Come to my house in the dark of the moon
On the night when the veil grows thin
Enter, and see what waits within
A blood-curdling scream
Silent wings glide by
A raven, an owl, or a ghoul?
I sit on the porch with my madly carved grin
My candle lights the way in
To my house in the dark of the moon
Guests come creeping along the ground
Slithering through the leaves
Staggering down the walk
Do you hear that skittering in the yard?
Is it leaves being tossed by the wind?
Or something more sinister, stalking?
A pale face swims out of the dark
with round black eyes and very sharp teeth
She’s waiting for you
Is your heart pounding in your throat?
Can you run? Can you hide?
Do you have the breath to scream?
Ignore the tingle on the back of your neck
The shiver along your spine
That sense that someone’s watching you
Look over your shoulder
There’s nothing there
Or is there?
Are you brave enough to walk up the steps?
Come through the door to see what waits
In my house in the dark of the moon
I lick it off
It dries my lips
It tastes like wax
It makes me feel garish
When I choose a bright color
Like walking lips
Surrounded by a body
My mom liked bright pink
Coral, or cherry red
No eye makeup
I wear lip gloss
With a soft tint
When I remember
It doesn’t last
I used to wear eyeliner and mascara
But not lipstick
Not any longer
Now my face is unadorned, invisible
Some women use lipstick as armor
A uniform to don to face the world
I am in awe of those who face the world
With perfect paint
And perfect hair
And perfect clothes
I would worry if my lipstick was on my teeth
Instead of on my lips
I would smear it around my mouth and look like
I just took a bite of something bloody
That’s just not me
My lips are bare
Weightless is how she thought she would feel the first time she changed – and flew as a bird. An owl, winging its way through a darkening sky. But strong is how she felt. Strong chest muscles beat her wings, creating lift. Rising through the air, soaring. Dancing on a breeze. Cool fingers of fog caressing her face as she raced through the sky.
The dark shapes of tall fir trees loomed, limbs outstretched, waiting for her to land. Home.
A skittering through dry leaves caught her eye. A mouse scurrying home for dinner. Maybe it would be dinner, she thought, her golden eyes gleaming. Sharp beak, soft fur, warm blood, the crunch of bone. No, she decided, I’m not ready for that. The mouse can live another day.
From her perch high in the tree, she watched the ribbon of river catch the last glimmer from the setting sun. Sparkling on its slow journey to the bay.
Sharp scents of dry leaves, soil giving up its warmth after baking in the afternoon sun. A breeze fluttering by. The unearthly white glow of the rising moon. Full tonight. Bathing the world with its cool, soft light. Lighting the way home.
Sighing, she spread her wings and floated through the soft night air to land in her garden. Folding her wings, she stood again as a woman. She turned and stretched her arms towards the moon in supplication. “Thank you, mother,” she said, “for showing me life from a different perspective.”
She turned and walked into her warm kitchen for tea. Not mice.
Fire frightens me
It hasn’t always
I used to marvel at its beauty
Its dance and its sparkle
But now, fire means violence
Its dance, a terrible choreography
Eating everything in its path without discernment
Now, fire means loss of life
Loss of home
Loss of security
Loss of purpose
Now, fire means smoke
Unbreathable air that can cause cancer
Now, fire means despair
That takes forever
Fire also means heroes
Who give their strength, their time, their dedication
To secure lives, homes, families
I am thankful
Fire didn’t eat my home
My loved ones
But it frightens me
She ran, stumbling over rocks and tree roots. Her breath came in ragged gasps when she remembered to force herself to breathe. Her skin felt clammy. Fog was creeping in to blanket the cold, white light of the full moon. It misted her thin sweater with droplets of water. She didn’t notice.
She shivered, not from cold, but from fear, from abject error. Terror with a sharp taste. She didn’t know what chased her, but she knew it wouldn’t stop until her battered body lay dead on the ground. What chased her was relentless and evil.
She burst through the trees and saw it. A spare, white building lit by an unearthly glow. Its dark, peaked supported a cross. Tall arched windows looked like eyes keeping watch through the night. Could she reach it in time?
Footsteps padded behind her, getting closer, ever closer. She sprinted towards the doors of that small church on the glen. Her feet left wet tracks on the meadow grass. Her heart pounded in her chest.
She pushed frantically on the thick wooden doors. They wouldn’t budge. “Who locks the doors to a church?” she thought. “And, why?” Crying now, she pounded on those doors with what was left of her strength. “Please,” she sobbed, “Please someone come. Open the doors. Let me in!”
She heard a low growl behind her and turned. Bracing her back against the church doors, she faced her pursuer. Long, sharp canine teeth, saliva dripping in anticipation of the bite, dark matted fur, gleaming yellow eyes. Its fetid breath steamed as it panted.
She was trapped. No hope. She braced for the attack…
And fell into the foyer in a heap when the door creaked open. A young man with long hair, wearing a robe with a rope tied around his waist, held up a heavy cross. “Stop. I command you!” he ordered. “This one’s mine.”
Carlo was sweating. Not from the heat. It was cool backstage. But he was a large Norway rat and he was nervous. He shifted his bulk so he could see upstage. The roof rats who were his principal dancers were warming up. Turning their focus inward, reviewing the choreography in their minds, trying to get into the zone for performing. The mice who made up the corps de ballet swarmed backstage. They were everywhere. Carlo wanted them out.
He signaled for his runner. She scurried over. “Tell the mice the house is open. We need quiet backstage. In fact, tell them to go back into the dressing room until you call them.”
“But, their cue is right after the show starts,” the runner tried to explain. “Controlling those mice is like herding kittens. If they go back to the dressing room, we’ll never get them all onstage in time.”
“No excuses,” Carlo muttered. He wanted to scream, but the audience would here, and the house was full tonight – of cats. Carlo knew his troupe would have to perform their best to keep the cats entertained.
“Places in 15,” he said into his headset. “Only principal dancers backstage.”
The music started. Carl cured the stagehand working the main drape, counting down 3-2-1 Go.
The stage lights came on and the three principal dancers began their glissades and pirouettes. The crowd roared in approval when they performed pas-de-chats across the stage. Carlo allowed himself a smile and a sigh of relief. The cats were entertained.
Carlo cued the corps. One of the younger mice ran onstage and froze, eyes wide with terror at the theater full of cats. Tears welled in her beady, black eyes. “I forgot my steps,” she whispered.
“No excuses,” Carlo hissed. “Just dance. The audience won’t know if you make up your part. Just dance.”
The mouse just stood, center stage, staring, her mouth quivering.
The cats hissed and waved their paws, claws extended, in the air. Tails twitched.
“The cats are getting restless,” Carlo said, mostly to himself.
“Cue the next piece,” he ordered. “We need to keep the show moving.”
Then he froze in horror as 200 cats jumped onstage and began to swat and bat at his dancers as they scurried around. The sound of purring reverberated when some of the cats captured their prey. It was mayhem. A roiling sea of terrorized mice surrounded by hungry cats.
“We didn’t dance well enough,” one of the principal dancers moaned. “We didn’t keep the cats entertained.”
“No excuses!” Carlo bellowed as he ran out the door.
He had another show to run, and dancers to recruit to replace those he lost every single night. His audience was cats. What else did he expect?
Late season heirloom tomatoes
Are ripe and lush
And incredible robust
The ends drip juice through my fingers when I pick them up from the cutting board
And slip them in my mouth
Eliminating the evidence of tomato cuttings
Our assignment in the writer's workshop today was to write something using the following words:
She Said, He Said
Fall is a temptress,” she quoted
A trickster with two faces
Warm afternoons when
Golden light bathes the hills
Topped by puffy white clouds whispering by
The fog creeps in
Blanketing the valleys
In cool softness
Making people yearn
For sweaters and fuzzy socks
A cozy blanket and a fire
“You are a nincompoop,” he guffawed and repeated with a sneer:
Summer is king
The air is warm
Beers and hot dogs rule
Cheers and jeers ring out
The boys of summer reign
Baseball is divine