The stoic bear who guards the shore

Swore an oath, so says the lore

To wait for mother who crumbled in

In search of food presumed by him

A millennia has past away

Since that dark and stormy day

And still he waits upon the edge

Where was made his valiant pledge

When once again she’s by his side

Her heart will swell with loving pride

Done well he has o’er yesteryore

The stoic bear who guards the shore


He couldn’t help but watch them
They weren’t trying to hide
He could even hear them
In pieces, anyway, on the corner
The twenty-somethings

The woman was beautiful
Although, not in the raw, carefree, subtle, palm tree way
Hers was a manufactured beauty
A skyscraper, an architectural wonder reflecting a brilliant sun
But not the sun itself
A feat that, no doubt, takes her hours to accomplish

The man, too, was beautiful – indeed, they tend to flock together
A too-tight Henley, suffocating a sculpted torso
With enough product to hold his just-got-out-of-bed hairstyle for the entire day
Feigned insouciance fooling no one
But himself
And her

He’d left enough unshaven, across his granite-chiseled jaw, to juxtapose the smooth, tanned skin of her carefully manicured, capricious hand
A hand wont to careful caresses and sudden strikes

They were arguing, unsurprisingly
An atavistic battle for dominance, over a begrudgingly shared pedestal made for one

Then he noticed, on a bench, beyond their animated displeasures and accusations…

She was alone, distant, depleted
A meandering brook in a forest forgotten
Disembogued of her surroundings, disengaged from her present

She bore little concern for the book in her lap, let alone the pages her finger marked
Deep in thought, or fantasy, or regret, she evinced sadness in her quiet elegance

Among the lineaments adorning her contemplative expression, were barely visible laugh lines
There was joy there once, though not now
He imagined making them appear

By this time, the twenty-somethings had vanished into twenty-nothings
All he could see was the distant, raw beauty

The way she’d occasionally tilt her head to catch whispers the wind afforded her
Trigger words from the brewing storm, invading her peaceful sanctum

Or how she’d subtly tuck a raven lock behind an ear, after the wind dislodged it
Playfully reminding her not to eavesdrop

Or how…
She stirred

Seemingly replenished, at ease, carefree
She raised her palm frond to shield her eyes, something he’d never seen the brilliant sun itself do, and she scanned the horizon
Taking in, perhaps for the first time, the beauty that surrounded her
Transfixed, he watched as she became the beauty that surrounded her
A feat that, no doubt, takes nature centuries to accomplish

Then before he could tear his glance away
Even before he could realize that he didn’t want to
She saw him seeing her
And she smiled


the glimmer danced at moonset
gloaming come and gone
upon the lake with no threat
to welcome coming dawn

sol would cast the shadows
an audience for she
her stage the depths and shallows
for all of them to see

she’d dance for adulation
she was there to please
their simpered infatuation
‘fore nighttime’s coming tease

soon the threat of twilight
looming overhead
would strip her inhibitions
for one true lust instead

she lost control in darkness
the danger was her love
a match in heaven’s starkness
for the glimmer seen above

her secret dance in moonlight
for luna not the sun
to please her under starlight
her audience of one


She saw him daily in the garden

She decided he was the one

She willed him to pick her
stopping for none other

And so he did.

He took her to his humble home

He nuzzled her silken skin

He placed her on a pedestal
to enchant all who would pass

And so she did.

She dazzled them with her petals

She beguiled them with her scent

She would die adored, fulfilled
and being he daily in their garden
would bethink himself of her.

art: (untitled) by Jeanne Bessette


The incessant clank of the street sign was agitating
She needed to think
It was dusk, and the unpredictable breeze with the anticrepuscular rays, provided an epiphanic backdrop

Standing barefoot and out of breath, she grasped the annoying post for balance
Her torn skirt fluttered in the evening zephyr, before adhering again to her sweat-streaked thighs
She doesn’t remember running there

*clank, clank, clank*

A brief flash of her mother washing dishes, and the sound of colliding pots and pans; with her sweet, contented hum
Her mother was a warrior, she put an end to the violence of an abusive man, husband, father
Then this single mom held two jobs and a smile for her little girl

Mom would be disappointed, she thinks, while absentmindedly pawing at the bloody, ripped blouse
Willing it to stay on her shoulder, she stares at the wanton wind making chaotic tops of loose leaves at her corner of the deserted intersection

She didn’t know what to do, she needed some kind of sign
She barely got away this time, and was tired
Not just exhausted physically, but emotionally shattered
And he was coming
He was calling
Taunting, on this secluded, back woods road

She refuses to believe this will be the spot he ends her, so she prepares to run

*clank, clank, clank*

The memory returns; this time, though, it emboldens
Her burning eyes no longer stung from tears, but from fire and rage
Something clicked inside, finally making sense
She realized that when she needed answers, they came
And it was only here she’d get them
She looks up and smiles at the messenger
Then opts to take the other path
The warrior’s path

She’d no longer run, or she’d forever be running
She stood defiant and unyielding
The wind lashed her hair about her battered visage
Unlucky strands were swallowed by the fresh coagulation
War paint

Releasing the stop sign, she began walking in the direction of the vile brute
Live or die, it was she who would end him and his abuse
She would stop running, she would take her power back
For the warriors
For her mother
For herself


She just wanted to dance

Even without music, she’d lose herself in the motion and emotion
Her dancing was the music, her body the instrument
And there was only one job for her in this anachronistic, one road, wasteland

Dancing for men
Men with wives who couldn’t do better
Men trying to recapture verility or prove it never left
The kind of men who froth hyperbolically of former conquests and self-percieved prowess
Regaling their ilk with vainglorious almosts and rageful if-onlys
Again and again

She couldn’t see them from the stage
They were hidden behind the diaphanous sheet of pungent smoke and the one-way mirror protecting her fragility

The howls and cat calls, the subtle suggestions and outright offers were directed at her, as much as to their own starving egos

No matter
She couldn’t hear them either
She learned, many years ago, to just hear the music

Her music drowned out the vitriolic bile, secretive desire, and drunken apologies of an abusive father
The acidic whispers and unsurprising deceit of jealous girlfriends
And the pressurized come-ons of their zealous, couldn’t-do-better boyfriends
…whose apple trees now whistle at the legal, little bird

She danced to get away from this petri dish, forever her home

To bide her time
To survive another day
And another night

She just needed to dance


There she lies, my beautiful wife
Or should I say, beautiful mom? I guess we should get used to hearing that
She’s glowing, luminescent perfection

It was an exquisite day to be out exploring with her
A sentiment that must have been shared by everyone, as it was a hustling street, on a bustling beat
Vibrantly alive
Like her

There was a café across the way that she was eager to try after the show
Outdoor seating, refreshing breeze, an ice-cream on the boardwalk…

“One for you and two for me,” she said with a smirk
– that playful, “I can say that, but you’d better not” kind of smirk

And with her dazzling effervescence, she started pulling me across the road
Though, she needn’t, because I will always follow where she goes
And lead her, where she wants to follow
How did I get this lucky

I’m shaken, rumbled out of reverie

It’s Sara… Maddox? Sara Meddicks?
I think that’s how she introduced herself, something like that; there was a lot of commotion at the time
We met them on the way to the café, she and her partner
They seemed like lovely people, and what a lovely day to meet them

However, now she seems out of sorts, worried
She’s calling my name
I think it’s my name
She has those old, silver fillings that dentists no longer use
And black-framed glasses highlighting her heterochromia; fascinating, I wonder how it’s affected the way people see her, or the way she sees them see her…
A kind face
I don’t hear what she’s saying, though
It’s the sirens… there must have been an accident nearby
So sad, on such a gorgeous day

I hope everyone is alright

I point to my wife, to put Sara at ease
Does she see her? I know that she would feel better, if she could see her the way I do
They would be fast friends; she would like my wife, everyone does

Her sundress… it’s stained, and spreading
Ruby, like her name…
A happy happenstance, not lost on Ruby, I’m sure
She makes those connections faster than I can
Metaphorically and personably
I hope it doesn’t upset her, it was new for today’s “last grand adventure before parenthood”
I’ll clean it for her when she wakes
The stain is on me, too
It’s everywhere, in fact
But for now, she needs to rest, the big day is coming soon
In just a couple of weeks, we become “the three musketeers,” as she says

…maybe that’s what Sara is upset about

“Don’t worry,” I say to her with a smile, as I pat her on the shoulder, “I’ll buy her a new one”

Surprise seemed to erupt onto her face, then she moved to lean across me
A hug of newfound friendship?
Of gratitude?
I reach to reciprocate, but she goes beyond
Shutting the twin doors behind us
An engine roars to life, she’s lurched back to her seat, and busies herself with Ruby

I knew they’d be friends
And we head down the hustling street, on this bustling beat, on this beautiful day


the thrush rushed
on the cusp of trust
it must crush
that which swells inside
the callow swallow (eye rhyme :p)
with disregard seemed shallow
but in truth was impelled to hide
in the brush they’d follow
no matter how hollow
the understory and confide
they’d dither and wither
while within them slither
deepest darkest desires
then soar from the wail
of the nightingale
leaving a trail of feathers
to sail with their secrets
on the wind behind

~freeverse, rapid write, quick brain dump


I have nothing to write

And the page stares back at me, derisively so
In a challenge that I shan’t deface its pristine, alabaster sheen
…with love, sorrow, or anything in between

That nary a scar will mar its virgin skin, leaving behind faded remnants
…discarded, inchoate thoughts,
rambling, incoherent madness,
or maudlin, inconsolable laments to souls indelibly lost

It unabashedly watches me struggle, as if to read my mind, predict my actions, feel my emotions

Yet, ever-present in the admixture, is pity and encouragement
Aware of its role as palimpsest – a dutiful willingness, an infectious silliness, a wide-eyed thrilliness to lead me on a treasure hunt to uncover the truths and fictions buried within

It may guide my hand into old-timey prose – I am, after all, anachronistically inclined
Or into “childish” rhyme, I suppose – being once lambasted for that very predilection
Or into any among uncountable innocuities, both clever and banal
Or into, perhaps, something deeper, more sinister
…all for its own amusement

Will it show me a teen who cuts himself shaving, proudly bearing the sting
Or a razor-wielding, young woman who cuts herself craving
…to feel anything
Or a regretful, old man whose bullet will heal all of his most cherished scars
Or a curious, little girl in wonderment staring up at the twinkling stars
…that she will one day conquer

It’s taunting me with rhymes again…

Perhaps stories of dragons, whose iridescent scales are shifted to crimson, while hunting in the violet draped skies of a blood moon’s luminescence
Of a thorn-weary rose, stopping to smell its brethren and awash in the redolence
…of memories and petrichor
Of a child swinging, laughing, living in the moments of happiness, incapable of living otherwise
Or of a man merely swinging
…at the end of his rope
…incapable of living otherwise

Or will I, in frustration, cast it aside in crumpling dispair, or fashion an aeroplane and set it to air, or fold it into exquisite lines of precision and anthropomorphia

It doesn’t matter to the page; it knows they’re all stories

The page knows what I like, but more importantly, it knows what I don’t like; for it’s actually a mirror to the writer, while merely a window to the reader – who may still reflect on the page, but with less clarity, oblivious to the subtly, too distant for the intimacy

Alas, I have nothing to write

In the end, I know there’s only one to blame

In the end, I know these are baseless accusations and ridiculous imaginations on the evil machinations of a page not at fault

In the end, I know it’s the pen who mocks me, and derisively so


he sat in darkness, his darkness

warmed by the seductive dancing of firelight, as its fingers caress his rufescent cheeks

a trace of cognac coalesced in the corner of his glass, pulling itself toward the diminishing flames that reflect upon its crystalline surface

mesmerized, he watches his long journey unfold in the fireplace, absorbed in the knowing cackle and crackle of his storyteller

a journey from innocence, to something far less so

the sheer weight of his memories – of failures, of regrets, of heartbreaks – too numerous to count, is outnumbered only by those he tries to forget

he’ll drag them into the fire, using what’s left of his courage in one final, brave act of redemption

in his stupor, he doesn’t realize the room has already gone cold

he’s been lulled to silent tears by shadows in the eigengrau, who recount the darkest stories, for those are only theirs to tell

his courage, which has now tumbled over the rail of this ship he couldn’t right, chasing the embers even while the ground rushed to embrace it, floats near the empty prescription bottle at his feet

broken, like him

he’s unaware of the snifter’s lurch for freedom to the keel of his wayward, sinking vessel

its tortured desire to return to wholeness and denial

his fading, singular focus was only of himself and his own pain

very like the way he lived

and this was a haul he was dying to forget


he ventured a few strokes, to no avail
she just lay there, frigid, impassive
offering only a blank expression to his presence
it maddened him
he often had trouble enticing her
while she always seemed willing, even encouraging
only the right words would ever bring about their joint ecstacy
even as mellifluous words and phrases rippled through his mind
the cascading ideas and emotions colliding, merging, evolving
they each would ultimately cancel out the others
it would be another lesson in frustration
with this now placid pool of thought
a flaccid will was wrought
she wasn’t going to open up to his advances
he could tell
he’d been here many times
finally in desperate inspiration, he pleaded
just this once, it’s only a daily prompt!
a lie, he knew
he needed it more than she
he’d surely beg again another day
alas, today, nothing came
so he gently slid her aside
ensuring his pen is close to her
teasingly close to her
and went back to work


The spider steeped
in darkness creeped
beyond her veil of sight

It caught instead
her thought in web
so nightmares come this night

Within her dreams
of nightmare themes
an insect bound was she

Awake she shivered
her soul delivered
thus had the power he

When next they met
was she who crept
into his nightmare den

His web of lies
was his demise
she’d not get caught again

Thus unaware
that she would dare
to retrieve her stolen soul

Her newfound power
then made him cower
and she woke now once more whole

Corrupt with power
she’d simper then glower
spinning a web or three

Thus unaware
and with not a care
became the spider she

If they only knew

I can almost hear the sunlight’s strain, as it struggles to push through the closed windowblinds, steadfastly determined to flood the room with its unwanted presence

Like the uninvited guest happily knocking at the welcome mat-less front door
The too-cheery neighbor waving from their well-manicured lawn
The good mornings and have a nice days from well-meaning strangers and their bright, little spawn

If they only knew the pleasant quicksand of shadows they scatter
If they only knew the safety of the gripping silence they pollute
If they only knew the sorrowful comfort they mindlessly disturb
And the cobwebs of dolor & distraction they insouciantly brush away
They’d not darken my mind or door

It’s lucky for them they don’t know what’s hidden inside

…but, I suppose, luckier for me

art: untitled 30 by Peterio



scarred bark in the stark darkness
a hinterland of rampikes
hidden within lightning strikes beneath a wrothful sky
fauna trample ample flora
in a panic as the nimbi gaze with a watchful eye
land eroding at the banks
escape the downpour into a fresh moor as the river gorges
on the earth
icthyic dances underwater pleasure pebbles pausing
in the river bed
rapids rumble over stone rubble wreaking havoc
on their homestead
displaced to dwell where dwelled they’d not
but quelled their calls when displaced they got
the wild would wade while the wildwood bade them
over the stones now laid in the flow
in fear they tread while the water fed their fear
until they could not hear the thunder grow

~freewrite, rapid write, quick brain dump

The boy weeps

He weeps for the boy hiding deep within his eyes

A boy born a teardrop, wept from mother sorrow

As a child, out of mind, out of sight; so now he is never seen

Taught to speak only when spoken to; so now he is never heard

Taught to watch where he was going; so now he is ever looking downward

Forced to live on the outside without living, then it became his way of life

A distraction, an afterthought, a life of transient impression and impact

A longing handprint on polished mahogany

He weeps for the boy hiding deep within his eyes

Yet not for what lay before the boy

He weeps in empathy, while the boy weeps for the man he is destined become

art: abstract figurative 16 by Jeanne Bessette


Mighty Sequoia

Me: Mighty Sequoia, why is it that in all but the heaviest downpours, your roots remain dry?

Sequoia: It is because the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve grown, and the deeper my roots burrow into memory far away from the influence of the sky. Only the most unforgiving rain can churn the memories, muddying the soil that time has buried.

Me: …

Me: Mighty Sequoia, I hope one day I’ll have grown as much as you.

Sequoia: For now, little one, suffer not the shade cast by those around you, relish the warmth of life’s fleeting sunbeams; but also, cherish the rain when it falls, for it will surely strengthen your roots, and in time, you’ll have grown beyond your storms.


The pen hovered above the page,
her hand trembling
from the weight of its unwritten words;
befallen to torpidity,
only her tears could write upon the parchment,
everything the ink never would

– ❖ –

Empty to others,
he read the tear-stained confession
found rapaciously protecting her heart;
and without a pen,
he responded on the very same page,
with the very same ink

art: by Zao Wou-Ki


Insurgent sea

The slumberous, midnight sea heaves
in a rhythmic undulation of atramentous silk;
beneath the vigilant gaze
of its empyreal guardians,
it thrashes and churns with defiant dreams of
conquering the night sky

– ❖ –

To quell the insurgent desire
of the envious waters below,
empyrean casts her brilliant starlight
upon its black, mirrored surface;
so the restless sea now dreams
that it’s already become her master

art: by Zao Wou-Ki



This spiral staircase – his sensorium, ever silent and deep – whose steps fade and whose shadows wilt before the blossom of endogenous darkness, is devoured stair by stair as the beast pursues him downward with unalloyed rancor and tenacity

There is no egress; the absence of memories marked by the stench of failure and the bilious venom of self-awareness, is all that remains in the wake of its destruction; to continue running is either desperate esperance, or an alacritous attempt to hasten the inevitable fall


And into his life came Lorelei
Enchantress of a chaotic sky
Control of sun and with it morning
Control of night with moon adorning

Aware of pain, for she felt it too
Of sorrow’s reign and joys too few
Aware of faith that angels sing
Of ecstacy’s flight on wind swept wing

The power she has, this Lorelei
To make gods weep, to make men cry
She casts from æther where she dwells
Forever waiting with her magical spells

Enchant she did his lonely soul
She knew the signs, she paid the toll
His sky grew calm from all he heard
And she knew peace from his every word

Her heart held truth her mind denied
She said all along it tricked and lied
He tried to allay her growing doubt
But in the end mistrust won out

Lorelei vanished with fear to blame
And never he’d feel quite the same
The storms raged on inside of each
With joy in sight, but out of reach

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