Writes With Pencils

fiction, memoir, essays and poetry

Tag: Writing

Still Life of Forty-Nine

Death looks past
the circus bear
balanced on a candlestick

the hidden geisha
does not judge
but the scottie turns away

and only the settling
of dust marks time
as the silent clock stands still.


30,000 Feet


At 30,000 feet
the rumbling cabin pressure
squeezed the reservoir of sadness
in my belly
squeezed it until
it leaked from my eyes
the safety valves
that saved me from exploding,
taking the plane down
with me.

It leaked from my eyes
alone, sandwiched between
window and aisle
mountain view and leg room,
sandwiched between
comfort and pain
moving on and feeling stuck
childless and children
wandering and home.

At 30,000 feet
trapped in a tube
untethered from earth
powerless and free,
an in between place.

An in between place
two and a half years
after he pulled the trigger
two and a half years
to the day
my body knew
without checking the calendar
counting the sunsets
dark after light
dark after light
dark after light.

Two and a half years
my mind thought
how arbitrary
until it converted the fraction
to 30 months
the number of years
we’d hoped to spend together.

At 30,000 feet there are
no cakes to bake
checks to sign
or laundry to fold
no children to feed
errands to run
or calls to answer.

No distractions—
only space
to breathe and feel
the loss of him
then finally to write
and begin to claim
the emerging life of me.

1st Anniversary of a New Voice

Version 3

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


The Language of Death



When someone dies
we talk of her passing away
that he left us
she departed, is deceased, rests in peace
or even simply that he died.
But when someone dies
by his own hand
we say he
committed suicide
the way we say that one
commits a crime
or a sin
and with it comes the judgment,
confusion, and shame,
the ostracism and otherness
we cast on the committer.
We plague ourselves with “why?”
trying to understand
the incomprehensible.
We separate ourselves
from this conscious, evil act-
“How could he do this to me?”
runs through the egos of our minds,
distracted from the death’s true nature.

Words are powerful things.
Simultaneously, they describe
and form our thoughts.
Words can become our masters
if we simply swallow whole,
without tasting or chewing,
those that are fed to us.
But just as easily,
if we peer beyond the rhetoric,
we may choose
to make of them a tool
or the raw materials
to build a new idea or belief.

Therefore I choose and propose
a different set of words,
a phrase that best describes
the manner of this death,
so reviled and misunderstood.
When I tell the story of William’s death
I now say that he
died of suicide.
Like dying of cancer
or a heart attack
it describes an illness,
in this case of the brain,
a disease so massive
that it causes a suffering person
to go against all base instincts
of self-preservation
and survival
to end his life.
It is not a choice,
like what movie to see
on a Friday night
or whether to have ice cream
instead of cherry tart.
It has a progression,
it runs a course
and once the brain
enters the tunnel of despair
unable to see light on either side
the organs of perspective, reason,
and optimism
shut down and cease to function.
It becomes terminal.

Suicide is a disease,
not a choice.

%d bloggers like this: