I Can’t Fly With Broken Wings


Broken Wings (film)
Image via Wikipedia

Within my chest is the heart to fly,

But I cannot soar into the sky,

Though my dreams allow me to sing,

I can’t fly with broken wings,

Once I circled proud and free,

Fueled by your love’s energy,

Haughty was I in mundane things,

Now I can’t fly with broken wings,

You gave your body but not your heart,

When you left, my world came apart,

My realm was toppled, no longer I’m king,

How can I fly with broken wings,

Once the world was beautiful as I flew,

But that was while I traveled with you,

Now I’m waiting to see what the future brings,

Because I can’t fly with broken wings.

 

A Crooked Man


A photograph of author Jack London on his ranc...
Image via Wikipedia

The birth was normal but somehow the baby was strangely misshapen.  One leg was shorter than the other and he twisted a bit to one side. “He’s a crooked little fellow,” the doctor muttered.

“Oh, no, he’s beautiful,” his mother insisted.   “I’m so proud of him!”  And to prove how much she loved her baby she gave him a strange name, as mothers sometimes do.

Jack My love Bartholomew” the nurse wrote on the chart.  “Are you sure you want to give this boy a strange name like that? He’s going to have a hard enough time in the world.”

His mom was insistent and the name stayed.  Of course, in his early years Jack’s full name was rarely used.   Only when his mother was mad did she call him Jack My love Bartholomew and then there were other names liberally sprinkled in.

When he entered school the situation changed.  The kids taunted him because of his crooked way of smiling and the way he walked.  His name became a special target and he learned to endure the bullies and their little slaves.  Jack always thought of the helpers as slaves because they were afraid to challenge any decision made. Suggestions from bullies were commands to be carried out.

“Jack My love”, do this.  “Jack My love”, do that.  Jack grew tired of hearing his name in jest and sometimes he ignored the tease or refused to answer anything other than Jack.

In high school he began getting recognition in sports as an excellent runner.  As a running back in football his slants and cutbacks were different.  His crooked way of running gave him unusual opportunities.  In cross country and track he became known for his “crooked” miles.

His opponents and some of his teammates asked the coaches to “Make him run right”.  He ran at angles but within bounds.  Although his coaches listened to complaints they saw how his awkward style led to wins.  It was not in their best interests to change him. Therefore the coaches left him alone.

In addition to his talents in sports his writing skills were superior.  Because he had spent hours brooding about the taunts and teasing, he kept a journal.  At first his teachers tried to change his penmanship because it was so horribly crooked and even left handed students refused to accept him.

As a consequence of his crooked writing his papers were hard to read and were often marked down drastically.  Eventually his teachers adapted and began discovering his raw talent.  His poems and short stories were wonderful though decidedly crooked.  They, not Jack, petitioned the school board for a laptop Jack could carry with him.

Jack’s romantic life was simply nonexistent.  Girls remarked that Jack walked funny and when he smiled, his smile was crooked.  They would say, “You’re a good friend but………….. and Jack would listen to a range of excuses but never got a date.

After college he thought about becoming a politician but since he was already “the crooked man” he thought that might be a bad idea.  He became a lawyer instead.

Jack’s success as a county prosecutor brought publicity about his relentless pursuit of those on the wrong side of the law.  His fame spread and he obtained a certain measure of respect but people still made references to his odd name and his peculiar way of walking.

Jack bought an old house on the outskirts of town.  It needed renovation and repairs and he went right to work restoring the old mansion. Once it had been a beautiful landmark in town but a series of mobsters had lived there briefly and left it in disrepair.  Townsfolk said it was filled with bullet holes and weird stories.  Jack was the only one brave enough to buy it and move in.

It was located, oddly enough, on South Crooked Way and situated on the side of a small hill.  Everyone who saw it claimed it leaned to one side.  For that and other reasons they referred to it as “the crooked house”.

During this time Jack acquired a few animals, hereafter referred to as one crooked dog and one crooked cat.  Field mice in the vicinity were decimated by the crooked cat, although there were rumors about town that a couple of malformed mice were ignored by the cat.  The crooked dog looked ferocious and strangers did not venture down his road without making a hasty departure.

Jack was lonely, especially at night when the crickets started chirping and the moon rose up full of bright promise.  He tried internet dating sites but he could not keep a normal schedule.  His “ewomen” gradually drifted away into cyberspace.

During a Purple Passion Poetry posting contest Jack decided to compete and see if his writing talent would give him a chance at winning.  He had forgotten one aspect of the contest.  The top five writers were required to make a public appearance and read a few poems in front of a live audience.

One of the judges took him aside and asked, “Jack, could you please wear a specially built shoe so you look normal? Oh, and would you please take the time to work on that crooked smile?”

He won the contest which upset most of the long time gentry.  While onstage at the awards presentation Jack enraged them more by removing his uncomfortable shoe and smiling at the audience.

The next day newspaper banners read, “Crooked Man Wins Contest!”   When some people objected to a crooked man winning, one of the judges was quoted as saying, “I had no choice.  It was crooked all the way!”

Jack was not at all pleased with the publicity and the way the public treated him.  In spite of the publicity he was offered a partnership with a local law firm that wanted a crooked lawyer.  When he accepted their offer he received a large increase of pay, his income doubling immediately.

His crooked smile was front page news in the local paper and one of the top ten internet stories. “Crooked Lawyer Leaves Public Practice to Defend Crooks.”

“Why don’t you sue those insensitive clods on the newspaper?” his partners asked.  “They’ve gone way too far.  If you won’t do it for yourself, then sue for the sake of all those kids who have to face bullies.  Then donate the money to charity.”

His partners were urging him to sue but that wasn’t Jack’s style.  They became more insistent, telling Jack he had to be ruthless if he continued with their firm.  He resigned and opened an office on the main street of town.  The sign above it read simply “THE CROOKED LAWYER”.  Rather than fight with those who were ridiculing him, he took the insult as a badge of honor.

The building was nondescript and there were no flashy directions to his office.  People would say, “It’s located on the third floor somewhere.  You’ll know it when you see it.”  Sure enough when visitors made it to the third floor they saw hand painted signs with arrows pointing the way.  One sign said, “Love instead of sue.”  Another was more dramatic. “Love first, shoot last.”

Across the country the name caught fire.  People laughed but when they needed legal help they remembered his sign.  Jack’s reputation and his tenacity brought in more clients.  It seemed almost everyone wanted the most hardworking, most honest crooked lawyer in the business.

Mob bosses, ministers, thieves, rich men, and poor men wanted Jack to represent them.  In his normal crooked way Jack would put up a brilliant defense as he paced back and forth, similar to the slants of his football glory days. The jury was always mesmerized and his victories continued to mount.  For Jack it wasn’t all about the money.  He wanted to believe in his clients and get them respect.

Because of this honest crooked lawyer many of his crooked clients decided to go straight.  They continued to prosper in spite of being honest in their dealings.  More importantly, they vowed to remember all that Jack had done for them.

Next door to his office was a quaint coffee shop.  Jack enjoyed reading the newspaper and checking the internet over a cup of coffee.   There Jack met Melissa, a waitress, who did interest him.  As she poured him a coffee each day she talked about her world and wanted to know about his.  She never mentioned Jack’s crooked smile.  She just seemed happier when he smiled at her.  She knew he had an odd way of walking but that didn’t really matter.  She saw him go out of his way to say kind words to people and to pet dogs and cats.

The world came alive to Melissa when Jack was there.  “Jack My love” took on new meaning after she said, “I love your name.”   He excited her and made her feel comfortable at the same time.  He, in turn, began sharing his childhood and found she had a genuine interest in this life. Their friendship blossomed.  Shortly thereafter they married and lived together in the big crooked house.

It wasn’t long before Jack’s name was bandied about in political circles.  “He was okay as a crooked lawyer,” one woman said.  “I think he would make an excellent crooked politician.”

(But that’s another story.)

Last Words


Scuba diver. Found at Plongée sous-marine & ob...
Image via Wikipedia

Last Words That Were Easy to Remember

(Last words are in parenthesis)

 

There have been times I’ve said,

Last words I hoped were true,

I said them so sweet they’d be good to eat,

If they were returned by you,

 

The words (I Love You) were special,

And when I gave you a Valentine’s card,

In the fifth grade that was a problem,

Friends teased me often on the school yard,

 

When we went on the scuba diving trip,

And you assured me (no sharks) were there,

Why did you get so excited,

When one whispered in your ear?

 

You got into an argument with your friend,

And you said I could take care of us,

You didn’t tell me he was a karate instructor,

(What happened?)  I got run over by a bus!

 

Last words were easy to remember,

Especially when their meaning rang true,

In dreams they came to spice up my nights,

But the words I treasured most were (“I do”),

 

You might have thought I’d have memorized,

Those phrases that were difficult to hear,

But the two words that drove me to the edge,

Were short and simple, (“Yes, dear”),

 

You were drinking a tea and on your phone,

While driving with your knees,

You said you had (perfect control),

Except for that awful tree,

 

You didn’t wait as you vowed you’d do,

I don’t want to see your silly grin,

You’ve closed your book one last time,

It’s over, finished, (Amen).

 

For once I got the last word.

Chasing Rabbits


English: Rabbit shape Français : Silhouette d'...
Image via Wikipedia

Chasing Rabbits

Sometimes I would take Roxy and Pixie, my two labs, down to the river for long walks and let them explore.  Not only was it a change of scenery but it was a time for me to reflect about life in general.  During one of those outings I observed how life works for me and why I never seemed to get ahead.  After watching the dogs in their endeavors I decided that I’ve always chased rabbits.

Roxy was the faster of the two dogs and also the more skilled hunter.  She would make wide sweeps through the brush and flush rabbits that were hiding there.  Pixie would go ahead and wait for the rabbits to come her way.

A rabbit would jump out of the brush and race for shelter somewhere else, always with Roxy in hot pursuit.  Pixie would always be ready but somehow the rabbits would outmaneuver or jump at the right time and escape.  I didn’t pay much attention at first but I noticed the results were the same each and every time.

I set up an observation point so I could watch the entire chase.  The chase went smoothly and their efforts proved fruitless.  Somehow, though, I had a hunch that deception was taking place right before my eyes and I was missing a key ingredient of the action. I needed more information to come up with a reasonable explanation.

Several missions later I brought my camcorder and got ready for action.  Roxy flushed a rabbit. It ran and increased its lead for a moment. Roxy gained and drew closer.  Pixie waited and then dashed in just when the rabbit arrived.  The rabbit found a sudden burst of energy and got away.  At least it seemed that way as I watched in real time.

Later as I reviewed the movie I had taken of the chase, I noticed a few strange details.  The rabbit getting away was not the rabbit at the beginning of the chase.  After studying the movie in slow motion I came to the conclusion there were four rabbits, and they were in a relay.  The first rabbit would get a big lead, slow down and hide.  The second rabbit would leap up and repeat the process.  Each rabbit in turn would take over at the appropriate time, leaving the last rabbit to make a clean getaway.

I could almost hear each rabbit snickering behind the bushes.  “Heh, heh, heh.  I can hardly wait for my turn.  They’ll eat my dust as I show those dogs my speed.”

All my life I’ve been in pursuit of one rabbit after another.  Just when I thought life was under control, something else would leap to the front and distract me, leaving me to always be the chaser but never getting ahead.  By watching the dogs I learned to keep my eyes on my target. When it stops I need to take a moment to rest and regain strength.  And then be ready to run again.  Oh, yes, and to have fun.  I don’t have to catch anything today. Tomorrow will be a new day and there will be more rabbits.

Belle Goes to School


English: A Lhasa Apso.
Image via Wikipedia

One Sunday as I finished giving Belle her weekly scrub,

Her expression said, “I’m tired of being in the tub,”

She looked shaggy while wet and needing a trim,

And I don’t think she liked her little swim,

 

As soon as her feet hit the bathroom floor,

Lickety-split she was out the bathroom door,

Vigorously she shook, then gave a final shrug,

She began racing from room to room, then rug to rug,

 

I pretended to chase her and I really did try,

But her energy seemed endless and she needed to dry,

Like a clock with a spring she finally wound down,

She lay there thinking and didn’t make a sound,

 

I thought she said, “I’ve been watching the kids go to school,

I’m ready to go, too, it looks pretty cool,”

I drove to school with Belle in the back,

She knew she would have to remain in my backpack,

 

Even for a teacher dogs weren’t allowed at school,

But Belle looked so happy I was willing to break the rule,

The morning went smoothly, you might say it was a breeze,

Belle took her constitutional after her lunch of mac and cheese,

 

My lessons were great but they might have been boring,

As the afternoon progressed I heard someone snoring,

If everyone stayed quiet that was okay with me,

But a rascal named Joe had an insatiable curiosity,

 

He was restless, talkative, and definitely wiggly,

He teased the girls and made them giggly,

He wanted to impress the girls how tough he could be,

It was evident he was ready to challenge me,

 

Belle could sense that trouble was ready to brew,

So she jumped out of the backpack, she knew what to do,

Joe’s admirers saw Belle and left him behind,

Without an audience he nearly lost his mind,

 

Joe was ready to fight everybody he could see,

And of course, his target happened to be me,

Belle was aware that Joe didn’t care at all,

That’s when she brought him a soccer ball,

 

My class went outside for the ultimate game,

Joe and his friends against me and what’s-her-name,

It was hard fought and Joe did his best,

The score was tied close to the end of the contest,

 

Belle looked at Joe, then gave me a grin,

And sealed their friendship, she let him win,

The principal arrived, “What’s this?” he croaked like a frog,

Joe faced him defiantly, “She’s our therapy dog,”

 

From then on when I brought Belle to school,

Joe claimed he taught her to read and she wasn’t a fool,

She knew not to argue when she had it so good,

Because Belle, the therapy dog, always understood.

 

 

 

The Magical Flutterby


Flowering crabapple tree
Image by Martin LaBar via Flickr

During the daylight hours,

I flit, I flutter, I fly,

Sometimes high into the sky,

I wander from flower to flower,

It seems such a short time ago,

Before I had these dainty legs,

I was just a good little egg,

That stage was only four days though,

When I hatched, I went through a stage,

Feeding, growing, crawling about,

Those two weeks of growing tired me out,

Especially since I was a big caterpillar for my age,

I built a chrysalis so I could rest,

During the next ten days I began to transform,

Which was certainly the norm,

I wanted to emerge looking my best,

After ten days I stretched my beautiful wings,

This way and that until I was dry,

I felt so strong I wanted to fly,

Over meadows, mountains, and castles of kings,

I danced across flowers for children to see,

How beautiful and colorful the world could be,

Letting children know that some things are free,

They could dance too and be as happy as me.

The Stray


Stray dog - asleep
Image via Wikipedia

I asked my neighbor about his dog,

She seemed affectionate, smart, and kind,

He said slowly, “She showed up one day,

Starving, scared, and half out of her mind,

She was scrawny and malnourished,

When I first saw her slinking over the hill,

She would sneak up and gulp down any food,

Left by dog or cat until she had her fill,

I yelled at her the first three days,

And emphatically told her to go back home,

I told her to stay at her own house,

Don’t come over here to roam,

But I got to noticing how poorly she looked,

While she was downing the food in gulps,

Then I watched how she always hurried away,

I knew right then she had pups,

I tried to follow her home one day,

But she was determined to give me the slip,

I lost her trail in the snowy woods,

For me it was a wasted trip,

I began giving her five cans of food each day,

Just until the start of spring,

Then one morning she didn’t show up,

I thought it was the end of everything,

In the late afternoon she appeared again,

Carrying something that I couldn’t quite see,

At first she wouldn’t let me get close to her,

She didn’t trust anyone and that included me,

Yet her hunger brought her closer,

And I saw what she protected so well,

It was a pup she toted around with her,

But it was dead, it was easy to tell,

For several days she carried that pup,

Though by then it was only a hide,

But the mom refused to give it up,

She had a burning love inside,

Finally she laid the pup down,

Close to the northern fence,

She joined up with my other two dogs,

And she’s been here since,

I don’t know where she came from,

And I don’t know where she’s been,

But I do know she guards the place,

And I consider her my friend,”

With that explanation he walked away,

The dog right there by his side,

I was left with a lump in my throat,

But a warm feeling deep inside.

The Misunderstanding


Photo of Cocker Spaniel Ch. Obo II, published ...
Image via Wikipedia

Judge Henson had a Cocker Spaniel,

That really
made his day,

He wanted to
show her off,

To anyone
who came his way,

The Judge
invited me to see,

This Spaniel bitch on display,

“Come over
for a mint julep,

About two
p.m. on Thursday,”

The Judge also had a daughter,

Who seemed
far beyond my reach,

I had become
enamored with her,

After I seeing her on the beach,

But that
afternoon it was the Judge and I,

As we sipped
our juleps down,

I dared not
ask about his daughter,

He’d run several
men out of town,

The spaniel
was paraded before me,

But the
showing was too quick,

“Judge,” I
said, “she’s quite a bitch,

And she’s
the one I’d pick,”

About that
time Ellie Mae walked in,

She’d heard
what I had said,

She thought I
was talking about her,

And, boy,
was her face red,

“She stands right and has a beautiful tail,

But I’d like
to see much more,”

Ellie Mae
huffed and snorted,

And scampered
quickly out the door,

Judge Henson
stood up and shook my hand,

His hand
gripped me like a vise,

“I saw you
looking at my girl,

My only child,
and I’ve got some advice,”

“But I’ve got
a 4 o’clock tee time,

So please
don’t rush away,

My wife
should be home any time now,

For dinner
she’ll want you to stay,”

I thought
Ellie Mae had hidden someplace,

Perhaps
going somewhere to brood,

But she
returned with a smile on her face,

She forgave
me for being rude,

Somehow the
lights were dimmed,

Music was
playing with a wild primal beat,

Ellie Mae
was making me nervous,

She
commanded, “Please have a seat!”

She began
dancing with abandon,

My face
suddenly became pale,

When she
shimmied and asked,

“Do you like
my tail?”

Before I
could explain,

I wasn’t
referring to her,

She got on
all fours,

And began to softly purr,

She jumped
on the couch,

And looked
me in the eye,

“I’ve been
waiting for someone like you,

I want a
bold kind of guy,”

Everything
happened so quickly,

I couldn’t
have planned it if I chose,

But her
mother arrived and saw us on the couch,

“Son, are
you trying to propose?”

And that’s
the true story,

Of how I got hitched,

I know it
sounds funny,

But I went
to see a bitch,

Now I’ve got
a whole kennel,

Of puppies
and rug rats galore,

Just because
I said, “She has a beautiful tail,

But I’d like
to see much more.”

Shrieks, Laughter, and Noisy Gulps


Mice with different coat colors.
Image via Wikipedia

It wasn’t
the usual sound of mice running up and down inside the walls.  It wasn’t the sound of bats as they pushed
for favorite positions.  Something else
was stirring things up again tonight.  Jeremy
didn’t care what it was.  He needed his
sleep.   This was the third night that he had been
roused from his sleep by shrieks, by laughter, and by noisy gulps.  Each night at midnight something, either a
mouse or a bat, tried to scramble away.  Its
tiny feet scrabbled against the wall in desperation, but always the resolution
was the same.  Eventually it was devoured
slowly by something, and the something enjoyed it very much.

Jeremy
thought he could hear faint laughter after each kill. He didn’t mind having the
rodent or bat population reduced, but night was his time to rest and gather
strength.  Enough was enough!  Tomorrow he would not wait idly by and listen
as something attacked. He would enact his plan.
Jeremy had thought long and hard.
Sleep deprivation had driven him to the sheer boldness of it.  He would not run or question.  This was a matter of having sheer nerve.

Jeremy was
so tired he called in sick for work.  Since
he still couldn’t sleep he took the time to draw a Cartesian plane stretching
from ceiling to floor, wall to wall.
Strategic points were labeled and marked.  To the left of zero were the negative numbers
and to the right, the positive numbers.
Numbers above zero on the y axis, being positive represented things that
flew.  Numbers below zero would represent
things that crawled or walked.  He toiled
through the day, painting his wall with all kinds of imaginary creatures.  Then he waited for the sounds to begin.

As he lay on the bed he checked the weapons he
had gathered:  One large hunting knife
with serrated blade, a pistol he had found after a rival shootout, and a pick
he had discovered near an unfinished burial plot.  Maybe they weren’t capable of taking care of
something, but they were better than nothing.
He had also taken some precautions.
In the local church Jeremy had filled a small bottle with holy
water.  He had sprinkled some on his weapons,
some on himself, and saved some to baptize a demon or an angel.

The night
seemed longer than usual and Jeremy found himself fighting sleep.  Then the faint sounds began.  First quadrant!  He gripped the knife.  Second quadrant!  The sounds were moving…or were they coming
from both at the same time?  He listened
intently.  Fourth quadrant, then the third.  All four quadrants were vibrating and full of
sounds.

The mice
were silent and the bats were still, yet two large objects were in the wall, moving
away and back again.  Jeremy lunged with
the knife and stabbed the thin wall. The serrated blade slid easily through and
plunged into something thicker.  A gasp
and a tiny cry, and then blood spurted high.
The knife shook and disappeared into the wall.  He held the pistol and aimed.  One shot and a hit.  Something collapsed and slid downward to the right.  Jeremy chuckled.  “A negative linear equation forms a line
slanting down to the right.  My algebra
teacher would be so proud of me.  My plan
worked.  I think I got a demon or two.”

All was silent
for a long time until the faint sounds of mice running inside the wall caught
his attention.  He fell asleep
again.  He could sleep with mice racing
inside the walls or even across the bed.
Bats stirred and fluttered their wings. Their minute noises were
annoying but would not keep him awake.
Something larger moved about.  “I
can sleep peacefully with angels guarding me,” he said aloud.

A snicker, a chortle, and a deep belly laugh
followed.  “Then why did you stab and
shoot the two guardian angels?” a gruff voice asked.  Jeremy’s eyes popped open just in time to see
a demon tearing at the sides of the hole made by the knife.  He grabbed for the pick.  His fingers found nothing.

“Are you
looking for this?” a voice asked behind him.
“It should be stuck in zero.  You
do know your luck is now zero, don’t you?”

Jeremy’s hand
found the small bottle.  In a wide circle
he swung the holy water and drops splashed about the room but not in time to
save Jeremy.  Even though his fate was
sealed his bottle of water was already cleaning everything evil from the room.

A neighbor called the police and when they
arrived the scene had already changed.

Two detectives
roped off the scene and began their investigation.  The younger detective shook his head. “I
think it’s a clear sign of someone going berserk.  Why he would stab and shoot the wall is
crazy.”

His partner frowned and said, “Living in this
dump is enough to drive anyone insane.
We’ve only been here a short while and already this place is bothering
me.  There are sounds in the wall and
when we first got here I thought blood was dripping from that hole over
there.  And what’s with this Cartesian
plane?  What does it signify?  There are two lines slanting down to the
right and when we first arrived there was only one.  Don’t tell the captain but I think there’s
more to this story.  Was this a suicide
or murder?  I’ll let the coroner decide
this one.”

Three blocks
away in a small house two newlyweds lay talking about their future.  “We’ve been married for six weeks.  We found this house and it’s perfect for us,”
she whispered.

“Yes,” he replied, “But remind me to call an
exterminator.  The last three nights I’ve
heard sounds in the wall.  A mouse or two
can be taken care of easily but I’ll see how much it costs.  I might get rid of the pests myself as soon
as I have time.  Sweet dreams, my
love.  I’ll lie awake all night making
sure you’re protected.”

Two demons
waited patiently on one side of the roof.  A short distance away two angels also
waited.  One of the angels said, “You
might have won the last battle, but we’re determined to win this one.  Just because it’s getting close to Halloween
doesn’t mean we going to let you take a few more souls.”

The demons
smiled and one of them said, “People help us this time of year.  Can’t you see all the mean tricks they’re
playing?  They’re trying to get even with
each other and having fun.  If we just
make a few noises and scare a few people they’ll go completely crazy.  Forget about love.  It doesn’t exist this time of year.”  He paused for a moment.  “Happy Halloween!”

The Cave of Heartbreaks


The Cave
Image via Wikipedia

Where can I hide
when things go wrong,

In the cave
of heartbreaks I’ll sing my song,

When pressures
build at my place,

I need the
cave to establish my base,

 

I’ve traveled
far along this path,

Tripped over
trouble and felt its wrath,

But I’m
tired of wandering to and fro,

The cave I’m
seeking has eluded me though,

 

No place for
beauty or faithful friends,

No place
teeming with life or where rainbows end,

I’ve dreamed
of this darkness time or two,

In the cave
of heartbreaks, without love, without you.

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