(I wrote this prose poem for Three Word Wednesday. The three words are figment, inclined, and vulnerable.)

bright figment from the past
floats gossamer-like through her mind
was it really like that? truly?
the light
heart’s delight
somebody forgot to throw
wood on the fire

in her heart’s fort she sits
more vulnerable for reinforcement
is it really like this? truly?
in the cold
and feeling old
she might as well be

inclined to think
it’ll always be this way but
she need not stay, truly.
a mystery, though,
how to beat frostbite
when sitting there just
makes it worse

a glimpse of a glance
of a warm world outside
can it be that way, and truly?
grasping and gasping,
she hears a voice rasping:
“Close your eyes, then
the wall will be gone”

The Marble (120 words)

(This short-short was written for Friday Fictioneers and features Laurel, the main character of my novel Heart’s Chalice.)

No matter how hard she pulled, Laurel couldn’t tear from her mind the awful things Harry had said last night. A chance for us both to heal, she’d thought when they married. How could she have been so wrong?

And how could she make things right?

She heard a clatter on the back porch. When she opened the door, something black and white and extraordinarily fluffy dashed across the yard to the tree line.

A skunk? No. It had moved too fast.

Near the top step lay a marble, colored blue and green like the earth. Laurel picked it up, then studied the tree line. From the brush, two copper eyes peered back.

A wild kitten.

Perhaps, a new friend.

Once More

(This little snippet was written for Three Word Wednesday. It’s been a long time, but it’s good to be back! The three words are breach, ember, and tentative.)

“once more into the breach,” he says
and she readies herself for the troops
that try to scale her enclosure
but one by one
they fall off
and a sigh of relief blows
like a tentative breeze between them
fanning an ember of hope in
her hurting heart


(I wrote this for Three Word Wednesday — this week’s words are gait, nudge, and ripen.)

things change
oh, how they change
from sun beam to death ray
from sour earth to nosegay
things change
oh, how they change

life ripens
oh, how life ripens
strife spiked with ease
sharp pain, then release
life ripens
oh, how life ripens

the mind says
oh, the mind says
“pick up your gait,
for life doesn’t wait”
the mind says
oh, the mind says

the heart says
oh, the heart says
“love’s noble call
is worth a fall”
the heart says
oh, the heart says

calm center
nudge heart and mind
to where they can find
calm center

in change.

Fear of Flying

(I wrote this for Three Word Wednesday — this week’s words are demure, offend, and volatile.)

on the moss-patched rock she perches, demure,
wings tucked in tight lest she offend the sky
while inside, her volatile heart surges,
yearns to fly high as the clouds,
but she sits like a statue
with her head cocked
waiting for

he creeps closer, preparing to pounce
he’s caught her scent from far away
succulent smell of paralysis
she won’t move, so she is his
powerful rear legs launch him forward
he arcs through the fall-crisp air, paws out
but catches nothing but feathers and moss as
she flies away

Dusky Woods

(I wrote this for Three Word Wednesday — this week’s words are leverage, joke, and remedy.)

leaves crunching underfoot:
whose feet
and whose body?
deer, bear, or snake,
raccoon, bobcat, or bird?
no, the feet are mine
and it’s no joke
as I tread carefully
over rocks that play
hide-and-seek in shadows
and sticks that spring up like
dark magic under my steps.
but if I’m careful,
if I’m vigilant,
dusk in the woods is comfort,
leverage against day madness,
remedy for stark reality which
can blind, burn, or both.
trees wear gauze nets
of gray-green
that grow darker
and sometimes inky
on moonless nights.
i walk along and think
about how light and shadow
create different worlds, not only
outside the mind but within:
shadows of shadows teach
lessons only learned
in darkness
in quietude
in peace.

The Letter

(This story was written for Three Word Wednesday and features Isaac, the hero of my novel Mirror Blue.  This week’s words are drink, feeble, and predict.)

“Aphrodite,” Isaac read on the return address. Usually the mail he got in response to his novels was from soldiers, like him. Or like he’d been. Not from women calling themselves Aphrodite.

Narrowing his eyes, he examined the envelope more closely. He’d been right – “Aphrodite Porter.” What next, “Artemis Jones?” It had to be a joke. Or maybe he’d had one drink too many. He glared at the whiskey bottle sitting on his desk. Only a quarter the way full. Yeah, he’d lost track again. Damn. He was good at that, and that wasn’t any good.

Isaac opened the letter and scowled at how feeble his fingers felt under the influence of the whiskey. They made him feel helpless, and he wasn’t helpless. Not when he was fully himself. He was still on the young side and plenty strong, no matter what that peg leg down there might try to tell him.

At least he only drank at night, after Norma and Sam were in bed. But more and more, he’d felt the booze calling to him in the early evening. Sometimes in the afternoon.

Once in a while, God help him, in the morning.

But he wouldn’t think about that now. He’d read the letter. Couldn’t go wrong with missive from a goddess of love and beauty.

“Dear Mr. Lightfoot, (he read)

“I guess I feel kind of silly writing this letter to you. Bet you don’t get many letters from teenage girls. Yeah, I’m fifteen. Don’t laugh. But I really love your books, and I wanted to tell you how much you inspire me, especially the way you keep saying in your books that no matter how rough things get, to hang in there and learn to love the ride.

“I don’t like high school much. The other kids kind of pick on me and call me a brain. Sometimes I get really depressed that they don’t like me, but other times, I’m glad to be different. Your stories make me feel better about being me. So thank you for that.

“You inspire me in another way, too. I want to be a novelist, like you. Well, not exactly like you because I’m not a soldier and I’d write about different stuff. But I want to grow wise enough to write in a way that will touch people the way your books touch me.

“I hope you have a lot of success. And happiness, too.



Talk about shock and awe. Isaac hadn’t expected a letter like this. And what was that in his eyes? Tears. Good grief. Clumsily, he wiped his eyes only to find his nose running, too. What a soppy mess. He reached for a box of tissues and knocked the whiskey bottle off the desk where it smashed onto the floor.


No, this could be a sign, if he chose to take it that way. How amazing, that his stories somehow helped a young girl feel better about being herself. If only he could learn his own lessons and feel better about being himself. Success, well he had some of that. Happiness? Not so much.

Aphrodite had called him wise. But how little she knew. The stink of the whiskey soured his nostrils. He hadn’t been making wise choices. But wasn’t he the only person who could do something about that? Yeah, he thought so.

He would write the girl back. Thank her for her letter. But first he’d clean up that mess.

A novelist, huh? Isaac would predict that, indeed, this young girl would do herself proud someday.

(If you liked this story, check out the novel. You can get a copy from Amazon (paperback or Kindle e-book), or from other online outlets mentioned on my web site.)


This stand-alone story was written for Three Word Wednesday (this week’s words: abuse, cramp, and hatred).

Della threw the plastic grocery bag onto the floor. Outside the foggy perimeter of her rage, she heard the crunch of glass breaking. Great. There went the jar of spaghetti sauce. Now, she’d have to clean the mess off the other stuff in the bag. It was Herman’s fault, every bit of it.

“Easy does it.” Herman placed his bags carefully on the counter. “I wasn’t ogling that girl–”

“Don’t lie to me. How could you miss her, with all that curly red hair?” Della shoved her lank blond hair behind her ears, and her stomach twisted in a cramp.

“Well, she was right in front of us in the check-out line – ”

“So you admit it.”

“Shit.” Herman stalked out of the kitchen.

Della knew she should let it go, but she couldn’t stop herself. Fury welled up, transmuting into magma which would erupt as abuse. Later, she’d be hugging Herman and telling him she was sorry. But was she ever truly sorry? Perhaps she lay perpetually in wait, like a spider in the center of an meticulously-spun web, for the next time hapless Herman cast his glance upon a red-haired girl.

She followed him to the living room. He was a full head taller. Didn’t matter. She could shout him down any day of the week. “Why do all the girls I catch you staring at have red hair? I don’t get why you’re with me. I’m not your type.”

He sighed. “How many times do I have to say this? You’re my type in all ways, honey. I love you. The only thing I don’t love is when you act like this.”

Della stood on her tiptoes. “Yeah, and a red-haired girl would act better, wouldn’t she?”

“Please quit shouting at me.”

“I’ll talk any way I want.”

“I’m going to hang out in the woods for a while. I’ll be back later.” Herman started toward the back door, but Della scrambled in front of him.

“You aren’t going anywhere,” she snapped. “Dream about your precious redheads while I’m gone.”

She went into the back yard. Herman’s house bordered National Forest property. Trees of all kinds soared to the boundless sky. Della spent a lot of time here, but when they got married, she’d move in.

Get married? What was she thinking. Herman wanted a redhead, not her.

Tears sprung to her eyes. Where were they coming from? She was pissed, not sad.

Was she being silly about the redhead thing? Sure, Herman loved her, but how could she be sure that he wasn’t settling for her as his “Miss Good Enough?”

The girl at the store had been gorgeous. And Herman had been ogling!

Biting her tongue so hard she tasted blood, Della moved out of Herman’s yard and into the woods. Near a large elm tree grew a ladyslipper, a kind of orchid. Rare to find them growing wild. She sat on a nearby rock, gazed at the flower and thought about Cinderella. Don’t think about Herman. Don’t think about redheads. She’d stare at the ladyslipper until she was fit company again.

Breathe in. Breathe out. The tips of her nostrils tingled as she drew in air which became a part of her, then she exhaled, sending part of herself outside. As she focused on it, the ladyslipper seemed to grow. And grow some more, until it dominated her sight. Somehow, like her own breath, Della felt herself being pulled toward the flower. What a weird sensation, to become a flower’s breath and dwell in a tiny world with silken fuchsia walls. If only life could always be like this. All she could feel of her body was her nostrils and the flow of her breathing through them. Endless waves, like life. Nothing stayed the same, did it? Picking a fight with Herman. Making love with him. Her moods, vacillating with the rhythm of how she felt about herself at any given second.

Cycling leads to shackling.

The flower exhaled her, and she opened her eyes – yes, she had eyes again – and felt, again, the rhythm of her breathing. Though she could willingly have stayed in the flower much longer, she didn’t feel rejected. The orchid was normal-sized again, yet it appeared brighter. The green of the forest foliage had intensified. And in her chest, Della felt her heart pumping red blood throughout her body in continuously flowing cycles that didn’t shackle, that kept her alive and kept her loved. Maybe not by herself, not yet, but by Herman.

More tears sprung to her eyes. God, what had she done? This had to stop. No more self-hatred projected onto her sweetheart. If she kept up the madness, they’d lose each other. Was that what she wanted?

No. With all her might, no.

She ran back into the house. Herman stood by the sink, washing his hands. He’d cleaned up the mess she’d made when she broke the jar of spaghetti sauce. The items from the bag she’d thrown – cans of mushroom soup, green beans, and mandarin oranges – sat, sauce-free, on the counter.

Della went to Herman and hugged him. “I’m sorry.”

He kissed the top of her head.

“I mean it this time. I don’t want to act like a bitch anymore about redheads.”

Herman raised a skeptical brow, but his eyes remained kind.

He had every right to skepticism. Look at how she’d been treating him. But in time, he’d see. She would earn his trust, just as he had earned hers all along with his steadfast kindness, no matter what the wounded part of her which always felt second-best had tried to say.

How could she feel second-best, most of all to her own folly? She’d just been an orchid’s breath.


(I wrote this for Three Word Wednesday — this week’s words are bait, jump, and victim.)

outside her cell, the wild woods beckon
but bashing her brains against cement,
the girl can’t think how to climb up
to the high window through which
sunshine sometimes spills

when she cries out in loneliness
something pushes up through a rough-hewn hole
in her basement floor, like bait for her to grab
it’s not food, and it’s not drink
but an arrow with serrated edges

she uses it to pierce her heart, but
somehow she never dies, then a voice responds
to her cries, and she jumps, lobbing the arrow, to
pierce the heart of whomever gets too close
too close, too close to her blood

an arrow named fear
an arrow named jealousy
an arrow named not good enough
an arrow named outrageous misfortune
it doesn’t matter, they all wound, if not kill

she hears moans from outside
but she moans louder that she’s the victim
of him, of her, of her family and the entire world,
red-faced and squalling in the cell she constructed,
beating her fists against block until they bleed

hollow years pass, and the woman watches
the tops of trees swaying, in emerald contrast to
her world of gray, and sometimes, at night, she sees
a shining moon and hears water bubbling outside:
the only sound that soothes

unlike her, water is strong — it permeates
she needn’t climb the walls; instead, she can
become water, seep through the floor of her cell
to the basement, then down to the groundwater
to flow anywhere she will

in her dreams, she washes clean the hole
through which all the arrows have come and
smooths out its jagged edges, and as groundwater,
she flows out everywhere to heal the wounds she caused
she soothes pain when she can and showers love where she may

could she be the water?
can she flow away from her
self-imposed exile of fear and folly?
dare to dream, she whispers: first the woods,
then the oceans, and no more broken hearts

Fire Flowers

(I wrote this for Three Word Wednesday — this week’s words are gentle, praise, and vulgar.)

seeds small as dust motes,
indistinct from dark soil flecks,
lie separate from each other,
in vulgar plastic squares

first, germination
then lone stalks of green
unfurl petals of red and violet
who praise not water but flame

lightning cracks, blossoms ignite
and from each blazing flower curls
chromatic, jasmine-scented smoke
that coils like rainbow snakes

serpentine mists mingle on air,
carry seeds far to fall on fertile ground
there to grow, gentle-hued and free to sing
sunbeam songs and drink of moonlight’s milk