En Svensk Dikt

So, long time… I haven’t been idle, but I wanted to put something here at last, even if this is a tiny offering.  Among other things – writing a book, spinning 4 pounds of wool, embroidering, and painting pottery – I’ve now added on “Learn Swedish” to my list of ‘things to do’ – from a site called Duolingo.com.

And I can’t say I’m ready for a visit the land that makes up about a quarter or so of my heritage, but, being true to my spirit, I have already composed a little ‘poem’.

Det är min tallrik, det är min mat
Det är inte för dig, min katt

I won’t promise I got the syntax perfect, but I’m pretty sure it says:

This is my plate, this is my food
This is not for you, my cat

I’ll probably end up painting this in a plate.  Of course, I doubt it will do any good since my cats don’t speak Swedish 😉  But it’ll look cool with some kitty paw prints!

Hope all your years have started off well!

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Blood Is Thicker

There was a light breeze playing in the woods, rustling the tree leaves; an echo of birds claiming their territory; a passing car on the distant highway; the crunch of dirt and rocks.  And then, there was my mother.

“You know what would be nice to hear once in a while?” she said as we paused.

“Silence?” I suggested, though not terribly hopeful.

“‘Hey, mom,'” she offered, “‘why don’t I take you out to dinner?’  ‘Hey, mom, I just called to hear your voice.’  You know what I hoped for today?  ‘Hey, mom, happy birthday.’  But no, I don’t ever get those kinds of phone calls, do I?”

“Maybe you should have had another kid, then,” I said, in no mood to be lectured on familial duties.  I took a drink from my flask.

She continued our ‘conversation’ as if I wasn’t actually part of it.  “No, I get the 3 AM phone calls, the ‘can you bring the car ’round’ phone calls, the ‘I need a new dump spot, the last one is compromised’ calls.”

She dropped her shovel and waved for the flask.  I sighed and handed it over.  “Yes, and I pay dearly for it.  You make sure of that.”

“Don’t be impertinent, dear,” she said after swallowing.

I tucked the flask back in my pocket, then wiped a rag across my forehead.

“Hey, mom,” I said, voice mockingly sweet, “How about when we’re done here we go out for ice cream and get our nails done?”

“Well, you may have no femininity to speak of,” she huffed, “but a manicure wouldn’t go amiss after this.  Just look at my nails.”  She held her hand out for me to see the chips in the polish and the dirt caked beneath.  “You know, it wouldn’t take much for you to be real pretty.”

I sighed and rolled my eyes.  “Can we please just get done!?”

“Why don’t you let me take you shopping?  Get you some nice dresses, some make-up-”

“Over my dead body.”  We both looked down.  “Over my dead body,” I revised.

“What ever happened to Elias?”

“He was Mossad,” I reminded her as we hoisted the bag between us.

“So what?  He was a very nice young man.”

“His mother threatened to disown him if he married a non-Jew.”  The body made a soft ‘thud’ as it rolled to the bottom of the hole.  We grabbed our shovels again and started to fill it in.

“Well, blood is thicker than water, dear,” she said, lamenting my singleness yet again.

“Yeah, but water doesn’t leave incriminating stains on your clothes,” I pointed out.

She pursed her lips.  For a few minutes, only the sound of digging passed between us.

“Fine, I’ll get you a manicure when we’re done,” I said.  Her silence always made me feel guilty.  Lectures and pleadings I could ignore, but silence was her true weapon of evil.  Silence got me offering things that I shouldn’t, and got her hopes up for more.

“Oh, manicures!  You’ll come, too, of course,” she insisted.

“No.”

“We can make a day of it!”

“No.”

“And then we’ll have brunch at the cafe.  I’ll invite May, her son just got out of prison-”

“Nope.”

“We’ll have to buy you some good bras.”

“Not gonna happen,” I said as I put the shovels back in the trunk.  She wasn’t listening, as usual.

“And we’ll get our hair done, and go dress shopping…”

“If it’s your birthday why do you keep insisting on buying me things?” I said, exasperated.

“It’s my birthday, I get to do what I want,” she sang sweetly.

“I am not getting a dress!” I said as we got in the car.

“I know this delightful little Turkish lady,” she mused as she checked her hair in the rear view mirror.  “Always wears the prettiest scarves.  Just got a new shipment of guns in.”

“That I might do,” I conceded.

She refreshed her lipstick before putting the car in drive and pulling away from the scene.  A few miles down the road we passed a lighted sign across the highway.

UTAH HAS NOT HAD A
TRAFFIC RELATED DEATH
FOR 4 DAYS

“You’re due,” I mumbled and opened the folder on my next target.

A simile is like a metaphor…

A simile is like a metaphor….

Wearing high heels is like drinking until you throw up.

There are many reasons you do it: peer pressure, an attempt to fit in, maybe you just think you like doing it… but it always ends the same, face down in the toilet swearing to yourself you’ll never, ever do this again.

And then a little bit of time passes… the headache goes away and the nausea subsides and you can eat normal food again.  And a bit more time passes and you sort of forget how bad it was.  And then you find yourself toying with the idea of doing it again.

Only to end up remembering – when it’s far too late – exactly why it is you promised yourself last time you were never going to do it again.

Wearing heels is like that.

There’s the pressure to be ‘fashionable’, or maybe to add height, or you just like the ‘click-clack’ sound of walking on linoleum flooring in them.

The day wears on, and you’re walking a little slower, a little more gingerly.  And soon you realize your little toe has that really painful blister forming on it, and you have to run hobble to the first aid kit to get a bandage.

By half-past lunch you’re cursing whoever made these shoes and wondering what possessed you put them on that morning, and why on earth didn’t you think to bring a simple pair of flats to change into after that big meeting?

And yet what happens?  You go home, and kick them off and oooohh it feels so good, and maybe you give yourself a foot bath and drink a glass of wine and even as you swear you’ll never wear them again, you find you’ve put those shoes back into your closet… where they’ll lie in wait, lurking for the next time you forget, and slip them on…

Tonight when I get home, these things are going in the ‘donate’ box for the local thrift store!

The Farmer’s Wife

A farmer left his widowed wife
With many years yet in her life.
He left her tracts of fallow land
At which she meant to set her hand.

She dug her furrow deep and true,
She irrigated through and through,
She worked her field all night and day,
Yet still her valley barren lay.

When then a young man happened by
She asked him if he’d like to try.

Now he was knight of noble birth,
And had he quite substantial girth;
But though his sword with steel was made,
It wasn’t quite so long in the blade.

Though valiant brought his tool to wield,
Yet barren still remained her field.
He ploughed her valley night and day
And then she sent him on his way.

When next a young man happened by,
She asked him if he’d like to try.

He was a bowman straight and tall,
And many maids had held enthrall.
But though his bow was hardwood strong,
He couldn’t weild it very long.

Though valiant brought his tool to wield,
Yet barren still remained her field.
He ploughed her valley night and day
And then she sent him on his way.

When next a young man happened by,
She asked him if he’d like to try.

The don was a flamboyant man
And with a flourish he began,
But though his foil was sharp as wit
Twasn’t broad enough to benefit.

Though valiant brought his tool to wield,
Yet barren still remained her field.
He ploughed her valley night and day
And then she sent him on his way.

When next a young man happened by,
She asked him if he’d like to try.

Now the bard, he had a set of lungs,
As skilled with hands as with his tongue.
To plough he brought out all his toys,
And bade her make a joyous noise!

So valiant brought his tool to wield,
He ploughed and ploughed, he would not yield
Until he counted daughters, three,
Two sons, and one babe yet to be!

The farmer’s widow’s now a wife,
And happy in her married life.
She tends her duties in the day,
But nightly in her fields they play!

Living and Learning Together: Module One: How Doors Work

“5. Homework: A writing exercise! Slam that m$*#&#$#$&#%#$* again tonight. Do it. I dare you. Then write a sonnet about what it feels like to be punched in the neck by a cranky person. Some of us work for a living.”

I couldn’t resist.

A sonnet of such eloquence of speech

Presented as evidence that I know

Of standing just within your cranky reach

Upon jugular with befisted blow

Which backward flung me upon my sore ass

And left me sprawled upon the hardwood floor

Who knew my teachers were filled with such sass

Punished for the crime of slamming the door

But my feet again I found beneath me

And stood with such rapturous affection

For he who gave me better eyes to see

And a mind that can make such connection

That between the door and the jam lies sound

Let it be soft, lest I’m flung to the ground!

A Star in the Face of the Sky

Door comparison

As one with multiple attendance certificates from diversity workshops, it chagrins me to report the negative feedback I have received from members of the wolf and cave-dwelling communities over my recent blog post.  My thoughtless remarks may have left the impression that I believe all wolves and cave dwellers are thoughtless d-bags, inclined to stomp up and down dorm hallways, loudly slamming doors in their wake at all hours of the day AND NIGHT.  Nothing could be further from truth.  There are no doubt many courteous canines and Neanderthals, and I hope they will accept my heartfelt apologies.  Understand that I know that you are one of the good ones.  (Not like those others.) 

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Writer’s Digest Creative Writing Prompt: The Wedding Pawn

Writer’s Digest Creative Writing Prompt: The Wedding Pawn

You are about to get married at the wedding ceremony of your dreams. Absolutely everything has gone perfectly, until the best man says that he pawned the ring a couple of days ago. Write this scene.

“Bad luck to see the bride!” Carla screamed out as she dove behind the changing screen.

“Too late for that,” Maya replied, but chuckled at the duality of the statement.

Carla thought for a moment before sticking her head out from behind the screen.  She first gave a happy sigh and smiled as her eyes fell on Maya’s dress, but then shook her head and pulled herself back to the moment.  “What do you mean ‘too late’?”

“I mean I need you to come out here and sit down,” Maya said pulling her out from her hiding place and sitting her down firmly in an overstuffed chair.  “Now listen, I have good news and I have bad news…”

“You’re backing out on me, aren’t you,” Carla said, already prepared for the worst.

“Don’t be daft,” Maya said and kissed her forehead.  “But we don’t have rings.”

Carla blinked a few times as her mind turned those words over.  Then she set her jaw and folded her arms.  “What do you mean we don’t have rings?  I’ve seen them, we bought them together!”

“Yes… and… a few days ago, Jason pawned them at-” Maya caught Carla around her waist as she stood up, eyes focused on the fire axe beside the emergency exit.  “No no no!  Wait, let me explain!”

“Explain, what’s there to-” Carla narrowed her eyes.  “You knew about this, didn’t you?”

“Look, I asked him to, but-”

“HOW COULD YOU DO THAT?” Carla screamed.

Maya wrapped her arms around her, speaking softly. “Carla, they’re just rings, they’re just symbols.”

“Yes, symbols of our marriage!”  Carla wiggled out of Maya’s arms.  “What are we going to do when we’re told to exchange rings?  Stand there exchanging significant glances and tell her to get on with it?  God, Maya!”

Maya sighed.  “Okay, look, I know I should have told you earlier, I was hoping we’d have them back by now.”

Carla wiped at her eyes, trying desperately not to smear her makeup.  “Dare I even ask what the good news is, then?”

“Actually…” Maya laughed nervously.  “That wasn’t the bad news.”

Carla gaped.  “There’s something worse?”

“Yeah, see, about that.  The bad news was supposed to be we hocked the rings to bail your dad out and then he’d get them back out, right?  Well, now the good news is your dad is out, but the bad news is he skipped town, so…”

“He isn’t walking me down the aisle,” Carla finished, sinking back into the chair, tears dripping down her cheeks now.

“But hey, I have these.”  Maya held up two rings.

Carla took one and looked at it.  “Those are from a quarter machine, aren’t they?”

“Maybe, but look, no one will know from a distance, will they?” Maya took Carla’s hand and tried her best to smile, wiping her fiancé’s tears away.  “We’ll slip these on and in a few weeks we’ll get the real ones back, and-”

“And my dad isn’t coming to my wedding.”

Just then the door flew open and in came Carla’s father, looking like – well, frankly, looking like he’d just been on the run from police for three days.  Jason was close behind him.

“Daddy?!”

“George?”

Carla stammered for words.  “But I thought you-”

“Hey, honey!  I’m sorry I’m late,” her father said.  Carla jumped up to hug him but he demurred.  “Don’t want to get that dress dirty, not with what we paid for it.  Look, you know I wouldn’t miss this day for anything.”

“Oh, Daddy!” Carla was outright crying now, and making no effort to control it.

“Maya, these are for you,” he said, holding out his hand.  Into her palm dropped two perfect diamond rings.  “Sorry for all this.”

“Thank you, George.”  They shook hands and Maya slipped the rings into her pocket.

“Alright, good,” George said. “Look, I’m going to get cleaned up.”

“I love you, Daddy!” Carla said, taking her father’s hands.

He smiled and kissed her cheek.  “I love you, too.”

Jason gave his arm a tug.  “Come on, old man.  Leave Sis to clean up her face, we need to be in place in five!”

The two men left to get George presentable.  Maya helped fix Carla’s makeup, and in five minutes, everyone was ready to go.  Just before Maya left to take her place at the end of the aisle, Carla kissed her softly and said, “This… this is why I love you so much.”

“I know, sweetie,” Maya replied.  “Now come on, we’ll have to bail my mom out after the ceremony.”

The Ultimate Question

He settled onto the couch to watch the news like he did every night.  I went to the kitchen to make dinner, like I did every night.  I put a pot of water on the stove for the rice and started to chop vegetables for the stir-fry.

“Honey?” he called, “Can you bring me a beer?”

I suppose some people would have had an opinion on that – that I should have told him to get it himself – but it was just how we were.  I never felt like I had to take some kind of indignant stand; and besides, I enjoyed it.   I supposed I’m old fashioned, in my own way.

I made a small tray of sliced meat and cheese and brought it out with his beer to hold him over until dinner was ready.  He gave me a kiss and told me to sit with him for a while but I insisted the rice would burn so I slipped from his needy grasp and went back to the stove; the news was his thing, not mine.  I usually found it too dull or too filled with bad news to be worthwhile.

The vegetables sent up a billow of steam and sizzles as they hit the wok and I stirred quickly before putting the cover on it and checking on the rice.  He had never been much of a rice person before he met me, but I had been raised with it at every meal.  Sometimes the stereotypes are true.  We got the culinary ones out of the way early on; I cooked on our first date.  He teased me about my rice and I said I was fresh out of watermelon.  I asked if he would ever try tofu and he said only if they start making it in fried chicken flavor, and before we knew it we were in love.

My friends said he was too old; his friends said I was a gold digger.  All our friends said we moved way too fast.  I moved into his apartment at four months, and just after a year we found this house.  It was a little more than we had expected to pay, but we took it; he because it was close to work, I because of the kitchen.  The hardwood floors, two bedrooms, and a view of Puget Sound was just the icing on the cake: it was like a dream.  No matter what anyone said, we were happy.  That’s all that really matters, isn’t it?

From the living room I heard a clatter of the plate hitting the floor.  It didn’t sound like it broke, so I just called out to ask if everything was okay.  The answer I got was him rushing into the kitchen and grabbing me around the waist.

He gave me a spin that had me wiggling to get free and protesting his sudden behavior.  Then he knelt down and took my hand and I realized what was going on.  When said those marvelously beautiful words, I knew what had just happened.  “David, will you marry me?”

I confess, I squealed like a six-year-old girl right before I started choking.  Not like a little inhale that catches in your throat, but the kind of choking that makes you double over and gasp for air.  His eyes went wide and he grabbed a glass of water, holding it for me as I tried to take a few sips to wash out whatever had gotten in my throat.

Then he held me close to his chest and repeated his request, words whispered in my ear and sending shivers up my spine.

“Yes, yes of course!” I said, tears streaking down my face which I wiped at in vain.  “Dammit, William!  Yes, I’ll marry you!”

“R74 passed,” he said.

I laughed at that.  “I would have married you any way.”

“I love you,” he said, and I echoed the words back to him before he caught me in a kiss and pressed me back against the counter.  I could tell what was on his mind.  I think mine had already jumped ahead to who I wanted to invite and where it should be held.

The San Juan Islands were beautiful, and how can you beat a ferry ride to kick off the honeymoon?  I was distracted from impromptu wedding plans by his mouth on my neck and I melted into his touch, letting him carry me off.

Twenty minutes later, the fire alarm went off.  I burned the rice.  But of course, I didn’t care.

“There’ll be plenty of rice at the wedding,” he said as we threw opened windows and fanned the smoke from the stove.

“Oh no, that’s bad for the birds,” I said, trying to salvage something of the meal.  “Bubbles.  Let’s have bubbles.”

He came over and closed his hands around mine, drawing them away from the pans.  “Come on.  Let me take you out to dinner.”

I looked into his eyes and said, “Sweetie?  I want kids.”

He laughed and said, “I’m not sure where they serve those.  How about Thai instead?”

“Okay.  But kids, after.”

“Whatever you want for dessert is fine with me,” he said and grabbed our coats.

Some people don’t get us.  But we do, and that’s all that matters.

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