Not a mark, a mortal wound into the fashion world’s heart. While other publications dripped red, Galgeous bled green thru and thru. It claimed top-eye shelf everywhere, besting Cosmo, Vanity, Vogue. Miss Ripsaw would live with Galgeous awhile. In the meantime, Joy August Ripsaw’s likeness graced all covers as expected. She became the celebrated one. The one “to invite.” She was JOY-FUL1.

Joy had been joyous–satiated with vexing overtones. Her sultry flesh caressed only labels purchased by three zeroes and a decimal. Like black interstates, heavy onyx eyeliner drove her lavender eyes into daily battle. She was a merciless foe. Miss Ripsaw dressed to kill and spoke to mutilate. So what was happening was truth. Her version of a life mapped out with signature style. Her signature unreadable as it was purposeful.

Joy August Ripsaw knew the life she chiseled–like the Greeks and Romans before her–was predestined to fall. Every human had their day of reckoning. And the more lives you wrecked the more reckoning piled on. This wasn’t palmistry or fortune casting. This was the universe speaking–the ultimate bitch. And in her worldly mirror there were no alterations. The universe cackled every time Joy August fired the help for making weak espresso. She climaxed whenever Miss Ripsaw lashed and fired support staff.

Joy August Ripsaw knew her vested time versed the internal clock. All territories had to be claimed before her fine timepiece struck thirty-nine–the age that passed admiration but not respectability. She was not interested in the latter. By now you have gleaned her outward presence. Joy August Ripsaw was born in goddess visual. Not a talent, but a gift she wrapped and gave only when the season was right.

Joy August wore nonprescription, metallic-black rectangular eyewear. Employees and meeting attendees alike were to believe Miss Ripsaw was purpose-driven and not craving goddess food. To back this notion, “From the Editor’s Desk,” the monthly column by Miss Ripsaw, was seven-eighths copy and one-eighth image-hers. She sometimes almost believed her own bullshit. Proof positive was the small portrait photo in the column’s header. Every night without fail, the column was the last thing Miss Ripsaw reviewed before a chauffeur drove her home.

The New York sky was the color of its real estate, grey and cold. The rising Central Park sun lifted above the trees. Its cold beams climbed into the penthouse windows and spread across the Donna Karan Meditation duvet. This morning when she woke, Joy August Ripsaw counted fifty years and screamed into her Egyptian-cotton pillows stained black with onyx.

And to the freeway, a previously-owned, blood-red Italian sports car and a dark-haired bio author wearing large sunglasses–the kind that belie age for elegance.

This ends Volume 1

crayon face
I certainly hope Miss Joy August Ripsaw doesn’t grow angry with me. Though she’s older now, her mean hasn’t aged.

Flash Fiction Experimentation Take 1…
If you reached this far down reading, I truly appreciate and thank you for your vested time.

Dedicated to Dinghies Everywhere 😉

the swaying top hat

“What is it you believe in, Sir?” She asked the old man in her most dignified voice.

From beneath his top hat, he gazed at the brim. “Maybe the answer will come to me tomorrow.”

The next day she would search again for the familiar swaying black top hat. It would not be difficult to find. Its owner swung back and forth like a metronome arm–every step his old feet landed marked eighth notes on a lumpy bar measure. But the next day, the young girl could not find the melodic top hat. The moon had risen and the only thing swaying were the stalks of wheat Mrs. Norty hadn’t sold. Though the very last loaf of her hearty bread was gotten for fifty cents.

The young girl’s head was intoxicated with possibilities. She could barely contain the exploding dreams. The sandman had eaten Mrs. Norty’s dense bread and was bouncing off the old town’s tiled roofs. Sleep would not come. What did the old magician believe in? What would a person of magic wish for when he could conjure up the world and eat it with a golden fork?

The next day the anxious child balled the bottom of her ruffled nightshirt into a pair of loose burlap slacks. She tied a thin red sash through the belt loops so they wouldn’t fall down. She ran onto the cobbled street barefoot in anticipation of a glorious answer. Her little nose angled upward as she sought out the shiny swaying black topper. This day she was not disappointed. Up she bounced, tapping his old stooped shoulder.

The elderly gentleman magician turned around. He looked squarely into her bright brown eyes. “The answer has come to me, child,” he said in an elegant, spectacular voice as befitting a noble magician. He removed the near-perfect top hat from his head and placed the satin stovepipe upon the youth’s corn silk hair.

She became petrified with excitement, beneath the magical top hat. “Please Sir, today is yesterday’s tomorrow,” she timidly put forth, “Kind Magician, what is it that you believe in?”

He placed his crooked hands on her diminutive shoulders and for a moment thought of delicate hollow bird bones. “My child,” he gently answered, “I believe in the magic of unanswerable questions.” He pat the top of his old top hat and said, “For luck.”

“But most generous Sir, you should not be separated from this treasure-”

“I’ve no need of it where I am going.”

Her brimming eyes begged one thousand questions but, “Where?” was all her trembling bowed lips could manage.

He pat the top of his old top hat once more.
“I do not know that answer,” he said with a smile, then he turned and walked away.

TopHead

TopHead

this is my only top hat drawing and I do so love this quirky little fella though the gentleman magician described in the above little tale would appear much more elegant

Siren Songs and Spiced Lattes

caroline in oceanthe search for promises hooked on the bait of allure
wayward craft sluice through the flesh of midnight waters
spiraling granite beacons battle webs of mist
call the siren home
shimmering wooden planks skim frothing foam
tumbling waves mash what once was settled

they speak over spiced lattes
brewed with heady steam
and spinning mugs of gathering tea leaves
sea salt scones infused with elderberry compote
shimmering words skim linen napkins
and they begin to believe once more
manatee

May you dream of beautiful sirens calling you home.
During his first journey to the Americas, Columbus spied several “mermaids” off the prow of his ship.

Photo of delicate daughter at Lake Champlain, VT in 2006
West Indian Manatee (endangered species) created 2 weeks ago using marker and pencil and ocean water 🙂
This post is dedicated to D. Levy an inspiring, talented writer and friend. Read Deb’s short story, “At the Beach,” published in Cleaver magazine.

 

is the end something we see

is the end something we see
something we fall into
like a dreamless night
do we fight the conclusion
papering the wall with shadows
is parting a just expense
our breaths used
some squandered
or salvaged for scraps
is the end something we see
hearing transient star light
blinding white silences
preemptive acceptance
of unseen faith
ushering ever onward
back to our beginnings

Clinging/sculpt

Clinging/sculpt

May you dream in many warm colors this night…

Clay sculpture done way, way back in high school circa 1979, and if memory serves she was nearly 3 feet in length and pretty darn heavy.

Crocodile Fears

My Friends,

A Reptilian Tale

Looking back, I remember the day well. I was skipping rocks near the water’s edge, when I spied two bulbous sockets breaking the liquid plain. Parting the waters like a submersible vessel, her massive crocodile body rose up. Her head cocked slightly as she surveyed my posture. I held the nonthreatening pose of a seaside pelican. She promised not to eat me for lunch if I promised to be a good listener. We both agreed.

I sat on a limestone shelf – one toasted by the morning sun. I leaned in close to her large triangular head. Her rows of teeth brought to mind the alien pillars of Bryce Canyon. I recalled how I’d been more enamored by Utah’s stalagmite forms than all the grandness of the Grand Canyon. I was surprised when her putrid breath hit my face. I didn’t wince, for those cold melancholy eyes kindled my reptilian compassion.

She sighed or snorted through her surface nostrils then whispered why she was brooding. Her words confounded me. She wanted – or that is – desperately needed to share her miraculous beauty secret. I didn’t know crocodiles held vanity in high regard. Expecting to pen an extensive list, I licked the tip of my blue ballpoint and flicked over the spent pages of my pocket-sized notepad. I sat pumped at the edge of my toasty rock. This astounding, fifteen-foot, two-hundred-year-old reptile appeared primed to live two-hundred more years, I suspected she must possess a powerful cosmetological recipe. I was certain, minerals and plant wraps would be involved.

Then that ancient reptile with rows of murderous teeth and callous gold eyes confessed to me that she’d been cheating death. I leaned in closer, my Bic hand sweating. She said humans had it all wrong and that crocodiles did most definitely shed tears, in fact, they shed many. It was tears that escaped her yellow eyes when her children were taken. It was fear that had frozen her ancient heart, when her bold sons and brazen daughters became pricey stilettoes and elite attaché cases.

Before sinking back into the dark water she whispered her beauty secret to me. “Beauty is submerging your body in quiet bubbles. Beauty is water changing from aqua to deep blue as the orange sun burnishes the wavy surface. Beauty is living two-hundred years and hoping to live two-hundred more.”

I watched the silent trail of delicate foam disappear along with her brown, wrinkled form. I never saw her again. I did not pen her beauty secret in my frayed notepad.
crocMay you dream beautiful dreams when you’re two-hundred years old.

Croc rendered last week with Tombow markers, a little white acrylic paint, a touch of Prisma pencil and lots of coffee. 🙂

 

I’m Getting a Blogtox Injection

Dear Friends,
I don’t know exactly when it’s going to happen – perhaps by week’s end – but my site will be down temporarily. If all goes according to plan, I should return in a day or two. If my blogtox injection goes south, things may take a bit longer. I’m having a lovely, straightforward and user-friendly redesign done. The most important aspect of the revision is the pulldown menu for my artwork and writing. You fabulous people can simply go to the pulldown menu to view art that’s been in my posts and other misc. pieces. The writing portion will take a bit longer to set up. I’d like to place portions of manuscripts there.

I’m hoping and dreaming (mostly because I can’t sing like Maria ‘Meneghini’ Callas or play my new banjo) to have some artwork published, before I hit an age where my children fight over whose turn it is to visit me in the ‘home’… Right now I have one concept for a children’s book and another concept for an adult ‘whimsical’ art book. I’d like to send ‘publishers’ and other interested nice folks to my site where artwork and writing can be viewed..
Desire, diligence, dreaming and duck luck will decide my fun future fate…

Blogtox

Blogtox

Until then, I’ll continue posting and dreaming that you continue visiting. You know how I adore your wonderful companionship. I’ll do my best to visit you as well (assuming I haven’t thrown my MacBook out the window) 🙂
Thank you…

 

Moonskin and a Blue Monster

Dear Friends,
The saturday night moon… Something about soft blue light bathing parts of vulnerable skin, the bedroom window allows to be touched. So peaceful this moonlight. Smiling, forgetting my head sinking into the mattress because that old pillow has seen better days. Like a child – I was – in that satin light. Our dachshund curled under the comforter; a tunneler by trade. Shouldn’t he be howling or something?

A few months ago, the big son was perusing my high school yearbook. He found my senior picture, looked a few moments then said, “Mom, you looked pretty.” I smiled. He made me feel young like that satin moonlight, if only for a moment.

hs pic.668And of course, now that I’m lots older, more wrinkled and much wiser, the moonlight also inspires other things. I like to call this lovely birdie, Bluebell. He rises with the sunset and enjoys all things in blue moon light.

bluebellIf you should meet him please don’t worry, he harbors a sweet disposition, but just to be safe, I’d let him be…unless the moon is extra bright…

bluebell closeupThank you and goodnight. May delicious blue moonlight guide you to dreamland…
High School grad photo taken 1981 yikes! Bluebell images created in 2010…

Earth logo for blog

Dappled Sunlight

Dear Friends,
Was it so long ago four little feet shuffled up the silent, curving driveway? The trees were especially kind that summer day as they cooled your bright bodies. Filtered sunlight painted dappled patches on your skin. You held your brother’s hand. Your brother held tight both your hand and his blue, plastic golf club. Our Shepherd guarded you both as if you were her own pups.

But as fast as the leaves left the trees, you both grew. Your feet wandering off that silent driveway and onto other travelled roads. Today, tomorrow or wherever your paths take you, keep in your hearts that dappled day when the sun was warm and the light was cool and we had a picnic lunch on the soft green grass…

car and max on roadHow quickly the young gallop away…

zebrasThank you and goodnight. May you count your blessings instead of sheep this night…
Have a beautiful weekend. 🙂
Delicate daughter and big son taken 2002 at our old house in the woods, zebras rendered in Prisma 2008

Vulcan Milano’s Promise

Dear Friends,
Please excuse the length of this post. It’s longer than usual. I will be offline a few days, so for those of you who don’t mind reading my posts, I thought you wouldn’t mind reading a bit each day if that suits you. It’s a story about a man named Vulcan Milano and his dream to help the world. Thank you.

Vulcan Milano’s Promise

Though his strong body and bright mind did their best of convincing him otherwise, Vulcan Milano reached retirement age. This master builder and metal worker had made a secret commitment long ago. A promise that could only be honored while he had both resources and sinew. It required every last bit of scrap from Vulcan’s amusement business – and could possibly take several years – he wasn’t sure. Vulcan had also promised his wife, Millicent a peaceful retirement filled with grandchildren visits and sunset walks along the beach. He would not let her down.

So Vulcan Milano began. He toiled alone, day after day, night after night fashioning a teeter-totter the likes of which no man had ever seen. For this would be no ordinary teeter totter, but a testament to the life of a passionate individual and a gift to the world. After nine months of intense labor the teeter-totter was finished. Vulcan was pleased. Never before had such a beautiful seesaw graced his factory floor. The dark green triangular fulcrum appeared deceptively small. The bright sky-blue, ten-thousand footlong teeter-totter shone beneath the florescent lights. Truly it was a marvelous thing to behold.

Vulcan then called in his best amusement movers. One-hundred burly men and one-hundred equally powerful women cast steel hooks around the magnificent seesaw. Following Vulcan’s instructions, the ten-thousand footlong amusement was brought to an enormous expanse of sleepy grass by the east-west sea. A tear escaped Vulcan’s eye as he unveiled his final masterpiece to Millicent. She admired the shiny teeter-totter awhile. How proud she was of her husband. After staring a good long time, Millicent turned to Vulcan. “My darling husband, such a magnificent thing to behold. Why ever did you build it so large?”

Vulcan expected this. He’d been preparing his response for over fifty-five years. The first time he ever held a socket wrench and felt the heaviness of it in his calloused hands. He understood the weight of possibility when things are new. He took his wife’s delicate hand in his. Vulcan’s eyes remained fixed on the magnificent teeter-totter. His words poured out slowly, “Loving wife, anyone is free to ride. They can choose their seat and sit supporting each other. If too many people sit on one end, the seesaw will sink into the grass. If too few people sit on the opposite end, they will go so far up that they will be lonely. It will take cooperation from all sides. If they manage agreement, they will fly up and down as never before. The wind, the sun, the very clouds will lift their tummies and make them joyful.”

Millicent softly nodded her head. The young eyes of the selfless man she’d married all those years ago, had grown brighter with age if that was possible. She posed a second and final question, “My darling husband, why ever did you paint the fulcrum such a plain green when all your fulcrums have been silver with your bright red logo?”

A smile pulled Vulcan’s lips upward. He gave Millicent’s hand a gentle squeeze. His bright eyes moved to the calm sea where the orange sun was painting cream-sickle ripples across the water. “Loving wife,” he spoke in whispers now, “some riders know the particulars of levers and fulcrums, mechanics, science and mathematics. I painted the fulcrum green that it may hide in the grass and be lost as an unimportant thing.”

Millicent and Vulcan watched the glorious sun sinking into its evening slumber. The sea of aqua glass darkened. Vulcan patted the ten-thousand-foot, sky-blue teeter-totter then turned to Millicent, “And now my darling wife, let’s take a long walk upon the cooling sands…”

Fulcrum

Fulcrum

Thank you. May you dream of riding a giant seesaw and smile as your tummy lifts…

Fulcrum created with Prisma pencils, July 23, 2014 with a light heart and heavy eyelids 🙂