Wise Men: Quote of the Day 4/16/18


We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Elie Wiesel
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/elie_wiesel_163854


Wise Women: Quote of the day 4/16/18


I can’t talk fellowship to you who are gathered here. Too much blood has been spilled. I know from my experience it is up to the working people to save themselves. The only way they can save themselves is by a strong working-class movement. –  Rose Schneiderman


Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/rose_schneiderman_371750

Dedicated to the Kentucky teachers and state workers fighting for a just educational system.


Emma on Bats



I’m an optimist. Emma prefers pessimism. When I’m wrong reality is rough; when she’s wrong the news is not so bad.

I was planning to write about beneficial bats. Emma said, “Bats? Oh yeah, spring’s here. The bats will be coming out to harass people and cows.”

I was certain she was wrong. I consulted National Geographic.

“During the darkest part of the night, common vampire bats emerge to hunt. Sleeping cattle and horses are their usual victims, but they have been known to feed on people as well.”

Next, I’m writing optimistically about politics.

I’m not consulting Emma.



April 12: Flash Fiction Challenge



Yes, we are going to get batty this week.

April 12, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a bat. You can use an association to the winged, cave-dwelling critter, or you can explore the word for other meanings. Bonus points for including a bat cave. Go where the prompt leads.


Good News from Squirrel Country

Let the squirrels open your heart

Haven’t we all been waiting for a sign that things are going to take a turn for the better?  Well, according to my squirrel friends, it is finally time to celebrate an end to winter in Kentucky.  During the winter they come to our deck to selectively and rather quietly eat peanuts and steal seed from their bird neighbors.  They eye each other warily, and sometimes give a quick warning to others to keep away.  But this morning seven squirrels came for a rowdy visit.  They ran after each other in circles, they ‘flew’ from deck railing to tree branch and back again. They ran up and down the trees, across branches, flying back onto the deck to chase each other some more, occasionally stopping for a seed or peanut, only to start the crazy chase again.  One of them decided to get our attention by rattling the chain on the can I keep their food stored in, apparently trying to let me know he wanted a more extensive feast to celebrate the turning of the weather – or perhaps he was just making a bit of music as background for their party!  This revelry is a sure sign that winter is leaving, the sun is coming back, and we are all about to feel a little better.  I promise.

Accidental Self Destruction


Daredevil Bruce/

Sheriff Heil’s oldest son/

danced a boxer’s circle/


sissy girl, sissy girl/

charming his posse/

of pubescent boys/

he stole a kiss on their dare/

A fog of years/

dims the details/

flush of his freckled face/

brush of his cold chapped lips/

tug of his determined fingers/

wound tight in my ponytail/

I squint at the blue-lit screen/

military records online/

Bruce Huppert Heil/

non-hostile casualty/


accidental self destruction

pistol point blank to his brain/

finger determined on trigger/

circle of bedeviled boys/

a war weary double-dog-dare/


No News Is Good News

Today is not as new/

as it may seem/

ask the mother enslaved/

torn from her children/

Lost Bird suckling/

her massacred mother’s body/

the women of Salem/

or the Japanese interred/

ask insurgent coal miners/

coughing up pieces of lung/

or James Byrd chained/

dragged apart in Jasper/

Matthew Sheppard dying/

alone on a Laramie fence/

ask Nagasaki or Hiroshima/

Sand Creek or My Lai/

ask four year old workers/

dead in rich men’s factories/

for an inchoate explanation/

of how we ended here.


Spring Follies

One sunny spring day and people get silly headed. Shorts, tees and flip-flops abound, snow and lingering frosty mornings be damned.

Cardinals too, graze solitary on our deck all winter, guarding their private culinary cache, aggressively chasing all competition.

Spring sun arrives and they share their precious seeds, feeding each other beak to beak, a love fest.

I rise above, not easily seduced silly by fickle sunshine.

I unpack the new tent and pitch it in our living room. “Time to get ready for summer camping” I tell my love. “Come in and check out our pretty vacation home.”

Carrot Ranch April 5 fast fiction challenge using 99 words: Sun Silly

April 5: Flash Fiction

The Little Liar

Miss Jess was already her enemy, so perhaps she should have known better. The fact is, she did write a few lies into her story, but she would never admit that to the second grade teacher who despised her.

Her assignment had been to write about her recent Thanksgiving vacation. It was that simple. She could have stopped with the turkey, the cranberry sauce and the apple and pumpkin pies. She could have said she went to her grandmother’s house for the weekend and all her cousins were there. That was all true, but truth alone did not inspire her. She threw herself into the assignment with gusto.

Her grandmother’s house, an old farm house indeed, needed a farm to make it interesting. So she gave it fields of corn and beans. The old dilapidated barn was real, but she thought it would be better bright red, so she gave it a brilliant coat of paint. A nice red barn like that needed some animals to house. So she invented sheep and cows and goats and horses and a big pink squealing pig that needed to be fed by her and her cousins, one of whom had to fall into the pig pen for dramatic effect. She wrote in a tractor and a plow and parked them next to the barn borrowing those with no one’s permission from the real Corson farm down the road.

She handed in her story and waited for the accolades that were sure to follow.

Miss Jess peered at her over her giant coffee mug. She wiped her nasty wet lips with the back of her hand and began the interrogation.

“So you spent Thanksgiving with your grandparents?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Your grandparents on Route 9 in Seaville?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“You, Missy, are a liar!”

She noticed that Miss Jess had a face redder than the barn she had imagined into her story. She decided it would be best not to say anything more.

“Shame on you! Your grandparents do not have a farm. They do not have animals. They sell vegetables in a wooden stand outside their old house. I HAVE BEEN THERE!”

Miss Mess roared that last line so loud it probably scared all the animals on the farm. They were probably running for the barn right now so they could hide. The Little Liar stifled a giggle as she imagined her animals cowering in their stables.

The teacher was standing now, moving toward the Little Liar’s desk. To the delight of sundry class bullies the old ogre ripped to pieces the embellished story and tossed it at the little criminal who was now cringing at her desk, afraid she was about to be hit. She was sorry. She would not lie again.

Made to stay after school for detention that day the Little Liar wrote her assigned penance 500 times: “I will not tell a lie.” “I will not tell a lie….”

But – some offenders cannot be rehabilitated, no matter how humiliating the public excoriation, and how much pain her disgraced writing fingers suffered from all those remorseful scribbles. The Little Liar simply could not be saved.

Miss Jess left the school the next year. Rumors circulated that she gave up teaching to become a prison guard.

The Little Liar became a poet and a story weaver whose relationship to meticulous truth-telling remained tenuous for at least one hundred and eighty more years.

Road Map: The Path of Joy


Dragging her sore limbs out of bed this morning was no more or less difficult than usual, but a glance in the mirror told her that her attitude was sagging lower than ever. She could blame it on the Kentucky legislature for cutting the education budget so deeply. She knew the money saved from lost jobs and pensions was intended to go to wealthy lawmakers and their friends and families through tax cuts only they would enjoy. Her own friends had to wait as she did to see whose job would be cut next. Or she could blame her mood on Washington, where weeds of corruption were pushing through marble and concrete, choking and threatening to kill democracy. She could blame the weather, certainly, still bone-chilling cold with a freeze warning in effect in April.

But all of that was secondary to the real problem weighing down her morning mood. She had been through times like this before. She had gone through a time like this as a child, and the culprits were not state or local governments. Her lethargic feeling came not from the specifics of the current political environment, but from the powerlessness she was tempted to feel. Powerless as a girl, overrun by dictators in her own home, she had learned early that she could not control her own destiny. As a young woman she had often been left out of the commons, she had been sequestered to a domestic domain, and on the rare occasions when she stepped out into the light of day and dared to speak her mind she had been systematically ignored. This was not new, this feeling of being overwhelmed by people with ill-begotten power they abused. But sixty-six years is a long haul, and sometimes she just woke up tired.

The worst thing about growing old, she thought as she dressed for work, is this terrible exhaustion, this aching in every muscle. She dreaded the drive, the long walk from her car to her office in the cold wind. She wondered how she would really feel if her job was terminated in the coming weeks. Would she care? Would she be devastated? Would she be relieved? She knew it mattered more to some of her colleagues, the ones who were younger and had children at home; the ones who had debts to pay and were too young for social security; the ones who had no pension. But she had loved her job for decades and she wasn’t sure what her life would be like without it. The heavy fog of uncertainty and fear began to close in on her. She knew that she needed to do something to lift the cloud so that she could see her way forward.

The best thing about growing old, she thought as she got into her car, is having been through times like this before. She had an old road map somewhere, the memory of what she had done to help herself when she had faced the formidable unknowns in her past. She didn’t have to get lost, no matter how many twists and turns and obstacles others might put in her path. As she twisted the key in the ignition and slipped the car into drive she turned her thoughts to her personal survival manual she had filed away with her maps.

She remembered what she had learned when she was young, when she broke away from the bonds that constrained her and surged into a future more solidly her own. There were three steps she needed to follow to find her way: Step One: She had to determine what things were beyond her control, the things she could not change. That was easy. To begin with, the decision about the renewal of her current contract would not likely be hers. Before she allowed that to scare her back into the fog of fear she remembered Step Two: She had to determine what things she could control. That step had always been harder, but it was liberating to realize that she did have some things that were hers to decide. Those who controlled her current position did not control her career, her economic well-being, or her enjoyment of her life work. They controlled one thing, one important but limited decision; she controlled how she would respond before and after they made it. Her life path belonged to her, and she could decide. That was Step Three.

The memory that she was not totally without power excited her. Her mind began to clear. The morning dew sparkled on the grass along the highway, and she saw it. The sun lifted the mist. The sky seemed a brighter blue than she had noticed in a long while. Ideas began to emerge as she drove toward work. What would she like to do with her life, now? She had skills and she had always had a strong will and a creative spirit. There was so much work to be done, the world around her was a mess and she wanted to continue to work with others to change it! What could she do this time to make herself happy and free and useful? As the sun rose higher in the sky she drove on, down a road of seemingly endless possibilities. Another bend in the long road of life would lead to her next scary but inviting adventure.



Another frigid April morning, and the pansies on our back deck look like they are done with this weather – 78 degrees on Tuesday, 29 degrees this morning – and inches of snow predicted for the end of the week. They droop, their leaves frost-bitten, the promise of spring apparently revoked.

Everyone looks tired and hopeless when I arrive at work. Colleagues walk through hallways muttering about the relentless winter that just refuses to go away. Students keep their ears plugged with music no one near them can hear or interrupt. My ride in the elevator is frigid as the cold air outside. Not one person speaks or looks up from the floor.

The morning news has offered nothing to lift our weary spirits, no promise of warm regard for the welfare of humanity. For months now we have discerned hardly a glimmer of hope lighting the horizon.

But still, outside these dreary rooms and oppressive ruminations, the daffodils raise their golden faces to the sun. The squirrels scamper across lawns, up trees, jumping from branch to branch chasing unchaste companions ready to procreate. Goldfinches have lost their winter drab and compete with the daffadils for the yellow ribbon, best in show. Buds burst open on flowering trees along city avenues, their faith in future grandeur ultimately unshaken by the frosty night they have just endured.

I tell myself that spring always wins no matter how cold and resilient the winter blast. The ruby throated hummingbirds will soon come back from Mexico. The wall of winter will not separate us forever. The life- warming rythyms that connect love and beauty and fruitful harvests will prevail.

Even the news will likely get better if we can hold on long enough.

Isn’t it time to prepare our gardens for kinder and warmer days?

Written in response to the Daily Post’s one word prompt: frigid