Writes With Pencils

fiction, memoir, essays and poetry

Tag: Travel

The Quandary


The run is over.
All the docks are lined with fishing boats,
crabbers and tenders,
and a few processors tied up at the end.
From my booth in The Bay
I look up from my mug of diner coffee
and over-easy eggs
and notice it’s
The Quandary that’s moored
in the slip
closest to the shore.
She’s securely tethered to the bollards
to overwinter away from
waves, tides, and storms
in this freshwater harbor inside the locks.

She’s tethered to the dock
as my own indecision
holds me in a place
between your dreams
and my life.

It’s your birthday today.
You would have been 60.
You loved this place, but
if you were here, you wouldn’t be
here today.
You dreamed of sailing the Caribbean
or up the Inside Passage to Anchorage
and beyond
or captaining a barge
through the canals of France.
And I would have gladly been your crew
in celebration.

But your run is over, my dear,
and I cannot sail it for you.
Some of my own dreams
died along with you.
And now my vision no longer sees
beyond a single season,
such a small space for dreams to grow
but enough perhaps
for them to sprout and bud.

Postcard from the Universe



This week the earth
has shaken its pinnacle;
falling bricks and crashing ice
have claimed 4000 peaceful lives.
Last summer a mind
shook its own foundation;
deluded thoughts and fired bullets
claimed two single peaceful lives.

As I checked in this morning
with the receptionist
for my annual medical exam,
a conscious attempt at self-care,
she asked whether William
was still my emergency contact.
No, he’s de…ceased, I responded.
With kindness she offered
a cup of hot mint tea
in response to my flood of tears.
With gratitude I accepted
the random mug
she had grabbed from the clinic break-room,
a souvenir brought back
by one of the nurses
from a life-changing trip
to the top of the world.

As I inhaled the fragrant steam
I smiled at the beautiful image
of a Nepalese temple
which now no longer exists,
a postcard from the universe
reminding me
that mountains crumble
whether made of character or stone.

The Road



When I first rode
my blue two wheeler up the hill,
I thought I’d made it.
When I hand-stitched
the green “100 Cookie” badge on my Girl Scout sash,
I thought I’d made it.
When I boarded the plane
to study abroad,
I thought I’d made it.
When I explored the streets of Paris
and discovered my new direction,
I thought I’d made it.

When I got married
started my business
bought a house
stood up to my mother,
I thought I’d made it.

When I chose happiness on my own,
I thought I’d made it.
When I opened myself up to love again,
I thought I’d made it.
When I learned to receive,
I thought I’d made it.
When I could listen to understand,
I thought I’d made it.
When I truly committed,
I thought I’d made it.
When we set the date,
I thought I’d made it.
When he left the psychiatrist’s office smiling,
I thought I’d made it.
When I learned he was dead,
I thought I’d never make it.

Then when I learned to be broken
reached acceptance
slept through the night
smiled again
fully trusted
felt safe,
I thought I’d made it.

But then I tried to fix someone
and realized there is no land called Madeit.
It cannot be plotted on a map
or wandered into through an aimless fog.

There is only here.
And now.
Being and intention.
Love and breath.
And a road without destination.

Now that I understand this,
surely, I’ve made it.


Hawaiian Shirt

Williamsphone 319

A rumpled Hawaiian shirt,
splashed with palm leaves and bamboo,
was well worn by a man
of quirky wit and wandering adventures.
I found it in the bottom of his closet,
fallen from its hanger
into a heap
as its owner had fallen from sanity
into despair.

It suited him, that shirt.
I realize more so now, than while he was alive.
They both came from a place
of constant temperatures and temperament;
gentle breezes, surrounded by the sea;
and swaying hula girls
on dashboards
sipping fruity, pineapple drinks
with umbrellas.

But beneath turquoise pools,
and a ready smile, lay a molten intensity
able to create earth
or to rip apart its own solidity of being.
The islands were his second home.
I wish him there now,
swimming at night
with sea turtles and manta rays.
Aloha, my love. Aloha.

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