Poetry

(A friend confided her memory of a dance recital and wearing a red dress in detail. Regrettably, she had no childhood pictures of herself. I wrote this poem for her.)

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Little Girl Blues

A photograph will always be in my mind.

Not on a bureau, credenza, night stand or shelf.

There is no where to look.

Nothing to find.

It’s not in the foyer, on a desk, or anywhere else.

The treasure lies deep inside my mind.

A girl . . . in a magenta dress!

Dancing the flamingo.

Swirling . . . Twirling.

Her feet stomp the floor.

The red taffeta bodice clings to her chest.

The crinoline and chiffon flounce and cheer for more.

The white poka dots stand and applaud.

She smiles.

There is no where to look.

Nothing to find.

The treasure lies deep inside my heart and mind.

. . . just saying

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Flash Fiction

woman standing by the side of a watercraft
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Lynn

    Lynn stood on the sidewalk and could not remember who she used to be.

    It was a horrible feeling.

    She strolled casually to a nearby bench and sat to quiet the feeling.

    The weather was mild. The sun strong.

    It was not the present that disturbed her.

    Having silly thoughts, she hummed an old Peggy Lee song, “Is That All There Is?”

    She came to buy Christmas gifts, or so she thought.

    Instead, she window shopped and tried on clothes in an upscale woman’s store; attempting to find a new identity.

    Norman Rockwell’s picture of the golden-brown turkey on a large platter surrounded by family flashed  across her mind.

    Her romanticized past was painful to watch.

    She had been the women wearing the plaid apron, trying to fulfill other people’s dreams. Okay, perhaps they’d been her dreams too.

    It was hard to remember, things were different.

. . . just saying

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Old Film Twelve Angry Men

Yesterday afternoon, my husband and I watched the film, “Twelve Angry Men”

It is a classic.

We frequently tape movies on Turner Classic Movies or our local PBS to watch together at a later date. Everything about the film is impressive and perhaps more relevant today

The writer, Reginald Rose, used a single setting, little action, and mostly dialogue to explore social issues; prejudice, segregation, and injustice.

Wikipedia states it nicely. “12 Angry Men explores many techniques of consensus-building and the difficulties encountered in the process among this group of men whose range of personalities adds to the intensity and conflict. It also explores the power one person has to elicit change. The jury members are identified only by number; no names are revealed until an exchange of dialogue at the very end. The film forces the characters and audience to evaluate their own self-image through observing the personality, experiences, and actions of the jurors.”  

The gentlemen of the jury, many dressed in tie and jacket, appear civil  . . . But tempers flare when Henry Fonda suggests things may not be what they appear.

It is a great movie.

. . . just saying

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Flash Fiction

(The word pearl was a prompt given at a writing session. A strong female character came to mind and her story enfolded.)

Pearl

The last time I saw her, she was young; youth sparkled in her eyes. Now the sparkle is gone, the jade blue color diminished by time; her convictions etched in lines across her face. Her once narrow nose is broader, broken from standing up for others. Her chest sunken with anger, not there the first time we met.

“Pearl is that you?” I inquire.

She strains to turn towards me, her range of motion greatly compromised.

“Yes, I’m Pearl,” Her voice recalls dignity, and she pauses to ask, “Have I had your acquaintance?”

It was 1971; we got on the Concourse Avenue bus in the Bronx, each with a child in hand. She took notice of my bruises and we became friends.

I take the seat alongside her and gently touch her forearm, “Pearl, it’s me Rosa . . . . Rose, remember. . . .” I expect her to ooze with gladness, say, “Lordy, Lordy, Rose, how are you?”

Instead, she says “Rose? Can’t recall a Rose, refresh my memory child.”

If she remembers me, she would never mention beatings, and hiding in safe houses. I remind her of Bainbridge Park; how we would meet after lunch, let the children play in the sand box then walk them to sleep in strollers.

“I remember sunshine and playgrounds, how is your boy . . . ?”

“Danny, Dan, he’s at Fordham University; studying to be a lawyer.

Danny was five when I made the decision to leave the morning after a beating. I phoned my sister, asked her to get him from school, and left a note for John saying I didn’t want a divorce, and wouldn’t fight him for our son.

I worried about leaving Danny behind. Pearl said, “Don’t fret; your boy be fine,” and hooked me up with people.

John was a New York City Police officer and protected by his brothers, but the force would not ignore his beating a child.

Sill, I moved every four months with a new identity.

Three years later, the Richmond Virginia Newspaper reported the hunt for the killer of John McGill, a NYC Police Officer shot in the line of duty. I went home; stood next to his coffin, widowed with a pension; my eight-year-old son at my side.

John had never mentioned I was gone to anyone on the force.

Now Pearl dozes next to me, and her head bobs from side to side startling herself. “What was I saying?”

“We were talking about the time we brought the boys to the Bronx Zoo and rode the train around the park ten times. You packed potato salad and fried chicken; a stranger asked to buy your picnic lunch.”

The mention of potato salad crystallizes in her milky eyes, “I remember the day you left, bruised and wearing borrowed clothes; it broke my heart knowing I’d not see you again. How you been?”

“I never got to thank you, Pearl. . . .” She interrupts my attempt at gratitude and explanation of regret .

“Hush, Woman . . . tell me something that will make me smile.”

* * * just saying

(Originally posted on November 23, 2014)

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September

September

Weather wise it isn’t horrible outside. It is cooler here and I was able to sit outdoors with a glass of wine after dinner. The was no breeze just the quiet sound of birds calling. I imagined their tweets to be something like, “Thank God it’s not that hot.”

That hot is like a heavy cloak on my chest.

Labor Day in the north signaled the end of summer and back to school. If the weather turned warm again it was referred to as Indian Summer.

I long for those cool temperatures. The careful selection of back-to-school clothes. The smell of a leather school bag. The gradual enfolding of colors; green to gold, to yellow, then bright orange and burnt red. And waiting for the first snow fall.

* * * just saying

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Back In Florida

We’re Back

Sunrise Lake

We’ve returned to Florida after spending four weeks at Sunrise Lake in Milford, Pa., and an additional week in Delmar, New York, visiting family. We’d considered a trip to Yellowstone National Park to celebrate our 50th Anniversary, but due to health issues, upcoming medical procedures, and what not, put the trip on hold.  Twelve years ago, we retired to Florida and in retrospect would have made better snow birds. We wanted to escape the heat.

It rained frequently at the lake. The temperatures so cool, we jumped in the lake only once. But, our grand kids, daughter and old friends; well let me restate that, people who we’ve been friends with for a long time, visited. Although, they are truly old friends; we met when I was thirteen and been friends for sixty years.

Smoking cigarettes at Puffy’s Creek, (behind Martin’s house in Hensonville, N.Y) nobody thought we would be old, or still be friends. It rained cats and dogs when they visited, and we huddled on a covered screen porch laughing our heads off, trying not to get wet.

Our favorite restaurant in the area is the Walpack Inn. It’s hidden deep in the woods, In order to get there we crossed Dingman’s Ferry Bridge, one of three privately owned bridges in the United States. Twenty-four hours a day someone stands in the middle of the road collecting the one dollar toll (cash only) and says repeatedly, “Thank you. Have a nice day,” to motorists crossing the Delaware River into or from Sussex County, New Jersey, via Old Mine Road. It’s a narrow bumpy bridge and kind of like threading a needle.

It was great to visit with everyone and I had mixed emotions and quite grumpy leaving Delmar at 6AM on a Monday for the 584-mile drive to Roanoke, VA. I’d not slept well the night before. However we made good time and got in bed early.

The next day we were on the road by 7AM., traveling Route 81, a scenic parkway through the Blue Ridge Mountains. Around 9:30 AM we stopped in Hillsville, Virginia for gas; to use the restrooms, and buy the newspaper. Bob reads the paper and does crossword the puzzle while I drive. We are not back on the road five minutes when he announced there is no crossword puzzle in The Carroll News which he paid one dollar for and the paper was dated August 4th, several days ago. It’s a weekly publication.

But there was news of interest.

The 85th Old Fiddlers’ Convention, held at Felts Park for six nights was expected to draw 50,000 to 60,000 people from all fifty states and several foreign countries. The paper reported the big controversy over face masks in schools, but there was no debate at the convention; no one wore a mask.

New material at the Carroll County Public Library was another headline. The list of new books, videos and CDs was extensive, diverse and took up several pages. There are six branches however, who was getting what book was left out.

The paper, more than likely, reflected what was important in the community

It was a the poignant story highlighting the Golden Girls return to work at Blue Ridge Designs that enthralled me.

Blue Ridge Design’s Golden Girls, Rubye Edwards, Cathie Grimes, Carol Montgomery, Sue Worrell

Look at the smiles! These women in their eighties, work part time at Blue Ridge Designs. Rubye retired at 87 and returned to work at 88 saying, “It’s an easy job and better than sitting at home.”They re-sticker UPC hang tags for garments. Sue Worrell believes in the “Move it or lose it,” health approach and after work went home to make 10 pints of blackberry jelly. Cathie Grimes does it for “The money!” Carol Montgomery said, “I’m still working because I don’t like staying home.”

We arrived home early and thought our re-entry would be easy. However, we were not in the door an hour when the air conditioner stopped working.

* * * * just saying

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What Are You Reading?

Official Website for Margot Livesey

What Are You Reading?

There is nothing like a good book. One you look for every spare minute you have. Especially in the pandemic. I haven’t had a really good read in a long time and read The Flight of Gemma Hardy in three days, lying leisurely on a couch in the afternoon and staying up past my bedtime to finish a chapter. The author, Margot Livesey, was born in Scotland but now lives in Boston.

What I especially liked about the novel was it was set in the 1950’s and early 1960’s.

The accolades from several other well know authors are numerous and Livesey is the recipient of grants and winner of awards.

It was a great read and I’m currently reading her latest book, Boy In The Field.

What are you reading?

. . . just saying

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The Silent Sound of Snow

I really miss snow.

Family and friends remark, “Easy to say from Florida.”

They may be right; nevertheless, beautiful winter scenes created by the recent blizzard bring me happiness and serenity.

I found myself reciting Robert Frost’s poem, “Stopping by Woods on Snowy Evening.”

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Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Poem by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village, though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer to stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake the darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake to ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sound’s the sweep of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

Frost found words to express a feeling so special it has ownership. Not his, but one to be shared.

The line, the only other sound’s the sweep of easy wind and downy flake, sparked my poem.

Sounds of Snow

     by Claudia . . . just saying

The sound of snow after falling

A quiet stillness penetrating crisp air

Listen intensely for snare drums not there

The howl of the wind mimics French horns

Stop in soft snow tracks

An acoustical silence alone

An absence of flurry

Close your eyes

Hear the gentle whispers of nature singing

Remember the sound after snow falling  . . . never there

. . . . just saying

Perturbed

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     When I overheard someone say the word perturbed recently, the word danced around in my head until I put pen to paper and wrote this vignette.
 

Perturbed

The police station hugs the railroad tracks in this rural New Jersey town. I contemplate retirement most mornings and especially today, as I skip over rain puddles to the precinct door. When I climb the steps, an umbrella pokes my neck. Inside I turn around and observe a woman hiding a closed umbrella in a corner. Then she walks toward me, her hand extended and says, “I’m Dolores.”

Usually, I am not quick to shake hands, but do so automatically and introduce myself.  “Officer Hawkins. How can I help you?”

“My husband went missing last night.”

Her voice is raspy. Her long jet-black hair parted on the side, frames the opposite eye. I wish I had gotten a haircut, or at least trimmed my mustache.

I respond. “Standard procedure is to wait twenty-four hours,” then stomp my feet on a rug, “your guy will probably show up before that.”

“Officer Hawkins, it’s so unlike Steven.” Her doe like brown eyes fill with tears.

“Well, file a missing person’s report if you want.”

I walk behind my desk, and search for the appropriate form. Dolores eases into an interview chair uninvited, and slips off her raincoat, to reveal; what my ex-wife called, a sweater dress.  She trembles at the sight of the paper work, reacting as though it is a hot potato.

Reluctantly, I complete the form for her. She describes Steven as tall, dark, and handsome. Then quickly produces his wallet. The contents spill out. She gathers the singles and worn scrapes of paper with her hands and almost perfectly manicured red nails. The index finger nail is broken.

I say, “Tell me what happened last night.” Her lips purse together before she responds.

“I was perturbed.”

Her pronunciation; emphasis on the first syllable without ignoring the rest, grabs my attention. I confirm her intent. “Perturbed. . . As in annoyed, agitated, or troubled.”

“Yes,” she studies the ceiling, “so. . . I took the dog for a walk,” she pulls nervously at a sleeve, “when I got back, Steven wasn’t there.” She tugs repeatedly at the dress to cover her knees. “I was perturbed.”

I mimic what she says, “You were perturbed?”

Now her doe eyes light with anger as she contains her passion. “Yes, perturbed,” she slips into her coat and stands, “what don’t you understand? Surely you’ve been perturbed, Officer Hawkins.”

She is guilty. But of what, I do not know . . . yet.

I watch her leave the building perturbed.

. . . . just saying

 

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