Category Archives: Writing Corner

Friday Flash: The Ring

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The house fire took everything Cynthia cared about, including her life. The only copy of her manuscript, which she had typed on an old fashioned typewriter in a fit of romantic sentimentality, had been incinerated. Her body, which she had taken such pride in keeping healthy and strong, had been reduced to ash when the home she had known for the past four years had burned to the ground. Her only companion had been her tabby, Gertrude, but rather than warn her owner of the inferno, she had done the sensible feline thing and saved her own ass. Cynthia didn’t blame her.

Hindsight is twenty-twenty, and that goes double when you’re a ghost. Sure, trauma had driven her to a life of seclusion, but present circumstances made her rethink the decisions she had made. If she had lived closer to town, maybe a neighbor would have seen the fire. As things stood, the firefighters only happened on her home because of the forest blaze. Now, her consciousness didn’t even have a body, dead or alive, to cling to. The only thing left was the ring she had been wearing when she died.

Her spirit condensed and became contained within that tiny metal band when she had shuffled off her mortal coil…

Most of the firefighters had walked farther off, but two remained close to her former home. From within the ring’s shining band, Cynthia watched one of them approach. “Hey, Bill,” said the female firefighter, picking the ring up to show her companion. “Hear anything about family, next of kin?”

“Nah, sweetheart,” said Bill, the condescending endearment making the firewoman wince while Cynthia psychically winced on her behalf. Cynthia knew that voice; even through the grime and the distortion of the ring, she’d recognize that face anywhere. Though dead, her first impulse was to run away, her second -to warn the woman.

How could she forget that monster? Four years ago, he had turned her world upside down. He had said he’d find her again, that she belonged to him body and soul, but she had moved! Changed her name, secluded herself and- dear God, how did he find her?

Hiding had done her no good. Now was the time for action. Before he hurt someone else.

“Nobody that I know of,” he continued, oblivious to both women’s distress, “but you could find out when we get back to the station.”

“Thanks, Bill,” said the woman, whose name Cynthia learned was “Eve” from the lettering on her flourescent yellow jacket. Eve examined the ring a moment longer before slipping it into her pocket. Instinctually, Cynthia prodded, mentally probing the woman’s psyche. Seeming to reconsider, Eve put the ring on her finger instead.

Immediately, Cynthia felt the rush of life in her new body, the woman’s strength, the ache of her muscles, the warmth of her browned skin. She even smelled the ash in the air. Was she breathing in her old body from within her new one? Eve’s body turned to gaze at her coworker through new eyes. The other firefighters had moved farther away, leaving the three of them relatively isolated. Stepping behind a crumbling and charred wall, the woman grabbed a sharpened piece of unmelted metal, readied herself, and called to Bill. “Hey, come here a sec’. There’s something here I want to show you.”

Bill smirked. Sooner or later, they all wanted him. “Coming, sweetheart,” he said, sidestepping blackened debris as he unknowingly approached his final destination.

 

 

*image courtesy of BigFoto.com

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National Poetry Month: Day #30 – “The Big Read”

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The Cuyahoga County Public Library system sent out email prompts this April in honor of National Poetry month! The idea was to inspire new poems each day based on that day’s prompt.

Today’s prompt involves sharing a short poem about a place I have visited by writing one down on postcard or small piece of paper. Since it’s also the last day, I decided to compose a short poem in honor of the local library and museum taking part in The Big Read.

My poem is a Sicilian tercet based on today’s prompt:

 

The Big Read brought you together, books and

art combined, a partnership uniting

museum and library – hand in hand.

 

Once more, I’d like to thank the Cuyahoga County Public Library for providing daily writing prompts, as well as the Massillon Public Library and Massillon Museum of Art for being incredible resources of both inspiration and creativity.

 

*image courtesy of BigFoto.com

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NATIONAL POETRY MONTH: Day #26 – “Elegy for a Bear”

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The Cuyahoga County Public Library system is sending out daily email prompts in honor of National Poetry month! The idea is to write a new poem each day based on that day’s prompt.

Library prompts and poems can be found here. Below is my poem based on today’s prompt.

 

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“Elegy for a Bear”

 

How I would have loved

to give you to my infant son,

a giant teddy for him to snuggle against.

Soft and sweet,

I don’t even know when I lost you.

 

Big, brown, hairy beast

with black button eyes that gaze out of the darkness

guarding the room from the aliens

that might kidnap me

or the monsters under my bed

(if my feet stick out over its edge).

Your sheer size,

your enormity –

larger than my own prepubescent body,

made me feel safe.

 

At least safe once I realized your bulk

in the bedroom’s corner

was not an alien sent to probe me.

Now, I am allowed to miss you,

now that I’m no longer

terrified

by your dark shadow.

Plus, I still have my dolls

tucked away in my closet and…

under my bed.

 

Uh-oh.

 

*image courtesy of BigFoto.com

 

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NATIONAL POETRY MONTH: Day #25 – “Mom”

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The Cuyahoga County Public Library system is sending out daily email prompts in honor of National Poetry month! The idea is to write a new poem each day based on that day’s prompt.

Library prompts and poems can be found here. Below is my poem based on today’s prompt.

 

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“Mom”

 

Years ago,

in the darkened atmosphere

of Sloppy Joes

-that famous hangout of Hemingway-

she danced the cha-cha with my father

to Eric Clapton’s “Cocaine.”

The boards vibrated beneath her feet

with each resounding beat

from the local band.

Most of the lyrics were mumbled,

indecipherable,

but when they sung the chorus?

THAT she understood.

 

As she spun,

her dress billowing around her

like the petals of some wild flower caught in a sudden breeze,

her face registered shock and disbelief-

her jaw dropped,

eyes widened,

mouth opened,

cheeks flushed…

 

But she kept dancing.

 

*image courtesy of BigFoto.com

 

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NATIONAL POETRY MONTH: Day #24 – “First Flight”

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The Cuyahoga County Public Library system is sending out daily email prompts in honor of National Poetry month! The idea is to write a new poem each day based on that day’s prompt.

Library prompts and poems can be found here. Below is my poem based on today’s prompt.

 

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“First Flight”

 

Butterflies

in my stomach

as I walk the ramp,

board the plane,

the great iron bird whose weight defies gravity.

Taking my seat, I strap myself in,

pulling the cloth tighter and tighter

as though that thin strip

could keep me in the sky

if all else failed.

The pressure rises,

ears pop, blood races

as I struggle to not look out the window,

I vainly seek distraction

in the pages of a pulp fiction novel

as the world drops from beneath my feet.

 

Breathing rapidly,

I fix my gaze upon the pages,

my mind reaching out to the characters

who reach back to me.

I start

as a paper-thin hand

grasps my thumb.

A face pushes

against the book’s surface

as another hand lifts itself from the page,

pressing one inky finger against paper lips.

Taking the hint,

I glance at my fellow passengers

immersed in their own worlds,

oblivious to mine,

and I snap the book shut.

 

Fear of flying

is no longer my biggest problem.

 

*image courtesy of BigFoto.com

 

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NATIONAL POETRY MONTH: Day #23 – “Shakespeare” and “Moby Dick”

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The Cuyahoga County Public Library system is sending out daily email prompts in honor of National Poetry month! The idea is to write a new poem each day based on that day’s prompt.

Library prompts and poems can be found here. Below is my poem based on today’s prompt.

 

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“Shakespeare”

Bard of Avon, by any other name

playwright, poet, writer sweet as a rose

Prose and poetry bring you lasting fame

 

“Moby Dick”

You are Ahab’s nemesis, his White Whale

Your enormity defies measurement

His obsession for vengeance beyond scale

 

*image courtesy of BigFoto.com

*Once more I am tweaking the prompt, this time to include largeness of character, fame, and impact – not simply physical dimensions.

*For a change of pace, I chose to write Sicilian Tercets instead of Haikus for the three-line poetry prompt. My first impulse was to write about one of my favorite books, Moby Dick, but then I realized today was also Shakespeare’s birthday. Happy Birthday to the Bard!

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NATIONAL POETRY MONTH: Day #22 – “New Year’s Eve”

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The Cuyahoga County Public Library system is sending out daily email prompts in honor of National Poetry month! The idea is to write a new poem each day based on that day’s prompt.

Library prompts and poems can be found here. Below is my poem based on today’s prompt.

 

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“New Year’s Eve”

 

About as far from Earth Day

as you can get,

a time many choose to hydrate

with alcohol instead of h20

-if that is even possible-

and try to see the road ahead

more clearly

-apparently while driving drunk

(This is a metaphor of course I would never advocate drinking and driving, always use a designated driver, please don’t sue me).

Couples kiss when the ball drops

(speaking of metaphors)

at Midnight,

beneath a brilliant, hearty neon ad

for the sponsor of

Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve.

 

Mimes, those urban pariahs, skulk along the sidelines

hoping to catch the cameras

even as they mock the celebrations

with their silence.

Arty? Perhaps,

but head over heels couples

-once stirred from their warm embraces-

apply the phrase literally

to the nearby mimes,

-the mockers of their mirth,

pretenders of their passion,

kissy-faced buffoons-

and throw them in the nearest waste receptacle

(a fitting resting place for those white-painted imitators)

where

the next day

in the bright light of dawn

they are extracted by local garbagemen

-and women

and removed with the rest of the refuse.

 

A lone reveler,

awakened, bleary-eyed,

by the sun’s brilliant beams,

yawns and quips,

“He had a little too much to drink, Ossifer!”

Then, seeming to shrug off the previous night’s intoxication,

looks at the yard

-the ripped streamers,

broken discarded bottles,

and dropped foodstuffs now feeding the local pigeons-

and bends to pick up his first bit of trash.

 

 

*image courtesy of BigFoto.com

*Today’s prompt was used as inspiration and was in no way an excuse to write a silly poem powered by both sleep deprivation and a deranged mind. How dare you.

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NATIONAL POETRY MONTH: Day #21 – “Hemingway’s”

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The Cuyahoga County Public Library system is sending out daily email prompts in honor of National Poetry month! The idea is to write a new poem each day based on that day’s prompt.

Library prompts and poems can be found here. Below is my poem based on today’s prompt.

 

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“Hemingway’s”

 

Six- and seven-toed cats

roamed the grounds

during my visit

to the tropically overgrown

home

of Key West’s favorite celebrity,

Among the lush gardens

surrounding a flat-roofed

sun-filled

two-story,

Descendants of his kitten

prey upon those that come to this shrine-

the tourists that pay homage to an author who lived there less than ten years. But what literary legends were created there?

 

To Have and Have Not?

The Snows of Kilimanjaro?

 

Or was the real home of this prolific writer

and drinker

the local watering hole,

a place to bring his typewriter,

drink in the atmosphere and inspiration of

spirits and other patrons,

people-watching to refill his well

with  well-chosen words?

What would he think of the annual Hemingway look-alike contest,

the commercialism of this once sleepy retreat town now marketing his name?

Would he be glad that his work and memory live on or shake his head in shame?

 

Meanwhile, the descendants of his feline happily stalk the tourists traipsing through his former haunts.

 

*image courtesy of BigFoto.com

*I confess that other than my few favorite places, I don’t know Cleveland very well. So I took liberty with the prompt to write about one of my favorite authors and his former home.

 











 

 

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NATIONAL POETRY MONTH: Day #20 – “Ode to Osric”

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The Cuyahoga County Public Library system is sending out daily email prompts in honor of National Poetry month! The idea is to write a new poem each day based on that day’s prompt.

Library prompts and poems can be found here. Below is my poem based on today’s prompt.

 

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“Ode to Osric”

 

Robin Williams, comic no more but your

work and your memory live on. Hollow

words to sum a life devoted to smiles,

laughter, hiding the pain you felt, no more

movies, fresh performances to follow

bringing joy to those who relished your wiles.

 

So unusual, a celebrity

without the common scandals brought by fame

Yes, disease and addiction abused you

but we remember your humanity,

not just your films but how you used your name

to better the world, help others get through

 

life’s difficulties with chuckles and grins,

charities, children’s wards, the USO

for five tours, homelessness fought with Comic

Relief and contract riders. So begins

your career with Mork but with Osric’s bow

you demonstrate the prince’s sardonic

 

look for courtly ostentation, and with

his death you reveal how prosperity

is not enough, foolishness is deadly

-but you were a wise enough fool, a smith

of smirks, forger of jests, hilarity

hired and free. We loved you readily.

 

 

 

*image courtesy of BigFoto.com

**Today’s poem is my attempt at a Keatsian or English Ode in honor of Robin Williams.

***In the YouTube clip of Kenneth Brannaugh’s Hamlet, Robin William’s Osric dies at 4 minutes, 47 seconds.

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NATIONAL POETRY MONTH: Day #19 – “Illusions”

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The Cuyahoga County Public Library system is sending out daily email prompts in honor of National Poetry month! The idea is to write a new poem each day based on that day’s prompt.

Library prompts and poems can be found here. Below is my poem based on today’s prompt.

 

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“Illusions”

 

Watch the image on your screen closely

Did you know that both are actually

the same color?

The illusion lies in shading,

there is no difference between them.

 

Emotions shade our everyday perspective

project what we think we see

onto others

anger instead of despair

callousness instead of fear

arrogance instead of joy

weakness instead of compassion

The trick to life is learning to see

feel

breathe

what things are

see others as

reflections of ourselves

 

Language is inadequate

The illusion lies in shading,

there is no difference between them

and us.

 

 

*image courtesy of BigFoto.com

*First lines taken from ‘Brain Games’ via Netflix.

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