Writes With Pencils

fiction, memoir, essays and poetry

Tag: Grief

Comfort Cafe

morning coffee at The Shack

Marbled coffee foam,
a belated Valentine,
soothes my aching heart.

1st Anniversary of a New Voice

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In response to the supportive urgings of my writing group to put my work out into the world, I created this blog one year ago today. At the time I’d first met them more than a year before, I’d been working on a novel scene by scene for a couple of years, much of which I then shared with this revolving community of fellow writers in the back room of a Belltown cafe we met in twice weekly. Hearing the diversity of their work, from poetry and memoir to sci-fi and urban fantasy, was as helpful and inspiring to me as the thoughtful, constructive feedback I received about my own work. From Smeeta I learned to dig deep and tell the truth; Mark’s action-packed narratives taught me to inject energy and movement into my own stories; and Kay recognized and encouraged the voice of a poet in my rambling prose.

Six weeks before signing onto WordPress that first time, I had sustained the most devastating trauma of my life. Five weeks after that day that shattered my universe, I discovered something that intensified and distilled the trauma. I couldn’t sleep. Anxiety and despair gripped me, caused me to scream and wail while driving, to dig my fingers into my unwashed hair in an attempt to extinguish the pain of overwhelming anguish. I tried to write about it, but alone at home the page remained blank. Finally, after four desperate days, I headed to the cafe to sit in silence among my tribe of fellow writers knowing that if nothing else, I would find acceptance and understanding there of my blocked state. Forty-five minutes of free-writing later, Found Receipt emerged in powerful verse from my pencil. It was only the fourth poem I had ever written. The first had been a child’s gift to my parents for their anniversary, the second a high school English assignment, and the third an abandoned experiment.

Completely cracked open by this unimaginable trauma, I discovered a new voice that day and have written over 100 poems since. I would never have chosen the tragic events which led to that discovery, but I am incredibly grateful for this growing voice. To honor it and commemorate its birth, I am submitting some of its verse today for publication consideration. Regardless of the outcome of that submission, I will keep writing. It has been a salve to this deep wound which still bleeds but is healing, an invitation to others to share their own grief, and a bridge of connection to people who would have otherwise remained strangers to me. It has led me to the desert of Utah and the Highlands of Scotland and back home again to my own writing desk. I will keep writing. The characters of my dormant novel have even appeared on the page again for the first time in over a year in recent weeks. I will keep writing. Thank you for reading.


Found Receipt

Found Receipt

Eight dollars and seventy-five cents,
Why didn’t you pay cash?
Eight dollars and seventy-five cents,
You’d have gotten change back from a ten.
Eight dollars and seventy-five cents,
You charged it on your credit card.
Eight dollars and seventy-five cents,
You left it for me to pay for.
Eight dollars and seventy-five cents,
They were cheap and there were lots of ’em.
Eight dollars and seventy-five cents,
For a box of fifty.
Eight dollars and seventy-five cents,
Forty-nine more than you needed.
Eight dollars and seventy-five cents,
Because it only took one.
Eight dollars and seventy-five cents,
For a bullet in the brain.
Eight dollars and seventy-five cents,
To kill yourself.
Life is expensive, but death is cheap.

The inspiration for and the power of a new voice discovered: The Value of NO


Seaside Blackberries

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Along a pebbled shore
of sand and shells
battered by storms of life’s injustice
littered with weathered wood
cast upon the beach by fickle tides
all shades of dreams diminished:
these, the skeletal remains
of a heart and home picked clean
by tragedy and loss—
springs a single, wild fruited vine
that defies the lack of soil,
spreads its thorny shoots and leaves,
and sprouts clusters of tight berries
not plump, with easy juiciness
(there’s been so little rain this season)
but fully ripe,
weighted with concentrated sweetness
and packed with seeds
of possibility.

The Evolution of Stardust


Like a pebble in a pond
first ripples
and then nothing
was how you saw your place
in the universe
which in a purely rational
scientific sense
is true, I’m sure
in this unending vastness
this infinite darkness
that continues beyond
the ability of the mind to imagine
in which tremendous burning masses of light
fail to illuminate and warm
the spaces in between—
a single human life is insignificant.

But within this unending vastness
there are swirling galaxies of wonder
full of stars whose radiance
holds planets from spinning into isolation
and on one of these planets
you were born
of stardust and love and the continuity of existence.

You became for me
the sun around which
this earthly woman found her orbit,
the sun whose rays
prompted the blossoming of this yearning bud
to an open-heartedness
finally able to receive,
not simply to love, but to feel loved
not simply to see, but be feel seen
not simply to listen, but to feel heard
not simply to accept, but to feel accepted.

And even as it has been 365 days, one earthly year,
since the sun that was you
imploded in an instant
this openness of heart cannot be closed
this love unfelt
this learning unlearned,
you have left far more than ripples in a pond
all of which will continue for eternity.

Where there was the reassurance of gravity
the balance to my body’s inertia,
there are now only questions
and loss and boundless space,
it would seem there was nothing
to hold my spinning form
from flying to the edge of the universe.

But instead of careening to the edge of nothingness
I am saved by science
whose law of conservation of energy
has transformed your breathing form
of beating heart and electrical impulse
into the bits of stardust and pure love
as a living embrace
which now orbit my earthly form
being reborn a sun
on this unending continuity of existence
as it simultaneously races onward
and is frozen in the moment of our final kiss.

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