Translate; in memory of Bill Manville (W.H. Manville) who died Valentine’s 2017

Translate my pain into inspiration.
A grief that turns my heart to sterling,
A metal that will not leave me stranded,
A mourning that imbeds a jasper arrowhead.
He has gone, looping his words between
His memory and mine. Remaining.
Older brother of soul, teacher of order,
He had taken Valentines, paper cutouts,
Red hearts and Pink silliness,
Dark visions combating the light.
Wrapped them in cushions of unsweetened
Advice, given freely, powerful in their
Scent of citrus, their odor of sage.
Wholesome and forgiving. He listened.
Silence now that his breathing
Has erred on the side of quiet.
His heart filled with the love
A teacher has for student.
Transient as they grow, but his eternal.
I must write to find my heart again
Where I laid it out for him.
How many, many types of love there are.
So many ways taking the crystal bonds,
Which when broken remain
In our memory of precious laughter,
Honest criticism, layers upon layers of
Rebuilding. He gave these seeds to us
To plant in our inner gardens, to bloom.
Watered by tears of grief, blinked,
They will grow. Tiny green hopes, words,
Writer to writer. Clearing weeds
Nourishing plots of future dreams.
I hear his voice in the wind
Teasing me, scolding me, holding me close.
Calling me to finish what I had begun,
To love those he loved, to work, to stand
On two feet knowing he believed in us.
We must carry his gift to us,
The world’s visions, the expected literacy.
Must share our voices, must care, we must,
Even when the caring scares and scars us.
His footprints stay with us, his books,
His stories, his belief that the world
Must read, write, share and pass
The compassion of an old friend to a new.
We carry him now, heart to heart.
We will honor him by our words, soon.
But written as the storms come,
Rain beating the earth in a primal flood
As he flows away from us, following the flood
Of our sorrow. The transportation of our hearts,
Flooded and sitting now filled with salty tears.
Our memories are precious, sketch in words,
Written as the tears streak, but forming
Wary wry smiles, smiles that will not betray.
Oh the memory of those smiles, he loved us.
I will carry him with me in my pocket of life.
Filled with random pebbles, coins, a leaf,
An acorn or two, a magic ring, a fallen star.
This hole of sorrow, this well of loss,
Fill it with swords, shields, puppies
Pictures, mystery, letters, trials,
Hopes and dreams. Do not forget…
You see, I loved him.
I loved him as brother, father, friend,
Mentor, teacher, and confidant.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/translate/

Bill Manville, of Sacramento, California died on Valentine’s Day 2017. He was a published author, a teacher, a traveler, radio host, copywriter, U.S. Army Veteran and dearly loved by Beverly. He ran a class on the internet called Writing to be Published. He was a well loved member of AA.

Volunteering at his local library, he ran a class on writing that was open to the public. He understood the need, the urge, to write and that writers need support at all levels of their ability. Being a gruff, loving, inspiring man, he passed the gift of what he had learned to others with an open heart. Whether the class succeeded of not, he urged them on. Revising, placing students in groups to evaluate each other, support each other, he gave us a rare gift of insight into ourselves.

He worked tirelessly in the pursuit of helping others escape the madness of addiction, remaining anonymous except for his first name. If a song represented his attitude towards others it might have been this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjhCEhWiKXk also know as Bruno Mars “Just the Way You Are” He accepted people as they are. Truly a testament for human to be remembered as, Bill was “amazing” just the way he was. Of course you would have to change to words from girl to guy. Volunteering as a rehab clinic volunteer, he understood that by helping others he would help himself remain successful as a long-term sober recovering addict.

Celebrated as a Book of the Month author, he also worked as an editor for Cosmo, contributed columns to the Village Voice, Key West Solares Hill, The New York Daily Times and the Huffington Post. Magazine articles appear in The Fix, Cavalier Magazine, the Saturday Evening Post. He published his books through MacMillan Publishers, Duel, Sloan and Pearce, Simon and Schuster,  NAL, Delacorte, Dell/Random House, BSForge Press and Tor Publishing. His works include: Cool Hip and Sober, Goodbye, Saloon Society, The Man who Left his Wife and Had a Nifty Time, Writing to Be Published, and Breaking up. He was a contributor to the fourth edition of the Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism (commonly called The Big Book at meetings.)

Bill also hosted a radio show, Addictions and Answers on KVML in Sonoma CA, which delved into real stories of the struggles faced by others dealing with alcohol addiction. With over forty years of research into the material he had available to him, he was able to paint a realistic picture of the process of becoming sober, something that was both a personal and social matter of importance. He believed in the process of sobering up as a lifelong purpose. One of the transcripts of a show he hosted with Dr. Dave More is available through the NYDailyNews.com, http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/parents-cope-moms-dads-turn-kids-ambien-adderall-day-article-1.1092155.

He attended the University of Pennsylvania, but graduated from Sarah Lawrence College. His next stop was the University of the Mediterranean, Nice where he explored life in all of its fullness and color. As his works were being published, he was encouraged to begin teaching. So he did. He was a member of LinkedIn where he looked for aspiring authors to take his online course.

No one can summarize the character, love, production and history on a single page and with such short notice. I have done the best I can. So a final toast: To all who aspire to sobriety or writing, we have loved him, learned from him, and will never regret that opportunity he shared with us.

 

A Late Love Story

Wrong time, wrong man,
Spite, trial by fire,
Death by booze,
Small little hands held
Me back from suicide.
Small head, large needs,
Hungry, thirsty,
They consumed me
From his indifference.

If I couldn’t be his wife,
I would be perfect.
I would be mother
Of his children.
Wrong time, right man,
Not who I would choose,
With his loud words.
With his lack of tact.
Meaning nothing to me.
I have boxed my heart.
But sometimes, …

Bad diagnosis, lost heart,
Right time, right man,
I spiraled down
Wings flaming,
Phoenix consumed.
He holds a fire extinguisher.
He stays.
Has my story just begun
my sweet romance…

Ann WJ White @All rights reserved, January 2017

Photo Prompt: Sunset Gold

The photo that the prompt is written on can be found at the link below:

Thursday photo prompt – Anomaly #writephoto

At dusk, everything is golden. The sun stretches, reaches long fingers to the land. One last caress to her children, one last kiss. Out there in the distance, they normally turned their heads away, as children do. It’s all part of the cycle of growing up. She never resented that. Tonight, though, she heard a sound, a coo perhaps of happiness, and turning saw a reflection of her own love reflected back at her. This was special, something she would see after a storm in the middle of the day. Musical notes added to the coo, until at last all of the sun’s errant children sang to her glory. Smiling at the rainbow, she clucked her tongue and tucked them into bed. Her sister the moon would protect them tonight.

Rain

There is a quality to rain,
When your heart is low,
When the desire to breathe
Wanes and the tides of death
Want to intervene.
We forget the lost ones;
The ones with no hope,
With no love,
With no dreams left.
It takes so little to hold on,
To give a hug to a stranger.
Needs to be fulfilled.
But empty time fills the hopeless.
Change is not inevitable,
The void of contact into that dark hole
In the center of my heart
Overwhelms and ties my hands,
But the water calls.
Water for cleansing,
For growth.
How I wish for a storm!

Love, a Tiny Tale

I met him at a social function. He caught me before I fell off a cliff. Inebriated, I fell off the cliff of love. We were engaged two weeks later and at a distance of 3,500 miles we found a way to marry. That was thirty-six years ago. I’m still falling off the cliff of love.

The Old Woman’s Song

trouble in trouble city,
we all know the words,
lifting our heads up,
watching the sky singing,
old songs which never die,
left my innocence behind,
brought my wisdom with my chair,
a book upon each knee,
trouble in trouble city,
will catch an ear pulling from me

 

@2016 AnnWJWhite

Music, Poetry, Prose and Changing Times

Music, poetry and writing are the methods of following change in the U.S. Music uses repetition, rhythm and where it helps, rhyme. Rhyme is difficult because it has to further the message without over simplifying it. The movement of the blues and jazz, of black hymns, of swing, put such energy into music of the common man that we needed the sixties events to sway us into all of the rock genres. We had radios. That’s nothing in today’s world but in the sixties and seventies TVs and radios became cost effective to own. It was a social revolution. The process of miniaturization was on the development tables. We had seat belts in cars. We didn’t have to rely on a newspaper that was out of date before it was printed. No, words of the doings of man seemed rocketed to us. And we sang songs and danced to welcome the changes.
At the time I was in college studying music performance in the 70s, there was a dispute over the role of modern music (as it’s now labeled). We studied the classics, progressive, gregorian chant, romantics, baroque, and folk music through the ages. Plus we had our own style emerging in direct response to our environment. The music of the sixties and seventies was so powerful that it swayed a huge portion of the population into a passionate response. There were messages that were so powerful they couldn’t be spoken with the same impact. We demonstrated, stood up for rights and believed we could achieve them. We saw West Side story on the TV with Leonard Bernstein conducting. We wept tears at a story that Shakespeare told so long ago put into our world where racism was real and the South was dangerous. Times changed quickly. Things that seemed my parents had always known suddenly exposed themselves for what they were, new and changing to meet the demands of the entire population of the U.S.When I graduated in 1975, Native Americans were about to be given the vote if they lived on so-called government “reservations.” In 1976, Title 9 came into being giving women a new outlet in sport. It was a real challenge. In 1977, I was in the last basic training class of only women. We wore the Woman’s Army Corps insignia all the way through basic, and it was retired with our graduation. Standards changed and people changed with them.

Poetry and music lyrics share similarities, and they both deviate in how they are used. The tools are there.  California Dreaming is said to have a simple set of lyrics, but the concept was new. The method of delivery was new. The fact that the idea was accessible was also something new. We’d seen and heard Elvis. He outlined the status quo for us. We saw John Wayne who was the ultimate macho man. We learned from the music that the Beach Boys sang. And there were many new lessons.  We didn’t have to stay in one place for the rest of our lives. We could travel and that concept brought on a period of extreme social change, and because of the Kennedy brothers being murdered, the image of Jackie’s son saluting the flag covered coffin, the tragic death of Martin Luther King Jr, the music we heard was portraying both sides of our society, good and ill.

We knew more. We questioned our roles as women, becoming a stronger voice for the right to be more than in the past. Men had to choose an image that the TV wanted to suppress, macho or stupid were portrayed as the two options they had. The TV hyped Jackie Gleason and John Wayne. But there were strong elements there too ; The Smothers Brothers and Laugh In. Intelligence in both sides of our species. Only the messages mattered. I watched those “Commie Pinko Shows” with my parents and we loved to laugh at the mixture of music, jokes, skits and just plain fun. It was hard to believe that that was dissident thinking, it’s still hard for me to believe. It seemed like the John Stewart Daily Show, a representation of our world with humor.

My generation talked. My mother’s generation talked and we communicated. That was strange. For many many years when I needed a wise best friend, my mother was the one to turn to, she always had a song for an aching heart, a melody for an infant, a poem for a toddler. She’s still my best friend. But, I digress, we were talking about love and (deep breath) sex. That was new. We were talking about current events and we knew them because of the TV and radio. We talked about, sang about, and demanded social change. For a little while, things did change. It looked like the dreams of the 60s were coming true. I was all in favor of a nicer kinder world, like the one Stevie Wonder sang about. I loved his lyrics, music and optimism. I loved Peter Paul and Mary, and Janis Ian, Phoebe Snow, Shawn Phillips, the Who, and the what, where, and why.

Then came the period of the 80s and our social progression and ethics changed. We became more egocentric, the accumulation of things by adults became more intense. Money was the important thing. Do unto others before they do unto you. You saw the black rage at society with rap because of the inequities that life provided them, again with rhyme and a strong bass, words so powerful that they broke your heart, angered you, or made you sorrow. You had grunge begin in the white population in protest of materialism, surely there had to be more to life than this existence, and suicide took some of the best artists. You saw alcoholism appear strongly in music where it had been mostly in prose before that time. Drug addiction was still referred to with stealthy whispers, “Only that kind of person does drugs.”

Then the internet took off. We could afford computers at home that had more power in each case that the huge rooms of data banks from the past. They improved every day. Technology doubling itself, faster and faster. There was a rebooting of the seventies material in the 2000s, issues that had been laid aside, brought their messages back. It looks simplistic but it represents who and what we are today.

Poetry is complex with people finding a voice in a nearly forgotten format. It isn’t always clear in its message, it requires thought and the interpretation doesn’t guarantee that you understand what the author meant. But the reader’s message is equally valid. Old dusty professors will always come up with a different interpretation that those studying under them, twenty to forty years younger. Time changes our outlook. Music simplifies the message. Aaron Copland’s A Lincoln Portrait is straight forward and the music heightens the experience so you don’t forget the simple words. Puff the Magic Dragon was and is a story for the imagination of the young and old, not a drug message. Where have All the Flowers Gone is a song about the repetition of the mistakes that we repeat as a society. The Beach Boys was about having some fun and not becoming too serious to soon. “Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes made of ticky tack and they’re all made out of ticky tack and they all look just the same.” A protest about the loss of creativity and the sameness that felt forced upon us.

The audience and the message have to concur before fame occurs. We have something to say, audience needs to want it. Music and writing are two vehicles to send a message that will leave footprints long after we are gone. The amazing thing is that because of the internet, writing and music are marching around the world demanding to be read and heard. Cuba allowed some old English rockers to perform in Cuba and they wanted to go meet fans who could have been jailed for listening. They performed for free. Imagine that. Classical music is performed for free on the streets and plazas of the world. Day concerts of Beethoven, so that the music lives on. Bach is used to heighten our knowledge of math. So is Mozart. Wagner introduced a social message that helped bring on World War II and the quest for supremacy. What a powerful medium emerged! Tolkien took Wagner’s message and wrote a message of opposition and unity in the face of evil. There was a cartoon, Wizards, that took a cartoon audience through the message that Tolkien took four lengthy novels to write. Before Tolkien was Dickens with his eternal belief that we have to believe in the good of people, that good would overcome greed, that good people would be rewarded. There was Plath who suffered from severe bouts of depression, her poetry was part of her therapy. She needed meds. We all have a little bit of all who have come before and while poetry-blind as the times may be, I know a revolution of poets just waiting to emerge. Just check in on LinkedIn.

It isn’t the written word alone that is swaying thought, it’s the combination of music and attainable art, attainable word, dance, politics, social ills, and the acceptance of change. There is nothing simple about it. I find myself singing the damnedest things at strange moments. And behind all of the musicians, writers, politicians, do gooders and tyrants are the messages that the common human needs to hear to preserve their sense of self. There’s nothing simple about lyrics, only that when analyzed out of context and condemned as primary, elementary, simplistic, and even moronic, aren’t. But the analyst is a fool to think they can control the reception something gets. We’re evolving, and we demand the right to hear ourselves reflected in art.

Falling in Love Again

I’ve been married now for almost 36 years. For our anniversary my husband and I are going on a cruise to Mexico and Honduras with the intention of learning more about the Mayan Ruins. It was a great culture, one marked wit all of the traits that civilizations develop. I’m bringing my cameras, so there will be photos. The last time we went was in 2006, on the Grandeur of the Seas. We ended up with two photos that really showed the spirit of the people. I’m glad to be going, we’ve gone through so much in the last decade that time seems to have slipped a bit for both of us. We survived a recession when my husband gave support to those we love who lost or couldn’t find a job. We survived a mortgage that we had with Countrywide, and the change that made it a Bank of America mortgage. We kept our house, my two children married (not to each other of course), and one is now a proud homeowner. The other now has his dream job, and should soon be able to find a home for his wife and himself in the next year. But we’ve spent the last decade trying to do everything we could for family, and exhausting as it was it was worth the effort, and I think we forgot about the two of us.

Our differences have really accentuated themselves recently. We find things that prickle under the skin and have to stop and shake our heads. It never bothered us to be different before. We just had not taken the time to talk about these things. Little things wedged themselves between us, you know, the three things that most couples deal with. Children, even grown ones, money, and time. Those three things can become doom scenarios in a relationship.

We decided not to have a doom scenario. He had a week of vacation last week that we spent together.  I decided to become the romantic one. My husband decided to become the practical one. We talked about all of those prickly things. He made me dinner, I did the laundry. He pruned up the yard as I raked the magnolia leaves. He told me he liked the flowers I picked from my garden. I told him he was handsome. We went out to dinner. We walked the dogs together. All of these little bits of time spent talking. I told him I was worried that he wasn’t happy. He told me that he thought I wasn’t happy. We laughed. We made sure that as we walked or dined that we talked about each and every thought that was in our heads. In the end, it was the plain old boring things that you don’t have time to think of that made us both look at each other again. We’re partners, equal, willing to depend on each other.

Love isn’t that mad passionate wave that excludes people. Sex is nice (well, of course it is). That isn’t love either. Love is having someone there who isn’t trying to change you. Love is understanding that you will grow differently, but there will be so much to share. Music surrounds us both, and we find that our tastes have become more similar. Art surrounds us. Our families surround us. Our willingness to make a family less about love and more about the people that we surround ourselves with. Love is an adventure. It’s willing to take the wrong turn, but with a map to get it back on course. It’s the willingness to not give up. It’s the companionship of years of changes.

I’ve changed over time. I’ve kept the things that are the essential me alive though. I keep my silliness to bring a smile to his lips when he’s angry at the world. I’ve learned to understand that he needs to vent. He knows that physically I can’t keep up with the house. He doesn’t care. He wants me to be happy. He wants me to write. Dishes can wait until one or the other of us have the energy to do them. Usually it’s him these days. He said I don’t ever have to lift a hand to the house. He also likes working with me on the house when I can. We are at the point in life where we realize there is an end coming. It doesn’t frighten us. We just need the time to be together, the two of us.

A quiet room when the house is just us, and we sit and talk about the world. We read together, watch John Oliver together, and the house is tranquil. Our moral compass heading is identical. But the biggest change came this past week when he told me that he’s looking forward to the adventures we have coming. He wants to spend that time with me, exploring the world, taking a class together, being happy. I think that is what love is beyond all else.

Love is when something happens, good or bad, and you want to tell that person first, before all others. That sharing bond of excitement or sadness bring you close and then closer. I want time to be gentle enough so that we can walk to the finish line hand in hand and know that the greatest gift we ever had was each other.

The Nursing Home, or Discussing with Dragons

The Nursing Home

A thin drab youth with brown lanky hair slipped into a dark room leaving the door partially open. Someone slept noisily on the full-sized bed. He coughed lightly.

“Boom boom, boom boom,” came a muttering from under the faded quilt. “Boomboom, that’s what it sounds like. Listen, boy, you can hear it if you listen.”

The boy turned his head to one side and listened. There was quiet.

“I don’t hear anything, grandpa.”

“Then you’re not hearing well. I can hear it, like a man with limp or a wooden leg. Boom boom, boom boom,” the voice snarled. “I don’t even need to open my eyes to tell he’s coming for another attempt at my treasure. Listen. Boom boom, boom boom.”

“Grandpa, I think that’s your heart. Remember mom told you not to listen to your heart?”

“Boy, if you start listening to that woman you’ll never be a proper dragon. You’re still a sapling, an odd body, not fully grown and your breath smells like that nurse here. Listen.”

“Grandpa, I come every day, even when it rains and we never see a man here.”

“I showed you my watch, boy child. Gold it is, gold like the tears in my eyes when you deny your heritage. You are descended from dragons, from me and my ancestors. Your mother doesn’t count. She’s a frightening woman, not a proper dragon woman. Shh, someone’s coming. Hide on this side of the bed.”

The boy scurried to the window sill side of the room. He stood quietly watching the door. He wasn’t afraid of his grandfather, but the nurse was another thing all together. With a scratching sound of over starched cotton, the door was thrown over and the light turned on.

“Woman, turn that light off. You know it bothers my eyes. Have you no respect for age?”

“Now, now, dear, how are we after your nap? Oh look, our little friend is here to see us again. I do hope he’s being good. Do you want the red gelatin today or the green?”

“I don’t want any gelatin. It’s nothing but sugar. Grandson, did you know that they used to make gelatin from old horse’s hoofs?”

“Now dear, that was during World War II, during the bombardment. We learned about that in school back when we were a mere slip of a lass.” She drew a needle and vial from her apron and proceeded to the edge of the bed. “Just put our arm on this side of the blanket, dear, and let us take your blood sample for the doctor.”
“You were never a mere slip of anything, Nurse. I’m not putting any of “OUR” anything near you. The doctor has his own blood, let him sample it. See, I told you boy, he’ll come. Listen for it. Boom boom, boom boom. He’ll take the treasure with him and I’ll have nothing to give you.”

“Oh, don’t be a silly old silly, we’ll scare our grandson. I know he’s not supposed to visit us without his mommy but we don’t have the heart to throw him out of the building. It wouldn’t be good for our health. We need our young ones.”

Grandpa pulled the blanket down below his eyes. He kept his nose under the covers.

“We had the sniffles last week, young man. We’ve been keeping a kindly eye on us so we recover in a timely fashion.” Nurse Peal blinked at Grandpa.

“Darn it, Nurse Peal. Don’t scare the boy, he hasn’t molted to his true character yet.”

“And what are we turning into this week? Are we still a dragon?”

“Boy, don’t get old. I forbid it. You’ll end up in a place like this with your teeth falling out and your bald head shining and scaleless. Run along, Nurse, we need our quality time. Just run along.”

The nurse took grandpa’s wrist and listened to his pulse. Jabbing his arm, she took a large sample and put it in her pocket.”The tea trolly will be along shortly. We always like to have tea with us. You could join us if you like. Wouldn’t you like that, young man? Now, dear, we’ve pulled the blanket out from the bottom of the bed. Let us make you all nice and snuggly. We’ll just let you know when the tea is ready.”

The boy nodded quietly and followed the nurse to the door. She shut it behind her with a sweet smile.

The boy turned to the bed and whispered, “Grandpa, you are going to get us in trouble. I thought you said that the fact we were dragons was a secret. She’ll tell on you and that doctor will want more blood samples. She’ll hide the tea trolly from you. Mom said I should make you behave and if you don’t she’ll make you leave this place and SHE’LL take charge of you.”

“Are you still afraid of your mother, boy?”

“Well, no, but sometimes she’s not very nice to others. I don’t want her to be mean to you.”

“Is she still making you eat oatmeal every single day? Making you go to school? I had an old friend who was a teacher in a middle school. He had a great job, teaching literature and scaring the head lice off of student’s heads. Just placed the tip of his claw on their head and they ran off screaming. Screaming lice, what a hobby. I forgot his name, but this bookstore owner called him The Black Dragon. She was all about trolleys with tea in the afternoon. It seems to be a woman thing.”

“Did you know any other dragons, Grandpa?”

“There was The Reluctant Dragon. You could never get him to commit to doing anything. He wouldn’t fight, He read books and filled his head with philosophy. Nice chap, but he was a vegetarian. Not a proper diet for a dragon. He and St. George wandered off into the forest after staging a badly acted drama. The critics were harsh. Then there was the Blue Dragon. Oh, she was a looker that one. Your head was never safe with her after…well, you don’t need to know that at your age. Most dragons were called by their colors or their location. They kept their magic names to themselves so people couldn’t have power over them. They had names like Strong Heart, Pestilence, Snort, Long Tooth, most of them boring names. My name, however, was a magnificent name. Did I ever tell you what it was?” There was a pause. “Speak up, boy, speak up.”

“No, grandpa, you didn’t.”

“Ah, I must remedy that. I was known as the Red Dragon of Dreadful Temper Tantrums.
My mother hid away from me when I learned to fly because I would fly into a fit demanding gold, diamonds, dwarves, swords and jewels. I loved the depth of color in my jewels. Once I was given and item I put it in the corner. Then I would sing to it.”

He cleared his voice. “Ahem, ahem. Do, Re, Do, Sol, Mi, Sol, Ti, Sol. Gimme, gimme, jewels for my soul.” His voice rang out as large bells ringing and clanging together. “See, boy, singing to jewels made my soul happy.”

“What about your eggs?”

“I’m a male dragon. I don’t have much to do with eggs and you will find out about that much later.”

The door squeaked open. Nurse Peal’s face peered into the room. “Are we alright in here then?”

“Of course, woman, now go and leave us alone.”

She pulled her head out of the room with a heavy sigh. “Don’t let the old fool give you a hard time, boy. Tea trolly should be here soon.

“Now, boy, let’s make you a dragon name. What do you fancy? Your egg was yellow, you know. It looked like the sun rising in the East. Your mother kept it well polished and warm. Warm eggs mostly grow up to be large dragons. What should we call you?”

“Grandpa, I’ve been thinking about that. How about the Rising Son of the Eastern Dawn?”

Grandpa looked startled. “Why I like that name. My grandson, the Rising Son of the Eastern Dawn. It suits you, boy, it suits you.”

“How will I know when I start to grow my wings?”

“You’ll start to growl, grow and argue with your teachers about how to swing a shield to protect yourself from a sword.”

“One of the girls in my class has a sword made of plastic. She runs around smacking us boys when we try to play cricket or soccer. I don’t like her very much.”

“A girl dragon or a girl knight? Girl dragons are dangerous, but girl knights are worse. They try to make you do what they say when all you want to do is stand around the corner looking after your wealth. They’ll take your coins if you look away. Sneaky creatures, girls.”

“Did you have a girl dragon as a friend?”

“Well, not exactly. I had a wife dragon, a suitable dragon, a pink and lovely dragon.”

“Didn’t you have a maiden to tie up like in my book?”

Grandpa chuckled. “I had two tied up. Both wore princess outfits and screamed such a lovely screams. But I never ate them. Those knights would sneak up on me.They’d steal the princesses away.  Boom boom, boom boom. Did you hear that?”

“Grandpa, you are being silly. That’s your heart carrying on. Don’t tell anyone your heart is carrying on or they won’t let me come visit anymore.”

“If they don’t let you come visit me, I shall eat them alive. No, raw meat isn’t good for us. We like our meat nicely cooked on an open fire. What do knights call that, a B something.”

“A barbecue is what Daddy calls it. He says that he isn’t a dragon though. He says dragons only eat raw meat and if I argue he’ll send me to bed without a cooked supper.”

“I’ll have a growl with him and show him better. You tell him when you get home tonight. I’m sure I can bring him round. He’s the reason your mother won’t show her dragon wings, you know. I think he’s a tall dwarf, or a politician. Sometimes they are both. So, what did you learn about today in that school your mother forces upon you? Did you learn about war or spears or something fierce?”

“Nope, today we learned about the teddy bear. He looks like Winnie the Pooh, but a president got him in a crate from some firefighters that were putting a fire out in the United States. He was all singed and burned and they put lotion on his fur to make the burns better. Children saw him in the zoo and their moms bought them soft bears to keep them company in the dark. I have a bear, but his name is Arnold.”
 “Well, that is a very good name for a bear, I think. You must guard his well. I think he must be one of your treasures.”

Their heads were close together, by this time, and secret words passed between the two.

 

Nurse Peal and mother stood outside the door, watching and listening.

“I don’t know what we will do without my father in our future. How’s he really doing, Nurse? I know you keep track of what the doctor says.”

“Don’t worry, dear. I drive him crazy using we all the time and he’s really a lovely old goat when you go home. He does love his grandson so. They like to change what he’s going to be when he becomes old. He told the boy, last time, that when he could escape from here he was going to live in the sky and be a star.”

The two women looked at each other and tears formed in their eyes.

“GRRRRR,” called the boy in a loud voice.
“GRRRRR,” the old dragon answered.

Finding

I found a tree,

which flowered

even though the frost

was barely gone.

I sat, pondering how

I had leafed

When I thought all hope was gone.

I found a flower,

which leaved and

sent blue bells up

Skyward.

I stood,

rake in hand

admiring the traitor

Red bud, Judas tree,

that blooms before Easter.

I hoped,

foolish as I was,

That the day of fools

would enlighten me.

It lightened the burden

But not my weight.

I saw myself

mirrored in the water,

sky, ice, leaves

and was gladly able

to love myself.