Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Written in Stone: A Novel Excerpt

digital sketch by Jinksy

Incredibly, some living family members deny his existence because no one ever told them the story. Nevertheless, the records are there and speak for themselves. Two years of looking for him in England, in the mines of Wales and the mills of Providence, in the draft registers and the lighthouses has awakened him. His name has been called by the ghosts of legions marching the moonlit Roman Road of antiquity through Arthur’s Kingdom of Wessex. It has echoed across the Atlantic from the hollow quarries of Wiltshire County to the dangerous shoals of Lake Champlain, and he has come. He has come to watch me, not to tell the truth or to justify, but to watch with that distant and amused hint of a smile that so intrigued and haunted others back then. Perhaps he mocks me---I don't know yet. Why come at all though unless he still harbors a spark of hope for an illusive forgiveness from the family.*

© Ann Grenier

*An excerpt from chapter two of
Written in Stone
a novel in progress.

posted for
In Tandem

Old Gardens

Flicker Photos: Creators Dream

I thought the work was going pretty well.
Roses were in, I was planting lilies –
those yellow hybrids that bloom all season,
you’d never know they live for just one day.

It’s the old herb garden we built back then,
to retain the slope. Weather-gray wall stones
have grown a green coat of lichen and moss,
since we moved away and have now returned.

It was that unmistakable slither,
the slippery slide – the flickering tongue.
Instinctively, I froze as our eyes met.
He’s been here all along – the garden’s his…

No! Mine! Even that wall you hide behind;
those chives I planted forty years ago,
the tansy, bee balm, pink oregano –
the tough survivors that have laughed at you.

I felt we’d made a pact, created truce,
believing I could conquer an old fear.
The garden needed tending, and I knew
that I would never raise a hand to him.

Next morning, when the sun had risen high,
I leaned across the gate-leg table top,
where blinding light sparked off the pewter cups,
and looked into the garden down below.

I wasn’t sure at first just what I saw -
but sickened as the vision cleared for me;
two snakes in battle for a helpless toad
with fangs sunk deep and writhing round the rose.

When horror of it faded from my mind,
I pondered retribution for that death:
cruel execution – or communion,
in consumption of another creature …

So many thoughts and questions with no end –
wind on like long black roads with yellow lines;
circles twining back to the beginning,
when all the digging seemed to go so well.

Go to
to read many more poems.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Feeding the Machine

Photo posted by Brian Miller at
D'verse Poets

They looked like a mother and son,
waiting in line to feed the machine,
recycling old bottles and cans.

The line was long - black bags bulging
over the sides of shopping carts.
The automatic door whooshed open

as people approached or passed,
cheerfully accommodating - slick
and smiling like a used car salesman.

Red, white and blue plastic flags
waved every time the doors exhaled,
shutting someone out.

I walked by them, on into the market,
smiling at the woman as I passed.
She gave a polite, automatic nod.

An echo of my mother’s voice said:
“Down in the mouth”, her old saying
about people in the 1930’s.

The son too, wore his mother’s depression
on his face, along with his embarrassment,
bitter gall lying just behind his lips,

waiting to spew the wrath of his soul
at the first hint of provocation. The doors
whooshed again - swallowed them both.

Read more poems prompted by the photo at

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Once Upon a Time

Graphic by  Alias Jinksy
for her writing prompt "In Tandem"
Once upon a time,
I was a princess
in a royal tower,
in a room with a view
of Kensington Palace
in London’s Hyde Park.

My window looked down
into gardens - and guns
of the soldiers guarding
the Embassy of Israel,
steps away – an omen,
but a shadow ignored.

We delighted in antics
of magpies at breakfast,
strolled through the park
and the Tower of London,
rode red double-deckers
until news came from home.

A death in the family -
a terrible tragedy -
we got off the bus, cried long
on the sidewalk, not knowing
where we were, it didn’t matter;
we’d been hurled off the earth.

Time has passed,
sadness has softened -
brought hope of return -
to the west country,
to search for roots
from rooms over a quarry.

Posted for writing prompt
In Tandem

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Boat House

Boat House, Maine

The boat house is simple in the extreme,
empty now, except for a few beach chairs.
Facing east at the edge of the Reach,
it’s alone at the shore, far from the house.

Just a shed, a child’s drawing, an outline,
stark, stoic – a silent sentry – waiting.
It’s hard to say why it speaks to the guests;
perhaps because it stands there faithfully,

calling us down the hill to her cool shade,
to the distant drone of lobster boats,
hypnotic glide of sails through channel guides,
seagull cries, lapping tides and chanting bell.

Someone has made new doors for her this year
to guard the rusted treasures stored inside.
Old bolts and hinges washed up on the rocks
are lined up on the window sill in line,

leading guests to wonder, yet continue
saving bits within this sanctuary.
Perhaps we’ll bring a little boat next year -
to row - then to tuck safely in at night.

More poems can be read at

Monday, July 18, 2011

Face Value

Photo posted by Tess Kincaid
for Magpie Tale #74

Perhaps if we’d known then about the masks,
it wouldn’t be so hard to accept now;
but the dressing rooms were hidden from us,
locked behind the clothes racks in the closets.

I believed in the value of faces:
the good and bad, true and false, black and white;
the land of the free and the golden rule.
Masks were for Mardi gras, minstrels and plays.

But one day I found a skeleton key
that opened the door to the hidden room.
An old sign said: All masks are free. Take one.
Write your name in the book on the table.

And there they were – volume after volume,
Names, dates, masks they’d chosen and worn.
I smiled, and wiped a tear as I wrote:
Howdy Doody mask: “Hey Kids, what time is it?”

I didn’t bother to lock the door …

Poem posted for

Friday, July 15, 2011

No Escape

photo by Ann Grenier

What was he doing there, in paradise;
intruder in black glasses, a black dog,
a walking stick – appearing out of fog
on the velvet path where the lupines rise;
where the old camp rots - where the seagull cries.
He never spoke a word, nor gave a nod,
just stepped off the path and across the yard
past the rhubarb - never lifted his eyes.

We cannot say why we did not approach-
just watched from the cottage up on the hill -
the shadow float past the skeleton tree,
whose dead arms seemed vaguely to send reproach -
to beckon this specter, traveler so still,
back to his resting place, back to the sea.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Photo prompt created by Alias Jinksy

Golden field,

frill of pale green woods,

silver sky.

A painting:

parable or fairytale

to ease our cravings.

Poetry prompt from

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mystery Tour

"People of Chilmark", Thomas Hart Benton, 1920
prompt from Tess Kincaid for Magpie Tale #73


worlds apart,

all silent


They cannot see each other,

don’t know where they go.

I know him –

the god in their midst;

no helmet,

and no wings;

a staff with twining serpents

at his feet instead.

A journey

to the afterlife -



tour from heartless realm - where we

never can forget.

Posted for

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Eggemoggin Escape

Here are some photos of the cottage we rented in Maine
where I wrote this week's
 Magpie Tale #72,
(previous post, "Scanning the Reach"):

Boat House and Skeleton Tree view from the cottage at the top of the hill.

Boat house and ledges at the shore,  cottage at the top of the hill.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Scanning the Reach

Wheat Field in Rising Sun, Van Gogh
posted for Magpie Tales by Tess Kincaid

In the cool shade of the boat house,
scanning the reach in a blue brim
hat, book on my lap, all was floating:
thick clouds teasing patches of blue sky,
cattails nodding to blue-flag, daisies
dancing with buttercups in the breeze.

A cheerful symphony of chirps, tweets
and twitters - flap of eider ducks and
slap of salt water on silver schist ledges.
Mussel shells strewn on stepping stones
into the cool watery passageway, broken
by the gulls, sharpened on the rocks.

The tide takes a turn - so loud now - bell
clangs out there, somewhere, breeze wraps
around me, sun hides and I'm cool - too cool.
A call for homage to strange powers of the sea.
All is silver now - clouds and reach - steel
in the west, symphony of silence - mist.

The climb back up to the white cottage
at the top of the meadow is steep on the path
past the skeleton tree, two arms reaching out
for the crows that caw at dawn; up past the
bolted rhubarb where Mary will pick a few
sweet stalks to make a tart tonight.

 field, skeleton tree and Eggemoggin Reach.