The Bad Penny


Sunday morning sunshine

Air alive with early morning briskness

My feet hit the pavement anxious with anticipation

for the quiet of a long run

My heart is bursting with excitement

as my legs move smoothly over the hills

At last at the crest of “The Killer”

I remove a layer

The heat of my arms basking in the high star

The finish is too soon, I think

Arriving home I hear the voices

of loved ones breaking the fast

We are renewing a childhood tradition

In a different incarnation

Grown-up, sharing the ritual

with the girls they love

We are filled with glee

Refreshed, we hit the road

But not before stopping for that cup of joe

And then the reverie is broken

He appears:




Our blood was once on his hands

We grapple  with this infelicitous situation

My heart races and my hands shake

I move away yet stay put

My protectors keeping him at bay

Polite, they speak in superficial tones

Pretending to be mannered

All the while  seething at the reminder

of his emotional destructions

At last they come for me

surrounding me as we depart

We breathe deeply

Freed again

Delighted that the orchard awaits our pickings

Sipping and Singing and Celebrating

Moving onward and forward

Knowing our lives are full and empty of him

An Unexpected Present


Growing up, Christmas was a big deal in our house. My dad believed in going all out with gifts at this time of year. He grew up in a large family during the Depression.  He always remembered not getting what he wanted because money was always tight. The story goes that he vowed that his children would not have the same experience as he did.

Needless to say, the living room in our small ranch house was overflowing with gifts for my brother, mother and me.  As I am writing this, I can still picture all the gifts we received over the years. Barbies, kitchen sets, drum sets, guitars, games, clothes, toy guns and helmets (Vietnam loomed large then), bikes ( I actually rode mine in the kitchen while mom was putting the turkey in the oven!).  My dad was a huge believer in Santa Claus and insisted that he existed well into our teenage years.

But even though we were spoiled at Christmas, my brother and I never asked for anything outrageous. We were always overjoyed and appreciative of the gifts we received. One year-maybe 1975-my dad asked me if there was something that I wanted for Christmas but probably would not get.  I replied that I really wanted a stereo system but knew that they could not afford one. Rock and Roll music and FM radio were in their heyday and it seemed like everyone was listening to their stereos full blast and buying albums that featured the Stones, Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith, among others.

On December 23rd of that year, we were at my Nana and Grandpa’s apartment enjoying our annual roast pork dinner. Nana always made a special meal or shared a Christmas tradition with each of her five children.  Our time was always on this date. After dinner, my father asked me to go into the bedroom because Santa had delivered  a present to the apartment for my brother and me. Apparently, it was hidden under the bed. I pulled out a long, wrapped and somewhat heavy box. On the tag it said: “To Kim and David From Santa. Do not open until December 25th.”  My brother and I were puzzled as to what it could be. Like I said, we had no expectations at all for any big gifts.

When family and friends gathered at our house on Christmas Eve, I told my uncle about the gift.  “Don’t open it first,” he said.  “Save it for last.” He knew that my dad would be dying to see our faces right away.

We did as he suggested. Together the two of us opened the gift last on Christmas morning.  And WOW!  We were dumbfounded! An Am/FM stereo system with a turntable and two speakers!  Of course, my dad persisted in saying that he and my mother did not purchase it-Santa did.

That stereo stayed with me for many years. In high school, I listened to many of rock’s best albums on it. All of  Fleetwood Mac, Jackson Browne, Elton John, The Eagles, Billy Joel, Chicago.  I brought it with me to college and blasted Bruce and U2 ( the early 80’s albums-OMG!) and The Clash.

For me the gift symbolizes many things: Rock music at its best, memories of my teenage and college years, but most of all my father’s unconditional love.


This post is brought to you by the venerable Kellie Elmore and her Free Write Friday prompt:

#FWF Free Write Friday: Childhood Gift

Write about your most memorable childhood gift. Was is a Christmas gift? A Birthday gift? Was is something you really wanted or was it a surprise that ended up holding a sentimental place in your heart? What do you remember? How did it make you feel?

free write friday kellie elmore

Geographical Escape 3.5: Fade to Black

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“I know where her body is buried.” Tom was sitting in a dark booth at a dive bar on the outskirts of Louis Port. He stopped in to visit Marlena, an old friend of his mother. He had ordered one too many drinks and Marlena stayed after to help him sober up. She had the looks of a woman who I had seen and heard it all. They got around to talking about old times and soon they found themselves on the subject of his father.

“Your mother hated leaving you with him,” she said. Tom’s mother work nights as a nurse at the local hospital. His father worked at the docks loading cargo that was being shipped down river. Jim’s tall frame had become naturally muscular from years of heavy lifting. Tom’s thinness stood in sharp contrast to his father’s imposing body and equally intimidating personality. Already possessing a shy demeanor, Tom became mute whenever he was with him. In turn, Tom’s father did his best to ignore his son. He wasn’t a man who was good at conversation and he made no attempts to keep enough food in the house or cook a meal.

Jim was a heavy drinker and perpetual womanizer. Often times he would head down to the neighborhood tavern leaving his son alone for the night. Sometimes Tommy fell asleep to the hum of the tv set or put himself to bed. Jim would come home drunk, always with company for the night. Tommy could hear them through the walls. Bed creaking. His father moaning. A woman mewing or at times screaming. He covered his ears with a pillow to block out the noises. Some of them would stay around for a few months. They attempted to be friendly but more often than not, they were more interested in fucking his father. Jim would often send Tommy off on his bike during these times telling him to stay out of the house because “Daddy had business to take care of.” He would ride for hours all over town. Joe would meet up with him and they would head to his house where Joe’s mom would cook them up a special treat. Or he would ride over to the Trackside Diner, where Marlena was working at the time. She always made sure he ate a hearty meal, his belly full to bursting.

When he did arrive back at his Dad’s, he and his latest date would often be passed out on the couch with beer cans strewn on the floor and cigarettes still burning in the ashtrays.

His father knew no boundaries. He didn’t seem to care when Tommy would accidentally walk in on his acts in the living room or even the kitchen. “Hey there son, Daddy is just  having some fun with this little lady. You go on back to bed now,” he’d laugh. Or there would be two women with him. Unabashed in their nakedness. “I had trouble choosing. So I thought I would invite both of them home with me.”

Tommy was overwhelmed. He did not have the words to even speak of the situations he witnessed. He was always relieved to be back with his mother, putting those times out of his mind.

And this is what he thought he did that one last time. He was awakened once again by the sounds from his father’s bedroom. This time, however, it was different. Fearful screaming. Furniture banging against the wall. His father making monstrous noises. More yelling. “Please stop! You’re hurting me. Let go of me!”  Then the sound of someone falling to the floor with a loud thud.

Tommy couldn’t help himself. He got out of bed and peeked in the doorway of his father’s room. He saw his father straddled over the bloody, naked body of his latest conquest. A knife was in his hands. When he turned and saw his son, he said, “She wouldn’t listen, son. Help me clean up.” He began to roll her body in a rug. “Go open up the car’s trunk and get a shovel too. Then get in the back seat.”

They drove out to Cedar Grove Forest. He left Tommy in the car while he walked down the path with the shovel. A few minutes later, he came back for her. “Help me out here son. Hold the flashlight. I don’t want to trip on the path with this heavy load.”  Tommy held the light out in front of him as his father walked behind. When they got to the hole, he father said, “Go on back to the car and wait for me.”

Minutes later, Tommy heard the car door open and watched his father slide into the driver’s seat. Then he turned around and brought Tommy’s face close to his. He was filthy and reeked of sweat and blood. Breathing heavily, nearly spitting out the words, he said: “Don’t you ever tell a god damn soul.”

The smell of bleach awakened him. Sunlight streamed across his face. “Get dressed. I am taking you back to your mother’s.” He dropped his son at the curb and sped off. That was the last time he saw his father. It was only three years later, when Tommy was twelve, that he heard about his father’s death in a cheap motel room. He had been found shot to death.

By the time he was done talking, the sun was about to rise. The confession purged his soul. He knew that he would need to talk to the authorities. But first he would go home. He no idea of how he would tell Ella about his past. No clue about his present misdeeds. Their future together was uncertain. But he owed her the truth.

These thoughts were swimming in his sleepless mind as he said goodbye to Marlena and headed out towards the airport. Dazed and distracted, he was unaware of the moose in the middle of the road. He hit it head on, the car flipping over and over into the air until it landed in a ditch. They say you travel towards a white light at the end. But all Tom saw was red.

Geographical Escape 3.4: Sirens Song

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He had set foot in an alternate reality. On the outside,the building looked as if it were a residence with many rooms. However, with the exception of the ante-room and a small number of private rooms on the upper floors, the inside had the look and feel of flowered  gardens bursting with color. Dispersed throughout were pools laced with lily pads and small waterfalls. Butterflies flitted about adding depth and grace to this verdant paradise. In the distance, he heard the sounds of flutes and stringed instruments.

Aurora was dressed in a sheer red wrap that revealed her nakedness in just the right places. She was holding Tom’s hand gently in hers as she gave him a tour of the facilities. When he arrived once again at the residence, the men removed his clothing and donned him in a white wrap for comfort. As he walked with Aurora, Tom took in all the sights and sounds. In the rooms above, whispered ecstasy. In the pools below, synchronous sensuality. Some bathed each other as they would a newborn child. Others caressed as lovers would. The reverberation of their harmonious climaxes nearly drove him to tears.

But it was the sound of melodious singing that was drawing Tom to yet another pooled Eden. Before him were several women playing and singing in the water. They washed their long tresses and cleansed their bodies. They were lovely. Goddesses. Queens. Deities. He got down on his knees at the water’s edge. One beauty took his hand into the soothing water. The music lulled him into a state of perfect bliss.  He opened his mouth to drink their elixir. His eyes became heavy. His body limp as he fell into a deep and permanent slumber.

“Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention please.” Tom woke with a start. The pilot was speaking.  “We are having engine trouble and our flight is being diverted to Louis Port Regional Airport.” He rubbed his eyes. First, a sigh of relief came over him as he realized it all had been a dream. Yes, he had been to San Fransisco for work. No, he had not strayed this time.  But then a sense of horrible dread invaded him. Louis Port-his childhood home- was the place where it all began and ended.

Geographical Escape 3.2: Mud Season

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The ground was squishy beneath his feet. His legs hard to lift. His lungs heavy with effort. His body soaked with sweat and muddy splatter. His clothes at one with his skin. He’d fall into a puddle of muck only to rise and have his face raked by the knives of branches. He was blind. The path a long shadow of darkness.  He could hear the pounding of feet and exerted breath of someone behind him.  Gaining ground.

He was overpowered by the force. Jumped from behind. His face planted in the mud. Hands at the back of his neck.  Legs squatted on his spine.  His words were muffled screams. “I promise I won’t tell! I promise I won’t tell! Let me go! Let me go! Let me go!”

Ella was shaking him. Her face scratched and her arms red with the imprints of his fingers. Tears streamed down her face. “STOP! STOP! TOM! TOM! WAKE UP PLEASE!

He was hyperventilating. Losing air. His heart wrenched at the sight of his wife’s wounds. He began to weep. ” I know you didn’t mean it, darling. But the nightmares have gotten worse.”  Do you want to talk about it?”  He shook his head emphatically. He would just need to get a grip that’s all.  He thought the winter’s affair had cleansed him of the stench on his soul. But the nightmare was so vivid in its action and its accompanying emotions. Fear and Guilt hung in the air.

He had begun to dread bedtime. He would creep out of bed after Ella fell asleep and wander the house. Check on the kids. The doors and windows. The rains were relentless, causing area rivers to overflow their banks. Some roads became impassable. He was unable to ride his bike for relief. Sometimes Tom sat outside in the midnight torrents not sure if the water might drown him. He was drenched in stink.

The weather became an inspiration for Ella. She painted and sculpted productively through the winter season while he was away.  The current season’s gloom lent a noir element to her art. So much so that their nearby city’s well-known gallery wanted  to show her work. To Tom’s  inquiries about her theme, her reply was simple. “All of us have a dark side, sweetheart. But it remains our choice as to how we express it.”

So here he sat in yet another downpour. Warm air moved in and with it great claps of thunder and dangerous bolts of lightning.  He knew who was on top of him in the incubus. But how could he tell anyone it was the face of his father?

Geographical Escape 3.0: Stranded

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It all started innocently enough.  He was approached with an offer from his boss after the holidays. “Got a buddy up in the Billingsworth region who could use your expertise for a bit. You would be in a consulting position three days a week and you’d make  top money in addition to what you make here. If it works out, I get a cut of the profit and I’ll give you a hefty raise.”

He didn’t pass it up even though it meant being away from home Sunday afternoon to Wednesday night.  Perfect timing for ski season. The area had top-notch black diamond trails.  Just the kick he needed.

And the old feeling was rising up again. He thought that he had it under control. Lauren wasn’t even a distant memory; he had convinced himself that it never happened. But then Joe had to go say something that triggered that underground tremor in him again. The four of them were out at their annual couples holiday date and Joe had raised a toast to him. “Tom, he said in a booming voice, your mom would be so proud of you. Successful businessman, husband, father and friend. You have buried the legacy of your dad.”  Tom’s face became an icy mask. He had not seen his father since he was nine. Tom’s mom had died of cancer just before their daughter was born. They had named her Louisa after her grandmother.

The physical exertion of cycling and skiing that once helped to peel the layers of hurt ceased to work. Sexual diversion with a woman he barely knew had become his new method of deliverance.

Georgia was a mirror image of him. Short black hair. Black eyes.  A femme fatale who was just shy of 40 and had a body that knocked him out.  Powerful  thighs that were strong from years on the slopes. Muscular upper back.  A brawny woman who made it clear that she was proud of her sexuality.

When she called her mechanic, he let her know that he would not be able to get the new starter until Friday. Given the timing of the repair, Tom would not make it home at all since he was back at work in s the following  Monday.  He would remain in the area for another week.

And what a week it was. There was a certain tough competitiveness to their escapades. An edginess. Like skiing on icy slopes or off the trails. Georgia was an expert skier and he found it hard to keep up with her.  And she was equally energetic and agile in the  bedroom.

She brought out a hidden determination in him.  A hardened physical desire that broke down the act into tarnished carnal lust. She was serving a need and he was hooked.

A Father’s Day Story

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Hello my friends!  Since it is Father’s Day, I thought I would republish a post that I wrote for my dad on his birthday last September. Fathers sometimes get a bad rap these days but I know quite a few men who know and understand what it takes to be a good dad.  This post is dedicated to them.

Here’s the link:

A First Memory

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When I was a kid, we owned various models of black and white televisions over the years. In fact, we never had a color television until the last black and white one died.  My father always fixed the television on the kitchen table when the tubes blew and then it was back to business!  One of those crusty old models stands out in my mind quite well. It was tall and brown- a laminated wood sort of look-and it stood on four legs. The screen-when not on-was a murky green.

So there I was one night back in 1965, sitting on the floor with my trusty yellow blanket  and my footie pajamas watching the Art Linkletter Show. My mom was in the kitchen and my brother was elsewhere in our tiny ranch house. I was four years old and a very happy camper until suddenly the screen went blank and the house was encased in total darkness. Needless to say, I completely freaked out and ran to get my mom, leaving my blanket behind.  A second panic ensued once I did because I thought I lost my blanket! ( I totally identify with Linus, by the way). When I finally settled down, we found my brother, some candles and a flashlight.  My younger brother did not seem at all bothered by the turn of events. In fact, he appeared oblivious to the situation while I was totally anxious. My mother sat us down at the kitchen table by candlelight and served us some butterscotch pudding. I had no appetite so my little bro helped himself to a second serving with great relish. I am not sure if I was worried because we were in the dark or because I had nearly lost my precious blanket!  In any case, there was really nothing we could do so my mom sent us all (including herself) to bed. I was having none of sleeping by myself so my mom put me in with my brother in his bed ( we both had full sized) and then she joined us in the middle. I still was not satisfied and insisted that we keep the flashlight on. I can still picture it now: the three of us snug in the big bed with the big black flashlight standing upright on my brothers dresser-a beacon of hope and comfort.

(This early recollection was an actual event: The Great Blackout of 1965.)

Many thanks once again to Kellie Elmore who always has a way for us to show our creative selves at their best.

Mothers: Past, Present, Future

Greetings to my followers:

Poet Kellie Elmore posts a weekly Free Write Friday and this weeks challenge is “M is For Mom” (see link here if you want to check it out or participate: (  Here you can read entries from other bloggers about their moms.

This week I entered an older posting from October (with some edits ) entitled : Remembering My Mother.

I hope that you will read it here with this link:


Warp Speed

warp speed

I’ve been aware of the time going by

they say in the end it’s the blink of an eye~ Jackson Browne (The Pretender)

I have lived in the same town for twenty-four years now. I still find it hard to fathom that so much time has passed and that my sons are no longer little boys.  I do not long for those days; although I did enjoy them. I appreciate the challenges and intensity of raising my sons. The days zoomed by and I was never once bored when I was home full-time. At times, I would hear other parents say that they could not wait until their kids were grown. I was quite puzzled and even dismayed at their train of thought. Why were they rushing time?

Now that my sons are young men, I appreciate the time that I spent with them (as do they).  But most importantly, I am so very grateful for the time that we spend together now. So much is happening in our lives presently. Each of us is on the cusp of new beginnings and I feel as if we are in the midst of sharing one another’ s nearly constant curves in the road. My oldest is graduating college in just over 4 weeks and will be making his way into the real world-although for all intents and purposes he really has had about one and half feet in it for many years.

The shift from childhood and adolescence to the responsibilities of adulthood was swift. When a father departs, life has a way of knocking a young man off track  and swiftly into manhood.  Because his father was never truly present, my oldest made his way into maturity through fits and starts and a few mistakes and bad choices (though none were life-threatening).  In a few respects, it is obvious that there is a some sort of gap in his growth toward manhood. After all, his dad left when he was 14-prime time for a boy to know how to become a man. But in the last two years, I have seen a growth spurt of sorts within him. Much of it is due to him making peace with who is father is and his limitations. The other is a willingness to be the best man he can possibly be. Today I see him as a rocket ready to be launched. Watch out world: he is ready to fly!

For my youngest, his journey was, is and will be different. He experienced his father on more of a first hand basis as a teenager. This helped my youngest truly understand the kind of person his father is without any of my input, perspective or bias. At times (who am I kidding-all the time!), I worried about what he was seeing under his father’s roof. But I learned that  letting go was the quickest and healthiest way for my son to reach his own conclusions. He returned home eventually-disappointed and broken hearted.  He’s got his power and confidence back; each day I have seen him grow by leaps and bounds as he makes his way in his chosen career and into the great wide and scary world.

As for me, I have finally grown into the woman I have always been. I am at peace with my place on this earth- creative, athletic, joyful and madly in love with the man that I dreamed of finding someday.  Like my sons, I am ready to be launched and I am making my way in this world on my own terms.

So here we are the three of us, riding this crazy train of change and growth. We are moving quickly but our focus is unwavering. The ride is at once nerve racking and exhilarating and we love every minute of it!