I Want Waffles

I want waffles.
Golden buttery windows
Drizzles of maple syrup
Cheek and jowl, with sausage and eggs
A saucy wink from peaches

I want waffles.
Melted mornings
The day’s sweetness drips
Jostling with solitude and paperbacks
Flirting with a nap

I want waffles
To savor over time
And time to savor over
A morning set on a plate
Curled on the sofa
Unfurling my thoughts
With my favorite mug of possibilities.

Psalm to a 2015 Honda Fit, blue

A workplace
A dining room
Storage facility
And private library
My shuttle, my shelter, my solace
Ride on

though your front left is capriciously low
Coffee splashed blazons your dash
Bumper love taps, mementos of lessons learned
Ride on

Parking garages be your nemeses
Crushed seltzers carpet your floor
Phone holders will fail at the less opportune time

Ride on

Noble chariot

Through thick and thin

in rain or shine

overpass and underpass recalculating forever we

ride on

The Common Atlantic Octopus Dwells in Temperate Waters

I said, “I love you.” I said it with the undulation of my first and seventh tentacles and my steady gaze but the tiny biped understood. I could tell because it loves me back and hearts joined speak a common language. I’ve never been in love not since my mother. Mating is a thing apart and I just try to get away before the female eats me. No this is a different love.
I had been so desperate when I was captured. Squished in a jar for transport, incarcerated in a barren tank for isolation, I turned ashen from grief. In the large tank I was frantic I could smell the ocean so close but when I pried open the lid, swirled down the irrigation pipe, inched across the itchy tiles, my door was shut against me. I squeezed that door. I squeezed myself black with mottled violet streaks. That was the first day I saw it peeking from behind the larger two legger who rubs headache inducing smells on the floors. The big one bought my captors and returned to my glass nightmare. As they looked fate me I was so exhausted I could only remember its smell, the smell of salt from its tears. The little biped was my ocean of sadness.
It would visit every night after my failed escape. First I shot ink at it because I was pissy about my capture. It just stared mouth open. Creepy. Then I camouflaged myself against the plastic coral and stared back intimidatingly. I did the many nights. It would look for me each night, searching hungrily, and then sit quietly. Also creepy. Then I didn’t see it for a few days. I realized I missed my creepy friend, my little ocean.
Finally one night I was bouncing a mollusk against the tank filter when it appeared. I rushed to the glass. It showed me me on white made from black lines. I liked this magic. It made more of me in black lines. I was swimming in the ocean of its magic. I moved my body to match its lines of me. We delighted in each other.
I waited for its joy during the lonely nights. I showed my little two legs all my colors. Doing acrobatics for its pleasure. I could feel its happiness and I felt alive. It would sing to me. “you are very beautiful, you are so smart as smart as dog my book says, are you happy here in this box after living in the whole ocean.” I didn’t know this sea song it was frankly rather odd, but I knew it was making the sounds for me. I felt seen.
One night I was tapping my favorite shells against the glass and contemplating chewing one of my arms off when it came with a shiny twig. It used the stick to open my door to the sea, a hole in the floor, a tunnel to freedom.
I cherry reddened in excitement rainbowing all my appreciation. Quick as a flash I cracked the seal with a scallop shell. Lifting with four and five, I declared my love. “Goodbye goodbye my friend. Be safe and go home. I will miss you,” it sang to me. My biped was happy and sad and I was sad and happy. The hole was a tight fit but the ocean called to me giving me the strength to push on. And now I’m swimming home as fast as I can but I will always be with my love, my little ocean. It loved me back, I know it.

A Quiet Corner

Hushed explosions and rapid gunfire
Leak out from the living room
Rap rumbles Upstairs
as heavy footed children tumble
A frustrated dishwasher clatters
While the comforter-laden washer lumbers towards a raucous freedom

I walk

Along a winding cobblestones of plots
Behind a fortress of verses listening to the
Voices chitter in the thicket of my keys

In a quiet corner of my own,
I write.

Best First Date Ever

“And that’s not even the worst thing she even did.”
Magdalena exhaled. She blinked hard not to cry. Randy looked up, down, and everywhere except at Magdalena’s face. She had just told him about her mother, who disappeared for two weeks then returned home with a fake kidnapping story. She talked about the little girl fear and confusion of her mother’s loss; and the confusion and anger of her mom’s return. She talked about the notoriety and the trial and the whispers that followed her even after her moths was gone for good.
“And that’s why I never talk about myself and my past. I grew up the town freak. I’m okay with my crazy but I hate that pitying look.”
They sat in the quiet of a small stream on an arch of flat stones. With a wry smile Randy turned and studied her half face.
“What are you thinking?” Magdalena asked. She could feel the weight of his eyes but she didn’t way to see his look.
“I was just thinking this is the best first date I’ve ever been on.”
Magdalena’s laughter skipped over the surface of the water. Randy scouted closer to her on the rock bridge.
“Look your childhood was a train wreck and I’m a socially awkward dungeons and dragons loving anxiety laden introvert. We met at a coffeehouse ‘cause my pitiful ass was conned by my make believe girlfriend. You could tell me your great uncle was the Alabama leprechaun and I’d still think you were the bee’s knees.”
They exploded into laughter and Magdalena’s shoulder brushed his shoulder. Slender grasses along the crick’s edge tousled by the wind joined in the laughter. The meadow stretched out before them. Magdalena studied him under her lashes. Randy scooted until their hands nearly touched. In the quiet of Magdalena’s favorite place, they talked.
“Bee’s knees, seriously my guy.”

A Scary Story

The sun poured into the bow window, splashing across the kitchen table, dripping golden light towards the sink. Catherine was rinsing a jadite mixing bowl. Humming to herself, she turned the bowl delighting in its rightness. Nic sat at the kitchen table. A wide ruled notebook lay in front of her and a thick pencil was held tight in her fist. Nic was writing furiously. Catherine assumed it was more scribbles and stick figures. Her little girl wasn’t the best students. Neither of her girls were going to set the world on fire n the brains department, but Chrissy was pretty in her way and Nicole was a title sweetheart. Last Sunday on the way home from church Nic announced she was going to be an author. Chrissy snorted but Catherine pretended to believe.
Nic made a show of carrying an old notebook around and staring with a serious adorable expression. Chrissy teased her, snatching the book and tossing it to one of her trashy friends. Nic had cried ad Catherine and Chrissy screamed horrible names at each other. Chrissy was out with the boyfriend. Again.
The home was peaceful, warm, and smelt of baking cookies. Nic had her tongue poking out, her brow furrowed in concentration. She wrote and wrote. Catherine wished it could always be like this. She rubbed her bowl. Its smoothness soothed her washing away the thoughts of her fights and her difficult daughter. After all I’ve done for you, she thought. She turned to her good girl.
“How’s it going sugar plum?”
“I’m writing.”

Catherine focused back on the sink.
“Mommy, it’s a scary story.”
“Really.” Catherine chuckled. “Are there fighting robots on a space station or a giant lizard in a jungle?”
“No a regular big house with cars and tvs. But the nice house has a queen who is really a witch. She gets a prince to kill the king and the prince does it because he loves her and he thinks she love him but she really loves this thing called insurance. The prince and the queen fight and stuff and the queen witch poisons the prince for his insurance. And now the evil queen wants to insurance the princess.”
The sun washed kitchen is drenched in cold air. Her breath , an icy cloud, Catherine has turned to glass, afraid to move because she would shatter.
“Mommy, how do spell anti-free,” Nic said, “no wait the prince said the witch’s potion was antifreeze. ANTIFREEZE. He’s so smart. He’s my friend and he promises to watch over his princesses. Isn’t that nice?”

Faster & Faster

The weather was just perfect. My oar chipped the river. The river greeted me. The sun winked over the tree line. My shoulders, my arms, I moved in smooth equal strokes. My life fell away as I paddled from my troubles. Faster and faster I went.
This morning I was stiff. I pulled off the covers and my whole body protested the early morning.
I wanted to curl into Tracy’s back. I wanted to sleep until Crystal and little Tommy woke up. I wanted to make monster pancakes. I wanted to see Tracy smile at me over her coffee. Things have been so much easier lately.
But Tracy wasn’t asleep. Her body was hard, each muscle tense. I went to hug her and I froze thinking of what I could’ve done or said.
Then she grew liquid in my arms. Snuggling in my arms, Tracy kissed me.
“Hey aren’t you missing prime canoeing time?” Little kisses trailed down my neck.
“I thought about canc—“
Her body stiffened again. “But you said you really wanted to go.”
“Yeah but I can go to the river next weekend. Corey is available next week any ways. It’s our anniversary baby and we could get started earl—“
Suddenly my wife sat up and turned away. She exhaled harshly. Stung, I tried to read her back fishing for the right words.
“Baby I don’t understand.”
Careful not to touch her I got closer. Our bed is a tightrope. To my surprise Tracy leaned her back into my chest. She turned and kissed me hard. Hungrily, She pressed me back into the mattress.
“Ryan, honey, I want you to go so you can come back sooner. You take such good of us, of me. I want you to have your time.” Her hands roamed under my pajamas. I held her face, my high school sweetheart, my first love.

On the river I churned. My muscles warm. Faster and faster I fly over the water steaming towards what. Happiness? I’m speeding away from what? Being a failure. I shook my head. The sun stood proud over the tree line. I’d calculated how far to go up river to get back for lunch with the family.
Someone is on the shore near my point of no return. It’s Corey I think. He looked dead eyed. I yelled hello. He’s looking at me but not. Corey and I go back to pre-K. We know each like brothers. He introduced me to Trace for god’s sake and we’ve been through thick and thin and I’ve never seen him look like this.
Shit I thought the kids. Someone is hurt. I paddled towards him. Cell service is spotty on the river. No one is ever really up here this early. Corey must’ve been looking for me. He’s a good friend. He’s family.
“Hey my man what’s going on? What is it?” I was frantic. I saw the river rock in his hand. I saw my best friend’s arm raise and swing down hard. I grabbed, I fought, I think. I’m not sure. I saw my friend, my wife, my babies. I’m going faster and faster up the river. A Darkness leaked into the corners of my eyes. My wife. My best friend. Black waves rushed across my eyes.


In the street in front to the coffeehouse , people walked small excited dogs. Bent over overpriced coffees and underwhelming brownies, friends gathered at tables in groups of two and three. Everyone was pretending the weather was nicer than it because it had been nicer than it had been in a long time. Randy didn’t sit outside under the colorful awning and the threatening clouds, he sat in the coffeehouse. Its brick red textured walls and macramé wall hangings made him nervous. Was this place supposed to be Mediterranean or boho farmhouse? And why was everything boho farmhouse all of a sudden? The cashier sprayed down the counter. Randy grimaced down at his large cup of inky coffee.
“Is it okay?” The cashier asked.
She had straight dark brown hair with half moon eyes over full cheeks. Freckles, adorable freckles, lay across the tops of her cheeks and bridged her nose. Randy had memorized each one. He looked up at the music in her voice and smiled inanely. She returned his smile as if he was an addlepated urchin.
Recognizing his own idiocy Randy replied, “no it’s delish.” Why did I use the word delish. I hate delish, he thought. He took a hearty swig and choked. Randy erupted into a series of throat wrenching spasms. The cashier hurried around the counter with a stack of napkins and poured him a cup of water from the dispenser. Another worker, an older man with a furious beard, came from the back and stared. The cashier handed him the water and napkins then backed away. She blushed up to her hairline. Her hair was in a careless bun with loose strands artfully spilling to one side.
“I love you, I mean I thank you, I mean thank you.” Randy launched into another bout of coughing.
A bespectacled guy with an ironic tee came in. “Hey Graham, I thought I would miss you guys. You got any of that granola left? Saturdays are a madhouse.”
“Yeah, I was thinking where’s Nate, a whole morning and no Nate,” Graham said.
Randy gathered his battered sketchbook and other belongings and retreated under the cover of small talk.
Stupid, stupid, Randy thought. Heading into the street of dogs and friends and hints of rain, Randy stomped to his bicycle. He was loading his backpack when a bucket of half melted ice splashed beside him.
“Sorry, man,” the cashier said.
“No big deal,” Randy mumbled not daring to look at her lovely angel face again. He straddled his bike and hoped a convenient chasm would swallow him whole.
“Dude, your backpack.”
She stood bucket on hip watching him. Randy reached for his bag.
“So why does a dude bike out of his way to a coffeehouse to drink coffee all afternoon when he doesn’t drink coffee? It sounds like a hell of a story.”
Randy blinked. The cashier met his eyes. She wasn’t being kind just curious. That made talking easier.
“It’s kind of a long story, long, humiliating, and a little funny.” The cashier’s expression sharpen. She raised an eyebrow.
“It started with a woman called Cassandra. Really it started with a custom Lord of the Rings Nerf bow. I have a 3D printer and I carve and I sculpt. I run an Etsy store and I was contacted by this girl Cassandra, a potential customer, about a bespoke bow. She liked my stuff. We were into the same things. I really opened up about myself and I’m not that guy so. She got—and anyway we texted and texted. Her words were the first thing I read in the morning and the last thing before I fell asleep at night. I wanted….” Randy’s voice flowed and then ebbed.
“You wanted what everyone wants someone who gets you,” the cashier said. She flipped over the bucket and sat on it. “Good beginning, continue.” She cocked her head to the side like an attentive cat.
“But Cassandra never had time to talk or FaceTime. We made dates to hang but she never showed. This went on for months.”
“Uh, oh, your Spidey sense must’ve been tingling.” The cashier covered her mouth with her delicate hands.
Randy scrubbed at his neck remembering his own dumbassery. “I pushed down my doubts because she was so cool and nice and funny.”
The cashier added,” and hot, right. Hot people get away with shenanigans.”
Randy blushed purple in response. “Anyway, long short stupid I shipped the custom order and some other things I’ve made and the credit card came up stolen. The girl gave me the run around for a while. Turns out Cassandra was some old reprobate in Des Moines and I had to wrangle with Visa to recoup some of my losses. I had to prove I was duped. I searched and searched. The profile was faked with someone else’s photo and info.”
Randy paused and searched the ground for that people eating chasm again. A hostile bishon frise yipped at him.
“And. What’s the denouement? God I’ve always wanted to legitimately use that word.”
“Tracked down Cassandra and I found the real woman in the photo lived in the next town over and worked in this coffee shop. I wanted to see the girl I fell in love with IRL.”
This time the cashier blinked.
“Hey Maggie, where’d you go!” A voice shouted from inside. The cashier rolled her eyes but stood up from the bucket. “The name’s Magdalena, you jack wagon.”
“But I never met the girl I loved at the coffeehouse because that woman was only in my head. So cue the Incredible Hulk closing music and scene.” Randy adjusted his backpack and prepared to ride off. He had all emotions, embarrassed, bashful, sad, and happy. They rumbled in his stomach making him uneasy or that could have been the three black coffees. “Thanks for listening. It was cathartic and a little funny. Buh bye.”
“Did you at least learn some heartwarming shit about yourself like your heart is now open to love or it’s only because you’re honest you couldn’t see the lie in other people?” The cashier and Randy shared a snort. They stared at each other after the laughter. The weather was more than hinting of rain.
Graham poked his head out the door. “This guy bothering you?”
“That’s my cue, thanks uh Magdalena. I’m Randy.” Randy pedaled away.
“Come back some time Randy we have other things besides coffee!” Magdalena shouted as he began to turn the corner. Smiling, he wobbled on his bike and rode away.

Dear Diary

Pink fabric enrobed
Blue lines pages
Marked with a rose colored satin ribbon

Yellow legal pads
Erupting with tight cursive arcs
Of the characters in her head

Brown skinned girl bent over a book
Sheltered in her closet
Escaping into technicolor worlds
To world building in shades of her own

Hope rose from darkness

Little girls grow up
Big dreams overshadowed, left fallow

Beneath obligations and a sink of dirty dishes
Bright roots awaken

Cardinal clad
Gray lined pages
Bursting within a tight elastic band

From darkness, hope rose

Persistence Of Vision

“Then suddenly…it’s over.”
Notifications chime again, again
Insistent inbox
The weight of constant connections
Deadlines slipped off the edge of
Another day

“Then suddenly…it’s over.”
Chest crush squeeze of parenting parents
While tending teenagers
Of being everything to everyone
Yet never quite enough for
Another day

“Then suddenly…it’s over.”
Like a magician’s sleight of hand
The flash on a coin
An image held in the mind but
Already gone from
Another day

“Then suddenly…it’s over,”
I say to a sleepless pillow
Remembering things undone and yet to do
What I wanted versus what I have
Glint of silver hidden
“Another day.”