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Monday, January 28, 2013

Home for the Holidays

  Do you want to go make a snowman?

I’m playing with my dolly.

Get your thumb out of your mouth. Dolly will be here when we get back. Here, put on the snow pants Nana got you.

They’re ugly

They’ll keep you warm and dry. We’ll make an igloo. A fort. Have a snowball fight.


 Because it’s fun. and because you’ve never seen snow like this, enough to tunnel under.



 Mommy don’t yell, you hurt my ear.

Here, put this hat on.

That hat is ugly.

It’s warm, put it on. Boots, gloves, jacket. Good. Let’s go.


Nana, are you coming with us?

We’re taking the dogs out for a walk, pumpkin.

What dogs? Muffin?

Yes, Muffin. And Aunt Susan’s dog Noodles. And Uncle Gerald’s dog Chief. Wouldn’t you like to come for a walk with us?

Mum, why don’t you all come and help us build a snowman.

TIME FOR WALKIES!! Muffin! Noodles! Chief! Oh ho ho, what good doggies. Come, come. Gerald! Susan! Goodbye dear. Sure you won’t come?


Mommy, it’s cold out here!

Yes, sweetie, it’s very cold. Help me dig and you’ll warm up. Look, the mouth of the tunnel is almost as tall as you are. You’ll have to crawl, though. I don’t want the roof to cave in.

My mittens are wet. I don’t want to crawl. Where are the doggies?

The doggies are on their walkies with their mummies and daddies. You and I are building you a snow cave. Go in, see if you fit.

My cheeks hurt. Mommy, do your cheeks hurt?



Just about done. Can you get in there?

I’m cold, Mommy. My mittens are wet.

There, you look so cute. Where’s the camera?

Oh! Doggies barking! Mommy!

Yes, of course. The camera is with the dogs.

Mommy! My nose hurts!

Okay. Let’s go get some hot cocoa.

And some for the doggies?

No. None for the doggies.

Friday, January 25, 2013


All the things that had been his and were now hers settle like deadweight on her chest. She waits for the clouds to lift them off, beguile her with puppy dogs and dragons.
We want you to give us a 33-word example of personification.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cars 'n Girls

Even before she’s out of the city, Laura gets her memory sensors flung into overdrive. Racing to make the light that sends them up the winding road to Vallvidreira, she feels her cheeks flush with the effort of ignoring so much accumulated past.

‘Geez, Mom, chill, will ya?’ Annie doesn’t bother to glance up from her mp3, a frown of disparagement locked in place by the third turn.

‘It’s not me, it’s this road,’ Laura says. ‘These curves are a bitch.’ She downshifts into a one-eighty degree turn to the left, then guns it up a short straightaway. Out past the city limits, she settles into the drive, leaning into curves she hasn’t seen in fifteen years like she took them yesterday. The body is a strange creature, remembering things the mind would much prefer to forget. She would rather be checking street signs, just following directions to her kid’s party at a strange house in an unfamiliar town. Instead, she takes the long way around to go past David and Consuelo’s cottage. She hasn’t been here in years, not since the kids got into that silly fight. The excuses pile up. Before you can blink, a decade has passed and you don’t know how to make a breezy phone call. Too many ghosts haunt the line.

Laura finds the house on the second try.

“I thought you knew this place like the back of your hand,” says the daughter who isn’t paying attention.

Laura bites her tongue.

“It’s nice out here,” Laura says as she gets out of the car and pointedly does not lock it.

“Aren’t you gonna lock the car?”

Does she know her daughter or what?

“No one’s gonna steal this shitbox out here.”

Annie stops three paces from the gate.

‘Don’t you have somewhere to go?’

Laura tries to disguise her sudden intake of breath.

‘Yeah. I do.’

Her daughter disappears behind a tall metal door. Laura crosses her arms and leans against the car, jiggles the keys.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Receding floodwaters leave the city looking scrubbed and expectant under the relentless sunlight. Madge watches the river. Perched higher than any sequoia, she factors in extraordinary wind resistance. She will show no mercy.

ZeroOne / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

 Trifextra. Choose one of the pictures and give a 33-word response to it. Responses will be judged by the community this weekend.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


In the middle of the afternoon on a perfectly nondescript Sunday in January, Iris sat straight up and slapped her hands on her thighs. This was not an easy thing to manage, as she had been slouched in the corner of the sofa into which, after days and weeks and years of dedication, she had shaped an exactly inverted replica of her buttocks.

“Enough!” she cried, and the sound echoed throughout the quiet, empty space she called home. Iris had reached an unfamiliar point of resolution while drifting through her vague, disjointed thoughts. “No more idle mornings,” she said in a more restrained tone of voice. “I’m finished with wasted afternoons.” She looked at the clock on the wall, rubbed her hands over her fuzzy pajama-covered knees and said, now softly, “There is still time for the night to be young.”

Iris pulled herself out of her hole, shuffled over to the kitchen sink and filled a glass with water. She sipped, looking out the window onto the bland sky, heard ringing from the deserted street below. She turned to look at the phone in the hall. What if it were to ring just as she left? Larry might call. He could do. Maybe he would call to invite her to the theater. He was a last-minute caller, of course, but she could be ready in a jiffy.
She hoped that elegantly shapeless black dress was still hanging in her closet. She was sure there had to be some black stockings stuffed in the back of her sock drawer. Since it wasn’t raining, she could wear the soft boots with the slight tear in the sole; they were almost as comfortable as her sneakers. Larry was a walker, she decided, so you never knew where they might end up. He might want to walk her all the way home after the show. Iris could see a softly lit door way, hear piano music calling them in. She would definitely order a champagne cocktail.

                                    IDLE 3: a : shiftless, lazy; b: having no evident lawful means of support

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A New Beginning

This time, Gail stretched her legs.
She bent her knees and did some neck flexes.
(Inhale. On the count of four, through the nose. Exhale.)
She tried again.
“Read my lips. It’s over.”

     This weekend we're asking for 33 words about a new beginning.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Though Nothing

[Happy 66th to David Bowie]

His intention was always to embrace heroism, but on a small scale, in his own eyes. No fireman’s hatchet for him, no distinctive, transformative cape, no white stallion. With calm precision, magical equanimity and grace, he held gazes, held out his hand, held the broken pieces together. When sirens screamed in the street, he rose and strode down the hall to check that the baby slept, undisturbed by the wailing city.
A scar hidden under his dark beard, at the corner of his smile, belied the menace of his tall, sturdy frame. He never knew what hit him, or why. He raised his eyebrows when he told the story, heroically.
His version of derring-do, his quixotic jousting, was driven by the pleasure of the challenge, the glory of fighting City Hall. His heroics before the IRS, Unemployment, Social Security offices demanded that he scale mountains of rhetoric, redacting manifestos and espousing Man’s Inherent Right to lay claim to fair practice, fair price and the disabuse of power.
In his transformation from mortal to hero, he became the essence of swashbuckling gallantry. He was a warrior for chivalry, a paradigm of consideration, the guardian of other people’s feelings. No, please. You first.
If a hero is a man who would argue with the gods*, then a man is a hero who is doomed to lose that argument. The gods have no reasons, and a hero is not allowed to save himself. He cannot erase the writing on the wall, nor can he reverse the progression of a relentless, determined adversary. He cannot turn water into wine; he cannot change the weather; he cannot stop time. He can only glance up as the light fades and quietly, nobly, say goodbye.
* (norman mailer)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Playing god

White heat -the conflagration of us- has melted the core of me. I pick at the crust of my future, one hand shoved deep in our shifting mantle, separating diamonds from iron ore.

     Give us 33 words from the structure of the earth: core, mantle, crust.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


  Our love glows like the lighted window of a cabin deep in the forest. It matters not that only I have traversed the breadth of these woods, picking my way by instinct, as unseeing as a mole, until I have worn new paths onto its leafy floor.
  Unexpected obstacles proliferate like mushrooms in autumn. I advance through them, searching in my despair for the treasured delicacies that you brought to our table, the ones that merited cries of delight upon discovery, a groan of sensual pleasure as you lifted them from our plate. I find the majority I encounter to be bland and tasteless, although they nourish me. The occasional mistake, those of a heartlessly promising but ultimately poisonous variety, have left me weak and disillusioned, entertaining defeat.
  The soaring oak and the walnut tree survive.  I have saved them from loggers and from my own sometimes dire need for firewood. Of the saplings we planted, some succumbed to thirst, others to ice, one or two to neglect, though many that I have tended thrive. Songbirds stop in their branches. I listen to them, but have never learned their names.
  I remain outside of our cabin, though, and it is often cold and sometimes I am lonely. The window is bright and staves off the darkness, but it is not warm and there is no shelter. The loggers do not recognize me, and no one comes to visit. I dare not open the door for fear of extinguishing the light. I don’t think I could stand the thought of it going out. I cannot imagine any other source filling that window, lighting up this part of the forest.

     survive  3: to continue to function or prosper despite : withstand

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